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Michigan State University

Religions of the World: Mythology

This is a guide to researching religions of the world: Western and Eastern Christianity, Eastern religions, Islam, Bahai, New Age Movements, Judaism. Last updated 06-26-2023


Be sure to see this online library guide, Classical Studies: Mythology and Religion, which is more extensive, and more up to date, than the sources below.

They Believed That? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Superstitions and the Supernatural Around the World

Devoted to those human beliefs that fall in the 'gray zone' between science, religion, and everyday life—call them superstitious, supernatural, magical, or just wrong. In an often incomprehensible world where lightning or plague could end life quickly or drought could condemn a poor family to agonizing death, superstitious beliefs gave people a feeling of understanding or even control. They have continued to shape societies and cultures ever since.This book covers a range of superstitious, supernatural, and otherwise unusual beliefs from the ancient world to the early 19th century. More than 100 entries explain beliefs, discuss historical evidence, and explain how each belief differs across cultures.

Oxford Companion to World Mythology Main BL 312 .L44 2005

A rich resource on the culture of myth, summaries of mythic stories, and a contextual overview of the mythic traditions of almost every country.  Has a list of mythological entries arranged by country or culture, family trees of major pantheons, and equivalency translations between the deities of Green and Roman mythology and Sumerian and Babylonian mythology.  Lengthy bibliography.  Illustrations.  Dictionary arrangement.

Creation Myths of the World: an EncyclopediaMain BL 325 .C7 L44 2010 v. 1-2

Sacred and Mythological Animals, a Worldwide Taxonomy  Main BL 439 .B94 2020

Compendium draws on religious texts and myths to explore the ways sacred traditions use animal images, themes, and associations in rituals, ceremonies, texts, myths, literature, and folklore across the world.  Sections are organized by the main animal classifications, such as mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and insects.  Each chapter covers one significant grouping (such as dogs, cats, or horses), first describing an animal scientifically and then detailing the mythological attributes.  Final section covers animal hybrids, animal monsters, and mythical animals, as well as stars, constellations, and zodiac symbols.  Appendix describes basic details of religions and mythologies covered.  Glossary.  Author is a practicing Druid who knows English, Latin, Cornish, Scottish and Irish Gaelic, and Welsh.

Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend. Main BL 303 .M45 2004 v. 1-2
Short, unsigned entries. Covers myths, legends, folktales, and fables. Includes characters, motifs, and references to other forms. Thirty page, annotated bibliography at the end organized in sections by nationality and religion (for example: Finnish mythology and folklore, Hindu mythology and folklore). Both general index and “cultural and ethnic index.” The latter allows access to the articles by people group or faith name (i.e. Aztecs, Buddhist, Italian, etc). Alphabetical arrangement. Entries are numbered; numbers referred to in the indexes refer to the entry numbers.

Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion  Main 715 .O845 2003

Thematic index shows entries on particular topics, including many different types of ancient authors, different kinds of religions, and various types of deities.  Mythological references, religious places, officials, organizations, rituals.  Discussions of "regional religions and mystery cults" along with entries related to Judaism and Christianity in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Companion to Roman Religion Main BL 803 .C66 2007

Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities  Main BL 782 .C67 2000

Man, Myth and Magic, the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown. Oversize collection 3 West BF 1411 .M25 1995 v. 1-21
Mythology, a Visual Encyclopedia.  Main BL 311 .F67 2001
Goddesses in World Mythology Main BL 473.5 .A66 1993
Guide to the Gods. Main BL 473 .L43 1992
Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Main BL 782 .C67 2000
Dictionary of Celtic Mythology Main BL 900 .M445 1998
Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend. Main BL 930 .D58 1998

Handbook of Mesoamerican Mythology Main F 1219.3 .R38 R42 2000

Covers mostly Mexican highland and Maya areas and popular mythology in this region.

Dictionary of African Mythology  Main BL 2400 .S24 2000

Editor is a professor of African languages and literatures at University of Wisconsin.  400 myths from countries across Africa show the richness of the African storytelling tradition.  Each myth is followed by the culture or language group and country of origin.  Then there is info about the god, hero, or leading figure and/or a description of the belief system. Three appendices: myths by country, myths by language and culture, common threads in the myths.  Bibliography.

Dictionary of Asian Mythology  Main BL 1005 .L46 2001

Entries for mythological terms for the countries that now make up India, China, Tibet, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Japan, ranging from very short to a full page.  Deities, sacred places, key events, epics, traditions.  Also entries for basic terms, such as afterlife, sacrifice, hero quests.

Dictionary of Native American Mythology Main E 98 .R3 G46 1994

Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology

A collection of alphabetically arranged entries on fairies, places, countries, from world folklore and mythology, with descriptions. Short entries, with further reading references. 

These are just a few of our reference sources in the area of ancient deities, myths, and legends.  Also consult pp. 924-933 of Guide to Reference Books Main Z 1035 .G8 ed. 11, which describes many more sources in these subjects.  We also have a Folklore Resources guide.