Frogs in Mythology

There are so many strange tales of frogs in mythology.  And in fact, there are weird semi-true stories about them too.  These poor creatures are so often portrayed in fairy stories and folklore as clumsy, ugly, fat, warty, in fact any insulting adjective you can think of, and depicted as stupid beings but turns out in the end are often the keepers of  hidden talents.

Curious and peculiar tales involving them have spawned (forgive the pun) from all over the world.  In Ireland, there is the quirky funny Irish blessing below, and then there are even weirder things that have been said about these frog creatures!  

For example, did you know...

  • If you have a toothache you can chew on the leg of a live frog (sorry, but no way - poor frog!) or rub the frog on your sore tooth then you will cure your toothache.  I think, all things said and done, I'd rather than a toothache than put the poor frog through any such ordeal. 
  • Another saying is that you can tell the forthcoming weather by the color of a frog.  So, a dark colored frog means that rain is likely, but a bright, light colored frog means that there is sunshine on the way.
  • The ashes of a cremated frog is said to be able to stop bleeding.

And for all of those looking for love... if you bury a live frog, then dig it up a matter of days later, take the skeleton apart and place one of the bones in the clothes of the one you desire, then as the myth goes, the object of your desire will fall in love with you.

In Medieval Europe, some religions, notably Catholicism, believed that frogs represented the Devil due to the fact that Witches used them as 'familiars'.  Toads were often said to be the evil imps that helped witches in their evil planning for terrible spells.  

There are stories of frogs in mythology that tell us frogs and toads were poisonous and very bad luck if you happened to come across one in your day.  To even see one was a very bad omen. 

The Ancient Egyptians believed that a frog-headed goddess called Heket and her husband Khnum (who had a goat’s head) brought about the creation of man and other gods. In hieroglyphics Heket is depicted as a frog and the number 100,000 was symbolized by a tadpole. It is presumed this is because of the abundance of tadpoles at certain times of the year.

Heket

An Irish Blessing

May the light always find you on a dreary day. When you need to be home, may you find the way. May you always have courage to take a chance. And never find frogs in your underpants.


Frogs in Mythology - the curse (or should it be cure?) of the frog

Khnum

The most famous event though between man and frogs occurred around 1000 BC in the city of Rameses where according to the Bible, a plague of frogs was seen as the second in a chain of ten catastrophes that happened because of unprovoked bad behavior by the Pharaoh.

It is more than likely that this legend was based on a successful breeding season, resulting in staggering numbers of frogs spreading over the nearby countryside. It could well be that the consequent plagues of insects and disease may well have happened as a result of most of these poor creatures in the absence of adequate amounts of food, dying and decaying in the North African summer.

They were also represented in China and India, as they believed that the world rested on the back of a gigantic frog and that earthquakes were the result of his slightest movement. Other folklore of frogs in mythology has it that eclipses of the moon were due to a frog eating it.

In British folklore there are stories about how toads can foretell of illness and even death and so if one should come to your house it was considered very bad luck. 

There is a story of a young man who became ill and his friends were trying to help him.  Toads came to the house and every time they came in his friends would throw them out.  But nothing stopped the creatures coming and the friends didn't know what to do.  Eventually these caring, concerned friends stripped a local tree bare of branches and leaves and hid their poor friend at the top of the tree, tied up in a bag, to hopefully keep him safe and away from the toads (!!).  But no - the toads found him and ate him all up and all that was left was his skeleton! 

We hope that this is not fact but instead fiction! Sometimes fact and fiction get intertwined and create something of a nightmare story as is probably the case with this awful story.


Heket and her husband Khnum

Frogs in Mythology - peculiar events that frogs have come to be part of in folklore

The Maya Indians of Central America thought that the creature was a partner of the god Chac. Chac made the rains come and the frog Uo calls out to Chac when it is time for Chac to soak the earth with water from his gourd (A container or ornament made from the hollowed and dried skin of this fruit).

In the Middle Ages, frogs and toads have been associated with witchcraft as mentioned above. The toad's saving grace was that it was believed at that time to have a precious stone hidden in its head. The stones were known as 'toadstones' and were thought to bear magical powers including destroying poisons and curing stomach pains and aches. William Shakespeare refers to this toadstone in As You Like It when the words are :

Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous; Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.'

Other stories of frogs in mythology from history tell us of how witches used toads to carry out terrible deeds such as killing men and women, horses and cattle.  Apparently in exchange for the witches souls, the frogs would do as the witches wished and bring death and ruin to those villagers in surrounding areas.  


Have A Great Frog Mythology Story you'd like to share with us?

Do you have a great story about this? Share it! It would be fantastic to hear your frog folklore tales!

Today people still believe that handling a toad will cause you to have warts.

In Australia the water-holding frog is used by Aborigines as a source of water. Apparently when squeezed they produce quite a sizeable quantity of so-say pure water from their bladders!

In the western world however, they tend to find themselves used in the name of science and education - they are often dissected in the classroom/science laboratory and the most common type used is the Rana temporaria and the Rana pipiens. These specimens are not however used in the work of herpetology but instead in the coursework of students comparing anatomy and physiology of for example, the lizard and the rat.

Also today, they are widely accepted as a good food to eat, and are eaten in France as well as in Asia. In the West Indies, you could find yourself eating a Mountain Chicken species.

So these creatures have been with us for many many centuries, and it would be so sad to lose them.

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Frogs in mythology...