The God is the consort of the Goddess. Throughout his cycle of change he moves from the babe of Light that is birthed at Yule to the youth that quickens and enlivens at Beltane to the King of Power and strength at Litha and finally to the place of the harvested grain, cut down, and willingly sacrificed to feed, sustain and hold safe through the winter. HE is the Athame whose blade disperses the seed as the phallus or cuts to survive as the warrior and protector.
The Masculine Polarity
When we connect to the energy of the God we are calling to the place of deep strength, fecundity and necessary sacrifice. It is the awareness that to ensure the cycle of nature and life continue something must be given up. It is from the decay of matter that new life may be found. We also connect at the level of fierce protection for that which must be safe-guarded. The God acts in this manner on behalf of the natural world and the creatures contained within. It is his un-relentless instinct towards survival and balance that keeps the order of nature moving in accord with the Will of the Goddess.
The attributes of the God are very closely tied to the role that is needed. And, he shapeshifts frequently with multiple overlay and many names and designations coming from a singular source. Just as the Natural World is constantly in a state of change and transformation- albeit often transparent, other than to those who take the time to notice- so to the God is ever changing and adapting in his role of protector and guardian of that which the Goddess holds most sacred – LIFE.
The Solar Cycle
Just as the Goddess is aligned with the energies of the Moon, the God is aligned with the mysteries and energies of the Sun and its cycles. The God moves through the seasons as the sun waxes and wanes from Winter to Summer. In following this natural rhythm we connect to the natural cycles of strengthening and releasing and giving way that occur within ourselves. The expectation of the Sun rising, giving warmth and thereby sustaining life is the work of the God. The expectation that as the months move towards winter and the days are colder and darker that the spark of light still remains awaiting new life and energy in the Spring is the lesson of the God. The measure of time and its flow throughout the seasons is the work of the God. This is the underlying and essential support that is given freely to the Goddess, so that the work she must attend to may be successful and fruitful.
The word Bel means “to shine” or “brilliant”; Belanus is represented as a sun god, and would have been invoked during times of war to insure that the fiercest, bravest battles fought were also won. Battle was the equivalent of a warrior’s greatest and most “shining” moment, so out of all the Celtic gods and goddesses Belanus would likely be one of the most revered. He would be called upon to fight at a warrior’s side – passing his god strength on to the warrior until victory was achieved. Other schools of thought view Belanus as a god of higher reasoning. The translation of the name Belanus (shining or to shine) gives rise to a belief this god may bring about enlightenment if called upon. More likely, the shimmering glory of this god was seen in the height of tribal warfare when Celtic warriors were enmeshed in battle-frenzied combat.
The God is also often equated with similar triplicity like his consort , the Goddess. This could be likened also to the tides of the daily sun. The newness of dawn would be the Youth- the peak and heat of Noon would be the life sustaining Father and the sunset at dusk, the time of the diminishing sun would hold the wisdom of the God as the Sage. The Sage having seen the full spectrum of illumination and peak holds within the knowledge that the sun will rise again, anew with strength and light.
The Horned God
The Horned God is known by many names- Cernnunos, Herne, Pan to name a few. He is the God of fecundity and the wild and highly unpredictable force of nature. He is depicted with stag horns atop his head and you can feel the heat and strong pulse of blood and life as it courses through his veins. He holds us accountable for our actions as steward of earth and all of her creatures and his vengeance on those who interfere or tip the balance unfavorably is swift and exact.
The Greenman is the symbol of nature’s rebirth in the spring; he is the guardian of the forests; he is the protector of the wild places; and he is a positive masculine image of men as caretakers.
The God in this form is verdant and lush and full of life and vitality. He and the natural world are one in the same and he is intimately connected to the pulse and rhythm of this world as well as the movement of the sun above.
The Holly King and the Oak King
The Oak King and the Holly King are part of Celtic mythology, and are often seen as aspects of the Green Man. They are usually considered “twin gods,” or sometimes two aspects or manifestations of the same god, often the Horned God. The Oak King rules the Summer (and is sometimes called the “Summer King”) and the Holly King rules the Winter (and is thus called the “Winter King”). The God in this form acts as guardian and keeper of the natural world through its cycles of waxing and waning light. He ensures that all will be well and all will continue and be sustained.
The Oak King is usually celebrated at Yule and heralds the
return of the Light, spring and new growth and the Holly King reigns supreme and is celebrated at Litha, as the Light begins to lessen in preparation for harvest and winter. A battle is enacted at those times and the victor of the new season takes his place as guardian. They are twin reflections of an inner polarity of Light and Dark and the battle that takes on the inner landscape as we move towards acknowledgement and embracing of our own Divine nature.
The Sacrificial God
At Lughnassad (Lammas) the God takes on the form of the sacrificial King. The lands that he has guarded and greened throughout the Summer now are needed to feed and provide harvest for those of humankind who are also in his keeping. The wheat is cut and the bread is baked to honor this willing sacrifice and the ingestion of this substance of Life is the ingestion of the solar and life giving principles of the God himself.
It is thought by some to be the funeral or wake of Lugh, the sun king, whose light is now beginning to dwindle. A more correct interpretation, however, is that it was established by Lugh to commemorate the life of his foster mother, Tailtiu, the goddess of agriculture who died while clearing the Irish forests in preparation for planting. Lugh is the keeper of the forge and flame and is natural companion to Brighid. In celebrating the Wheel of the Year, it is often woven to have the celebration and focus of the Goddess – Brighid at Imbolc (in the Spring) and focus of the God- Lugh at the direct opposite Sabbat of Lammas or Lughnassad – the first harvest. In this telling of the story Brighid ignites the fires within the newly born and still quickening life that will flourish through the Summer and Lugh provides the fires that burn away what remains of those crops planted and those animals slain for food throughout the long arduous winter.
Foundations of Practice:
This week continue to add to your references of Deity. Now that you have some Gods and Goddesses to research and take closer look at add these to your listings. Next week we will begin a meditation practice to connect to Deity.
Next Week’s Post
The Divine Couple