By Stefan Stenudd
I'm a Swedish writer and historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. I've also written books about Tao Te ching, the Taoist classic, and other East Asian traditions. Here's my personal website: stenudd.com
Creation Myths Around the World
My Other Websites:
The many life force beliefs all over the world, ancient and modern, explained.
The ancient Chinese cosmology and philosophy of life, based on Tao, the Way, and its source texts explained.
All about the old deck of Tarot cards traditionally used for divination, and the archetype symbolism of each card.
Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained
The great Chinese classic, translated and extensively commented by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
This book presents an imaginative reading of the divination cards, which is the most appropriate for the Tarot since it consists of symbolic images. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The Babylonian Creation Myth
The Enuma Elish CreationEnuma Elish is the old Babylonian creation myth, which has been preserved for thousands of years on clay tablets. It predates most of the creation myths of the world, although it's surely not the oldest one. Here is the translated text of the myth, investigated and explained.
1 Enuma Elish - the beginning
When skies above were not yet named
Nor earth below pronounced by name,
Apsu, the first one, their begetter
And maker Tiamat, who bore them all,
Had mixed their waters together,
But had not formed pastures, nor discovered reed-beds;
When yet no gods were manifest,
Nor names pronounced, nor destinies decreed,
Then gods were born within them.
Lahmu (and) Lahamu emerged, their names pronounced.
As soon as they matured, were fully formed,
Anshar (and) Kishar were born, surpassing them.
They passed the days at length, they added to the years.
Anu their first-born son rivalled his forefathers:
Anshar made his son Anu like himself,
And Anu begot Nudimmud in his likeness.
He, Nudimmud, was superior to his forefathers:
Profound of understanding, he was wise, was very strong at arms.
Mightier by far than Anshar his father’s begetter,
He had no rival among the gods his peers.
The gods of that generation would meet together
And disturb Tiamat, and their clamour reverberated.
They stirred up Tiamat’s belly,
They were annoying her by playing inside Anduruna.
Notes on the Enuma Elish textThe version of Enuma Elish used in this and other quotes is from Stephanie Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia, Oxford 2000, 233ff.
Apsu comes from the Sumerian ab-zu, ‘the conscious sea’ or ‘the sea of wisdom’, and represents freshwater and the male principle. This freshwater sea was supposed to exist below ground, as a foundation on which the world rested.
The word for ‘maker’ is mummu. King translates it ‘chaos’, without explaining why [L. W. King, Enuma Elish: The Seven Tableets of Creation, volume I and II, London 1902]. Wikander explains the word as meaning a creative force, but also points out that a wordplay with the god name Mummu appearing later is intended [Ola Wikander, Enuma elish. Det babyloniska skapelseeposet, Stockholm 2005].
Tiamat represented the saltwater sea and the female principle. The name means ‘the ocean’.
Babylonia was part of Mesopotamia, in present-day Iraq (the latter marked on the map).
Enuma ElishThe Babylonian Creation Myth
This article about the Enuma Elish Babylonian Creation Myth was originally written in the year 2007 for a seminar at the Department of History of Ideas, Lund University, as a part of my dissertation in progress on Creation Myths and their patterns of thought. Transforming the text to webpages, I have excluded footnotes, or edited them into the text.