[PBP2013] Gaia-Kybele

So, I had this idea to make this great new post, but for the most part, i’ve already said a lot of perfect things in this older post. Here, let me quote you something:

Many modern Pagans and Polytheist have this ridiculously romanticised vision of “nature” and the “natural world”. This idea that an untamed forest is a place of kindness, that the planet will just “give” everything needed to Herself and the creatures that live on Her surface. They forget that Gaia throws tantrums — or, if those fits are acknowledged, it’s always with the adage that “we humans deserve it” — forgetting the ill impact these fits have on other living things. While Gaia tends to eventually sort out Her droughts, and blights, and hurricane devatstations, these events still have impacts on plant life, animal life, human life, and even Her own face. It seems only logical to me that Gaia and Kybele are the same soul — They’re clearly a Goddess of opposites.

The bits before and following that bit are pretty good, too, though some of the latter portion has changed in the nearly two years since I wrote it.

Here are some other interesting bits that I’ve found:

  • According to Theoi Project (and implied in Burkert’s Greek Religion, by lack of any real index points for Gaia, properly), there was very little in the way of Gaia worship that was clearly indistinguishable from Demetre, or other Goddesses.
  • Gaia’s sacrifices, in ancient times, included black animals; more typical of Khthonic deities than Olympians. If you’re of the (thankfully not apparently all that widespread) opinion that Khthonoi are “spooky” and Their worship should be avoided, think about that —and the above fact.

Also, here’s a lovely fragment from later antiquity, but not necessarily irrelevant, as it seems to be in line with Boeotian tradition:

Suidas s.v. Ge (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
“Ge (Earth): Since the earth is a seat of every city, as, supporting the cities, her image is that of a tower-bearer.”

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Hemara Gaia

©Josephine Wall

I’d make a more substantial post right now, but I’m feeling a tad on the uninspired side right now, and it may or may not have to do with the fact that my head is covered in wave clips and gel (it’s really the only way to make my hair hold anything for more than an hour). I’m going to celebrate Hemara Gaia the way any urbanite should: I’m going out to a nightclub.

…but, to do it, I’m taking in a bunch of bottle returns so I don’t have to take out cash, I’m getting myself a flower from the farmer’s market, and I’ll be walking there and back (unless, of course, I drink too much to walk three blocks, which is unlikely). Also, my hair dye is all-natural botanical and vegan, and my conditioner has placenta and gel have placental proteins in them, so even though I’m not vegan, I’m not letting that shit go to waste, nosiree.

Yeah, I could probably go out and do some more work in the garden, but it’s cold, and I will not be shamed about my lacking desire to plant saplings.

You keep Hemara Gaia in your way, and I’ll keep it in mine.

©Josephine Wall

I give thanks to Pan
God of the wild things
Of the forests and the streets
And to His companion Kybele
To whom Theban women sing
Mother of Earthly life
©2010 Ruadhan J McElroy
You’re free to use this small prayer I wrote in your ritual, but please re-print with credit, and do not publish formally without permission.

Gaia comic

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Mother Gaia by *humon on deviantART

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 14 ~ Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele/Gaia

I tend to regard Nyx and Kybele not as two names for the same Goddess, but as two distinct types of Mother Goddess. Whether “Kybele = Rhea”, I really am not sure, but I know that those who dismiss Kybele’s cult as “foreign” carefully don’t mention that Rhea’s cult is of Minoan origin. There’s also the fact that in Boeotia, Kybele in specific was regarded as a wife or consort of Pan — and if getting a Husband Whose cult can be traced to the Hellenic mainland is good enough to make the Kypriot Aphrodite “Hellenic enough”… Really, some people are major weiners about this, when it’s all really quite logical.

My comprehension of Kybele is also a tad outside the modern “Hellenic mainstream”, and (at least based on what I’ve s-far concluded in my studies of Boeotian traditions), probably closer to an ancient Boeotian understanding — if not a perfect match to Boeotian thought (at least for some poleis), then close enough to be likely accepted, should I finally get that phone booth back in working order. I don’t see Kybele as a match to Rhea, but Gaia, though I honour Gaia and Kybele differently. Let’s compare this Goddess to a a sort of Borg-like entity — They are distinct, but clearly share a consciousness. Where Gaia is the literal Earth, and a living organism, and a Goddess, She’s also rather impersonal1 — this is where Her Kybele form is necessary and also a distinct form for Her consciousness. As Pindar reports of Thebes, I too see Her as a mate of Pan.

As much as Kybele is a nurturing and deeply feeling Mother Goddess, one Who will cuddle you into Her many bosoms, She will sit you down and tell you very frankly what it is. She’s a Goddess of opposites — She’s both a physical and spiritual being, She’s a Goddess of wild things (and indeed, mated with a god of wild things) but Her crown is a city’s walls, and (perhaps most tellingly) Her mythos tell the story of the first surgical “correction” of an Intersex infant because a few gods were offended and disgusted. In part for Her origin mythos, and in part for the story of Attis, Her son, going mad and ritually castrating Himself, Her cult, in ancient times, maintained a priest/ess caste of biological men who willingly submitted to a ritual castration and adoption of feminine identities (and, in modern times, this is often interpreted as having been a haven for trans women and male-assigned genderqueer people — but this is a modern Anglocentric culture’s interpretation, I know of nothing that survives of writings from this priestly caste that articulates their own gender identities), which has given Kybele a special reverence to many transgender and intersex individuals. Unlike Eros, Hermes, and many other Trickster deities, She doesn’t exist in the liminal, in-between spaces — she simultaneously exists on both sides of a divide. Like all mothers, She can be both your greatest ally and worst enemy.

Many modern Pagans and Polytheist have this ridiculously romanticised vision of “nature” and the “natural world”. This idea that an untamed forest is a place of kindness, that the planet will just “give” everything needed to Herself and the creatures that live on Her surface. They forget that Gaia throws tantrums — or, if those fits are acknowledged, it’s always with the adage that “we humans deserve it” — forgetting the ill impact these fits have on other living things. While Gaia tends to eventually sort out Her droughts, and blights, and hurricane devatstations, these events still have impacts on plant life, animal life, human life, and even Her own face. It seems only logical to me that Gaia and Kybele are the same soul — They’re clearly a Goddess of opposites.

Nyx, too, is a Mother Goddess, but also not. She’s the mother of Eros, a creative force, mother of Eris, The Oneroi, the Moirai, Furies and so many other Daimones, but this is not a mother Goddess as we mortals understand the concept.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) — widow of Edward VII and mother of George V.

It’s like the difference between a fan (short for “fanatic”) and one who just likes something. She’s a goddess Who’s a mother, and She is of great importance to the Gods (on what I gather is a personal level for Them), but at best, we can only catch glimpses, occasional nuggets of how amazing a force She is. She’s a deity for deities — She will graciously accept our worship and sacrifices, but the greatest title Hellenes have ever had for Her is a Goddess of Night — and yet, poetry and hymns exist, and continue to be written for this other Great Mother, whom we’ve only seen in snaps. In comparison, She’s like the Queen Mother to most Amerikans — obviously, she’s of some great importance to some people, obviously a mother, but damned if anybody but very few will ever figure out exactly what she actually does and why she’s treated with such reverence, since she’s clearly not the same as the Queen Regent (reigning queen).

That said, I obviously lack a personal relationship or deeper understanding of Nyx — and unless Eros changes His mind, I won’t need to know any time soon. She’s His mother, via parthenogenesis — She was born with his zygote already inside Her when She and Erebos were formed from Khaos. She’s a Deity that all other Deities hold in great esteem. She inspires the occasional mortal burst of insight to Her nature. That’s good enough for now.


1: But as with all polytheist topics, your mileage may vary.


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30-Day Paganism Meme: Day 2, Beliefs – Cosmology

From the World English Dictionary:

cosmology (kɒzˈmɒlədʒɪ) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]

—n
1. the philosophical study of the origin and nature of the universe
2. the branch of astronomy concerned with the evolution and structure of the universe
3. a particular account of the origin or structure of the universe: Ptolemaic cosmology

So, because I’m not a astro-physicist, I’m mainly going to concern myself with Def. 1 & Def. 3. I’m also going to state outright that this is my own personal interpretation, based largely on Hesiod, but other bits are taken from other places (some of which originally started as “Unverified Personal Gnosis”, but later elevated to “Confirmed Personal Gnosis” when I stumbled upon primary sources that described it).

First there was Khaos, void, absense of being. Some think She was literally nothing, a cosmic blank slate that anything could spontaneously generate itself in, but that makes no sense, because everything comes from something — I think She looked a little bit more like a Shoggoth, with Everything inside of Her, everything that was to come immediately after Her, and everything that wouldn’t happen for millions of years, like you and I, we were all just little randon strands of DNA floating about within her, waiting to happen — even, and including Eros and the Moirai, for nothing seems more chaotic than Love and Fate.

Now Khaos, like most feminine beings, soon found Herself lonely, as She was all that existed, but She also knew that She had this great wealth of everything in the universe within Her, even all that is still unknown to us mortals. She had but only one thing to do to relieve Her loneliness: Unleash the universe; and She took this task with great joy when it occurred to Her that She was not only without distinguishable form, but also Timeless and Eternal — unleashing the universe wouldn’t destroy Her, but it would simply let it all grow and evolve and enjoy Her gift of the Universe with Her. It was then that She evolved into Kosmos, for everything that was once one with Her formless form now was one in its own right, even if most of it had aeons to go to find its form.

The first to form from the gift of Khaos were Nyx and Erebos (Night & Darkness), the former female, the latter male, though otherwise identical, and within Nyx was an egg, and with the companionship She had from Erebos, and from the others who soon arose from Khaos’ gift —Gaia, Tartaros, The Moirai— the egg was born, and quickly broke open, and from it, full-formed, came Eros, who took His shell, intending to make a great gift from its pieces.

With Eros in Their presence now, Nyx and Erebos saw each-other as beautiful, and soon used what was in Them to create Hemara and Aither (Day & Light), and soon followed Eris, Nemesis, Moros, the Keres, Thanatos and His twin Hypnos, The Oneroi, and others, for the Moirai had already started Their work, which neither mortal nor immortal can ever go against, and the time for joys to come from darkness is always fleeting. From Gaia came Ouranos, who She created to be Her mate, and the two soon bore the Titan Gods and Goddesses, the Kyklopes, and the Hekatonkheires (storm giants). The Titans loved Their mother, and so They gave Her great things: Helios gave Her the Sun, so that Hemara would visit all of Her surfaces, and Selene gave Her the Moon, so that Nyx would visit the alternating surfaces.

The thing with the Titans and Olympians, you probably already know, and so the scaly things came first, and as the furry things were being discussed, Eros took His old shell pieces and gave Gaia the gift of the feathery things, because now that there were so many deathless ones, His heart was filled with joy, and so He invented song, even though later, the Moirai would decide that it was Apollon and the Mousai who would perfect song through Man.

When Aphrodite was born of the blood and semen Khronos cut from Ouranos’ groin, Eros and Himeros were there to receive Her.

…and there’s about where I’m brain-farting on all else, and it’s starting to turn more into theogeny than cosmology.

To wrap up, we’re in the Hesiodic Bronze Age, if I’m to be believed; and maybe I shouldn’t be believed, cos I got distracted yesterday and put off doing this today until I was high on malnourishment? Feel free to ask me anything that seems important to you that isn’t addressed cos I trailed off there.

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