Beliefs of Pagan, Aboriginal, &
other faith groups about origins
Ancient Pagan Religions: A common theme running through many ancient
Pagan religions teaches that a Goddess, the Great Mother, divided the waters, and created
heaven and earth. In later ages, when societies invented male deities, the latter
often acted as
the consort of the Goddess, sometimes in the figure of a serpent. 7 Still later, monotheistic religions developed and succeeded in eradicating any mention of the Goddess
in creation. Some monotheistic religions even have the act of creation "undermined by a woman." 1 Parallels with the Christian book of Genesis are obvious.
Wicca: There does not appear to be any historical creation story
extant from the ancient Celtic people upon which Wicca is based. However,
that does not prevent present-day Wiccans from creating their own creation
myth. Scott Cunningham has composed a short but beautiful story in which
"The One" molded "energy into twin forms, equal but
opposite, fashioning the Goddess and God..." They formed the suns,
planets and moons. "From their union came the seeds of all life,
including the human race. All are born,
live, die and are reborn beneath the Sun and Moon, all things come to pass
there under, and all occurs with the blessings of The One, as has been the
way of existence before time was." 2
American South West: Many tribes tell a creation story in which their
ancient ancestors lived a restricted life in darkness within an underworld, inside their
Earth Mother. They emerged through a sacred opening onto the earth, to see the sun for the
first time. For example, the Navajo creation story involves insects who
inhabited the lowest three of the 6 worlds. They were expelled by the gods
upwards to the 4th world where they either became, or helped
create, the First Man and First Woman. They and their 10 children climbed up
a reed that brought them into the 5th world - the one that they
currently occupy. They "created the mountains, weather, plants and
animals they had known below. And they brought the gods up to join them." 3
Australia: Australian Aboriginals tell of an ancient dreamtime when
their gods "performed 'walkabouts' creating people and sacred places and
establishing clans, their totems...and their socio-religious systems, including taboos."
Ancient Babylonia: One creation myth involves the great god Marduk
killing the Great Mother, slicing her in two, throwing one piece into the heavens to form
the sky and setting the remainder down as the earth.
China: An ancient story of creation began with a cosmic egg. Inside the
egg was a chaotic mixture of yin/yang, male/female, cold/heat etc. From the egg was born a
giant by the name of Phan Ku. He separated the earth and sky. He grew in stature by
ten feet a day, raising the sky above the earth by that distance. He also created the
heavenly bodies, and carved out the mountains and valleys with a huge chisel and mallet.
When he died, the fleas in his hair became human beings.
Ifa, the religion of the Yoruba peoples in Africa: Heaven and Earth
originally existed with no humans or animals living in them. "Odumare then
created Itself" 10 "Being the Primal
cause...we call Odumare the only wise one on earth." He created human beings. He
had no companion. Odumare pondered how to create more living entities in the universe. He
realized that he could not act directly, because he was so charged with energy that if he
came in contact with any living thing, it could not survive. So he created Agbon (wisdom),
Imo (knowledge) and Oye (understanding) to act as intermediaries. He released them to fly
to earth and look for a suitable place to settle. They were unable to find such a place,
and so returned to Odumare and were swallowed by him. After several thousand years,
Odumare decided to get rid of Agbon, Imo and Oye and sent them back to earth once more. 4
Northeastern Siberia: A female raven created the first humans - twin
males. Her mate went on a long flight, defecating (to produce the mountains and valleys)
and urinating (to produce the rivers, lakes and ocean.) A spider woman appeared to make
the first women.
Ancient Mayan Culture: Tepeu and Gucamatz, a feathered serpent, created
the earth, mountains, trees, animals, etc. by speaking them into existence. They asked the
animals to praise the deities, but they could not. So the gods made the first humans out
of clay; they broke apart. Wood was tried next, but the resultant humans were inflexible
and caused a great deal of trouble. Tepeu caused a great flood to destroy most of the
humans; a few escaped into the jungle and survive today as monkeys. The third try was
successful. Four humans, one for each of the four directions, were created; they praised
the gods appropriately.
Bantu: One of the many Bantu creation stories involves the God Nzame creating the world and its animals. He also
created Fam, the first human. But Fam neglected his responsibilities: he
abused the animals and did not worship Nzame. God buried the earth in soil
and tried a new creation. He began with a tree, whose leaves fell to earth
and became animals and fish. He then created a human who in turn created a
woman from a tree.
Web sites describing additional creation stories & myths:
References used for the above essay:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- B.G. Walker, "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets," Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA,
(1983), Page 183-186. Read reviews or order this book
- Scott Cunningham, "Before time was," from A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. Read reviews or order this book
- Anon, "One evolution, many creations," The Globe and Mail newspaper, Toronto ON, 1999-SEP-20, P. A11.
- "Ifá: The Voice of Òrìsà," at: http://members.tripod.com/~Fasina/index.html
Copyright ©1995 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on 1995-NOV-3.
Most recent update: 2010-JUL-09
Author: B.A. Robinson