Areas of Influence: Rhea was an Earth Goddess, responsible for the fertility of the soil, women and motherhood. She took over most of these responsibilities from her mother Gaia/Gaea.
Her name means "flow" and "ease" relating to her role of the Great Mother where the flow refers to menstrual blood. It also links her to the tides and the moon.
She is closely identified with the Anatolian Great Mother Goddess, Cybele. They shared similar roles and symbolism.
Together with Cronus she ruled over the Titans. Her position as Queen was succeeded by Hera when the Titans were defeated by the Olympians.
This ancient deity had priest's were called Curetes.
Origins and Genealogy: Her parents were Gaia and Uranus.
This Goddess had many brothers and sisters including the Titans: Cronus, Hyperion, Lapetus, Theia, Themis Mnemosyne, Pheobe and Tethys.
Rhea was horrified when Cronus swallowed each of them whole at birth as he feared the fulfillment of a prophecy that predicted he would be overthrown by one of his children.
When Zeus was born she tricked her husband into swallowing a stone wrapped up in his swaddling clothes. Zeus was then hidden and taken to Crete.
Later, when Cronus was dethroned and imprisoned she had an affair with Olympus and gave birth to two more children, Alce and Midas.
Crete became the main centre of this Mother Goddesses cult.
Strengths: A Mother figure, generally gentle but becomes fearsome when crossed.
Weaknesses: She deserts her husbands but who can blame her?
Rhea is usually shown as a matronly woman with a turret crown, standing between two lions or on a chariot pulled by lions.
The moon is another one of her symbols representing her role as a fertility Goddess.
Other symbols include a lighted torch, brass drums and a double ax.
Sacred Animal: Lions,
Sacred Plants: Fruit bearing trees, pine and the oak.
Sacred Day: Saturday was devoted to this Goddess.
Her close ties with Cybele, link this Goddess to Spring Festivals held to honour the Great Mother. This celebration is the origin of Mothering Sunday.
The Mother Archetype is a life-giver and the source of nurturing, devotion, patience and unconditional love. The ability to forgive and provide for her children and put them before her self is the essense of a good mother.
In its shadow aspect the Mother can be devouring, abusive and abandoning. The shadow Mother can also make her children feel guilty about becoming independent and leaving her.
Rhea is a Mother Goddess caring for the earth. When it comes to the care of her own children her credentials as a loving mother are less convincing. She is unable to stand up to cruel husband and only saves them through trickery and by sending Zeus to be cared for in Crete.
You do not need to be a biological mother to have this Archetype. The Mother Archetype refers to anyone who has a lifelong pattern of nurturing and devotion to any living thing including plants and animals.
You are exhibiting the features of the shadow mother if you smother your children and are over protective. You need to encourage independence, allowing children to make mistakes but be available to give care and advice when it's needed.
The other shadow Mother is the one that abandons her children or is so busy that she has no time for nurturing her young.