I came across a mythological belief a few weeks ago, I believe in a Sam Kriss piece (1).

It centered around a bird (a swan or goose, I want to say?) that ceaselessly flew (in a primordial void/chaos?) - the universe had started with its flight and would end with it (the bird exhausted/landed/perished?).

I think it might have been a Pacific islander culture, or something else relatively obscure like that. I'm almost confident it was a shamanistic belief.

I've trawled through wikipedia but had no luck. (It is not the Huma bird, which is said to never land, but lacks the connection to the universe's existence. Neither is is the Roc, Simurgh, or Ziz).

  1. (I remember thinking the reference might have been a Borgesian hoax, but subsequently finding a wikipedia page that corroborated its existence.)

2 Answers 2


Just to provide a full answer:

According to your own finding. It is a political essay in Sam Kriss blog, titled from White skin, black squares (2020).

It refers to Turkic-Mongol chief deity Tengri, according to some versions described as a white goose traveling to the rivers of time. In Wikipedia the references lead to the following story:

In ancient Turkish beliefs, Tangri (God) Kara Han is a pure, white goose that flies constantly over an endless expanse of water (time). From beneath the water Ak Ana ("White Mother") calls out to him saying "Create". To overcome his loneliness, Kara Han creates Er Kishi, who is not as pure or as white as he is. Together they set up the world. Er Kishi becomes the lord of the Underworld and strives to mislead people and draw them into its darkness. Kara Han assumes the name Tangri Ulgen and withdraws into Heaven from which he tries to provide people with guidance through envoys and sacred creatures that he sends among them. The Ak Tangris occupy the fifth level of Heaven. Shaman priests who want to reach Tangri Ulgen never get further than this level, where they convey their wishes to the divine envoys. Returns to earth or to the human level take place in a goose-shaped vessel.

This text is from Creation Myths from Central Asia to Anatolia Images from the Creation Myths of the Turks published by Yapı Kredi Art Galleries for Can Göknil exhibitions in Istanbul, Izmir and Adana in 1997.


Found the essay! Somehow my memory embellished it. The original quote:

Imagine a devoted cultist of Tengrism, who sometimes gets invited by company bosses to harangue the workforce on how the universe is created by a pure snow-white goose flying over an endless ocean, and how if you don’t make the appropriate ritual honks to this cosmic goose you’re failing in your moral duty. But every time she gives this spiel, she always gets the same questions. Exactly how big is this goose? Surely the goose must have to land sometimes? Geese hatch in litters – what happened to the other goslings? Something must be wrong with these people. Why don’t they just accept the doctrine? Why do they hate the goose? We need a name for their sickness. Call it Goose Reluctance, and next time someone doesn’t jump to attention whenever you speak, you’ll know why.

-From this piece.

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