The All-Prevailing Night

At the dawn of creation emerge the Protogenoi, the primordial gods who set in place the very foundations of the cosmos.

One of the first children of Kaos from whom everything else flows is Nyx, the goddess of night. Modern folk tend to conflate her with her sibling and mate Erebos, or Darkness, but they are not the same being. It is through the union of Night and Darkness that Hemera, the goddess of Day, and Aethyr, the bright upper air, come into being.

Night and Darkness bear within them the seeds of Light.

Nyx has a host of other children, most conceived parthenogenetically. Hypnos (Sleep), Thanatos (Death), Moros (Doom), Oizys (Pain), the Keres (Destroyers), the Moirai (Fates), Eris (Strife), Geras (Old Age) and Hades’ ferryman, Kharon, are just a few of her unsettling offspring.

One shouldn’t get too hung up on the family trees of the Protogenoi, though, as they get scrambled into all sorts of interesting combinations by various sources. The main thing to keep in mind is that she’s one of the very first.

Nyx was envisioned by ancient authors as being the mists that veil the sky at eveningfall and obscure the light of day. Hemera scatters her mother’s mists with the rising of Helios the sun and allows Aethyr to shine through.

Like all the Protogenoi, Nyx is viewed with a mixture of caution and reverence by the ancient Greeks. Some describe her as a figure of terror, driving a shadowy chariot drawn by raging, inky horses. Yet others speak rapturously of her diaphanous veils, stars gleaming through the mists and swirling around her.

The Orphics regard Nyx as a field of unknowability, without personality or consciousness as we understand it. We conceive of her as a goddess and ascribe human-like attributes to her because we need these handles in order to wrap our minds around the idea of her. But, as we can see from the almost non-existent cultus to her in the ancient world, praying to her or setting up shrines and rituals to propitiate her or attempting to communicate with her directly indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of her nature. Her darkness is indicative of her being utterly beyond our comprehension. She is only a single emanation from Kaos, the potential in which everything exists but is not yet manifest. She is a cauldron. A melting pot. A womb.

Watch the sun sink and the veils gather. Observe the way the eastern sky brightens in concordance with the sunset flare of colors, then faints into the arms of Erebos. Wonder at the stealthy debut of the stars as they prick through the deepening blue. The sky at dusk is so entrancing that night will likely enfold your world entirely before you look around and realize how engulfed you are in the cloak of Nyx.

You’re not outside of her. You are part of the warp and weft of her being. Like the stars themselves, you gleam in her veils. Breathe her into your lungs and belly. You are a creature of the night.

Don’t worship Nyx with shrines and statues. Immerse yourself in her.

Her very self sparkles with stars.

You are one of them.—nyx