Gaia, Mother Earth

The Greek myth of creation: Gaia appeared out of Chaos, then Uranus, the god of the sky, and all the features of the Earth rose from her. She ended up marrying Uranus and giving birth to the titans (immortals that were basically gods), the giants, the Cyclopses (giants with one eye), as well as creatures with a hundred arms. Her other children included a titan named Rhea, Oceanus, and a number of other beings. Uranus was afraid that one of his titan sons would overthrow him, so he began to eat them as they were born. But Gaia helped her son Cronus (a titan she had hid from his view) overthrow Uranus in much the same way that Rhea would help Zeus overthrow Cronus.

The subsequent overthrow of Cronus by Zeus resulted in a war between the titans and the gods. Zeus sent most of them to Tartarus. Gaia later tried to take revenge on Zeus for destroying most of the titans, telling the creatures with 100 arms to shake the earth and topple Mount Olympus. Her plan failed.

She was fond of giants. She helped the giant Hercules wrestled by giving the giant strength every time the giant was thrown to the ground. Gaia was a prophetess and was a goddess of marriage and oaths. Also, she was the main goddess of the very early Greeks. Because of her close association with the Earth, her name has become a prefix for many words with Greek roots, including geography and geology.

Though Gaia for many years remained obscure, she has come more recently into the lime-light. The re-emergence of Paganism as a religion has renewed the popularity of some ancient deities. Gaia, as "Mother Earth", has been especially venerated. The Wiccan movement has coupled with a belief that the Earth or Gaia is its own organism with self-regulating functions, creating a kind of "environmental religion". It is interesting to see the re-emergence of ancient elemental beliefs long subsumed by the pantheon of Olympian Gods, then the Roman Dieties, then monotheistic religions, and finally by science.

Written by Kate Rayment

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