Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": CREATION BY THOUGHT


An account by a Winnebago Indian of Wisconsin, recorded by Paul
Radin.

What it was our father lay on when he came to consciousness we do not know. He moved his right arm and then his left arm, his right leg and then his left leg. He began to think of what he should do and finally be began to cry and tears began to flow from his eyes and fall down below him. After a while he looked down below him and saw something bright. The bright objects were his tears that had flowed below and formed the present waters. . . . Earthmaker began to think again. He thought: "It is thus, If I wish anything it will become as I wish, just as my tears have become seas." Thus he thought. So he wished for light and it became light. Then he thought: "It is as I supposed; the things that I have wished for have come into existence as I desired." Then he again thought and wished for the earth and this earth came into existence. Earthmaker looked at the earth and he liked it but it was not quiet. . . . (After the earth had become quiet) he thought again of how things came into existence just as he desired. Then he first began to talk. He said, "As things are just as I wish them I shall make one being like myself." So he took a piece of earth and made it like himself. Then he talked to what he had created but it did not answer. He looked upon it and he saw that it had no mind or thought. So he made a mind for it. Again he talked to it, but it did not answer. So he looked upon it again and saw that it had no tongue. Then he made it a tongue. Then he talked to it again but it did not answer. So he looked upon it again and saw that it had no soul. So he made it a soul. He talked to it again and it. very nearly said something. But it did not make itself intelligible. So Earthmaker breathed into its mouth and talked to it and it answered.'


Paul Radin, 'The Winnebago Indians,' in Thirty-seventh Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D.C., 1923), pp. 212-13

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