Weekly Deity: Gaea


Gaea, also spelled Gaia, is the primordial Greek goddess of the Earth.  Her counterparts in other cultures include Terra Mater in Rome, Sumerian Ki and Ninhursag, African Obatala, and Irish Danu, among others.  At times Gaea is not considered separate from the Titaness Rhea, her daughter.

Attributes

In ancient carvings, Gaea was often shown as a rather voluptuous middle-aged woman, generally covered in a robe, with her long hair held up.  Often she was pictured alongside fruits or trees, or children, and around earthly bounty.

Mythology

An image of Gaia that I really liked

Gaia was born from Chaos and  sister to Eros, Nyx (goddess of night), Tartarus (god of the underworld), and Erebus (god of shadows/darkness).  She had many children.  On her own through parthenogenesis she bore Ouranos, Pontus (god of the sea), and Ourea (god of the mountains).  With Ouranos, the god of the sky,she bore the twelve Titans, the three Cyclopes, and the three Hecatonchires (Hundred Handed).  From Ouranos’ blood when her Titan son Kronos castrated the god and his blood dripped to Earth Gaea bore the Giants, the three Erinyes/Furies, and the Meliae (wood nymphs).  From Tartarus she bore Echidna and Typhon.  By Pontus Gaea bore Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia.  With Aether she gave birth to Aergia.  From other fathers she bore: Antaeus, Charybdis, Creusa, Erichthonius, Mimas, Pheme, Python, Spercheus, and many more (Wikipedia has a full list that’s fairly accurate).

Erichthonius also features in a myth of Athena.  Although born from Earth from Hephaistos’ seed, Erichthonius (“khthon” meaning “earth” in Greek) is considered a son of Athena as well.  Hephaistos was chasing Athena with the intent of intercourse with her and he managed to catch her, but she fought him off (she is goddess of war, what was he thinking?!?) and found some of his semen on her thigh.  Athena wiped it off and it fell to the ground, which created Erichthonius from Gaia and Hephaistos.  Athena, however, cared for the boy after his birth and he lived in Athens.

Gaea has a major myth of her own, and appears in numerous other myths as a sort of side character (such as the myth of Ericthonius).  Gaea’s myth is that of the castration of Ouranos and the rise of Kronos as leader of the gods.  Ouranos, god of the sky and Gaea’s lover, was disgusted by the monstrous appearance of the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires, and so he shoved them back into the earth (into Gaea).  This caused Gaea pain, and so she asked her children the Titans for help in stopping Ouranos.  Only Kronos stepped forward and took the weapon she offered.  When Ouranos arrived, Kronos castrated his father and became the leader of the gods.

Light Side

Gaea is a Creator goddess, a Mother, a progenitor.  She is the Mother of the gods, and mother of Man in a way as well, as in one myth humanity is recreated from stones, parts of Gaea.  She is a nurturing character, and very fertile.  On her light side: fertility, motherhood, caring, nurturing, steadfastness, solidity.  Gaea stands her ground and protects herself and her children more often than not.

Dark Side

On her Dark side, Gaea takes revenge.  She revenges the harm done her from Ouranos by castrating him.  Granted, it was deserved revenge–who wants their children shoved back inside them?– but she did not seem to have any problem with cutting her husband’s penis off, even though she didn’t do it herself and was merely the conductor.  Still, it could be considered a part of her Dark side, the ability and desire for revenge.  On the flip side, if her revenge is termed justice, it takes on a more positive aspect.

Signature unavailable. Sita is working on it!

Advertisements

4 responses to “Weekly Deity: Gaea

  1. Pingback: Weekly Deity: Aether | A Witchy Life

  2. Which myth on humanity did she recreate humans from stones? I would like to read it.

    I think that revenge for vengeance sake would follow the dark side, but if it was Justice then it would follow the Light Side. Which I realize is sort of what you said but still a little different, if so then I agree and if not well then that is my opinion.

    What is meant by “Steadfastness”, for this one I actually tried to look it up in a dictionary. Dictionary.com defines it as “fixed in direction”, which I don’t think is correct meaning in this circumstance.

    • There are two myths, that I know of, of the creation of Man in Greek myth. One is that Prometheus created humans from mud and Athena breathed life into them. Mud, a mixture of soil and water, would come from Gaea. The other story is the flood story, when Zeus became so angry with the wickedness of humans that he sent a flood to drown the world. Deucalion, the son of Prometheus, was warned by his father what would happen. He built a great boat and with his wife Pyrrha (supposedly the daughter of Pandora and Epimetheus) stayed on board at the top of Mt. Parnassus for nine days before the flood waters began to recede. When they were able to leave the boat, they found the world empty and they wanted company. Deucalion asked Prometheus what to do, and Deucalion and Pyrrha were told to throw the bones of their mother over their shoulders. At first they were confused, but then they realized the bones were stones, and their mother was Gaea, the Earth. So Gaea didn’t necessarily recreate humans so much as be the conduit for their recreation.

      Don’t use dictionary.com ever again. Use Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam-Webster. Geez. Steadfast means “firmly fixed in place”, “firm in belief, determination, or adherence”, or “not subject to change”. =P

  3. Nice post, as always!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s