Grandpa Kewl

Book Review – The Myths of the North American Indians, Lewis Spence

This is a reprint of a book originally published in 1914. That original publication data needs to be kept in mind as language, customs and what is ‘politically correct’ have evolved.

I found the book rather interesting for the most part but a little redundant at times. This is due to the fact that many of the stories from different tribes can often be quite comparable. However, the coverage is excellent and the choice of stories quite entertaining and often revealing of the culture and thinking of the Peoples.

Some of my notes while reading:

“Land Bridge” – I did not realize that the land bridge to Asia was assumed this long ago. That’s pretty impressive.

The Calaveras Skull – discovered at a depth of 150 feet below a bed of gravel. At the time of writing, this was taken as the real thing…it was later revealed to be a hoax.

There are at least 17 ancient Icelandic documents that allude to the early Viking discoveries in North America…did not know that!

“Monogamy, on the whole, prevailed throughout the continent; and generally speaking, the marriage bond was regarded rather loosely.”

The swastika is a very ancient symbol or charm for luck.

“A fetish, on the other hand, is the place of imprisonment of a subservient spirit, which cannot escape…”

The word “basilisk” is used and refers to the gaze of a serpent….I wonder if Harry Potter knew that!

Best Story: “Otter-Heart”, page 165

“…for myth is the ivy that binds all historical ruins and makes them picturesque to the eye…”

2nd Best Story: “The Four tests”, page 330

There are interesting parallels to the beliefs of the Egyptians in these stories….see page 350

Good book, long in my reading pile and well worth the time.

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