Creation Stories: Stargate vs. Historical Myths, Legends & Folktales

Comparative Essay
Mandi Lavoie
Professor Melissa Dunphy
HUMA-3003-01 Myth, Folktale, and Fairy Tale
November 30th, 2009

Mythology, legends, folklore and faerie tales have become universally known and the basis for many a story throughout history thereafter. Such is the case in the franchise known as Stargate, which started out as a film and then branched out into 3 television series, video games, conventions, more films and much more. The creation stories of numerous cultures share similarities with the creation story developed for Stargate as it refers to the Ancients or Lanteans creating or spawning the human race, the Goa’uld coming to earth to take human hosts and fighting among each other as they have taken on the forms of different Gods, making them appear more belligerent than benevolent, and seeding humans among the stars and the different creation myths, because such as it is, the stories must be creatively interpreted with the understanding of metaphors, as how they have been written and told may not have respected the facts of historical events but rather the little education the primitive humans at the time could understand them, and both the rebellion of humans on Earth against the invading Goa’uld as well as the creation of the Jaffa or in many a myth the creation of monsters and vast armies to do the Gods bidding. Thus the beginning of the Stargate’s earliest association to Earth is through the arrival of the Ancients . . .
There are numerous similarities in many cross-cultural creation myths that can be compared to the creation story of Stargate as it refers to the Ancients who predate us many billions of years ago. In the creation story from Native Australians and Dreamtime, they mention creatures self created out of nothing called the Ungambikula, “Wandering the world, they found half-made human beings. They were made of animals and plants, but were shapeless bundles, lying higgledy-piggledy, near where water holes and salt lakes could be created. The people were all doubled over into balls, vague and unfinished, without limbs or features. With their great stone knives, the Ungambikula carved heads, bodies, legs, and arms out of the bundles. They made the faces, and the hands and feet. At last the human beings were finished.” (Uranus, 2006) As it relates to the Stargate creation story, the Ancients who came from their home galaxy and made our Earth their home several billion years ago, Terra Atlantus, but then left for the Pegasus Galaxy in order to avoid a plague. It could be said that those Ancients who were left behind seeded the beginning of the Human race, as they seeded the Pegasus Galaxy when they arrived and found it without human life. As they were doing so, they came across a planet with an insect called the Iratus bug which when combined with human DNA created a species called the Wraith which then began feeding on other humans and with whom they fought a long and hard war, the Ancients then lost the war at their last stand, they were forced to retreat back to Earth, where in they found the humans of Earth ‘unformed’ and very primitive. Which relates back to the Australian creation story but understanding that the act of carving humans out was in fact educating them as the were very unsophisticated; Ancients and their vast knowledge of the universe and advanced science spread among the humans of Earth, teaching them new advancements and spreading the stories of the city of Atlantis, the ship which carried them to the Pegasus Galaxy which they left behind, submerged under hundreds of miles under water. Advancements so early in our history, such as those that can be found in Ancient Egypt like the development and understanding of fractions as depicted in the eye of Horus could have bee given to us by the Ancients who returned to Earth.

Creation myths, such as that from the African tribe Fans in Bantu also mentions ascension or life after death through the spirit as it leaves the body as it mentions the creation of man and woman: “Nzame made a new man, one who would know death, and called him Sekume. Sekume fashioned a woman, Mbongwe, from a tree. These people were made with both Gnoul (body) and Nissim (soul). Nissim gives life to Gnoul. When Gnoul dies, Nissim lives on” (Uranus as attained by The Mining Company, 2006). Presently, many religions believe that when the body dies, the spirit leaves and lives on, sometimes it is reincarnated, ascends or descends to it’s religious equivalent of heaven or hell or stays behind as ghosts if it has unfinished business here on Earth before it can move on. As it relates to Stargate those Ancients who did return were still trying to avoid the plague which had followed them and their efforts were put into the prospective chance of Ascension, which is to ascend to a higher plain of existence wherein the body turns into pure energy leaving behind the ties to a physical body. Some managed to attain the ‘enlightenment’ required and ascended, while others died off while still living among the humans who remained unaffected. The creation myth of Ainu also shows this: “Kamui sent Aioina, the divine man, down from heaven to teach the Ainu how to hunt and to cook. When Aioina returned to heaven after living among the people and teaching them many things . . .” (Uranus, 2006). In the Ainu creation myth as it relates to Stargate could be representative of the Ancients who, in all their vast knowledge, wisdom and experience, were sent from the ‘Gods’ to teach them the basics of their knowledge as some form of advancement from their state in which they were found upon the Ancients return. The Ancients, who were responsible for seeding us on our home-world they also called home for a time, left to avoid a plague that threatened them as they journeyed to the Pegasus Galaxy only to return after loosing a war with the Wraith, which they inherently seeded as they seeded the empty galaxy, and taught the humans they found the basic knowledge to their advancements. Thus the similarities of creation stories to that of Stargate do no end with the involvement in humanity’s future by the Ancients, but also by the Goa’uld.
The Goa’uld are sentient parasites who forcibly possess humans, formerly after Unas another species couldn’t suit their needs. They learned how to operate the Stargate and then stole Ancient technology to serve their own means as they built their own empires. It was Ra, who set forth to discover a means of saving his species, by finding Earth and taking possession of a young boy to be his host. There is no literal similarities of the parasitic Goa’uld ever taking on a host, perhaps because the humans were too primitive at the time to understand what was happening. What’s more is that when Ra found new hosts that would save his ‘people’ or species whom he informed, despite being governed by a theocratic autocracy which was factional and constantly in chaos with inner disputes, turf wars and old grudges, they banded together as they took the names of Gods from many a human myths from around the world, using their technology to take on their shapes to give their divine appearances and started ‘harvesting’ slaves to return to their own individual empires to do their bidding. There is no definite and obvious ‘evidence’ to support this, but with some creative interpretation of some creation myths it could elaborate a more creative story of how some animals married or changed into human, then married and had children with some human women, which directly relates to the Goa’uld appearing in half animal and half human forms as a means to control their human slaves through illusions of ‘magic and power’ as they were revered at the time. In the Lakota creation myth, after the great flood had killed everyone except one small girl, whom the big-spotted eagle: Wanblee Galaeshka, saved by bringing her to his tree which stood high above the water on a pointed smooth mountaintop, “Wanblee kept that beautiful girl with him and made her his wife. There was a closer connection then between people and animals, so he could do it. The eagle’s wife became pregnant and bore him twins, a boy and a girl.” (Lame Deer, 2003). The other story of an animal being made into a human comes from the Chinese creation myth, when Pan Gu, the spotted dog brought King Goa Xin his rival, King Fang’s head, in return for marrying his daughter, but the promise to do so was belated by the fact that he was a dog: “To his surprise Pan Gu began to speak. “Don’t worry, my King. Just cover me with your golden bell and in seven days and seven nights I’ll become a man.” The King did as he said, but on the sixth day, fearing he would starve to death, out of solicitude the princess peeped under the bell. Pan Gu’s body had already changed into that of a man, but his head was still that of a dog. However, once the bell was raised, the magic change stopped, and he had to remain a man with a dog’s head. He married the princess, but she didn’t want to be seen with such a man so they moved to the earth and settled in the remote mountains of south China. There they lived happily and had four children, three boys and a girl, who became the ancestors of mankind.” (Uranus, 2006). Thus using the form of divine animals allowed them to reign as Gods in many cultures, which in turn combined with their factional and chaotic inhibitions would explain the wars and the truly cruel nature of some Gods among each other and on the humans they expected to worship and serve them. Despite the paramount reasons for Ra’s search for new hosts, the Goa’uld were by nature a chaotic and antagonistic race who held themselves on such high vainglorious pedestals that they took the humans they needed as hosts and slaves and returned to their native empires, thus seeding the humans of Earth among the stars.
Despite “the majority of the Goa’uld [being] one-dimensionally genocidal, monomaniacal, and in some cases (such as Cronus, and, to a lesser extent, Ra) apparently barely self-aware (living out the patterns of their behavior as they existed thousands of years ago), there were a few exceptions. Apophis at times showed an unusual amount of insight, lucidity, and tenacity for a Goa’uld, escaping from Sokar’s imprisonment, and to a small extent, rebuilding his forces. Heru’ur was seen on the battlefield with his Jaffa as an active general, risking his own life alongside them rather than hiding behind them (as Ra in particular had done). Ba’al was also able to survive the demise of the rest of the System Lords (even up until the very end of the series) through being infinitely more flexible and adaptable than any of the others had been, even at times allying with SG-1 when he felt the situation warranted it” (WarGrowlmon18, 2009)

All of these traits come into account as it is compared to the early creation stories as well as myths as the Goa’uld took the forms of Gods from many different cultures: Egyptian, Greek, Phoenician, Chinese, Mayan, Japanese, Celtic, Norse, Hindu, Irish, Babylonian, Hebrew and Arabic (WarGrowlmon18, 2009). The wars between Gods, which would be the reason why a majority of them are more belligerent than benevolent because they were in fact Goa’ulds, can be found in many myths, even many creation myths themselves start the world as we know it in violence as jealousy and murder allow other Gods to spread parts of those destroyed. In the Aztec creation myth, the Mother of Creation, Coatlique gave birth to the moon and the stars, but when she got pregnant again with the God of Fire they were angered, because “a goddess could only give birth once, to the original litter of divinity and no more. During the time that they were plotting her demise, Coatlique gave birth to the fiery god of war, Huitzilopochtli. With the help of a fire serpent, he destroyed his brothers and sister, murdering them in a rage. He beheaded Coyolxauhqui and threw her body into a deep gorge in a mountain, where it lies dismembered forever. The natural cosmos of the Indians was born of catastrophe. The heavens literally crumbled to pieces. The earth mother fell and was fertilized, while her children were torn apart by fratricide and then scattered and disjointed throughout the universe. ” (Uranus, 2006). This shows not only the natural nature of violence the Goa’uld live by, in most cases they can’t help it while others don’t care to change, with the exception of the Tok’ra who believe in a more peaceful co-existence with willing hosts, and the act of spreading Huitzilopochtli killing his brothers and sisters were killed and scattered throughout the universe like the humans whose divine was adopted by a Goa’uld who then to them to their respective empires.

The same act of divine battles among the Gods but also the spreading of seed can be said of the Norse/Scandinavian creation myth where Ymir, the giant frost giant who gave birth to many giants and many gods met his own demise: “Odin and his brothers hated the brutal frost giant Ymir, and they slew him. So much blood flowed from the slaughtered giant that it drowned all the frost giants save Bergelmir and his wife, who escaped in a boat made from a hollowed tree trunk. From Ymir’s flesh, Odin and his brothers made the earth, and from his shattered bones and teeth, they made the rocks and stones. From Ymir’s blood, they made the rivers and lakes, and they circled the earth with an ocean of blood.” (Uranus, 2006) Ra, after taking a new host, sent word back to his brothers and sisters to come and ‘harvest’ the humans for more hosts and slaves for their empires as they took on the roles and forms of their Gods to control them and gain their ‘devotion’. The similarity of the act of spreading the humans, seeds, things or persons in pieces across some form of plain can be found in several creation myths. Some refer this this ‘spreading of seed’ as the means in which the Earth and all things within and without was created, while others refer more specifically to the spreading among the stars and universe. However Ra and his fellow Goa’uld managed to keep up the illusion of being Gods on Earth, when they left Ra had to deal with a rebellion while his brothers genetically altered those humans they took with them to secure their lively-hood.
The evidence of the knowledge of shared ancestry is shared by all Jaffa whose own ancient history has a legend of these events as they were told by Teal’c, a Jaffa, in the second episode of the first season of SG-1: “[Teal’c:] There is a tale of a primitive world the Goa’uld discovered millenia ago. The Tau’ri. The First World where forms of this type first evolved. It is said the Goa’uld harvested among the primitives, some became Goa’uld hosts, others became Jaffa, the rest were taken as slaves and seeded among the stars to serve them. But that world has been lost for centuries. [Kennedy:] Teal’c, beings of this form evolved here on Earth. [Teal’c:] This world . . .? [O’Neill:] Is the world you’re talking about Teal’c . Ra came here. If our ancestors hadn’t rebelled and buried the Stargate . . . [Teal’c:] You would not have become strong enough to challenge them. [Kennedy:] Then the galaxy is populated by the ancient people of Earth. [Hammond:] There could be millions by now.” (Moll-Landry). When O’Neill mentions the rebellion against Ra, which forced him to leave and create stricter rules against education that was still limited at the time has evidence found in an African myth by the Efik of Nigeria who tell of a God who did not want his ‘worshipers’ or humans to become independent and remain under his constant supervision and control: “The creator, Abassi, created two humans and then decided to not allow them to live on earth. His wife, Atai, persuaded him to let them do so. In order to control the humans, Abassi insisted that they eat all their meals with him, thereby keeping them from growing or hunting food. He also forbade them to procreate. Soon, though, the woman began growing food in the earth, and they stopped showing up to eat with Abassi. Then the man joined his wife in the fields, and before long there were children also. Abassi blamed his wife for the way things had turned out, but she told him she would handle it. She sent to earth death and discord to keep the people in their place.” (Uranus as attained by The Mining Company, 2006) It could be said that Abassi is another name for Ra, perhaps the translation of his name in the language to Nigerian or mis-communicated, like the telephone game where the original message changes as it is passed from one person to the next that it is completely different. Another myth from the Mik’Maq, if interpreted in the context of metaphors and symbolism, that the human, Glooscap, when he was ‘created’ could not move until he asked his creator to allow him to, which could metaphorically represent the harsh restrictions in which the Goa’uld controlled humans or even still when Ra was forced to leave after humans rebelled: “Gisoolg unleashed another bolt of lightening which gave life to Glooscap but yet he could not move. He was stuck to the ground only to watch the world go by and Nisgam travel across the sky everyday. Glooscap watched the animals, the birds and the plants grow and pass around him. He asked Nisgam to give him freedom to move about the Mik’Maq world.” (Uranus, 2006). The Goa’uld even transformed some of these humans into a separate race called the Jaffa, who were genetically altered to carry the larvae form of the Goa’uld and with their strength and increased regenerative powers from the larvae they carried they became the armies each ‘God’ had under his own domain, to defend and conquer as they saw fit. Evidence can be found in tales such as the Babylonian creation myth where Apsu and Tiamat are the ‘parents’ of the Babylonian gods, whose children ended up misbehaving and causing such chaos that Apsu decided to destroy them, only he was killed by one of his children who found out. “Meanwhile Tiamat is enraged at the murder of her husband Apsu, and vows revenge. She creates eleven monsters to help her carry out her vengeance. Tiamat takes a new husband, Kingu, in place of the slain Apsu and puts him in charge of her newly assembled army.” (Dennis Bratcher, 2006) So not only did the Goa’ulds as they took on the roles and forms of numerous cross-cultural Gods and in their inability to coexist peacefully among each other, thus taking their share of the new found humans as hosts and slaves to their respective realms, they also altered some of these abducted humans to serve as living incubators for their larvae form and as soldiers for their armies.
Several creation myths from around the world and many different cultures share a remarkable similarity with the creation story of Stargate, a few understandably interpreted creatively with the understanding of metaphors and symbolism because the originals may not have been historically accurate if the humans at the time of the events were primitive and uneducated to be able to properly document them. The creation story of Stargate starts with the arrival of the Ancients, our ancestors, several billion millions of years ago as they called our Earth Terra Atlantus. They remained until they were threatened by a plague only to return several thousand, possibly another couple million years later after loosing a war in the Pegasus Galaxy, wherein they found the humans of Earth and began to teach them basic knowledge to help them in their advancements and also spreading the tale of their sunken city and former home Atlantis. The creation myths which show evidence of near god-like or divine beings coming down from the heavens to share with them their knowledge include Native Australian Dreamtime and African Tribe Fans in Bantu, meanwhile other cultures and their respective creation myths from the latter Fans and the Ainu. The parasitic Goa’uld in their antagonistic and quarrelsome ways came thereafter to Earth when Ra went out to search for new hosts and found Earth. Calling forth his brotheren, they took the forms of Gods and divine creatures, who were often times depicted more so as belligerent than benevolent no doubt because of the Goa’uld natural inhibitions to act in to other way, such is the reason they took those they needed and retreated to their own realms. There is confirmation that the Goa’uld took divine forms in the Chinese and Lokota creation myths, but none that they took hosts, which could understandably be because the humans in such ancient times were to primitive and uneducated to understand what was really taking place. Meanwhile the excessive amount of mayhem and upheavals were evident in several creation myths, such as Aztec and Norse/Scandinavian, but could equally be found in others not mentioned like Greek/Roman, other Norse Myths, etc. The Aztec and Norse Scandinavian creation myths also show similarities or evidence that the Goa’uld took humans to many planets in this galaxy as they are often depicted metaphorically with the murder or another God whose parts are in some spread in the creation of Earth and others spread among the stars or universe. Because the Goa’uld were so vain in the actual belief they were the Gods of the humans of Earth they often controlled humans to prevent them from gaining Independence and rebellion, such verification is found in the creation myths of the African tribe Efik of Nigeria and Mik’Maq because Ra, who remained after his brethren had left with ‘their share’ had to deal with the human rebellion, forcing him to leave and never to return because they buried the Stargate. The Stargate franchise’s own creation story has found many similarities to many different cultural creation myths, as it is a story that derives many inspirations from them and other ancient myths and it is not the only modern retelling, creative interpretation of the ancient myths that have rooted themselves so deep in our culture, despite numerous cultural differences, but will continue to inspire future tails because of their commonalities as it relates to the basics of human nature.

Bibliography

Bratcher, Dennis. “The Enuma Elish: The Babylonian Creation Myth.” Christian Resource Institute. CRI, Voice Institute, 13 July 2006. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <http:>.

Deer, Lame. “Lakota Indian Legends – Lakota Creation Myth.” Indian Legends. http://www.indianlegend.com, 13 May 2003. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <http:>.

Moll-Landry, Deanna. “The Enemy Within Transcript.” Gateworld. Gateworld LLC, 1 Aug. 1997. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <http:>.

“Uranus ~ Deity of the Heavens: Universal Myths and Mysterious Places.” Morgana’s Observatory. FreeFind, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <www.dreamscape.com>.

WarGrowlmon18. “Goa’uld – Stargate Wiki – Universe, Atlantis, SG-1.” Stargate Wiki – Universe, Atlantis, SG-1. SGCommand, 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <http:>.</http:></www.dreamscape.com></http:></http:></http:>

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