earth mother

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

April, 2016

Gaia

“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 for the blessed gods”

~~ Hesiod, Ancient Greek Poet

In the beginning, there was Chaos — and then, Gaia rose.

*********************************************

(Photo credit: Pinterest)

gaia1

There was no shape, no boundaries; chaos coalesced into our Mother, Gaia, the Earth beneath our feet, Great Mother of us all, complete within Herself.

Before Time, there was only She. Time, named Chronos, was her child, but she was lonely and felt desire. She created Uranus, her son, as the heavens above her. and brought forth the deities of heaven. The consummation of Her desire awoke her creativity and more of Her children came forth – the Titans, Cyclops, the Giants, the Meliae and the Erinyes. She created the sea and named it Pontus, from whom came the deities of the ocean.

Uranus was jealous of Gaia’s other children and so she hid them deep within Her womb. When She became so heavy, that She could no longer hide them, She asked them to help Her deal with Uranus. All but one refused. Gaia formed a sickle and Chronos went forth and hid himself. When Uranus came to force himself upon Gaia, Chronos was ready. He grabbed Uranus’ genitals and castrated him. The blood of Uranus formed the Furies.

Her symbols were the fruit and grain, and the Earth itself. She was worshiped with offerings of barley and honey, in caves that were seen as the womb of the Earth, Her womb.

“I shall sing of Gaia,

Universal Mother,

firmly founded,

Oldest of all the Holy Ones.”

gaia2

(Photo credit: yoganonymous.com)

~~ Homer, Ancient Greek Author

Her shrines were many — in Tetrapolis, Claros, Patara, Patrai, Athens, Phyle, Tegea, Salamis and a deep sanctuary in Gaios. The most famous shrine, of which She was the original deity, was at Delphi.

Her priestesses were the Sibyls, the Pythias and the Melisea. The priestesses heard Her wise words and spoke Her wisdom at the sacred caves and shrines.

At Delphi, which was said to be the navel of the center of the Earth, both priestesses and worshippers bathed in the Castalian Spring, bubbling up from the deep. Her words came to both the rich and the poor alike, as all sought out Her wisdom.

When the barbarians from the north came with their male-identified religions and conquered the matriarchal societies, they took over Her shrines and tried to diminish Her power.

With the new patriarchal religions, the name of Gaia Olympia was changed to Olympus as Zeus came to rule. Delphi was also conquered and given to Apollo, who told all to ignore the wisdom of Gaia and to only listen to his wisdom. He took control of the Gaian rites of worship and turned them to his worship.

As he took control, it is said that Gaia’s priestess, Delphyna, tried to bar him from entering the sacred shrine; Apollo sent her to her death.

Many years later, the shrine was still held as a sacred site, but was closed by one of the Roman emperors as a threat to Christianity; the subsequent emperor ordered it completely destroyed. Yet, to this day, two of the fountains that were fed by the Castalian Spring still survive.

It is said that all of the Gaian prophecies were written down and hidden. Whether this is true or not, I could not say, but nevertheless Gaia’s wisdom lives on.

gaia3

(Photo Credit: sodahead.com)

Resources:

The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood by Merlin Stone