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Last Friday, one of my favorite YouTube channels, Mythology & Fiction Explained, released a video on the creatures from North America. These are creatures from Native American mythology but rather ones that came about after Europeans settled the west.
These creatures didn’t come about from a need to explain the change of seasons, earthquakes, or the path of the sun in the sky. Explaining the unexplained is what we mean when we refer to something as a myth, but it’s clear that there’s more to it than that. As I’ve mentioned, while explaining the unexplainable is the genesis of a myth, myths become widely accepted because they’re entertaining. The stories spread because we enjoy them and, sometimes, want them to be true (preferably with no one getting killed). Humans of the mid-20th century believing these stories is evidence of this claim. Why spread stories that are clearly hoaxes or silly mistakes? Because they’re fun. I bet that applied to ancient cultures as well, and the stories took on a life of their own over time. After all, some Nordic people still believe in some elements Norse mythology, selecting the ones that don’t contradict their modern knowledge or sensibilities.
Mind you, I’m not complaining. These stories can be fascinating and could easily be part of your fantasy roleplaying games, especially this guy.
Ancient cultures don’t get to have all the fun.