Gaia The Earth Mother
Gaia, also spelled Ge, was the Earth. She is rarely even referred to as a
deity, she is more a power. What is. She was one of the firsts. Well, one of
the firsts in some versions. There are actually a couple of different
Creation myths, and not all of them include Gaia (I know, it shocked me,
too). The original Greek Mythology (ie, pre-Classical) was was Pelasgian
myth (the Pelasgians came to Greece from the Asia Minor 3,000 years before
Hesiod). The Pelasgian creation story focuses on Eurynome, the Goddess of
All Things. But you can go to the Myth Page on Eurynome's Creation Story
if you want to learn more about that. Here, we will focus on Gaia. There are
two parts: Creation of Her and Creation by Her.
Creation of Her
There are two accepted versions of Classical creation: Hesiod's and
Ovid's. Both versions begin with Gaia's emergence from Chaos. She has a
parthenogenic birth (ie, only one parent needed). According to Ovid, Gaia
pretty much just appeared (similar to the Judeo-Christian creation story).
After her birth, Ovid continued to see the hand of a Creator at work (an
un-named Creator), who populated Gaia with the necessary mountains, seas,
flora, and fauna. I much prefer Hesiod's version.
Before I tell you about what Hesiod had to say, I'm going to give you this
wonderful quote from his creation story:
Gaia, the beautiful, rose up,
Broad blossomed, she that is the steadfast base
Of all things. And fair Gaia first bore
The starry Heaven, equal to herself,
To cover her on all sides and to be
A home forever for the blessed Gods.
And now back to the story. According to Hesiod, the first beings sprang
into existance without cause or explanation. After Gaia came Tartarus (the
lowest level of the Underworld, also viewed as a sort of huge cave or pit)
and then came Eros: Erotic Love. Chaos continues her parthenogenic streak,
giving birth to Erebus and Nyx. In her sleep, Gaia gives parthenogenic birth
to Uranus (the Universe, who emerges as big and powerful as Gaia) and Pontus
(the Sea, and the God of the Sea). Uranus, bursting (literally) with love
for Gaia (possible only by the creation of Eros, you see), showers her with
fertile rain and this is how Gaia gives birth to the rest of creation
(you remember, seas, mountains, etc. - we already covered this with Ovid).
Gaia and Uranus also gave birth to the Titans, the three Cyclopes and the
three Hundred-Armed Giants.
Creation by Her
This is much easier in chart form, so I'm going to do my best with my
limited HTML knowledge to show this in an easily viewable way. I am only
listing the father (if there is one) as Gaia was always the Mother.
|50-Headed, 100-Armed Giants: Cottus, Briareus, and Gyges |
|The Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes, and Arges (Cyclope means
|The Titans and Titanesses, I have a nice list of them
somewhere, I'll find it . . . |
Uranus' Blood (there's a good story by the way)
|The Erinyes: Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megara |
|Giants: born full-grown with armor and spears, ouchies for Gaia
|Meliads: otherwise known as the Ash Tree Nymphs |
Okay! That's all for now. There are plenty of stories with Gaia involved
in them. If you are interested in knowing them, please write me. Hopefully
they will someday be on the site, but that day seems farther and farther
away. Sigh. Okay, now for my finishing praise of Gaia.
Oh Goddess, Source of Gods and Mortals,
All-Fertile, All-Destroying Gaia,
Mother of All, Who brings forth the bounteous fruits and flowers,
All variety, Maiden who anchors the eternal world in our own,
Immortal, Blessed, crowned with every grace,
Deep bosomed Earth, sweet plains and fields fragrant grasses in the
Around you fly the beauteous stars, eternal and divine,
Come, Blessed Goddess, and hear the prayers of Your children,
And make the increase of the fruits and grains your constant care, with the
fertile seasons Your handmaidens,
Draw near, and bless your supplicants.
~Orphic Hymn to Gaia~ translated and interpreted by
Virginia Stewart, M.Ed.