A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came to inhabit it. While in popular usage the term myth often refers to false or fanciful stories, formally, it does not imply falsehood. Cultures generally regard their creation myths as true.
In the society in which it is told, a creation myth is usually regarded as conveying profound truths, metaphorically, symbolically and sometimes in a historical or literal sense. They are commonly, although not always, considered cosmogonical myths – that is, they describe the ordering of the cosmos from a state of chaos or amorphousness.
Creation myths often share a number of features. They often are considered sacred accounts and can be found in nearly all known religious traditions. They are all stories with a plot and characters who are either deities, human-like figures, or animals, who often speak and transform easily.
Creation myths address questions deeply meaningful to the society that shares them, revealing their central worldview and the framework for the self-identity of the culture and individual in a universal context.
Creation myth definitions from modern references:
- A "symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood in a particular tradition and community. Creation myths are of central importance for the valuation of the world, for the orientation of humans in the universe, and for the basic patterns of life and culture."
- "Creation myths tell us how things began. All cultures have creation myths; they are our primary myths.
- A philosophical and theological elaboration of the primal myth of creation within a religious community.
The term creation refers to the beginning of things, whether by the will and act of a transcendent being, by some ultimate source, or in any other way."
Images for kids
In the kiva of both ancient and present-day Pueblo peoples, the sipapu is a small round hole in the floor that represents the portal through which the ancestors first emerged. (The larger hole is a fire pit, here in a ruin from the Mesa Verde National Park.)
Creation myth Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.