Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Primordial Waters

  • David A. Leeming
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_527

All cultures naturally recognize water as a necessary source of life and survival, making it a useful symbol of creative fertility – spiritual and psychological fertility as well as physical fertility. At the same time, large masses of water are uncontrollable and, therefore, aptly representative of chaos – the chaos that precedes creation. Together, these two symbolic functions lead us, like the cosmic egg symbol, to the idea of potential, as yet unformed reality. The primordial waters figure strongly in creation myths from all corners of the world. The waters speak to the larger metaphor of creation as birth. We are all born of the maternal waters, and so, in creation mythology, worlds are typically born of the waters.

In the earth diver type of creation myth, a diver, usually a humble animal, is sent by the creator to the depths of the waters to find soil with which to begin the creation of Earth. In several Native American myths, a toad or a muskrat, for instance, succeeds after...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA