The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #104260   Message #2133291
Posted By: Azizi
25-Aug-07 - 10:00 AM
Thread Name: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
Hat tip to Darowyn for alerting me by pm to this thread.


The possibility of any connection between "Macananty 'King of the Fairies'" and the trickster character "Anansi" is intriguing. There's no doubt that the ananty portion of the name "Macananty" {son of Ananty?} is very similar in spelling and pronunciation to the word "anansi" which literally means "spider" in the Twi language spoken by the Akan peoples of Ghana, Togo, and The Ivory Coast {West Africa}.

But similarly spelled words which may or may not be pronounced the same, and may even have similar meanings can have different etymological origins. If any connections exists between Macananty and Anansi, they would be difficult to prove. But that said, I'd like to share my thoughts about the meaning of Anansi, without directly addressing the question of whether the words or characters Anansi and Macananty are related.

** provides a brief, if somewhat convoluted overview of the character Anansi as found in folktales in Ghana, the Caribbean, and the USA. That wikipedia page also provides this list of variant forms for the Akan name Kweku Ananse [That name literally means "Spider born on Wednesday"]:

"Anancy (Jamaica, Grenada)
Aunt Nancy (In South Carolina, Aunt Nancy is sometimes used as folk name for the spider, because the term is the Americanized version of Anansi).
Compé Anansi
Kweku Anansi (Akan)

-snip- "Anansi The Spider Man: A West African Trickster In The West Indies"
by Christopher K. Starr; University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago; August 1999 provides a brief overview of the importance of the Anansi stories in the Caribbean. "In the folklore of the West Indies, Anansi enjoys a dominant position not paralleled by any other trickster figure. While most Americans have probably at least heard of Br'er Rabbit, and Till Eulenspiegel is similarly recognized in Germany and the Netherlands, each of these tricksters is merely one among a great many well-known folk figures in his respective country. Anansi, in contrast, is the West Indian folk hero. Folktales are often referred to as "Anansi stories", and a collection of folktales in which he did not figure very prominently would be unthinkable".

See this information about "trickster tales" from
"... a trickster figure such as the [African American toast] Signifying Monkey enjoys stirring up trouble for its own sake. All trickster figures, however, are rather wise too. Perhaps they know that laughing at trouble (and even creating trouble just to laugh) has a special kind of transformative power. Tricksters can level the playing field in a flash and make it possible for burdened and uptight people to suddenly feel lighthearted and playful. Tricksters show up in the folklore and creation myths of a number of cultures worldwide, including African, Haitian, Native American (or American Indian) and African American…

Trickster tales are a type of folktale in which animals are portrayed with the power of speech and the ability to behave like humans. The dominant characteristic of the trickster is his or her ingenuity, which enables the trickster to defeat bigger and stronger animals. A variant of the trickster tale is the escape story, in which the figure must extricate himself from a seemingly impossible situation. Closely linked to the rhetorical practice known as "signifying," trickster tales generally serve satirical or parodic purposes by poking fun at various types of human behavior. In African and African American trickster tales, the trickster figure is often a monkey, a hare, a spider, or a tortoise…"


However, there is much more to Anansi than entertaining/socializing trickster tales told to children. You will note that I'm taking great pains Not to call Anansi a god. I don't believe that the Akan referred to or considered Anansi a god, certainly not in the same way as the Akan Supreme diety Nyame is/was considered a God, or the important Akan river diety Tano is/was considered a god. Yet, on a number of levels, there are similarities on a deeper level in Akan culture between Anansi and the Nigeria {West Africa}Yoruba trickster god Eshu-Legba who is also found in the Caribbean and South America [not to mention among those African Americans who have beome members of the Yoruba religion of orisha-vodun. See this quote about the duality between the gospel and the blues:

"Eshu-Elegba, known as both a divine spirit and the Devil. Associated with change, Eshu-Elegba is portrayed as both holy and evil, and thus symbolizes the crossroads. Elegba, or "owner-of-the-power," also is a messenger, between men and gods, and among men. He is the African equivalent of Hermes. Moreover, as a messenger and deliverer of current news among men, he is the epitome of the West African griot, the Irish Bard, and the ultimate informer through art and spirituality. Eshu-Elegba continues to represent the dual nature and basic principles of African-influenced religion and culture, even today"...


Furthermore, the "spider's web" is a powerful spiritual symbol used throughout the world of the interrelatedness of all things, and other "heavy duty" concepts . See this excerpt from :

"The archetype of the spider has a long history in human consciousness. In Greek mythology, Arachne was a mortal weaver who challenged Minerva to a contest of weaving. Arachne's skill was marvelous, both in product and in the act of weaving. She carried the sin of hubris, and paid the price for it. A mortal cannot be as good as the gods, the myth goes, and she was going to be destroyed for her arrogance. However, since her skill nearly matched Minerva's, she was transformed into a spider. (Bullfinch's Mythology) Celtic legend tells of prisoners who take the lesson of patience and persistence from spiders, who rebuild their webs daily when they are torn down. Native American symbolism sees the spider archetype as the keeper of the past and its connection to the future. (Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews) "In India the spider is the weaver of the web of Maya, illusion. In her web she stands as the center of the world. In her spinning of the web and devouring her prey she parallels the waxing and waning of the Moon, involution and evolution, the alternation of birth and death. The spider, as the Moon, then weaves the destiny of everything in the world." ( The threads of the spider are part of every culture, interpreted in many ways. Spider is the symbol of Fate, the weaver of the past into the future, a teacher, a destroyer, even a trickster..."


There's a lot more that could be said about this subject including cultural similarities between the what the Celts, the Akans, and the Vedic people worshipped, and what they held to be sacred. For those interested this subject I recommend these online articles: Journal of Religion in Africa
"The Universe Has Three Souls" ; Notes on Translating Akan Culture
Philip F.W. Bartle

and The Celtic Vedic Connection: Part I.

Consider, for instance, the similarity between the fact that the [West African] Akan Supreme God, Onyame's name meaning "the shining one" and the Celtic term for the Gods is 'Deuos' and the Vedic term is 'Devas', both terms meaning "Shining Ones"...

I've included this last hyperlink because-as per the question about any possible connection between Anansi and MacAnanty, King of the Fairies, if {as that article purports} there are connections between Celtic and Vedic culture, and because as history proves there are connections between African {particularly ancient Abyssinian {Ethiopian/Nubian} cultures and Vedic cultures, then there are also connections between Celtic and Akan people. I believe that a=b=c because if my understanding is correct, the Akan people consider themselves to be Nilotic people {ie. their ancestors derived from the Nile Valley, specifically the Upper Nile and its tributaries, where most Sudanese Nilotic speaking people live." for definition of "Nilotic"

Therefore, there could be a connection between Akan mythology and Vedic mythology and Celtic mythology.

Note that I said "could" be. Definitely, your guess is just as good as mine.