Want to know what a demiurge is? Find out why God, Ra, and Odin are demiurges (while the Greek god of gods Zeus is not a not a demiurge)?
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A demiurge god is defined as "the creator god of the world at the beginning of a set of religious myths." For example, in the Christian, Egyptian, and Scandinavian religions, Ra, God, and Odin are demiurges. On the other hand, Zeus is not a demiurge because he did not create the Greek Universe.
In the course of this article, we will see together:
- The precise definition of a demiurge god (which explains why Zeus is not a demiurge god)
- The story of the creation of the Egyptian world by the demiurge Ra
- The story of the creation of the Christian world by the demiurge God
- The story of the creation of the Scandinavian world by the demiurge Odin
After reading this article, you will know all about the demiurges of the great ancient religions and mythologies.
Let's start by discovering together what a demiurge is!
1) Definition of demiurge
According to the Greek philosopher Plato, a demiurge is a god creating an entire Universe in the course of cosmogony (in the Platonic and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, a cosmogony is a religious account of the creation of a Universe by a god).
This word comes to us from the 4th century BC from the ancient Greek "demiourgos" meaning "craftsman" or "manufacturer".
Thus, if we observe this definition, we can say that the Christian, Egyptian and Scandinavian gods God, Ra, and Odin are demiurges.
Indeed, they belong to this category because they each appear in a legendary story where they shape the world and the different elements that surround humans today (animals, the Earth, the stars, the Sun, the sky . . .).
Conversely, contrary to what one might think, the god Zeus of Greek mythology is not a demiurge. Indeed, although Zeus is the "god of gods" and the undisputed king of the Greek world, it is not he who created the Universe in which he lives unlike God, Ra, and Odin (because it's Zeus' father, the titan Cronus, who create all life by creating Greek world).
Let us discover without further ado the story of these three demiurges, starting with the god Ra!
2) The Egyptian demiurge
According to the myths of ancient Egyptians, the demiurge deemed to be at the origin of the world was the falcon-headed Sun god Ra.
I) The creation of the first gods
At the beginning of the Egyptian mythology, there was only an ocean covering the lower half of the Universe facing the Darkness, a dark sky covering the other half of the Universe.
The repeated friction between the primordial ocean personified in the form of the goddess Nun and the Darkness created a small reserve of vital energy: the breath of life god Atum.
This reserve of energy is, however, too small for Atum to create life by himself. As a result, the falcon god Ra will appear by his own will with the selfless purpose of helping Atum who dreams of creating life.
Ra cleverly mixes the Ocean and the Darkness to form the first pair of gods formed of Shu (representing air) and Tefnut (representing moisture).
Shu and Tefnut will have two children who will be at the origin of the physical world: Geb (the Earth) and Nut (the starry sky).
In turn, Geb and Nut will have four children: Osiris, Set, Nephthys, and Isis (as shown in the family tree below).
II) The creation of humanity
To illuminate the sky and the Earth, Ra creates the Sun by mixing again the ocean and the Darkness. He then places this dazzling Sun on his head and becomes the god of the Sun. Moved by his work, Ra drops a tear on the Earth. This tear gives birth to humanity, animals, and plants.
To guide frightened and lost men, Ra sends his great-grandson Osiris to Earth. Osiris becomes the first pharaoh of mankind and takes his task very much to heart: he brings prosperity and peace to the kingdom of Egypt. Osiris is adored by his people and men become civilized and happy.
The success of Osiris will provoke much jealousy and resentment among his brother Set, so that he will kill Osiris. Without a benevolent pharaoh ruling over them, humans will experience an era of terror and fear. Humans will go so far as to deny their gods and hate them.
Having gone to visit the stars far from Earth, Ra will discover on his return a sinful and blasphemous humanity.
Furious, Ra sends his eye to destroy humanity. This same eye that created all humans with one tear turns into a warrior lion goddess, Sekhmet. Sekhmet descends from heaven to Earth to annihilate the whole of humanity.
The lion goddess Sekhmet, born of Ra's eye, will soon begin to love her mission and take pleasure in the massacre commanded by Ra.
Fortunately for humanity, before Sekhmet had time to finish her work, Ra takes pity on his dear children and completely forgives them their past hatred for him after the death of Osiris.
Ra will therefore call Sekhmet back to Earth and leave humans their free will: Ra accepts humans as they are, which includes the part of wickedness and cruelty in them.
3) The Book of Genesis
God in the Christian Bible creates the world in 7 days.
We will call the creator "God" here, yet note that the creator of the world is "Allah" in the Muslim Qur'an and "Yahweh" in the Jewish Torah.
I) The creation of the Universe
On the first day, God created the Earth. He gives the Earth light. God creates the light, so that day and night alternate on the world equally.
On the second day, God creates the heavens and the firmament to frame his work.
On the third day, God removes a large amount of water from the Earth. With this water, God creates seas to separate the continents. In addition, with this water, God creates lakes, rivers, and streams. On this day, he also creates nature, trees, and fruits.
On the fourth day, God creates the seasons and the stars.
On the fifth day, God creates fish and birds. They endow them with organs so that they can reproduce among themselves.
On the sixth day, God creates the domestic animals, snakes, and reptiles. God also creates the Garden of Eden which he gives to the first man, Adam, made in his image. He gives Adam a mate: Eve, the first woman created from Adam's rib.
On the seventh day, God is exhausted by his creation, so he rests. This day of rest at the end of the hard week's work is present in all three major monotheistic religions. This day is "Friday" for Islam, "Saturday" for Judaism, and "Sunday" for Christianity.
Man is created in the image of God to watch over God's creation in his absence. He will live with Eve in the Garden of Eden where he will lack nothing.
II) The Garden of Eden
Following the creation of the world, Adam and Eve can live peacefully in the Garden of Eden.
God will give them the right to give orders to the animals and to do anything they desire except one thing: they are not allowed to eat the "forbidden fruit" of the tree in the center of the garden. God explains to them that if they eat this fruit, they will die.
However, the serpent will tempt Eve by promising her that if she eats the forbidden fruit, she will not die and will even become God's equal. Doubting God for the first time and thinking that God is hiding something from them, Eve gives in. She eats the forbidden fruit and convinces Adam to do the same.
Thus, Adam and Eve had access to the knowledge of God. They then discovered that they were naked and decided to hide. When God returned to the garden, he found Adam and Eve hidden. He asked them why they were hiding.
Adam answered that they were afraid because they were naked. God understood that they both ate the forbidden fruit.
To punish them, God cursed them. Adam, the man, will have to work in difficult conditions to get just enough food to feed his family. Eve, the woman, will have to bear her children in pain and be submissive to her husband.
Finally, God made them mortal and drove them out of the Garden of Eden.
The serpent in the Garden of Eden is the embodiment of temptation. It does not gain much by convincing the original couple to doubt God, since God also punishes it. The serpent is condemned to crawl on the ground and be the enemy of man and woman for all eternity.
4) The god "Odin"
In the Nordic mythology, there is at the beginning only an original emptiness, the "Ginnungapag."
The Ginnungapag void is bordered to the south by the Muspelheim (the realm of fire and heat) and to the north by the Niflheim (the world of ice and cold).
I) In Nordic mythology
After multiple encounters between the heat of Muspelheim and the cold of Niflheim, two beings will be born from the opposing forces of fire and ice: the giant Ymir and the cow Audumla.
During millions of years, heat and cold will meet in the nothingness Ginnungapag, gradually forming the body of the giant Ymir.
The cow Audumla will protect young Ymir by breastfeeding him. At the same time, by regaining her strength by licking the ice of the cold Niflheim world, Audumla will provoke the birth of the giant Buri who will free himself from the ice warmed by Audumla's tongue.
Ymir and Buri will each have several children of their own who will form the race of giants.
The first couple of giants, the giant Borr and the giant Bestla will engender together the first three gods: Odin, Vili, and Vé.
Once adults, Odin, Vili, and Vé will reproach Ymir for being violent with all and will decapitate him. The other giants will then all drown in Ymir's blood except two who will manage to use a tree trunk as a raft: Bergelmir and his wife Nal. These two giants will create the jötnar, the race of the giants of ice and of the giants of fire.
II) The 9 Nordic worlds
From the giant remains of Ymir, Odin and his brothers were able to freely create the world:
- With Ymir's chair, they created the Earth in the center of the Ginnungagap void.
- With his blood, they created the lakes, rivers, and oceans.
- With his brain, they created the clouds.
- With his skull, they created paradise.
- With his hair, they created plants.
- With his bones, they created the mountains and the hills.
- With his remaining bone fragments and his teeth, they created the rocks and stones.
- Finally, they illuminated this world with sparks from the realm of the fire Muspelheim. Two of these sparks stood out in particular and became the Sun and the Moon.
When it was all over, Odin and his brothers went for a walk by the sea.
They encountered two trees lying on the shore: an ash tree and an elm tree. Odin gave these two trees the breath of life. Vili offered them some of his knowledge and a little spirit. Vili offered them five senses.
Thus, from the ash tree was born Ask, the first man, and from the elm tree was born Embla, the first woman. Odin gave to Ask and Embla the world of Midgard, which will become the world of the humans.
When their creation of men was completed, the three brothers realized that little worms were born from the pulpit of Ymir. Although these small beings were ugly and smelly, Odin decided to help them by giving them a more noble appearance and increasing their intelligence: the dwarves were born in their turn.
To make the world perfectly balanced, Odin and his brothers fed a tree, Yggdrasil. This three would grow tall enough to bear the weight of the world divided into 9 parts on its branches. The 9 parts of this world were spread over 3 levels of branches.
These worlds were connected to each other by a rainbow bridge, the Bifröst. To secure the balance of the world, Odin asked a gigantic snake, the snake Nidhogg, to watch over the roots of Yggdrasil.
The three superior worlds:
1 - Alfheim, the world of the light elves, beings of pure magic born at the same time as Ymir.
2 - Asgard, the world of the Aesir gods, the gods of Odin's family.
3 - Muspelheim, the world of fire giants.
The three intermediate worlds:
1 - Vanaheim, the world of the Vanir gods, the magical gods having created themselves. The Aesir and the Vanir gods will make an alliance with the marriage of Odin from the Aesir and Frigg from the Vanir.
2 - Midgard, the world of men.
3 - Nidavellir, the world of dwarves and black elves (fallen luminous elves).
The three lower worlds:
1 - Jotunheim, the world of the ice giants.
2 - Helheim, the hell-world of the dead who did not perish in battle.
3 - Niflheim, the world of darkness, mist, and cold reserved for the treacherous and perjured dead.
The creator gods
We have just seen together:
- The definition of what a demiurge is
- The three examples of the stories of Ra, God, and Odin
Thus, you know all about the deities who create universes called demiurges.
When you arrive here, if you too find the ancient mythological tales grandiose, it would be a pity if you miss out on objects expertly inspired by the myths of ancient Egypt!
Indeed, on this website, you will find Egyptian jewelry: necklaces, rings, and bracelets which refers to the different myths of the Egyptian mythology.
To discover our collections of Egyptian jewelry, simply click on the image below.