Friday, July 19, 2013


"Broad-bosomed earth, sure standing-place" (in the early Greek poet Hesiod's words), Gaia emerged at the very beginning of creation, after Chaos. Developing from a living entity into an outright personality, Gaia gave virgin birth to Uranus, the "sky father," then produced with him a mighty brood of children, headed by the Titans. In the strikingly Oedipal generational struggles of early Greek myth, Gaia's role is equivocal.
When Uranus, fearful of his children, buried them back in her womb, Gaia gave her youngest son Cronus the adamantine sickle to castrate him; when Cronus in turn started swallowing his children, Gaia freed the youngest, Zeus, to use as a weapon against him. But when Zeus imprisoned his father, Gaia gave birth to the fearsome snaky monster Typhon to attack Zeus, only to make peace with Zeus and advise him how to counter the threat of his child Athena. Gaia's combination of the nurturing and the destructive reflected Greek male anxieties about female and maternal power. More fundamentally, Gaia was the earth itself, at once a beneficent and a ruthless mother, both womb and tomb for all the generations of earthly life.

Almost all mythologies personify the earth as a mother goddess. The Egyptians are an exception, with a male earth (Geb) and female sky (Nut).
by Geoffrey Miles, 30-Second Myths

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