Creation stories: the power of formation myths - Spirit, soul and the sacred in nature - The Wider Web of Life

Shamanism Made Easy: Awaken and Develop the Shamanic Force Within - Christa Mackinnon 2018

Creation stories: the power of formation myths
Spirit, soul and the sacred in nature
The Wider Web of Life

In shamanism all life is seen as eternal in the sense that it exists in the underlying fields, the spirit worlds. This doesn’t mean that all strands of shamanism believe in reincarnation, but it does mean that everything exists in one way or another in spirit form in the ’pool of consciousness’ and returns to it after the body dies. Without going into a philosophical discussion here, I want to share with you some practical ways of experiencing this whilst addressing three important strands within the shamanic cosmology: creation myths, the connection to ancestral spirits and the subject of death and dying.

Creation stories: the power of formation myths

Every culture creates its own significant myths which shape its basic world-views and beliefs. Myths create and reflect our views of who we are and our standing within the whole of creation. They also describe and transmit, in all spiritual traditions and all religions, the mysterious and magical. Myths work with archetypes and activate the parts of our brain that are receptive to archetypal material, through which we understand and process the timeless concepts of the forces at work within creation generally and humanity specifically. It is this understanding, on levels beyond our conscious awareness, that shapes much of our walk upon this Earth. Therefore such stories are great teachers, but also influence us subconsciously, positively or negatively, in ways beyond our control.1

Creation myths especially form the foundations of our views of the world, our place within creation and what life is all about. Contemporary religious ones influence our societies greatly, whether we are conscious of it or not. For example, the creation story in Judaism, Christianity and Islam is hierarchical, with a creator at the top. Humans are the ’crown of creation’, made in his image, and with, according to Genesis, the right to subdue the Earth and to rule over all other creatures. In this view, not only is humanity superior to — and separate from — the rest of creation, but the masculine is also superior to the feminine. Eve, created from Adam’s rib, is by definition second in the human hierarchy and worth less. She is furthermore portrayed as the one who ate first from the forbidden fruit of knowledge and gave it to Adam, so, in some texts, is responsible for humanity’s banishment from paradise. This has laid the basis for the current widespread detrimental attitude towards the feminine.

Creation stories in Earth-based traditions and systems are quite different. What strikes us most is the inclusion of animal spirits as vital forces, the understanding that it takes the feminine and the masculine in equal measures to create a whole, the depiction of the Earth as the mother and the fact that the laws laid down within the myths support an interconnected view of all life on Earth.