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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

The Creation of Creation Myths

This article was written by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke on November 30, -0001
posted under Creation Myth

Creation myths reflect the natural environment in particular geographic areas. Is the local climate predominantly hot, cold, wet, or dry? Is it characterized by mountains or deserts; forests or savannahs? Are there active volcanoes, frequent earth movement, devastating storms? What of the natural resources—is water plentiful or scarce, are there rivers across broad areas; Is the area seriously dependent on monsoons to supply needed water? is the area rich in food and is that food vegetative, animal, or fish? Are there dangerous animals? And, what of human marauders—are they painfully recurrent?

The answers to these questions form the background of the creation myths. Myths are the stories that fill in the gaps between what we know and what don’t yet know. Myths make sense of the world of experience and provide structure upon which culture grows. Myths are created by the seekers of cosmological understanding about the origins of the universe and of man.

Whether through dreams and visions, or intuition or the voices of spirit, the seekers formulated stories about creation and mankind’s relation to the forces and intelligence behind creation. These creation myths were peopled with supernatural beings fulfilling for the tribe and the culture those roles already familiar to the people: Father, Mother, Child, Friend, Foe, Predator, Defender, Healer, Leader, Arbiter. And those who communicated with spirits, interpreted dreams, understood signs and omens, were the shamans as the cultures expanded and continued to evolve.

These supernatural beings became gods and goddesses "ruling" the various natural, biological and social functions, and then the gods themselves sought additional specific knowledge and powers to help their "children," the people of the culture. And, nearly always, there was the person set apart from others that could travel the inner dimensions of time and space—the shaman who spoke with the deities and answered the people’s questions about why things were as they were and how they could be changed.

All creation myths have certain similarities, but each culture’s mythology reflects the nature of reality as it is perceived by the people and, in particular, those "seekers" attempting to explain the nature of the world and the relation of humanity to the forces of the universe and life. 


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