Mother Earth and Father Time Create Six Baby Gods
When our world was very young, so were some of the gods—unfortunately.
In the time before our planet or anything else existed, there was only the gods Chaos and maybe Chronos, who is also known as Father Time. He says he can’t remember that far back, but I suspect he was napping.
Anyway, they lived in a universe of absolutely nothing. Though some say it might have been filled with jiggling bits of string, each bit smaller than the smallest atom, others say it was yarn and not string. Out of Chaos somehow emerged two other gods, Eros, the god of love, and Aether, the god of heavenly air.
Chronos found Aether to be useful. But Chaos found the dimple-chinned golden-haired Eros to be very irritating, so he sent him away and created the goddess of love, fondness, and tender feelings. She shone as bright as a star. This goddess created our sun, the sun’s planets, and one especially pretty little planet made of water and land. Last of all, she created a goddess for the planet, Gaia.
After the goddess of love had done all this work, Father Time came along and said, “Not bad. Not bad at all. I don’t suppose you could see your way to letting me spend a few million years there. Because as you know,” and here he began to chuckle, “I’ve got a little spare time on my hands.”
In a regal and quite serious tone of voice, she said, “Yes, you may,” because the goddess of love is generous, though I might add that she totally lacks a sense of humor.
“Thanks,” said Father Time.
“You will have to share it with Gaia,” said the goddess of love. “She’s washing her hair now, but will be along shortly. Why don’t you go ahead and see what you can make of the place.”
Right away Chronos began work. First he reshaped the land into mountains, valleys, and plains, and then he separated the water into rivers, lakes, and oceans. He flew about the place and felt deeply satisfied with his work, but he knew that it needed something more, something called life.
To make the planet safe for life, he moved Earth to just the right spot in the solar system. Not too close to the sun so the planet surface wouldn’t be too hot and not too far off in space so it wouldn’t be too cold. Earth became the third planet from the sun. Just to be on the safe side, he shaped a second planet just like Earth and put it just beyond the fourth planet.
Earth, the sun, and the planets were beautiful to look at, but now came the important work. He wanted to create living things. These would live and die on the pretty planet. They would not live forever like him. First he created plants. He made trees, grasses, and flowers grow on the land, and he put seaweed in the sea. Now all of Earth seemed a beautiful garden. But even with all the pretty greens and yellows growing on the hills and in the valleys, Earth still wasn’t lively enough.
So he created animals—small animals in all kinds of shapes. Those little animals crawled, drifted, and scuttled about the land and the seas. Watching them delighted Chronos. Still and all, maybe some bigger animals would be even more exciting. So he made the dinosaurs and he loved them more than any other beast. He would lie upon fleecy clouds and spend most of the passing years just watching his dinosaurs roar and stomp about.
One day Gaia, who is also called Mother Earth, touched him on the shoulder and said, “Chronos, this is all well and fine for now. But you know that someday you will grow bored with Earth and you will leave.”
“Leave all this, Gaia?” he asked. “I can’t believe I will ever get bored watching my dinosaurs.”
“You will. So, what you must do is create some gods to help me watch over the place. After you go off to explore the rest of eternity, I want some company.”
“What sort of gods did you have in mind?”
“Create them first. We’ll give them jobs later. Oh, and some of them must be goddesses.”
“Oh, okay,” he said, not entirely happy with her suggestions. “But not full- grown gods. I’ll start them young and small so they won’t get any ideas about taking over before their time.”
“Yes, that would be lovely. Some baby gods and goddesses. And make them pretty, beautiful, and handsome. Not like that ugly lizard down there.”
“What’s wrong with my Tyrannosaurus Rex?”
“To start with, his head is too big, his arms are too small, his thighs are fat, and he can’t smile.”
“He isn’t supposed to smile. He is supposed to roar and scare all the other animals.”
But Mother Earth had turned away. She searched out a perfect place for the baby gods, a mountaintop. She called it Olympus. There she had Chronos create temples to use first as nurseries and then later as homes for the gods and goddesses. Then she went to remind Chronos of his promise. He arrived late at Mount Olympus, making his excuses and smiling as he said, “Sorry. But I lost track of the time.”
Gaia shook her head in disbelief. Her arms were crossed. Chronos sighed, pressed the palms of his hands together, and as he drew them apart, six little floating stars of light appeared. Each point of light settled into a cradle. There they glowed like little suns, but slowly out of the bright light could be seen six little babies, three boys and three girls.
“I’ll name the girls,” said Gaia. “You can name the boys.”
She went to the cradles and said, “This one I name Hera, the second I name Hestia, and the third I name Demeter.”
“Fine names, just fine,” said Chronos. “This boy I name Zeus.”
“Zeus!” said Gaia. “Sounds more like a noise than a boy’s name.”
“You said for me to name the boys. The other two are Poseidon and Hades.”
“In a hurry?”
“As it so happens, I am. There’s a god coming to visit Earth. He needs a job. Says he can hold up the sky for me. His name is Atlas.”
“Chronos, the babies are gods, aren’t they? I mean they are immortal, aren’t they?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” he said, and then he sighed. “Except this day is forever more their birthday, and … I can’t remember mine.”
“But from now on they will live forever?”
“Certainly. But … it’s the oddest thing. I can’t remember being born. It must have been a long time ago, and time plays tricks on the memory.”
“You are time you silly thing.” But Gaia had little interest in his problems, as her heart was too in love with the new babies. Her loving gaze could not leave them.