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:

 Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Menomini, Dakota, Comanche, Chinook, Chehalis, Hoh, Quinault, Klallam, Nootka, Tlingit, Haida, and other groups indigenous to Canada, the United States and Mexico.9

  1. Anishinaabe_Traditional_Beliefs on Wikipedia
  2. Native Languages of the Americas: Manabozho Stories and other Anishinabe Stories on
  3. The Return of the Thunder Beings on Prairie Edge Trading Co and Galleries
  4. Wakinyan Tanka,the Great Thunderbird on Pyramid Mesa
  5. Robert H. Ruby, John A. Brown and Cary C. Collins, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest, p245
  6. Ray Jones, Pacific Northwest Lighthouses: Oregon to the Aleutians, p30
  7. Ella E. Clark, Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest, p161
  8. Lei Gong on Wikipedia
  9. Mark A. Hall and Mark Lee Rollin, Thunderbirds: America's Living Legends of Giant Birds


  1. You have really great artwork. How much do you charge for character drawings w/o background? I am shopping around for an artist since the one I used for the cover of my novel disappeared. You can see the type of art I received at Masoth: The Journey Beyond

    1. Thank you for visiting and for the kind compliment. I have replied to your enquiry via your website.