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Cosmic Oceans: The Primordial Waters of Ancient Creation Myths
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Advanced Search Find a Library. Refine Your Search Year. Your list has reached the maximum number of items. Atum existed in a primordial sea of nothingness. Through a sort of hermaphroditic reproduction or divine masturbation, Atum united with his own feminine energy and manifested Shu, god of the air, and Tefnut, goddess of rain.
Geb and Nut then united, creating the principle deities Isis, Osiris, Nephthys, and Set, who created or gave birth to everything else. In this system, humans, among all other things, are direct descendants of the body of Atum. Norse Mythology contains an example where the universe is created from the dismembered pieces of a primordial being.
The Spoken Word Used to Subdue the Primordial Waters
This is a fairly common idea across many traditions. His body was cut into pieces, and a different aspect of the universe emerged from each one. Before they created this universe, they were locked in an eternal embrace. They gave birth to only male children, who were trapped in the dark, cramped nothingness between them. Eventually, their trapped children desire light, and force them apart.
Cosmic Oceans: The Primordial Waters of Ancient Creation Myths | Ancient Origins
This creates space for the universe, which is formed as a result of war between the god-children of Rangi and Papa that occurs in the aftermath of the separation. According to these stories, humans once traveled to the current universe from a different, often failed alternate universe. This is usually accomplished by only the most noble or pure humans, with the help of a deity.
The theme of emergence is especially common in First Nations cultures including the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni. Emergence myths also tend to focus on feminine, maternal energy as the creative force. The Hopi culture of what is now the Southwestern United States teaches a cycle of creation through emergence. According to legend, we currently reside in the fourth iteration of the universe.
In each previous version, the people began happy and kind. Over time, they became disobedient and reckless and could no longer live in peace. Then, the spider woman, the symbolic midwife of the all-encompassing earth mother, would come to lead the remaining noble people into the next universe which may be totally different. The previous would be destroyed along with all of its wickedness. Similarly, the Zuni creation myth involves a series of four worlds, with the addition of a fifth, the Daylight World, where we currently exist. In the Zuni narrative, the fourth world is deep underground in complete darkness.
Over time, and with help from the deities, the priests learned the ability to create prayer sticks from the wood of a pine, aspen, and two spruces that grew in the fourth world. They used these prayer sticks to climb from the fourth world through the third, second, and first, finally emerging into the Daylight World. These earth-diver creatures often scour the depths of the sea and construct land, plants, and animals from the sea floor. When it is stated that the supreme being created the world and that there was no primordial matter prior to his being, then the determination of the world is in the mind and will of the deity.
This leads to distinctive conclusions regarding the destiny of the world and of humanity. The end and meaning of the world is thus not determined by the primordial matter but by the deity who created the world.
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It is he alone who determines the preservation, maintenance, and end of the world. In emergence myths there seems to be an easy movement from one stage of creation to the next, but, as has been shown in the Navajo myth , at each subterranean level there is some type of antagonism among the developing embryonic creatures. This is one of the reasons for the separation of the creatures and the movement to another level.
Though the emergence myths portray the mildest form of this antagonism, it is still present in myths of this sort. In the world-parent myths there is antagonism between the offspring and the parents. This is a conflict between generations, expressing the desire of the children to determine their own place and orientation in existence against the passivity of the parents. A dualism and antagonism is found again in the cosmic-egg myths, especially in the myths in which the egg contains twins. One twin wishes to take credit for the creation of the world alone, interrupting the harmonious growth within the egg before maturation.
The faulty creation by this evil twin accounts for the ambiguous nature of the world and the origin of evil. This observation applies equally to the dualistic structure in some versions of the earth-diver myths. The devil moves in the various versions of this myth from the companion to the antagonist of God, possessing the power to challenge the deity. In many cosmogonic myths, the narrative relates the story of the sacrifice and dismemberment of a primordial being.
The world is then established from the body of this being. In the myth Enuma elish , the god Marduk , after defeating Tiamat, the primeval mother, divides the body into two parts, one part forming the heavens, the other, the earth. In a West African myth, one of the twins from the cosmic egg must be sacrificed to bring about a habitable world.
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