IntroductionIf asked to identify just one deity associated with the earth, I would hazard a guess that “Gaia” would be the name on the lips of most Westerners, if not most people. We are all familiar with the concept of “Mother Earth”,moncler coat, especially in these enviornmentally challenged times, and many of us will have heard of Gaia, the Greek earth mother goddess whom independent scientist James Lovelock named his hypothesis after: “The Gaia Hypothesis”, which promotes the idea that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the ability to keep the planet healthy by controlling the physical and chemical environment.
Other than a generic earth goddess, however, many would fall short on elaborating much further on the role of this primal deity. It is my hope that this short article will provide some details and points of interest for those who wish to know more.
Other than Nyx, goddess of the night,http://www.natwestconstructions.com/moncler/index.html, Gaia is the most primordial feminine force in Greek mythology. Her name means “land” or “earth” and is also sometimes spelled “Gaea”. “Ge”, which forms the etymological root for the English words “geography” and “geology”, is another name she goes by. In Roman myth, her equivalent name is Terra.
As Gaia is the earth itself, we are introduced to her very early on in any comprehensive study of ancient Greek myth as she is an essential player in the creation stories which detail the cosmology of the ancient Greeks.
Common to many creation myths from around the world,moncler down jackets, in the beginning was the void of Chaos. Gaia emerged from Chaos as Earth, forming Sea and Sky (Pontus and Ouranos) and the mountains from herself, thus commencing the saga of creation.
According to Hesiod, Gaia (Earth), Tartarus (Underworld), Eros (Love), Nyx (Night), and Erebos (Primeval Darkness) arose out of Chaos spontaneously. Ouranos (the skies/heavens) whom Gaia formed from herself (i.e, gave birth to) was Gaia’s equal and covered her body like a cloak, embracing her and shrouding her in dark rainclouds. The life giving rains filled Gaia’s river beds and streams and all living things came into being.
There are, of course, as would be assumed by anyone who is aware of the wealth of ancient Greek texts, variations of the Greek creation myths. Later Greek texts attributed to Orpheus, place Nyx (goddess of night) as the first principle of creation, rather than Chaos, for instance.
In the early days of creation when the universe is still young, there are many stories of the events that took place amongst various gods and titans which involve Gaia. A popular tale is the birth of the goddess Aphrodite.
The Birth of Aphrodite
Gaia and Ouranos had numerous children, including the Cyclopes, the hundred-handed giants and twelve of the Titans (whom,moncler women, along with many other Titans, ruled until they were overthrown by the Olympian Gods – many scholars regard the Titans as being the older pre-Olympian Gods) Unable to bear the ugly sight of his Cyclopes children, Ouranos hid them as they were born,moncler, within the depths of the Underworld so that they would never see the light of day.Fearing for the fate of her Titan children, Gaia, along with her son Kronos (also a Titan) formed a cunning plan. Kronos lay in waiting for Ouranos one night and upon his return and approach to make love with Gaia, jumped out from his hiding place and castrated Ouranos with a jagged sickle that Gaia had given him. Droplets of blood formed into the Erinyes (angry ones, the Furies of Roman myth) and Kronos flung the genitals from the heavens down into the sea, causing the ocean to foam. Aphrodite, goddess of love, emerged from this foam (her name, according to most scholars, literally means “foam born”)
Gaia loves and accepts all of her many children for what they are and battles with gods on behalf of them. She is the spirit of the wild, untamed earth. She does not rule agriculture, this sphere comes under the goddess Demeter. Gaia’s shrines were often built near deep chasms as they were regarded as the most ideal locations for communion with her. Many of her shrines were associated with oracular priestesses known as pythonesses, such as those at Delphi (the most famous oracle of the ancient world), Athens and Aegae (Macedonia). The pythonesses made their prophecies after inhaling vapours from fissures in the earth. The shrine at Delphi was forcefully taken over by the god Apollo (also associated with oracular prophecies), or his followers at least. The shrines’ sacred serpent was killed and the area was re-dedicated to Apollo. Following this take over, although the pythonesses were regarded as channelling messages from a new male deity (Apollo) acknowledgement to Gaia was still made at the commencement of their dialogue with the Gods, with the words, “First in my prayer before all other deities, I call on Earth, primeval prophetess” (Illes, p.427)
In her worship, Gaia enjoyed simple foods such as honey and barley cakes. Libations of pure water were also common. Arguably the most important time to give Gaia offerings would be before plants were to be gathered. Offerings were placed in small holes in the earth.
Other Interesting Trivia
According to the Greek-influenced Russian Church, Gaia is placed under the dominion of GodThere is a charming, if not dark Russian folk tale which sees God reassuring a very distraught Gaia. She cries and complains to him about the pain humanity brings her. Advising Gaia not to cry and wanting to cheer her up, God tells her, “in the end, you’ll eat them all” (Illes, p.427)Sources
“Encyclopedia of Spirits – The Ultimate Guide to the magic of fairies, genies,moncler online, demons, ghosts, gods and goddesses” by Judika Illes”The Mythology Bible” by Sarah Bartlett”Classical Mythology – A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans” by William Hansenhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_%28mythology%29