Mythology is essentially a collection of narratives particular to a culture or religion, devised to explain occurrence of natural events. It involves the use of supernatural forces or beings to explain or justify a natural phenomenon. Irrespective of the differences in time line and cultures, there are similarities in mythologies of various cultures the world over. The best examples would be the explanation of natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. From the Bible and Hindu mythology to Roman myth, all have their own takes on such natural disasters, which makes for a very interesting study, called GEOMYTHOLOGY.
Almost all mythological presentations involve dramatic revelations of heavenly acts or the wrath of Gods.These stories attempt to explain why such disasters occured. Every culture has turned to legends and myths to explain why the Earth, which is often referred to as the mother of all men, would destroy man's habitations and claim so many lives. These myths carried down the generations either as oral histories or mythological literature, were probably devised to instil a fear of the Gods or supernatural forces. Thus we have etiological myths that explain the origin of a natural phenomenon or cult. The creation myths, that explain how some happennings were the result of some cosmic forces at work. The eschatological myths however, concentrate on the calamity factor of natural hazards.
The best example of such a myth is found in the Bible, which seeks to explain the pilars of salt in the Dead Sea. The story of Lot's wife in Genesis19, explains how she became a pillar of salt when she stopped running to gaze at the destruction of the city. It is interesting to note how a scientific explanation is given for this, that as she stood some molten sulphur perhaps rained down on her and crytallized her into a pillar.
A creation or cosmogonic myth describes the beginnings of humanity or origin of the universe as a deliberate act of a deity or deities. The Ainu people of Kuril islands explain earthquakes as the movement of the large trout on which the world rests. Another myth describes how Manu, was saved in the great deluge by the fish he offered protection, and went on to found the Hindu race.
These are more in the nature of apolcalyptic explanations of natural disasters or occurrences. Time and again, in various cultures and religions, the Gods angered by human behaviour, brought about widespread disasters like floods, droughts, tornados, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes to destroy mankind, and start a new race.
This new-age branch of study, meshes mythology and geophysics, harnessing mythology and folklores to save human lives. It is a new scientific discipline, that combines earth science studies and analysis of ancient legends, to warn man of such possible recurrences.
NATURAL DISASTERS AND MYTHOLOGY FLOODS
In Greek mythology, Lord Zeus send a flood to destroy the wicked men of the Broze Age. Amongst Romans, Jupiter sought the help of Neptune to caused storm and earthquake and flood everything but the summit of Parnassus, where Deucalion found refuge. The Celtics believe that in the crush between the giants Heaven and Earth, a bold son cut up Heaven into pieces, and the blood spilling from the skull caused a great flood that killed all except a couple. In Islam, Allah sent Noah to warn the peoplo to serve only the Allah, and when they would not listen, sent water gushing from the underground to flood everything. The Maori legends too refer to floods. Indian mythology has many stories that offer cxplanation of floods. One such interesting story is when the demon Hayagriva stole the sacred books of Lord Brahma. In the aftermath, the floods destroyed all but the maritime prince, Satyavrata, the seven Nishis and their wives, much similar to the Greek rendition of the great flood.
Earthquakes have been, for a long time, the subjects of legends and mythological representations, in most cultures. According to Hindu mythology the Earth is held up by four elephants standing on the back of a turtle, which is balanced on a cobra. When any of these animals move, the Earth trembles and shakes, causing an earthquake. The Greeks have it that the wild winds trapped in the caverns underground, struggle to escape, causing earthquakes. In Romania, it is tied to deeds of mankind. As the world rests on the divine pillars of faith, hope and charity, whenever the deeds of humans render one of the pillars weak, the Earth shakes and quakes. According to Mozambique mythology, the earth is like a living creature, suffering from ailments similar to man. When it get sick with fever and chills, it shakes and tremors.
The Tsunami of December, 2005, was said to have been predicted and forewarned by the Moken, or the sea-gypsies of Thailand, who tell that when tides recede 'far and fast', this is a precursor to a tsunami. For then, a man-eating wave soon comes in, and the people should also run 'far and fast'.
The very word volcano is derived from the Greek island Vulcano, believed to be the chimney of the forge of Vulca, the God of Fire and the blacksmith of the Roman Gods. Greek mythology has that each time Hephaestus, the Greek God of Fire and Forge, works, the sparks and flames fly from the volcanos he works in. In early Chinese mythology, there exists an underworld network of the grotto-world, under sacred mountains, which erupted fire and lava. The Hawaaiian legend is very famous, which explains volcanic eruptions as the frequent expressions of anger of the Goddess of Volcanos, the beautiful Pele.
MYTHOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF NATURAL DISASTERS - EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS, TORNADOES, HURRICANES, DROUGHTS
Mythology attempts to convey subtle facts, rules and maxims to guide our daily lives. They teach the values of life, by instilling a fear of the wrath of Gods, whcih maybe incurred by the sinning or erring of man. Thus, as man advances, and begins abusing the natural resources, Nature has its own way of throwing back the consequences vide landslides, droughts and famines, hurricane and not the least, climate change induced extreme weather conditions.These natural disasters are sought to be explained in various mythologies as the wrath of Gods invoked by the erring of mankind, to teach them lessons in life. The best example would be in Hindu mythology, that inculcates a respect and awe of Earth, Vasundhara. Thus Nature and Earth are likened to Mother, so as to draw reverence of man.
When Mother Nature is abused, man has to face the consequences of the fury of Nature, as in natural disasters, global warming, ice melts and drastci climate changes.