THE CREATION

A myth of creation, a cosmogony (Greek kosmos, meaning "order," and genesis, meaning "birth"), is a story of how the cosmos began and developed. Typically, though not always, cosmogonies include the creation of the world, the creation of humankind, and the fall of humankind from a state of perfection, or the struggle in heaven between various groups of immortals.

Each person's birth is the subject of a story that is somehow revealing about that person. The events surrounding one's birth are a celebration of the miracle of individuality. The same applies to cultural myths of origin. Origin stories are sacramental -- outward and visible signs of an inner truth about the individual or culture in question. Mircea Eliadehas called the creation myth the "narration of a sacred history," the story of the "breakthrough of the sacred" into time ( Myth and Reality, p. 6).

That the creation story is a metaphor for birth is indicated further by the frequent presence in cosmogonies from around the world of the motifs of the primal egg or the primal waters. These essential female symbols remind us that it is the Great Mother, perhaps breathed on by an intangible ultimate source, who gives form to life. It is she who is the prima materia without which life cannot be born:

The mother of us all
the oldest of all,
hard,
splendid as rock

"The Hymn to the Earth,"

( Homeric Hymns, trans. Charles Boer, p. 5)

-15-

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The World of Myth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction- the Dimensions of Myth 3
  • Part I - Cosmic Myths 11
  • The Creation 15
  • The Apocalypse 76
  • Part II - Myths of the Gods 91
  • The Pantheons 95
  • The God as Archetype 123
  • Part III - Hero Myths 215
  • Part IV - Place and Object Myths 313
  • Index 349
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