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Common Elements in Creation Myths
It is in the nature of humans to wonder about the unknown and search for answers. At the foundation of nearly every culture is a creation myth that explains how the wonders of the earth came to be. These myths have an immense influence on people's frame of reference.
They influence the way people think about the world and their place in relation to their surroundings. Despite being separated by numerous geographical barriers, many cultures have developed creation myths with the same basic elements.
Many creation myths begin with the theme of birth.
Birth played a very important role in creation myths. Sometimes it appeared in the shape of an egg and other times in that of a mother giving birth to children, but the element appears often.
Birth represent new life and the beginning of life on earth may have been imagined as being similar to the beginning of a child's life.
Myths from all over the world have a mother and father figure in them. The mother is usually the Earth and the father, the sky.
The Greek creation myth told of the goddess, Gaia, and the god, Uranus, who fell in love. Uranus was the sky and Gaia was the Earth. Together they had many children and grandchildren, who created the plants, animals, stars and springs. The unity of Gaia and Uranus created a sense that the universe was one.
The first god to be born was not always the one to create the world. Often it was his or her children that decided to fill the world with life. The work the parent left undone was finished by the child.
According to the Greek creation myth the bird Nyx laid an egg, from which the god of love hatched. The halves of the shell then became the Earth and Sky. They brought numerous children into the world who eventually furnished their mother with plants, animals and physical features.
A supreme being appears in almost every myth.
He or she is what triggers the train of events that create the world. Sometimes there are two beings, a passive and active creator.
Not all cultures imagine life starting on earth
other myths claim the earth was once covered with water and the earth was brought to the surface. These are called diver-myths.
Many myths, called diver-myths (Long 188), consisted of a being diving into the water that covers the earth to retrieve some earth. The earth brought to the surface became the land we know today. Other stories had the mud brought to the surface in a different way, but many had the common element of some earth being brought to the surface of the water and growing until it became the Earth.
The creation myth of Christians and Jews does not tell of God diving into the water to bring up mud, but Genesis 1:2 says Ò the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.Ó Therefore, according to the Torah and Bible, the Earth was once covered entirely by water.
At the beginning of the Greek myth the bird, Nyx, laid an egg. From this egg comes the god of love, Eros. Then the shell pieces became Gaia and Uranus, the Earth and sky. Again the egg is very important.
In some versions of the Japanese creation myth the jumbled mass of elements at the beginning of time was in the shape of an egg. Later in the story birth also comes into play because Izanami gave birth to her children who became the sun and moon.
The Iroquois Sky Woman fell from the floating island in the sky after being pushed by her husband. This all occurred because she was pregnant. If she had not known she was to give birth North America may not have been created.