Deities Of Change
These deities may be invoked in rituals involving not only change but also good fortune.
Oya is the African goddess, also known as Yoruba, who rules the winds and so controls the winds of change. She oversees trading and the marketplace, and brings good fortune to all honest traders and those who work with finance. She is very powerful, described as an Amazonian warrior and life-giver with dominion over the storms. She can be invoked at times of change and for all matters of employment, commerce good fortune and taking control of one's destiny.
Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, beauty, joy, pleasure and good fortune. At Divali, the Hindu autumn festival of light, lamps and candles are placed in windows so that Lakshmi will look in and endow prosperity upon the family. Rangolis, or coloured patterns, are painted on floors and walls to attract her. Rituals to invoke her usually involve candles and use gold or jewellery as a focus for her benevolence.
Deities of Power:
These gods and goddesses bring psychic self-defence, protection, righteous anger against injustice, also change, regeneration and survival. These deities are very powerful and should only be invoked in their most positive aspects for the purpose of defending the weak and never for revenge or personal anger. Experienced witches call on them only rarely and with the purest intent under the law of threefold return. The exception is Bellona, who is a benevolent and effective focus for female power and courage.
Bellona is the Roman goddess of war, the female counterpart of Mars whose chariot she drove into battle. She is especially good for women's assertiveness and self-confidence rituals. She carries a sword and wears a helmet.
Kali, the dark side of the Hindu Mother Goddess, came into being when Shiva, the husband of the Mother Goddess Shakti, taunted her for her dark skin. In fury she carried out rituals until her skin became golden inside. Shakti then shed her black outer skin like a snake and it formed the avenging destroying persona of Kali. Kali is depicted with her four arms holding weapons and the heads of her victims, her tongue lolling out, and covered in blood, signifying her power over life and death. She is often pictured dancing on Shiva whose body she trampled on, destroyed and then danced on once more to restore him to life. Kali is invoked to remove fear and, it is said, to bring bliss to her devotees, and so she brings protection and regeneration after sorrow.
Persephone is the Greek maiden goddess of transformation, daughter of Demeter and goddess of spring and flowers. She was abducted by Hades, God of the Underworld, and became Queen of the Underworld for the winter months, returning to the Earth as the light-bringer in spring and so representing the cycle of death and rebirth. She is especially powerful in rituals by or for young women, especially those who have suffered loss or abuse, and also for mother-daughter relationships. She is sometimes regarded as a symbol of grain. Proserpina, daughter of Ceres, is the Roman form of Persephone.
Sekhmet is the Ancient Egyptian solar and lion goddess created from the eye of Ra. She is sometimes pictured as a woman with a lion's head and so is a good to evoke for courage, righteous anger, protection of the vulnerable, psychic protection and the correction of injustice. As an avenging goddess, she should be used only as a focus for positive rituals, for, like fire, her innate power can blaze out of control.
Shiva, or Siva, is the Hindu god of both creation and destruction, good and evil, fertility and abstinence. With Vishnu and Brahma, he forms the trinity of the modern Hindu gods. He is the Lord of the Dance who, it is said, will one day bring about the destruction of the world. His symbol is the phallus, representing creative power, and many Hindus regard his benevolent, creative aspect as predominant. Shiva has three eyes, represented by the Sun, the Moon and Fire. His third eye allows him to see inwards and also to destroy whatever it looks on. He was not one of the original Vedic deities but became one of the supreme gods, according to legend, at the time when the universe consisted only of water. Vishnu and Brahma were arguing about who was the greatest god when a great pillar of flame appeared between them. Shiva appeared from within the flaming pillar, which was symbol of his masculine power, and the other gods bowed before him. Invoke Shiva for animus power, potency, survival and male rituals.
Shakti, or Matahdevi, is the female energy or power of Shiva. Her name is also used for the wife of any Hindu god. She is the Mother Goddess and, like Shiva, creator and destroyer in her different aspects. Shakti provides the energy that activates Shiva's male divine power, and her life-giving force animates other gods in difficult tasks. Although there are several other Hindu female goddesses, they all form aspects of Shakti and often their identities merge. One of Shakti's forms is as Parvati, the gentle mother. Shakti is potent for all rituals of women's power, especially when they must take the initiative, and she is easier to work with than Kali.
The Triple Goddesses are for lunar magic and moving from one stage to another in the life cycle.
Brighid, the Celtic Triple Goddess, is patroness of smiths, poets and healers and has the longest enduring cult in Ireland, which merged into that of the Christian St Bridget of Kildare. Her name means 'high one' and she is sometimes seen as three sisters, daughters of the god Dagda, the Divine Father, or as the triple-aspected maiden, mother and crone. She is invoked in fertility and healing magick and also for creativity, especially involving the written word. There are a number of sacred wells throughout England, Wales and Ireland dedicated to her or her Christian counterpart.
Deities Of The Environment:
Invoke these deities for rituals involving all aspects of the environment and for healing the planet.
Gaia is the all-embracing and all-nourishing goddess of the Earth. It is said that she supplies in her bounty all the necessary plants to cure any disease and, in spite of human pollution, she constantly heals and renews the planet. She is also a goddess of marriage. She is the natural focus for all green rituals.
Tellus Mater was the Earth Mother of the Romans, the alter ego of Ceres, the grain mother, and guardian of the fertility of people, animals and crops. However, Tellus Mater is also the mother who receives the dead in her womb to comfort and restore and so, like Gaia, she is a excellent goddess for all green magick and rituals for healing pollution or deforestation.
Wophe, or White Buffalo Calf Woman, is the sacred creator woman of the Lakotas and other peoples of the American Plains. Legend says she fell from a meteor and as she began her Earth walk, she was discovered by two young Lakota scouts who were hunting for buffalo. She wore a pure white buckskin dress, her long hair flowing behind her like a sea of corn. She sang into the souls of the men that each should act on his thoughts. Eagerly the first, not recognising her sacred nature, hurried towards her and a white mist covered them. The sound of rattlesnakes was heard and when the cloud lifted, there were only the bones of the young man. She told the other to inform the elders of the tribe that she would come to them next morning with a great gift for the people. A huge ornate ceremonial tepee was erected and in the morning she entered, carrying a special bundle on her back and singing a holy song. The men kept their eyes lowered when she entered, as she had instructed. She unfastened the bundle and took from it the buffalo calf pipe, which is still the most sacred religious object of the Lakota today. The woman instructed the men in how to smoke the pipe, which in its smoke symbolised the visible Spirit, in the bowl Mother Earth and in the stem Father Sky, so that it might be used for prayer offerings to her and for bringing peace to divided nations. On her visits she also taught sacred ceremonies for restoring balance and healing to both Earth and people. She then set off to leave the camp, walking towards the West. When she reached the outskirts, she rolled over on the ground and was transformed into a buffalo, changing colours several times. Finally, she changed into a white buffalo calf, rarest of the species, promising that when she was seen again she would restore harmony to a troubled world. The people followed her teachings, the corn grew, the seasons continued to flow in succession and they were hungry no more, as buffalo became plentiful. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, there were in reality fewer than 200 buffalo left, where only years earlier it was estimated there had been several million. In the summer of 1994, a white buffalo calf was born in Jamesville, Wisconsin. As the prophecy had told, the white buffalo has changed its colours since birth, going from white to black to red to yellow and back to white. Since each colour represents one of the four directions, the buffalo is seen by many Native Americans as a symbol of the rebirth of hope. One visionary interpreted the birth of the white buffalo calf as signifying that the human race will be united, in spite of differences in creed and colour, and join together in peace. Wophe is therefore an important symbol not only of the revival of the Native American wisdom, but also of healing and reconciliation of all people and of the land and all its creatures.
Deities Of The Male Principle:
These deities are for the hunt, instincts, willing sacrifice and ecstasy.
Cernunnos, meaning 'horned one', was a generic term for the various Horned Gods of the Celtic tradition. The god dates back to the shamanic figures portrayed on cave walls. Cernunnos was lord of winter, the hunt, animals, death, male fertility and the Underworld, and was sometime portrayed as a triple or trefoil god, an image later assimilated by St Patrick with his emblematic shamrock. Other forms of the Horned God include Herne the Hunter, the Greek Pan, god of the woodlands, and Dionysus, Greek god of vegetation and the vine, whose ecstatic mystery cult involved ritual dismemberment and resurrection. Cerunnos' importance has been in his continuing presence as the Horned God, the male principle in witchcraft through the ages, in modern Wicca and other neo-pagan faiths. He is also invoked for prosperity, fertility, instinctive power and knowledge of when it is necessary to hunt, whether to find employment or a home, and as protection against predators of all kinds.
Dionysus, sometimes depicted as a Horned God, was a god of the grain, who died and was reborn every year as a child in a basket, representing the seed corn. He was the Greek god of fertility, ecstasy and wildness, who bestowed great abundance on his followers; his cult performed savage rites at Eleusius where human flesh was eaten as the bread of life. Not an easy deity to use, without great experience and restraint, as the excesses carried out under his name need to be kept in check while invoking the free spirit and the renewal of life. He is potent for breaking away from destructive situations or, ironically, bad habits such as alcohol.
Osiris became one of the most important and popular gods in Ancient Egypt, mainly because he promised non-royal believers that resurrection and salvation from death were for everyone, poor as well as rich. Originally he was identified with each dead pharaoh, and his son Horus was identified with the reigning successor. Osiris married his sister Isis, and his brother Seth married Isis's sister Nephthys. According to legend, Osiris was at first made an earthly king by his father Geb, the Earth God. Osiris ruled wisely, teaching his people about agriculture and the arts. But Osiris's brother Seth was jealous and vowed to kill him. Seth invited Osiris to a feast and showed the guests a fine coffer, promising that whoever fitted inside would be the owner. Osiris stepped inside the coffer and it fitted perfectly. Seth slammed the lid tight and he and his followers threw the chest into the Nile. Isis searched for her husband and at last discovered the chest at Byblos on the Phoenician coast. She brought Osiris' body back to Egypt and conceived a son by her dead husband, hiding herself in the rushes of the marshes of the delta while awaiting the birth. Seth discovered the body of Osiris, hacked it into pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt so that he could never be restored to life. But Isis searched once more and, assisted by Nephthys, remodelled the bones into Osiris' form and restored her husband to life once more. When their son Horus, the Sky God, became a youth, he fought to avenge his father against Seth. The divine judges, including Thoth, god of wisdom, met in the Great Hall of Judgment and decided that Osiris should become not a living king once more, but eternal King and Judge of the Underworld. Osiris was also god of vegetation, the fertile, flooding Nile and the corn, and so represented the annual dying of the land and rebirth with the flood. He is normally pictured as a man, bound in mummy wrappings. Osiris is an important icon of the annual cycle of sacrifice and resurrection but, as with all the sacrifice gods, it is the female power that causes the resurrection. Like other sacrificed and restored gods, Osiris thereby represents the integration of animus and anima and sacred sex magick. He can be used in rituals for the balance of male/female energies or where the female in the High Priestess role takes the lead. He is also good for any magick that relies on a cycle of regeneration following a natural ending.
Agni, the Hindu god of fire, is said to be manifest as the vital spark in mankind, birds, animals, plants and life itself. He appeared in lightning, in celestial sun flares, in the sacred blaze rising from the altar and in household fires. Agni was the divine priest and acted as messenger to the gods, interceding with them on behalf of mankind. The priest would chant: 'Agni, the divine ministrant of the sacrifice, the great bestower of treasure. May one obtain through Agni, wealth and welfare.' Agni is still important as the god of domestic and ritual fire and for spells for the increase of wealth, material goods, creativity and domestic protection.
Hephaestus, Greek god of fire and metal-work, was thrown from Mount Olympus by his father Zeus because he took the part of his mother Hera in a quarrel; as a result of the fall, he became lame. He created armour, weapons and jewels for the gods in his workshop beneath the volcanic Mount Etna, in Sicily, and as a reward was given Aphrodite as his unwilling bride. He was among the least charismatic of the gods, but his Roman counterpart, Vulcan, fashioned Jupiter's thunderbolts. Hephaestus is patron of metal-workers in much of the Western world and in the Middle East from where his cult originated. He is effective in all rituals for craftsmanship, for the acquisition of wealth and treasures, for the development of skills and precision and for controlled power for a particular purpose.
Deities Of Healing:
Aesculapius was a healer, son of Apollo and the mortal Corona, who lived during the eleventh century BC, and became a god after Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt for raising the dead. The first shrine dedicated to Aesculapius was built in Athens in the fifth century BC by Sophocles. Other shrines followed in rapid succession, the most famous at Epidaurus, which became a major healing centre. Many were sited at sacred wells and springs. These shrines were dedicated to healing and dreams, and were the principle vehicle for obtaining relief or cure of illness of all kinds. When Aesculapius appeared to the dreamers, he would tell them the medicine they should use and any treatment that should be followed. He can be invoked for healing and meaningful dreams, for good health and for divination.
Ganga is the Hindu water goddess who is manifest as the sacred river Ganges, daughter of themountain Himalaya. She is a natural focus for healing rituals, as well as for happiness, fertility and prosperity, and for Water magick.
Iduna is the Viking goddess of eternal youthfulness, health and long life. As goddess of spring, she possessed a store of golden apples that endowed immortality, fertility and healing and so she can form a focus for healing rituals, and for spells for beauty, health and the granting of wishes, especially those using apples as a symbol.
Panacea is the Roman goddess of healing, who takes away pain. Daughter of Aesculapius, she and her sister Hygeia assisted in healing the sick in their dreams at the dream temples. She is good for healing rituals for women, children and especially teenage girls.
Sulis, or Sulevia, is the Celtic goddess of healing and especially of healing waters. Her name is derived from the Celtic word for the Sun and her most famous site is the hot mineral springs that have for at least 10,000 years poured from the ground in Bath, in south-west England. From Celtic times, perhaps even earlier, the springs became a formal centre of healing. Sulis became Sulis Minerva under the Roman occupation and she maintained her role as a healing deity. The significance of the sacred springs continued and Edgar, the first king of England, was crowned there in AD 973. In medieval times, the springs were still a focus for healing pilgrimages and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Bath became a fashionable resort where the wealthy would come to socialise and take the waters. Sulis is potent for all healing water rituals. Because curse tablets as well as offerings have been retrieved from the waters, she is also associated with justice through karma and the banishing of sorrows.
Deities of Wisdom:
As well as wisdom, these gods and goddesses are for knowledge, truth and justice.
Athena, or Athene, daughter of Zeus, is goddess of wise counsel, both in peace and war, of intelligence, reason, negotiation and all forms of the arts and literature. The owl is her sacred bird and the olive her symbol representing peace, healing and nourishment.
Hathor is the Ancient Egyptian goddess of truth, wisdom, joy, love, music, art and dance and protectress of women. She is said to bring husbands or wives to those who call on her and she is also a powerful fertility goddess. Also worshipped as a Sky Goddess, Hathor is frequently shown wearing a Sun disc held between the horns of a cow as a crown. She was once entrusted with the sacred eye of Ra, the Sun God and her consort, through which she could see all things. She carried a shield that could reflect back all things in their true light. From her shield she fashioned the first magical mirror. One side was endowed with the power of Ra's eye to see everything, no matter how distant in miles or how far into the future. The other side showed the gazer in his or her true light and only a brave person could look at it without flinching. Hathor can be invoked for all forms of mirror magic and is also associated with gold and turquoise and so jewellery made of these can be a focus for her powers. In the modern world she is guardian of businesswomen. Fiercely protective in defence of her own, she is especially potent against physical and psychic attack.
Ma'at, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of truth and justice, was responsible for maintaining the correct balance and order in the universe. She was daughter of Ra who created her to establish unity and order in the world. Ma'at is pictured as a woman wearing a single ostrich feather as a headdress. She was all-powerful, even over the king, who had to rule with truth and justice to attain eternal life. After death, a person's heart was weighed on the scales of justice against the feather from her headdress to see if it was free from sin. She can be invoked for all rituals of justice, uncovering secrets, truth and trustworthiness.
Hermes is the Greek messenger god who travelled between dimensions. He is associated with the wise Ancient Egyptian god Thoth and the later Roman Mercury. He is credited with great knowledge, healing powers and medical knowledge. The double entwined snake of Hermes' and Mercury's caduceus, or wand, which is often a living growing staff, is a symbol both of healing and of powerful communication. The snake forms two circles, the interlinked cycles of good and evil, life and death, light and darkness. The wings on the caduceus are for wisdom, guarding against gossip and malicious words as well as illness. Among Hermes' many patronages were moneylenders and thieves and so he can protect against poverty and trickery, as well as helping you to speak the truth that is in your heart. Hermes can also be invoked for all medical and commercial matters, for good fortune of all kinds and for peaceful sleep.
Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom, who ruled with Jupiter and Juno as the triumvirate of justice and wise power. She also controlled commerce and all crafts and is credited with the invention of music. She is often depicted in armour. Minerva, whose creature is the owl, can be invoked in employment rituals and for the development of skills, retraining and musical ability as well as for truth and justice. Unlike Bellona and the warlike gods, both Athena and Minerva are used in rituals for using legal means or oratory and persuasion, rather than direct action, to overcome injustice.
Thoth was the Ancient Egyptian god of the Moon, wisdom and learning. He was also god of time, languages, law and mathematical calculations, who invented the calendar and hieroglyphic writing. He is often depicted with the head of an ibis although he was worshipped as a baboon in Hermopolis. Appeal to him for all matters of magical wisdom, learning, intellectual pursuits, examinations and better time management. Wise Woman Deities These goddesses are for transformation rituals, for endings that become beginnings and for accepting what cannot be changed.
Cailleach, meaning 'The Veiled One', is the Celtic name for a number of hag goddesses. These are powerful crone goddesses, who have retained their early associations with the winter. For example, the Scottish Cailleac Bhuer, the Blue Hag, manifested herself as an old woman wearing black or dark blue rags with a crow on her left shoulder and a holly staff that could kill a mortal with a touch. She roamed the Highlands by night during winter when her power was at its greatest. Cailleac Bhuer is credited with creating the mountains by flying through the sky dropping stones, and so is said by some folklorists to be the origin of megaliths and stone circles and the nursery rhyme, There was an old woman tossed up in a basket'. Hags are expert shapeshifters and as well as appearing as old women, they may assume the form of lovely maidens, hares, cats, stones and even trees.
As well as being a crone goddess, Hecate is a goddess of good fortune, especially but not only of sailors and hunters. As goddess of the crossroads, where offerings were traditionally left to call up her blessings, she is regarded as the supreme goddess of witches and witchcraft and is akin to the Bone Goddess who transforms death into new more perfect life. She can be invoked for all waning moon magic and for rituals for banishing sorrows and bad habits.