Something I love about paganism: it is ancient and new all at once. We reconnect with our ancestors in very meaningful ways. For the people who wish to recreate the Ancient Ways down to the last detail, rituals can become bound by the limited knowledge available. My favorite reconstructionists embrace imagination, using ancient folk songs and circle dances, alongside spontaneously created acts of reverence, to make magick and loosen the bonds of limited information.
It is said by the masters, that Magick is simply powerfully focused imagination. Magick is a personal encounter with the power of our Selves to create something out of nothing. Artists of all sorts tend to be more intuitive than average because they engage in magical exercises without calling them such. Over time, we have created and collected stories, in the veins of culture, passed down from mouth-to-mind over countless generations. We told stories about everything: why the seasons change; why the rains fall; why animals have certain relationships with each other; why creatures have different attributes (ex., “How the Monkey Got His Tail”). Our imaginings paved the way for deeper understanding. We would not have complex scientific systems of theory without having sung the first ballad, created and recited the first Edda, or told the first fable. Throughout time, these stories wove a web of connections to the center of being. At the heart of this web grew the Creation Story.
The archetypal Creation Story is now a patchwork of countless cultures and tribes, some long forgotten, others more prominently known. The interwoven vines of our great ancestral Tree of Lore traces the lineage of our observational relationship with the world around us. My favorite stories are modern retellings of ancient stories that feature egalitarian relationships between God and Goddess. In my personal research, I have encountered many myths that seem to have been retold at one point by a male conqueror. I find that these stories hinder my relationship with the Deities I am trying to contact. (I would be curious to know how other people feel about those stories, whether anyone else wants to re-interpret classical Greek myth so that Zeus and Hera no longer hate each other, and so on…).
In January, I gave a talk at Skyview High school on Witchcraft, Wicca, and Paganism, and read a creation story called “The Goddess Dances the World Awake” as told by Starhawk in Circle Round. I think I can post it here, since I’m giving her the credit – you can find more from all three of the authors of Circle Round at (http://www.starhawk.org/writings/circleexcerpt.html)
The Goddess Dances the World Awake: A Creation Story
retold by Starhawk
Long ago, before anything was, the Goddess awoke alone in the vast dark and emptiness. She had as yet no name and no form, but she felt an urge to move. She stretched, she rocked, she began to dance. Whirling and twirling, she wheeled and spiraled through space.
Her dance set in motion a great wind that followed her, playing catch, trying to caress her. The Goddess danced with the wind, and the wind took form, becoming the God in the shape of a great serpent, Ophion. Ophion wrapped his coils around the Goddess, trying to become one with her, loving her with all his being.
Suddenly the Goddess felt something stirring inside her, as if her dance had come alive. Something wanted to be born. She reached out, and her arms became wings. As a giant dove, she flew aloft while Ophion coiled himself into a nest for her. She settled onto his back and laid a huge, huge egg.
Ophion guarded the egg, sheltering it from below as the Goddess brooded it from above. At last the egg cracked open and the whole universe fell out–suns and stars and galaxies, planets and moons and the green living earth, all spiraling and spinning, whirling and twirling through space in the Goddess’s dance.
So that’s how the world came to be. And the whole universe is still spiraling and spinning, whirling and twirling to this very day, in the dance of life!
Links to Creation Stories from Around the World
The University of Georgia, Department of Geology has this helpful index of creation myths from a slew of worldwide traditions: http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSIndex.html
Hopi Creation Story: http://www.bigorrin.org/archive97.htm
I just found this site, but I like what I have read, so far: http://www.mother-god.com/matriarchal-history.html