Creation myths evolve in nearly as many ways as there are cultures. Sometimes they are used to solidify political power, as when Egypt moved back and forth from the gods Aten and Amen. More frequently they are used to explain the unknown. Some cultures used the familiar (animals, clay, mud, etc) to explain their existence, while others used the sun and moon, which were IN their lives, but not OF them. The Inuit creation myth turns the emergence tradition upside down; the sea goddess is the survivor of acts of extreme violence. Her parents cannot feed her and cast her into the sea to drown. When she survives and swims back to their canoe, they cut her fingers off, to prevent her from clinging to the boat. Those fingers becomes all the features of the sea, but she returned to the depths, sealed in by ice.
I’ve always found it interesting that where some peoples gave all power to a single entity (like the sun or Judeo-Christian God), while others, like the Japanese and the Maori, created a more balanced myth. (these are versions of the two-creator myth, but more critically in terms of culture, myths of balance) In Japan the Sun was female and the Moon male: to make the Sun a man would have given it too much power. The Maori used the sky and the earth as the father and mother of the universe (and no doubt many a dissertation has been based on the concept of the distant father).
Curiously, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultures have no true creation myths. The native peoples of Britain base their histories on invasions, which was their actual history. The very word “Heathen” comes from the word “heath” or rural areas of the UK.
Reading these various myths and the enormous faith people had in them, I cannot help but wonder – did the gods die, or are they perhaps still there, just awaiting the return of the faithful?
COMMONALITY OF CREATION MYTHS
Most of the myths can be traced to the needs and rhythms...