Ancient Civilizations / Religion

The Awesome, Terrible, and Unknowable Creator Gods Through History

GodHands

Reposted from: Ancient Origins | By Mark Miller

All throughout history people have invoked gods of various kinds, including incomprehensibly strange creators. Crediting an almighty god as the creator of the universe is an acknowledgement that the universe is so complex and beautiful that only a being much greater than human could create it.

People from every inhabited corner of the planet have told stories about the creator and how he or she brought the world into existence. Creators have been seen as male and female, wonderful and awesome, terrible and unknowable. They are usually the oldest being in any pantheon.

Modern scientists too have a creation story: the Big Bang. Some modern people do not believe God set off the Big Bang. In fact, many millions of people from various traditions around the world, including Christians and Muslims, still believe in fundamentalist creation stories.

Abstract model of the Big Bang

Abstract model of the Big Bang. Source: BigStockPhoto

A creator is difficult to understand because it doesn’t show itself except through its works. It doesn’t explain how or when or why it made the universe and us. So people develop stories or allegories to explain the inexplicable: How did our universe come to be?

There was probably really never any creator who vomited up everything, or who fought a monster and sliced up her body and created the world from it, or who hatched the universal egg on her stomach and created the world and heavens from its parts. It’s uncertain if people truly believed these things happened, but these exact stories were first told long ago.

To give a flavor of just one people’s telling of a creation tale, here is a short excerpt from the very first part of the American Indian Navajo creation story Dine bahané:

Of a long time ago, long ago these things are said.
It is said that at To bil dahisk’id white arose in the east and was considered day. We now call that spot Place Where the Waters Crossed.
Blue arose in the south. It too was considered day. So the Nilch’I diné’e, who already lived there, moved around. We would call them Air-Spirit People in the language spoken today by those who are given the name Bilagaana, which means White Man.
In the west yellow arose and showed that evening had come. Then in the north black arose. So the Air-Spirit People lay down and slept.— From the book Diné bahane: The Navajo Creation Story, University of New Mexico Press, Paul G. Zolbrod, editor and translator.

The text of the Navajo creation story runs 300 pages in Zolbrod’s book, and it tells a lot about ancient Navajo Indians.

It is fortunate the Navajo people have such a complete creation story from many centuries ago. Other indigenous people are not so lucky. Many ancient people’s stories were never recorded and are lost because their cultures or civilizations ended by attrition or in various disasters, including colonialism, imperialism, and genocide.

Below is a list of 20 creators as told by real people in real religions and cultures at various times around the world down through the ages. Some of these beings have fallen out of favor with no believers left. Some were imagined or prophesied about thousands of years ago. Others, though their stories are old, are still loved and worshipped today:

  • Atum of Egypt, “the not-yet-Completed One who will attain completion” and dwelt in the primordial depths, masturbated to create the father and mother of the earth and sky.
  • Nammu is the Sumerian mother ancestress who gave birth to all the gods.
  • Enki of Sumer impregnated the lovely Ninhursag, who was the mother of the land.
  • Marduk of Babylon sliced up the body of the terrible monster Tiamat and formed all of creation from her corpus.

Marduk and Tiamat

Marduk and Tiamat (Wikimedia Commons)

  • The Persian gods Ahura Mazda, who fashioned all that is positive on Earth, and Ahriman, who fashioned all that is negative, are still believed in by Zoroastrians.
  • Awonawilona was the Zuni god who existed before the beginning and who contained the universe within his male and female self.
  • In Jewish Cabala, the Aged of the Aged, Unknown of the Unknown, Truth of all Truths, Form without Form, the Uncreated Uncreating has an unblinking face, Makroposopos, always seen in profile. On it is the blinking face of the Uncreated Creating, Mikroprosopos. Joseph Campbell describes them in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Campbell said Cabalists believe Makroposopos is the “I AM” of the Old Testament, and the Mikroprosopos is named God.
  • The Bible’s El or Elohim, worshipped by more than any other people and still invoked today by Christians, Jews and Muslims, saw that the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass and divided the light from darkness and brought the world and all in it into being.

Elohim created Adam by William Blake

Elohim created Adam by William Blake (Wikimedia Commons)

  • Kali Ma is the Dark Mother of Hinduism dwelling in an ocean of her own blood. Still worshiped, she is goddess of creation, preservation and destruction and has terrible aspect and benevolent aspects.
  • The god known as Io-matua-te-kora,”Io the parentless,” is one of several creators to Polynesian people. Polynesian creation stories began with Te Kore, chaos, or the void. Then Te Pō, the night, and Te Ao Mārama, the world of light, come in. “There are numerous stages of Te Kore, Te Pō and Te Ao Mārama recorded in different whakapapa [genealogical tables] with each stage begetting the next. Sequences vary in different tribal retellings,” says The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  • Kiho of Tuomotua, another Polynesian god of New Zealand people, mused all potential things and caused his thought to be invoked.
  • The Dogon people still worship Amma, who created the egg from which hatched the twins who came forth as male and female, day and night, wet and dry, land beings and water beings, and good and evil. “The notion of a creator god named Amma or Amen is not unique to the Dogon but can also be found in the religious traditions of other West African and North African groups,” says Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Bunjil of Australia formed rivers, trees, plants and hills from the bare lands and then men from the clay. His brother Bat created women from mud in the depths of the water.

Aboriginal rock art depicting the creator god

Aboriginal rock art depicting the creator god (Wikimedia Commons)

  • Bumba of the Congo was a giant white god in human form who got a stomachache and vomited up the sun and moon and stars. He got sick again and vomited up the living creatures — a leopard, a crested eagle, a crocodile, a small fish, a tortoise, a white heron a beetle, a goat, and then created humans.
  • Kururumany of the Arawaks was a creator who created men and goodness. Kulmina created women. Christopher Columbus and his henchmen killed off the Arawak Indians with murder, slavery and disease beginning in 1492 when the “conquistadores” came to Hispaniola and the New World.
  • Luonnotar of Finland was all alone in the vast emptiness of space and then came down to the sea, where the wind caressed her bosom and the seas made her fertile. The great Roc visited her and made a nest upon her upthrust pelvis and laid eggs there, which made her aroused and excited, causing the eggs to spill out and break, the shells forming the earth and sky, the yolks the sun, the whites the moon, the spotted fragments the stars, and the black fragments the clouds.
  • Pangu of China also hatched the universe from a cosmic egg.

Artist's depiction of Pangu creating the heavens and earth

Artist’s depiction of Pangu creating the heavens and earth. (orientaldiscovery.com)

  • Earth diver, known to many peoples around the world, dove down into the first waters and brought up mud or earth from which the world took shape.
  • Big Bang is the immeasurably dense basketball or smaller-sized singularity, the Primeval Fireball that contained everything, even the matter and energy that compose all of us, our world and the stars and space dust. As the song says, “We are stardust …”
  • Vishnu, loved by hundreds of millions of Hindus still today, evolved from the primordial reality of praktri and then created the universe through austerities and meditation.

If some Unknowable and Formless Ancient of Ancients, or some goddess-woman visited by a huge egg-laying bird, or some lonely being who just mused everything into being actually created our world, he or she must indeed be a fantastic being.

 

One thought on “The Awesome, Terrible, and Unknowable Creator Gods Through History

  1. Our Spiritual Origin.
    You may think you come from some smart apes or from no-where, however, wouldn’t it just be nice to know the real truth. The only reason you don’t know is that ‘they’ have lied to you and you have never been searching for it, that is, until now.
    Conventional philosophical, historical, scientific and religious sources should have explained why you are here, and what you must do to achieve what you were ment to achieve in this life. And to do that, you first have to understand what you really are, because you truly don’t know, do you? Don’t kid yourself, you don’t. What you look at in the mirror is just some ape-like-body in a mini skirt or a tie, but it’s not you. So, if you don’t know what you really are, how can you get anything right in your life? Your life is just an accident waiting to happen. And for many of you, your daily doings are totally accidental and most likely far from successful in achieving your life’s purpose.
    You may choose to believe in the story of Adams rib, seven days and talking snakes etc. but it is not clear to anybody what was really meant by those metaphors. The many transliterations and misinterpretations you hear from the many “Orthodox taught” are varied and imaginative, but only the truth can help you understand. Accidental interpretations, wishful thinking, faith or metaphors you don’t understand cannot.
    If the information doesn’t make sense, it’s non-sense.
    Our Spiritual Origin:
    According to the real secret teachings, the Universe was not first created out of matter, but existed prior to material creation in spirit form. Imagine a Consciousness similar to our own, except that this first Consciousness was boundless, a Universal Consciousness or Super Consciousness. This is what religions much later termed ‘God’.

    At some point, the Universal Consciousness desired to express itself. It began to conceive, to imagine and to express its inner promptings. And so the creation began – light, sound … eventually stars, galaxies etc. This was prior to the physical creation of the Universe that science records. This was a realm of thought, fantasy and imagination; no physical forms existed, only thoughts in the Consciousness of the Universe. The physical Universe had not yet been created.

    According to the secret teachings, there came a point in this spiritual creation where the Creator’s Consciousness desired to bring forth companions, creatures like itself that would share in this expression of life. In order for the creatures to be more than creations, they had to possess individual consciousness and freedom so that they could, if they would, choose to be loving companions and co-creators. Otherwise, they would only have been servants of the original Consciousness. So within the one Universal Consciousness many individual points of Consciousness were awakened and given freedom.

    It’s important for us to realise that at this point in our existence we did not have physical bodies. All of what has just been described occurred within the mind of the Universal Consciousness. Consequently, its form resembled that of thought or imagination rather than physical objects. In the very beginning we were individual points of consciousness within the one great Universal Consciousness. At first we were quiet and our wills were content to observe the wonders of the spiritual creation as they flowed from the mind of our Creator.

    In these early periods we were so much a part of the Creator’s Consciousness that we were one with it, virtually indistinguishable from it. However, it wasn’t long before some of us began to use our wills and express ourselves. At first, we simply imitated the creator, but eventually we gained experience, and with experience came knowledge and confidence. Then we truly began to create on our own, adding new realms to the spiritual creation, much like a second voice adds to a song by singing harmony with the main melody.

    All beings were made in the beginning, none came later, all are Godlings or Gods in the making. Some, by now, has reached perfection and again become One with our Maker, others will soon become. This was exactly why we had been created – to share in and contribute to the great expression of life and to be its co-creators and loving companions. To fulfil this purpose we were created in the image of the creator: Consciousness with freedom, capable of conceiving, perceiving and remembering, capable of communicating directly with the Creator and the other companions.

    Consciousness and free will were the greatest qualities given any creation, but they came with equally great responsibility for their use or misuse. Of course, the all-knowing Universal One knew the potential dangers in giving beings complete freedom to do as they desired. However, the potential joy of sharing life with true companions, not servants, was deemed worth the risk. Therefore, each of these new free-willed beings would simply have to learn to take charge of themselves and to subdue harmful desires in order to live in harmony with the other companions and the Creator. To do otherwise would only bring chaos, suffering and separation.

    Unfortunately, chaos came. As we continued to use our godly powers, we became more fascinated with them. We began to focus more and more on our own creations and became less concerned with and attentive to their harmony with the Creator, with the whole. The more we thought of just ourselves and our own desires with less regard for the whole, the more self-centred we became, eventually perceiving ourselves as separate from the whole.

    Of course, this sense of separation was all in our minds, so to speak, because there really was no way we could exist outside the whole because everything was of the Spirit. It was more a result of our sustained focus of attention on ourselves and our self-interests that resulted in a heightened sense of a distinct and separate self.

    This was the beginning of trouble. It led to a very long fall for us, a
    Fall that eventually left us feeling alone and separated from the rest of life. It continued to the point that we, who were actually companions of and co-creators with the Universal Creator, today come to think of ourselves as little more than dust-like creatures, descendants of apes and inhabitants of a planet on the outskirts of a typical galaxy in the endless and diverse Universe.

    To know ourselves and yet be one with the whole was the ideal condition, but the centring of awareness on self alone resulted in a sense of separation from the whole. The more we exercised our individual consciousness and free will for self-interest, self-gratification, self-glorification, self-consciousness and self-righteousness, the more we heightened our sense of self apart from the whole.

    The resulting loss of contact with the source of our life and the purpose of our existence was the beginning of darkness and evil, which is ignorance and disregard for the Universal Laws and Principles.

    Without a clear sense of our relationship to the rest of life, many began to use free will in ways that were never meant to be. Others simply let themselves be carried along with the current of life, abdicating their free will to the will of others. In both cases, these were things that would make it very difficult for us to again be companions and co-creators to the Universal One. However, the Creator foresaw this potential and, prior to creating companions, created a Universal Law – whatever one did with one’s free will oneself must experience the consequences.

    The law was not intended as punishment or retribution for offences, but as a tool for education and enlightenment. Thus, as we used our freedom, we experienced the effect and came to understand and learn. Interestingly, both science and religion recognise this law. In science it is often stated that “for every action there is an equal and opposing reaction.” Its religious counterparts are “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”; “as you sow, so shall you reap”; and “as you do unto others, it will be done unto you.” Even today’s common knowledge expresses this principle in the saying “what goes around, comes around.” This is the law of karma, sowing and reaping, of cause and effect and accountability.

    It was, and is, the great teacher of the companions-to-be and it is an integral part of the hidden teachings. Once this law was established, the Creator conceived and freed countless independent points of Consciousness within its own Infinite Consciousness and, thus, the companions came into being, each conscious and free.

    What a trembling wonder it must have been in those first moments! Again, it’s important to realise that the companions were not physical bodies. They were like ideas in the mind of the creator that were given freedom to be independently conscious. As they used their freedom, they developed into unique points of thought, feeling, desire, expression and memory. Each was slightly different from the other by virtue of its different vantage point within the Universal Consciousness.

    Each companion had spirit. They had mind and Soul. Spirit is the essence of life, the life force. Remember the condition of the creator before the creation; alive yet still. This is spirit. It is the living stillness in the midst of activity. So often we identify life with motion, but the essence of life was there before the motion. Spirit is the essence of life. Life in motion, or the power to move and shape ideas and even physical forms out of spirit, is mind. Mind is the sculptor, the builder who conceives imagines and shapes ideas out of the essence of life. Spirit is life; mind, the power to use it.

    Each of the companions had spirit and mind. As they used their life forces, they developed experiences, memories, desires, fears etc. This caused their uniqueness; each had its own collection of experiences and aspirations; each its own story. This individual aspect of the companion is its Soul. Soul is the sum total of all that the companion had done with its free-will consciousness. It’s the companion’s story, its complex of memories.

    All of the companions have spirit and mind, but each developed a unique Soul, because each built a different collection of memories and experiences, resulting in different desires, hopes and attitudes about life. Thus, spirit is the life force, mind is the power to use it, and Soul is the being that develops.

    The creation then progressed from essence to thought, thought to thought-form, and from thought-form to particle-form or atomic-form; in other words, matter. There are many realms to life. One of these realms is the third dimension – physicality as we know it today.

    The companions, filled with newly found consciousness and freedom, went out into the vast universe to experience life and to learn about themselves, the Creator and their relationship to it.

    In their travels through the universe, few of the companions entered the three-dimensional influences of Earth where they entered into physical form for the first time. Multitudes of other Souls entered elsewhere in other systems, dimensions and planets where they took on other physical shapes and mind realities conductive to their desire, their needed experiences and their capacity to Love.

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