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Hall of World Religions and Mythologies

In folklore studies, the term myth refers to a narrative which presents preternatural topics as explanations or metaphors of cosmic or natural forces or the like (creation myths, for example).  From the tendency to characterize others' beliefs as "false mythologies" while regarding one's own beliefs as the correct religion, comes the idea that myth means "false belief"; however, folklorists do not use the term in that way.

To the folklorist, the Central Eskimo belief in Qudlivun as a place in the sky filled with games and happiness, and the Christian idea of heaven, are equally myths that posit an afterworld located in the sky.  In this light, whether they are called mythologies or religions, belief systems composed of stories about supernatural or (by extension) supernatural beings (extraterrestrials, for instance) who interact with humans in ways that are cosmically important, are myths, pure and simple.

(For further discussion, see C.W. Sullivan's entry "Myth" in Jan Harold Brunvand, ed., American Folklore: An Encyclopedia, New York: Garland, 1996, 497-99; Maria Leach, ed., Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, New York: Harper & Row, 1984, 487, 778, 914-15; Joe Nickell, Tracking the Man-Beasts, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011, 227-29.)

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