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Creation: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How?: Early Beliefs Of Heritage And Origins

4029 words - 16 pages

Claude Lévi-Strauss once said, "One must be very naïve or dishonest to imagine that men choose their beliefs independently of their situation". There have been many stories and myths about the origin of the earth and universe, some dating back to the beginning of time, and all of them were greatly affected by the situation and culture of their parent civilizations. Looking at the different stories of the ancient Egyptians, Indians, and Aztecs, it is impossible to believe they were all impartial observations or facts. Many stories have the same basic skeleton, but are all completely different because of the locations and cultures in which they are believed and followed. The distinction between the stories of many civilizations and cultures is what creates diversity and individuality among people. The traditions, rituals, and beliefs of each different culture show that the legacy left by their stories remains today.The lifestyles of the ancient Egyptians were largely based upon their beliefs about the gods and their own mortal origin. One example of this was the almost reverent regard the Egyptians held for the Nile River. The Egyptian creation story (Appendix A, Appendix D) told about a mound of earth rising from Nun (the waters of chaos). This was naturally reenacted annually when land began to appear above the receding floodwaters of the Nile. It was on this mound that the gods created life, which illustrates the Nile as a life-giver. Another example was the importance of the sun in ancient Egyptian worship. There were twelve different sun deities in the Egyptian pantheon (Kuhn, 1934), all associated with some part of the sun's being or activity. Also, the supreme creator in the Heliopolis myth, Atum (one of the sun gods), emerged as the first sunrise, coming from a lotus flower that had sprouted on the primeval mound (Woolf, 2005). In the Hermopolis myth, the sun simply burst from the mound when life sprang into being. This accounted for the popular presence of the sun in Egyptian art and mythology. Many of the gods were portrayed with a sun on top of their heads. However, the sun, like the gods and the Nile River, was not considered a benevolent force; it was feared rather than ignored. During the Fifth Dynasty, six kings built sun temples in honour of Ra (Ions, 1968). The temple complexes have been excavated, and have astronomical alignment, meaning that the roofs of some of the buildings could have been used by observers to observe the stars, calculate the hours at night, and predict the sunrise for religious festivals. Everything the Egyptians did, from their everyday lives to their parties and festivals, reflected their beliefs of their past and origins.The creation stories of the ancient Indians played a large role in their everyday lives as well. The most major example of this is the caste, or class system that still exists today. The way Purusha was split into parts to create the world (Appendix B) is identical to how the...

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