Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bird-like thunder spirits on both sides of the Pacific

Bird-like deities or monsters associated with thunder occur in a diverse range of cultures:

CultureThunder BirdDescription
AnishinaabeAnimikiigAnimikiig ("thunderers", singular animikii)1, are immense birds whose beating wings cause thunder.2
LakotaWakinyanThese Thunder Beings manifest as Thunderbirds, enormous creatures whose voice is thunder and whose eyes flash lightning.3 Wakinyan Tanka, the Great Thunderbird. has children, the smaller thunderbirds, whose calls are the small rolling thunders that follow the loud thunderclap of the Wakinyan Tanka.4
QuileuteTistilalThis giant whale-snatching bird's yellow feathers are lightning and its flapping wings are thunder.5
MakahTatoosh6This thunder-and lightning-deity is a humanoid giant who dons the head, wings and feathers of a great bird when he goes whale-hunting. He ties lightning-fish around his waist and throws them to make lightning.7
ChineseLei GongThis Daoist deity, 'Thunder Duke', is described in the ancient book Classic of the Mountains and Seas as "having the body of a phoenix and the head of a human." He makes thunder with a drum and mallet, while his wife 'Lightning Mother' creates lightning with her flashing mirrors.8

More cultures with thunderbird myths: