Historical Deities

The Clash of the past & the Present
Gardner’s Wicca had two distinct patrons deities whom he never identified by name in his books because of oaths of secrecy. They have frequently been described as the Triple Goddess or Great Mother and the Horned God, but those are merely descriptions, not their proper names. Thus, worshipping figures by these names does not equate to following Gardner’s gods: one may find a horned god to worship, but he may not be the same deity as Gardner, any more than my high school math teacher and a friend’s high school math teacher are the same person because they are both “Math Teacher.” Certainly, then, slapping terms such as “Horned God” or “Triple Goddess” onto a historical deity does not make him or her more intrinsically Wiccan, and it frequently is grossly misrepresenting the deity in question.

While I accept Eclectic Wicca as a valid Wiccan path, it is certainly not the exact same path that Gardner followed, and pretensions to the contrary are just that: pretensions. We are distinct from initiatory paths, and our gods are frequently distinct from theirs. Instead of working upon the generalities Gardner and other early writers gave us concerning their deities, Eclectic Wiccans have turned to historical deities as their personal patrons, whom they can freely study in-depth. Most often these deities are drawn from Celtic, Roman, and Greek mythology, often in combination. In more recent years there has been growing interest in other deities, such as those of the Amerindians and Hindus.

I ask that you think very hard on who you wish to follow. Worship is not a recipe book. Calling upon a god or goddess just because you want something from him or her this week is not only futile; it is insulting. I so despise books and sites that say things like “In order to achieve such-and-such result, mix 1 part ginger, 2 parts vervain, invoke Hermes.” There’s no divine spice rack! Religion is a personal relationship with the divine, something that should be nurtured and embraced throughout one’s life. Gods do not come when you call on a whim, and if all you see in them is a use, then you are missing the point of religion entirely. (Likewise, if I ever see another webpage labeled “Uses of Deities” it will be too soon.)

More specifically, I ask that you seriously consider who might be calling to you. Many Wiccans will tell you that their gods chose them, not the other way around. A particular deity may sound cool and intriguing to you, yet you may feel no real connection with them at all. Conversely, you may find yourself being called by a deity that does not initially seem like a logical match.

Be mindful of your sources. Gods of different pantheons exist in their own specific settings. The High Magic trappings of Wicca are not terribly compatible with, say Amerindian shamanism. If that is where your heart is, then you should seriously consider following a shamanic path, not Wicca. If your interest is strongly Norse, you will likely find Asatru far more fulfilling. If a deity from a living religion such as Hinduism calls to you, you should seriously consider whether Wicca or Hinduism is the more appropriate path upon which to approach.

Incorporating monotheist deities within Wicca is particularly rude. Jehovah and Allah demand that their followers follow no other gods but them. Therefore, worshipping them alongside other gods and goddesses as is the practice of Wicca is not worshipping them at all, but insulting them.

Following a god of a particular pantheon does NOT mean you are following their religion.

Know your gods, both in meditation and in study. Do not just go off books that list hundreds of deities with a couple sentences of explanation. This is an important reason for keeping to a limited number of deities – it allows a reasonable scope for study.