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Myths and Legends

Jason Weiser tells stories from myths, legends, and folklore that have shaped cultures throughout history. Some, like the stories of Aladdin, King Arthur, and Hercules are stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories you might not have heard, but really should. All the stories are sourced from world folklore, but retold for modern ears. These are stories of wizards, knights, Vikings, dragons, princesses, and kings from the time when the world beyond the map was a dangerous and wonderful place.
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Now displaying: 2015
Dec 23, 2015

The story behind the transition from Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus is one that includes murder, priest-punching, and ominous, demonic-looking companions. This episode looks at the legends behind an austere bishop who has been transformed into a magical, portly elf.

**Note: as I say in the show, this episode is not for young children. The story of St. Nick includes grisly murders and mentions of prostitution. Listener discretion is advised.**

The creature of the week is another sort of Santa from Spain who, in the old days, eschewed the coal for bad children for a long, deadly scythe.

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Krampus pictures

The History of Rome

Music

"The Krampus Song" by J Dobbs Rosa (J. Dobbs Rosa on Twitter)

"Threads and Veils" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Lathe" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Sirius" by Sergey Cheremisinov

"Cheap Suit" by Jason Staczek

"Dune" by Filip Roter

"Sorcery" by Bog

"Christmas Lights" by Patrick Poe

"Fledgling" by Psychadelik Pedestrian

 

 

Dec 16, 2015

The final chapter in the story of Theseus, the Minotaur, and all the other people that have gotten swept up in this drama spanning decades. We'll learn exactly what the Delphic Oracle meant by her prophecy, and how you can use a spool of thread to kill a giant monster.

On the creature of the week, it's a very literal tiny dancer.

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Music:

"Comfort in Uncertainty" by bbatv

"Great is the Contessa" by Blue Dot Sessions

"The Big Out There" by Krackatoa

"Hiroko in Deep" by Whodiniz

"When it Gets Dark at 4PM" by Will Bangs

"Reverie" by WVTM

Dec 9, 2015

The story of Daedalus and Icarus is much more than just Icarus flying too close to the sun. Daedalus, the inventor, is directly responsible for the labyrinth and the Minotaur. He's a man whose will to survive and desire for significance drives him to make magnificent things, which only bring death, destruction, and tragedy for him and everyone around him.

On the creature of the week, you'll learn how you can keep a Russian forest-dweller from playing pranks on you. All you have to do is burn his entire forest to the ground.

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Music:

"The Tide" by Alex Finch

"Cab Ride" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Mosic" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Lights Out" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Avec Toi" by Dana Boul

"Endless" by Dana Boul

"Last Straws for Sale (Instrumental)" by Lisa Germano

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

 

Dec 2, 2015

We have all heard the story of Theseus fighting that monstrous half-bull, half-man beast known as the Minotaur, but the original story starts years earlier. It involves tensions between two kingdoms, a deadly poetry slam, and dumb bandits.

The creature of the week is a small chicken that will give you lots of gold...if you can keep it from sitting on you in the middle of the night and giving you nightmares.

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Music:

"Cold, Heat, Dust and Dew" by Curious Inversions

"The Shoes they Wear" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Empty Trees" by Ketsa

"Diversity" by Ketsa

"Here is Now" by Ketsa

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

 

Nov 25, 2015

An episode of entirely listener-submitted stories! The main story is from South Africa and tells of how a mountain peak got its name from a deadly competition. Deadly because of the cancer risk, but also...well, you'll see.

Then, on the creature of the week, you'll see which household items can repel this ferocious beast and that, wow, koalas make terrifying sounds.

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Music:

"Always The Teasmade, Never The Tease" by Doctor Turtle

"Hammer and Damper" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Dub01" by Robodub

"Death on the Battlefield" by Rolemusic

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

 

Nov 18, 2015

The story of a young woman, her magic doll, and a witch who may be the most terrifying - or the most ridiculous - person you've ever seen. You'll also see that you should definitely not trust a gift from a witch. Especially if that gift is a human skull...that's on fire.

On the creature of the week, if your date has goat hooves it probably will not go well.

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Nov 11, 2015

In this Russian Fairy Tale from the same collections as the stories of Koschei the Deathless, we find a prince who goes on a quest for the firebird. This leads us into a Russian nesting quest situation, where he ends up on a quest-within-a-quest-within-a-quest. We'll also follow his doofus brothers, who decide that taking an extended camping trip getting drunk in their silk party tents is much better than questing.

On the creature of the week, it's a large horse-headed monster who will push you down or trample you...all while giggling like a child.

The sponsor this week: Imakeokthings

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Music:

"Dew" by Cousin Silas/Black Hill

"Mile Post 1" by Alex Fitch

"Jackbird" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Celeste" by Alex Fitch

"Gondola Blue" by Blue Dot Sessions

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

Nov 4, 2015

The end of the saga of this legendary king has Viking battles, magic cows, and a long con to take over England. Ragnar's poor planning when it comes to cementing his legacy blows up in his face, and we catch up with Aslaug, the daughter of Sigurd and Brynhild, and the atrociously ugly couple that murdered her grandfather.

The creature of the week is a little one-legged boy who grants wishes and has really smelly hair.

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Oct 28, 2015

People throughout history, before they died, have seen something...strange. They have seen ghostly doubles haunting their steps, foretelling their doom. These things are called doppelgängers, and while they mean something different now - basically someone that looks like you - their folklore origins are something far more ominous and sinister. This episode is about the shadowy creatures of ill omen that follow us all, and the famous historical figures that have seen theirs before they met their end.

The creature of the week is an extended, creepy story of a creature from Japanese folklore, and a solitary priest that became lost in the mountains.

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Oct 21, 2015

The tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, legendary Viking king and main character of the History Channel series "Vikings" and the many women in his life you absolutely do not want to mess with. It contains Viking battles, murder, betrayal, and heartbreak, uncommonly-ugly peasants, and, of course, a dragon fight.

For the creature of the week, if anyone in the woods calls to you from a bush asking you to stop what you're doing to play a tickle game, you should probably say no. You should definitely say no if it's this long-fingered creature who will literally tickle you to death.

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A couple pictures of the big harp

Songs:

"This" by Tryad

"Akantha" by Lazath

"Meditation" by Eracilon

"Python" by Rolemusic

"A Trip to Paris" by Peter Perio

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

 

Oct 14, 2015

For over 200 years in western Europe, there was a pervasive belief among large portions of the population that the upper classes in society were hiding something - women horribly cursed with the heads of pigs . Not an insult or a metaphor, no, these were women who were thought literally to be pigs from the neck up. Crowds gathered to harass potential pig-faced women and chase their carriages, and they apparently made appearances at fairs. This is an incredibly bizarre series of events that is all but forgotten in the modern day, but bears were shaved, legacies were tarnished, and there were men from an ocean away proposing marriage to a pig-faced woman.

On the creature of the week, it's a bird who can escape from any predator, but after you hear the route it needs to take, you'll wonder if it shouldn't just let itself get caught.

 

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Pig-faced lady pictures

Songs:

"The Rain" by Carmelo Costanzo

"White City, Black City" by Esther Garcia

"Chaos in the Mouse Kingdom" by DDmyzik

"Quizitive" by Lee Rosevere

"Taking Dark Matter Lightly" by Alan Singley

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

 

Oct 7, 2015

These are two stories from Japanese fairy tales. I don't want to ruin them, so I can't say too much, but they are amazing. One is about a boy who draws pictures of cats, much to the detriment of his job and a ridiculous amount of ancient books. The other story is about a kind fisherman who saves a turtle and has his whole world turned upside down.

On the creature of the week, it's a naked guy who, if he helps you, just thank him and be on your way. Seriously, who cares if he could have cut the grass more? He did it for free, and it's not worth losing your legs over.

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Songs:

"Tech Toys" by Lee Rosevere

"Ending" by Tadd Euro

"Baby Monster" by Music for your Media

"Scary Chimes Loop" by Chrisoph Schade Composer

"All In All (No Voices)" by VYVCH

 

Sep 30, 2015

Finishing up the twelve labors, Hercules fights way, way too many things: a giant boar, a giant bull, vicious birds, man-eating horses, the three-headed hell hound Cerberus, and more, all as penance for his crime.

The creature of the week are invisible weasel brothers that might give you a small cut or two...or might cut off your legs...all without you feeling it.

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That story thing I mentioned

Songs:

"Direct to Video" by Chris Zabriskie

"One Last Sunset" by Alan Singley

"Leafless Quince Tree" by Rolemusic

"Strange Kiss" by Alasdair Cooper

"Tilt" by Avaren

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

 

Sep 23, 2015

The story of Hercules is one part gritty, serious tragedy and two parts over-the-top monster fights. This week, in the origin story of one of the greatest mythological heroes of the western world, we get to see the human side of the demigod before the story goes completely off-the-rails and it's just one big monster fight topping the next. But don't worry, there are also monster fights this episode.

We'll see that Zeus is essentially the Don Draper of the Greek pantheon, only without all that pesky introspection or likability, and that if your husband cheats on you, you should bring down horrible punishments on everyone but him.

On the creature of the week, it's a grotesque little piggy that just needs a hug.

 

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Music:

"Melancholy" by DDmyzik

"Offerdal" by Simon Mathewson

"Shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean" by Rolemusic

"Scientology and the Masses" by statusq

"Fine without you (Remix)" by Steve Combs

"Something Elated" by Broke for Free

"Wandering" by Steve Combs

 

Sep 16, 2015
Instead of one long story, this week I'm telling four stories about canines from folklore from all around the world. We'll go back to the Norse gods and goddesses where Loki will make more poor choices. Then I'll talk about the legend of the black dog of the UK and Ireland. There's the weird and hilarious story of a little dog that was made king of Denmark, and how the people took it surprisingly seriously. Finally, I'll round out the show with the saddest story about a dog you've ever heard.   Also, I know Fenrir is a wolf and not a dog, but his inclusion will fit with the narrative arc of the show, I promise.   On the creature of the week, it's a tiny, angry old man who lives in an anthill and really, really wants you to stay off his lawn.   Say Hi on Twitter: @Mythpodcast Find the show on iTunes E-mail: Jason@mythpodcast.com My miniature dachshund, Abbie! The dog king riddle   Music: "Living Legends" by False Awakenings "Ambient" by Strange Day "In the End" by The Losers "If There's Time" by Odesza "Something Elated" by Broke for Free "Wandering" by Steve Combs
Sep 9, 2015
A short supplemental on one of the inspirations for Merlin, a man named Myrddin the Wyllt,  a Welsh warrior bard who went insane after seeing his friends die on the battlefield and ran off to a life in the forest. It would have been fine if people didn't keep dragging him back to civilization...or if he had thought at all about what he would do during the winter. You'll see that "insane" in this story is kind of a loose term for "I just want a little 'me' time in the forest." On the creature of the week, you'll meet that thing that yells all night in your kitchen and shatters all your good plates, and I'll guess at what she's doing with all that evil linen thread she's spinning.
Sep 2, 2015
The real story of the Little Mermaid is way more violent and grim than the Disney version, and does not have a happy ending. It's the story of a teenage mermaid who falls in love with a human and makes a deal to get legs, but that's where the similarities end. The original includes bald mermaids, daggers, and a great way to blackmail your kids into being good. If you've ever wanted to know way, way too much detail about a mermaid society, but hate it when your characters have names or plausible motivations, this story is for you. But really, it's very weird, and it makes you wonder why it has not only survived to the modern day, but is incredibly popular and has inspired multiple retellings. In the creature of the week, an ape man you can't hide anything from, but who has an extremely short attention span. Connect with me on twitter: @mythpodcast My e-mail: jason@mythpodcast.com Find the show on iTunes! Songs: “The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan” by Chris Zabriskie "Hypnic Jerk" by Smith Comma John "La Valse de Marian" by Marian Badoi "Keep on Moving" by Ton "Rewound" by Chris Zabriskie "Archimedes" by Jason Staczek "Something Elated" by Broke for Free "Wandering" by Steve Combs
Aug 26, 2015
Wrapping up this current run of King Arthur episodes, we find a kingdom in shambles. We'll see the final(ish..for now at least) battle between the Saxons and the Britons, and then the rule of King Arthur's uncle and father. Uther then decides to risk this extremely tenuous peace to woo a woman who isn't into him at all. And by woo, I mean declare war against her and her husband and use your fancy magician friend's fancy magic to trick her into...well, you'll see. Then, the sword in the stone! Also, the definitely true origins of Stonehenge! The creature of the week carries an impractically large bowl of blood with him at all times - just sloshing around everywhere he goes - that he will dump on you if he catches you on the road at night. Talk to me on twitter Find the show on iTunes Music: "Reveries" by Eracilon "Gymnopedie" by Erik Satie "Taking Dark Matter Lightly" by Alan Singley "Love and Mystery" by Oursvince "Max Flashback" by Lee Rosevere "Something Elated" by Broke for Free "Wandering" by Steve Combs
Aug 19, 2015
This is where we meet Merlin, a son of a demon who uses his evil powers for good. But he's not yet the bearded sorcerer we all kind of know and love. No, he first enters our story as a serious seven year-old with power over magic, the ability to prophesy, and knowledge of the past, present, and future. The only problem? He's about to be executed by Vortigern's magicians. Luckily, his life will be saved by not one, but two dragons. Its the origin story of the world's most famous legendary wizard. Then, on the creature of the week, you'll hear me embarrass myself trying to pronounce the name of this big, stupid dog. Talk to me on twitter Find me on iTunes Music: "Let's Ride" by Alasdair Cooper "Cheap Suit" by Jason Staczek "You Know Who You Are" by Alan Singley "Rivers and Mountains" by The Losers "Something Elated" by Broke for Free "Wandering" by Steve Combs  
Aug 12, 2015
The King Arthur legends don't actually start with Arthur, but with several years of war, intrigue, and betrayal among the Britons, and a slippery earl by the name of Vortigern not-so-subtly engineering the deaths of two kings to become king himself. We'll start at the very beginning, with Arthur's grandfather being murdered and his father fleeing across the channel to protect himself from assassins working for a usurper king. We'll also meet Merlin as a child, as he's being hunted by the king's men in the Welsh highlands. On the creature of the week, if you're thinking about a career change into the medical field, forget all that annoying education and just become a Fairy Doctor. This somehow completely real profession from the middle ages doesn't involve any of that pesky schooling that a boring old MD requires, but allows you to heal people from this week's creature, an extremely dangerous and extremely adorable fairy from Gaelic folklore. Talk to me on Twitter Transcript (and pictures) for this episode Find this on iTunes
Aug 5, 2015
As it turns out, Koschei the Deathless is very, very hard to kill, a fact one could probably guess from his name. This episode explores his tragic origins, as well as the ludicrously complex way he's hidden his soul (a Russian nesting doll situation that's unpleasant for everyone involved). He'll prove his name incorrect as he finally meets his demise in what amounts to the most heart-wrenching egging of all time. In the creature this week, despite forests being kind of the only place where forest fires can take place, this sticky giant thinks nothing of tapping the ashes from his giant cigars into the dry leaves.
Jul 29, 2015
In this story of a dangerous magician from Russian folklore, you'll learn that you should maybe believe your spouse if she says you definitely don't want to know what's behind that door in the dungeon. It's the bizarre, sad, and kind of hilarious story of Koschei the Deathless, a man who seems like a much more serious and dangerous version of the Ice King from Adventure Time. Really, if you're horrible sorcerer who's a little lonely, maybe stop kidnapping princesses and just get a cat. Or a hobby. I hear podcasting is fun? Really, though, this is exactly the type of story I love doing on this podcast. I doubt you've heard it, but it is scary, ridiculous, and a little sad, and I hope you enjoy it. The creature of the week is the Boo Hag, a morning breath vampire, and she's a great reason for you to chew an onion before going to bed. (Link to iTunes) (Link to the website)
Jul 22, 2015
The story of Mulan, the woman who took her aging father's place in the army, does not mean what you think it means. The original character is almost completely awesome and very different from many retellings. Unfortunately, the inspiring central message of the story is a modern interpretation of something that was actually very insulting. Also, villain is less of a looming, hulking Hun, and more a bandit with a name of a spandex print. This is the story of Mulan as it was originally told. The creature of the week is why you'll want to make sure you're very drunk before going into the woods alone at night. Link to iTunes for reviews/subscriptions Link to the site
Jul 15, 2015
The final chapter of the Saga of the Volsungs follows Sigurd as he finds that navigating relationships with the in-laws is way, way more hazardous than fighting a dragon. He finds the famliy he never had, but generations of betrayal and murder finally catch up with what has been perhaps the most honorable of the Volsungs...you know, minus that one tiny murder he committed. Also, if someone with nothing to gain from it tells you a ring is cursed, you should absolutely believe them. In the creature of the week, you'll see why funeral homes should be surrounded by catnip and toy mice in order to keep this giant, spectral Celtic cat from stealing souls. (link to the website) (iTunes link for reviews/subscriptions)
Jul 1, 2015
Part four and the penultimate episode in the Saga of the Volsungs, the story of a legendary Norse family finds Sigurd riding with his Vikings in an attempt to reclaim his father's kingdom. Then, there's a fight with the dragon, Fafnir, who is in the possession of the cursed ring. Sigurd, our (so far) valiant hero, folds to the temptations of a magical ring way faster than Frodo, Bilbo, or even Boromir. In the creature of the week, you'll see why you need to treat your footwear will respect and kindness...oh and keep it from getting bored, or else it will come to life and annoy you.
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