Tag Archives: Mythology

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {9} ~ Gnostic

One of the things that set Gnosticism apart from the other varieties of early Christianity was its astonishing creation myth, an interpretation of the creation myth of Genesis that practically turns that Old Testament text upside down.

Some people find the Gnostic creation myth to be merely bizarre. Others find it to be downright blasphemous. Others find it to be exhilarating and inspiring.

But whatever your opinion of the Gnostics’ creation myth ends up being, if you want to understand it on its own terms, it’s necessary to be able to at least temporarily see it as the Gnostics themselves saw it: as a story that articulates, and quite possibly even attempts to explain, the human condition. Why is the world we live in so full of senseless suffering? What can we do to overcome that absurdity and misery and put our lives to a meaningful use? Is this world where we really belong, or is the quiet despair that forms a constant background to our lives trying to tell us that we really belong somewhere else? And if so, where do we actually belong?

The Gnostic creation myth has come down to us in numerous different versions in different Gnostic texts. It’s apparent that there was never a single, uniform version of the myth. But the different Gnostic accounts of creation that have survived down to the present day are variations on a common model, not different models altogether.

To very briefly summarize that underlying model: God the Father gave rise to a host of spiritual beings (“aeons“) who populated Heaven (which the Gnostics called the Pleroma, “Fullness”), including a divine Mother and Christ. One of the last of these beings to emanate from the Father, Sophia, gave birth to a new being on her own, without the involvement of her partner or the approval of the Father. The being born under such circumstances was nothing like the perfect inhabitants of the Pleroma; instead, he was ignorant and malevolent. This was the demiurge, “craftsman,” whom the Gnostics identified with the god of the Old Testament. He created the material world to mirror his own wicked personality and trapped sparks of divinity, fragments of the Pleroma, within humans. It was then up to Christ to awaken humans to their true nature and liberate them from the world.

The retelling below follows the version in the Secret Book of John, which is quite representative of the perspective of the classic Gnostic school of thought. The creation stories of the Valentinians, the other early Christian sect or school that can be considered “Gnostic,” still adhere to this same basic model, although many of the details differ.

The Creation Myth of the Secret Book of John

In the beginning, there was only the One, the Father, who is

illimitable, since there is nothing before it to limit it,
unfathomable, since there is nothing before it to fathom it,
immeasurable, since there was nothing before it to measure it,
invisible, since nothing has seen it,
eternal, since it exists eternally,
unutterable, since nothing could comprehend it to utter it,
unnamable, since there is nothing before it to give it a name.[1]

The Father was surrounded by luminous spiritual water. He gazed into the water and saw his reflection. His reflection became Barbelo, the Mother, his female counterpart. Barbelo was also called “Pronoia,” “Forethought,” because she was the first thought of the Father.

Barbelo asked for the Father to grant her Foreknowledge, Incorruptibility, Life Eternal, and Truth. The Father granted her request. Foreknowledge, Incorruptibility, Life Eternal, and Truth came into being and glorified their Father and Mother.

The Father gazed into Barbelo and she conceived by him. She gave birth to a spark of light similar to the Father’s light. This was the Son, who was also called “Autogenes,” “Self-Generated,” since he was at bottom identical with the Father. He was further called “Christ,” “a name greater than every name.”[2] The Father anointed the Son with his goodness, which passed his perfect goodness onto his Son. The Son glorified his Father and Mother.

Just as Barbelo had asked the One to give her new aeons, the Son asked to be given another: Mind. The Father and Mother agreed. Mind arose and glorified its Father and Mother.

Mind wanted to bring something else into being through the Father’s word. Will was born, followed by Word.

The Father made the Son the master of all power and truth. From the Son came the Four Luminaries: Harmozel, Oroiael, Daveithai, and Eleleth. Each came into being with three additional aeons along with its own. The three aeons with Harmozel were Grace, Truth, and Form. The three with Oroiael were Insight, Perception, and Memory. The three with Daveithai were Understanding, Love, and Idea. The three with Eleleth were Perfection, Peace, and Sophia (Wisdom).

Next was “the perfect human,” Pigeradamas (“Adam the Stranger,” “Holy Adam,” or “Old Adam”[3]), who came into being and glorified the Father. He was placed in the aeon of Harmozel. Adam had a son, Seth, who was placed in the aeon of Oroiael. He was set to preside over “the souls of the saints,”[4] those with gnosis, in the aeon of Daveithai. The souls of those who were not saints, but who nevertheless repented eventually, were given a place of their own in the aeon of Eleleth.

Sophia watched these marvelous, radiant beings all around her. A desire to give birth to an aeon of her own arose within her. But she acted on this desire impatiently and impulsively; she didn’t bother to involve her divine partner, nor to obtain the consent of the Father. Since she had descended from the Father, she was full of his tremendous power, and she was able to birth a new being that contained some of her divine essence. But because this new entity had been conceived by Sophia alone, it didn’t resemble the other immortals. Instead, it was hideous and misshapen. It was like a snake with a lion’s head. Its eyes burned like lightning.

In fear and shame, Sophia cast her son out of the divine realm (the Pleroma, “Fullness”) in the hope that none of the other inhabitants of that perfect place would see him. To conceal him further, she enveloped him in a shining cloud and placed him on a throne in the middle of it. She named him Yaldabaoth (which probably means “Child of Chaos”[5]), and he has since also been called Sakla, “Fool,” and Samael, “Blind God.”[6]

Yaldabaoth “mated with the mindlessness in him”[7] and generated twelve archons, demonic beings who would shortly come to rule the earth from the celestial spheres above it: Athoth, Harmas, Kalila-Oumbri, Yabel, Adonaios/Sabaoth, Cain, Abel, Abrisene, Yobel, Armoupieel, Melcheir-Adonein, and Belias.

Because of Yaldabaoth’s foolishness, he was wicked and ignorant of his ancestry. He belligerently proclaimed, “I am God and there is no other god beside me.” His twelve original archons generated new archons until there were 365 of them – one to rule over each day of the year.

As Sophia’s son, Yaldabaoth had the model of the Pleroma within himself. He created the material world based on that model, but because of his ignorance and depravity, it came out all wrong. It was a corrupted and far inferior simulacrum of the divine model.

Sophia watched all of this and was stricken by distress and guilt. She wept and repented for giving birth to such a monstrous entity. The Father, full of perfect love, heard her pleas and promised to forgive her and restore her to her former stature. But first she had to stay in the ninth heaven (the layer of the sky closest to the Pleroma, above Yaldabaoth and the seven archon-populated heavens below him) until she had atoned for her sin and mended her deficiency.

Meanwhile, Yaldabaoth and his archons saw an image of the heavenly Adam from the Father’s pristine realm. They didn’t know where it came from, but they were enthralled by it. They decided to attempt to create a human being for themselves. But at first their creation lay lifeless on the ground. They couldn’t figure out how to animate it.

As they stood around the immobile body puzzling over what to do, the gracious beings of the Pleroma came up with a plan to help the part of Sophia that had become trapped in Yaldabaoth return to her so that she could return to the Pleroma.

Emissaries from the Pleroma appeared to Yaldabaoth and advised him to breathe his spirit into Adam’s face, after which, they assured him, the body would awaken and stand up. Yaldabaoth did so, and Sophia’s power fluttered out of him and into Adam, bringing the first man to life. Because of Sophia’s power within him, he was already wiser, more spiritual, and more intelligent than his creators.

Out of jealousy and resentment, the archons made Adam mortal. They placed him in the Garden of Eden, which they filled with all kinds of sumptuous foods to make him attached to material pleasures and distract him from his true, divine nature.

The archons wanted to possess Adam’s divine insight for themselves, so they took it out of Adam and created a new being to house it – Eve. When Adam saw her, he instantly recognized her as his spiritual counterpart. At Christ’s urging, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge (gnosis) and grew in their understanding and their superiority over their creators.

Now boiling with hatred and envy, Yaldabaoth raped Eve and cast her and her mate out of the garden. Two sons were born from this tragic intercourse: Cain and Abel, also called “Yahweh” and “Elohim” (two names for “God” in the Old Testament).

But Adam and Eve later had loving, consensual sex on their own. The product of their union was an enlightened boy whom they named “Seth” after the son of the heavenly Adam.

Yaldabaoth couldn’t bear the fact that there were now three beings in his creation who were enlightened and superior to him. He forced Adam, Eve, and Seth to drink the “water of forgetfulness” so that they would lose their gnosis. But the capacity to revive gnosis lay dormant within them; Yaldabaoth wasn’t capable of expunging it completely. And their spiritual descendants among humankind remain capable of regaining that saving illumination. All they need is a savior, Christ, to reveal it to them as he did for their first ancestors.[8]

Conclusion

As the title “Secret Book of John” implies, this story was meant to serve as an addition to the Gospel of John – specifically, a prequel. In terms of plot, it sets the stage, and in terms of theology, it provides a context for understanding John’s gospel through a Gnostic lens. The same can be said of the relationship between the various versions of the Gnostic creation myth and the shared Christian story of Jesus’s life more broadly.

But the creation myth was also a story of central importance to the Gnostics as a standalone tale in its own right. It bound the Gnostic communities together as distinct communities[9] and illustrated some of the key concepts in the Gnostic worldview, such as gnosis and anticosmicism. And as a myth, it did so with a verve and poignancy that bare, conceptual discourse can’t muster.

Source: https://gnosticismexplained.org/the-gnostic-creation-myth/

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {8} ~ The Christian

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning–the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning–the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning–the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.

Source: http://dept.cs.williams.edu/~lindsey/myths/myths_15.html

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {7} ~ The Chinese

The Pangu myth follows as thus: In the beginning the universe was nothing but chaos, and the heavens and the earth were intermingled—a big black egg being commonly used as an analogy. Pangu was born inside of this egg and slept for 18,000 years, during which time the Yin and Yang balanced as he grew. When he awoke, he realized he was trapped within it. He cracked the egg and began to push it apart, essentially splitting the Yin and Yang. The upper half of the shell became the sky above him, and the lower half became the earth. The longer he held them apart, the thicker they grew and the taller he became, thus pushing them further apart—by precisely 10 feet per day. Here versions begin to change. Some claim that a turtle, a qilin, phoenix, and a dragon assisted him in this task. After another 18,000 years Pangu died, his body forming the various parts of the earth, and the parasites on his body forming humans. Another version states that he formed the earth with a chisel and hammer, while yet another version states that a goddess who later inhabited the earth formed humans.

Pangu is depicted with a turtle, phoenix, quilin, and dragon, who aided him with his task.

According to this myth, Pangu was the first supreme being and the originator of the heavens and the Earth. He is typically depicted as a dwarf—though he was actually a giant—covered in hair or bearskin or leaves, with horns fixed atop his head and either a chisel or a hammer or an egg in his hand. Other tales speak of a Pangu as a creature from heaven that had the head of a dog and the body of a man and directly accredits Pangu as the father of mankind, while another version claims he molded men from clay.

The interesting aspects of this tale are its similarities to other myths. For example, the cosmic egg is a common concept that is indicative of the universe before the Big Bang occurred, scientifically speaking. While this may, at first glance, be a very primitive way of describing such an event, one cannot help but notice how very insightful it is. How did various people with no apparent technology or knowledge of the universe, as we modern humans know it, so accurately explain what we now can? Were they made privy to this knowledge somehow?

Another interesting aspect of the tale is one of the more elusive. Some versions of the Pangu creation myth state that the giant had help from four mythical beasts. Let us take a brief look these beasts one by one. First, the turtle: the Chinese were not the only ones to use it in their creation myth; various world myths, creation and otherwise, include the turtle for its strength and immortality. The qilin, though indigenous to Asian mythology, is said to have been dragon-like. Of course, dragons are central to Asian mythology—though also found world-wide—as bearers of wisdom and a symbol of power, also connected to the succession of the early emperors. Finally, the phoenix has consistently been a symbol of rebirth. How so many cultures separated by thousands of miles came to describe such similar occurrences and use the same symbology has been a subject of much intrigue over the centuries.

Source: https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/pangu-and-chinese-creation-myth-00347

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {6} – The Mayan

The Popol Vuh, or Popol Wuj in the K’iche’ language, is the story of creation of the Maya. Members of the royal K’iche’ lineages that had once ruled the highlands of Guatemala recorded the story in the 16th century to preserve it under the Spanish colonial rule. The Popol Vuh, meaning “Book of the Community,” narrates the Maya creation account, the tales of the Hero Twins, and the K’iche’ genealogies and land rights. In this story, the Creators, Heart of Sky and six other deities including the Feathered Serpent, wanted to create human beings with hearts and minds who could “keep the days.” But their first attempts failed. When these deities finally created humans out of yellow and white corn who could talk, they were satisfied. In another epic cycle of the story, the Death Lords of the Underworld summon the Hero Twins to play a momentous ball game where the Twins defeat their opponents. The Twins rose into the heavens, and became the Sun and the Moon. Through their actions, the Hero Twins prepared the way for the planting of corn, for human beings to live on Earth, and for the Fourth Creation of the Maya.

~Bhujanga~

Bhujanga is a Sanskrit word that means “snake,” “serpent” or “cobra.” Hindu mythology is filled with stories about the symbolism and worship of snakes. Lord Shiva is typically depicted with a bhujanga around his neck as an ornament, and sometimes, one around his upper arms. Bhujanga also refers to the Hindu snake god (Bhujanga Nag), who is worshiped at temples erected in his name in the city of Bhuj, located in western India, which is noted as the home of snakes.

Symbolically, bhujanga represents kundalini or shakti, the primal feminine energy that rests at the base of the spine. When awakened, it is a powerful force that travels up the spine.

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {5} ~ Australian Aborigine

There was a time when everything was still. All the spirits of the earth were asleep – or almost all. The great Father of All Spirits was the only one awake. Gently he awoke the Sun Mother. As she opened her eyes a warm ray of light spread out towards the sleeping earth. The Father of All Spirits said to the Sun Mother, “Mother, I have work for you. Go down to the Earth and awake the sleeping spirits. Give them forms.”

The Sun Mother glided down to Earth, which was bare at the time and began to walk in all directions and everywhere she walked plants grew. After returning to the field where she had begun her work the Mother rested, well pleased with herself. The Father of All Spirits came and saw her work, but instructed her to go into the caves and wake the spirits.

This time she ventured into the dark caves on the mountainsides. The bright light that radiated from her awoke the spirits and after she left insects of all kinds flew out of the caves. The Sun Mother sat down and watched the glorious sight of her insects mingling with her flowers. However once again the Father urged her on.

The Mother ventured into a very deep cave, spreading her light around her. Her heat melted the ice and the rivers and streams of the world were created. Then she created fish and small snakes, lizards and frogs. Next she awoke the spirits of the birds and animals and they burst into the sunshine in a glorious array of colors. Seeing this the Father of All Spirits was pleased with the Sun Mother’s work.

She called all her creatures to her and instructed them to enjoy the wealth of the earth and to live peacefully with one another. Then she rose into the sky and became the sun.

The living creatures watched the Sun in awe as she crept across the sky, towards the west. However when she finally sunk beneath the horizon they were panic-stricken, thinking she had deserted them. All night they stood frozen in their places, thinking that the end of time had come. After what seemed to them like a lifetime the Sun Mother peeked her head above the horizon in the East. The earth’s children learned to expect her coming and going and were no longer afraid.

At first the children lived together peacefully, but eventually envy crept into their hearts. They began to argue. The Sun Mother was forced to come down from her home in the sky to mediate their bickering. She gave each creature the power to change their form to whatever they chose. However she was not pleased with the end result. The rats she had made had changed into bats; there were giant lizards and fish with blue tongues and feet. However the oddest of the new animals was an animal with a bill like a duck, teeth for chewing, a tail like a beavers and the ability to lay egg. It was called the platypus.

The Sun Mother looked down upon the Earth and thought to herself that she must create new creatures less the Father of All Spirits be angered by what she now saw. She gave birth to two children. The god was the Morning Star and the goddess was the moon. Two children were born to them and these she sent to Earth. They became our ancestors. She made them superior to the animals because they had part of her mind and would never want to change their shape.

Source: http://dept.cs.williams.edu/~lindsey/myths/myths_13.html

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {4} ~ The Greek

In the beginning there was an empty darkness. The only thing in this void was Nyx, a bird with black wings. With the wind she laid a golden egg and for ages she sat upon this egg. Finally life began to stir in the egg and out of it rose Eros, the god of love. One half of the shell rose into the air and became the sky and the other became the Earth. Eros named the sky Uranus and the Earth he named Gaia. Then Eros made them fall in love.

Uranus and Gaia had many children together and eventually they had grandchildren. Some of their children become afraid of the power of their children. Kronus, in an effort to protect himself, swallowed his children when they were still infants. However, his wife Rhea hid their youngest child. She gave him a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he swallowed, thinking it was his son.

Once the child, Zeus, had reached manhood his mother instructed him on how to trick his father to give up his brothers and sisters. Once this was accomplished the children fought a mighty war against their father. After much fighting the younger generation won. With Zeus as their leader, they began to furnish Gaia with life and Uranus with stars.

Soon the Earth lacked only two things: man and animals. Zeus summoned his sons Prometheus (fore-thought) and Epimetheus (after-thought). He told them to go to Earth and create men and animals and give them each a gift.

Prometheus set to work forming men in the image of the gods and Epimetheus worked on the animals. As Epimetheus worked he gave each animal he created one of the gifts. After Epimetheus had completed his work Prometheus finally finished making men. However when he went to see what gift to give man Epimetheus shamefacedly informed him that he had foolishly used all the gifts.

Distressed, Prometheus decided he had to give man fire, even though gods were the only ones meant to have access to it. As the sun god rode out into the world the next morning Prometheus took some of the fire and brought it back to man. He taught his creation how to take care of it and then left them.

When Zeus discovered Prometheus’ deed he became furious. He ordered his son to be chained to a mountain and for a vulture to peck out his liver every day till eternity. Then he began to devise a punishment for mankind. Another of his sons created a woman of great beauty, Pandora. Each of the gods gave her a gift. Zeus’ present was curiosity and a box which he ordered her never to open. Then he presented her to Epimetheus as a wife.

Pandora’s life with Epimetheus was happy except for her intense longing to open the box. She was convinced that because the gods and goddesses had showered so many glorious gifts upon her that this one would also be wonderful. One day when Epimetheus was gone she opened the box.

Out of the box flew all of the horrors which plague the world today – pain, sickness, envy, greed. Upon hearing Pandora’s screams Epimetheus rushed home and fastened the lid shut, but all of the evils had already escaped.

Later that night they heard a voice coming from the box saying,

“Let me out. I am hope.”

Pandora and Epimetheus released her and she flew out into the world to give hope to humankind.

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {4} ~ The Iroquois, Native American

Long before the world was created there was an island, floating in the sky, upon which the Sky People lived. They lived quietly and happily. No one ever died or was born or experienced sadness. However one day one of the Sky Women realized she was going to give birth to twins. She told her husband, who flew into a rage. In the center of the island there was a tree which gave light to the entire island since the sun hadn’t been created yet. He tore up this tree, creating a huge hole in the middle of the island. Curiously, the woman peered into the hole. Far below she could see the waters that covered the earth. At that moment her husband pushed her. She fell through the hole, tumbling towards the waters below.

Water animals already existed on the earth, so far below the floating island two birds saw the Sky Woman fall. Just before she reached the waters they caught her on their backs and brought her to the other animals. Determined to help the woman they dove into the water to get mud from the bottom of the seas. One after another the animals tried and failed. Finally, Little Toad tried and when he reappeared his mouth was full of mud. The animals took it and spread it on the back of Big Turtle. The mud began to grow and grow and grow until it became the size of North America.

Then the woman stepped onto the land. She sprinkled dust into the air and created stars. Then she created the moon and sun.

The Sky Woman gave birth to twin sons. She named one Sapling. He grew to be kind and gentle. She named the other Flint and his heart was as cold as his name. They grew quickly and began filling the earth with their creations.

Sapling created what is good. He made animals that are useful to humans. He made rivers that went two ways and into these he put fish without bones. He made plants that people could eat easily. If he was able to do all the work himself there would be no suffering.

Flint destroyed much of Sapling’s work and created all that is bad. He made the rivers flow only in one direction. He put bones in fish and thorns on berry bushes. He created winter, but Sapling gave it life so that it could move to give way to Spring. He created monsters which his brother drove beneath the Earth.

Eventually Sapling and Flint decided to fight till one conquered the other. Neither was able to win at first, but finally Flint was beaten. Because he was a god Flint could not die, so he was forced to live on Big Turtle’s back. Occasionally his anger is felt in the form of a volcano.

The Iroquois people hold a great respect for all animals. This is mirrored in their creation myth by the role the animals play. Without the animals’ help the Sky Woman may have sunk to the bottom of the sea and earth may not have been created.

Mythology ,{2} ~ Creation Stories {3} ~ The African Bushmen

People did not always live on the surface of the earth. At one time people and animals lived underneath the earth with Kaang (Käng), the Great Master and Lord of All Life. In this place people and animals lived together peacefully. They understood each other. No one ever wanted for anything and it was always light even though there wasn’t any sun. During this time of bliss Kaang began to plan the wonders he would put in the world above.

First Kaang created a wondrous tree, with branches stretching over the entire country. At the base of the tree he dug a hole that reached all the way down into the world where the people and animals lived. After he had finished furnishing the world as he pleased he led the first man up the hole. He sat down on the edge of the hole and soon the first woman came up out of it. Soon all the people were gathered at the foot of the tree, awed by the world they had just entered. Next, Kaang began helping the animals climb out of the hole. In their eagerness some of the animals found a way to climb up through the tree’s roots and come out of the branches. They continued racing out of the world beneath until all of the animals were out.

Kaang gathered all the people and animals about him. He instructed them to live together peacefully. Then he turned to the men and women and warned them not to build any fires or a great evil would befall them. They gave their word and Kaang left to where he could watch his world secretly.

As evening approached the sun began to sink beneath the horizon. The people and animals stood watching this phenomenon, but when the sun disappeared fear entered the hearts of the people. They could no longer see each other as they lacked the eyes of the animals which were capable of seeing in the dark. They lacked the warm fur of the animals also and soon grew cold. In desperation one man suggested that they build a fire to keep warm. Forgetting Kaang’s warning they disobeyed him. They soon grew warm and were once again able to see each other.

However the fire frightened the animals. They fled to the caves and mountains and ever since the people broke Kaang’s command people have not been able to communicate with animals. Now fear has replaced the great friendship once held between the two groups.

The Bushmen of Africa believe that not only are plants and animals alive, but also rain, thunder, the wind, spring, etc. They claim:

What we see is only the outside form or body. Inside is a living spirit that we cannot see. These spirits can fly out of one body into another. For example, a woman’s spirit might sometime fly into a leopard; or a man’s spirit fly into a lion’s body. (Fahs and Spoerl 6)

This may be part of the reason that animals play such an important role in their myth.

Mythology {2} ~ Creation Stories {2} ~ The Japanese

Long ago all the elements were mixed together with one germ of life. This germ began to mix things around and around until the heavier part sank and the lighter part rose. A muddy sea that covered the entire earth was created. From this ocean grew a green shoot. It grew and grew until it reached the clouds and there it was tranformed into a god. Soon this god grew lonely and it began to create other gods. The last two gods it made, Izanagi anf Izanami, were the most remarkable.

One day as they were walking along they looked down on the ocean and wondered what was beneath it. Izanagi thrust his staff into the waters and as he pulled it back up some clumps of mud fell back into the sea. They began to harden and grow until they became the islands of Japan.

The two descended to these islands and began to explore, each going in different directions. They created all kinds of plants. When they met again they decided to marry and have children to inhabit the land. The first child Izanami bore was a girl of radiant beauty. The gods decided she was too beautiful to live in Japan, so they put her up in the sky and she became the sun. Their second daughter, Tsuki-yami, became the moon and their third and unruly son, Sosano-wo, was sentenced to the sea, where he creates storms.

Later, their first child, Amaterasu, bore a son who became the emperor of Japan and all the emperors since then have claimed descent from him.