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One version of the Creation Myth tells us that in the beginning, nothing else existed except for Chaos. It was then that Erebus appeared from out of the void. Erebus was that dark place, which everyone would rather just forget about; where death and everything that accompanies death dwells. Then, suddenly Night appeared, and joined Erebus, but besides the two of them, they were completely alone, and the only other thing that remained was the silent, empty and endless darkness.
Then, quite suddenly, things quickly began to change. Somehow, from out of nowhere Love was born, and it was from Love's birth that there came Order. Once Love had been able to bring about Order, it continued by bringing forth Light and Day. It was then, when Light and Day first appeared, that Gaea (who was also known as the Earth) was able to burst forth into existence.
Then Erebus slept with Night, and it was from that union that Night gave birth to the heavenly light that was known as Ether, and the earthly light that was known as Day. It was Night, completely by itself, that was able to produce Sleep, Fate, Doom, Death, Dreams, Nemesis and the many other things that tend to sneak up on you from out of the darkness. It was during that period, as well, that Gaea, all alone, gave birth to the heavens, which she named Uranus; and Uranus became Gaea's mate, surrounding her on all sides.
The Greek poet, Hesiod, offered one of the earliest versions of the genesis myth in his epic poem Theogony. It was Hesiod’s belief that Chaos, which when translated means “a mass of the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water,” or a “yawning void,” began the creation process. In Theogony, it was Chaos who brought forth Gaea, Tartarus, Eros, Erebus and Night. Most important was the fact that Gaea, the Earth, was the first to arrive. Once Gaea came forth Eros arrived, and with Eros came the powerful concept of Love.
Tartarus, which had been brought forth from Chaos, was an area deep within the Earth which was also known as the Underworld. Tartarus became known as the place of punishment in the Underworld and its darkness, which was known as Erebus, became another name for Tartarus.
Extremely important is the fact that Gaea was able to produce Uranus, the male God of the Sky or Heavens, together with his lightning and thunder, completely by herself. This union or marriage, between the Earth and the Sky can symbolically represent the mating of a man and a woman, and in a way it actually was just that.
Gaea and Uranus were married in a holy and sacred union, and that holy marriage between the Earth and the Sky produced great and varying offspring. The first of their offspring to arrive were the monsters. First, Gaea and Uranus produced the three Cyclopses, who each had one eye located right in the middle of its forehead. It was they who forged the lightening and thunderbolts. Gaea and Uranus’ second offspring were the three Hecatonchires, which were also known as the "Hundred-Handed.” They were amazingly powerful and extremely frightening creatures.
It was only after they had produced those monsters, that Gaea and Uranus finally began to get things right. It was then that they produced the twelve Titans. The Titans were twelve Gods and Goddesses, comprised of six brothers and six sisters, who all proceeded to mate with each other.
Some Titans became Deities of the Waters. The Titan Oceanus was the stream of the Ocean, which encircled what was then believed to be the disc that was the Earth. Oceanus became the father of many water spirits known as Oceanids, which included rivers, springs and lakes. In total, Oceanus produced three thousand sons and three thousand daughters.
Some of the Titans were Sun Gods. The Titan, Hyperion, was a Sun God, and his son, Helius, was a Sun God as well. Some time later, the God Apollo also became a Sun God. The Sun Gods lived in the East, and every night they would ride across the dome that was known as the Sky in their chariots, which were drawn by four horses. Eventuallly, they descended into the stream that was Oceanus, which encircled the Earth in the West, and then sailed back home to the East to begin yet another day.
The Titans also produced a Moon Goddess named Selene, who was the daughter of the Titan Hyperion. Some time later, the Goddess Artemis also became a Moon Goddess. Selene fell madly in love with the handsome King Endymion, and she was well known for abandoning her duties in the heavens so that she could visit her beloved’s cave. King Endymion, however, was an extremely vain man, and when it came to a choice between Selena and eternal youth, he decided to choose perpetual sleep and eternal youth over the beautiful Selene.
Hyperion’s third child was Eos, the Goddess of the Dawn. She fell madly in love with a mortal named Tithonos, and she then proceeded to just carry him away. The mighty God Zeus told Eos that he would grant her one prayer, so she decided to request that Tithonus be made immortal. Unfortunately for Eos, in the passion of the moment she had failed to realize the exact way in which she had stated her wish, and even though Zeus may have granted Tithonos eternal life, Eos had forgotten to request that he also be granted eternal youth. Although Tithonus had in fact become immortal, he continued to age, and he grew older and older until he eventually turned into a shriveled up old man. Eos, the eternally beautiful Goddess, just watched as her lover began to grow older and older, until she realized that her feelings for him had long since gone away, and what had originally been a great and passionate love, had become nothing more then a dutiful devotion. Eos did, however, have one thing that would remind her of her great love for Tithonus. They had a son together, and he was named Memnon. Tithonus, however, was not the only man that Eos whisked away. In fact, it eventually became a ritual for her, and she was frequently known for carrying her other lovers away as well.
Uranus was a terrible husband to Gaea, and an even worse father to their children. He hated his children so much that when each was about to be born, he would hide it, deep within the bowels of its mother, the Earth. Gaea’s hated of Uranus eventually became so strong, that she finally reached the point of no return. She then enlisted their youngest son, Cronos, to assist her in her plan for revenge. Then Gaea proceeded to fashion a jagged-toothed sickle, which she gave to Cronos, and just before Uranus was about to make love to Gaea, Chronos jumped out from where he had been hiding and castrated his own father. Cronos then threw Uranus’ severed sexual organs into the sea, which began to churn and foam around them, causing sea foam, and it was from out of that sea foam that Aphrodite, the powerful Goddess of Love and Beauty was born, fully grown.
Cronos and Rhea were two of the more important Titans, and together they had many children. However, whenever a child of theirs was born, Cronos would immediately devour it. He had finally come to realize, and then to fear, that if he had been able to castrate and kill his own father, then one of his own children might do the exact same thing to him. When their son Zeus was born, Rhea was able to hide his birth from Cronos. She gave birth to Zeus on the Island of Crete, and instead of giving her husband their baby to devour, she gave him a stone, completely wrapped in baby swadling. Rhea kept Zeus safe and secure, by hiding him in a cave on Crete until he was completely grown. Then, when Zeus became old enough, he actually did overthrow his unknowing father, and then proceeded to marry his sister, Hera, thereby granting them job security for life as the King and the Queen of the Gods.
Yet another version of the Creation Myth exists. In this particular version, Gaea was an early Earth Goddess who had been born out of Chaos, the great void of emptiness within the universe. Accompanying her was Eros. Gaea then gave birth to Pontus, the Sea, and Uranus, the Sky, which births were both achieved parthenogenetically.
In yet a different version of the Myth, Gaea, Tartarus (which is the lowest part of the Earth, even below Hades itself), and Eros were all siblings. Then, without a mate, Gaea gave birth to Uranus, the Sky, Ourea, the Mountains, and Pontus, the Sea. In this version of the Creation Myth, Gaea took Uranus, who was also her son, to be her husband, and their offspring included the six sons, and six daughters, which made up the Titans. With Uranus, Gaea also gave birth to the Cyclopes, the three monsters known as the "Hecatonchires," and the spirits of punishment that were known as the “Erinyes.”
Other offspring came into being when Chronos castrated Uranus. Several drops of Uranus’ blood fell to the ground from his open wound, and it was from that blood that the Gigantes and the Nymphs of the Manna Ash Tree were born.
It has also been suggested that Uranus hid his offspring deep within Tartarus, because he had become so completely horrified by the sight of them. Gaea also found herself extremely uncomfortable around many of her offspring, and when it finally became too painful for her to bear, it was then that she asked her youngest son, Cronos, to castrate Uranus, thereby severing the union between the Earth and the Sky, while at the same time preventing any more monstrous offspring from being born.
Later, when the Earth had been separated from the Sky, Gaea gave birth to other children, which were fathered by Pontus. They were Nereus, the Sea God, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto and Eurybia.
Gaea was the primordial element from which all the other Gods originated, and she was worshiped throughout the entirety of Greece. Eventually, however, as time began to pass by, Gaea's popularity began to dwindle, and she was replaced by other, different Gods. The Romans knew Gaea as Tellus or Terra which, when translated, means fertile soil.
So many different versions of the Creation Myth exist, that it is almost impossible to decide which particular version is the correct one; that is, if a correct one actually does exist. Throughout these many years, Gaea has bounced back and forth, between being an individual figure, and being a concept that represents life in general.
In all likelihood, Gaea was originally a Neolithic Earth Mother Goddess, who had been worshipped long before the Indo-European invasion that eventually grew into the Hellenistic civilization. Gaea’s worshippers looked upon her as the personification of the "All Mother," and it has been known all too well, that she who gives life, can just as easily take life away. It was for that reason that Gaea was considered to be the All.
One of the most important forces in Greek mythology was the Fates. Like the Norse and Germanic Norns and Disir, the Fates were three Goddesses who spent their entire lives weaving a rug, within which the affairs of men and Gods appeared. That rug was reality, and nothing could be done that would alter the events that had been woven into it. The Fates’ rug was actuallty so powerful, that even the Gods were powerless to change it. That is what makes this all so very interesting. For the first time, a concept developed which made it extremely clear that a force existed that could rule everyone and everything, including the Gods. It was for that reason that the Gods learned very quickly, that there were some things that they were powerless to control, and that those things should best be left in the knowing hands of Fate.
In modern times, Gaea has once again appeared in the forefront, in a theory Known as the Gaian Hypothesis. The thesis behind the Gaian Hypothesis is that Gaea, the Earth, is actually a living, cognizant organism, that is just beginning to wake up from a very long sleep; but whose awareness has been continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate. Other writings also exist, including Theagenesis, which offer important information regarding the Gaian Hypothesis. If this theory actually is true, then mankind had better begin to take better care of Gaea, since it relies upon her functions to be there, to make sure that the correct amount of oxygen is in the air so that mankind can breath, and to keep the temperature at a level which is acceptable to sustain human life, just to name but a few. That, however, is another story, and it is one that every person on this Earth must begin to think about, read about and act upon. We must take very good care of Gaea or, when she finally does awaken from her long deep sleep, she may no longer want to take good care of us.