The Creation of Turtle Island
In the early times the planet Earth was entirely covered by water and there was no land anywhere for creatures to dwell upon. And then after a time, there was land for all the creatures except human beings. The Woman up in the Clouds, who is the spirit of the Earth Mother became lonely without any sons or daughters, so she called the Man of the Wind, and they lay together in union. After he had gone away, the woman bore twins, but these twins could only stay in the clouds.
After a time, the Bear called all the creatures together and said that they should make a space for humankind. And so a giant tortoise rose above the waters and the back of it formed Turtle Island. But it was very hard and slippery. Then the crawlers, the swimmers, the flyers and the walkers called up to the Woman up in the Clouds and showed her the land. And so she sent her two children down and they dwelled upon the earth and were happy for a time. But all did not go well and so it was only later with a second pair of twins, a brother and a sister from the Woman up in the Clouds that humankind multiplied upon Turtle Island.
This could take place only after the Woman from the Clouds came down upon the back of the turtle and requested mud be put on top of the tortoise. None of the creatures could bring up any mud from the floor of the ocean. Each tried one by one, but none could reach the bottom. Finally came the lowly muskrat to try. He dove and dove and dove ...and then he didn't come up. All the animals waited and waited but still he didn't come. And so everyone thought he had died. But at last, he came up, exhausted, and as he expired he opened his mouth and there was one morsel of earth inside. The Woman, the great grandmother took the morsel and as she sprinkled it upon the back of the turtle, it increased to cover all the surface that was above the waters. And many plants grew up to nourish the creatures and all was good. Corn grew up also and humankind had a bountiful dwelling place at last.
The above is an Ojibwa creation myth from the Bear Tribe. The story is taken up after some forms of matter in the universe have already been created, but before the planet earth has been made habitable. This story talks specifically about the American continent, called Turtle Island.
The Zuni have a beautiful and involved creation myth, which relates how out of the cosmic sea, Earth Mother of the Four Directions and Sky Father Who Covers Everything were formed, and how after they had lain together in union, the fourfold womb of Earth Mother conceived all creatures.
The Iroquois peoples know the Earth as Eithonoha, Our Mother, and consider her to be the most important of the Lower Powers. Nokomis, she is called by Algonquins; Earth Mother who at her bosom feeds plants, animals, and men. In the north, the most feared deity by the Eskimos is the goddess Sedna, the divinity of the sea and sea creatures. She is very protective and therefore may be hostile to humans, as her power only extends over the material bodies of the creatures in her submarine domain. The Sioux and Pawnee among other tribes of the american plains speak of 'Our Earth Mother is the start and finish of all life. She is the provider of all food.' Ceremonies are held in her honor to signify the marriage of Earth and Heaven, and the birth of life.
Myths from various parts of Polynesia relate that in the beginning was Po a void of undifferentiated substance. Gradually there evolved qualities like movement, sound, light and darkness, heat, moisture, matter and form, and finally Father Heaven and Mother Earth, who were the parents of the gods and human beings and all nature. In the Hawaiian Islands, the mother goddess is known as Pele. She is powerful and protective of everything dwelling there. The demigod Maui is her male counterpart.
The pair in ancient China were Lao-tien-yeh, Father Heaven, and Wang-mu niang-niang, Queen Mother Wang his wife. Many similar pairings of male and female energies occur in cultures around the globe. The connecting stream of thought in these myths is that the mind-thought (cause) side of creation is represented as being masculine, and the matter-manifestation (effort) side as feminine. These symbols appear time and time again.
"There are two forms of Brahman, the material and the immaterial." Maitreya, Upanishad VI 3.
In Sanskrit writings Mula-Prakriti symbolizes primodial matter or "...that out of which everything in nature is produced." Prakriti is the feminine counterpart of the masculine Siva, Producer and Destroyer of Forms. In India as in ancient Egypt, each aspect of the male principle and each complimentary aspect of the female principle is given a name—an identity. Thus we have Atma-Buddhi-Gautama-Maitreya, the Archetypal Man and Prakriti-Parvati-Maya, the Archetypal Woman. Also, Ra-Osiris and Isis-Hathor in ancient Egypt; Ahura-Mazda and Ishtar of Mesopotamia, all as divine consorts. In Greece then Rome, the planetary demiurge was called Dionysus-Bacchus who was coupled with Demeter-Ceres, the Goddess of Earth and Harvest. In Rome, Jupiter and Juno were matched like Zeus and Hera had been before them as Father and Mother of gods and men.
Homer, the Greek poet wrote, "Earth — Mother of the gods and wife of the starry heaven."
The idea of mating Thought and Matter to produce lifeforms is universal. The changes of names with cultures are unimportant; this original concept of duality remains. It is this constant courting and love-making between these two, Energy and Matter, that brings about all life on this planet. This is beautifully expressed in the Song of Songs (Solomon) in the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
"...You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes, with a single bead of your necklace. How sweet is your love, ...a garden walled in ...You are a garden fountain, a well of living water, flowing streams from Lebanon." "My lover is fair and ruddy...His head is finest gold...His eyes are like doves beside brooks of water, washed with milk and fitly set...His limbs are pillars of marble, set in sockets of gold. His stature is like Lebanon, as striking as the cedars..."
—Song of Songs, Chapters 4 and 5, Old Testament, Holy Bible
Thus is recorded an ancient nuptial ceremony between the Sky who is male and the Earth who is female. The beauty portrayed in myths like this from around the world, over ages of time all demonstrate a well-balanced mindset of the populations from which they were born. Human societies have always flourished within this context that Creation exists because of the Cosmic Law of Duality.
Excerpt from Metempyrion Monologues: Gods and Goddesses. 1968- 84 C.E. What appears here with permission of the author, Prism, is a portion of The Earth Mother article originally printed in Many Smokes Magazine, published by the Bear Tribe, Spokane, WA in 1981.