I had an experience last night that was so unusual and amazing that I feel I just have to share it.
I’ve not been feeling myself lately (hence the delay in blogging): I’ve been very low – in mood, energy, and physicality. I am constantly tired, and feel like I am living in shades of grey. I have not been giving my children the mother they deserve. So last night, I did a ritual to ask for help.
After casting the circle and inviting and welcoming the four elements (Air; Fire; Water: Earth), I called specifically on the Mother aspect of the Goddess to help me. I asked her to help me banish the negativity around me and in me, to give me, as a Mother and as a Woman, patience; love; joy; calmness; to be the mother I should be, to know that I can be.
I am not going to go into the full ritual here, but I want to share with you the vision that I was granted as I sat quietly, eyes closed, waiting for a message from the Mother.
I saw the Goddess – or more accurately, I should say a Goddess – with raven black hair, pale skin, and a white robe. It was night-time, a dark sky, with stars scattered above crystalline clear. The Goddess was skipping across the sea, and she held in her hand a Silver Star. I greeted her, thanking her for coming to me. (I was a bit bemused, as this was not what I had been expecting – normally visions/messages with the goddess is just words in my mind, or somewhere earthy). She looked at me and said, “You’ve lost your power.” I nodded. “Here, eat this”, and she put a gift into my hand – it was a white sphere, hand sized, like the moon or a pearl. To be given a gift in a vision is an honour and means something in the physical world. I lifted my hands to my mouth and ate half of the white sphere. The rest, at some inner direction, I placed in my heart, third eye, and crown chakra. As I did so, I felt a wave of clean energy/different energy surround me. The Goddess smiled, and I thanked her for the gift, and asked Her what I can do for her in return. She replied “Visit the Sea!”
That was it – seems like such a small price to pay, yet it is something that must, absolutely, be done – a Goddess’ favour is not something to be taken lightly.
Then, Her consort appeared beside Her and clasped hands with Her. He looked at me with clear, intense eyes, and said only “You need him” (meaning my partner). They were reminding me of the support network, and of the balance of energies that comes with a special partnership. With that, they were gone.
When I had finished the ritual, it dropped into my mind to look up online ‘Goddess of the Silver Star’. Now, for those of you have read previous posts, you know that I worship the Triple Goddess, and not any single specific deity. I wasn’t sure what this search was going to bring me – but my intuition is rarely wrong. Imagine my surprise then, when two sites came up under this search, with the Goddess Arianrhod!
I was further amazed, because Arianrhod is not a Goddess I know anything about except Her name. And when I read these sites – Her image is EXACTLY as She had appeared to me; She is a Mother aspect Goddess (as oppsed to Maiden or Crone, or representing any other aspect that many specific Goddesses do); and She is linked with the moon, stars, and sea! So everything She represents was shown true in my vision – despite my not having known anything about Her.
I felt humbled, amazed, awe-struck. And also puzzled, in a good way, that a Goddess unknown to me chose to come to me, and not only that, but grace me with a gift. This is one of the most fantastic experiences I think I can honestly say I have had – certainly the most intuitive! My happy task now is, of course, to further research Arianrhiod, and to work with Her further.
I hope you have enjoyed this journey and experience, and I welcome any comments you choose to share, and to answer any questions you may have – if I can! Please also feel free to share any similar experiences you have had.
In the name of the Goddess Arianrhod – Blessings be!
- Meeting The Triple Goddess (reikiserpent.wordpress.com)
- Arianrhod, Celtic Star Goddess (feminismandreligion.com)
We have spoken about The Horned God and mentioned very little about his counterpart, the Triple Goddess. I thought it was about time we introduced this all-encompassing female deity.
Just as Neometheus and I found it a challenge to put into words and describe the Horned God, so we have found the Triple Goddess. It seems this exercise of writing down our beliefs to share with you, dear readers, has really made us examine what we think and how we think of those that we honour.
Where do I begin? What do I say about someone, or something, that encompasses all life? Exactly that: She IS all life. Goddess Mother. She is the earth: She nourishes us, protects us, and it is to her womb we return when we die. ‘Mother’ earth, Gaia – all are names for the Goddess. She is the cycle of the seasons, She is the Moon, She is the keeper of magical power, She is Fertility, She is Creativity, She is Will. When we honour Her, and the Horned God, we are honouring the earth and the aspect of each season, each cycle of the moon. The two aspects – physical and divine – are intertwined.
So who IS the Triple Goddess? Brighid; Arianrhod; Epona; Ceridwen, Morrigan – are some of the more well-known names of the Celtic Goddesses. Then you have other Goddesses from Ancient times – Hecate, Diana, Aphrodite, Isis, and many many more, too numerous to mention. Some Pagans honour specific Goddesses such as these, and the particular aspect that each represents.
Other Pagans, including myself – and by extension, Neometheus, do not honour a specific Goddess; we honour the Triple Goddess. Why? Why not give her a name? Because to us, she is all of these Goddesses rolled into one, and yet none of them. They are a part of Her, and She of Them, and yet they are separate deities. Think of it as a hologram. To understand this concept, you have to forget the mundane world and enter the Divine world; a kind of dream vision, where things don’t work in terms of ‘reality’.
It is interesting to note that both the Morrigan and Hecate are Triple Goddesses in themselves; The Morrigan is A Goddess, and incorporates Macha, Anu and Badb. She is also known by other names, there are many variations and myths surrounding her, but essentially each of these has Her own characteristics, traits and mythology. Hecate is shown as actually having three faces. So the Triple aspect is repeated in other Goddesses.
The term ‘Triple Goddess’ refers to her changing role as Maid, Mother, Crone. The Crone is perhaps the least well loved, the least understood, and the image that has been most distorted through modern times… and we shall see why, as I explain each of these aspects.
It is worth mentioning here that it is very hard to pin down an EXACT mythology of the Goddess. As we have said earlier, Neopagans do not have a structure, nor scripture. Each is free to believe, honour, and follow the path in their own way. Therefore the below is MY interpretation of the Goddess, which will perhaps differ somewhat from other neopagans, yet will have the same underlying core values.
The Maid is of course, the young woman, a virgin, and who is pursued by the young lusty hunter, the Horned God. She is Spring; resurgence of life, the new bloom. She is hope in life, joy, youth, and new beginnings. She is potential.
Is the Lover of the Horned God: He has caught – and courted – Her, and they stand side by side, strong in love and equal in power. She is Strength, she is the protector. She is Creativity. She is Summer, sustenance, calm, strength and power. She is wisdom. Her power starts waning as autumn gives way to winter.
At the Harvest, the Horned God sacrifices himself, giving himself to the corn, and being ‘harvested’ by the Goddess, to make way for new life. As the sun wanes, so too does the strength of the Horned God, he sets sail – to the West, say some, to the Underworld, say others, to rest and regather his strength (as he goes so the sun goes, and thus we have winter – as the sun goes, so he goes… you can read it either way, this is the symbology of the Horned God).
The Crone is the old woman. Ugly? NO. Warty? NO. Wearing a black shroud and muttering over a cauldron? Quite possibly…
The Crone is the keeper of the deep mystical secrets, deep knowledge of the Otherworld, and of the after-life. The Cauldron is the tool with which She helps guides souls back into rebirth. The cauldron is also a symbol of the womb, as well as the keeping of magics. She is Wisdom, She is Magic. This doesn’t seem a lot to say about her, but they are the two most powerful things to have. She can see far beyond and is also known as the keeper of the web of the Wyrd (Fate). She is the Winter – cold, harsh winter. But as with all life – what has been given must be reaped; taken again.
As Maid, she gave life, bloom, love – she kept, sustained and nourished this as the Mother in Summer – and now, as life cycles round, she takes away again, even unto death. Yet she does not bring death – she is the knowledge of death, and the guardian of it (Just as the Horned God is). The earth needs to rest and gather its strength. She is the Dark Moon.
As such, she is perhaps the least of the aspects of the Goddess that a Witch will favour, or ask a boon of – not because she is less loved, but because her boons and knowledge are so powerful, one must be sure what she/he is doing when he/she casts a circle for the Crone. However, she is also the One that is called upon to diminish: to banish anything negative, to get rid of unwanted things in life, and to lessen power of something no longer needed.
At this point, the Horned God has become the ‘wise old man’.(Yes, I know I said he ‘went away with the Sun’, but this was allegorical, He simply metamorphosises into this other aspect). Think of Merlin: the only person, or character, depending on how you think of him – who incorporates the traits of the old Horned God. Wise, intelligent, also guardian of death – He is the Light in the Dark, the companion on the road – knower of deep magic and mysteries, friend to all the animals. He is calm, sure, patient, knowing all things come in time.
The Crone and the Horned God are not often – if ever – seen together, yet they are still equal counter-parts.
From this, it is easy to see why the crone has been distorted throughout history: the most to be feared, the darkest. Her image has been warped to an ugly old woman working horrible tricks to evil ends (Disney haven’t helped this image, yet they are not the only nor the first to project such a distortion), yet nothing could be further from the truth. With Light, there is dark; with warmth, the cold. So it is with Maid-Mother-Crone. She, the Crone, is the culmination and the balance of Her other two aspects.
The Mother Goddess is under my feet when I walk. She is the face of the moon at which I look. She is the strength in my heart and the song in my soul. She is the knowledge unknown. She is the power being tapped.
When I call on the Goddess, how can I describe to you how I feel? I know I am free. Absolutely, totally free, in my soul. I know I cannot be harmed, for She is in me and beside me. She is beautiful, wise. Is She benign? Yes, but not weak. She will not suffer foolish frivolity. She is honest love, deep passion, and raw power.
This is (my) Triple Goddess. I hope you have come to understand Her a little better, Her relationship with the world we live in, and Her relationship with us, as witches, neopagans, and/or simply people.
Following from reikiheidi’s introductory post about the Horned God, I thought I would go into more detail regarding some of misconceptions about the Horned God. Many people are still influenced by ancient Christian propaganda and more or less equate the Horned God with Satan. This is not the case as I will attempt to demonstrate.
According to the Bible (Ezekiel 28:12) God describes Lucifer as “…perfect in beauty.” He was created by God as a cherub angel, and is considered the greatest being ever created, outranking even the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Bible (Ezekiel 10:10-17) describes a cherub angel as having four faces: one of a cherub, one of man, one of a lion and one of an eagle. They stand at about 18 feet tall, have four wings with hands underneath, and their entire bodies are covered in eyes. This description applied to Satan before his fall from Heaven. Whether his appearance changed following his fall is not, to my knowledge, stated. Alternately in Revelations (12:3), Satan is described as a seven-headed dragon with 10 horns. Evidently there is scant biblical support for the supposed iconographic similarities between Satan and the Horned God.
So where did this perception come from? It can be traced back to early Christian attempts to convert the old pagan populations of Europe to Christianity. The exact origin of the demonisation of the ancient horned Gods has been lost in the mists of time. Pan is perhaps the best known of these pagan Gods, and shares much of the His symbology with popular conceptions of Satan including horns, goats legs, cloven hoofs and tail. It is worth noting that in most modern and ancient depictions the Horned God possesses only the horns and not the goat aspects. It is easy to see that the libidinous image of Pan with his partly animal form and permanent erection (a symbol of virility), would be abhorrent to the ascetic early Church Fathers. It seems that Pan who is just one of many old horned Gods revered around Europe and the Mediterranean has been used as a blueprint for the most common image of the Christian Satan. There is evidence that Pan had a wide following around the formerly Hellenistic regions of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For instance a shrine to Pan located at the ancient site of Ceasaera Phillipi near the Jordan River and the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Archaeologists excavating the shrine, that was erected some time following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC, found that although the ritual practices seem to change over time, the shrine did not fall out of use until some 700 years later in the 4th century AD. That Pan was not indigenous to the region and yet outlived the Hellenic culture that exported him there by many centuries – even here in the birthplace of Christianity – demonstrates his popularity, at least with rural populations. Nor is Ceasaera Phillipi an isolated case, in Egypt Pan was equated with Egypt’s own horned Gods such Banebdjedet (the Ram of Mendes) and even Zeus-Ammon, and perhaps also the phallic deity Min. The same equivalence and similarities were seen elswhere; the Basque image of the horned God Akerbeltz, the celtic Cerrunos and Herne and the Roman Faunus. To the early Chritians Pan came to symbolise all the pagan Gods and their most dangerous aspect: freedom. The early pagans were absent the idea of sin, Pan epitomised this perhaps most of all, with his guilt free and promiscuous nature he would have been seen as the antithesis of the Abrahamic perceptions of sex and the marginal role of women. Thus he became synonomous with the arch-daemon of Christianity. It seems this perception was formed relatively quickly; in the early 4th CE Eusebius responded to Plutarch’s report of the alleged ‘death of the Great God Pan’, claiming that the Christian God had rid humankind of its biggest demon. By this time apparently the perceived equivalence of Pan, and thus all the pagan Gods, with demons and Satan was already established. The Christian church spent most of its first millennium mopping up pockets of paganism around Europe. Turning the pagan’s own symbology against them was one of the many tools employed in this task. The medieval Church zealously re-iterated this horned depiction of Satan and it is solidly ingrained even today. The simple facts of the matter are that the Horned God symbolism pre-dates Christianity by millennia, and contradicts Christianity’s own biblical depictions of Satan. The success of the adoption and transformation of the image of the Horned God and Pan in particular is indicative of how popular and therefore threatening the horned Gods were to early Christianity, and also of Christian flexibility in adapting pagan symbology into it’s own dogma. It is worth mentioning that another popular symbol of the Devil, the pitchfork or trident is most likely a reference to the Greek God Poseidon who also bore a trident, the symbol is not to my knowledge associated with the Horned God.
The misunderstandings are exacerbated further by the use of aspects of Horned God symbolism by Satanists. The Church of Satan has adopted Baphomet as its official emblem. The symbol of Baphomet has a curious history, which I will not relate here. Instead of being a pre-Christian emblem of the Horned God, it is a post-Christian reaction to Christianity itself, incorporating the horned and goat-like characteristics that, as I have discussed, were taken by Christians from the original pagan sources. For instance the name Baphomet is most likely a medieval corruption of ‘Mahomet’ an old rendering of Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam. The originator of the Baphomet symbol Eliphas Levi derived it, in part, from the ‘Devil’ card of the eighteenth century Tarot of Marseilles and representations of the Egyptian ‘Ram of Mendes’, Banebdjedet. Levi’s image does not and it seems has never been intended to depict the Horned God, but instead depicts Satan or in Alestair Crowley’s words “the hieroglyph of arcane perfection”. It is ironic that Satanism has adopted the very same symbols for use against Christianity that the Christians themselves lifted from paganism in order to discredit it.
Needless to say therefore, Neopagans do not worship the Devil. In fact we do not believe in Satan or even in the Christian duality of good and evil. Rejecting the good/evil dualism does not mean that Neopaganism is amoral; most if not all practitioners follow a form of the Golden Rule, often called the Wiccan Rede, which states ‘Do what thou wilt, though it harm none’.
Additionally there is the ‘Rule of Three’ or ‘Law of Returns’, a principle similar to Karma which attests that whatever energy and intent you put out into the world, constructive or destructive, will be returned to you three-fold.
I hope this goes some way to resolve some of the anxieties and misunderstandings commonly associated with the Horned God. The next posts on the topic will go into more detail about who the Horned God actually is, his role, attributes, history etc.
Thanks for reading and blessings be )O(
- Meeting the Horned God: An Introduction (reikiserpent.wordpress.com)
A dear blogger friend has asked us about the Horned God of Paganism – or rather, I should say, Neo-Paganism: the ‘new’ Paganism that survives today, formed from Ancient Celtic Paganism. We are not, here, talking about Norse, Greek, or Roman Paganism.
Of course, we thought, yes, He needs an explanation for those who are not familiar with Him! And Neometheus and I were more than happy to oblige.
This has become a more monumental task than we realised: we started discussing, thinking, explaining to each other just WHO the Horned God is: who and what he represents to us. And the more we talked and thought, the more we came up with. How do you ‘wrap up’ a living God? – for that is what He is (more on this later.) I had never really thought in depth before about analysing the Horned God: He simply is; I know what He represents to me. Yet this task of sharing Him, of describing Him, has made me think deeply about this subject, and we have decided that there is no way we can describe Him in full measure in just one post. There is too much to say – He encompasses so much, has so many aspects, that one post would end up being ridiculously long! In fact, I wrote down some bullet points – and those alone ended up being 2 pages!
So Neometheus and I have decided that the best way to approach this is by headings, and (trying) to deal with one aspect at a time. Amongst these headings, we will include a personal anecdote of a meeting with the Horned God, as well as a guided meditation/journey for yourselves to meet Him, if you are curious and so choose. There is so much I could say about this right now, but I shall (reluctantly!) leave that for the appropriate time.
I realise this introduction doesn’t really tell you much, but we felt it necessary to explain our approach to this task. It’s probably worth noting at this point that paganism is not a religion – it is a belief system, as Buddhism is, a way of life. Also, Paganism is open to interpretation to each individual – there is no set scripture. If you ask 50 pagans to describe Paganism, or the Horned God, you will probably get 50 different answers. There are of course underlying core values, an understanding of ‘the path’, yet it is a very personal way of living life and interacting with the deities.
I understand that for our American readers, this may be more revelatory, surprising, and eye-opening than for our British readers. (For other cultures, I don’t know how Paganism is thought of in your countries, so I’m not leaving you out, just pointing out the American/British difference – your thoughts and comments on Paganism in your country are more than welcome). Online and in various ways, I have come across American Pagans. To be Pagan in America seems to be a huge deal: I have heard of people ‘not coming out’ to their family and friends, for fear of being thought a Satanist, ostracised, or dragged to the church to be baptised! Paganism seems to be less accepted and less understood in America. In Britain, it is accepted – or at least, not cared about by those that don’t follow ‘the path’. To say you’re Pagan may result in a raised eyebrow, a few curious questions, and a shrug. Others may think it is ‘cool’. That’s it. I have never feared calling myself Pagan in public, or even thought of hiding it. I am proud to be a Pagan… and proud to honour – we do not worship – the Triple Goddess and the Horned God.
So, time for some FAQs, which I hope will give you a basic and succinct introduction to this beautiful, living natural deity.
So just who is this Horned God?
Let’s state this clearly now: he is NOT Satan. Neopagans do not believe in Satan. Satan is the opposite of the Christian God, and thus, he can only exist within the Christian faith – as we perceive it. The Horned God is not evil.
The Horned God is dynamic, a part of nature, and is often ‘seen’ as living in glades, woodlands, groves and forests – anywhere there is wild nature. He is a hunter, passionate, wild, driven, full of absolute joy – and he is a wise old man, brimming with knowledge. This is his dual aspect –something else we will cover in more detail later.
So why does He have horns and cloven feet?
The Horned God is a god, not human. His animal symbols, as described above, represent his Oneness with nature. They are there to remind us that he is more than human; he is all life. It is not the animalistic nature of Humanity he represents with his horns and hoof; it is his totality with all life. He is guardian of the animals, he is One with them, as well as with us.
What do you mean by the term, ‘a living God’?
The Horned God is in and around everything in nature. He is in the trees; the plants; the animals. He is the cycle of the sun and the seasons. We honour Him as a part of Nature, always around us.
Neo-Paganism has resurrected the Horned God: We don’t know for sure how he was honoured or thought of in ancient Celtic ways, but we know enough to honour Him in our own way, today. He is not who he was then – but he is, and always has been, entwined in every aspect of nature. Just as Nature, and Ages and Culture, cycles and moves on, so too does the Horned God – hence ‘a living God’.
So you worship a male deity then?
No. First off as I have said, the term ‘worship’ is really anathema to neo-pagans. Rather, we honour our deities. We enter into a respected relationship with them. It is a relationship that is alive; interactive; respectful. We feel them in everyday life, we talk to them, offer offerings (no, not living sacrifices!) ask for their ‘favour’ or wisdom, – as long as we give something back to them. In respect of them, we honour all nature, as this is their domain and a part/aspect of them.
What do I mean by ‘they’? The Horned God is consort to the Triple Goddess. Many pagans see Her as the primary deity; many others consider them wholly equal. Either way, even when the Goddess is seen as ‘primary’, they are still in every way equal. This is a difficult concept to explain if you are unfamiliar with it. They have their own energies; power, unique aspects and ways of helping and manifesting to us. The Horned God is the Goddess’ support, Her companion, Her lover. They are two energies helping us in different yet equally important ways. There is much to discuss on this topic, which we hope to cover later.
That’s it for now. We hope that this covers the basics, and gives you a further insight and clarity into the male deity that we neo-pagans honour. We will be happy to answer any further questions that you may have on this subject, and of course we will follow up this introductory post with further details about the Triple Goddess and Horned God.