Creation Myths from Around the World
Creation myths are stories about the origin of the universe, Earth, life, and humans. Myths often explain natural phenomena, such as thunder and lightning, the changing of seasons, or floods. In addition, they may describe how a culture’s customs began. Many cultures have creation myths.
2. Theories of Myths
Theories about myths are many and varied. Some scholars see myths as scapegoating devices that provide comfort by blaming misfortune on outsiders or on supernatural forces. Others see them as etiological, providing reasons for why things are the way they are in the world. Functionalists see myths as having a specific social or psychological function in a culture. Structuralists see all myths as being variations on a common theme. Psychoanalytic theorists view myths as projections of a culture’s unconscious desires and fears.
2. 1 Rational
The rational theory states that myths are simply primitive explanations for natural phenomena that cannot be otherwise explained. This theory was first proposed by Euhemerus, a Greek mythographer who lived in the 4th century BCE. According to Euhemerus, myths are exaggerated accounts of real historical events that have been embellished over time.
2. 2 Functional
The functionalist theory states that myths serve a specific social or psychological function in a culture. This theory was first proposed by anthropologist A.M. Hocart in the early 1900s. Hocart believed that all cultures have three basic types of myths: creation myths, which explain how the world came to be; etiological myths, which explain why things are the way they are; and eschatological myths, which deal with death and the afterlife.
2. 3. Creation Myths
3.1 African Maasai
The African Maasai believe that the universe was created by a god named Ngai. Ngai created the world on a mountain that he then placed in the center of the universe. From this mountain, Ngai created the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets. He then created humans and animals.
3. 2 Buddha
The Buddhist creation myth is found in the Pali Canon, which is a collection of scriptures dating from the 1st century BCE. According to this myth, the universe was once a vast and empty void. Then, out of this void, appeared a blinding light. From this light emerged a being called Brahma. Brahma then created the heavens and the earth.
3. 3 Arrow
The Arrow Creation Myth is found in the Navajo tradition. According to this myth, the universe was once darkness. Then, out of this darkness, appeared an arrow. The arrow shot through the darkness, creating light. From this light emerged the sun, the moon, and the stars.
3. 4 Poison
The Poison Creation Myth is found in Hindu tradition. According to this myth, the universe was once only poison. Then, out of this poison emerged a being called Prajapati. Prajapati then created the heavens and the earth.
Creation myths are found in cultures all around the world. These myths often explain natural phenomena, such as thunder and lightning, or floods. In addition, they may describe how a culture’s customs began. There are many different theories about myths, but it is important to remember that each culture has its own unique mythology that should be respected.