From the World English Dictionary:cosmology (kɒzˈmɒlədʒɪ) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide] —n1. the philosophical study of the origin and nature of the universe2. the branch of astronomy concerned with the evolution and structure of the universe3. a particular account of the origin or structure of the universe: Ptolemaic cosmology
I’m mainly going to concern myself with Def. 1 & Def. 3, as I’m not going to be mainly looking at the science behind the Cosmos but at the philosophical and religious aspects of how the Cosmos came to be as it is now.
my·thol·o·gy noun \mi-ˈthä-lə-jē\pluralmy·thol·o·giesDefinition of MYTHOLOGY1: an allegorical narrative2: a body of myths: as a: the myths dealing with the gods, demigods, and legendary heroes of a particular peopleb: mythos 2 mythology>3: a branch of knowledge that deals with myth4: a popular belief or assumption that has grown up around someone or something : myth 2a mythologies that ignore masculine depth of feeling — Robert Bly>
I am also including the dictionary definition of the word ‘mythology’ in this discussion because number 4 deals with popular beliefs as well as the more commonly understood definition found in definitions 1&2
I tend to go with a combination of Hesiod and Discordian theory (no matter how odd these things sound in combination they actually do work for me). Hesiod has Chaos being first of everything — before space and time, before the Gods, the Titans, or even the Protogonoi. ALSO, interestingly enough, Chaos is portrayed in Hesiod’s cosmology as being FEMALE, in a world which at the time Hesiod lived apparently placed little value in women. Her name khaos literally means the gap, the space between heaven and earth. Chaos was the mother or grandmother of the other substances of air: Nyx (Night), Erebos (Darkness), Aether (Light) and Hemera (Day), as well as the various emotion-affecting Daimones which drifted through it. She was also a goddess of fate like her daughter Nyx and grand-daughters the Moirai (Fates). Considering that the WORD ‘protogonoi’ literally means “first-born” it implies that Chaos is the UN-born potentiality behind and beneath the Cosmos. Chaos IS potential and everything that exists or will exist is part of that potential. This applies as well to the Gods as to us as our Gods are PART of the ever-living Cosmos. This is in direct contrast to religions that have their God as being separate from the Cosmos and existing outside of it. With the Gods being a part of the Cosmos, it makes the relationship between Gods and men much more intimate.
The Discordian in me also includes Eris (of Golden Apple infamy) as the embodiment of Chaos as She is the one who brings the changes into our lives that have their origins IN Chaos. She is therefore outside of time in that aspect and in many ways is the one who ‘gave birth’ to the Cosmos that we experience in our own way and try to explain in the various mythologies we have had over the years. As our beliefs grow and change through time, mythology also grows into the scientific aspects of our lives — tieing things together in a way that the old stories do in a slightly different way.
No matter how you look at Chaos whether scientifically as the “cosmic egg” singularity that preceded the ‘Big Bang’, the Discordian manner (which is always mutating and is therefore a bit confusing at times, or as the formlessness that spawned the Protogonoi in Hesiod’s version of things, there are certain consistencies.
After Chaos in effect ‘gave birth’ to the elements that comprise the universe we live in is when a lot of the various world mythologies (including ‘modern’ cosmology eg. definition 2 above) start saying the same types of things in different ways. One version found in Greek Mythology ( The Greek Myths Vol.1 by Robert Graves) speaks of a being who is ‘Mother of All’ who in the form of a dove lays the ‘Cosmic Egg’ on the sea which she has created by separating it from the sky, which although I have not found another reference to that particular myth in other sources DOES still fit in with the image of Chaos being female as well as being the creative force that resulted in our universe. Mythology, in the ‘classic’ sense seems to be blurring into science as astronomers continue to look towards the beginning of our universe, the same one that Chaos ended up hatching.
There are multiple generations of beings after her: Ouranos and Gaea, the Titans and the Undying Gods who all embody parts of the Cosmos They ultimately are the beings that created humanity, and gave us the curiosity to expand our knowledge of them and the universe we are part of to the best of our — admittedly limited — ability. I plan on expanding on this last part in tomorrows section of the Meme dealing with our Deities.