CYBELE

CYBELE

A great Phrygian goddess mother called Mother of Gods or the Great Mother, a symbol of nature’s vitality, fertility and power, a guardian of caves, mountains, walls, fortresses, wild nature and animals (particularly lions and bees). Her name most probably means Mountain Mother.

ABOUT GODDESS

Cybele’s cult originated from the mountains of Phrygia, a land in Anatolia (present-day Turkey) bordering with Troad, the place where Troy was situated. While researching Anatolian Plateau archeologists have found many rounded female figures representing the goddes of fertility which date back to even 6000 b.C. One if the figures shows an enthroned woman accompanied by wild cats (leopard or panthers) and giving birth to a child; it is probably one of the earliest representations of Cybele.

goddess mother

At first the goddess was not named at all and people referred to her simply as to Matar Kubileya – ‘Mountain Mother’. She was not called Cybele until her cult reached Hellas. She was immediately identified with Hellenic Gaia and Cretan Rhea, goddess mother of the Olympian deities (images of Rhea and Cybele are so alike that it makes them hard to distinguish).

Cybele has appeared in myths separately but she is mostly associated with later legends about Attis and Agdistis. Attis was a Phrygian god of the sun and vegetation who was born in an extraordinary way. A hermaphrodite Agdistis was such a threat for the Olympian deities that they took his/her manhood away and the pennis fell down on Earth. It grew into an almond tree and bore fruit. Nana, daughter of a river deity Sangarius, took one of them and placed in on her womb, that was how she became pregnant.  Having delivered a boy, she abandoned him because she was so afraid of her father. The child was taken care of and fed with his own milk by a goat (!) and when Attis grew up he became such a handsome man than Cybele herself fell in love with him. She promised to make him immortall and to love him forever if he stays faithful to her. Unfortunately to Attis, he cheated on the goddess with a hamadryad. Enraged Cybele cut down the tree which was the source of the nymph’s life and struck Attis with madness which eventually made him deprive himself of manhood. He was, however, accepted as the goddess servant. It must be mentioned that the myth about Attis has several versions, the one presented above comes from Ovid, but according to Catullus Attis bled out and Cybele regretting her rage resurrected him to life in the form of a fir. Evergreen trees and violets are the symbols of goddess and her lover.

Cybele’s cult was orgiastic by nature and similar to the one of Dyonisus, it consisted of singing, dancing, banging the drums, playing wild music and drinking wine. Goddess was accompanied by the Korybantes (also called the Couretes), priests who were protecting Zeus when he was an infant. According to the myth Rhea told them to bang the drums, sing loudly and dance to divert child’s father, Cronus’ attention from his hidden son’s crying. The most fanatical worshipers of Cybele were self-castrating themselves; then they wore female clothes and were considered to be women.

From Hellas her cult spread to Rome where she was called Magna Mater (‘the Great Mother’). It began during the Punic wars against Hannibal when the Sybilline oracle clearly stated that the Carthaginian leader would not be defeated unless the Romans introduced the cult of Phrygian goddess mother to their city. Therefore in 204 b.C. the Senate decided to bring a black stone, the symbol of Cybele, from Pessinus to the Eternal City and the temple was built for her. Her festivals, Hilaria and Megalesia, were taking place between March, 15th and April, 10th (bulls were sacrificed to her in caves, the rite was called Taurabolium). Cybele’s cult was very popular in the whole Roman Empire and it was not terminated until the Christian era.

As a curiosity I would like to add that Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid is named for the sake of this goddess. A neoclassical fountain is situated in the middle of it showing Cybele in the chariot pulled by lions. Plaza de Cibeles is one of the most recognized places in Madrid.

Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles (picture by Sergio Ramos, found on his Twitter account)

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

In her early images Cybele’s attributes were lions, a small vase for libations and a bird of prey. The goddess was usually portrayed enthroned and wearing a long chiton (gown) and a polos, a crown in the shape of city wall. She was holding a tympanum (a drum and a tambourine combined) in her hand and was accompanied by lions.

Cybele

Another popular image shows her riding a chariot pulled by two or four lions and accompanied by the Couretes; she is journeying through the sky and meets the sun and the moon on her way.

Cybele's chariot

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The person represented by this card is creative, sociable, fun-loving and eager to engage into ventures. A boss or a supervisor. Mother. Drag queen. In negative meaning the person who acts without thinking, has no boundaries and is prone to stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.

ADVICE

You might have fallen into a routine and your life became predictable. Go out and charge your inner batteries with fun, music and dance. Be careful with alcohol. Be very careful what you are doing because you may regret later.

Love

If you are in the relationship: a possible relationship between an older woman and a young man. Time of passion which may result in a pregnancy. Adultery.

If you are single: active social life which nevertheless does not help in establishing a long term relationship. Big sensuality.

Finances

A good job waiting abroad. Risky financial and stock exchange operations. Promotion. Spending too much money. This card warns against losing money by gambling.

Health

Beware poisoning and addictions. Wound. Amputation. Misuse of medications. Pregnancy. Fertile phase. Delivery. Endangered parts of the body: reproductory system.

CARDS

Cybele in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Cybele in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Cybele in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Cybele in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Cybele in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Cybele in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Cybele in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild,  Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Cybele in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild,  Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Based on Mity Greków i Rzymian by Wanda Markowska, Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine by Pierre Grimal, The Greek Myths by Robert Graves and English Wikipedia. 

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One response to “CYBELE

  1. Pingback: KORE PERSEPHONE | Land of Goddesses

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