Most belief systems encourage their followers to believe in God, but only God and only one (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism). Even some of the Pagan traditions lean so heavily toward the God that a Goddess is almost never mentioned (Asatru) and some Pagan traditions follow strictly Goddess worship (Dianic) so the God is hardly ever mentioned. As Wiccans, our belief in a God and a Goddess is part of what separates us from other Spiritual paths. One of the other things that sets us apart is the way we view our relationship to our deities. We do not grovel to them, tell them we are unworthy of their attention, and then ask them to fix all the problems in our lives. Instead, we work with them, as partners, to improve the parts of our lives that need improving. We honor and love them, of course, but we are not required to sacrifice our dignity simply to gain their attention.
There are literally hundreds of Goddesses and just as many Gods from a multitude of pantheons; each has a different name and a different specialty associated with them. They are called by many generic names, Earth Mother and Sky Father, the Lord and the Lady, or just the God and Goddess, but whatever names you choose to call them by, they are equally important. Each is as necessary as the other and together, they create the balance and energy essential for all living things. It is often said that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses are one Goddess and, together, the God & Goddess are One.
The Goddess has three forms-Triple Goddess; Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
The Maiden represents youth and innocence, magic and new beginnings, and the thrill of discovery. She is not yet mated but is on the threshold of her sexuality. In this aspect, she symbolizes innocence, hope, joy, curiosity, flexibility, courage, and enthusiasm. Greco-Roman mythology expressed this phase of the Goddess as Luna, the chaste moon Goddess. Diana, Artemis, Eos, Renpet, Bast, and Persephone also characterize the maiden aspect of the Divine Feminine.
The Maiden is the youngest aspect of the Goddess. She is the innocence and lack of worries, the joy of living. The Maiden is usually associated with the waxing moon, the spring season, the colors white and pink and flowers, especially the wild, young or white ones. She represents purity and the innocence of childhood, where the soul’s dreams, magic and make believe still prevail. She is often called on for coming of age and handfasting rites.
The Maiden reminds you to look after the magical child that lies within us all. It reminds you to stay in touch with your childhood intuition and fantasies that are used to fulfill your dreams. Hence you can still have the Maiden in you at any time of life.
The Valkyries, are held to be the adopted daughters of Odin, they appear as the beautiful warrior-maidens on winged horses, armed with helmets, armor and spears. Their purpose is to visit battlefields and chose the most heroic of those who have died in battle (the Einherjar) and carry them off to the halls Valhalla and Folkvang.
Idunna ('Rejuvenator') is the Goddess of the radiant dawn, eternal youth, and rebirth, and so is a fitting matron of Springs' regeneration of fertility, and life which comes with the return of the growing season. Idunna is the custodian of the golden apples which allowed the Aesir Gods to maintain their youthfulness, and was the only one among the Gods who was allowed to gather them, which she safely kept in a golden chest.
· Baby animals (before puberty)
· The colors silver, white, and light blue
· Lightweight clothing and delicate fabrics such as gauze, lace, thin cotton, and silk
· Clear quartz, pearl, diamond, aquamarine
Dearest Maiden, Goddess of Spring, please bring illumination in early morning. As you awaken at your hour, let me feel your energy and power.
The Mother represents caring and nurturing, protection and justice, and fertility. She is usually mated and in the prime of her sexuality. Her attributes include fertility, creativity, nurturing, comfort, abundance, strength, sensuality, confidence, and power. Cave paintings and rock carvings of Goddesses, some as old as 35,000 years BC or earlier, depict the Divine life-giving Goddess. The Venus of Willendorf, is perhaps the most well known of these ancient Mother-Goddess deities, most of the early images of the Goddess show an abundant, round, full figured being. Pele, Gaia, Freya, Isis, Ceres, Demeter, Brigid, Oshun, Yemaja, Aphrodite, Venus, Tara, and Mary are among the Goddesses who personify the mother phase of the Divine Feminine.
Many different Goddesses have represented motherhood in one way or another and some have been associated with the birth of humanity as a whole. Others have represented the fertility of the Earth. She is also associated with the full moon, summer, Earth and sea. She has the ability to forgive and provide for her children and put them before herself in the essence of a good mother.
Freyja, or Freya, was a Norse Goddess of abundance, fertility and war. She is still honored today by some Pagans, and is often associated with sexual freedom. Freya could be called upon for assistance in childbirth and conception, to aid with marital problems, or to bestow fruitfulness upon the land and sea.
Jord is the great Goddess of the wild, primitive and uncivilized areas on Earth. Jord is the mother of Thor who was fathered by Odin. Identified as a giantess, she is often referred to in poetry as 'Odin's bride'. The traces that have survived of the worship of the personified Earth herself show that she was honored by the Germanic people, though not active in many tales.
Frigg ('All-Mother') was the wife of the all-powerful Odin and was considered a Goddess of fertility and marriage within the Norse pantheon. Like many mothers, she is a peacemaker and mediator in times of strife.
· Pregnant or nursing animals
· Rich colors: ruby red, forest green, royal blue, and amber
· Luxurious clothing and fabrics including velvet, damask, cashmere, silk, and mohair
· Geode, emerald, turquoise, opal, coral, rose quartz, amber
Oh Goddess Mother, abundance is your essence of being. Blessings flow from you limitlessly, your Universe is harmony and tension in balance. Within each of us, you are Alive!
The Crone represents logic and wisdom. She considers anyone younger than her to be her child and can be frighteningly vengeful if any of her children are harmed. The attributes inherent in this aspect of the Divine Feminine include wisdom, intuition, prophecy, stability, pragmatism, patience, detachment, and fortitude. Sophia, Hecate, Ceridwen, White Buffalo Woman, Butterfly Woman, Kali, Lilith, Baba Yaga, and Kuan Yin are among the Goddesses who personify the crone phase of the Divine Feminine.
The Crone represents wisdom, repose, death and endings represented by the waning moon. In early cultures, she is often depicted as a grandmother, a wise woman or a midwife. Her own child baring days are past - she is now the wisdom keeper, seer and healer; whose knowledge is sought out to guide others during life's hardships and transitions. She mediated disputes, she had influence over tribal leaders and she cared for the dying as they took their final breaths.
There are a lot of strong Goddesses to be found in Norse mythology, but Elli, was nicknamed 'the Giant Crone'. She challenged the God Thor to a wrestling match—and won. To be fair to Thor though, the whole thing turned out to be a bit of a trick. Elli, although the weakest of the giantesses of Utgardr, was actually the personification of old age. After the giantesses told Thor about their stunt, he obviously wasn’t too happy, even though the fact that Elli only managed to get Thor down to one knee was a mark of his strength.
The Norns of the Norse Mythology are three old hags by the names of Urd (fate), Skuld (necessity) and Verdandi (being). They live beneath the roots of Yggdrasil, where they weave the tapestry of Fates. Each man's and woman's life is a string in their loom and the length of the string is the length of the person's life.
· Old animals
· Dark colors: brown, black, midnight blue, purple
· Heavy clothing (often robes) and fabrics including wool, linen, and velvet
· Smoky quartz, jet, onyx, amethyst, fossils
Behold the Crone, Dancer of Time. The Crone comes dancing silently, powerfully, relentlessly, To All!
The God also has three stages-Triple God; Warrior, Father, and Sage.
The Warrior represents youth and vigor, hope and vitality, and the thrill of the hunt. The warrior phase usually begins at puberty and can extend physiologically into adulthood. Historically, the warrior was considered to be the son until he left the home and could stand on his own. He is not mated yet and is at the peak of his sexual drive. He signifies naiveté, daring, a sense of adventure, vitality, action, exuberance, and freedom. The ancient Egyptians expressed this archetype as Horus, who flies through the sky freely, with the sun in one eye and the moon in the other.
The Horned God that witches honor also symbolizes this facet of the Divine Masculine. His wildness, sensuality, and passion make him brashly attractive. This deity expresses the connection to nature as well, and to all the primal magic therein. He is the God of the police officer, the military, security guards, and those who protect. He teaches us the importance of responsibility and self-respect.
In Germanic mythology and religion, Thor is the God of thunder. He is typically portrayed as red-headed and bearded, and carrying Mjolnir, a magical hammer. Depictions of Mjolnir became popular adornment for warriors during the age of the Vikings, and it is still seen today among adherents of some forms of Norse Paganism.
In Norse legend, Tyr (Tiw) is the God of one-on-one combat. He is a warrior, and a God of heroic victory and triumph. Interestingly, he is portrayed as having only one hand. He appears in the Prose Edda as the son of Odin, but as Hymir's child in the Poetic Edda.
· The chaste tree, meadowsweet, lemongrass, white rose, hyacinth, narcissus, crocus, apple blossoms, peach blossoms, lilac, gardenia
· The morning hours of the day, from dawn until noon
· The spring months
· The waxing moon
O God guide me, protect me, illumine the lamp of my heart and make me a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and Powerful.
The Father represents security and wisdom, devotion and Spirit, and growth. He is usually mated and is virile and productive. It is the time when men are taking on the responsibilities of adulthood. They are gathering experiences and gaining wisdom from the lessons of life. Historically, a man entered the father phase when he had a child, became a leader in the community, or gave birth to new concepts or ideas. This aspect of the Divine Masculine represents strength, power, authority, leadership ability, protection, responsibility, and courage. He is viewed as the warrior king in some cultures, the wise ruler in others. In modern Western society, he could be seen as the capable corporate executive.
The Father God in some early cultures oversaw the crafts, such as those of the smiths who were regarded as magic workers in their own right. Hephaestus, originally a fire God in Lycia and Asia Minor, eventually became the God of craftspeople in Greece. He earned this reputation by constructing palaces for the Gods and fashioning Zeus's thunderbolts. This creative aspect of the Father can also be seen in the figure of Bahloo, the Australian aborigine All-Father, whose job was to create all animals and people with his consort.
He is the Green Man, The Son God, Lord of the Hunt or Oak King. The God becomes Man. He takes a wife. He grows up and sheds a good portion of his youthful way. His arrogance is honed into self confidence and he becomes what he was meant to be. The face of the Lord is in the face of every man and each of them has a different craft. Bel, Apollo, Mithra, Kai, Hymen, and many others. It is in this aspect that the Lord is worshiped most.
Njord is one of the Vanir and the God of seamanship and sailing. He is the father of Freyr and Freya. The King of the Vanir Gods, Njord was directly responsible for bringing the primeval war between the Gods to an end, and in establishing peace between the two tribes. Down through the ages, Heathens have remembered him for this monumental feat, and to this day, still call upon him for peace.
Odin ('All-father') was a shape shifter, and frequently roamed the world in disguise. One of his favorite manifestations was that of a one-eyed old man; in the Norse Eddas, the one-eyed man appears regularly as a bringer of wisdom and knowledge to heroes. He pops up in everything from the saga of the Volsungs to Neil Gaiman's American Gods. He was typically accompanied by a pack of wolves and ravens and rode on a magic horse named Sleipnir.
· Apple, pomegranate, peach, raspberry, strawberry, red clover, red rose, mint, iris, jasmine, cinnamon, parsley, daisy, myrtle, orchid, saffron
· The afternoon hours, from noon to sunset
· Summer through the harvest season
· The full moon
O dearest Father, help me to know and understand your will, allow me the strength to accomplish all you ask of me. Help me to be strong enough this day to show love to everyone, even those who show hatred toward me. So Mote It Be.
The Sage represents discretion and reasoning. The status of the sage was traditionally achieved in a man's later years and/or when he became a grandfather. He has gone through a long passage and he no longer has the ego-based needs of recognition through performance and success. He is free to accomplish and contribute for the sake of beauty and inner purpose. He advises and loves all his children and will retaliate quickly if they are harmed. He oversees the underworld, destiny, death, resurrection, and justice.
Like the Crone, his concerns extend beyond the physical world and involve the process of transformation, assimilation of knowledge, and movement between the various levels of existence. The sage holds his wisdom in the gentle way that honors all life.
This is man at his wisest and calmest. Long gone are the days of do first think later that were the keystone to Youth, instead the God has become a thinker, a philosopher, and often a magician. This is the Grandfather of the World, The Old Man in the Mountain, Owen ap Urien, Horus, Thoth.
The mythological elder God, known as the Holly King, who battles with the Oak King is one version of the sage archetype. Truthfully, the sage could win this battle with his wits if he so chooses. Nonetheless, he allows himself to lose so that the Wheel of Life will keep turning.
Buri is the God formed by the cow Audumla licking the ice which collected within Ginnungagap. He is the father of Bor, and thus the Grandfather of Odin, Ve and Vili. Buri is the progenitor of all the Race of Gods. Buri was formed out of the solidification of primal matter, potential and energy.
Mimir, being a particularly wise deity, was the counselor of the Gods. He owned a well, the Mimisbrunnr, the water of which granted wisdom and the power to see into the future. Odin sacrificed one of his eyes for a drink from the Mimisbrunnr.
· Holly, mandrake, pine, juniper, mistletoe, nightshade, nuts, oak, moss, wintergreen, ginseng; also dried or withered plants
· The hours from sunset to dawn
· Autumn into winter
· The waning moon
O my dearest and eternal, please show me the way of wisdom and grant me the strength to follow it no matter what adversary stands in my way. So Mote It Be.
For many there is also a fourth archetype, the Dark. Both and neither male or female, young or old and/or good or bad. It is the mysteries of life. The shadows between transitions. Not really a 'evil' Divine, just the dark to balance the light. The Dark Divine is the aspect of the God/dess most often deemed mysterious, dangerous, violent or ill tempered. Dark Goddesses or God appear in almost all religions featuring female/male deities and are widely the most misinterpreted and misunderstood of deities worshipped by modern day practitioners.
One of the wonderful things about many of the Pagan traditions is that they do not assign a positive or negative connotations of the light and dark pairings, as many of the other religions do. Pagans understand that the light and the dark are necessary for the world to continue to operate, and the balance is constantly moving. Dark defines what light is, and light creates shadow, so in turn creates the darkness.
Darkness in Wicca is not a negative thing, it is rest, stillness or letting go. Wicca speaks of dark in its more original context: 'hidden or unknown'. The Dark Divine is the counterpart to the life giving aspect of the Spirit we usually associate with. It brings death, for without death, we cannot fertilize the Earth to bring new life. It is the destroyer, for without destroying that which we no longer need, we cannot grow. It is the keeper of magic and mystery, for without the hidden truths, our journey as a human seems without point and purpose. Darkness should be honored, it is necessary and valuable to the circle.
The Dark Spirit represents the hidden and suppressed aspects of a women and men psyche that lives unseen in the shadows of the personality. In order to know oneself, one needs to intimately know and understand both your light and dark aspects.
Hela features in Norse legend as the Goddess of the underworld-half human and half skeleton. She was sent by Odin to Helheim/Niflheim to preside over the Spirits of the dead. It was her job to determine the fate of the souls who entered her realm.
Loki is a complex and cunning Giant/God-he is said to be quite fair in appearance, but capricious in manner, with a heart full of chaos and a dark side. He is both a father and a mother. In the earlier myths, he is presented as being less-than-malicious in his tomfoolery and even helpful in some situations. In the instances when he would get the Gods in trouble, he would get them back out of trouble and in many cases he would put them in an even better situation than they were before.
· The new moon
· Raven, dog or cat
I am the Darkness behind the shadows. I am the absence of air that awaits every breath. I am the ending before life begins again, the decay that fertilizes the living. I am the bottomless pit, the never ending struggle to reclaim that which is denied. I am the key that unlocks every door, for I am that which is hidden and secluded. So may it be.
Choosing your Matron Goddess and Patron God may not be an easy task. It will likely require much thought and research on your part. Your decision should be your own and will be decided partially by the path you are on, and partially by your own personal preference. For instance, if you find yourself drawn to a particular pantheon, your Deities will, most likely come from there.
However, the choice may be made for you. It is not uncommon for someone to be chosen by a God or a Goddess. If you find yourself drawn to a specific Deity, you are probably being given a clue that you have been chosen by them. If this happens, pay attention! Research the deity, meditate on their particular pantheon, go on a guided journey to meet them; whatever method you choose is fine but you should definitely try to find out more about them. You will encounter, and work with, many Gods and Goddesses on this path. The more you learn about them, the more comfortable you will be in invoking their energy. They are there to help us improve our lives and, while they do not expect sacrifices from us, they do expect us to respect them. One of the best ways to show someone respect is to show an interest in them and learn what they are like, not just on the surface, but in their hearts. It is no different with the God and Goddess.
Skeptics have asked for eons how it is that we know the God & Goddess really exist. We know they are real because we feel their Divine energies in our own souls. We see them manifested in all the life that surrounds us and we feel their presence in ritual and everywhere else. In the birds, rocks, trees, humans, stars, fish, computers and more. To those whose lives are so closely tied to every living thing, the question is never 'if' we know they exist, but rather, how can others not know they do?
Dearest God, thank you for this glorious day. Thank you for the sunshine, and thank you for the rain. Thank you for the blue skies, rivers, streams and lakes.
Dearest Goddess, thank you for the green grass, and thank you for the trees. Thank you for the many birds singing in the breeze.
My dearest Divine Friends, thank you for giving of yourselves so selflessly to me. Thank you for life itself, a precious gift that's free. Blessed Be!