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

Titania is the Queen of the Fairies and wife of Oberon in Shakespeare's Midsummer-Night's Dream. (Moon of Uranus.)


Flood Myths -- Part One

Long ago, as a child, I filed bible stories away in a mental folder entitled "Fairy Tales: Those Meant to Keep People In Line." Much later, flood stories other than that of Noah began to crop up here and there during my independent study of world history. It seemed that every culture had its own version of a Great Flood; many of these tales contained similarities:

Sumerian

In the eleventh tablet of the Semitic Babylonian epic of Gilagamesh is a flood story that is the source for the Noah story. The Gods resolved to cleanse the earth of an overpopulated humanity, but Utnapishtim was warned by the God Ea in a dream. He and some craftsmen built a huge (seven decks encompassing one acre in area) ark. Utnapishtim then loaded it with his family, the craftsmen, and "the seed of all living creatures." The waters rose up, and a storm continued for six days and six nights. The Gods repented and wept upon seeing the global destruction of living beings and stilled the flood on the seventh day. The waters covered everything but the top of the mountain Nisur, where the boat landed. A dove was loosed, but it returned, having found no place to rest. A swallow was sent, but it too returned. Seven days later, after having loosed a raven that did not return to the ark, the people began to emerge. Utnapishtim made a sacrifice to the Gods. He and his wife were given immortality and lived at the end of the earth.

Babylonian

Three times (every 1200 years), the Gods became distressed by the disturbance from human overpopulation. The Gods dealt with the problem first by plague, then by famine. Both times, the God Enki advised humans to bribe the God causing the problem. The third time, Enlil advised the Gods to destroy all humans with a flood, but Enki had Atrahasis build an ark and so escape. Also on the boat were cattle, wild animals and birds, and the family of Atrahasis. After seeing the suffering caused by the flood, the Gods regretted their action, and Enki established barren women and stillbirth to avoid the problem in the future.

Hebrew

Based on the Babylonian story with the difference that the flood was a harsh punishment for humanity's sinfulness. Noah was 600 years old when it began to rain for what ended up being 40 days and 40 nights. After the end of 150 days, the waters were abated. The ark rested in the seventh month upon the mountains of Ararat. Waters decreased until the 10th month, on the first day of the 10th month; tops of mountains were also seen. At the end of 40 days, Noah opened the windows of the ark. First, he sent a raven, which went to and fro. He then sent a dove, which returned and hadn't found land. After seven more days, another dove was loosed; it returned that evening with an olive leaf. The next week, the dove didn't return. After a year and 10 days from the start of the flood, every creature emerged from the ark. Noah sacrificed some clean animals and birds to God, and God, pleased with this, promised never again to destroy all living creatures.

Australian

During the Dreamtime flood, woramba, the Ark Gumana carrying Noah, Aborigines, and animals, drifted south and came to rest in the flood plain of Djilinbadu (about 70 km south of Noonkanbah Station, just south of the Barbwire Range and east of the Worral Range), where it can still be seen today. The white man's claim that it landed in the Middle East was a lie to keep Aborigines in subservience.

Chaldean

Xisuthrus was warned of a coming flood by the God Chronos, who ordered Xisuthrus to write a history and to build a vessel (5 stadia by 2 stadia) for his relations, friends, and two of every type of animal. After the flood began to subside, he sent out some birds, all of which returned. Upon trying again, the birds returned, their feet covered in mud. On the third trial, the birds didn't return. The people disembarked and offered sacrifices to the Gods. Xisuthrus, his wife, daughter, and the pilot of the ark were eventually transported to live with the Gods.

Zoroastrian

Ahura Mazda warned Yima that destruction in the form of floods, subsequent to the melting of the snow, was threatening the sinful world and gave him instructions for building a vara in which specimens of small and large cattle, humans, dogs, birds, fires, plants and foods were to be deposited in pairs.

Hindu

Manu, the first human, saved a small fish from the jaws of a larger fish. After hearing the smaller one beg for protection, Manu kept the fish safe, transferring it to larger and larger containers as it grew, finally returning it to the ocean.

Because of this kindness, the fish returned to warn Manu about an imminent flood and told him to build a boat, stocking it with samples of every species. After the flood waters rose, Manu tied a rope to the fish's horn. The fish led him to a mountain and told Manu to fasten the ship's rope to a tree so that it would not drift. He stayed on the mountain (known as Manu's Descent) while the flood swept away all living creatures. Manu alone survived.

Greco-Roman

Zeus decided to punish humanity for its evil ways. Other Gods grieved at the destruction because there would be no beings to worship them. Zeus promised a new stock, a race of miraculous origin. He was going to use thunderbolts when he remembered one of Fate's decrees: that a time would come when sea and earth and dome of the sky would blaze up, and the massive structure of the universe would collapse in ruins. With Poseidon's help, he caused storm and earthquake to flood every part of the land except the summit of Mount Parnassus. When Zeus crushed the hanging clouds in his hand, there was a loud crash, and sheets of rain fell from heaven. The rivers began rushing to the sea. When Neptune struck the earth with his trident, the rivers raced across the plains. Sea and earth could no longer be distinguished; all was sea without any shores, covering every living being except for one fortunate couple, Deucalion and Pyrrha. Earlier, Deucalion and Pyrrha had consulted Themis at her oracular shrine. She warned of a future flood, and they prepared by acquiring a boat. In time, their boat ran aground on the summit of Mount Parnassus. (Note: This is the mountain at Delphi, "navel of the earth" and home of the great oracle.)

Recognizing their piety, Zeus allowed them to live and withdrew the waters. It was then that Deucalion and Pyrrha remembered the other oracle given by Themis: to repopulate the world by throwing "behind you the bones of your great mother." Pyrrha didn't want to injure her mother's ghost by disturbing her bones. Prometheus soothed her fears. "Oracles are righteous and never advise guilty action..." They decided that the "bones" were stones in the body of the earth ("Great Mother"). They threw the stones, which became humans; men of the stones thrown by Deucalion; women, of those cast by Pyrrha. Animals were produced by earth of its own volition. According to Plato: "Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years."

Jicarilla (Apache)

Before the Apaches emerged from the underworld, there were other people on the earth. Dios told an old man and old woman that it would rain forty days and nights. People were warned to go to the tops of four mountains (Tsisnatcin, Tsabidzilhi, Becdilhgai, and another whose identity isn't known) and not to look at the flood or sky. The people didn't believe the old couple. When the rains came, only a few people made it to the mountain tops and shut their eyes. Those who looked at the flood turned into fish or frogs; if they looked at the sky, they turned into birds. After eighty days, Dios told the 24 people remaining to open their eyes and come down. These 24 people went into mountains. Eight other people survived the flood who were able to travel by looking where they wanted to go, and they were there. These people told the Apaches about the flood before going into two mountains themselves. Around the turn of the millennium, the surface of the earth will again be destroyed, this time by fire.

Mayan

God sent the flood because the people made from wood (an early version of humans) had no souls, minds or hearts and had forgotten how they were made. They wanted to escape, but the animals that they had starved and beaten, the pots they had burnt, and the trees they'd stripped refused to help them. Only a few escaped the flood, and it is said that their descendants are monkeys.

Aztec

In the Valley of Mexico there lived a pious man named Tapi. Creator told him to build a boat to live in, to take his wife and a pair of every animal that existed. Neighbors thought he was crazy. As soon as he finished, it began to rain. The valley flooded; men and animals went to mountains, but they were submerged. The rain ended, waters receded, etc. Tapi realized that the flood waters had receded after having sent a dove that did not return. Tapi rejoiced.

Squamish

When the Squamish saw the great flood coming, they made a giant canoe and a long rope of cedar fibers with which they fastened the canoe to a giant rock. Into the canoe, they put every baby, a young man and woman to be their guardians, and food and water. The waters rose and drowned everyone else. After several days, the man saw Mount Baker in the distance. He cut the rope and paddled south to it, and made a new home there. The outline of the canoe can still be seen halfway up the slope of Mount Baker.

Skagit

The Creator made the earth and gave four names for it -- for the sun, waters, soil and forests. He said only a few people, with special preparation for the knowledge, should know all four names, or the world would change too suddenly. After a while, everyone learned the four names. When people started talking to the trees the change came in the form of a flood. When the people saw the flood coming, they made a giant canoe and filled it with five people and a male and female of all plants and animals. Water covered everything but the summit of Kobah and Takobah (Mts. Baker and Ranier). The canoe landed on the prairie. Doquebuth, the new Creator, was born of a couple from the canoe. He delayed getting his spirit powers, but finally did so after his family deserted him. At the direction of the Old Creator, he made people again from the soil and from the bones of the people who lived before the flood.

Mandingo

A charitable man gave away everything he had. The God Ouende rewarded him with riches, advised him to leave the area, and sent six months of rain to destroy his selfish neighbors. The descendants of the rich man became the present human race.

"People of Mount Jefferson"

Twice, a great flood came. Afraid that another might come, the people made a giant canoe from a big cedar. When they saw a third flood coming, they put the bravest young men and young women in the canoe, with plenty of food. Then the flood, bigger and deeper than the earlier ones, swallowed the land. It rained for many days and nights, but when the clouds finally parted for the third time, the people saw land (Mount Jefferson) and landed on it. When the water receded, they made their home at the base of the mountain. The canoe was turned to stone and can be seen on Mount Jefferson today.

Yakima

In early times, many people had gone to war with other tribes, but there were still some good people. One of the good men heard from the Land Above that a big water was coming. He told the other good people and decided they would make a dugout boat from the largest cedar they could find. Soon after the canoe was finished, the flood came, filling the valleys and covering the mountains. The bad people were drowned; the good people were saved in the boat. We don't know how long the flood stayed. The canoe can still be seen where it came down on Toppenish Ridge. The earth will be destroyed by another flood if people do wrong a second time.

Caddo

Four monsters grew large and powerful until they were high enough to touch the sky. One man heard a voice telling him to plant a hollow reed. He did so, and it quickly grew very big. He, his wife, and pairs of all good animals entered the reed. Waters rose to cover everything but the top of the reed and the heads of the monsters. Turtle destroyed the monsters by digging under them and uprooting them. The waters subsided, and winds dried the earth.

Chippewa

While the medicine man Wis-kay-tchach was hunting, his young wolf was killed by some water lynxes. Wis tried to kill one of the lynxes to get revenge. First, he turned himself into a stump at the edge of a lake. Frogs and snakes tried to pull the stump down, but Wis kept himself upright. The lynx, suspicions lulled, went to sleep. Wis returned to normal shape and, though warned to shoot the lynx's shadow, forgot and shot its body. He shot a second arrow at the shadow, but the lynx escaped into a river, which then overflowed and flooded the whole country. Wis escaped in a canoe.

Navajo

For their sins, the Gods expelled the Insect People from the first world by sending a wall of water from all directions. The Insect People flew up into the second world. Later, in the fourth world, descendants of these people were likewise punished. They escaped the floodwaters by climbing into a fast-growing reed. Cicada dug an entrance into the fifth world, where people live today.

Hopi

The people repeatedly became distant from Sotuknang, the creator. Twice he destroyed the world (by fire and by cold) and recreated it while the few people who still lived by the laws of creation took shelter underground with the ants. When people became corrupt and warlike a third time, Sotuknang guided them to Spider Woman, who cut down giant reeds and sheltered the people in the hollow stems. Sotuknang caused a great flood, and the people floated in their reeds for a long time. They emerged after coming to rest on a small piece of land. They still had as much food as they started with. Guided by their inner wisdom (which comes from Sotuknang through the door at the top of their head), the people traveled on, using the reeds as canoes. They went northeast, finding progressively larger islands, until they came to the Fourth World. When they reached it, they saw the islands sink into the ocean.


Travel to Puck for Flood Myths -- Part Two.


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