Creation myths


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a general summary of creation myths and a listing of the five types

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Creation myths

  1. 1. Creation Myths
  2. 2. Myth a story about the origins of a culture’s beliefs and practices usually derived from oral tradition set in an imagined supernatural past
  3. 3. Myths are narratives (stories)They ask questions about the world and human existence:  How did the universe come to be?  Who are we?  How should we behave?  What are the larger forces that regulate our lives?
  4. 4. Cosmogony“Cosmogony” is a technical term for “creation myth.”  derived from two Greek words meaning order and beginning:  cosmos (kosmos) = order, form, arrangement, the world or universe -gony = production, genesis, origination; used in the formation of compound words: cosmogony, theogony  theogony = an account of the origin of the gods, a genealogical account of the gods  earliest Western written cosmogony, or creation myth, comes from ancient Mesopotamia
  5. 5. AncientMesopotamia
  6. 6. Some Features of Creation Myths a god or gods act upon  the myth is an integral part of pre-existing chaos religion the myth makes an affirmation  the myth establishes an axis of a culture’s values and practices mundi, a “world axis,” a point where the natural and divine worlds intersect it asserts a central reality, then structures values in relation to it
  7. 7. Five types of creation mythsEx Nihilo“out of nothing” a diety (a god) creates the cosmos through thought, dream, word, or other means Creation of Adam Example: The Book of Genesis from The Bible
  8. 8. Chaos or a Cosmic Egga breaking of primordial chaos to form aunityExample: earliest Babylonian creationstory, called Eridu GenesisExample: a primal being, Pan Gu, is containedwithin an egg. When the egg breaks, Pan Gu Pan Guappears as a giant who separates chaos intothe many opposites of yin and yang, ChineseOther cosmic egg myths have twins withinthe egg: for example, the Mande people ofWest Africa, have twins who represent maleand female, who became the first people
  9. 9. Earth Divera deity sends a bird or animal down into theprimal waters to bring up a bit of mud fromwhich the earth is madeExample: a water beetle dives and brings upsoft mud, Cherokee tribe Turtle IslandExample: a bird, the water wagtail, splasheswater and stomps his feet to make pieces ofearth, thus making islands where the Ainupeople of Japan would live.Example: in an Ojibwa myth, a giant tortoiserises from the primordial waters and the backof it forms land, called Turtle Island.
  10. 10. EmergenceCreation is a gradual process featuring human-likecreatures who must travel through many worldsbefore reaching this one.Example: three worlds below with events which shape Hopi Emergencethe Fourth world, the one in which we now live,Navaho, but similar myths are common among manyNative America tribes.Example: Ra, the sun-god, emerging with new landafter the annual flood, Egyptian
  11. 11. The World ParentsTwo types:1. A primal pair is separated, sometimes turning against one another, with little care for their Tiamat and Marduk offspring. The pair might be Sky and Earth or other features of nature. Example: The Epic of Creation (Enamu Elish) where Apsu and Tiamat are fresh and salt water2. Creation comes from the dismemberment of one of the parents in order to create heaven and earth. Example: The Epic of Creation (Enamu Elish)
  12. 12. Works CitedKramer, Samuel Noah. "Reflections on the Mesopotamian Flood." Expedition, 9. 4 (summer 1967). Web.Voth, Grant L. Myth in Human History. Chantilly, VA. The Teaching Company. 2010. Print.