Who created the world? How was the world created? These questions have nagged at both laymen and philosophers since the beginning of human history. The stories that explain the origin of creation vary across cultures and across time periods.
From the void Chaos, the primordial deities Erebus, who personified darkness; and Eros, who was love. Eros’s existence brought forth Light and Day so that Gaia, the Mother Earth goddess, appeared. In time these deities begot various spiritual and mystical offspring, including the Twelve Titans. Among the Twelve Titans was Cronus, who helped Gaia overthrow his father and her husband.
Out of the infinite void Nun, the first god, Atum, emerged as a Bennu bird. He created a son, Shu, and a daughter, Tefnut, who symbolized life and justice. Shu and Tefnut’s children, Geb and Nut, symbolized and made the land and sky. Humans were an accidental creation, formed when Atum, in the form of the sun god Ra, lost his wedjat [eye of wholeness]. As his children struggled to catch it, the eye shed tears that became human beings.
Due to the interplay between yin and yang, the giant Pangu was born in the egg-like space that was the world at the time. Using a magical ax, Pangu broke the “egg” so that the halves separated. For 18,000 years, fearing that the halves would come together again, Pangu stood between and held them apart. When he collapsed and died, his breath, voice, eyes, hair, limbs, and all else of and in his body turned into the elements of heaven and earth. Some ancient Chinese believe that humans are manifestations of Pangu’s spirit.
Out of the chaotic darkness rose the Plain of High Heaven. The Three Creating Deities emerged from this heaven: Ame-no-Minaka-Nushi-no-Mikoto, Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto, and Kammi-Musubi-no-Mikoto. Over millions of years precipitation fell to form the earth. While it was still not fully formed, immortals grew from it, but they had nothing to do with the world still in chaos. Thus the divine beings Izanagi and Izanami were sent to bring the world into order. By stirring the forming world with a spear, they made an island firm enough to walk upon. In time they gave birth to other islands, as well as deities to guard nature and the elements.
Between the Muspelheim of elemental fire and the Niflheim of elemental ice lay the abyss Ginnungagapp. When the fire and ice of Niflheim and Muspelheim met and the former began to melt the latter, the godlike giant Ymir, or Screamer, formed. His legs and sweat produced more giants. As more frost melted, the cow Audhumla came into being. She licked at the salt in the ice, uncovering Buri, the Father of all Gods. Buri’s half-god, half-giant grandchildren, who included Odin, killed Ymir and made the earth from his corpse. The first humans, Ask and Embla, Odin and his brothers made from tree trunks.
Fulani Mythology (Mali)
At first, the world was nothing but a drop of milk. Doondari descended to create stone, which resulted in the creation of iron, fire, water, and air. Doondari combined these five elements to make man. A series of events that attempted to subdue the haughtiness of creation made blindness, sleep, worry, and death. At the end, Doondari returns to the world as Gueno, the eternal one, and defeats death.
Old Man, or Napi, made the geography and animals of the earth as he traveled northward from the south. After arranging all of the animals where he thought them best suited, he molded a woman and her son out of clay. These first people had no knowledge, so Old Man taught them what and how to eat, about the world and animals he had created, how to use healing herbs, and how to hunt. Before he left to move farther north, he showed them how to call spirit power to themselves, so that they might flourish without him. He continued to make and teach humans until he disappeared in the western mountains, promising to return.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Gen. 1:1). Just by his word, in six days he made all of creation, from the land and the sea to the plants and the animals. On the seventh day, he formed man from the dust and breathed life into him. God realized that man, named Adam should not live alone, so he brought all the animals to Adam. No suitable companion was found among them, so God had Adam fall into a deep sleep. While he slept, God took one of Adam’s ribs and made a woman, Eve, from it.
Do you know any other creation stories? Please share them in the comments!