The Aquarian Guide to African Mythology

In Book Reviews on July 17, 2013 at 6:00 am

The Aquarian Guide to African Mythology

Aquarian Press 1990

Guess what. I’m writing a novel. This is my first time writing a blog post about it, but now you know. As you can probably guess from the title, my story is going to be based on African mythology. Some of you may already know this, but I love reading mythology. I love stories of fantastic creatures and larger-than-life heroes. I’ve read a few retellings and have been inspired to try my hand at it.

As you can imagine, it’s pretty daunting.

Africa has so many different cultures, languages and stories. Where does one start? Well, my story isn’t actually going to take place in Africa. I’m going to create my own world with similar regions, biomes and creatures as there are in Africa. I’m going to populate it with spirits, cannibals, witches, gods, goddesses, kings, queens, heroes and villains. To my intense delight, I found that Amazons are also represented in African mythology. I didn’t want to represent (or offend) only one culture, so I’ve decided to do a mish-mash and take as many of the interesting things that I could find to create my story.

When I came up with this idea, I was completely ignorant of African mythology.  We’re not exposed to it in the west, which is a shame because it’s fascinating. This book was an excellent place to start. It’s sort of an encyclopaedia as the various topics are listed in alphabetical order but it sparked so many ideas. I still have a lot of research to do but this was fantastic for dipping my toes into the mythology.

I’ve gotten as far as creating my main characters and I have a basic idea of how I want the story to go. I’ve already got a beginning and an end, so that’s a pretty good start. I’ve been working on my outline and researching as I go along.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this book unless you’re reading with a mind towards research, unless you enjoy reading reference books for fun (which I could totally understand because I do) but it’s a great way to attain a basic grasp of African mythology.

  1. I would so read your novel.

  2. This has nothing to do with African mythology, but have you ever read On Raven’s Wing by Morgan Llewellyn? It’s a novelisation of the story of the Irish hero CuChulainn. Great for bringing you up to speed with Irish myth/legend.
    Your concept sounds very interesting btw, I know next to nothing about African mythology, but I’d definitely check it out!

    • Oh wow, your comment ended up in my spam folder somehow. Not cool. I haven’t read On Raven’s Wing, but it sounds cool. I’m interested in all types of mythology but am sadly ignorant on a lot of it. It would be great to see what other people are doing with it. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • You know, I thought I was going loopy… I was sat here yesterday thinking ‘I could have sworn I commented on that post…’
        Anyway, my pleasure, and keep us updated, because I’d love to know more about African mythology.

      • I know what you mean. It happened to me the other day when I had commented on someone’s post and she never replied. I got really paranoid that I’d said something offensive! She explained what happened which made me check my spam folder. I guess technology isn’t always smart. 🙂

        I will definitely talk more about my writing on occasion. I probably won’t give out too many details as I feel that the time I spend talking or writing about it, I could actually be writing it. I might ask for tips occasionally from those of you who have more experience than I do. Sometimes I have no idea of what I’m doing…

  3. Have you been reading other Africa-based stories? If you want a recommendation of a good one that creates a secondary world with shades of Egypt and Nubia, there’s N. K. Jemisin’s ‘The Killing Moon’. And I know I’ve seen some others around… I’ll have to go check our shelves.

    • I’ve read a couple of books by Chenua Achebe, but found that his books were a bit too political for my taste and I’ve read The Spider King’s Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo, which I loved. There are a few others, but I haven’t read anything that involves African mythology other than things of an Egyptian nature.

      I’m making a conscious effort to stay away from Egyptian mythology (even though I find it fascinating) because it’s been written about in so many novels and I want to focus on the lesser known myths and legends of Africa. There are some really interesting stories that I had never heard before and I want to learn more about those.

      Please recommend away! It’s difficult to find things to find reference materials/other novels on this at my various libraries and have had to get stuff from Amazon. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • If you want more mythology and such, the nonfiction mythology section should be 398.2 or thereabouts… We have a lot of African fairytales in our kids’ section. As for ‘The Killing Moon’, it’s Egyptian cultural flavor without the mythology, actually, so I recommend it for setting up a secondary world flavored by that area but not tied to it.

      • Oh thanks! I actually hadn’t thought of looking in the kids section for fairytales. Seems a bit obvious now. haha! Thanks again for the info. You’re going to end up as my fount of all library knowledge. (Which you may come to regret. ) 🙂

      • Pshaw, that’s my job!

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