Leader Resource 4: Creation Myths
For use with Session 1, Activity 2
African Bushmen Creation Myth
At one time, people and animals lived underneath the earth with Kaang, the Creator. The people and animals lived together peacefully. It was always light , even though there wasn't any sun.
In the world above, Kaang placed many wonders. He also created an enormous tree. At its base, he dug a hole that reached all the way down to where the people and animals lived. After he had finished furnishing the world as he pleased, he led the first man up through the hole and onto the surface. The man was soon followed by the first woman. Before long, all the people were gathered at the foot of the tree, awed by the world they had just entered. Next, the animals emerged into the above-ground world.
Kaang gathered all the people and animals about him. He instructed them to live together peacefully. Then he turned to the men and women and warned them not to build any fires. If they did, a great evil would befall them and their world. The people agreed, and Kaang went away to where he could watch them in secret.
As evening approached, the sun began to sink beneath the horizon. When the sun disappeared, the people became afraid. Unlike the animals, they could not see in the dark and they lacked fur to keep them warm. In desperation, one man suggested that they build a fire. The people forgot Kaang's warning.
Once the fire was built, the people grew warm and were once again able to see each other. However, the fire frightened the animals, who fled to the caves and mountains. Ever since people broke Kaang's command, fear and distrust has replaced the friendship that was once between them and the animals.
Babylonian Creation Myth
At first, there was only Apsu, the Father, and Tiamat, the Mother. Together, they created other gods, who lived in Tiamat’s vast body. These gods made so much noise that Tiamat and Apsu were annoyed. Apsu wished to kill the young gods, but Tiamat disagreed. In order to stop Apsu, she warned Ea, the most powerful of the young gods. Ea used magic to put Apsu into a coma, and then killed him.
Ea then became the chief god. He and the goddess Damkina had a son named Marduk. Marduk was given wind to play with, and he used it to make dust storms and tornadoes. This disrupted Tiamat’s great body and caused the gods still residing inside her to be unable to sleep. These gods persuaded Tiamat and her new husband Kingu to turn against Marduk.
A great battle ensued and Marduk destroyed Tiamat. He ripped her body into two halves, which he fashioned into the earth and sky. Marduk then created the calendar, organized the planets and stars, and regulated the moon, the sun, and the weather.
The gods who had pledged their allegiance to Tiamat during the great battle were initially forced to labor in the service of the gods who sided with Marduk. However, they were eventually freed from servitude. This happened when Marduk destroyed Kingu. He used Kingu’s blood to create humankind to do the work for all of the gods.
Chinese Creation Myth
In the beginning, there was a huge egg containing chaos and a mixture of yin and yang (female and male, cold and heat, dark and light, wet and dry, etc.) A hairy giant named Phan Ku was also inside the egg.
Phan Ku broke forth from the egg and separated the yin and yang into many opposites, including the earth and the sky. Phan Ku lived for 18,000 years, pushing the sky and the earth farther and farther apart. When he died, parts of his body formed the world. His bones became rocks, his blood became rivers and seas, and his eyes became the sun and the moon. The fleas in the hair covering his body became human beings.
Hamilton, Virginia (1985.) In the Beginning: Creation Myths from Around the World. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc. pp. 20 – 23.
“Kaang’s People.” In Myths and Legends. 2006. The East of England Broadband Network. http://myths.e2bn.org/mythsandlegends/textonly2490-kaangs-people.html. (11 October 2011.)
Mark, Joshua J. “Enuma Elish -- the Babylonian Creation Epic.” In The Ancient History Encyclopedia. http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/225/ (27 September 2011).