Everyone needs a mother, even the gods. In central Anatolia (now modern Turkey) the Phrygian people held Cybele as their principal goddess. She also happened to be the mother of the gods.
Zeus Has Two Mothers
Cybele was believed to have given birth to a number of gods and goddesses who ruled over various aspects of the natural world, such as: Dionysus, Hecate and Zeus.
Yet in traditional Greek lore, Rhea was the mother of Zeus and helped the young god slay his father to rule over Olympus. So how can Zeus have two mothers? Well, Rhea and Cybele come from different cultures, so Rhea was his Greek Mommy and Cybele was the Phrygian Mum.
In some versions of the mythology, there are even stories of the two goddesses being merged into a single deity, with Rhea being identified as a Greek version of Cybele.
She Slept with Her Own Son
Cybele also mothered the god Attis. He was sometimes associated with the god Adonis, who was a similar figure in Greek mythology. Both were associated with vegetation and rebirth, and both were believed to have died and been reborn each year as part of the cycle of the seasons.
Cybele took a fancy to her young son. She fell in love with him and made him her consort, but Attis later betrayed her by falling in love with a mortal woman. Cybele was so enraged by Attis’ betrayal that she drove him mad, causing him to castrate himself and die. In other versions, Attis died in battle or through self-mutilation. Either way, Attis cut off his dangly bits.
Cult of Castration
Followers of Cybele celebrated the mother of the gods through ecstatic rituals and frenzied dancing, often accompanied by the music of drums and cymbals. Her followers. They were known as the Corbants and their origins can be traced back to the ancient city of Phrygia, which is now modern-day Turkey.
The Corybants were often depicted as wearing armor and carrying shields and swords. They performed frenzied dances and drumming as part of the worship of Cybele. The cult of Cybele was centered around the idea of a divine mother figure who was associated with fertility, nature, and wild animals.
The male priests, called Galli, wore long robes, headdresses, and jewelry, and would often dye their hair and wear makeup. Their religious practices were highly ritualistic and often involved self-mutilation.
During certain religious ceremonies, the Galli would castrate themselves as a way of dedicating themselves fully to the worship of Cybele. This act was seen as a way of emulating the mythical figure of Attis, who was said to have castrated himself in a fit of religious ecstasy.
The Roman version of the cult was known as the Magna Mater, or the Great Mother, and it was often associated with the worship of the god Attis. The cult eventually declined as Christianity began to spread throughout the Roman Empire.