Pop Cultured: Ancient myths and the impacts they have today

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traditional komainu statue in japan on sunny day
A myth is a traditional form of storytelling based on factual or fictitious events. Take a look at some of the different myths around the world and their impact today. Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels.com

From books, YouTube and the TikToks we watch, stories come in all different forms. A myth is a traditional form of storytelling based on factual or fictitious events, according to the PBS article “What is a Myth.” Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed are some examples of traditional American folktales. Since Paul Bunyan was a lumberjack, he symbolizes strength and hard work in American culture, according to the web site American Folklore. Johnny Appleseed is another folktale based on an 18th-century pioneer who planted apple trees in America’s Midwest, according to the site. 

In Cambodia, there is a myth titled “Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso.” The tale describes a kind-hearted hermit known for his magical powers, according to an article titled, “Dance, the Spirit of Cambodia: A Study Guide About Dance, Ecology, and History.” There are slight variations of the story but essentially the hermit had two disciples, Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso. One day the hermit decided to put his disciples through a test. The hermit was impressed by Moni Mekhala’s approach to the challenge and awarded her with a magical orb. Eyso was angered and tried to steal the orb. He threw his ax at Mekhala, creating thunder. Mekhala countered the attack with her magical orb, creating lightning. Mekhala fled as the lightning blinded Eyso. Eyso soon recovered and vowed that he will seek revenge one day, according to the site. The battle between Eyso and Mekhala produced rain.  

purple leaf
Cambodians associate the tale of Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso” with the importance of rain. A ceremony is usually celebrated with a dance reenactment of “Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso” to call upon the rain season. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Cambodians associate this tale with the importance of rain. They believe dance and music are the communication link to gods, according to the site. The ceremony usually is celebrated with a dance reenactment of “Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso” to call upon the rain season. Dancers have to go through a special ceremony to perform. They also must be blessed and approved by teachers and spirits of dance for the ceremony, according to the site. This ceremony shows the value Cambodians have with their environment.  

Gaucho Gil was a Robinhood figure in Argentina during the 19th century. Gil was a cowboy that stole from the rich and gave to the poor, according to an NPR article titled, “The Legend of Argentina’s Gaucho Gil.” Gil was born in Mercedes, Argentina as a farmer. He later was recruited to fight for the Argentinian army twice. During his second war, he didn’t believe in what his army fought for so he deserted the war. Gil became a cowboy, where he not only stole to survive but to give back to the poor. He was respected among villagers, according to an article titled, “The Untold Story of Gaucho Gil, Argentina’s Legendary Cowboy.”  

Eventually Gil was arrested by authorities for his crimes. Just as he was about to be killed by authorities, Gil warned one of the guards that their son will become sick unless he prayed to Gil’s name. The guard was in disbelief but later found out his son had become sick, according to the site. He then prayed to Gil and his son became healthy again. Due to that legend, Gil is considered a common-law saint particularly for the working and lower class. He is characterized by a red headband, long hair, blue shirt, red scarf and sarong. According to the site, Argentinian people and those from surrounding countries often visit Gil’s gravesite in Mercedes to wish for help and guidance in their lives.  

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