Today at work we had a book club meeting at lunch and discussed The Scorpio Races, which is loosely based on Celtic mythology about water horses that drag people to their deaths (and it's an AMAZING book, so go read it, NOW, if you haven't already). So naturally we started talking about myths in general, and how similar some are all across the world.
For instance, vampires and werewolves are prevalent in myths and folklore all around the world. My young colleague from Trinidad was saying that vampires are still very much feared today, and that as a teen if she came home after dark her grandmother would make her walk through the front door backwards as this is supposedly something a vampire would not be able to do. They also sprinkle salt all around their houses, which is said to ward them off.
How is it that so many different cultures spread all over the world have these common myths? Is it word of mouth spreading from travelers? Do they all stem from some primal basic human fear, thus the sameness of them? Or did there used to be some truth to these myths before the world became so modern that all the magic faded?
I find it all pretty fascinating, especially since I love vamp and werewolf tales. So, what's your take? Is there some truth in the old tales? Or is it all explained in some rational way?