Creation of all things in existence in this world takes place owing to the Feminine Principle. I got convinced of this over again when I accidentally encountered the book Myths and Legends of the Australian Aborigines by W. Ramsay Smith. To be more precise, an assistant in a book shop offered me this book, assuring me it was indeed an interesting source worth reading.
Living far from the seaboard, in places difficult of access for colonisers, a part of aboriginal Australians preserved ancient legends about the creation of the world and shared them with a pure heart, a good man who via his book now helps us look at the creation from a different, southern viewpoint:
THE STORY OF THE CREATION
This story of the creation of the world was told to the book author by a Karraru woman from the western coast of South Australia. She was then 65 years old and fluently spoke her native language. Her name sounds quite euphoniously – Cardinnilla, which means a “cheerful rivulet swiftly running to the mighty and boundless ocean in order to merge with it”.
“The voice of the Great Spirit spake unto Bajjara and Arna in a dream, and said, “Go forth and tell this story, for I have chosen you as my messengers.” This is the story:
There was a great darkness which covered all space. This darkness was silent and still, and in it the earth dwelt cold and lifeless. Upon the surface of the earth were mountains with lofty peaks. There were also hills and valleys and plains, and deep caves and caverns. In these caves there were forms of life, but they were unconscious of their surroundings. There was no wind, not even a gentle breeze.
For a long, long time an awful, deathlike stillness pervaded everything. Within this darkness and stillness of the earth there slept a beautiful young goddess. [In this story the sun is of feminine gender and is called by the following names: the Sun Goddess, the Young Goddess, the Mother, the Mother Goddess, the Sun Mother, the Mother Sun, the Mother Sun Goddess, the Great Sun Mother, the Goddess of Light, and the Goddess of Light and Life. The moon here is also of feminine gender and is considered to be the ruler of the night. The moon and the masculine morning star gave birth to the human race. After death people turn into stars in the sky.] One day the Great Father Spirit whispered gently to her, “You have slept and fulfilled my will. Now awake and go forth and give life to the universe and to everything therein. Do all as I command you. First awaken the grass, then the plants, and then the trees. After you have covered the face of the earth with grass, plants, and trees you will bring forth insects and fish, reptiles and lizards, snakes, birds, and animals. Then rest until all things that you have created shall have developed so as to fulfil the purpose for which they have come to the earth. Nothing shall come forth that is not for the benefit of other parts of the creation.”
The Young Goddess took a great breath that caused the still atmosphere to vibrate, and she said to the Great Father Spirit that she was ready to do his bidding. She opened her eyes, and her whole being appeared to be flooded with light. Darkness disappeared before her. She looked abroad on the earth, and saw how empty it was. She looked beneath the earth, and she saw a tiny speck. Then from out of the distance she came toward the earth, swifter than a meteor. She alighted very gently, as if she feared to disturb the many living things that were upon it and beneath it. She made her home on the Nullarbor Plain [this looks and sounds like a local name, but perhaps it is a derivative of the Latin word that means “no trees”], and soon her influence began to be felt upon the cold life of earth.
From her home on the plain she set out on a journey, and continued on a western course until she came back to her starting point in the east. As she walked the grass, the shrubs, and the trees sprang up in her footprints. Then she turned north, and walked straight on in that direction until she passed to the south and came back to her starting point. She repeated these journeys round the earth until it was completely covered with vegetation. Then she rested from her labours, and made for herself a home on the Nullarbor Plain, and thus the Sun Goddess, the Mother, and the giant trees and vegetation all lived together in peace.
All at once the Sun Goddess heard a voice commanding her to go forth into the caverns of the earth and to bring forth life. She set out, taking warmth and brightness with her, into the dark, cold regions of the world. The spirits from beneath the earth cried out, “O Mother, why have you disturbed us? We have ruled over this part of the earth for millions of years.” The Mother Sun Goddess stayed beneath the earth for one whole day, exploring all parts, and shedding her brightness on everything. Then there came forth from the earth swarms of beautiful insects. They were of all colours, sizes, and shapes; and they began flitting from bush to bush and blending their colours with everything, and making the earth still more beautiful. Then the Mother Sun rested.
She continued resting in order that the insects might adapt themselves to their new condition of living. Then she rode in her chariot of light, and visited the mountain tops to behold the glory that covered the face of the earth. After this she rose upon a mighty wind that carried her to every part of the earth in an instant of time. Upon this same wind she returned to her home in the Plain of Nullarbor. She rested for a time that would be equal to two sunrises. But at this stage of creation there was no setting of the sun. She shone continually during an eternal day, and there was no darkness except within the bowels of the earth. After resting, the Sun Goddess visited another cave or abyss. She looked down into its depth, and her radiant face shone with love, and drove the darkness away before her presence. She stepped down to the dark, cold, lifeless bottom. The solid ice there melted before her presence. Then she came forth, and went back to her home on the Nullarbor Plain. From out of this abyss there came forth snakes and lizard forms without legs, which crept upon their bellies upon the surface of the earth. A river also came forth from out of this cavern, and wended its way through a valley, and in the water of this river there were fish of all kinds, great and small.
Then the Sun Mother came and beheld her work, and saw that it was good. She commanded that the new life that she had created should be everywhere harmonious. The Sun Goddess again visited the mountain top, and saw the trees, shrubs, grass, butterflies, beetles, snakes, and lizards, and the dry land and the water, and she was satisfied with her work. Again the wind came and bore her round on a visit to all corners of the earth, and brought her back to her home on the Plain of Nullarbor. There she rested for some time before resuming her work of creating.
When the Mother Goddess next went forth she was accompanied by insects, snakes, and lizards, who venerated her, and wished to see her create life from the next cavern. Once again the darkness of the cavern was driven out by her brightness as she descended to the bottom. All along the ledges and the bottom were the spirit forms of birds and animals. The Mother Goddess came out of the abyss, and the mighty wind again acted as her chariot, and took her back to her home on the Plain of Nullarbor. Some days after her visit to the cavern there came out of it birds in great numbers and colours. Then there came out animals of all shapes, sizes, and colours. These came straight to the Mother Goddess and looked upon her glory. They went away contented, and glad to be alive. The Sun Goddess rested a while. She saw that the Father of All Spirits was satisfied with all that has had created.
Then the Sun Mother commanded that the earth should be subject to short periods of seasonal changes. She ordained that first, for a certain length of time, there should be a hot period, and then that there should be a cold period; but that there should not be any extremes of heat and cold as would harm any of the creatures or the vegetation upon the earth. The Sun Mother said that this heat and cold should be felt throughout the various parts of the earth. From the very hottest parts the heat should gradually grow less and less until they became quite cold. Light and darkness were also to visit the earth, and were to succeed each other.
At the beginning of spring the Sun Mother called the insects, the reptiles, the birds, and the animals together, and a great multitude came from the north, the birthplace and the home of the north wind. Other great multitudes came from the south, the abode of the south wind; and from the west, the birthplace of the west wind. The greatest numbers came from the east, the royal palace, the cradle of the sunshine and sunbeams. When they all had assembled, the Sun Mother spoke in a soft and gentle voice to the animals, the birds, the reptiles, and the insects. She said, “Listen, O children; I am your foster mother. The Great Father Spirit has given me power to take you from the earth. My work on earth is completed, and now I go to a higher sphere, where I shall be your light and life. When I go I shall give you another being who shall govern you. You shall be his servants, and he shall be your lord and ruler. You all in part shall be changed. Your bodies shall go back into the earth, and that life that I called forth and that the Great Father Spirit gave you shall no longer dwell in form on the earth. It shall be transferred into those regions near my abode, and shall shine and be a guide to those who come after you. Your abode will be in the Spirit Land. But this shall not be until you have lived and followed the desires of your own hearts, and have reached a condition in which you are prepared to meet this change. And now I leave you.”
Suddenly the Sun Mother rose from the earth, and soared up and up into the great heights. All the animals, the birds, the reptiles, and the lizards watched with fearful eyes the departure of the Goddess of Light and Life. As they stood gazing the face of the earth became dark, and they were all sore afraid of this strange happening. It filled them with fear and sadness, and when the darkness became greater they ceased their crying, thinking that the Mother Sun had forsaken them, and thus they remained until they saw the dawn in the east. Then they watched and were puzzled to see the gradual appearance of light behind them. They spoke among themselves, and said, “Did we not see the Mother Sun go to the west, and what is this we see coming from the east?” They all stood facing the Sun Mother as she rose smiling upon them out of the eastern sky. They stood, rooted to the ground, watching the behaviour of their beloved Sun Goddess.
She did not remain still, but seemed to be continually moving on her journey toward the west. Suddenly it dawned upon them that this meant that the radiant smile of the Mother Sun Goddess would always be followed by a period of darkness, and that it was intended that the period of darkness should be a time of rest. So they all ran hither and thither, seeking shelter in the dense forests by burrowing in the ground or resting on the boughs of trees. The flowers that had opened to the bright sun closed up and went to sleep. The wattle blossoms still kept awake all through the silent night. They wished to preserve their form and colour in darkness as in daylight. The water spirit of the little streamlet loved the brightness of the sunshine so much that it rose and rose far beyond mortal vision. It wept and wept so bitterly in its efforts to reach the brightness that it became exhausted with grief, and it came back to earth and rested upon the trees, the bushes, and the grass in beautiful, sparkling dewdrops.
When dawn appeared in the eastern sky, the birds were the first to behold the herald of the coming of the Mother Sun. They became so excited that some began to twitter and chirp, while others were so filled with joy that they laughed and laughed, and others sang a joyful song of praise. When the Mother Sun peeped up in the eastern sky the dewdrops rose up skyward, anxious to meet and accompany the Sun Mother. And this became the beginning of morning and night. All things living understood the plans of the Great Sun Mother.
After a great many years had gone by, the animals and the birds began to weary. They were dissatisfied with their state of being. Some of the animals began to weep because they could not fly life the birds. The fishes became dissatisfied because they lived too much in the water. They felt that they would like to have a share in the beautiful sunshine, so they wept and wept, and pined away because they could not be animals, birds, or reptiles. The insects shared in the discontent, and some of them too began to pine away, while others slept and slept, and refused to eat or to enjoy life.
Then the Sun Mother came back to the earth, gathered them all together, and said, “O children of the earth, have I not brought you forth from the womb of the earth? Have I not shone upon your shapeless forms and breathed life into them? O dissatisfied beings, I have given you life and the right to choose for yourselves. Do as you think best, but you shall all repent of the choice you make.”
All the animals, the birds, the reptiles, the insects, and the fishes chose as they severally desired. Oh, what funny creatures some of them were – the kangaroo, the frilled lizards, the bats of all types, the pelican with its big bill, the platypus, the flying fox, the stupid-looking old wombat, and the frog that grew to maturity in such a strange fashion! First of all it came forth from the spawn, all belly and tail, then gradually it developed legs peeping out from where the body and the tail joined; after a while the tail shrank and the body became well developed, four legs appeared, and then the frog was complete.
The mouse family of the bats wished to be birds; so now the bat is able to fly, although it cannot grow feathers. The seal, not satisfied with being able to roam round the forests and hills, wished to live as it does today. The owl wept most bitterly for large and bright eyes, capable of seeing in the dark; it was given its wish, but it is unable to see in the daylight; so, during the day, it hides in a cave or in a hollow tree, because it cannot bear the glare and brightness. The owl is not able to look into the face of the Sun Mother. The koala thought it a shame to be in possession of a brush or tail, and he wished to be rid of the beautiful tail that was the envy and admiration of all the animals, so the tail died off, and now the poor koala looks shy when in the company of the dingo, who prides himself on his beautiful tail, and wags it proudly when he meets dogs or other animals. See, also, how some of the insect tribe have had their desired fulfilled. Some resemble bits of bark of trees, or twigs, or dried sticks.
This heterogeneous creation shows what can be brought about by discontent and foolish desire. When the Sun Mother saw that such strange beings would cause a difference between her and the children of the earth, she said, “I will send unto you a part of myself, O children of the earth. My heart’s desire shall come to you before I visit you tomorrow.” So next morning, when the animals, the birds, the reptiles, and the insects arose, they saw the bright morning star rising out of the eastern sky and setting on the Nullarbor Plain. There the animals, the birds, and the reptiles congregated about him, but he did not speak to them. He sat with his eyes fixed on the east. When the Mother Sun rose she said, “I have given to you a son of the Spirit World, but he shall be one of you.” Then she said to the bright morning star, “O my son, rule thou here, and I shall send you a friend. Watch, and when I dip beyond the western sky and darkness covers all the earth you will see a bright form coming out of the western sky. This is the Lady of the Night, who will help you to shine, and will share with you the joys of light.”
And so it came to pass that when the Goddess of Light, the Sun Mother, rode on her chariot of light across the sky, and passed over to the west, and darkness drew her veil across the sky, the promised visitor came and shed her silvery light upon the earth. Thus was the moon born at the will of the Sun Goddess. The moon descended to the earth and became the wife of the morning star, and they brought forth children. These children dwelt and multiplied in the form of the human race. When they died they passed on to take their place in the sky in the form of stars.
The aboriginals say that the stars are the children of the sons and daughters of the morning star and the lady moon, who were created by the Sun Goddess. Bajjara and Arna, the prophets of the Spirit World, said, “You, my children, shall remember to whom you owe your birth, and you shall not seek to change your state like the animals, the birds, the reptiles, the insects, and the fishes. Remember, also, that you are superior to the creatures, and that you and your children and your children’s children will all return to the Great All Father, the Eternal Spirit.”
Prepared by Max Vorontsov