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A creation myth also proclaims the role of man in the world. The myth fixes his destiny and in what way he will find meaning in his existence. He may be the very goal of creation, or he may be just a lesser ingredient in it. Both cases are found in creation myths around the world.
Creation Myths Around the World. How stories of the beginning might have begun. An introduction in depth to my ongoing dissertation on creation myths, where I speculate on how the myths emerged at the dawn of human civilization and what shaped them. Creations stories have appeared in just about every culture and mythological tradition.
- Cosmological, Or 'Creation of The Universe' Myths
- AB Origine: What There Was in The Beginning
- Sumerian Creation Myths
- Asian Creation Stories
In this article, we're focusing mainly on the first, the cosmological myths (or cosmogonies, defined by Webster's as "the creation of the world or universe; or a theory or account of such creation.") For information on the creation of human beings, read about Prometheus.
There isn't one standard story about the first substance. The main contenders for the primordial substance is not a soup, but Sky (Uranus or Ouranos) and a kind of emptiness, referred to as either the Void or Chaos. Since there was nothing else, what came next must have sprung from these firstor elemental things. 1. There wasn't clear unanimity on what Chaos was. Some thought Chaos created the specific bodies of the cosmos; others, the cosmos itself and order. Chaos is described as "the dark, silent abyss from which all things came into existence." 2. One account of the beginnings of everything comes from the Library, conventionally attributed to Apollodorus, translated by Sir J. G. Frazer. Who exactly Apollodorus was still remains a mystery, although he may have lived around the second century B.C., which puts him much closer than us to the main writers to whom the ancient Greeks turned for religious information, Homer and Hesiod. Here's (Pseudo-)Apollodorus' version of the cosmogo...
Christopher Siren's Sumerian Mythology FAQ explains that in Sumerian mythology there was originally a primeval sea (abzu) within which the earth (ki) and sky were formed. Between heaven and earth was a vault with atmosphere. Each of these regions corresponds with one of the four gods, Enki, Ninhursag, An, and Enlil.Chinese creation myths: Pan Gu took an ax to break forth from his confinement in a cosmic egg. When he died he became the wind, mountains, land, and rushing waters.JapaneseCosmogony says Earth and heaven were created from a divine egg.Hindu: Another cosmogony from thought.Sikh: Creation of everything by an all-powerful deity.
Aztec; Coatlique got pregnant by an obsidian knife through which she produced her one legitimate litter of moon and stars. When she got pregnant, shamefully, a second time, she gave birth to the go...
Germanic Creation Myth: In the beginning was the great void, Ginnungagap. A fiery region developed to the south and a windy, icy region to the north. Together they produced chaos and out of chaos s...
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.
- Heliopolis Creation Story – Ancient Egypt
- Proto-Indo-European Creation Myths
- Mayan Creation Story
- Babylonian Creation Myth
- Creation of Mankind According to The Ancient Greeks
- Ainu Creation Story
- Raven Creation Story
- Creation Story According to Zoroastrianism
- The Sumerian Creation Myth
- Hindu Creation Story
According to the ancient Egyptians, the universe started with a primordial ocean known as Nun. At the center of Nun was a giant pyramid called benben. Deep within benben, came forth Atum, the creator deity. As the physical embodiment of the sun, Atum created life in an asexual manner. He also created the first Egyptian deities – Shu (air) and Tefnut (water/moisture). Together with his children, Atum was able to hold back the destructive forces of chaos and keep the universe in balance. Atum was also supported by Ma’at, the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth and order. The union between Shu and Tefnut brought forth Geb (earth) and Nut (sky). Due to the immense love shared between Geb and Nut, the two deities remained inseparable. Atum then instructed Shu to separate Geb (the earth) from Nut (the sky). But just before Shu could carry out the task, Geb and Nut gave birth to famous Egyptian deities such as Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. Read More: 10 Most Famous Ancient Egyptian Gods
Among many Proto-Indo-European cultures, Ymir was the force that existed in the time before time. This being was also the embodiment of the vast sea of chaos (Ginnungagap) – a region devoid of any life form or structure or order. Thus Ymir was there long before famous Nordic gods like Odin, Thoror Freya even came onto the scene. Due to the absence of any celestial body, sea, land or crops, Ymir is believed to have suckled on a primordial cow called Audhumla. One time, while suckling on Audhumla, two enormous giants were asexually produced from Ymir’s perspirations. The myth goes on to say that a third giant, equally as large as the first two, also emerged from Ymir’s legs. With regard to the primordial cow Audhumla, her source of nourishment was from the salt sediments found on the creature called Buri. Norse mythology regards Buri as the first god in the pantheon. As Audhumla licked Buri, the chains that held the god gradually faded away, and the god was free. Buri’s son, Borr, wen...
The Mayan creation story is contained in the Popul Vuh (also known the “Book of the Community” or the “Book of the People”). The text was written in Mayan hieroglyphics. Kind courtesy to the translation that was done later we know what the Mayan creation story is. According to the text, the beginning of time was filled with nothingness devoid of any structure or order. Tepeu (the maker) and Gucumatz (the feathered spirit) joined their thoughts together to create the universe. They proceeded to create man. In their first attempt, they created man out of wet clay; however, that did not go as planned as the clay crumbled apart. In their second attempt, the gods created man out of wood; and just like the first attempt, the creation failed to please the creators. In their third attempt, they created man out of maize dough. It is believed that this form of man thrived and was able to speak, feel and think. In order to make the earth very habitable for their creation, the gods created the...
The ancient Babylonians believed that in the beginning two primordial gods – Aspu and Tiamet – existed. Prior to that, the universe was a vast void of nothingness, land and sky had yet formed. Tiamet and Aspu mated and gave birth to a new crop of gods. It is believed that Tiamet grew enormous amount of hatred toward the new gods. Tiamet set out to destroy them. However, just before Tiamet could carry out his plan, the gods found out and proceeded to stop him. The gods threw a strong, powerful net over Tiamet. Once trapped in the net, the gods beat Tiamet to pulp and crack his skull. Tiamet’s body was then dismembered; half of the body was used to create the sky while the other half was used to create human beings, plants, animals, and the creatures that occupy the land today.
In ancient Greece, the predominant creation story was the one that involved the Greek Titan Prometheus, the Titan who created man. In the beginning, the world was endlessly empty and full of a being known as Nyx – the deity of darkness. The goddess Nyx is believed to have laid a golden egg. After sitting on the egg for eons of years, the egg hatched, producing the deity of love Eros. The broken shells of the egg became the sky and the earth. The earth was called Gaia, also known as the goddess of the earth. On the other hand, the sky was called Uranus. The goddess Gaia and the god Uranus mated, bringing forth a new generation of gods known as the titans, Hekatonkheires, Cyclopes, etc. Those Greek Titans included the likes of Oceanus, Crius, Iapetus, Tethys, Phoebe, and Kronus. Kronus, who early on had overthrown his father Uranus, then went on to give birth (with Rhea) to another generation of gods, which included the likes of Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Hestia, Demeter, and Zeus. Simila...
The Ainu creation myth emerged from Ainu peoples of Japan. In this myth, time can be broken down into three parts – “mosir noskekehe” (“the world’s center”); “Mosir sikah ohta” (“a time when the universe was born”); and “mosir kes” (“end of the world”). According to the Ainu people, the creator god dispatched his trusted water wagtail to create the land from the cosmic ocean. The bird used its wings to move the water to one side. Subsequently, he created islands for the Ainu people to populate.
In many Native American cultures, the raven is arguably the most powerful creature in the entire cosmos. It is therefore not surprising that many of ancient tribes in the Americas considered the bird the creator of the universe. In one myth, the raven is believed to have encountered an adult man who he approached to inquire about the man’s whereabouts. The man is believed to have to told the raven that he lived in the inner regions of a pea pod for four days; and on the fifth day, the man came out of the pod a full grown man. The man also told the raven that he used the vast sea of water in his surrounding to relief the excruciating pain in his abdomen. As the Raven listened to the man attentively, he began to see a striking similarity between the man and himself. Amazed by their shared features, the Raven inquired further. Finally, the Raven implored the man to wait for him so that could go and fetch some berries. The Raven then commanded the man to eat the berries. Shortly after,...
The Zoroastrianism faith states that there existed two opposing deities in the beginning of time. Those beings were Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainya, the deity of light and the deity of darkness respectively. Those two beings existed side by side, with each domineering over an area of the universe. Being a benevolent force, Ahura Mazda created angels/beings that supported him in spreading the light across the universe. One such being was Amesha Spentas. Together with Amesha Spentas, Ahura Mazda divided the universe into two sections – the spiritual section and the physical section. It is believed that the physical section was created about 3,000 years after the spiritual section. Shortly after the emergence of the physical section, Ahura Mazda created perfect man and a bull. While Ahura Mazda was creating his perfect beings and man, Angra Mainyu was busily creating all the fiercest demons and evil forces in a bid to counter Ahura Mazda’s creations. It is believed that Angra Mainyu creat...
During an expedition conducted by the University of Pennsylvania in 1893, an ancient Sumerian tablet was unearthed in Nippur (“Enlil City”) – i.e. modern-day Afak, Iraq. The tablet had the Sumerian creation myth – the Eridu Genesis. The tablet describes how the main deities – An (the sky father), Enlil (the earth and wind god), Enki (god of water, knowledge and mischief), and Ninhursanga (the mother goddess) – created the world. They also create human beings to populate the world. In one account of the myth, the gods collectively decide that mankind is not worth saving from a massive flood. However, Enki – the god of the waters – proceeds to warn an upright man by the name of Atrahasis. Enki instructs Atrahsis to construct an ark so that he could save humanity from the deluge. The flood is believed to have been caused by rains that fell for seven days and nights. In another account, the builder of the ark is not Atrahsis; instead, it is Ziusudra, the ruler of Shuruppak. Once the flo...
Hindus have quite a number of creation stories. What runs through most of those creation stories is the cyclical nature of birth, death and rebirth. According to one Hindu creation story, in the beginning there existed a mighty cobra that lived in the vast cosmic ocean. And in the hands of this cobra lay the sleeping Vishnu, the creator god. As time went by, a lotus began to emerge from the belly button of Vishnu. And inside this sacred lotus was another Hindu god of creation called Brahma (also known as Svayambhu). The Lord of Speech, Brahma, then conceived the idea of creating the universe. But before he could do so, he goes into a deep state of meditation for several eons. In creating the universe, Brahma – the four-headed god – is believed to have divided the lotus into three parts. The first part turns into the heavens; the second becomes the sky; and the final and third part gives birth to the earth. Pleased by how things are going, Brahma endows the earth with animals and pla...
A creation myth (or creation story) is a cultural, religious or traditional myth which describes the earliest beginnings of the present world. Creation myths are the most common form of myth, usually developing first in oral traditions, and are found throughout human culture.