Comparing Creation Myths

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From the dawn of civilization, man has struggled to understand his place in the universe. We see evidence of this even in the Neolithic period, from the Goddess statues at Catal Huyuk.Throughout history, countless narratives have been recorded, addressing the question of human origin. These creation myths serve the purpose of explaining how the Earth and human beings were created, and defined for ancient peoples our place in the natural order of the universe.

Almost every ancient society formed its own creation myth unique to the environment, beliefs, and culture of its people. Emerging simultaneously throughout the ancient world, these myths represented early man’s attempt to answer the most fundamental questions of our existence.

Within these sacred narratives we find a commonality of recurring themes. Creation from nothingness, the sacrifice of gods providing materials for the creation of Earth, and the dominion of gods over humanity are common themes. We repeatedly see the presence of archetypal figures such as Sky Father, Earth Mother and their offspring, and the Supreme Being.

In examining the creation myths of two very different societies, we will reveal striking similarities. These compelling stories provide us with a glimpse into the developing cosmology of early civilization.

Maori Creation

The Maori creation myth is a simplistic, corporeal narrative which describes the personification of the elements of nature. It begins with the emergence of Rangi, the Father Sky, and Papa, the Earth Goddess from the void, bound together in a conjugal embrace. From this union came their children, each having dominion over a specific element of nature; Tane, god of forests, Tangaroa, god of the sea, and Tawhiri, god of the wind, among others.

The offspring, squeezed impossibly between their parents, struggled endlessly to escape their embrace. Tane, god of forests, with his head against the sky and his feet against the earth, gave a long

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