Human Origins

In Scandinavian mythology, when Ragnarok draws near, it is said that the ASH tree, Yggdrasil, will tremble, and a man and woman, Lif and Lifthrasir, will survive the ensuing holocaust and flood. They stand alone at the end of one cycle and the beginning of another in the world of time and men. From these two, the earth will be re-peopled, and Yggdrasil itself will survive Ragnarok. In other words Yggdrasil is the source of all new life (Crossley-Holland). The Eddas describe the stars as the fruit of Yggdrasil, and also say that all mankind descended from the ash and the elm (Dyer). According to Hesiod, the men of the third age of the world (the Bronze Age race) grew from the ash tree (Rydberg); Hesychius too said that the Greeks believed that the human race was the fruit of the ash (Philpot). Teutonic mythology also recognized that the first men came from the ash (Rydberg). In Greece, the OAK too was reckoned the tree from which men first sprang; they called it the "first mother", which fed man, mother-like, with her own acorns (Ovid). Piedmontese children used to be told that it was from the trunk of an oak tree that their mothers had taken them when they were born (Gubernatis). In Irish belief, the first woman sprang from a ROWAN tree, and the first man from an ALDER (Wood-Martin).

Some of the earlier peoples of India regarded the CASSIA as the origin of human life (Porteous. 1928), Some Negrito groups of Malaysia used the symbol of the banana to explain man's mortality. When the deity gave to one of the superhumans some "water life-soul" to give to the humans they had made, it was inadvertently lost. So the superhuman borrowed some from a banana plant. This was "wind life-soul" that he then gave to the inert bodies. "Wind life-soul" is a "short" life-soul, whereas what had been lost (the "water life-soul") was a "long" life-soul. And that would have made man immortal, whereas the one that the human beings eventually received was merely borrowed and thus provides only temporary life. Some say that not only the life-soul but also the heart and blood were borrowed from a banana plant, and this is supposed to account for the resemblance, in colour and viscosity, between coagulated banana plant sap, which dries to a dark brown colour, and dried human blood (Endicott). In West Africa, men and women, so it is said, descended to earth from the branches of a huge mythical IROKO (Chlorophora excelsa) tree (Parrinder).

An Egyptian creation myth relates how a LOTUS flower rises out of the waters; when its petals open the calyx of the flower is seen to bear a divine child, who is Ra. Another version is that the lotus opens to reveal a scarab (symbol of the sun); the scarab then transforms itself into a boy, who weeps; and finally, his tears become mankind (Larousse).

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