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  • Hi! I'm Mike, this is Crash Course Mythology and today,

  • we're going to talk about something that's almost impossible to avoid when discussing creation myths: Sex.

  • Or, more specifically, sexual reproduction. It's going to be a little awkward.

  • Stop covering your ears Thot, you're gonna be fine! You can handle it. We can all handle it.

  • We're all adults and after all, sexual reproduction is how all of us got to be here!

  • Well, maybe not Thot who was born of Seth's skull? Ew.

  • But for the rest of us, it probably makes sense that a lot of cosmic creation myths often invoke sexual reproduction.

  • Still, cosmic sexual reproduction is a little different, and sometimes a lot weirder than human sexual reproduction.

  • Well, I meandepending on what you're into of course.

  • [Theme Music]

  • So let's ease into this with a little latin. Sexy, sexy latin.

  • So, you know how when you grow plants, they come from seeds? Well in latin, the word for "seed" is "semen."

  • Which is why a man's seminal fluid is also sometimes called his seed.

  • The idea of something growing from a seed is a logical analogy to creation but,

  • multiple godly fluids seem to be fertile, as we'll see in an Egyptian creation myth.

  • In one of the many versions of the Egyptian creation story, the creator god says:

  • "I fulfilled all my desires when I was alone, before had appeared a second to be with me in this place;

  • I assumed form as that great soul wherein I started being creative while still in the primeval waters in a state of inertness...

  • so it was I who spat forth Shu and expectorated Tefnut..."

  • So, honestly, that sounds a lot more like saliva. At least in translation. But the image becomes clearer in a later part of the myth, when the god relates:

  • "When I rubbed with my fist my heart came into my mouth in that I spat forth Shu and expectorated Tefnut."

  • Thankfully this myth isn't actually... explicit, in what the gods are doing, and the... anatomy is obviously a little strange,

  • but here's a god, alone, fulfilling his desires, and rubbing with his fist.

  • With the result that two new figuresalso godsare created.

  • It's not Shakespeare-level body, but neither is it Disney Channel material, right?

  • Notice that the creator god here is alone, and also presumably male.

  • This may suggest a patrilineal culture since creation occurs without a female presence.

  • The story of Mbombo's creation, from the Boshongo Bantu people in Africa, is remarkably similar.

  • Including water, a solitary creator, and best of all, vomiting. It's a banner day for bodily fluids here at Crash Course.

  • In the beginning, in the dark, there was nothing but water, and Mbombo was alone.

  • One day Mbombo was in terrible pain. He retched and strained and vomited up the sun.

  • After that, light spread over everything. The heat of the sun dried up the water until the black edges of the world began to show.

  • Black sandbanks and reefs could be seen. But there were no living things.

  • Mbombo vomited up the moon, and then the stars, and after that the night had its light also.

  • Still, Mbombo was in pain. He strained again and nine living creatures came forth. Last of all, came man.

  • Again, we have a solitary man creating the world using his body and bringing it forth after being in terrible pain.

  • Which is possibly an analog to female childbirth.

  • And speaking of pain, few myths involve more of it than the Greek creation story involving Aphrodite. I mean this myth just has it all.

  • Water, genitals, violence, creation, armored giantsreally just the whole completely horrifying megillah.

  • Here's the version found in Hesoid's Theogyny.

  • "Great Heaven came, bring on the night and desirous of love, he spread himself over the Earth, stretched out in every direction.

  • His son Chronos reached out from the ambush with his left hand, with his right he took a huge sickle with its long row of sharp teeth, and quickly,

  • cut off his father's genitals, and flung them behind him to fly where they might.

  • They were not released from his hand to no effect: for all the drops of blood that flew off were received by the Earth, and as the years went round, she bore the powerful Erinyes,

  • and the great Giants in gleaming armor with long spears in their hands, and the nymphs whom they called Meliai on the boundless earth.

  • As for the genitals, just as he first cut them off with his instrument of adamant, and threw them from the land into the surging sea,

  • even so they were carried on the wave for a long time. About them a white foam grew from the immortal flesh and in it, a girl formed.

  • First she approached holy Cythera, and then from there she came to sea-girt Cyprus.

  • And out stepped a modest and beautiful goddess, and the grass began to grow all round beneath her slender feet.

  • Gods and men call her Aphrodite, because she was formed in foam, and Cytherea, because she approached Cythera,

  • and Cyprus-born because she was born in wave-washed Cyrpus, and 'genial', because she appeared out of genitals."

  • Side-note: I need to stop using the word genial as an adjective.

  • And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, violent castration begets a word meaning "friendly" or "cheerful", and the goddess of love.

  • Well, one goddess of love. There are lots of others, and we'll see more of them in later episodes on pantheons.

  • But enough about saliva and vomit and bleeding testicles and other horrifying things that can potentially be read as semen,

  • let's turn to that other important part of sexual reproduction: the egg.

  • A number of cultures have creation myths that feature something called a cosmic egg.

  • In one Indian creation myth, found in the Satapatha Brahmana, the creator god, in this story called Prajapati, forms a cosmic egg after creating water.

  • Out of which this egg come various creatures, but most importantly, the Earth and the rest of the universe, which, confusingly, is also water.

  • One translation from the 19th century puts it this way:

  • "He desired, 'May I be reproduced from these waters!' He entered the waters with that triple science. Thence an egg arose. He touched it.

  • 'Let it exist! let it exist and multiply!' so he said. From it the Brahman was first created."

  • "And that which was the shell became the earth. [...] The juice which flowed from it became a tortoise [...]

  • This whole (earth) dissolved itself all over the water: all this (universe) appeared as one form only, namely, water."

  • So that is... confusing. And also... wet. Also, what is this triple science that he enters the waters with?

  • What we do understand is that, water brings forth an egg. And from that egg comes the Earth, sky, a tortoise, and more water.

  • There's an early Persian creation story that's similar to the one from India, in that it also has an egg. And hey, our old friend water is here too!

  • According to this story, the god of good, Ahura Mazda, and let's remember, this is a god, not a making model of car, [sarcastic laugh]

  • Ahura Mazda created a perfect spiritual world, before creating the tangible one.

  • And this perfect world made the god of evil, Angra Mainyu a.k.a. Ahriman, so angry, that he burst through the cosmic egg,

  • causing such a disturbance that the sun began to rotate through the sky instead of standing still. And this in turn led to day, night, mountains, valleys,

  • and most importantly, the destruction of the perfect world. Which led to work, pain, and death for humanity. So, nice going evil.

  • You know what they say: you can't create the universe without breaking a few cosmic eggs.

  • What, too soon? And why are there no creation myths about cosmic bacon? I could really go for a cosmic breakfast.

  • There's one more cosmic egg creation myth that I want to talk about, and it follows really nicely from the Zoroastrian one

  • about Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu because, like that one, it features a duality as a fundamental principle of creation.

  • One of the many Chinese creation myths combines a cosmic egg trope with a world-parent myth. Let's go to the Thought Bubble.

  • In the beginning was a huge egg containing Chaos, a mixture of yin-yangfemale-male, passive-active, cold-heat, dark-light, and wet-dry.

  • Within this yin-yang was Phan Ku, that which was not yet anything

  • but which broke forth from the egg as the giant who separated chaos into the many opposites, including earth and sky.

  • Phan Ku was covered with hair; horns sprang from his head and tusks from his mouth.

  • With a great chisel and a huge mallet, he carved out the mountains, valleys, rivers, and oceans.

  • He also made the sun, moon, and stars. He taught the people what they know.

  • When Phan Ku finally died, his skull became the top of the sky, his breath the wind, his voice the thunder,

  • his legs and arms the four directions, his flesh the soil, his blood the rivers, and so forth.

  • The people say that the fleas in his hair became human beings. Everything that is, is Phan Ku. And everything that Phan Ku is is yin-yang.

  • With Phan Ku's death a vacuum was created, and within this vacuum pain and sin were able to flourish.

  • In the beginning was Chaos, from which light became the sky and darkness formed the Earth.

  • Yang and yin are contained in light and darkness, and everything is made of these principles.

  • Thanks Thought Bubble!

  • Here we see that many of the themes in creation myths overlap.

  • For example, last week we talked about Chaos, as being a state of undifferentiation,

  • and here it appears again, although, this time, it's a series of dualities. Mixture of yin-yang.

  • Unlike in the Bible, where God has to come in and created the dualities as a way of imposing order.

  • Although this myth features a cosmic egg, it's also an example of what are sometimes called world-parent myths.

  • "where a creator god brings the universe into being, through actual or metaphorical sexual reproduction,

  • or as in this case, by being differentiated into aspects of the known world."

  • Those of you who remember Crash Course World History Episode #6 on Vedic religions, Buddhism and Ashoka,

  • might recall the story of Purusha, who was also divided up into aspects of human reality.

  • Although Phan Ku and Purusha are usually thought of as male, if they are thought of as having a gender at all, often the world-parent is portrayed as maternal.

  • An Earth-mother, as opposed to a sky-father. But that is a story for another day.

  • So that is out first take on creation stories that involve either explicitly or more symbolically, sexual reproduction.

  • As you can tell, these myths are not always straightforward, or biologically possible, strictly speaking.

  • I also hope you haven't come away thinking we're reading too much into these myths. And that we have dirty minds.

  • Which is what Thot over here thinks. I'm not the dirty bird, you're the dirty bird.

  • But that the exciting thing about myths, they're open to various interpretations.

  • Try your own reading while still noticing the broad commonalities in these stories, taken from many different parts of the world.

  • And thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.

  • Crash Course Mythology is filmed in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana,

  • and is produced with the help of all of these very nice people. Our animation team is Thought Café.

  • Crash Course exists thanks to the generous support of our patrons at Patreon.

  • Patreon is a voluntary subscription service where you can support the content you love, though a monthly donation,

  • and help keep Crash Course free for everyone, forever.

  • Thanks for watching, and next time you sneeze, check the tissue, there might be an universe in there.

Hi! I'm Mike, this is Crash Course Mythology and today,

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Cosmic Sexy Time, Eggs, Seeds, and Water: Crash Course World Mythology #3

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