Rotting Christ – “Χάος γένετο (The Sign of Prime Creation)”

Central to the mythologies of many, if not most cultures, are tales of how the earth, the universe, and the gods who rule it came into being. These cosmogonies (origins of the universe) and theogonies (origins of the gods) can be divided into two broad categories. More familiar to, but not exclusive to Abrahamic religions is the belief that an uncreated creator god fashioned the cosmos and the creatures within it as a divine architect, an intelligent designer. This concept of the demiurge (i.e. ‘craftsman’) was theorized by, among others, the philosopher Plato in his dialogue, the Timaeus. In turn, he may have been inspired by the Egyptian myth that the architect-god Ptah built the universe.

But that is not the only, and certainly not the first, version of the Egyptian creation myth. They also have a version from the other broad category of cosmic genesis, that of spontaneous coming-into-being, undirected by any sort of intelligent mind. The gods and the world arose from the primordial waters of Nu, a formless chaos lacking all form, but containing all the constituent elements of what would become. Other Near Eastern and Mediterranean mythologies have similar notions: the Babylonians see the world constructed from the watery chaos-god Tiamat, and though the Hebrews belong more to the Creator camp, their creator breathed over “the abyss” as the first act of creation. For the Greeks, the poet Homer briefly refers to the Ocean as the origin of all living things.

But it is the poet Hesiod’s version that has since antiquity been the most popular (though not enforced as orthodoxy). The first god, according to him, was Chaos, which means “void” or “chasm.” Similar to the waters of Nu, or the Abyss, it is a formless expanse containing the seeds of all that would be. Chaos is a neuter noun, and exists before gender, and before sexual union produced any gods. Chaos asexually produced the primordial gods, beings that are personified and anthropomorphic but also ARE the physical, spatial things of which they are the deities. These are Gaia (Earth), Eros (desire) Erebus (the upper Underworld), and Tartarus (the lower Underworld). Gaia, in turn, also asexually produced the mountains, and Uranus (the Sky), who became the first king of the gods before being overthrown by his son Cronus (who in turn would be deposed by Zeus).

The Greek black metal band Rotting Christ named their 2007 album Theogonia after Hesiod’s poem on the origin of the gods and the universe. The album’s opening track begins with a quotation from Hesiod’s Theogony: ἦ τοι μὲν πρώτιστα Χάος γένετο (e toi men protista Chaos geneto), and calls attention not only to the fact that Chaos was the first god and principle of creation, but also to the fact that even Chaos “came into being” (geneto). In other words, the true principles of existence are nothingness and chaos, the opposite of being and order. Not only that, but after these, the first beings were Earth and Hell. Heavenly beings are not only later creations, but are derived from these dark principles. Rotting Christ find in their ancient national poet a precedent for a spirituality of nihilism and satanism to oppose theistic systems that came later to dominate the world, much as Uranus arose from Gaia only to dominate her as the first of a series of cosmic tyrants.

Chaos, Erevos, the sign of prime creation.
Earth, Tartaros, thy sign of pain and sorrow.

Aethyr, Uranos, the shield of the self-exaltation.
Night, Keravnos, the born of awe and resignation.

Here you have just born for burning,
Born for dying, stand for signing.
Your great divide,
Your nightmare has just revived!


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