Friday, December 17, 2010

Creation Stories

There are creation stories from every culture around the world, and there are also many different types of creation stories ranging from the creation of the world itself and the creation of life to specific stories about how why things are the way they are. These specific stories are sometimes called aetiological stories, from the Greek word aetion meaning the "cause" of something.

There are quite a few past creation Storybooks to look at, along with aetiological Storybooks that contain "just-so" stories with specific explanations about how the world came to be the way that it is.

In order to focus your research, here are two important questions you need to ask as you plan a creation stories project:
  • Do you want to focus in on creation stories within a single cultural tradition (Greek origin stories about the constellations, for example), or a group of related traditions (Native American creation stories), or do you want to look at creation stories from widely different traditions around the world?
  • Do you want to focus on cosmological creation stories (e.g., the creation of the world itself, creation of life, etc.), or do you want to focus on specific aetiological stories that tell how specific things came into being (e.g. how mountains were created, why the rabbit has no tail, etc.)?
Here are some sources you will find useful as you do your research:

Sacred Texts Archive. The Sacred Texts Archive is your best source for creation stories. You can also search the ENTIRE Sacred Texts website for creation stories, or focus in on creation stories at the Native American section of Sacred Texts, for example. Here are some more tips on searching Sacred Texts section by section.

Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article on Creation Myths gives an overview of the different types of creation myths along with many suggestions for further research, and there is also a separate article with a List of Creation Myths. Many of the most important creation stories have their own Wikipedia articles, such as the Genesis Creation Narrative from the Bible, the Chinese creation legend of Pangu, or the Churning of the Ocean of Milk in Hindu mythology.

Other Online Resources. You can find an online anthology of creation stories at the Creation Stories website at the University of Georgia, while the University of Arkansas has a collection of Native American creation stories from the Indians of Arkansas. Dan Ashliman's Folktexts site contains a page of Creation Myths from the Philippines along with a page on the Norse Creation Myth. You might also be interested in Kipling's Just-So Stories and the aetiological fables of Aesop.


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