The story of his origins from Agdistis, as told to the traveller Pausanias have some distinctly non-Greek elements: Pausanias was told that the daemon Agdistis initially bore both male and female attributes. But the Olympian gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ and cast it away. There grew up from it an almond-tree, and when its fruit was ripe, a daughter of the river Sangarios picked the fruit and laid it in her bosom. It at once disappeared, but she was with child. In time a boy was born and exposed on the hillside, but the infant was tended by a he-goat. As Attis grew, his long-haired beauty was godlike, and Agdistis as Cybele, then fell in love with him. But the foster parents of Attis sent him to Pessinos, where he was to wed the king's daughter. Just as the marriage-song was being sung, Agdistis/Cybele appeared in her transcendent power, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals. Attis' father-in-law-to-be, the king who was giving his daughter in marriage, followed suit, prefiguring the self-castrating corybantes who devoted themselves to Cybele. But Agdistis repented and saw to it that the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay. (Pausanias, Greece, 7.19)
Attis, was reborn as the evergreen pine. At the temple of Cybele/Rhea in Pessinos, the mother of the gods was still called Agdistis, the geographer Strabo recounted. (Geography, 12.5.3)
As neighboring Lydia came to control Phrygia, the cult of Attis was given a Lydian context too. Attis is said to have introduced to Lydia the cult of the Mother Goddess Cybele, incurring the jealousy of Zeus, who sent a boar to destroy the Lydian crops. Then certain Lydians, with Attis himself, were killed by the boar. Pausanias adds, to corroborate this story, that the Gauls who inhabited Pessinos abstained from pork. This myth element may have been invented solely to explain the unusual dietary laws of the Lydian Gauls. In Rome, the eunuch followers of Cybele were known as Galli, or "Gauls." (For the Gauls in Anatolia see Galatia.)
As the orgiastic cult of Cybele spread from Anatolia to Greece and eventually to Rome, the cult of Attis, her reborn eunuch consort, accompanied her.