Ariel
[Click on the name of the moon above for astronomical information.]

Ariel is a mischievous airy spirit in Shakespeare's The Tempest. (Moon of Uranus.)


Creation Myths

Chinese

In the beginning , the heavens and earth were still one and all was chaos. The universe was like a big black egg, carrying Pan Gu inside itself. After 18 thousand years Pan Gu woke from a long sleep. He felt suffocated, so he took up a broadax and wielded it with all his might to crack open the egg. The light, clear part of it floated up and formed the heavens, the cold, turbid matter stayed below to form earth. Pan Gu stood in the middle, his head touching the sky, his feet planted on the earth. The heavens and the earth began to grow at a rate of ten feet per day, and Pan Gu grew along with them. After another 18 thousand years, the sky was higher, the earth thicker, and Pan Gu stood between them like a pillar 9 million li in height so that they would never join again.

When Pan Gu died, his breath became the wind and clouds, his voice the rolling thunder. One eye became the sun and on the moon. His body and limbs turned to five big mountains and his blood formed the roaring water. His veins became far-stretching roads and his muscles fertile land. The innumerable stars in the sky came from his hair and beard, and flowers and trees from his skin and the fine hairs on his body. His marrow turned to jade and pearls. His sweat flowed like the good rain and sweet dew that nurtured all things on earth. According to some versions of the Pan Gu legend, his tears flowed to make rivers and radiance of his eyes turned into thunder and lighting. When he was happy the sun shone, but when he was angry black clouds gathered in the sky. One version of the legend has it that the fleas and lice on his body became the ancestors of mankind.

The Pan Gu story has become firmly fixed in Chinese tradition. There is even an idiom relating to it: "Since Pan Gu created earth and the heavens," meaning "for a very long time." Nevertheless, it is rather a latecomer to the catalog of Chinese legends. First mention of it is in a book on Chinese myths written by Xu Zheng in the Three Kingdoms period (CE 220-265). Some opinions hold that it originated in south China or southeast Asia.

There are several versions of the Pan Gu story.

Among the Miao, Yao, Li and other nationalities of south China, a legend concerns Pan Gu the ancestor of all mankind, with a man's body and a dog's head. It runs like this: Up in Heaven the God in charge of the earth, King Gao Xin, owned a beautiful spotted dog. He reared him on a plate (pan in Chinese ) inside a gourd (hu, which is close to the sound gu ), so the dog was known as Pan Gu . Among the Gods there was great enmity between King Gao Xin and his rival King Fang. "Whoever can bring me the head of King Fang may marry my daughter, " he proclaimed, but nobody was willing to try because they were afraid of King Fang's strong soldiers and sturdy horses.

The dog Pan Gu overheard what was said, and when Gao Xin was sleeping, slipped out of the palace and ran to King Fang. The latter was glad to see him standing there wagging his tail. "You see, King Gao Xin is near his end. Even his dog has left him," Fang said, and held a banquet for the occasion with the dog at his side.

At midnight when all was quiet and Fang was overcome with drink, Pan Gu jumped onto the king's bed, bit off his head and ran back to his master with it . King Gao Xin was overjoyed to see the head of his rival, and gave orders to bring Pan Gu some fresh meat. But Pan Gu left the meat untouched and curled himself up in a corner to sleep. For three days he ate nothing and did not stir.

The king was puzzled and asked, "Why don't you eat? Is it because I failed to keep my promise of marrying a dog?" To his surprise Pan Gu began to speak. "Don't worry, my King. Just cover me with your golden bell and in seven days and seven nights I'll become a man." The King did as he said, but on the sixth day, fearing he would starve to death, out of solicitude the princess peeped under the bell. Pan Gu's body had already changed into that of a man, but his head was still that of a dog. However, once the bell was raised, the magic change stopped, and he had to remain a man with a dog's head.

He married the princess, but she didn't want to be seen with such a man so they moved to the earth and settled in the remote mountains of south China. There they lived happily and had four children, three boys and a girl, who became the ancestors of mankind.


Choctaw

At the beginning there was a great mound. It was called Nanih Wiya. It was from this mound that the Creator fashioned the first of the people. These people crawled through a long, dark cave into daylight. They became the first Choctaw.


Comanche

One day the Great Spirit collected swirls of dust from the four directions in order to create the Comanche people. These people formed from the earth had the strength of mighty storms. Unfortunately, a shape-shifting demon was also created and began to torment the people. The Great Spirit cast the demon into a bottomless pit. To seek revenge the demon took refuge in the fangs and stingers of poisonous creatures and continues to harm people every chance it gets.


Digueno

When Tu-chai-pai made the world, the earth was the woman, the sky was the man. The sky came down upon the earth. The world in the beginning was a pure lake covered with tulles. Tu-chai-pai and his younger brother, Yo-ko-mat-is, sat together, stooping far over, bowed down by the weight of the sky. The Maker said to his brother, "What am I going to do?"

"I do not know," said Yo-ko-mat-is.

"Let us go a little farther," said the Maker.

So they went a little farther and sat down to rest. "Now what am I going to do?" said Tu-chai-pai.

"I do not know, my brother."

All of this time the Maker knew what he was about to do, but he was asking his brother's help. Then he said, "We-hicht, we-hicht, we-hicht," three times. He took tobacco in his hand. and rubbed it fine and blew upon it three times. Every time he blew, the heavens rose higher above their heads.

Younger brother did the same thing because the Maker asked him to do it. The heavens went higher and higher and so did the sky. Then they did it both together, "We-hicht, we-hicht, we-hicht," and both took tobacco, rubbed it, and puffed hard upon it, sending the sky so high it formed a concave arch.

Then they placed North, South, East, and West. Tu-chai-pai made a line upon the ground. "Why do you make that line?" asked younger brother. "I am making the line from East to West and name them so. Now you make a line from North to South."

Yo-ko-mat-is thought very hard. How would he arrange it? Then he drew a crossline from top to bottom. He named the top line North, and the bottom line South. Then he asked, "Why are we doing this?" The Maker said, "I will tell you. Three or four men are coming from the East, and from the West three or four Indians are coming."

The brother asked, "Do four men come from the North, and two or three men come from the South?"

Tu-chai-pai said, "Yes. Now I am going to make hills and valleys and little hollows of water."

"Why are you making all of these things?"

The Maker explained, "After a while when men come and are walking back and forth in the world, they will need to drink water or they will die." He had already made the ocean, but he needed little water places for the people.

Then he made the forests and said, "After a while men will die of cold unless I make wood for them to burn. What are we going to do now?" "I do not know," replied younger brother.

"We are going to dig in the ground and find mud to make the first people, the Indians." So he dug in the ground and took mud to make the first men and the first women. He made the men easily, but he had much trouble making women. It took him a long time. After the Indians, he made the Mexicans and finished all his making. He then called out very loudly, "People, you can never die and you can never get tired, so you can walk all the time." But then he made them sleep at night, to keep them from walking in the darkness. At last he told them that they must travel toward the East, where the sun's light was coming out for the first time.

The Indians then came out and searched for the light, and at last they found light and were exceedingly glad to see the Sun. The Maker called out to his brother, "It's time to make the Moon. You call out and make the Moon to shine, as I have made the Sun. Sometime the Moon will die. When it grows smaller and smaller, men will know it is going to die, and they must run races to try and keep up with the dying moon."

The villagers talked about the matter and they understood their part and that Tu-chai-pai would be watching to see that they did what he wanted them to do. When the Maker completed all of this, he created nothing more. But he was always thinking how to make Earth and Sky better for all the Indians.


The Birth of Hawaii

For many months Pele followed a star from the northeast, which shown brighter than the rest, and migrated toward it. One morning, Pele awoke to the smell of something familiar in the air. In the distance could be seen a high mountain with a smoky haze hiding its peak. Pele knew she had found her new home. She named the island Hawai'i.

Pele, carrying her magic stick Pa'oa, went up to the mountain where a part of the earth collapsed into the ground. She placed the stick into the ground. Pele called this place Kilauea. Inside the Kilauea Crater was a large pit. She named it Halema'uma'u, maumau being the fern jungle surround the volcano. Halema'uma'u would be her new home.

There was a fire God living on Kilauea named ‘Ailaau (forest-eater). He and Pele both wanted Kilauea for their home. They started throwing fire balls at each other, causing considerable damage. 'Ailaau fled and still hides in the caverns under the earth. Pele alone would rule the Island of Hawai'i. The people of the island loved and respected the Goddess Pele. The egg her mother gave Pele hatched into a beautiful girl. Pele named her new sister, Hi'iaka'i-ka-poli-o-Pele (Hi'iaka of the bosom of Pele). Kamohoali'i, the shark God taught Hi'iaka the art of surfing.

Pele fell in love with a man she saw in a dream. His name was Lohi'au, a chief of the island of Kaua'i. Pele sent her sister Hi'iaka to fetch Lohi'au on Kaua'i to bring him back to Hawai'i to live with Pele. Hi'iaka would have fourty days to bring Lohi'au back or Pele would punish the girl by hurting Hi'iaka's girl friend Hopoe. Upon reaching Kaua'i, Hi'iaka found Lohi'au dead. She quickly rubbed his body with herbs and chanted to the Gods for help; bringing the young chief of Kaua'i back to life. Grateful for Hi'iaka's help, Lohi'au agreed to return with her to the Big Island.

The fourty days had passed. Pele suspected that Hi'iaka and Lohi'au had fallen in love and were not coming back. In her fury, Pele caused an eruption which turned Hopoe into stone. On her return to Hawai'i with Lohi'au, Hi'iaka found Hopoe, a statue in stone. Hi'iaka, filled with sadness and anger decided to take revenge. Leading Lohi'au to the edge of the Halema'uma'u crater where Pele could see them, Hi'iaka put her arms around Lohi'au and embraced him. Furious, Pele covered Lohi'au with lava and flames.

The two sisters, anger subsided, were remorseful. One lost a friend, the other a lover. Pele decided to bring Lohi'au back to life to let him choose which sister he would love. Pele was sure Lohi'au would choose her. Lohi'au chose Hi'iaka. Pele, with aloha, gave the two lovers her blessing and Hi'iaka and Lohi'au sailed back to Kaua'i.

Pele still lives on Hawai'i where she rules as the fire Goddess of the volcanoes. The smell of sulphur reminds the natives that she is still there in her home, Halema'uma'u, her fiery lava building a new island to the south, still submerged, named Loahi.


Hindu

This universe existed in the shape of darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep.

Then the Divine Self-existent, himself indiscernible but making all this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible power, dispelling the darkness.

He who can be perceived by the internal organ alone, who is subtle, indiscernible, and eternal, who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own will.

He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them.

That seed became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that egg he himself was born as Brahma, the progenitor of the whole world....

The Divine One resided in that egg during a whole year, then he himself by his thought divided it into two halves;

And out of those two halves he formed heaven and earth, between them the middle sphere, the eight points of the horizon, and the eternal abode of the waters.

From himself he also drew forth the mind, which is both real and unreal, likewise from the mind ego, which possesses the function of self-consciousness and is lordly.

Moreover, the great one, the soul, and all products affected by the three qualities, and, in their order, the five organs which perceive the objects of sensation.

But, joining minute particles even of those six, which possess measureless power, with particles of himself, he created all beings.


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