Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": A THOMPSON INDIAN MYTH OF THE CREATION OF MAN


Before the world was formed, Stars, Moon, Sun, and Earth lived together (as people). Earth was a woman, and Sun was her husband. She was always finding fault with him, saying he was nasty, ugly, and too hot. At last the Sun grew weary of this scolding and left her. The Moon and the Stars went away with him. Earth-Woman was very sad.

The Old One appeared and transformed these people into their present forms. The Sun, Moon, and Stars he assigned to the sky, commanding them never to desert the earth again. Earth-Woman became the solid land: her hair became trees and grass, her flesh day, her bones rocks, her blood springs of water. 'You will be as the mother of people, for from you their bodies will spring, and to you they will go back. People will live as in your bosom, and sleep on your lap. They will derive nourishment from you, and they will utilize all parts of your body.'

After this the Earth gave birth to people who were very similar in form to ourselves; but they knew nothing and required neither food nor drink. They had no appetites, desires, or thoughts. Then Old One traveled over the world and among the people, giving them appetites and desires. He caused all kinds of birds and fish to appear, to which he gave names and assigned functions. He taught women to make birch baskets, mats, and lodges, and how to dig roots, gather berries, and cure them. He taught men how to make fire, catch fish, trap and shoot game, etc. He instructed couples how to have intercourse and how to give birth to children.

When he had finished teaching the people, he bade them goodbye, saying, 'I now leave you; but if you . . . require my aid, I will come again to you. The Sun is your father, the Earth is your mother's body. You will be covered with her flesh as a blanket, under which your bones will rest in peace.'


Condensed and paraphrased from James A. Teit, Mythology of the Thompson Indians (Publications of the Jessup North Pacific Expedition, vol. 8, Pt. 2 [Leiden and New York: Brill and Stechert, 1912]), PP. 321-2

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