Have you ever wondered what kind of creation stories are in the world? There are quite a few. Since the early days of civilization, humanity has pondered the origins of the universe. Fortunately for us, through oral tradition and writing, we can learn about these creation myths. Often, these myths are vastly different, from a universe birthed from chaos to a universe that wasn’t created at all. On the other hand, many of these stories have surprising similarities even when they’re separated geographically from Asia to North America. Ready to hear a few origin stories? Here are 25 Creation Stories From Around The World.
Australian Aborigine Creation Story
The indigenous people of Australia told a story of how when everything on Earth was asleep, the Father of All Spirits was the only one awake and woke the Sun Mother. He commanded her to go down and give the spirits of the Earth forms. She woke the plants, insects, caves, and everything on the Earth until it was finished. The Father of All Spirits was pleased with the Sun Mother’s work. Later, the Sun Mother gave birth to two children, the Morning Star, and the moon. Those two gave birth to the children that later became humanity’s ancestors.
Heliopolis Creation Story
This myth comes out of Ancient Egypt. It states that in the beginning, only a chaotic water existed they called Nun. The sun god Ra appeared from a lotus flower and gave light to the universe. Ra created Shu, the air god, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. Those two gave birth to the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb. From them, the physical universe was formed.
Mayan Creation Story
In Mayan culture, Tepeu the maker and Gucumatz the feathered spirit created the world with their thoughts. They created beings to look after their creation. First, they made animals of the sky and land but needed a being that could properly communicate, so they made man. They made him out of clay, but he crumbled apart. Then, they tried making him out of wood but he was empty-headed and hearted. Finally, they made men out of corn, and these men were empathetic and intelligent.
Ainu Creation Story
In this creation story from the Ainu people, the world was created when oil from the ocean rose up as a flame to the sky. What was left was land, and the vapor created two gods descending on five-colored clouds. Out of these two gods and their colorful clouds, the Earth, including the plants and animals, and other gods were formed.
Rangi and Papa
This Polynesian creation myth says the world emerged from a shell. When the shell slowly opened, light came inside. The top of the shell became Rangi, or sky, and the bottom Papa, earth. Rangi and Papa loved each other and gave birth to 70 powerful gods that helped in creating the world as it is today.
In Chinese Daoist mythology, Pangu was the first man who came out of chaos with two horns, two tusks, and a hairy body. He separated the seas, put the mountains in their place, and gave the Earth its form using a powerful knowledge of yingyang.
Proto-Indo-European Creation Story
In this myth, a primordial being is sacrificed, killed, and dismembered. Its body parts are used to create the universe. This being’s name is different in all societies. For instance, in Old Norse myth, this being is called Ymir.
Cherokee Creation Story
For the Cherokee, the Earth was a mere island floating in a big ocean. It hung from four cords and the sky formed the ground, but the darkness made it impossible for the animals to see, so the sun appeared to help them find their way. There were seven days and seven nights and God instructed the animals to stay awake. Some still fell asleep, but those who stayed awake, God gave the ability to see in the dark.
Raven Creation Story
For many cultures, a raven plays a big part in creation. In the beginning, there was no moon or stars at night, and the Raven was the most powerful being. He made all the living creatures on the Earth, including man, but they lived in darkness. The Raven learned a great chief had a daughter who carried the sun, moon, and stars in cedar boxes, so the Raven went and stole all of them, giving them to the world.
Hindu Creation Story
In the Rig Veda, it tells of Purusha, a being who had a thousand heads, eyes, and feet. It could clutch the earth with its feet. The gods, however, sacrificed Purusha and made it into butter that became all the animals, elements, and three gods, Agni, Yayu, and Indra.
This narrative is a Norse myth compressing all of Earth’s history and future into 60 poetic stanzas. In it, Odin requests the seeress Völva to share her prophecies with mankind. She tells the story of creation when the world was a mere gap before Odin and other gods created Midgard and named Morning, Noon, Afternoon, and Eve. Eventually, the first war between Aesir and Vanir ended with the Vanir becoming gods which resembled the enduring conflict before the end of the world, called Ragnarok.
Japanese Creation Story
In this myth, the elements were mixed together to create one germ of life. When it mixed things around, the heavier part sank and the lighter rose. A muddy sea was created and a shoot sprang forth and reached the clouds, entering the sky. This created a god, and it grew lonely and created other gods. Two called Izanagi and Izanami were the most remarkable and formed most of the Earth.
Sumerian Creation Myth
For the ancient Sumerians, in the beginning, there was only the goddess Nammu. She gave birth to the universe, Anki, who then gave birth to the air god Enil. Enil split the universe in two, making An, the sky god, and Ki, the goddess of the Earth. Eventually, many gods came into existence and they were made to do hard labor until they rebelled. Enil came up with a plan to create lesser beings to serve the gods. They elected Geshtu-e, who had great intelligence, to be sacrificed. Ninmah, the birth goddess, mixed his flesh and blood and all the gods spat on it. His body was made into clay which eventually made seven men and seven women.
Pelasgian Creation Story
In this myth, Eurynome was the goddess of all things and the only one in the beginning. She rose out of the chaos naked and divided the sea from the sky and danced on its waves. She caught hold of a north wind, rubbed it between her hands, and created the serpent Ophion. When Eurynome danced, Ophion grew lustful, coiled up her limbs, and coupled with her. She became with child and birthed the sun, moon, stars, and the earth with its mountains and rivers. They made their home on Mount Olympus, but when Ophion taunted her by saying he created the universe, she bruised his head with her heel and kicked him down to the lower places of the Earth.
This myth comes from ancient Mesopotamian tablets dating back to 1,100 BCE, but it’s worth noting they were all copies, and the myth likely is much older. In it, the beginning was filled with chaotic water that divided into fresh water, known as the god Apsu, and salt water, known as the goddess Tiamat. These two gods give birth to other gods. These other gods begin to cause trouble and upset Apsu so much he wanted to kill them, which created a conflict between him and Tiamat. From the conflict, a great warrior named Marduk fired an arrow at Tiamat and splits her into two which is said to have created the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; from her corpse, the heavens and the earth were created.
A Hawaiian creation account very similar to Rangi and Papa, the Kumulipo is a chant which told of how the earth first became hot, and land came from the slime of the sea. A dark cavern, a male, and a moonless night, a female, gave birth to the life of the sea. Afterward, flying creatures were born and soon after that, the creatures of the land. Finally, from the union of La’ila’i with Ki’i and Kane came humanity, and it was day.
The Jains have a much different take on the creation of the universe than many cultures in that it never happened. Essentially, within Jainism, nothing in this world is ever created or destroyed. They merely change forms. The universe has always existed and will always exist. Time for the Jains is cyclical.
Genesis Creation Story
Perhaps one of the most famous creation stories, in the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible, the Book of Genesis depicts that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The Earth was formless and the spirit of God hovered over the water. He said, “Let there be light,” and light appeared. He created all things, including human beings, in six days and then rested on the seventh day, which He made a special day.
Mande Creation Story
For the Mande of West Africa, in the beginning, only Mangala existed. Mangala is a big and energetic presence. Within him were the four divisions, four days of the week, four elements, and four directions. He put a part of himself into a seed and let that become the creation of the world. The seed, however, blew up and Mangala started again, creating two more seeds. Eventually, he created the animals and humanity.
Frequently retold by shamans in Korea, this myth begins with the sky and earth being one, creating an empty void. A clear drop of dew fell from the sky and a dark drop of dew came out of the earth and when they mixed, it created everything on earth except the sun, moon, and stars. Cheonjiwang, the King of Heaven and Earth, woke to the sound of three roosters. He knew they were crowing because there were no suns, so he created two suns and two moons.
Mongolian Creation Story
For the Mongols, Udan the lama is the one who created the world. At age 500, he lived in a world that hadn’t been created yet and at age 1,000, he separated the heavens and the earth, creating a nine-story heaven, a nine-story earth, and nine rivers. Eventually, Udan made humanity out of clay, and the entire human race descends from them.
The Golden Chain
A story from Yoruba tradition says that before any people were created, all life existed in the sky. Olorun was an all-powerful supreme being who lived in the sky with other creatures called orishas. Obtala asked Olorun’s permission to create the solid earth in the waters below and Olorun agreed, but before he went down, Obtala had a gold chain made by the orishas to help him descend to the waters below. When he created the ground, he called it “Ife” and later, with the help of Olorun, sparked fire into Ife to create the first people.
Navajo Creation Story
In this myth, the first world was small, pitch black, and surrounded by four seas with one island that had a single pine tree. The four seas were ruled by the Big Water Creature, the Blue Heron, the Frog, and White Thunder. Above the seas were a black cloud, white cloud, blue cloud, and yellow cloud. When the blue and yellow clouds came together, the first woman appeared, while the black and white clouds created the first man. They lived together and later were greeted by The Great Coyote who was formed in water. He said he knew all of the secrets of the water and skies. Then, a second coyote came named First Angry, and he brought witchcraft into the world.
The pre-colonial, ancient Zulus believed that before animals or humans existed, only darkness and one large seed were on the earth. The seed sank into the earth and formed long reeds, called Uthlanga. One reed grew into Unkulunkulu, the first man and creator of all things. As more things, like men and women and animals, began to grow on the reeds, Unkulunkulu broke them off and he created the streams, mountains, lakes and valleys. He taught men and women how to hunt, make fire, and create clothes.
In Finnish mythology, an old sage named Väinämöinen creates the universe and is their epic hero, first consciousness, and the first power. While floating in the sea, he also creates the land of the Earth. He then scattered seeds to fill the Earth so that it would not be barren.
Like these creation stories? You have to check out 25 Great Flood Stories From Around the World.