Cosmic Creation Myths across Cultures Essay
Norse creations and Chinese creation have similarities and differences. Both creations were formed by one entity with help from other gods or entities. Darkness is a similar theme in the stories of both creations. Both creations start with an emptiness. They both entail elements of the earth and sky yet their creators are different. The Norse creation myth begins with a void that is called Ginnungagap that means “beginning gap”. To the south of Ginnungagap was a fiery realm of Muspell that had really hot rivers full of poison and lakes of fire.
To the north there was a dark and cold realm of Niflheim, with freezing rivers and the mountains were blocks of solid ice. Over numerous years the heat from Muspell began to melt the icy mountains of Niflheim began a giant Ymir and a cow. Ymir was the first being of the Ginnungagap. As the cow licked the salt from the ice mountains, Ymir drank the cow’s milk and grew larger every day. Eventually, she licked away enough ice that two more beings appeared, Buri and his goddess wife. Together they had a son named Bor and his son was named Odin. In time Odin became the king of all gods.
Odin and the other gods could not abide by the evil acts of Ymir and they killed him. They used Ymir’s body to form the earth. His blood converted into the sea, flesh became the land, bones were the mountains and his hair became the trees. They formed the sky with Ymir’s skull which was held up by four towering pillars. Odin then acquired sparks from Muspell to create the sun and moon and put them in the sky. Over time the ice melted and trees and plants started to grow. In the center of the earth was the grandest tree of all with its roots piercing into the bottom of creation and the leaves reaching up to the sky.
When this was done Odin named the new world Midgard, ‘The Middle Land’ (bigmyth. com). While Odin was pleased with creation thus far the world needed people. He found two fallen trees, an ash and an elm. He brought them up out of the mud and they became the first man and woman. Odin then breathed into the new beings and gave them emotions, cognitive abilities, sight and hearing. They were named Ask and Embla. The human race began with these two people and they were in charge of Midgard. The China creation myth is similar to other myths in which the world was formed out of the body of a primal being.
This myth starts with darkness everywhere and chaos. In the beginning an egg contains the whole universe and inside this egg P’an Ku was formed, the first being. Since he was surrounded by chaos he decided to bring order into the universe. He broke open the world egg and Yin and Yang emerged. The lighter part was Yang which rose to the sky and Yin, the heavier part, sank and became earth. Even though he was satisfied with what he had done, he feared that the heaven and earth would meld together again. Therefore, he positioned himself between them with his head holding up the sky and his feet firmly on the earth.
The myth claims that he grew at a rate of ten feet per day over a period of 18,000 years (livingmyths. com) to increase the distance between the earth and the sky. Afterwards, P’an Ku fell asleep from exhaustion and died in his sleep. His body formed the world with all its elements. From his breath came the wind and clouds, his voice became the thunder and lightning, his eyes, the sun and moon, arms and legs converted into the four directions of a compass and the bottom part of his body became the mountains. The soil of the earth came from his flesh and his blood became the oceans and rivers.
His teeth and bones became precious stones and minerals. Creation claims that the wind from his breath blew upon the parasite on his body which became fish, animals and the black-haired people. The Chinese creation suggests that the myth of a cosmic egg explains to each individual the starting of existence. On a small level it gives a meaning to each person that the world existed long before they did and it will continue long after they are gone. Both myths illustrate that humans have a fairly low position in the realm of creation. They are not the center of creation, are legitimately insignificant by taking their place in the natural order.
These myths both convey that everything seen is alive including the rocks and soil. In comparison the Norse creation resembles elements of Christianity. One aspect is the first humans. In Norse creation Ask and Embla are the first humans which are similar to Adam and Eve. Their use of gods and giants illustrate their unique ideas of creation. Creation myths represent the process of increasing consciousness of the world. Each myth conveys how the world began. They use gods, the elements, and substances to symbolize these thoughts. They appear to all start from either a dark void of nothing or chaos. It does not matter which myth is right or wrong, the one common thread is the world had to start from somewhere or something.
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