"Divinity is in its omniscience and omnipotence like a wheel, like a circle, a whole, that can neither be understood/ nor divided/ nor begun/ nor endedf . —Illustrations of Hildegard of Bingen
^■M^^icca is a very individualized religion, in which ^^^^ each person chooses his or her own deities to worship. Generally, the supreme being is considered to be a genderless energy source like The Force in the Star Wars trilogy. This force is referred to as the All and is comprised of many different aspects of the Universe. These aspects are reflected in the masculine and feminine forces of nature, which appear in the guise of the world's different gods and goddesses.
People just getting interested in Wicca often wonder just who or what the Pagan gods are. Are they images of the human mind created by our ancestors? Are they archetypal images of the collective human unconscious? Are they planetary spirits that rule all life on Earth, or cosmic forces that antedate the human race? The answer is not a simple one, and must be discovered for oneself through training and experience.
This individual freedom to ponder and pursue that which comes from within is what makes Witchcraft such a unique experience. There is no pressure to adopt another person's idea or concept of deity. There is no one, true, right, and only way. Each person is considered to be responsible for his or her own spiritual growth, development, and relationship with deity.
Like all deities, the God has many faces. He appears as the radiant, brilliant, and illuminating Sun of Righteousness, the divine victim who spills his blood for the love of the land, and the warrior king whose fight for truth and justice are revealed in the battle between good and evil. To all those who practice Wicca, the God is the symbol of virility, the fertilizing and regenerating energy force of nature. He is the personification of all that is masculine, potent, and powerful.
The God's most obvious and dominant characteristic is his ability to regenerate. Although his countenance may change with time and culture, he continually returns to live and die for the land he loves. He has been known as Osiris, Tammuz, and Adonis. He has manifested as the Uncon-quered Sun or compassionate savior Mithra and Helios. Whatever his incarnation, he is always the potentate of power, strength, and authority — and the final judge before the gate of the Goddess.
The Sun God
In Wicca the presence of the divine is perceived in all aspects of nature. One of the most venerated natural phenomena is that of the sun. This radiant ball of fire provides light, brings forth life, and promotes healing. In addition to its timekeeping qualities, an important aspect of life, it has long symbolized the God.
The Sun God was believed to rule the sky and all that moved below it during the daylight hours. He presided over time, agriculture, war, fertility, and the regeneration of life. In the Romano-Celtic phase of Old Europe, the sun god was seen as being in a constant battle with the forces of darkness and evil. To aid the Sun God in his struggle against the powers of darkness, people worshiped him during early morning rituals. It was believed that these rituals would give him strength and help bring back his radiance each day.
The Horned God
Of all the god forms acknowledged by our Pagan ancestors, the Horned God was probably the most widely worshiped. Originally he was venerated through the physical manifestation of the stag, bull, and ram. Just like his animal counterpart, the Horned God was respected for his strength, vigor, beauty, swift movement, and protective capabilities. He represented the untamed forces of nature, and the ability to regenerate life. It wasn't until the advent of Christianity that he became the object of scorn, relegated to the level of evil, and the source of all human suffering.
One of the most widely recognized Horned Gods is Cernunnos, whose name means horned or peaked one. The most striking features of Cernunnos is his semi-zoomorphic form and ability to shape-shift. His close affinity with the stag is demonstrated by his adoption of antlers and hooves. His other ally is the snake, which wraps itself around his body and represents his ability to regenerate. In Old Europe, Cernunnos was considered to be The Lord of Animals (domestic and wild); dispenser of fruit, grain or money; and the god of fertility and abundance.
Today the prominence of the Horned God's position in Wicca is both understandable and appropriate. Because Wicca is a nature-based religion, it is only reasonable that its deities should reflect the awesome powers of the Universe. To many, these primal powers are reflected in the fertile Earth Mother and the magnificent Lord of the Hunt. These archetypal forces are perceived to contribute to the rhythms through which life, death, and rebirth echo eternally.
The Harvest God
The god of vegetation presided over the agricultural community as the son and lover of the Great Earth Mother. He was personified in the Middle East as Tammuz, in Egypt as Osiris, and throughout Old Europe as Dionysus and Adonis.
In ancient myths, the dying and returning god, as depicted in harvest rites, provided a means of salvation. To become part of his mystery tradition was to ensure for oneself a place within the framework of the afterlife. To some extent, the Lord of the Harvest represents an understanding of the sacral unity all humans needed to feel toward their labors in the field. It was this understanding of the powers of nature that sustained their communities and their sense of belonging.
To many of our ancestors, the harvest was a time of both celebration and mourning. The abundance of grain and wine were cause for great joy. On the other hand, the passing of the young God, hero, and lover of the Goddess was a time of great sorrow. The ancient myths of Tammuz and Ishtar, Isis and Osiris, and Aphrodite and Adonis best communicate this powerful drama of life, death, and return — all products of the harvest. This continuous cycle of growing, dying, and returning was the foundation of the Pagan mysteries that predate Christianity. It is also the primary focus of most modern Wiccan traditions.
Apollo: Greek Lord of Light. The slayer of darkness, leader of the Muses, considered to be the shield against evil and champion of right. Apollo's symbols include the silver bow, laurel wreath, lyre, tripod, and golden throne of truth.
Cernunnos: Celtic Horned God. He was the god of nature, the underworld, and the astral plane. The priesthood of the Celts, the Druids, referred to him as Hu Gadarn, the horned god of fertility. The symbols for Cernunnos are the tore (Celtic neck-ring), horns, spear, serpent, shield, and cornucopia.
Dionysus: Greek Horned God. Dionysus was a savior god. He was twice born, and considered to be the Lion of Light. Dionysus was the youthful victim, priest of night, lord of the dance, wine, and bringer of ecstasy. The vine, drum, phallus, ivy wreath, and thyrsus (wood wand or staff tipped with a pine cone shaped ornament) were some of his symbols.
Faunus: Roman Horned God. Faunus was a pastoral god, primarily of the forests, a hunter and promoter of agriculture. He was equated with the Greek god Pan. His symbols were the club, drinking horn, crown, and panther skin.
Lugh: Celtic God of Light. Lugh was known as the shining one and was considered to be a war god of great skill. He was a god of arts, crafts, commerce, blacksmiths, poets, and bards. His symbols include the rod-sling, spear, white stag, and forge.
Osiris: Egyptian Agriculture God. Osiris, one the most popular of the Egyptian deities, was a god of vegetation and nature and represented the ability to regenerate. He was the patron of fertility and the harvest. His symbols include the crook, flail, scepter, and all agricultural tools.
Ra: Egyptian Sun God. Ra was also called the Great One, the Old One, the Father of the Gods, and the Lord of Light. He was respected as the self-generator/creator, the breath of all life, and the divine love and radiant power of the universe. His image was of a hawk-headed man wearing a solar disk. His symbols include the sun, the scepter, and a boat.
Sol: Roman, the Invincible Sun. Sol was the inspirer of prophecy, seer of hidden truth, and bestower of the vital force. Sol surveys all that is in the tangible world and knows all that lies in the hidden worlds. Sol was represented by the crown of seven rays, the cornucopia, horses, swans, and the laurel crown.
Tammuz: Assyro-Babylonian. God of Vegetation and the Harvest. Tammuz was in love with the goddess Ishtar and was killed and transported to the underworld. Ishtar went to look for him and the world was left barren until her return. Tammuz's symbols were the flute, wand, bread, and boar, and he was honored in small gardens.
When working with Wiccan gods, keep in mind primary characteristics: The Sun God represents youth, beauty, and enlightenment; the Horned God represents maturity, masculinity, and lust; and the Harvest God represents wisdom, protection, guardianship of the land, and continual regeneration.
The Goddess Jf^
After centuries of exile, the goddess has made her way back to her land, people, and position as the personification of feminine dominion and perception. She is the Earth Mother and Mistress of Magic; she is all that is beauty and bounty. What the God inaugurates, the Goddess realizes. He impregnates her with the seed of desire and she gives birth to reality. The Goddess is the creative process through which all physical levels are manifested.
The Goddess is the intuitive and instinctive side of nature. Her inconceivable powers of transition and transformation radiate like translucent beams of celestial light, for she is the mystery and magic. Beneath her full, round moon she has been, and still is, invoked as Arianrhod, Diana, and Hecate by those seeking her favors. Everything psychic and mysterious belongs to her alone.
The AAoon Goddess
It was the moon that lit the way for early humans. The moon glowed in the night sky. Its light helped guide hunters, warriors, and travelers safely through the dark and back to their tribes.
As our ancestors looked to the heavens, they saw how the moon waxed and waned, how night turned into day, spring into summer, and summer into winter. They saw the seas ebb and flow, plants bring forth grain, and life burst forth from the womb. Everything in nature seemed to move in harmony with the phases of the moon, including women's menstrual cycles and pregnancy. The Great Goddess worshiped in Old Europe became equated with the moon, in whose divine light she was reflected. As the moon waxed and waned, so did the inherent power of the Goddess.
The waxing moon was perceived as the Maiden aspect of the goddess, the virgin in charge of her own life, true to her own nature, and under the influence of none. This was the time of dreams, challenges, and spiritual potential.
When the moon reached its full, pregnant glory, it was perceived as the Mother. Here we find the nurturer, the giver of life and bringer of death, the Goddess's most powerful, and certainly most venerated phase. This was the time of great fertility and increased psychic awareness. It was a time usually set aside to visualize and formulate physical desires.
The waning moon saw the decline of light and was associated with the Crone, who symbolized the manifestation process and was associated with wisdom. What was conceived on the full moon was realized during the waning moon. This was also a time of contemplation and realization of personal accomplishments.
Once the moon completes its three major phases, it passes into a period of transition known as the New Moon. This three day period was, and still is, considered the time of the Enchantress or Temptress —a time of great mystery and magic.
The /Mother Goddess
The Mother Goddess is an extremely complex image, as well as one of the most powerful figures within the Wiccan religion. She is the epitome of feminine beauty, fertility, and the ability to nurture. In Pagan times the Mother Goddess ruled over the fecundity of humans and animals, and was often referred to as the Lady or Mother of Beasts.
To our Pagan ancestors, the Mother Goddess was both loved and feared. She was the serene benefactor in charge of life, fertility, and regeneration. As the Great Mother she brought forth life, and as the Terrible Mother she ruled over death and destruction. It was because of this duality that the Mother Goddess was associated with the powers of light and darkness.
Throughout Old Europe the Mother Goddess embraced a wide range of activities. Besides her affiliation with fertility, she was also the embodiment of maturity and abundance. To express these qualities, images of the Mother Goddess were endowed with large breasts, swollen bellies, and full buttocks.
The concept of nurturing, with its ability to transcend the harsh realities of life and express unconditional love, brings many people to the Goddess of Wicca. Once they are embraced by the Mother Goddess, their connection to the potential of the manifestation process is reawakened. When this happens, people become able to connect with their own nurturing potential, which develops spiritual maturity.
In the Wiccan religion, to invoke the Mother Goddess is to awaken the primeval feminine nature within. The essence of the Goddess is then able to penetrate the very fiber of the individual, opening his or her mind, heart, and soul to all that is love, life, and wisdom. The act of invoking the Mother Goddess unites the senses with the ultimate feminine power and force of all creation.
The Triple Goddess can be found in almost all mythologies. She is at once virgin, mother, and crone, the waxing, full, and waning moons. She represents all that is feminine, enchanting, ripe, and wise. In the ancient mystery traditions, the Triple Goddess was associated with water, weaving, and war. Some of the best examples of her threefold nature can be found in Greek, Celtic, and Norse mythology.
The Greeks envisioned the Triple Goddess in the form of the Moirae or Fates. They were born from the great goddess Nyx and belong to the earliest stratum of divinities. They were known as the Spinners of Fate, who spun out the
The Triple Goddess
days of human life as if they were yarn. The length of this yarn was decided entirely by them. Even the great god Zeus could not go against their decrees.
Brigid is the major triple goddess in Celtic mythology. She had three distinct facets: poetry, smithing, and healing. She brought inspiration to those who worked with music and poetry. She aided those who crafted metal and weapons by working with fire. She also nourished those who brought comfort to the sick by giving them the power to heal.
In Norse mythology, the Triple Goddess appeared as the Norns or Wyrd Sisters. They were known as the Urd (past), Verdandi (present), and Skuld (future). They were the spinners who sat at the well of Urd, which was located at the roots of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. Because they came from the earliest of times they were able to dispense their fate upon gods and humans alike.
The triplicity of the Goddess is an important concept within the Wiccan Religion. In her manifestation as the Virgin, the Goddess has no connection with the masculine. However, when she ripens into the Mother, the Goddess becomes a faithful wife or the harlot who takes on many lovers. With the passage of time her fertility wanes, but not her life experience. Thus, the Goddess is transformed into the Crone of knowledge and wisdom. It is through the understanding of these three aspects of the Goddess — birth, life, and death —that we learn to nourish and sustain our own inner resources.
Brigid: Celtic Triple Goddess. She is the embodiment of poetry, inspiration, and divination. Brigid was originally a sun and fire goddess known as Brigid of the Golden Hair. Because of her connection with fire, Brigid was associated with inspiration and the art of smith craft. Brigid was also an important fertility goddess. She was called on during birth to protect the mother and the child. Brigid's symbols include the spindle, flame, well, ewe/lamb, milk, snake, and bell.
Cerridwen: Celtic Mother Goddess. Cerridwen, associated with Astarte or Demeter, is the mother goddess of the moon and grain. She is especially known for her fearsome death totem, a white, corpse-eating sow. Cerridwen's harvest celebrations express her ability to both give and take away life. Her symbols include the cauldron, cup, sow, and hound.
Diana: Roman Moon Goddess: She was the patroness of hunters and guardian of the forest where her sacred grove stood near Aricia. In Rome, she joined with Janus, a god of light and the sun, serving as a consort depicting the light of the moon. Diana's symbols include the bow and arrow, sandals, magical weapons, the dog, and the stag.
Demeter: Greek Earth Mother. As the goddess of vegetation, she was founder of agriculture and the civic rite of marriage. Her mysteries, called the "Thesmophoria," were held each April and her cult center was at Eleusis, south of Athens. Demeter's symbols include the basket, scepter, torch, water jug, sheaf of wheat, and cow.
Hecate: Greek Triple Moon Goddess. To the Greeks, Hecate was one of the oldest embodiments of the triple moon goddess. She held the power over the heavens, earth, and the underworld, where she was in control of birth, life, and death. Hecate was the giver of visions, magic, and regeneration. Hecate's symbols include the key, rope, double-edged dagger, cross triangle, besom, crossroads, hound, and torch.
Isis: Egyptian Mother Goddess: Isis is the personification of the Great Goddess in her aspect of maternal devotion. Isis was probably the greatest goddess in Egypt and was worshiped for more than 3,000 years. Her influence was not confined to Egypt and spread to Greece and the Roman Empire. Isis was the female principle of nature and therefore a goddess of a thousand names. Isis's symbols include the Thet (knot or buckle), scepter, cup, horns, mirror, snake, and girdle.
Rhea: Cretan Mother Goddess: Her name probably means Earth, and she was usually depicted as a huge, stately woman surrounded by animals and small, subservient human males. Rhea was incorporated into Greek myth as a Titan, one of the second generation of deities. She was recognized as the goddess of the living earth. Rhea's symbols include the torch, brass drum, double ax, and fruit bearing trees.
The Morrigan: Celtic Triple Goddess: The Morrigan is the terrible hag goddess of Celtic legend. She bears some relationship to the Furies and Valkyries of Norse Myth. She appears as a triple goddess of battle and depicts the harsh, unrelenting warrior side of the Celtic soul. The Morrigan's symbols include the raven, crow, battle ax, shield, and spear.
When working with Wiccan goddesses, keep in mind primary characteristics: Moon Goddess represents spiritual illumination and is the essence of magic and mystery; Mother Goddess represents the sensual/nurturing side of the feminine nature and is filled with grace; and Triple Goddess exemplifies enchantment, seductiveness, and wisdom.
Wicca, like all mystery traditions, relies heavily on symbolism. When a person views a symbol, his or her consciousness is automatically elevated to a realm of higher perception and understanding. Religious art, objects, and charts are used to create a bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds. They both reveal and veil certain realities and truths according to each individual's level of understanding.
The Seasons of the God and Goddess chart, which follows, is a good example of symbolic illustration. Looking at the chart, one immediately grasps the relationship between time and deity. Whereas the Goddess maintains a very restrained and controlled position within the seasonal cycle, the God is more independent, less confined, and not as directly involved with cyclic change. It is generally accepted that feminine energy is more influential and intimately involved with the cycles of nature than masculine energy is, even thought the latter does have a dominating effect.
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The Horveti OW
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