The Deities


Aspects of the Goddess:
• The Maiden
• The Mother
• The Crone
Aspects of the God:
• The Light God
• The Dark God



Aspects of the Goddess

The Maiden


The Goddess of the new and waxing moon is the Maiden aspect of the Great Goddess. Under her tutelage are childbirth, childhood, all beginnings of endeavors, increase of that which has been planted, growth, new life, the energies regathered for Spring after the slowing down of Winter, the miraculous transformation at the Feast of Brigid of the old Crone (the Cailleach) into the Virgin, Goddess of poetry, smithcraft, and inspiration. When you see the thin sliver of the first new moon in the sky, kiss your fingers to her and turn the silver coins in your pockets for increase of wealth.

The Maiden has little to do with the God; not that she is looked upon as a physical virgin, but that she is especially the Goddess of the unmarried, uncommitted young woman who belongs to herself alone, and who is not concerned with the relation- ships between the sexes except in terms of their fruit, the birth of children. She is the Wild Maiden, the Huntress, the free young Goddess who roams the woods untrammeled, and who is quick to punish any infringement upon her privacy (think of Actaeon). Her image is pre-eminent among Dianic Witches, because she is Diana, Lady of the Wild Things, Lady of the Woods, Lady of midnight noonlight chase through bracken and fern---not a comfortable sit-by-the-fire Goddess of home and hearth. So many people, men especially, are afraid of her; she bears sharp weapons and does not hesitate to use them.

But to those, male and female alike, who will regard and value her for what she is, not fear her for what she is not, she is warm and kind. To those who have the courage to keep their own independence, to renew their own spiritual virginity periodically as she must, she brings courage and the will to begin again, to keep on planting seeds even when the harvest will be realized by others yet unborn, The Maiden is the Lady of Potentialities, the Lady of the Future, which can only come to pass if we make it so.

A BEGINNING SPELL

(to be done on a waxing moon)

You will need: seeds, potting soil, flats or egg-cartons, a silver coin (a dime will do), water, salt, incense, wine, oil (a Lunar oil such as jasmine or eucalyptus).

Before you begin:prepare your seeds by folding them in a wet paper towel so they will sprout; mix your potting soil with water in a plastic bag so it is nice and moist.

Place your sprouted seeds, still in their paper towel, and your dime on a plate. Purify the plate, the flats and the bag of soil with salt and water, taking care not to get any on the soil or the seeds: charge with incense. Take the dime and anoint with wine, saying "I dedicate thee to the Lady's service. May thou increase." Anoint with oil, saying, "As these plants grow, may thou grow, and may I grow." Wipe the excess oil and wine off the coin and place it in the soil in your flat. Cover it over, poke holes in the soil and plant the seeds, saying "May my wealth increase, my health increase, and my service to the Lady increase. As I do will, so mote it be." Pat the soil down over the seeds and give them a drink of fresh water, whispering to them just what it is that you want to grow in your life.

When the seedlings show two permanent leaves, it is time to transplant them to a larger pot. This should be done on a waxing moon also. Take the pots outside to a sheltered spot to harden-off before you transplant them into the ground. Be sure to transplant the dime when you transplant the plants.

One appropriate plant to do this spell with is flax--by the time it is ready to harvest you should be ready to begin making your cords in preparation for initiation or elevation to the next degree. Be sure to talk to your plants, inspect them regularly for insect damage, water them, and put your personal energy into them.

Blessed be!


The Mother

The Goddess of the Full Moon is the Mother aspect of the Great Goddess. She is the most familiar aspect of the Goddess to most people on Earth, because even the most patriarchal religions have had difficulty in stamping out her worship, and several have been content to transform her slightly into an "acceptable" object of veneration. Isis, Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Divine Child, took only a little neatening up to become Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Divine Child. The neatening generally takes the form of getting rid of the Goddess' sexual proclivities and concentrating on her motherly ones. But the original version of the Mother, the one who was celebrated in sculpture back in Paleolithic times, is patroness of romantic and erotic love as well as devoted parenthood.

Among her varied forms, both terrible and beautiful, the symbol of the Full Moon catches the human psyche like no other. Connected physically to the tides of Earth and the menstrual cycles of women, shining at night with a mysterious light which carries no heat, she is the symbol par excellence of the unconscious mind and its mysteries; of water, tides and rain; of the abundance of Earth that results from her moist touch on plant life and the urge to procreation which she inspires among animals and men. She is the mirror of the Earth, Dame Habonde, our lady of abundant harvests, of the consummation of desires, of results.

At the same time, she is the visible reminder of the mystery which lives in our own souls, that womanly aspect of each of us, male and female alike. To the God and to men she is Mother, Sister, Lover, Betrayer; to women she is Mother, Mirror, Self as seen mirrored in another's eyes. To all she is Source and Destination, Glory and Mystery.

A SPELL FOR BRINGING ABOUT YOUR DESIRES:

YOU WILL NEED: a red or green candle, your athame, water, salt, incense, wine and any three of the folowing oils: bay, jasmine, eucalyptus, wintergreen, rose, almond, mint, olive, pennyroyal, myrrh.

Purify your candle with salt water, charge with incense, and anoint with wine, as usual. Carve your name and your desire on the candle, preferably in runes, concentrating on visualizing your wish come true. Anoint the candle with the oil, whispering your wish to it and concentrating on imbuing the candle with your fixed purpose. When the candle is properly charged, say "So mote it be", and wrap the candle up in a piece of cloth.

Burn the candle on the night of the full moon, after first having cast a circle; if you can manage to have a window open so the full moon will shine upon you, this will help. Purify yourself with salt water, and when you have lit the candle, whisper your wish to it once more, Then sit and stare at the candle flame, feeling it join with your burning will. Do this as long as feels right to you; then break the circle but leave the candle to burn down. (It might be well to put the candle holder in a shallow dish of water. If there is any wax left over after the candle has burnt down, you may wish to save it for a mojo bag ingredient.)


Remember: be very clear in your mind just what you want, because you will get exactly what you ask for. If there is any doubt or uncertainty about the object of this spell, it is better to burn a white candle and ask for guidance and clarity from the Lady. After doing any spell, ground with your Pentacle.


The Crone

The waning and Dark Moon aspect of the Goddess is the Crone. She is the Goddess of the end of things, of harvest and the time after harvest before the new seeds are sprouted, when life seems to come to a stop and the forces of growth are buried deep under the ground. She is the Goddess of banishing, of bringing to an end those things which have reached the point at which they require it. She is the Goddess of the wisdom of old age, of hidden things, of darkness and silence and the solitude realized by each living thing as it dies alone.

The Crone is a Shadow-figure to modern society. Even people who resemble the Crone are avoided: old people, especially old women, are figures of fear and loathing. Psychologically, there is much to be said about men's fear of women, and of old women in particular. In her book THE CRONE, Barbara Walker states:

"Witch persecutions were one more manifestation of men's never-ending effort to deny that negative archetype, the Crone Mother who can destroy. Modern male prejudices against aging women represent another mani- festation of the same effort. Such prejudices are rarely studied with any degree of frankness. Freud himself was subject to this male fear, but made heroic efforts to suppress his own knowledge of it...

"The Crone was the feminine equivalent of the old man with a white beard who lived up in the sky and commanded armies of angels: that is, a naive symbol of a collective idea...The symbol represented a uniquely feminine worldview, unaltered by men, who feared the Crone image enough to leave it alone. They assimilated the Virgin and Mother phases of the ancient Goddess to Christianity, combined them, and deprived the combination of divine status; but the Crone phase was too darkly threatening to be so handled.

"Like old women in general, the symbolic Old Woman haunted the fringes of Western culture, largely unnoticed and unacknowledged except when her 'witchcraft' aroused panic. Because she retained so much of her original prepatriarchal character, she is a valuable study object for modern feminists desirous of reassessing the female image."

--B. Walker, The crone: woman of age, wisdom and power, Harper & Row, San Francisco, Cal., l985.


The traditional caricature of the wicked old witch, the hag cackling over her cauldron, filled with disgusting objects and nauseating brews, is a cartoon verson of the mighty Lady of Conclusions. Black, her color, is thought of as the color of evil; the very word "sinister" means "left-handed", and the left is the Lunar direction.

There are valid reasons for these fears. The Crone is not an aspect of the Goddess which tolerates familiarities. She is not cute and cuddly, and she wreaks a lot of pain in her dealing-out of destiny. But if the grain were not harvested, cut down in its prime, where would we get bread? And if life were nothing but birth and growth, how long would there be room for life at all? And if the earth did not have a chance to rest and shelter the unborn seeds, how would new birth take place?

We are afraid of her because we do not know her. Of her above all it is said, "No man has lifted my veil." Everyone is afraid to die, and die we all must. The wisdom of the Crone is granted to those who have come through blind faith, have passed by knowledge, and have had the courage to look their own death in the face.

A BANISHING SPELL
(to be done on the dark of the moon)

Ingredients: paper, pen and ink, two mirrors, black thread, candles (black or white), salt water; myrrh oil mixed with comfrey, hemp, dwale (deadly nightshade), thyme, mullein, or any three of these herbs.

Procedure: Write or draw on the paper what you would banish. Charge it with the full force of your repulsion. Anoint with oil, then with salt water, in the form of a waning moon. Fold the paper and place between two mirrors, with the reflecting sides facing IN. Bind them securely together with black thread or yarn and drip candle wax around the edges to seal. While you do this, envision the energy which emanates from the object of your spell being bounced back on itself, unable to pass the barriers you have set up around it. Say:

" Your eyes are shut,
your cord is cut,
go back to the Mother
with Death as your lover.
So mote it be."

Take the spell to a place where it will not be disturbed and bury it, saying,

"By night your eyes are blinded,
by clay your ears are stopped,
by earth your mouth is sealed,
by rock your limbs are bound;
Thus I lay you down to rest,
still and silent in the ground.
As I do will, so mote it be."

When you have finished the burial, kneel on the ground and say:

"By all the power of three times three,
may this spell harm no other nor return to me
As I do will, so mote it be."


Aspects of the God

The Light God

The God of the Waxing Year, Lord of Light, Sun-God, Grain Reborn: Ra, Apollo, Lugh the Long-Handed--his image seems as bright and clear as the sun at dawn. Consort, brother, son of the Lady, he is born at Yule, is celebrated as the Waxing Light at Brigid, overcomes Night at Eostara, becomes the Lady's lover at Beltaine, and dies at the peak of his power at Litha, when his place is taken by his twin, the Dark God of the Waning Year, who will in turn be replaced the following Yule.

This is one way of looking at the Horned One: as twin brothers who vie for the Goddess' favors, and turn and turn about win the victory. This is the most ancient way of viewing the conflict between growth and decay which is actually no conflict at all, but rather twin aspects of one cyclic process.

The problem with getting a clear view of the God is complicated by the historical changes which have taken place in religious attitudes toward the Male and Female Principles. Ever since the superseding of the ancient matriarchal religions, the God has been, on the one hand, inflated into the Sky-Father, Creator, Jehovah, Source of All (thereby usurping the prerogatives of the Mother as well as absorbing all her solar attributes); and on the other hand, suffered the reverse sort of inflation into the Devil, the Evil One, lumped with the World and the Flesh (the Goddess as Moon/Earth and as Venus) into the evil Trinity which opposes the Divine Trinity. Both of these distortions have worked to cause a like distortion in both men's and women's views of the Male Principle within themselves.

Perhaps a saner view of the light aspect of the God is to be found in the image of the Hero Triumphant: born of a virgin with the winter solstice, raised in hiding from the wrath of earthly rulers, he sets forth on his quest against evil, and in the midst of his triumph is transformed. Upon his death/transformation, he departs for the Island of Appletrees, to sleep and await his rebirth. Sound familiar? King Arthur, Hercules, Luke Skywalker, Jesus of Nazareth, Parzifal, all are variants on the same ancient myth. It is from the time of his birth until the time of his triumph that we see him as the Shining One, God of East and South, Air and Fire. To the Light God, the Hero, the quest is against Evil. He has not yet reached the point where he sees ambiguity, for this is the point of death, the point of his transformation into the Dark God, the point of the Hero Transformed, the point of sunset.

Thus it is that the Light God is the god of youth, of confidence, of adventure, of noble ideals, of the pure song which hums in the heart when life is fresh and new. He is the Seed-Sower, Grain Reborn, ever springing up from under the ground, setting the feet to dancing and making the Lady young and lovely again with his love. He is her lover as well as her son and her brother: if she did not love him, she would not keep giving him birth year after year, even knowing that it would grieve her when he dies.

And he always dies. That is what makes him so beautiful. He never grows old, and he always comes back. Making his cyclic reappearance into one historical lifetime, never to be repeated, was the worst blasphemy the christians could have brought about to the religion of the Goddess; and it was only because the Goddess religions had died out as an effective political force at the time that the cult of Jesus of Nazareth was able to gain its ascendancy--and even then it took several centuries to pull it off.

By medieval times, the Goddess was crammed into the figure of the Virgin Mary, and the Light God and Dark God battled for human souls in a purely masculine field. By this time, too, there was not much to choose between them. Neither the Holy Trinity of the christians nor the Horned God of the Witches has much resemblance to the true state of the masculine psyche, except insofar as it has been warped by social/cultural factors. The true Male Principle is much more akin to True Thomaas of Erceldoune, who went with the Queen of Elphame and served her for seven hears as her true knight: the Hero, the Poet, the one who is transformed by the quest.

I have gone on at such length about the God (and plan to go on longer, about his dark aspect) because I feel that it is a mistake to ignore him, the way certain segments of the Craft do. Obviously, the Female element in spirituality has been neglected (when not actually being persecuted), and the Macho-Man Sky-Thunderer element in the Male Principle has been elevated clear out of all reason in religions of the past two millennia; however, it is just as macho to do no more than reverse the polarity in an attempt to gain back lost ground. What needs to be done about the God, and about the God in both men and women, is for him to be re-transformed, into the Lady's love, into the ever-living, ever-dying sacrifice (John Barleycorn must die if we are to have beer and bread), into the heroic urge.

This is an age with too few heroes, and too little scope for heroes. Men and women seem to be diminished into mere citizens, slots on the IBM cards, scrabbling for physical survival and losing all nobility of mind in the process. It does not have to be so. Just as contact with the Lady makes all ordinary things Magick, contact with the Lord makes all ordinary activities Heroic.

A SPELL FOR COURAGE

If there is something you are afraid of, write it on a small piece of paper in your own blood. Burn it to ashes, and powder the ashes in a mortar & pestle with some cinnamon, nutmeg, & ginger. Use this mixture to flavor a) cookies, b) mulled wine, c) any other food you like. When you mix in the herbs and ashes, consecrate what you are cooking to the service of the God in you. When you eat or drink, know that what you are physically absorbing is the flesh of the God himself, and that his courage is within you, If you like, you can do an invocation, self-blessing, or other charm which will remind you of this fact. One good one is:

May the Sun shine within me, may Mars lend me his courage and Jupiter his strength. Let the blood of heroes run in my veins, and my feet walk in the paths of heroes. My name is ___________, and I am brave. (repeat)

If you can do this while looking in a mirror, so much the better. Do this spell in full daylight, when the sun is shining.


The Dark God

"In the Cycle of the equinox-solstice festivals, the year begins with the spring and the germination of the seed; however, the vision of the Celtic folk sought deeper into the spiritual essence of such a process, and to their consciousness the year began with Samhain, the first of November. Thus they saw the year's beginning marked by the descent of life into the dark of winter, the descent of the seeds into the Earth. With the same consciousness the Celts reckoned the day to begin not with sunrise but with the sunset of what we would call the preceding day. And thus to these people the unconscious darkness of their imagination was not a facet of nature to be feared, but an essential part of their being, out of which conscious thinking could grow. Over the millennia, this mode of consciousness has been replaced by one which fears the darkness, and this corresponds to a way of thinking that marks the day 's beginning at dawn, and sees the positive energies and forces of the day dying out into the evening darkness. The night becomes a place of the death of the light, and not pictured as the source of the light." --Adam McLean, Four Fire Festivals

The shift of consciousness about which McLean writes is nowhere exemplified better than in the transformation of the Lord of Death and what comes after from the Son of the Mother into the Devil. Just as the Light aspects of the God were taken over by the figure of Jesus as Savior, the God's Dark aspects were made into a threat to keep people in line--and are used in that manner and for that purpose to this day. The popularity of "Exorcist"-type movies show that, even in the minds of those who profess to be removed from credulous acceptance of religious dogma, the dark powers of the unconscious are a source of unease. And certainly with good reason. The unconscious is in direct touch with the sources of our being, the subhuman strata from which we have evolved--an origin which threatens some religions enough that they cannot bear to think about it, but take refuge in myths of creation which effectively separate human beings from the "lower" animals. The Dark God is not merely dark--He is also the Goat-foot God, whose animal origins are bared without shame.

When Persephone was carried off by Hades, she screamed and struggled. But sooner or later the screaming and struggling came to an end, and she accepted the gifts of the God: pomegranate seeds, and his love. By them she was transformed from the Maiden into the Queen of the Underworld. How was this accomplished? What we Witches know about the Goddess' transformation is told thus:

"In ancient time, our Lord, the Great Horned One, was as he still is, the Counselor, the Benefactor, but men knew him as the Dread Lord of the Shadows--lonely, stern and just. But our Lady, the Goddess, would solve all mysteries, even the mystery of Death. And so she journeyed to the Nether-lands, and the Guardian of the portal challenged her, saying, 'Strip off thy garments, lay aside thy jewels, for naught may ye bring with thee into this our land.'

"So she laid down her garments and her jewels and was bound as all living must be who seek to enter the realms of Death. Such was her beauty that Death himself knelt and laid his sword and crown at her feet and kissed her feet, saying, 'Blessed are thy feet that have brought thee in these ways. Abide with me, but let me place my cold hand on thy heart.'

"And she replied, 'I love thee not. Why dost thou cause all things that I love and take delight in to fade and die?'

"'Lady,' replied Death, ''Tis age and fate, against which I am helpless. Age causes all things to wither, but when men die, at the end of time, I give them rest and strength so that they may return. But you, you are lovely. Return not: abide with

"But she answered, 'I love thee not.'

"'Then,' said Death, 'An you receive not my hand on your heart, you must kneel at Death's Scourge.'

"'It is fate, better so,' she replied. And she knelt. And Death scourged her tenderly, and she cried, 'I knew the pangs of love.' And Death raised her and said, 'Blessed Be.' And he gave her the fivefold kiss, saying, 'Thus only may you attain to joy and knowledge.' And he taught her all the mysteries, and he gave her the necklace which is the circle of rebirth.

"And she taught him the mystery of the sacred cup which is the cauldron of rebirth. They loved and were one, for there be three great mysteries in the life of man. Magick (love) controls them all. For to fulfill love, you must return again at the same time and at the same place as the loved one, and you must meet, and know and remember and love them again. But to be reborn, you must die, and be made ready for a new body, and to die you must be born, and without love you may not be born. And our Goddess ever inclineth to love and mirth and happiness and guardeth and cherisheth her hidden children in life: And in death She teacheth the way to have communion, and even in the world, She teacheth them the Mystery of the Magick Circle, which is placed between the worlds."


And the Dark God, who stands at the Sunset Door, rules not only over those dark things which we fear to see, and the death of those things which we fear to lose, but also serves to welcome each of us through our transformation and death into the source of new life and light.



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