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An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 83

In order to show exactly where the most notable creation myths impinge upon each other and exhibit resemblances, the following tables have been drawn up, which indicate this at a glance. It will be seen that most of those which bear resemblances are situated in regions excessively remote—an argument in favour of those who believe that the religious evolution of man has followed similar lines in all parts of the habitable globe.

CONCLUSIONS

The idea of a primeval abyss is common to Egypt, Babylonia, India, Scandinavia, the Celts, some North American Indians.

The original god (or gods) finds himself in this abyss in the myths of Egypt, Babylonia, India, the Hebrews, the Maya-Kiches.

The original god (or gods) broods over the face of the waters in Hebrew, Polynesian, North American Indian, and Maya-Kiche myth.

The universe is manufactured from the corpse of a primeval being in the myths of Babylonia, China, Scandinavia, Hindus (Purusha).

Life or matter is created by the spoken word of the original god in the myths of Egypt, the Hebrews, the Celts, the Maya-Kiches.

The idea of the cosmic egg appears in the myths of Egypt, India, Japan, Peru.

Man emanates: from the tears of a god (Egypt), from the blood and bones of a god (Babylonia), from clay (the Hebrews and North American Indians), from worms (China), from wooden images or trees (Scandinavia, Maya-Kiches, Iran), from the sweat of a god or giant (Iran and Scandinavia), from the union of a god and an animal (some North American Indians).

The eyes of a god or demiurge become the sun and moon in the cosmogonies of Egypt, China, Scandinavia (?).

[Pg 193]

The piece of earth from which the new world is constructed is fished out of the waters of the deluge by an animal in some North American Indian myths, and perhaps in the original form of the Hebrew myth.

PRINCIPAL CREATION MYTHS SUMMARIZED

EGYPT

(1) A god finding himself in a primeval abyss, where he has been since the beginning of time, utters his name. This act causes him to 'live.'

(2) He next creates, by a magical act, a foundation upon which to stand, probably the earth.

(3) From his mouth he brings objects which reproduce themselves.

(4) He creates two other deities, male and female, who in turn propagate other gods.

(5) Vegetation and creeping things are formed on the earth.

(6) Man is then created from the tears which fall from the original deity.

BABYLONIA

(1) Primeval deities dwell in an abyss.

(2) New gods arrive (?) and quarrel with them.

(3) Two of the primeval deities are slain, but the third, a female, creates monsters and gives battle to the new-comers, and is annihilated.

(4) The new gods create the earth and firmament from her corpse.

(5) Their champion is decapitated, and from his blood and bones springs the race of mankind.

CHINESE

(1) From nothingness an atom is formed.

(2) In the course of ages it splits into a male and female principle which again split in two.

(3) From the co-operation of these four elements springs a being whose body is broken up into the constituents of a universe, and the worms from its decomposing corpse become men.


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