Folklore and Myth Thursday – Week 14 – N

Welcome back to my folklore and myth Thursday posts! This week I’m focusing on the letter “n” and will be looking at Nammu, Nanna, Namorodo, Nehalennia, The Nihonshoki, and Nun.


Nammu is a Sumerian goddess who embodies the primeval ocean (Tresidder, 2004:335). She is “the first deity and origin of all things” (Tresidder, 2004:335), giving birth to the “earth goddess Ki and the sky god An, who in turn coupled to produce the great gods of Sumer, including Enlil and Enki” (Tresidder, 2004:335).


Another Sumerian god is Nanna (the Akkadian Sin [see Tresidder, 2004:335]), who is the greatest of the “trinity of astral deities” (Tresidder, 2004:336), who include Inanna and Utu. “He was revered as the god who measured time and, because he shone in the night, also as the enemy of dark forces and wrongdoers” (Tresidder, 2004:336). Nanna is also renowned for his wisdom (see also Tresidder, 2004:336).


Moving on to Australian Aboriginal mythology, we find the grisly Namorodo – a “race of trickster beings” (Tresidder, 2004:335) who are described as “[f]rightening figures with long claws” (Tresidder, 2004:335), their bodies only consisting of bones and skin held together by sinews (Tresidder, 2004:335). Tresidder (2004:335) further notes that: “[the] creatures move at night, flying through the air with a swishing sound. They may kill anyone they hear with one of their claws: particularly the injured and the ill”. Should you be so unfortunate as to be killed by one of these Namorodos, your spirit may be captured by the Namorodo and you will be unable to join the clan’s totemic ancestors, but would rather turn into a “hostile being that wanders through the bush” (see Tresidder, 2004:335). According to Tresidder (2004:335), the Namorodo have also been linked with sorcery and shooting stars. (See also Ngandjala-Ngandjala in Tresidder [2004:340].)


Heading to Europe now, we find Nehalennia, an “ancient sea goddess of the coastal Netherlands” (Tresidder, 2004:337). Her cult (though it is unclear whether she is a Celtic or Germanic goddess) flourished in the 3rd century AD, with worshippers from all over the western Roman Empire (see Tresidder, 2004:337). She was worshipped at two sanctuaries – “ one on the island of Walcheren an one (now submerged) at Colijnsplaat” (Tresidder, 2004:337).

The Nihonshoki

In the Far East we find that the Chronicle of Japan, or Nihonshoki, is a work that was compiled by scholars and completed in 720 AD (Tresidder, 2004:341). “The Nihonshoki is an important source of Japanese myth, but less reliable than the Kojiki, which was composed at about the same time” (Tresidder, 2004:341). Tresidder (2004:341) notes that it is written in Chinese script and is heavily influenced by Chinese and Korean mythical and historical traditions and dynastic chronicles.

Nihonshoki tanaka version.jpg
By Unknown, Public Domain, Link


We conclude this week’s post with a visit to Egypt. Nun is the name of the “dark primeval waters of chaos which existed before the first gods, in one Egyptian account of creation” (Tresidder, 2004:344). Tresidder (2004:344) also notes: [the] chaotic energy within the waters of the Nun held the potential of all life forms [and] the spirit of the creator, but the creator had no place in which to become embodied”. Time and creation only began, according to this account, when a mound of land rose from the Nun and the creator could become embodied on this mound in the form of a bird (see Tresidder, 2004:345). In some accounts (see Tresidder, 2004:345) it is also told that a lotus flower bloomed to reveal the creator. “The primeval waters of chaos were also embodied as a god, Nun, and a goddess, Naunet. They formed part of the eight primal divinities referred to as the Ogdoad” (Tresidder, 2004:345).

Sources and more:

Read the previous posts in this series by clicking here.

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

Check out The Folklore Podcast – Yule! Fairies! Slenderman! Awesomeness! And more!

Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!


Tresidder, J. (2004). The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.


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