Here are 8 creation stories - but what do you believe?

  1. Cosmic eggs
    1. The Taoists believe that a vast expanse of nothingness eventually created a cosmic egg, from which hatched P’an ku, the first living being. As P'an Ku grew, his height pushed the eggshell above him upwards to become the sky and the bit below him downwards to become the earth. The bad news is that the sheer effort of it all broke P’an Ku into pieces - but the good news is that his limbs became mountains, his blood the rivers, his breath the wind and his voice the thunder. His two eyes are the sun and the moon. And last but not least, the parasites on his body became humans. Doesn’t say much about us!
  2. Create, preserve, destroy, repeat
    1. Hindus believe that the world is created and destroyed in a day, but that every day lasts four thousand million years. Lord Brahma (the creator god) makes the world and leaves Lord Vishnu (the sustainer or preserver god) in charge. Sadly, Brahma doesn’t work nights and when he goes to sleep Lord Shiva (the destroyer god) comes along and wrecks it all. So, each morning, Lord Brahma creates the world all over again.
  3. If at first, you don’t succeed...
    1. The supreme Inca deity, Viracocha, first created man by breathing into rocks. Sadly, his first try didn’t go so well and he created unruly giants. Not quite what he’d planned. Disappointed, but undeterred, he destroyed the giants in a flood and had another go, this time using clay. It all went a bit better and he created man and woman, and spent the rest of his days disguised as a beggar, trying to teach his creations the lessons they needed to thrive.
  4. The clash of the legends
    1. Greek mythology tells us that it all began in the Void - a state of vast emptiness which was soon joined by Gaia, the Earth Mother, and Eros, the most beautiful of the gods. Gaia gave birth to the God of the Sky, Uranus (or Ouranos if it helps). Next up are the Titans, the ultimate heroes, but then it all gets a bit messy... Gaia and Uranus make Cyclopes (the one-eyed monsters) which freak out Uranus so he wants to kill them all. Gaia tries to hide them inside herself to protect them, but bloodshed and betrayal follow - Uranus is castrated by Kronos, who starts swallowing up his own children. Better stop here before it gets worse.
  5. “Let there be light”
    1. The Bible’s creation story reads like an epic task list. Day 1: Separate light and dark (how is that even possible?) Day 2: Push up the vault of the sky. Simples. Day 3: Create land and sea (oh, and don’t forget vegetation). Day 4: More work on that sky stuff - we’ll need heaven, sun, moon and stars. Day 5: Add birds and fish. Day 6: Animals please and of course men and women to oversee them. Day 7: Chill out and recover from all that creating.
  6. Armpit giants and massive ice cows
    1. According to Norse legend, life began with a frost giant, Ymir, and a giant cow, Adhumla, made from melted fog and ice. Ymir creates giants from his armpit (as you do) whilst Adhumla feeds them while unearthing other giants by melting more ice. If that wasn’t enough, these giants then mate and give birth to the god Odin and his brothers, who thank them by killing them all and their creator Ymir. On a happier note, Odin recycles Ymir’s body pretty efficiently - his flesh makes the earth, his skull becomes the heavens, his blood becomes the sea and his brains are turned into the clouds. (Bit like our friend P'an Ku, really.) Finally, his bones make the mountains and his hair turns into trees. And all that good stuff creates Midgard (or Earth) where the gods breathe life into two tree trunks to create the first man and woman.
  7. Dreaming of a spewing rainbow serpent
    1. For the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, creation begins in a period they call ‘dreaming’. The world already existed, but was bare and cold. Not ideal. It was waiting for the Rainbow Serpent who was sleeping underground with all tribes of civilisation in her belly waiting for the perfect moment to emerge and spew (no better word for it) forth all the ingredients to bring life to the world. And she didn’t stop there - she also gave them laws. Those who obeyed them were given human form and those who didn’t, got swallowed up, spat out and, in the ultimate act of sustainability, were transformed into rocks and hills.
  8. Vomiting up your children
    1. The Egyptians have a number of creator gods and so have more than one creation myth. The one you’re most likely to come across tells of a vast expanse of water known as Nuthat, which created the first, all-powerful god Re. Re created a son and a daughter in a not-entirely-pleasant fashion - he spat out his son Shu (god of air) and vomited up his daughter Tefnut (goddess of water). Lovely. These two gave rise to the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, who set the limits of the world. Geb and Nut in turn produces Osiris, god of fertility and regeneration; Isis, goddess of motherhood; Set, the god of chaos; and Nephthys protector of the dead. Quite a family.