Cosmic Creation Myths: Scandinavians
According to the Scandinavian mythology, in the beginning there was an infinite, void space – a vast emptiness of Ginnungagap. Long before the creation of the Earth, there was Yggdrasil - a World Tree which connects all the nine worlds.
Under one of its roots, to the south, there was an area called Muspelheim. Muspelheim was so hot that no one could live there. It was guarded by the giant named Surtr, who had a flaming sword. Under the northern root there was Niflheim, the land of ice, snow and fog. Beneath, at the base of Ginnungagap, the embers of Muspelheim fell on the rocks of ice and raised a cloud of steam. A steam turned into frost, which quickly filled Ginnungagap. In the north, near Niflheimr storms and cold, endless rain began; in the south, near Muspelheim, hot coals lit up the sky. The Centre has grown into the ocean which became embodied in the giant named Ymir - the first ice giant.
Melting of frost created a giant cow Auðumbla. Her udder gave four jets of milk from which Ymir fed himself. The cow licked ice stones, and on the third day, Buri, the ancestor of gods came out of the ice stones. Buri had a son, Borr with whom they began to fight against the evil giants. This struggle lasted longer than people can remember. Borr married giantess Bestla and fathered three sons - Odin, Vili and Ve. The three of them went into their father`s battle, and soon, Ymir was killed. All giants drowned in the blood of Ymir, except for Bergelmir and his wife. They fled to a place called Jötunheim where they bred and gave life to other giants. Ice giants, who were descendants of Bergelmir, thought of gods as their enemies.
Odin and his brothers used the embers of Muspelheim to create the fire that lit the sky and the earth. Three gods made the first men from the trees that they found: Odin gave them life and spirit, Willie - mobility and intelligence, and Ve - feelings.
The name of the first man was Ask (ash tree), and the first woman Embla (elm tree).In the middle of what has now become the world, the gods built Asgard - Land of the Gods, where they live to this day.
Chinese creation myths.
In China, which was called the Middle Kingdom, as its lords felt that their throne is located in the center of the world where the sky touches the ground, there were many creation myths and deities. One of the myths offers us the following version of creation.
In times of primordial chaos, universe had a form of the huge egg. From this egg originated the ancestor named Pangu. After 18,000 years of sleep, Pangu struck his ax into the darkness in front of him and the egg split. The light formed the spirit of Yang, which rose up and became the sky, while the heavy darkness formed the spirit of Yin, which went down and became the earth. After separating of heaven from the earth, Pangu put his feet on the ground and propped up the sky with his head so as not to allow them to revert back to chaos. Wind rose from his breath, thunder from his exhalation; when the giant opened his eyes the day came, when he closed them - night came to earth.
Every day Pangu grew one chang (about 3 m), and the sky grew up 1 chang, and the earth became thicker at 1 chang. After 18,000 years, Pangu`s height reached 90 thousand li (about 45 thousand km). Pangu finally collapsed and died, and eventually became embodied in nature. His breath became the wind and clouds, his voice – thunder; left eye -the sun, right eye – the moon; arms and legs turned into four cardinal directions. Blood turned into rivers, flesh became soil, and parasites which crawled over his body became people.
As we can see, despite great differences in the cosmic creation mythology of Scandinavians and Ancient Chinese, we can find similar concepts and ideas that form the basis of those myths. The concept of Middle Kingdom and Midgart are similar as they are both located between opposite entities of heaven and earth. Scandinavian gods created Midgart – the world of the mortal which lies between the transcendental dimensions of gods, giants, elves and dwarves, each occupying separate realms or lands. The corpse of Ymir was used as a “building material” for Midgard. Ymir, on the other hand, came into being due to the clash of the two worlds of Niflheim and Muspelheim, each representing two fundamental and, at the same time, opposite forces – ice and fire. Midgard is a result of coexistence of these forces; it lies between two worlds, combining their essential characteristics. According to the Chinese mythology, these fundamental forces are embodied in the abstract concepts of Ying and Yang – heaven and earth, lightness and darkness, strength and fragility, ice and fire. In a way, Chinese Pangu is similar to Ymir – they both represent creative, fundamental forces of the universe and in the end their bodies became the essential part of the world. For this reason the world of men is based on the existence of these opposite, and yet complementary forces.
- Creation of the World In Norse Mythology, retrieved from http://www.viking-mythology.com/theCreation.php
- Chinese Creation Myths, retrieved from http://www.crystalinks.com/chinacreation.html