Origins of the Earth Goddess

Origins of the Earth Goddess

We have all heard of Mother Earth, but who is she really? This depends on what culture you are from. Traditionally, Mother Earth is our natural environment and the entity that protects it and all living things. Cultures the world over each have their own version of Mother Earth. There are as many different goddesses and deities that represent her, as there are cultures on the planet.  Here are some names and a brief history of these goddesses and deities who represent the earth and all of her gifts.  In Greek mythology, Gaea is the goddess of the Earth. It is believed that she was born at the dawn of creation. She was married to Ouranos (the sky). The mythological gods and titans were born from her. Her Roman name is Roman Terra. Terra means land.

The Greek goddess Demeter, is the goddess of agriculture. She is one of the twelve Olympian Gods. She is the daughter of Kronos, the youngest Titan son of Gaea, and Rhea, the goddess of motherhood, generation, and fertility. She is a Titaness and is known as the mother of the gods. Gaea is known as the Mother of Earth in Greek mythology but Rhea was an earth goddess.

In Hawaiian mythology and religion, Papahānaumoku, Papa for short, is the Earth Mother. Wākea, the sky father is her husband. She is the mother of all islands. All people and Kalo descend from her. Her descendants were kings and high-ranking nobles. Earth, fertility, providence, weather, grounding, abundance, thankfulness, the moon, and the harvest are all themes of Papa. 

In Chinese folk religion, Hou Tu (Di Mu) is the earth mother. She is the spirit of the earth. She was first worshiped by a Han-dynasty Emperor Wudi, in 113 BCE. Hou Tu was originally a male but later, in the 14th century, became a female deity. The image of a woman in Chinese temples is now enshrined and the woman is known as Hou Tu Nainai. 

In Hinduism and also some branches of Buddhism, Mother Earth is named Prithvi Mata or just Prithvi. It means “the Vast One.” She is correlated with the cow because Prithu, an incarnation of the deity Vishnu, milked her in cow’s form. She is known as the wife of Varaha, the avatar of Vishnu, but earlier on her spouse was actually the sky god Dyaus Pita.  

While the earth goddess has many names and forms, they all serve a similar purpose.  The goddesses bring reliable rhythms by which humans can mark the days and observe the passing seasons. They are thought to bring life and sustenance and shelter. Perhaps most importantly, the earth goddess has given people an entity to revere and to thank for all of our earthly delights.