16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World

Alexa - January 3, 2019

Creation stories often form the basis for many religions around the world; many are well known even among those who do not practice the religion. Others are obscure and unusual, utilizing strong storytelling techniques to explain complex moral and spiritual quandaries. Regardless of the creation story’s popularity, they all seek to explain the same things: where did we and everything we see come from and why? Below is a list of the top most fascinating creation stories found throughout the world, many from religions that are still practiced today. There are many variations and iterations of these legendary tales, so the content may vary from source to source.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Auðumbla nourishes Ymir, a Norse giant that predates commonly known Norse gods such as Odin and Thor. Pinterest.com

1. Proto Indo-Europeans had various creation myths, but most involved a giant feeding from the primal cow named Auðumbla.

Ymir is the personification of chaos before the creation. He was the first being in Norse mythology, arriving much sooner than other well-known Nordic gods, such as Thor or Odin. Ymir inhabited a void, Ginnungagap, where no fertile land or water existed. However, with nothing to nourish Ymir, he had to be fed from the udder of Audhumla, a primal cow who was formed from dripping ice. While he was feeding, two other giants were formed asexually from the sweat of Ymir’s armpits and a third giant was formed from Ymir’s legs.

Audhumla, the primal cow, was fed by a salt lick that contained Buri, the first of the Old Norse god. As she licked, Buri was freed and Buri then produced a son. Buri’s son Borr mated with Ymir’s descendant Bestla. Borr and Bestla’s union produced Odin, chief of the Old Norse gods. Odin was unhappy with Ymir’s ability to create offspring and decided to dismember Ymir. Ymir’s body parts then became the substances that created the cosmos. The unnamed collection of anonymous Norse poems, the Poetic Edda contains Grímnismál or “Song of the Hooded One,” artistically wording Ymir’s demise:

From Ymir’s flesh the earth was created,
And from his sweat [or, in some versions, blood] the sea,
Mountains from bone,
Trees from hair,
And from his skull the sky.

And from his eyebrows the blithe gods made
Midgard, home of the sons of men
And from his brains
They sculpted the grim clouds.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Illustration of a raven. totemtalk.ning.com.

2. Native Americans told tales of a raven accidentally creating man from a pea pod.

Raven stumbles upon a fully grown man. Curious and confused, Raven goes on to question him. The man explains that for four days, he grew inside of a pea pod. On the fifth day, he emerged fully formed. When he emerged he had a pain in his stomach. Alongside him were pools of water, and when he drank from them the pain in his stomach stopped. The raven examined the man and then himself. Raven lifted off his mask. He stared up and down at the man, in awe of their similarities until Raven finally spoke, “What are you? From where did you come? I have never seen anything like you.” Raven had realized man shared the same form as himself.

Man shared that he had been born from a pea pod. Raven explained to the man that he had made the vine but did not realize anything would be born from it. Raven asked the man to wait for him and flew away. Raven returned with berries, handed them to man and said, “Here is what I have made for you to eat. I also wish them to be plentiful over the earth. Now eat them.” Raven then led Man to a small creek. Raven gathered clay and began to form small objects. Raven flapped his wings over the objects four times, and brought them to life.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
“Jacob’s Ladder” in Kabbalah beliefs. hebrew4christians.com

3. Kabbalah teaches that Light has always existed and had a need to share, so it created a Vessel who also desired to share; the Vessel created all life as we know it.

Light was the only thing in existence. There was no time, space, or matter. Light’s whole purpose was to share, but there was nothing to give to. The only solution was to create something to give to, so Light created the Vessel. The Vessel’s whole purpose was only to receive Light’s gifts. The exchange was perfection; there was no time or space, so Light could continually give, and the Vessel was able to continually receive. However, Vessel had inherited the giving trait from its creator Light.

The Vessel decided to start sharing its own gifts. Light agreed to step aside and allow the Vessel to fulfill its wish to be a giver. The Vessel, teeming with the abundance of gifts given by Light exploded into trillions and trillions of parts. All of these parts became matter, space, and time. The cosmos, the animals and plants, and the entire universe was of the Vessel’s effect. The Vessel had not only received from Light, but he was also able to give back to Light in the form of other beings to give to.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Vishnu and the Hindu creation myth. hi-journal.com

4. For Hindus, there is no one story of creation, but multiple creations stories that tell of cyclic creation and destruction. The story of Vishnu is one creation story.

There was a very large cobra floating along the ocean. Within its coils was a sleeping Vishnu. Suddenly a lotus begins growing from Vishnu’s navel. When the lotus blooms, it is revealed that Brahma, a four-headed demigod, is contained inside. Brahma decides he needs to create and meditates on this for eons. Brahma decides to split the lotus into three separate portions. One part of the lotus becomes the heavens, the second piece of the lotus becomes the sky, and the third part of the lotus becomes the earth. He creates birds, fish, trees, plants, humans and other animals to reside on the earth.

In Hinduism, it is taught that this is not the first universe nor is it the last. There are three deities, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, and Lord Shiva. Each specializes in different aspects of creation. Lord Vishnu births the universe from the lotus, Lord Brahma creates the universe and everything in it, and Lord Shiva destroys the universe so that it can then be recreated. These three deities are all integral parts of the creation story and are all parts of one whole: the Supreme One.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Seventh Day of Creation (from the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle). Wikipedia.

5. The Genesis Creation story casts out Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge.

One of the most well-known creation stories belongs to both Judaic and Christian faiths. The creation story as told in the book of Genesis details a seven-day process. On the first day, God created light and the universe. On the second day, the sky and waters were made. On the third day, God created land and vegetation. On the fourth day, the sun, moon, and stars were made to fill the skies. On the fifth day, both sea and land creatures were born. On the sixth day, man was created, Adam and Eve. The seventh day, God rested.

The paradise of Eden was designated as the perfect land for Adam and Eve. All food was provided to them. There was no death, no pain, and no suffering. There was only one rule: they were not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. However, Eve was tempted by a serpent in the garden persuading her to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. When she ate the fruit from the tree, God cast them out of Eden. They would then suffer the consequence of sin, pain, and death.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Eiocha and the oak tree. Ancient Origins.

6. Celtic mythology states that Eiocha, a white mare, became pregnant with the first god Cernunnos after eating berries.

It was said that Eiocha’s birth was so painful, she ripped off bark from a nearby oak tree and cast the bark into the ocean. This created the giants of the deep. However, upon seeing all the beasts now in the ocean, Cernunnos became very lonely. He decided to make Eiocha pregnant again, and the following births resulted in the creation of the gods and goddesses Maponos, Tauranis, Teutates and Epona. The new gods and goddesses were bored and wanted to be worshipped, so from the same oak tree, they removed bark and formed the first man and woman. Soon, Cernunnos had created an entire forest of creatures. Eiocha saw what she had helped create and returned to her true home, the sea, where she transformed into the sea goddess Tethra.

Each of the gods and goddesses had their own creations; Epona created mares and stallions; Teutates created weapons such as bows and arrows and clubs; Tauranis created thunderbolts and fire; Maponos created instruments to make beautiful music. After seeing how loved and worshipped the gods and goddesses were, the giants of the sea grew jealous and decided to wage war. Tethra emerged from the waters and imprisoned many of the warring giants of the deep, but several escaped. These escaped giants spread to the far corners of the world where they became known as the Formos.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Depiction of Ahura Mazda in the Zoroastrian faith. Parsi Times.

7. Zoroastrian creation story tells of two opposing beings creating beneficial beings and their opposite “noxious” counterparts.

Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world. In its creation story, there are two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. Ahura Mazda was the embodiment of benevolence and light while Angra Mainyu embodied malevolence and darkness. Both beings existed independently and manifested different parts of the universe. Ahura Mazda created Amesha Spentas, beings who live in the heavens with him and support his works. The universe itself was created to trap evil. Ahura Mazda created the universe in two separate parts. First, he created the spiritual plane, and 3,000 years later he created the physical plane of existence. Once he had created heavenly beings and the universe, he created the archetypal perfect man and a bull.

Ahura Mazda’s purpose is to create and bring life, but because of Angra Mainyu’s antagonizing purpose, he sought to destroy. He created demons and opposing species to all of the benevolent creatures Ahura Mazda had created. Angra Mainyu created animals such as spiders, snakes, ants, and flies. Angra Mainyu also brought suffering and death upon all living creatures, including man and the bull. However, when the man and bull died, seeds arose from their bodies. The bull created all living plants and animals while the man’s seeds sprouted the first man and woman.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Clay tablet of the Enuma Elish, written in cuneiform. Ancient History Encyclopedia.

8. The Enûma Eliš tells the Babylonian creation story of primordial gods Aspu and Tiamet mixing together to form various gods into existence.

The tablets that form the Enûma EliÅ¡ are some of the oldest in existence. The first eight lines of the tablet go on to describe the nothingness that came before Aspu and Tiamet’s mixture and the creation of the gods afterwards: “When on high the heaven had not been named, Firm ground below had not been called by name, Naught but primordial Apsu, their begetter, (And) Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all, Their waters commingling as a single body; No reed hut had been matted, no marsh land had appeared, When no gods whatever had been brought into being, Uncalled by name, their destinies undetermined—Then it was that the gods were formed within them.

Unfortunately, Tiamet disapproved of the new gods’ actions and sought to have them destroyed. The new gods discovered this was Tiamet’s plan and crafted a plan to thwart him. A net was cast upon Tiamet, trapping him, while another god maced Tiamet, cracking his skull and killing him. Half of Tiamet’s body was used to create the sky where the sky gods would reside, and the other half is used to create living beings, constellations, and land.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
From the Popol Vuh creation story. Berkeley Media.

9. The Popol Vuh recounts the story of the deities who created humans out of white and yellow ears of corn.

The Popol Vuh is the text of the Mayan people, originally written in hieroglyphics but translated into the alphabet in the 16th century. Like many other creation stories, the Popol Vuh expresses that in the beginning was nothing. However, the gods realized the great potential for creation. The gods made three attempts to create man, whose purpose was to keep count of the days. The first attempt was wet clay. The second was wood. Lastly, the gods attempted to make man from maize dough. This creation succeeded, and man emerged able to speak and to count.

To ensure the success of the creation of man, the gods created the sun, the moon, and the stars. They also created four different animals: a coyote, a fox, a parrot, and a crow. These animals scattered to find a habitat to thrive in. They were taught they were to be subservient to humans. Their entire purpose was to be eaten. The Mayan creation story parallels the importance of both agriculture and hunting within the civilization.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Depiction of the Yoruba golden chain creation story. WeWán Institute.

10. In Yoruba, the god Obatala climbed down from the sky by using a long gold chain. He used a snail shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut to create land and living things.

In West Africa, the Yoruba tribe’s creation story starts with the chief god Olorun who ruled over the sky and the goddess Olokun who ruled all below the sky. Obatala was a lesser god who felt that there needed to be more in existence. One day, he went to the wise Orunmila, the eldest son of the chief god Olorun. Orunmila instructed Obatala to create a very long, golden chain, and gather a snail shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and palm nut. He went to all of the other gods, gathering what gold they had to offer, and from this gold, fashioned a golden chain. The rest of the objects Orunmila instructed Obatala to gather were placed in a satchel.

Obatala descended from the sky by using the golden chain, slowly lowering himself until he had reached the ground. He took out the sand filled snail shell and dumped the sand out. Next, he took out the white hen and placed her on the pile of sand. The sand the hen scattered away from the pile became land masses. Next, he dug a hole and placed the palm nut into the hole. It immediately grew into a fully grown palm tree, and from it, other palm nuts and trees sprang forth. He took the black cat from the bag and sat it down with him so they could enjoy each others’ company. After drinking bowl after bowl of wine he had made from the pine nuts, a drunken Obatala began creating beings. However, because he drank so much wine, the beings that he created were imperfect. After seeing what he had done, he swore to never create again.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
A depiction of Hopi Spider-Woman. WordPress.

11. The Hopi tell a story of a Spider-Woman who mixes her saliva with dirt to create living things whose only instruction is to respect all of creation.

The Hopi creation story begins with Taiowa, the only creator. Taiowa decided to create Sotuknang, whom he referred to as his nephew. Sotuknang’s purpose was to create the nine universes. He accumulated matter from the vastness of space to establish nine new worlds. Taiowa instructed Sotuknang to gather water to make the sea on the solid worlds, and air to make winds. The last and final act of creation Taiowa instructed Sotuknang in was that of humanity. Rather than create the entirety of the human race himself, Sotuknang created the Spider Woman.

The Spider-Woman took dirt and mixed it with her saliva and with this mixture formed two beings. She sang a creation song and they came to life. She instructed them to go forth and create land and vibration so that the energy of the earth resonated with the energy of the creator. After this instruction, the Spider-Woman created plants, trees, and animals. Her final creation was man. She mixed her saliva with yellow, red, white, and black earth and formed four men and four women. Their only instruction was to respect Taiowa and all he had created.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Prometheus suffering his eternal punishment. Hellenism.net.

12. Prometheus created man and gifted man fire; an enraged Greek Zeus bound and tortured Prometheus by having his liver pecked out by a vulture for all eternity.

There was only vast emptiness at the beginning of this Grecian tale. The only thing in existence was a black bird named Nyx. Nyx laid a golden egg and sat upon it. After many ages, the egg hatched and Eros, the god of love, arose. One half of the broken shell rose high and became the sky. The other became the earth. Eros named the sky Uranus and the earth Gaia, and made them fall in love. From their love, came children and grandchildren, but their children became fearful of the younger generation’s power. Kronus, Gaia and Uranus’ son, swallowed all but one child, Zeus. When Zeus reached manhood, he tricked his father Kronus into spitting back up his brothers and sisters, and with the help of his siblings, defeated Kronus.

With the release of the younger gods, there remained only two things missing: animals and human beings. Zeus instructed his two sons Prometheus and Epimetheus to descend to earth and created man, animals and give them each a gift. Prometheus set forth to create man and Epimetheus began to create animals. As Epimetheus completed each animal, he gave them a gift. When it was time for Prometheus to bestow a gift to his completed man, Epimetheus informed Prometheus he had already used all of the gifts. Despite it being forbidden, Prometheus gifted man with fire, a gift only intended for the gods themselves. Zeus became furious that such a gift had been given to man and punished Prometheus. He was to be bound and tortured for the rest of eternity.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Pangu pushing apart the sky and the earth. Ancient-origins.net.

13. A great giant, Pangu, dies after thousands of years of stretching apart the earth and the sky. When he falls to the earth his flesh and blood create land, water, and life.

Within a chaotic universe grew a large, black egg. Within the egg, Pangu slept for over 18,000 years. During this time, the egg balanced both Yin and Yang until Pangu awoke. Pangu realized he was trapped and broke apart the egg into two separate pieces, splitting Yin and Yang. The upper half of the shell became the sky while the lower part became the earth. The farther he pushed them apart, the taller he grew.

Another 18,000 years passed by, and Pangu died. His body fell, and different parts of his body became different parts of the earth. His limbs became great and tall mountains. His breath became the wind and his eyes created the sun and the moon. His blood filled the crevices to form rivers. His voice became loud and boisterous thunder and his veins and muscles formed fertile land and long roads. The parasites that inhabited his body scattered and became human beings.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Atum emerging from Nun in the Egyptian Creation story. Wikimedia.

14. The Egyptian sun god Atum wept human beings into existence.

In the beginning, only a primordial ocean, Nun, existed. From Nun, emerged a benben, a great pyramid-shaped mound. Behind the benben came the first emergence of the sun and from its ledges stood the first god, Atum, creator of all life. Previously within Nun, Atum floated aimlessly about carrying both male and female aspects. He willed himself to arise from the waters so he could create other life forms. He formed life by using his female aspect. His first two creations were his children, Shu and Tefnut.

Atum, Shu, and Tefnut joined together to form one single being, and chaos left the world. After experiencing this union and feeling the joy of creation, Atum wept. From his tears, human beings were formed. Just as the human beings were wept into creation, Shu and Tefnut mated and created the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. When Geb and Nut were born, they held each other in such a tight embrace they could barely be separated from one another.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World
Izanagi and Izanami stirring the primordial ocean with their jeweled spear. Green Shinto.

15. Brother and sister deities create all life in Japan; one vows to kill one thousand people a day, while the other vows to create 1,500.

Izanagi and Izanami, or “The Male Who Invites” and “The Female who Invites”, were a brother and a sister the Japanese deities created. These deities commanded that Izanagi and Izanami solidify the lands of Japan. The deities gifted a jeweled spear to the pair, and they dipped the spear into the ocean. When they pulled up the spear, the drop of water that landed back onto the ocean became the Japan. On the land, Izanagi and Izanami built a large palace and were soon married. The pair attempted to procreate and made many deities. However, when Izanami gave birth to a fire deity, she was so badly burnt that she died.

Izanagi grieved and wept, and from his tears, more deities were created. Missing Izanami terribly, Izanagi traveled to the underworld to retrieve her. Unfortunately, darkness had overtaken her and she tried to chase Izanagi out. So enraged by Izanagi’s presence, Izanami swore to kill one thousand of his creations every day. In return, Izanagi swore to create 1,500 Japanese people every single day. It is told that this is the reason why one thousand people in Japan die, and 1,500 babies are born each day.

16 Incredible Ancient Creation Stories from Around the World

16. The Andean Incan Viracocha created all of existence, walked on water, performed miracles, and fathered the great civilizations of the ancient past.

Viracocha arose from a great lake during a great time of darkness. His purpose was to bring forth light and creation. He created the sun, the moon, and the stars. He also created the first man out of stone by breathing life into them. He was unhappy with how emotionless and uninspired the giant rocks were, so he destroyed them during a great flood. After the flood, he created another set out of men out of smaller, smoother stones. When this creation was done, Viracocha walked on the waters of the Pacific Ocean until he was out of man’s sight.

Viracocha wandered all across the earth in various disguises. Most often, he would dress as a beggar in order to see how well his creations would respond to him. He helped those in need and worked many miracles. Viracocha often wept after seeing what his creations had become; sad, angry, warring, and poor. He had many children who began great civilizations. It is taught that Viracocha comes back during times of great despair and turmoil.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Smithsonian Education – The Raven Myth

Inter Nations – The Story of Creation according to Kabbalah

Celtic Mythology – Eiocha

BBC UK – God, Zoroaster And Immortals

The Great Course Daily – The Myth of ‘Enuma Elish’

Greensboro – A Hopi Story Of The First World

Sun Sentinel – The Children Of Cronus

Quora – How Was Cronus Defeated By Zeus In Greek Mythology?

Ancient Origins – Pangu and the Chinese Creation Story

ThoughtCo – Viracocha and the Legendary Origins of the Inca

“The Poetic Edda”. Henry Adams Bellows. sacred-texts.com.

“The Hindu Creation Story”. Crystalwind.ca. July 10th 2011.

“Genesis Creation Narrative”. Wikipedia.com

“The Story of Creation”. American Bible Society. Biblegateway.com. 1982.

“Celtic Creation”. The Secrets Revealed. Virtualclassroom.org.

“Zoroastrian Cosmology”. Wikipedia.com. May 2017.

“Creation Story of the Maya”. Living Maya Time. Maya.nmai.si.edu.

“Maya Creation Myth”. Crystalinks.com.

“Yoruba Creation Myth”. Gateway Africa. Gateway-africa.com.

“The Four Creations”. Gly.uga.edu.

“Greek Creation Myth”. Cs.williams.edu.

“Egyptian Creation Myth of Heliopolis”. Experience-ancient-egypt.com.

“The Story of Izanagi and Izanami: A Japanese Creation Myth”. Sarah L. Maguire. Owlcation. Owlcation.com. January 25, 2018.

“The Origin of Japan and Her People”. Gly.uga.edu.

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