Most of us lean toward Greek’s collective of Chaos, Eros, Darkness, and Nyx, etc., which represent the most basic components of the universe that materialized at creation. These are the gods that represent bigger concepts—the beginning of time and the foundations laid for the other gods. They are further separated from the other collections of gods and further more from humans.
Some of my favorites are Chaos, Chronos, and Gaia, probably because they play a vital role in the creation of my first vampire, Phea. Time and Earth are the most present in my everyday life, so that might also be why I favor them so greatly.
There are many more than I initially realized. Here’s a link to the complete list.
But thinking about pantheons—and creating new ones for an upcoming series—got me thinking about other culture’s primordial gods.
One of the more interesting was the connection between the massively-referenced Greek versions and the Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) creation story. The birth from darkness, the formation of the earth, and the full-formation of life all reference back to the primordial gods.
In fact, the concept of darkness seems to connect with every version of these founding creatures. Ancient Origins has an excellent post about the links.
For the Aztecs, Ometecuhtli was self-birthed in their creation story and is the primordial being of fertility. It’s a dual, androgynous being that acted as mother and father to the other major Aztec gods, Huitzilopochtli, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, and Xipe Totec, who represent the four cardinal directions. Ometecuhtli championed opposing natures: light and dark, chaos and order, and sometimes, good and evil. Living in the thirteenth heaven, or the highest plane, this deity is disconnected from human affairs and those of the other gods.
Hinduism has a trinity of important, top-tier gods: Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Shiva, the destroyer. Vishnu and Shiva are worshipped widely, having many followers and temples, but Braham does not garner the same attention. This is because he is the personification of brahman, an indefinable and unknowable divine principle.
Egyptian mythology worships eight primordial gods, or the Ogdoad (“the Eightfold”), that predate the common gods, like Osiris and Anubis. These deities were made of four male-female pairs that have similar symbols as the Greeks, and paired with the primary elements of the universe: water, air, light, and time. The couples were meant to create balance in the universe, but at least three different creation stories are attributed to this set of gods. Learn more about it here.
In Pre-Islamic Arabic mythologies, a slew of pantheons was common amongst tribes. Allāh, the Meccan creator god and supreme deity prayed to primarily in times of despair because he intervened in extreme crises; he is the father of the gods, angels, and jinn. Awal, the sea god, worshiped by Taghlib, Iyad, and Banu Bakr bin Wa’il tribes. He is the primordial guardian of the Gulf waters. Tihāmat is the divinity of chaos and the abyss, the eternal that existed before Allāh. Falak, a dragon or giant lizard that resides in the Realm of Fire, is the primordial spirit that rules over volcanoes, lava, and magma, and is only kept deep beneath the earth because he fears Allāh.
Finally, Norse mythology has Ymir, or screamer in old Norse, who was born when the melted ice of the World of Mist met the hot air from the Realm of Fire. The frost giants sprang from his legs and armpits. As the ice melted, the drops created the divine cow, Audumla, whose udders sustained Ymir. Three sons—Odin, Vili, and Ve—of the primordial giants killed Ymir, drowning all but two of his children in the sea of his blood, and his body was used to create heaven and earth, his blood to make the oceans and lakes, his bones to fashion mountains, his hair for trees, and his brains for clouds. Ymir’s eyebrow formed the Realm of Men, and dwarves were shaped from the maggots infested in Ymir’s flesh.
Well, a lot of the primordial gods are connected in similar ways, but it’s interesting to see the variance and differences amongst them.
Which is your favorite? Tell me about them in the comments below.