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Crash Course-- Creation Myths: Crash Course World Mythology #2 thru #6
Terms in this set (47)
out of nothing - no time, no space, just an infinite void
Greek god of technology
Creation story out of the book of Genesis
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.
Egpyt creation myth
"I am the eternal spirit
I am the sun that rose from
The primeval waters.
My soul is god, I am the creator of the word.
Evil is my abomination, I see it not.
I am the creator of the order
Wherein I live,
I am the word, which will
Never be annihilated
In this my name of 'soul.'"
Egpytian sun god
definition of chaos for the purposes of mythology
the primal void or state of uniform non-differentiation that precedes the creation of the world in most creation myths
creation myth from the Kono people of Guinea
The darkness before creation is inhabited by Death, his wife, and his daughter. In the beginning, there was darkness and in it lived Death, called Sa, with his wife and daughter. The three of them were all that was.
There was no where for them to live comfortably, so Sa started it. He used his magic power and he made an endless mud sea. In this mud place, Sa built is house. After that the god Alatangana came to visit Sa. He found Sa's house dirty and dark. Alatangana though Sa should do better than that, and he said so. Nothing can live in such a place, the god told Sa. This house needs fixing up. Everything is too dark. So Alatangana thought he better take things in hand. He made the mud solid, we now know it as Earth.
"The Earth feels sad," God said. "I will make plants and animals to live on it." So he did.
Why is water part of so many creation myths?
There is something unknowable and eternal about it that makes it possible to imagine the sea existing for all time and even before time itself.
The Book of the Community
Creation myth of the Mayans of Guatemala
The word began long ago, in a place called Quiché, where the Quiché people lived. There was no one, there was not one animal yet and no birds fish, or tree. There was no rock, or forest, no canyon, no meadow. There was sky, separated from all things, the face of the earth was invisible, there was nothing that could make a sound. There was the sea, so calm and all alone. There was dark and night and sea murmurings, ripplings.
Yet within the dark and night and sea, there was the Maker and there was the Feathered Serpent. And they brought their words together, joined them with their thoughts, planned creation. Their words and thoughts were so clear that whatever they said came to be.
And the Serpent and the Maker thought about the nature of the world: what would be light and dark, who would bring food, and what everything should look like. And then by speaking their thoughts, they brought the world into existence, starting with earth and then moving onto its features, like mountains and trees, followed by wild animals. But, there was a problem. The wild animals were unable to speak the names of the Maker and the Feathered Serpent, as well as the other gods who helped bring about creation, and they were unable to praise the gods, thus the first creation was a failure.
The Maker had to start over again. But not before explaining to all wild animals there lot was to be brought low, which considering that the Maker and the Feather Serpent organized things this way, seems at least a little unfair.
"You - bird, deer, you will stay where you are, where you sleep and eat, in the forest and canyons, among the tree and bush. You will be eaten. You will kill and be killed. You will stay low and serve, since you cannot talk and praise your god."
What story in Genesis give humans power over animals?
Adam gave names to all the animals and establishing humanity's dominion over all non speaking creatures, providing a single reason why humans should be considered special among all animals
African spider god
The Universe is a Green Dragon
"Imagine that furnace out of which everything came forth. This was a fire that filled the universe - that was the universe. There was no place in the universe free from it. Every point of the cosmos was a point of this explosion of light. And all the particles of the universe churned in extremes of heat and pressure, all that we see about us all that now exists was there at the beginning, in the great burning explosion of light."
How was Thoth born?
born of the seed of Horus from the forehead of Set
Latin word for "seed"
Eyptian creation story
"I fulfilled all my desires when I was alone, before there had appeared a second to be with me in this place; I assumed form as that great soul wherein I started being creative while still in the primeval waters in a state of inertness. So it was I who spat forth Shu and expectorated Tefnut."
creation story from the Bashongo Bantu people in Africa
In the beginning, in the dark, there was nothing but water, and Bumba was alone. One day Bumba was in terrible pain, he retched and strained and vomited up the sun. After that, the light spread over everything. The heat dried up the water until the black edges of the world began to show: black sandbanks and reefs could be seen.
But there were no living things. Bumba vomited up the moon, and then the stars, and after that the night had its light also. Still Bumba was in pain, he strained again and nine living creatures came forth. Last of all, came man.
Greek creation story
"Great Heaven came, bringing on the night and desirous of love, he spread himself over the earth. stretched out in every direction. His son Chronos reached out from the ambush with his left hand, with his right he took a huge sickle with its long row of sharp teeth, and quickly cut off his fathers genitals, and flung them behind him to fly where they might. They were not released from his hand to no effect, for all the drops of blood that flew off were received by the earth and as the years went round, she bore the powerful Erinyes, and the great giants in gleaming armour with long spears in their hands, nd the nymphs who they called Meliai on the boundless earth.
"As for the genitals, just as he first cut them off with his instrument of adamant, and threw them from the land into the surging sea, even so they were carried on the waves for a long time. About them, a white foam grew from the immortal flesh, and in it a girl formed. First, she approached holy Cythera and from there she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and out stepped a modest and beautiful goddess, and the grass began to grow all around beneath her slender feet. Gods and men call her Aphrodite, because she was formed in foam, and Cytherea because she approached Cythera and Cyprus-born because she was born in wave-washed Cyprus, and genial because she appeared out of genitals.'
Indian creation myth
One translation from the 19th century puts it this way. "He desired, 'May I be reproduced from these waters!' He entered the waters with that triple science. Thence an egg arose. He touched it. 'Let it exist! Let is exist and multiply!' So he said. From is the Brahman was first created. And that which was the shell became the earth. The juice which flowed from it became a tortoise. This whole earth dissolved itself all over the water: all this universe appeared as one form only, namely, water."
Persian creation story
Ahura Mazda created a perfect spiritual world before creating the tangible one. And this perfect world made the god of evil, Angra Mainju aka Ahriman, so angry that he burst through the Cosmic Egg, causing such a disturbance that the sun began to rotate through the sky, instead of standing still. This is turn led to day, night, mountains, valleys, and most importantly the destruction of the perfect world. Which led to work, pain and death for humanity.
Chinese creation myth
In the beginning there was a huge egg containing chaos - a mixture of yin-yang, female-male, passive-active, cold-heat, dark-light and we-dry. Within this yin-yang was Phan Ku, that which was not yet anything, but which broke forth from the egg as the giant which separated chaos into the many opposites, including earth and sky,
Phan Ku was covered with hair, horns sprung from his head and tusks from his mouth. With a great chisel and a huge mallet, he carved out the mountains, valleys, rivers, and oceans. He also made the sun, moon and stars. He taught the people what they know.
When Phan Ku finally died his skull became the top of the sky, his breath the wind, his voice the thunder, his legs and arms the four directions, his flesh the soil, his blood the rivers, and so forth. The people say that the fleas in his hair became human beings, everything that is is Phan Ku. And everything that Phan Ku is is yin-yang.
With Phan Ku's death, a vacuum was created, and in this vacuum pain and sin were able to flourish. In the beginning was chaos, from which light became the sky and darkness formed the earth, yang and yin are contained in light and darkness, and everything is made of these principals.
Where did Gaia come from?
"First came the chasm; and then the broad-breasted Earth, secure seat for ever of all the immortals who occupy the peak of snowy Olympus; Earth bore first of all one equal to herself, starry Heaven, so that he should cover her all about, to be a secure seat for ever for the blessed gods, But then, bedded with heaven, she bore up deep-swirling Oceanus."
Why people might want to characterize Earth as a mother, rather than a father?
Mothers are the ones who give birth and mothers are nurturing, in the biological sense, that they provide physical food for infants.
What happened when Zeus grew up?
He set to work overthrowing his dad, and fulfilling the prophecy. Knowing that he needed help to unseat his father and the other Titans, and also to set his siblings free from daddy's tummy, Zeus released those fifty-headed Hecatoncheires, and together, they went to war. He also freed Rhea's other children, and together, they defeated the Titans, and Zeus and his fam became the Gods of the Greeks.
Norse creation myth from the Prose Edda
The evil frost giant Ymir Who not only created man and woman from his sweaty left armpit, but also created a family of frost giants.
A man Borr, who in turn married Bestla, the daughter of the frost giant Boelthor. Bestla gave birth to three sons: Vili, Vé, and Odin.
The three brothers, Vili, Vé, and Odin, hated Ymir and the other frost giants, even though they created them. Notice the emerging theme here? So then they battled and defeated them, killing Ymir, then the three gods used Ymir's body to create the world.
Enuma Elish, from Babylonia
The primordial freshwater, Apsû, and the primordial saltwater, Tiamat, "get together,", and produce the land, in the form of silt deposits Lahmu and Lahamu. The land then got together, and created the first family of gods: Anshar, Kishar, and their son, Anu, who then created a second set of deities, lead by Ea, which means dawn.
Ea and his brothers were a wild bunch and disturbed their grandparents, Apsû and Tiamat. Before Apsû could carry out his plan to force Ea and his brothers to behave. Ea and Koh killed Apsû.
Unsurprisingly, Tiamat was... none too happy, so she created a bunch of snakes, dragons, fishmen, bullmen, and other horrors to teach those boys a lesson. Ea, Anshar, and Anu went to war against the monsters, but were unable to defeat them without the help of Ea's son, Marduk. Now, Marduk, whom Ea called the Great Sun (with a U), was no dummy, and he saw his father's weakness as a chance to take over.
So he made a deal with Ea. Marduk would help defeat Tiamat if he could be named King of the Gods and also the Universe.. Ea agreed to Marduk's deal, and he went off to fight Tiamat, who, as sometimes happens, had transformed herself into a sea monster.
Marduk defeated Tiamat, and became the king of the gods. But, hey, surprise ending: Marduk took Tiamat and divided her like a shellfish, to create the world.
What happened to Tiamat?
"Out of her head Marduk made a mountain. Her eyes became the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, her breasts hills, her nostrils reservoirs. Marduk then established Babylon as his temple city and the unified home of the gods. Out of the blood of Tiamat's son, Qingu, Marduk had Ea create humans, who would do the work that the gods preferred not to do."
What happened to Ymir, the frost giant?
His flesh became Earth. His bones became mountains and stones. His blood served well to make the lakes that dotted the world, and the seas that surrounded it, and his skull was used for the sky. Out of the maggots that had come from Ymir's rotting flesh, the gods made dwarfs.
God of Time
giants with a hundred arms, and fifty heads that were so scary, that Heaven hid them away in a cavern, inside of Earth, called Tartarus
"So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept, took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib the Lord God had taken from the man, he made into a woman, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This is the bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She should be called 'woman' because she was taken out of man.' Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Greek god of laughter
What does the christian god do after a woman eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge?
"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing. In pain you should bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line.
defies the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity
the first woman, a "beautiful evil" endowed with "lies and persuasive words and cunning ways."
Hesiod's story of Pandora's Box
"Before this time, men lived upon the Earth apart from sorrow and from painful work, free from disease which brings the death-gods in. But now the woman opened up the cask, and scattered pains and evils among men. Inside the cask's hard walls remained one thing, hope, only, which did not fly through the door. The lid stopped her, but all the others flew, thousands of troubles wandering the earth."
Japanese creation myth
Izanagi and Izanami were commanded by the gods to solidify the drifting land, so they went to the floating bridge of heaven and stirred the soupy liquid below with a spear. Drops congealed on the tip of the spear and formed the island of Onogoro, the first dry land. The primal couple went down to Onogoro and built a heavenly pillar. Then they decided to procreate.
Izanagi asked his sister how her body was formed, and she told him that there was an unfinished part between her legs. He replied that between his legs was an excess, and perhaps the two should join there. They devised a marriage ritual whereby each would walk around the pillar and when they met, they would exchange compliments and have intercourse.
A child was born, but it was a deformed leech child called Hiruko. His parents put Hiruko on a boat and set it out to sea. The gods determined that the reason the first child was born deformed was that Isanami had spoken first. Izanagi and Izanami returned to the heavenly pillar in Onogoro and repeated the ritual, only this time Izanagi spoke first. In due time, Izanami gave birth to an abundant number of children, islands, gods, and goddesses.
Japanese ritual when a first child is born
putting a clay figurine into a reed boat and floating it away
Hopi creation myth
various animals including the Spider Grandmother, and a chipmunk help to find the entry hole, or sipapuni, to the land beyond the sky.
Navajo creation myth
the people, who are also sort of insects, fly through the sipapuni into the higher world, assisted by swallows.
a Hopi word meaning place of emergence
humans or creatures that become humans are led from an original underground world into a series of interim worlds until they emerge into the surface world that is recognizably Earth
earth diver myth
an animal or another god—often a world parent—is sent by the creator
A long time ago, humans lived up in the sky in what we now consider heaven. The daughter of their great chief became very sick, and they were unable to cure her. In the village was a great tree on which grew the corn that had fed all the people. One of the chief's friends had a dream in which he was told to tell the chief to lay his daughter beside the tree and dig it up. The chief did as the dream said. While this was going on an angry young man came along. The angry young man didn't have the best bedside manner. He pointed out the tree provided the fruit which fed the people, and gave the sick daughter a push with his foot.
She fell through the hole that had been left when the tree had been dug up. The young woman fell into this world, which at the time was all water. On this water floated ducks, and geese and all the other water birds. As there was no earth on this water at the time, there was no place for the falling woman to land, so the birds joined their bodies together into a sort of duck island, where the falling woman landed.
After some time, the birds grew tired and asked who would care for the woman. The Great Turtle took the woman, and when he grew tired he asked who would take care of her. They decided to prepare land on which she would liv - the earth. The Toad, after some convincing, dove to the bottom of the primal sea, and collected soil which was placed on the broad carapace of the Great Turtle. It increased in size until it provided the land to accommodate all the living creatures.
How are Native American myths different from other myths we have studied so far?
They are living stories, communicated by way of a constantly evolving oral tradition, unlike more or less stable written texts.
What stereotype do myths align with how Native Americans view this world?
They have some mystical connection with nature by viewing earth as the place where their destinies will be fulfilled, not by domination but by maintaining a balance achieved by living in harmony with themselves and other humans as well as with animals and the exterior world.
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