Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures

Stephanie Schoppert - April 11, 2017

Creation myths are always a significant part of a culture’s identity. Many other myths that people believe in emerge out of that first, original one, and many of the answers to the world can be found in a culture’s mythology. For some cultures, the myths are particularly brutal, others are animal-based, female-based, or focused on nature. They all represent what is important to the culture where they originate.

From aliens, to dismembered bodies, to semen and flaming vaginas, many of these creation myths seem strange today, but they made sense to the cultures that created them. Even religions still followed today like Scientology and Christianity can be seen to have very strange creation myths to those who don’t practice the religion.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
Depiction of Ymir. Pinterest

Norse Creation Myth

Norse mythology comes from the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. The Norse mythology had a strong hold in the legends of the early people of Scandinavia and continued on through the Viking Era. The Norse creation myth has the same grim outlook and cold theme that is present throughout the rest of the Norse myths.

The Norse creation myth begins with Muspell, which was a place of light and heat guarded by Surt. He wields a flaming sword and will bring about the end of the world by vanquishing the gods and burning the whole world. After Muspell came the yawning void known as Ginnungagap and past that lay the cold and dark work of Niflheim. The cold of Niflheim met the heat of Muspell at Ginnungagap and the thawing ice grew into the giant frost ogre called Ymir.

Under the left arm of Ymir grew a man and woman, and one of his legs birthed a son with the other. Thus, began the frost ogres. Thawing frost next became a cow who licked the salty ice blocks until she uncovered a man named Buri. He had a son named Bor who married Bestla, together they had three sons Odin, Vili and Ve. Odin is ruler of heaven and earth, the greatest and most famous of all men.

The three brothers killed Ymir. Then they created the world from his body. His blood became the sea and lakes. His flesh became the earth, his hair the trees and his bone became mountains. His skull became the sky and his brain became the clouds. They used the sparks of Muspell to give light to heaven and earth. Using his eyebrows, the three brothers built themselves a fortress which they named Midgard. Bor then found two trees and created man and woman. Odin gave them life, Vili gave them movement and understanding and Ve gave them clothing and names. From them came the races of men who lived in Migard.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
Egyptian Creation Myth painting. Shows the air god Shu holding up Nut (the sky) while Geb (the earth) lies below. slidego.com

Egyptian Creation Myth

Hieroglyphic writing dating back thousands of years offers insights into the creation myths of the Egyptians. While there were some differences among them, the main changes were the gods involved in the creation and not the story itself. The creation myth detailed here is the one found in the famous Book of the Dead.

In the beginning the world was nothing but an endless of expanse of dark and chaotic waters known as Nun, represented as being four pairs of male and female gods. Each couple was one of the four principles that characterized Nun. It was from Nun that Atum created himself by sheer effort of his own will or by saying his own name. Atum was alone in the nothingness and therefore created the god Shu and goddess Tefnut by masturbating with the female element within him. Other interpretations state that he had sex with his shadow.

Shu and Tefnut were curious about the waters around them and went to explore. When they never returned, Atum fearful of being lonely once more sent the Eye of Ra to find them. He cried upon their return and his tears became the very first humans. Another interpretation suggests that Shu and Tefnut left to chase the Eye of Ra and catch it. The Eye resisted the twins and in the struggle shed tears which then became humans.

Tefnut and Shu had their own children, Geb (dry land) and Nut (the sky). Now that there was earth, there was a place for the sun god Ra to rest. Geb and Nut gave birth to more gods. There was Seth, Osiris, Nepthys and Isis. When Ra grew old he found that the other deities and humans tried to take advantage of him. The humans fell from grace and Ra retreated from the human world into the heavens with the other gods soon following. That was how the earth became separated from the heavens and the gods.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
Nommo of Sirius (Dogon Creation Myth). Corbin Kosak

Dogon Creation Myth

The Dogon are an African tribe that live in Mali. Their creation stories are believed to go back thousands of years and some claim that they may be descended from the ancient Egyptians. What really sets the Dogon apart is that they believe in an “egg of the world” out in space which is now known to modern astronomers as “Sirius B.” How astrological maps depicting this star exist on ancient Dogon artifacts is baffling since the star was only discovered in 1970.

The creation myth of the Dogon begins with Amma the god who existed in the before time and created the world. The egg of the world or Sirius B is sometimes referred to as the original placenta, which may refer to Amma’s origins. Amma then creates the Earth and marries her, however the clitoris of the Earth is opposed to Amma’s penis. Therefore, it is only after Amma removes the Earth’s clitoris that they are able to conceive four sets of twins.

The twins are known as Nommo. One of the twins is referred to as O Nommo while another is Ogo. The Nommo have the shape of fish and require a watery environment to live but they also have arms and legs. Ogo removes himself from Amma’s womb before he is finished in order to take over creation. With no partner of his own he mates with the Earth, and that act of incest brings disorder and chaos in to the world. From the incestual union comes the first menstrual blood and the spirits of the underworld.

Amma sends O Nommo to Earth in an ark in order to quell the chaos of Ogo. Ogo realizes that O Nommo is stronger and demands Amma give him his placenta so he can be strong too. Instead Amma uses the placenta to create the sun. Then she turns Ogo into a fox but he continues to wreak havoc on the world. Amma then sacrifices O Nomma. His blood purifies the earth. Amma then cuts his body into pieces in order to create the stars, plants and animals.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
Vishnu and the Lotus Flower. toptenz.net

Hindu Creation Myth

The Hindu creation myth has some links to other creation myths in that it begins with a watery world of nothingness. There was a large expanse of ocean and on the water floated a giant cobra. Within the endless coils of the giant snake lay Lord Vishnu. The large snake was the protector of Vishnu and watched over him as he slept. Lord Vishnu remained sleeping because everything was so quiet and peaceful.

Then there came a humming sound, Ohm. The sound grew louder and spread, moving through the emptiness and throbbing with energy. The humming sound meant that night was over and it was time for Vishnu to awaken. When dawn broke, a magnificent lotus flower grew from Vishnu’s navel.

From the center of the lotus flower emerged Brahma, the servant of Vishnu. Vishnu spoke to Brahma and commanded him to create the world. Then a wind blew over the waters and caused Vishnu and the snake to disappear, leaving only Brahma. Brahma stayed alone in the lotus flower floating upon the turbulent sea. Then Brahma lifted his arms and calmed the seas and the wind.

Next Brahma split the lotus blossom into three pieces. With one he created the heavens, with another he created the earth and with the third he made the skies. From his buttocks, he created demons and from his body he created the darkness. Donning a new body, Brahma then brought the gods from his face and then cast off that body as well to create light. By taking on more bodies Brahma would create all the things that inhabited the world. His powers of concentration created humans, snakes and birds. Goats were brought from his mouth, sheep from his chest and cows from his stomach. Horses were made from his feet and the other animals were made from his arms. The hairs on his body were used to create the plants.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
The sun goddess Amaterasu. sites.google.com/site/teachjapanproject/japanese-creation-myth-lesson

Japanese Creation Myth

The Japanese creation myth is first told in the Kojiki, the first book written in Japan in 712 CE. The Japanese creation myth begins with chaos as do many of the others. At the start of the universe it was a shapeless sort of matter that remained in silence.

But then came sounds that indicated the particles were moving. The lightest particles and the light rose up. The particles rose but could not reach the same height as the light itself. Therefore, the light became the top of the universe and the particles below became the first clouds and Heaven. The particles that had not risen came together to form one large mass known as Earth.

At first the mass of the Earth was just like oil floating upon water and was not solid at all. From this emerged a reed that grew up and sprouted two immortals from its bosom. More Gods were formed but they had little to do in the chaos that was the universe and with no solid ground. So they called Izanagi and Izanami to work together to create terra firma. The gods gave them a jeweled spear with which to create the world.

Upon reaching the waters, they thrust the spear into the sea upon which it created a large mass that became the first island. Here the couple wed and Izanami gave birth to many of the gods of the world. However, it was upon giving birth to the fire god that Izanami perished. Izanagi went to the underworld to retrieve her and she told him she must first ask the gods of Yomi if she could return but that he must not look back at her. Izanagi grew impatient and looked for her only to find that she was a disfigured corpse. Terrified at the sight he left and sealed the exit. When he went to purify himself in the river, the goddess of the sun was washed from his left eye, the god of the moon from his right eye and the god of storms from his nose.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
Zuni Creation Myth by Lloyd Moylan. liveauctioneers.com

Zuni Creation Myth

The Zuni are a Pueblo people that reside in New Mexico. Their religion continues to be integrated into their daily life and their respect for their ancestors, nature and animals. They have been persecuted for their religion and therefore remain very private about their beliefs.

In the beginning the people of the world lived crowded together in a place of total darkness deep down in the earth in the fourth world. The daylight world had streams and hills, but there were no humans there to offer prayer sticks to Awonawilona, the Sun and creator. He called two of his sons to lead the people to the daylight world. His sons, who had human features, descended down through the first, second and third worlds to get to the fourth world.

Upon arriving the humans called them their bow priests and told them they were eager to leave. Before leaving the sons planted four seeds, a pine, spruce, silver spruce and aspen. The brothers created prayer sticks from the branch of each tree. The pine prayer stick was planted and grew all the way to the third world. The son and humans then climbed the tree to get to the third world. They traveled to the second world by planting the spruce prayer stick, and to the first world by planting the silver spruce prayer stick. At the first world the last stick was planted and the humans emerged in the daylight world.

In the light of day, the sons realized that the humans were covered in filth and green slime, with webbed feet, horns, and tails. When the two sons grew corn to feed the humans they realized they had no mouths and therefore cut slits in their faces for mouths. Soon after they realized the humans had no anuses either, so holes were cut again. Then the sons cut the webbing of their feet and removed their horns and tails until they appeared as humans are known today.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
Doodle of the Mole and the Bee with the String. stevyncolgan.blogspot.com

Romanian Creation Myth

The Romanian creation myth begins with God creating heaven. After creating heaven, he measured the space beneath with a ball of thread. He then asked the Devil to bring him up some clay from the large ocean over which they resided so that he could shape the Earth. The Devil tried to bring up the clay by invoking his own name but it was only when the Devil invoked God’s name that the clay rose and grew so that God could shape it into the Earth.

As God was weaving the string and the clay into the patterns of the Earth a little mole asked to help. He bid the mole to hold the thread as he wove and the Earth continued to grow. As the Earth grew, God rested and fell asleep, leaving the mole to slowly let out the thread. As God rested, the Devil decided to push God over the edge.

The mole kept pulling out the thread and didn’t realize that the Earth was growing too large. As the Devil tried to push God over the edge, the Earth grew, keeping God from falling. The Devil tried to push God in all four directions but each time the Earth grew. After pushing God in the fourth direction, the Devil became scared of the cross he had created in the dirt.

The mole knew nothing of God’s plight and instead feared that he had ruined Earth. He burrowed himself underground to hide. God awoke and sent a bee to find the mole so that they might find a way to fix their mistake. The mole refused to return, unwilling to believe that God would need advice from him. The bee refused to return without the mole’s advice and instead hid in a flower. As the bee hid he heard the mole talking to himself about squeezing the Earth in order to create mountains and valleys which would make the Earth smaller. The bee told God the mole’s plan and God thought it a good idea and thus finished the creation of the world by making mountains and valleys.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures
Boshongo God Bumba creating the world. paicherng.tumblr.com

Boshongo Creation Myth

The Boshongo are a Central Bantu tribe of the Lunda Cluster. They have a long history despite being fairly unknown among the bantu tribes. Their origin story is one of the strangest largely because it begins with a stomachache.

In the beginning, there was nothing but dark water and Bumba was on his own. Then one day he was in great pain in his stomach. His discomfort grew so great that he vomited up the sun. The sun then spread its light all over the world. The heat from the sun dried up the water and black sands banks and reefs were exposed. Bumba was still in pain and next he vomited up the moon and the stars which then lit up the night.

Bumba’s stomachache continued and he retched up nine animals; the leopard, the crested eagle, the crocodile, a fish, the tortoise, the white heron, one beetle, a goat named Budi and Tsetse, the lightning. The last creature to come forth out of Bumba was man, but only Loko Yima was white like Bumba. The rest of the world’s creatures were then created by the animals that had come forth out of Bumba, each of them responsible for creating their own group of animals.

Bumba then gave his three sons the tasks of finishing the creation of the world. Nyonye Nagana made the white ants but died at the effort it took. Chonganda brought forth a plant from which all other trees and plants and grasses of world came. Chedi Bumba tried for something different but could only make a bird called the kit. The world was peaceful with the exception of Tsetse who continually stirred up trouble so Bumba banished her to the sky. Without lighting man, had no way to make fire, and so Bumba showed man who to make the firedrill and liberate the fire that was within the trees. Thus the world was created.

Emerging from the Darkness: 9 Creation Myths from Different Cultures

Scientology Creation Myth

Scientology is a relatively modern religion that has a very in-depth creation myth that continues to affect how the followers of the Church of Scientology live their lives. In the beginning, there was a decision and the decision was to be. This brought the Theta, the life energy that creates everything, into being. The theta and other being grew bored with nothing to look at and extended their viewpoints. Together these beings created the Theta Universe and then the MEST (Matter, Energy, Space and Time) Universe where people now live.

One day the committee started calling people before it and banishing them to the MEST universe with no explanation. The thetans that were banished grew bored and began creating life on planets. Then the thetans would create bodies on these planets make them go to war against the bodies created by other thetans. When the thetans grew frustrated losing they taught the bodies how to capture other thetans, never realizing they were teaching the bodies how to capture themselves. In some cases the meat bodies rebelled and trapped the thetans.

Once defeated the thetans assumed the identity of the bodies they created be it robot, doll, insect or meat bodies. Meat bodies were preferred because they had the ability to feel pleasure, the doll bodies had the appearance of “little green men.” At the same time a society developed in the Milky Way Galaxy. Invader forces realized one of the planets in the galaxy had a mineral they needed so they destroyed the planet and created the asteroid belt. Then they made a trading outpost on Mars.

It was after this that Xenu would call forth all the artists and criminals of his society for tax assessments, freeze them and send them to Earth. He then put all the frozen bodies in a volcano and detonated them with nukes. He also put a screen around the Solar System to prevent people from leaving and from outside forces getting in. He then wiped the memories of all the people of Earth and filled them with other religions.