Every religion has its creation mythology. The oracle at Delphi, believed by many to be the most sacred shrine of the ancient Greeks (dedicated to Apollo), in fact predates them. Before the Greeks came as conquerors, the oracle belonged to Gaia - creator of the earth. Unable to supplant her, the Greeks absorbed her into their own mythology, hailing her as the most ancient of Goddesses.

Gaia was the earth, Gaia the deep-breasted one, whose body was formed out of primeval chaos. She was the all-knowing, all creating great goddess. According to legend, Gaia eventually desired love, and so she formed Uranus - the heavens. When rain fell upon Gaia's body her great creative abundance was released by this mating. Land, sea, vegetation, mountains, creatures of the sea and land she created.

A modern scientific theory suggests that the earth and everything in it is a huge, complex system in which everything is interconnected, self-regulating and interdependent, and may be seen as a living, conscious entity - this is called the Gaia hypothesis.

Gaia's symbols are the snake - the symbol of death and regeneration, constantly reborn as s/he sheds his/her skin; and barley - showing Gaia's beneficence in providing nourishment to all her children.