Every culture has a life story explaining the creation of the heavens and the earth, a narrative that positions the mountains, streams, and great oceans, an account of relations between plants and animals and people and gods. Most of these great stories nebulously intertwine people and animals and their associated gods. The people of the American Northwest tell a story of their descent from ravens, or is it a raven-like god, or the raven’s god. In many great stories, people have previous and subsequent incarnations as animals. There are multiple spirits identified with different animals and plants with whom one should maintain a relation of reciprocity. Earth and life relate in occasionally imaginative
ways. One Indian life story has the earth riding on a platform on the back of an elephant which is riding on a turtle. People, animals, water, and earth intertwine and circle about without clear beginnings or endings. The Sufi stories of Arabia, Persia, and Turkey teasingly transform mystic, ascetic people-dervishes into animate as well as inanimate forms bringing us toward intimacy with both our oneness and other worlds and a nothingness beyond. Shared life stories place people in their physical and biological surroundings, connect them to their ancestors and descendants, remind them of their obligations and vulnerability, and escort their daily thoughts and behavior.