African Myths of Origin (Penguin Classics) by Stephen Belcher

By Stephen Belcher

Collecting a variety of conventional African myths, this compelling new assortment bargains stories of heroes scuffling with strong serpents and great birds, brutal relatives clash and vengeance, and determined migrations throughout large and alien lands. From impassioned descriptions of animal-creators to dramatic tales of groups compelled to escape great crocodiles, the entire narratives stumbled on right here trouble origins - no matter if of the universe, peoples or households. jointly, they carry a kaleidoscopic photograph of the wealthy and sundry oral traditions that experience formed the tradition and society of successive generations of Africans for millions of years, through the lengthy fight to outlive and discover this huge and environmentally diversified continent.

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At the center of this creation myth is the concept of female power in the universe. In such a universe the logical venue for the beginning of the process whereby the world as we know it is created is the inside of the Earth, the symbolic womb of the Great Mother personified by the spirit Tsichtinako. While we are told that the Earth itself and the potential for various animal and plant forms were created by a drop of the father godÊs blood, we hear little or nothing about him after that. It is the female characters who are necessary to the process by which the people and their society emerge from the darkness and become viable humans.

Also in Greece, the cult of Orphism celebrated an original silver cosmic egg that hatched the androgynous container of all the seeds of life. ‰ The Polynesians of Samoa say that Tagaloa-Langi, the creator, lived in a cosmic egg and that when the egg broke, the pieces of the shell fell into the waters and became the Samoan Islands. Their Polynesian relatives in Tahiti have a similar story in which their creator, Taaroa, the germ of life, whose shell is the universe, broke out of the shell and held part of it up to become the sky.

Psychiatry attempts to do the same thing with the pieces of the re-examined psyche, the historian with bits and pieces of the past, the reproducing feminine body with her genes and those of others. Emergence Creation Central to most creation myths is the creation of human beings. In the creation myth types discussed above, the creation of humans is usually only one aspect of the overall creation of the universe. But in the type of myth known as emergence creation, the emphasis is squarely on the creation of humanity.

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