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.
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.
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.
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.
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.