N is for Nyx, the Goddess of Night and Darkness.
In fact, Nyx is the night.
Nyx is very old, even in the realm of the Gods.
She was born even before her sister, Gaia, the very Earth itself.
An elemental Goddess, she was born of Air and fathered by Chaos.
“At the beginning there was only Khaos (Air), Nyx (Night), Dark Erebus (Darkness) and deep Tartarus.
Black winged Nyx laid a gemless egg in the bosom of the infinite depths of Erebus, and from this sprang Eros with his glittering golden wings.” – Aristophanes
Zeus is said to fear and be held in awe of Nyx, as she is much older and far more powerful than even he, the mighty Ruler of The Gods.
Nyx is the most powerful Goddess in Greek Mythology, dictating to man and Gods alike.
Nyx has spawned a stunning array of offspring, many of the darker variety, and mostly without the help of a God to father them.
She is mother to the Three Fates, The Erinyes, Morpheus (Dreams), Styx (Goddess of the River Styx), Moros (Doom), Nemesis (Vengeance), Deceit, Strife and Pain, just to name a few.
There is also some suggestion that Nyx and Erebus are the parents of Charon the Boatman, who guides souls across the river to the gates of the Underworld.
I could write an entire post on the many deities born to Nyx, they are so numerous.
Bacchylides names Nyx as the mother of Hecate, though other sources claim her mother as Asteria.
Asteria is the starry sky, so Nyx and Asteria could easily be one and same.
After all, what is night-time without a starry sky?
Nyx also bore two children to Erebus (Darkness), Aither and Hemera, Light and Day respectively.
So, much like Hecate, she may be a Goddess of Darkness, but she bears and brings forth light.
Nyx has been described as the substance of night, a dark veil which blots out the light, night personified.
She appears variously as a dark-winged Goddess, or driving a winged chariot, accompanied by the stars.
Her travelling companions are more of her offspring, Thanatos (Death) and Hypnos (Sleep), it is decided by Nyx as to which one will greet us mere mortals when night falls.
Nyx resides in the deepest, darkest bowels of Tartarus, sharing a house with her daughter, Hemera (Day), the pair only crossing paths at the door as they switch positions at dusk and dawn.
Nyx is quite the maternal Goddess, returning home at dawn to care for her numerous offspring.
Nyx is said to enjoy mischief and misdeed, especially those committed under the cover of darkness.
She favours fugitives and thieves, as she is ‘the cover of darkness’ that hides and protects them.
In Homer’s Illiad it is Nyx that protects the spies of the Trojan War, blanketing them in her darkness.
Nyx brings blessing to those that have suffered during the day.
If you have ever said the words “I am so glad today is over”, than you can give thanks to Nyx, as she brings the end of the day and the troubles that go with it.
Nyx brings rest, sleep, dreams and death.
She brings respite and healing.
In my research for this post, I came across these little gems:
Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 192 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“When she [Selene the Moon] shone in fullest radiance . . . [the witch] Medea . . . went forth alone upon her roaming way, in the deep stillness of the midnight hour . . . Then to the stars she stretched her arms, and thrice she turned about and thrice bedewed her locks with water, thrice a wailing cry she gave, then kneeling on the stony ground, ‘O Nox [Nyx the Night], Mother of Mysteries, and all ye golden Astra (Stars) . . . and thou, divine triceps (three-formed) Hecate . . . and thou, kindly Tellus [Gaia the Earth], who dost for magic potent herbs provide . . . and Di Omnes Noctis (Gods of Night), be with me now! By your enabling power, at my behest . . . the deep earth groan and ghosts rise from their tombs. Thee too, bright Luna [Selene the Moon], I banish, though thy throes the clanging bronze assuage; under my spells even my grandsire’s [Helios the Sun’s] chariot grows pale and Aurora [Eos the Dawn] pales before my poison’s power.”
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 403 ff :
“She [the witch Kirke] sprinkled round about her evil drugs and poisonous essences, and out of Erebus and Chaos called Nox (Night) and the Di Nocti (Gods of Night) and poured a prayer with long-drawn wailing cries to Hecate. The woods (wonder of wonders!) leapt away, a groan came from the ground, the bushes blanched, the spattered sward was soaked with gouts of blood, stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bark, black snakes swarmed on the soil and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated through the air.”
Both these passages demonstrate the strong connections between Nyx and Hecate.
I believe this confirms Hecate’s maternal parentage, and even mentions Astra and Nix as closely connected.