The motifs found in the creation myths are undoubtedly different from those found in any other type of myth. Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of the creation myths is much greater than a primitive attempt to explain the mysteries of creation. Behind each creation myth is a vast variety of symbolism along with a number of motives which are often shared between cultures, despite vast geographical differences. My intention here is not only to discuss the purpose of the creation myths, but also to compare and contrast common themes which can be found in three selected works. These being, an Eskimo creation myth, the Ongwe creation myth and the Navajo creation myth.Order now
Even with modern advances in science and technology, most of the questions regarding the origin of our cosmos are answered on the basis of theory. A few of these theories may be contradictory, but all can be considered equally correct as each one is based upon information that is considered to be factual. The question that may be asked is, how can we differentiate between factual information and information that is based purely upon speculation? Western mentality states that as long as we feel that we are talking about a true quality of an object, rather than its projections, we can consider our statements or ideas to be factual. This is true as long as long as one does not wander upon a new discovery which contradicts the previous facts. When this occurs, one may consider his previous theory to be an error or a misinterpretation of the facts. Therefore, his new discovery will likely lead to new theory which will then be considered factual.
This same philosophy applies to the origin of any given creation myth. Therefore, a creation myth may be considered a theory that has become outdated due to our more complete perception of the world. We now see these theories as inaccurate, due to the fact that they have been replaced by newer scientific models. In a modern light, it can be stated that creation myths describe not the origin of our cosmos but rather these myths allow us to gain a broader understanding of ancient theories and beliefs. During the time of their invention however, these myths were precisely an honest interpretation of the outer world, and therefore they served the exact purpose which is stated in their title, to explain the process of creation. A technique that is used in many creation myths can be referred to as “creation from above.
” In this method of narration, the creator often creates a replica of earth within the heavens, and somehow recreates this image in the abyss below. An example of this can originally be found in Kund Rasmussen’s collection of Eskimo myths. In this story a being called Tulungersaq, or Father Raven is born in the heavens. He initially takes the form of a human being and is entirely unaware of how he came into existence. He is in complete darkness and it is through his sense of touch that he becomes aware of his surroundings. Through his exploration, he discovers a sparrow, and realizes that this is the only form of life that had been in existence before him.
He goes on to bury something beneath the earth and soon after he discovers that the earth is no longer sterile, it is now covered in bushes and grass. Tulungersaq is still lonely however. As a result, he forms a figure from clay which resembles his own. From this formation, a new human being becomes alive. Tulungersaq then asks the sparrow to fly down into the abyss and inform him as to what he finds. The sparrow does this and returns.
He tells Tulungersaq that far below in the abyss is a new land that has just started to crust over. Curious about this finding, Tulungersaq gathers some twigs from which he constructs wings of his own. It is at this point that he is transformed into a raven. Accompanied by the sparrow, Tulungersaq flies down to the earth below. Once again they arrive to find everything to be deserted and sterile. Tulungersaq goes about planting some herbs and flowers.
He discovers .