How did the Universe with all its realms, planets, animals, monsters, and forces of nature came to be? And how about us, humans – when and how did we appear and what is our place in all of this? We’ve been trying to answer these questions since the dawn of times, ever since we became intelligent enough to form them, but even before that we were gazing into the skies wondering what it is up there, making up stories to explain how everything appeared. Needless to say, human imagination knows no boundaries, so each culture had its own version of world origin heavily flavoured with their own mythology, its deities and cosmogony. Here are 6 most bizarre world origin myths from cultures across the globe.
Found in the ancient Pyramid Texts, Egyptian creation myths are among the earliest religious mentions of such kind. Different parts of the country had their own take on how everything appeared due to the gods that were prevailing there, yet most of them had common elements: the world as we know it emerged from an infinite, lifeless sea of chaos called Nu. First there emerged a pyramid-shaped mound, and out of it the Sun in a form of a scarab beetle, falcon, or child. The primeval waters were ruled by Ogdoad, eight deities that represented different aspects of the chaos, out of which creation was performed by Amun, closely associated with Ra, the Sun god. According to another version, god Ptah, the master artisan, started envisioning the Universe and as he did so everything he was imagining started coming into existence.
The Kuba people from the Democratic Republic of Congo have their own take on how we all came to be – and, basically, it’s from god’s vomit. Yep, simple as that! Their main creator is a white giant named Mbombo. He was all alone in the darkness, there was nothing but the primordial waters covering the Earth. Then Mbombo felt acute pain in his stomach, and vomited Sun, Moon, and stars. The Sun evaporated some of the water, creating clouds and letting the land and mountains emerge from water. Then he vomited nine sacred animals – Nyanyi Bumba, a heron, who created all birds; goat Budi Bumbs, who created all horned animals; Ganda Bumba, the crocodile, who created all lizards and snakes; Yo Bumba, the fish, who created all aquatic creatures; Koy Bumba, the leopard; Ponga Bumba, the eagle; Kono Bumba, the tortoise; and Tsetse Bumba, a black leopard creature, who was later cast from earth and became lightning.
According to Cherokee mythology, there was nothing but the sea first, and then a curious Water Beetle named Dâyuni’si came from the sky realm to see what’s there under water. While he travelled he found no solid ground or place to rest, so he dived under water and brought up some soft mud. It expanded and became earth. Then birds also became curious, so they sent Buzzard to see if the mud has dried up. Buzzard became tired and brushed the soft mud with his wings, thus creating valleys and mountains from the smooth surface. Eventually they all came down, but it was dark, so they put the sun in the sky to create light and keep everything warm. The myth also tells how certain animals and plants acquired special features. All of them were told to stay awake for seven nights, but only some could do it. Thus, black panther and owl gained the ability see at night and hunt other animals, while trees like pine, cedar, and laurel, didn’t have to shed their leaves in winter as compared to others.
Chinese culture has its own cosmology that is incredibly rich, encompassing various creation tropes such as emerging from primordial chaos (Chinese Hundun), dismemberment of a deity to create different elements of the physical reality (Pangu), siblings that give birth to the world (Fuxi and Nuwa), and the dualistic cosmology represented through ying and yang. According to the Chinese mythology, though, in the beginning of everything it was not chaos or endless ocean, but Grand Inception, when Heaven and Earth and all the things were still unformed. It produced the Nebulous Void, which created space-time, and out of which qi was created. It was divided by a boundary, and all that was pure and light formed Heaven, while all that was heavy went on forming Hell and Earth. Heaven and Earth produced ying and yang, and out of those two energies emerged myriads things.
In Hinduism it is believed that the whole process of creation and dissolution of the Universe is cyclic, and keeps repeating itself almost indefinitely (compared to human lifespan). The number of the Universes is also limitless – they are emanating from Lord Vishnu and are like innumerable bubbles floating in space. Within the Universe there are three main realms – that of gods, humans, and demons. Thus, Hinduism doesn’t focus on material earthly world alone, but encompasses the vastness of all spiritual existence, of which the material is just a small part. The creation itself isn’t limited to one story, too. Rig Veda tells a story of a sacrifice of a primordial being – Purusha, while at the same time on a subtler level in the heart of all creation lies the sound – Om. Lord Brahma performs the act of creation – he is born from a lotus flower that sprang up from the naval of Lord Vishnu.
In Maori mythology the creation was performed by the primordial couple – Ranginui and Papatuanuku, father sky and mother earth. As the two of them were lying in the eternal loving embrace, male children were born into darkness. This didn’t make them happy, so they started discussing how good it would be to see the light. The fiercest of them Tumatauenga proposes to kill the parents, but Tane disagreed, saying they could simply push the two apart, staying with mother earth that would nurture them in the new world. These gods tried their best, but to no avail, until Tane lied on his back and pushed Rangi and Papa apart using his legs. As the gods rejoiced, one of them, the god of storms, was angered by the deed as he heard the cries of their parents who were separated from each other. He promised to pour all his anger on the deities and flied off to nurture his wind-children, whom he sent all over the world. He fought each of his brothers and all of them failed but for one – Tūmatauenga (or Tu, the humanity) remained standing strong. Thus the rage of the god was subdued and peace came to earth.