Lesson 1: The God and The Goddess

Merry Meet and welcome to the Coven of Midnight's lessons. If you've found your way here you must be at least somewhat curious in the Old Ways and the worship of the Gods of Old.

So who are the Gods? In this lesson we'll just be covering the God and Goddess in general (we'll go into detail with specific pantheons in the next lesson).

The Goddess

The Goddess (also called the Lady and the Mother) is the female half of the divine. The Lady is often split into three forms, making a trinity, which follows the moon phases (waxing, full and waning). These forms are: the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. Lets look at each of these forms a little closer.

The Maiden
The first form our Lady takes is that of the Maiden. Young, sweet and fresh, She is the promise of youth, full of vigor and life. She is the Goddess of the Dawn, the Goddess of art, creativity and self expression, of beauty, intelligence, and skill. The Maiden is manifest in action and self confidence, exploration and discovery. She is sometimes called the Virgin. The term virgin in this instance does not mean physical virginity, it means that the young Goddess is independent — She is responsible for Her own actions, She knows who She is and does not answer to anyone but Herself. The Maiden is aware of Her sexuality and can either hold it at bay or abandon Herself to it. As the Huntress and Mistress of the Woodlands, She is both a friend and companion to all young creatures and a skilled hunter. She is the armed keeper of the Universal Laws of Balance and can mete out punishment swiftly and dispassionately if needed.

You may experience the Goddess in Her form as Maiden when you look upon a new born child, or experience a beautiful sunset. She is the continuation of all life, gifting us with the ability to find delight in the simple pleasures of the world — a butterfly in summer, sunlight on water, the stillness of a forest – all are within the realm of the Maiden Goddess. The Maiden’s magick is strongly connected to Nature and natural magick; She can inspire you with new ideas or lead you along a path that is new to you. She can give you a fresh new way to look at something. The Maiden may make Her presence known to you mentally without warning when you least expect it. She shows us the way to spiritual centeredness, running ahead of us enticing us to follow Her down the path that we fear the most, the way that leads us through the labyrinth of our minds into our own sub-consciousness.

Some of Her symbols are:

  • Spring
  • The waxing moon
  • Light and pastel colors
  • Wild flowers
  • All wild animals, particularly deer and owls

There are many goddesses who fall under the header of Maiden. A few of these are:

  • Persephone/Kore: Persephone means maiden. She was the daughter of Demeter, who was kidnapped by Hades and reigns with him in the Underworld for the dark half of the year. Spring arrives when Persephone leaves Hades and joins her Mother. Kore is an alternative name for Persephone.
  • Diana: The Roman goddess of the crescent moon and the hunt. She is the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. Oak groves are sacred to Diana. Diana is often used interchangeably with the Greek goddess Artemis.
  • Brigid: In her maiden aspect this Celtic goddess is honored at the festival of Imbolc which celebrates the first stirrings of spring.

The Mother
The next form our Lady takes is that of the Mother. The Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess is perhaps the easiest for humans to understand and identify with. The image of the physical mother caring for, nurturing, protecting and loving her children is easily translated to the Mother Goddess. She is associated with confident adulthood and parenthood, She is summertime and the ripening of crops, She is procreation of all things earthly and universal, She is the highest point of all cycles and the sustainer of the Universe. She is the fullness of life, She turns the Wheel of all the seasons, and is the repository of all knowledge. She is the Earth Mother and the Sky Mother who walks beside us into the Labyrinth of Mysteries. The Universe is Her child and She loves and cares for it, providing it with inexhaustible resources from within Herself, even as a mother nurses Her infant from the milk of her breasts.

The Mother Goddess teaches us to accept responsibility and to understand the consequences of our own actions. She will guide us towards self-discipline and patience, so that we may grow spiritually into balanced adulthood. She teaches us to reach out to others with loving energy, and to spiral into our Divine center to both give and receive love. All acts of love are Her rituals. She does not want us to live lives filled with deprivation or chained to addictions, excesses or and other form of self-harm. The Mother Goddess actively works magick to bring us into harmony, happiness and freedom. Just like a human Mother, she wants the very best for us and will help us. All we need to do is reach out to Her. The Mother Goddess nurtures all creation and is filled with love for all, yet, like a real mother She will not hesitate to mete out discipline when necessary. Work against Her laws of Universal balance, portray yourself as one who has all the answers or is spiritually enlightened without having done the background work of self-discipline, self-understanding, and responsibility, and She will bring you back to reality!

Some of the Mother's symbols are:

  • The color of red
  • The full moon
  • Cauldron
  • Beltane, Litha and Lammas

A few examples of Mother goddesses are:

  • Demeter: The Greek goddess of grain and bringer of fertility to the earth, Demeter is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea and sister of Zeus by whom she became the mother of Persephone. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, lord of the underworld, Demeter wandered the Earth in search of her lost child. During this time the Earth brought forth no grain.
  • Venus: The Roman equivalent to Aphrodite, Venus represents one of the main fertility goddesses.
  • Arianrhod: A Welsh fertility goddess, Arianrhod is the lunar goddess of time and space, love, wisdom and higher learning. She is keeper of the silver wheel and her associations are the crescent moon and reincarnation.
  • Isis: The Egyptian Goddess who was worshiped as the ideal mother and wife and as the patron of nature and magick. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the downtrodden, and she listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats, and rulers. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

The Crone
The final form our Lady takes is that of the Crone. The Crone represents the Goddess in Her aspect as Elder. The Crone is the Wise Woman, the Witch, the Matriarch. The Crone is the Goddess of Death, and magic, and the Spirit realm. She is the Goddess of Wisdom, visions, and guidance. Hers is the height of spiritual power, for She is the Great Sorceress Who creates Her will through magic. Goddess of Transformation, the Crone is the Destroyer Who dissolves outmoded forms, allowing new growth to occur.

The Crone Goddess aspect of the Triple Goddess may be the least understood and feared of the three aspects. The Crone deals with the end of cycles and death; She has been called the Terrible Mother, the Dark Mother, the Hag and the Wise One. She is the gateway to death and re-birth, Her wise council teaches us spiritual completion, and the deepest of all mysteries — that without death there is no re-birth. Her cauldron awaits each of us, “All things living are mine own, from me they come, to me they go.” The Crone Goddess is winter, night, outer space, the abyss, menopause, and the advancement of age. She is the natural end to all cycles.

The Crone teaches us prophesy, and will guide us to remember the past and see into the future. She is the Keeper of the Akashic Records, which are the details of our past lives. Her guidance through trance work and the spirit world can lead us to past life memories so that we may focus our energies into learning the lessons of this life before passing into the next one. The Crone dispenses justice with love and sorrow, keeping the balance and upholding the laws. To have a relationship with the Crone you must seek Her out. She will offer you a comforting hand when, as with all living things, we must face the death of a loved one or the ending of our own life. She will bring to you the deep understanding that death is the necessary phase that must happen before rebirth.

Some of the Crone's symbols are:

  • The color black
  • Lantern
  • The key
  • The sabbat Samhain
  • The raven

A few examples of Crone goddesses are:

  • Hecate: The Greek goddess of the underworld, night time and magick, Hecate can change shapes or ages at will and has the power to rejuvenate or kill. The daughter of Perses and Asteria, she represents the oldest Greek form of the Triple Goddess.
  • Lara: The Roman mother of the dead.
  • Cerridwen: The Keeper of the Cauldron, Cerridwen is a Celtic crone associated with nature, grain, death, fertility, regeneration, inspiration, magick, astrology, herbs, science, poetry, spells, and knowledge.
  • Nephthys: An Egyptian funerary goddess associated with death, magick and reincarnation, Nephthys is the twin sister of Isis, and the goddess of night, the protectress of the dead and the guardian of the lungs of the deceased.

The God

The God (also called the Lord, the Father, the Sky Father and the Horned One) is the male half of the divine. His realms of influence include fertility, winter, animals, healing, material wealth and well-being, and the forest. While the Goddess is symbolized by the Moon, the God is often a solar deity. Let's look at a few archetypes.

Solar Gods

As the title implies, solar gods personify, or have a strong tie to, the sun, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms.

A few symbols of the solar deities are:

  • The sun (including sun discs and winged suns)
  • Summer
  • Fire
  • Crosses
  • Ankh
  • The colors red, yellow and orange

A few examples of solar gods are:

  • Ra: Ra was the god of the sun during dynastic Egypt; the name is thought to have meant "creative power", and as a proper name "Creator". Ra is represented either as a hawk-headed man or as a hawk. In order to travel through the waters of Heaven and the Underworld, Ra was depicted as traveling in a boat.
  • Helios: Greek god of the sun, he draws the sun across the sky in his chariot, giving us dawn and dusk.
  • Belenos: Belenos is a sun god and fire lord in the Irish and druidic fairy traditions.
  • Apollo: God of the sun, music, poetry, prophecy, eloquence, fine arts and medicine. (Note: Apollo is also known as a Greek deity of the same realms.)

Underworld Gods
In cultures all over the world, the spirit of Death has been honored during the year (at and around Samhain). Deities associated with the underworld take many different forms, depending on the specific culture and religion being referenced. Psychopomps, deities of the underworld, and resurrection deities are commonly called death deities in comparative religions texts. The term colloquially refers to deities that either collect or rule over the dead, rather than those deities who determine the time of death.

A few symbols of the underworld deities are:

  • Scythe
  • The spiral
  • The Labyrinth
  • Skulls
  • The colors black and white

A few examples of underworld gods are:

  • Hades: Hades was the son of Rhea and Cronus. His brother, Zeus, gave Hades the underworld as his share of an inheritance. He was married to Persephone, who was condemned by Zeus to spend one third of each year in the underworld with Hades, for eating the fatal Pomegranate's seeds.
  • Anubis: This god with the head of a jackal is associated with mummification and death in ancient Egypt. Anubis is the one who decides whether or not one the deceased is worthy of entering the realm of the dead.
  • Arawn: Celtic ancestral god of death and war. He is king of Annwn, the underworlds. He is associated with magickal animals, shape-shifting, the cauldron and water springs.
  • Pluto: Pluto is the ruler of the underworld in classical Roman mythology. Under the name Pluto, the god appears in other myths in a secondary role, mostly as the possessor of a quest-object, and especially in the descent of Orpheus or other heroes to the underworld.

Gods of the Hunt
In many ancient Pagan civilizations, gods associated with the hunt were held in a position of high regard. In some of today’s Pagan belief systems, hunting is considered off-limits, but for many others, deities of the hunt are still honored.

A few symbols of the Gods of the hunt are:

  • Antlers
  • Bows and arrows
  • Stag

A few examples of Gods of the hunt are:

  • Cernunnos: A Celtic god associated with sexuality, fertility, the hunt, and the underworld. He was worshiped by the iron age Celts all across Europe as late as the first century CE, and his worship must have begun centuries before that.
  • Herne: Herne is depicted wearing the antlers of a great stag. He is the god of the wild hunt, of the game in the forest. He is considered a divine hunter, and was seen on his wild hunts carrying a great horn and a wooden bow, riding a mighty black horse and accompanied by a pack of baying hounds.
  • Ullr: Ullr is a very old god of the northern lands, so old that by the time the Iron Age Norse myths were written down, not much more was known about him except that he was a god of archery, hunting, and the winter.
  • Wōden: Wōden is associated with the concept of the wild hunt, and leads a noisy host of fallen warriors across the sky.
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