As we have already learnt, Gaia is the Earth Goddess in Greek mythology, Terra Mater, the eldest of the gods, who emerged out of Chaos and gave birth as She slept to her son Uranus (Ouranos), the Sky god. He showered fertile rain upon Her secret clefts as He gazed down fondly upon Her from the mountains, and She bore grass, flowers, trees, and birthed the astounding array of birds and beasts to populate them. The fertile rain of Uranus also made the rivers flow and lakes and seas came into being when the hollow places filled with water.
She mated with Her son and husband Uranus to produce the Titans, who joined their brothers in prison. First came the hundred-handed Hecatoncheires, the giants Briareus, Gyges and Cottus. The three one-eyed Cyclopes (the "Wheel-eyed") were next, master smiths and builders of gigantic walls. Their names were Brontes, Steropes and Arges.
But their relationship was so passionate, and the embrace of Uranus and Gaia (Sky and Earth) was so overwhelming, that their offspring could not emerge from her womb.
You see, Uranus was afraid that one of his Titan children would end up overthrowing him and taking over rule of the Universe. The Titans were thus imprisoned by Uranus in Tartarus, a region of the Underworld.
It was said that it would take a falling anvil nine days to reach its bottom.
This caused Mother Earth great grief, so She conceived a sharp sickle that one of her children, Cronus, used to severe his father's genitals. The God Uranus was emasculated and the Sky separated from the Earth.
Then she released Cronus, the youngest Titan, and encouraged him to castrate his father and rule in his place. When Uranus came to lie with Gaia that night, Cronus armed with a sickle, cut off his father's testicles and threw them into the sea.
From the wound of Uranus, black blood dropped and the drops, seeping into the earth, fertilized Gaia.
From this blood She conceived and gave birth to the Erinyes, (or better known as the Furies, which were known as the avenging Goddesses who pursued and punished murderers and evil-doers). The Erinyes were called "those who walk in the darkness". She also gave birth to the Giants, (which will be covered later), and to the ash-tree Nymphs, or also known as the Meliads, or the Meliae, also sprang from that blood.
Uranus thus faded from the mythological scene and Cronus married his sister Rhea, becoming supreme ruler of the Universe. This was regarded by the Greeks as the Golden Age of the Titans. But Cronus was just as paranoid as his father, and, heeding the warning of an oracle, in turn he swallowed all the children he fathered with his wife Rhea, afraid that they would do to him as he did to Uranus.
On the advice of Gaia, Rhea gave Cronus a stone wrapped in baby blankets, and the gullible Cronus "swallowed" the ruse, instead of his baby boy Zeus. The child was secretly taken to the island of Crete and raised by the Nymphs. Eventually Zeus grew up to free his swallowed siblings and with their help indeed overthrew Cronus and became the supreme Olympian.
Gaia may have saved Zeus from a fate similar to his father's when she warned him that any child born by Metis ('Thought'), whom Zeus desired as wife, would grow up to supplant him as King of the gods. Heeding Gaia's advice, Zeus swallowed Metis and in due time the Goddess Athena sprang from his head.
Mother Earth even proved helpful to Zeus in his fight versus Atlas and the Titans, shortly after taking power. However, she and Zeus parted company once her twenty-four sons, the Giants, attacked Olympus. (Many claim that this battle represented the last attempt to reassert female leadership over the heavens, symbolizing the war fought between those who preferred matriarchal -that is to say women rulers - philosophies over those who wanted patriarchal ones.)
The Children of Gaia and Uranus
In Hesiod's Theogony, after Chaos appeared Gaia, the Mother of all Creation. She gave a parthenogenetical, (that is to say reproducing without fertilization occurring), birth to Uranus, the Sky, "whom she made her equal in grandeur so that he entirely covered her". Then, She created the high mountains and Pontus, "the sterile sea".
Gaia united with her son Uranus and gave birth to the first divine race-the Titans.
There were twelve of them: -
Six males: Oceanus, Coeus, Hyperion, Crius, Iapetus, Cronus;
And six females: Theia, Rhea, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys and Themis.
Uranus and Gaia then gave birth to the Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes and Arges, who resembled the other Gods but had only one eye in the middle of their forehead.
Finally they gave birth to three monsters, or then known as the Hecatoncheires: Cottus, Briareus and Gyges.
Another famous legend of Gaia is the one in which she helps her daughter Rhea when she was pregnant with Zeus, to protect the child from being eaten by Cronus