Amazing Kids! Magazine

Myths from the Deep

By Cathy Yan, Global Village Editor


To many cultures around the world, the ocean is a symbol of strength and life. It has the power to provide for whole countries with its bounty, but it also has the power to destroy hundreds of cities with just a careless swoop of its hand. Because of this temperamental and uncontrollable nature, many civilizations have formed deities that represent the seas. From Poseidon and Neptune to Kanaloa and Davy Jones, the number of gods who represent the salty waters is staggering.

For those who have read the Percy Jackson series, Poseidon and Neptune need no introduction. However, for those who are still strangers to the book, and as a refresher for all of the fans, Poseidon and Neptune are both gods of the sea. The only difference is that Poseidon is Grecian, while Neptune is Roman. Poseidon’s brothers are Zeus, who rules heaven, and Hades, who rules the underworld. In Neptune’s case, his brothers are Jupiter and Pluto respectively. In some cases, Poseidon and Neptune are also known as ‘earth shakers’ for their role in causing earthquakes, and as gods of horses.

Kanaloa is the Hawaiian god of the ocean, and is often represented as a squid or an octopus. In addition to his water related duties, he is also known as the god of the underworld, and as a teacher of magic. His counterpart is Kane, the god of life and procreation. Legend states that when Kane breathed life into a statue, and Kanaloa couldn’t, Kanaloa decided that the statue would only live for a specific amount of time before it dies and is claimed by him.

Davy Jones is not a deity, but is an important part of sailor lore nonetheless.  Davy Jones’ locker is an idiom for the bottom of the ocean, so Davy Jones is often thought to drown crewmen and wreak havoc on ships. No one is sure where exactly the name Davy Jones came from, but one popular theory is that he was an incompetent sailor or pub owner who kidnapped sailors. He being the ghost of Jonah is another common idea. In most legends, he is seen almost as a demon, and would insinuate so much fear into the sailors, that they refuse to discuss Davy Jones’ story in detail.

As you can see, the mysterious and powerful aura of the ocean has inspired many riveting legends and myths around the world. Although all of the characters we discussed above are radically different, in some ways, they are inherently the same. All have authority, and have earned the respect of centuries of civilizations. The next time you’re on a ship in the ocean, be sure to keep an eye out for a sign from the myriads of gods that dwell in the deep.