Winter Solstice is a time of year during which the sun is welcomed and the male god is celebrated. The god is available for both men and women to work with. It can be difficult for some Wiccans to make the god a traditional part of their practice. As children and young people, some Wiccans have experienced religious trauma as a result of the experience of being forced into a religion with a harsh, patriarchal and not easily pleased god of the Christian, Jewish or Muslim faiths. I experienced this, and to please my parents I had to pretend to believe in this god. I was a child and this led to anger and confusion. I just could not digest this particular vision of a god. When I found my way to a life as a Pagan, it was such a relief and joy to be able to put belief in a goddess. However that belief was incomplete without a god involved. I had a god figure on my altar for a very long time, but to put actual work into a relationship with a god was very difficult. Still some people have been traumatized enough that they never do develop a relationship with a god and stick to working with a goddess only. But there is such a fulfillment in working with a god. There are a number of qualities that a male deity can avail to one. What are some reasons to create a working relationship with a god?
Strength is one feature of the god. It is easy to hone into physical strength, but intellectual, emotional and spiritual strength are all important, too. From the “the Cattle Raid of Cooley,” two swineherds were set off against each other by some other people resulting in a great conflict between them. They fought transforming into many different animal forms. The final fight between them was as great bulls. During this whole conflict they used physical strength, cunning, and patience. Call on the Celtic god Lugh when there is a need for strength. One could honor this aspect of the god by working out, preparing for a written exam, going over an emotional hurdle being afraid but being brave anyway, swimming in an ocean or climbing a mountain.
Fertility is another quality of the god. Creation and abundance are two aspects of fertility. One of the questions into the prehistory of the gods were about phalluses. Many of the images of the horned gods did not have erect phalluses, but some did. But creation can be much more than the gift of sperm. Animal husbandry is one aspect of creation of life. One of the gods to help with that is Hermes, who is a Greek god of animal husbandry focusing on care, herding and breeding of animals. Agriculture is another way of creating life. Saturn is the Roman god of agriculture focusing on seeds, planting and the harvest. As one creates be it for animals, plants or civilization in general, there is wealth involved. There are prehistoric images of Cernunnos pouring out coins. The name “Cernunnos” means horned one in Latin, and “cornucopia” is Latin for horn of plenty. Whether one brings a baby into the world, cares for a house plant, fills a cornucopia with fruits and vegetables or earns a paycheck s/he is honoring this aspect of the god.
The god is a solar god, and many cultures have or had a sun god. Some examples are the Hindu god Surya, the Greek god Helios and the Egyptian god Ra. On the summer and winter solstices, Wiccans look to the solar aspect of of the god as the sun waxes and wanes. Those long before us took great interest into the waxing and the waning in the sun as well. Archeologists have been finding evidence of observatories created by ancient people such as Stonehenge (built 4,500-5,000 years ago!) which marked where the sun rose and set on solstice days. To honor the solar aspect of the god, one may find out exactly where the sun rises or sets on the horizon on the solstices, set up lights or candles for the winter solstice or hold a nighttime vigil to feel how long or short the nights are on the solstices.
Protection is another quality of the god. He will help one fight for him/herself. Call on Bran or the Daghda for help. The fight needs to be for a just, right and true cause. One needs to be mindful of the Wiccan Rede which says, “Do what you will, but harm none.” Think of it this way: If you do not want it happening to you, you should not do it. There are situations and things one can do to honor this aspect of the god. One could create a witches’ bottle to protect his/her home, set up protection for oneself when doing psychic work or march against something unjust.
He is a god of transformation. The ultimate transformation of the god, the old stag is to lay down his antlers, die and become a god of the Otherworld. Cernunnos, Veles and other gods were described as gods who died and became gods of the Otherworld. We go through various passages in life and we can celebrate those passages: birth, coming of age, pregnancy, parenthood, saging/croning, senioring and death.
He is a god who inspires. One may be stuck with a problem to solve, stymied by an artistic or intellectual roadblock or something calamitous may have happened to him/her. Call upon Creidhne or Apollo when needed. Look for good things to happen in the future. These are excellent times to look to the god for inspiration.
The truth of the god is that he can be very helpful. He is one to look to and work with for these reasons and more. It may be time for you to learn more about the god. If it is not time yet for you to take action and work with him, read and research about him.
Enjoy getting to know the god!
I will continue to post on Wednesdays.
Conway, D. J., Lord of Light & Shadow, Llewellyn, 1997.
D’Este, Sorita, Horns of Power, Avalonia Ltd., 2022. I highly suggest this book. One can get it on Kindle Unlimited. It is an anthology with various authors.
Farrar, Janet & Stewart, The Witches’ God: The Lord of the Dance, Phoenix, 1989.
Fox, Selena, Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, “Green Man!”August 4, 2019, Encore presentation of Circle Craft Study from 2012.
Fox, Selena, Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, “Cornucopia Magic,”September 13, 2020, Encore presentation from September 16, 2014.
Mankey, Jason, The Horned God of the Witches, Llewellyn, 2021
NOVA, “Ghosts of Stonehenge,” Original air date for this TV show is October 11, 2017.
Rankine, David and Sorita D’Este, The Isles of the Many Gods, Avalonia, 2007.
Secrets of the Dead, “The First Circle of Stonehenge,” Original air date for this TV show is November 3, 2021.
Weinstein, Marion, Personal Magic: A Modern-Day Book of Shadows for Positive Witches, Weiser Books, 2003, 2021. It includes directions on how to properly make a witches’ bottle.