The deities of Wicca are a balance of masculine and feminine, with a God and a Goddess. The Goddess, also commonly referred to as The Lady or the Triple Goddess, is followed by many people, both Wiccan and otherwise. She has been an inspiration to many people and many Pagan paths.
Like the Horned God, her true name is revealed to Wiccans after initiation, but this in no way stops people from getting to know her and form a close, personal relationship with her in their own way.
Who is the Triple Goddess? The Triple Goddess is the divine personification of nature itself. Her identity has been inspired by many Goddesses throughout history and across many cultures. She exists as part of the Great Goddess tradition that exists in many cultures, from the Celts, to North Africa and even as far away as China and Japan. In this way she is both an old and new Goddess, given form in modern culture as the Triple Goddess, but at the same time being the embodiment of certain ideas and impressions that have been expressed as part of the human condition for thousands of years and variously expressed through many different Goddesses across the world.
As a Great Goddess she stands as head of her pantheon alongside her Lord, the Horned God. She is the creatrix that brings the world into being and the womb that gives birth to her divine companion. She is nature itself, present in all things and as such we may view her as inseparable from the body of the Earth. She is there in the firmament below us and the sky above us, giving life to everything and changing with the seasons.
The Goddess of the Esbats As the God is connected with the Sun, so the Goddess is embodied by the Moon. The Moon guides the tides and shows us the silvery light that may guide us through the darkness, just as she may guide each seeker through the Mysteries of her faith.
Each month Wiccans covens gather at meetings which are often called Esbats. These Esbats commonly occur at the Full Moon and are traditionally celebrations of the Goddess, where she herself is called to manifest in person before the coven.
The Goddess is often seen to present herself in three aspects, hence being a Triple Goddess. These three forms are Maiden, Mother and Crone, the life of woman which is also represented in the changing cycle of the Moon.
As the Maiden she is portrayed in the power of the waxing moon, which starts unseen and then grows in power and brightness. Here she is the young, innocent Goddess.
In the Full Moon we see the fertility of the young Goddess reach its climax as she is made full and pregnant. The Moon is at its brightest and filled with power. She is a provider, protector and teacher for her children.
As the Moon wanes we see the face of the Goddess as Crone, the post-menopausal old women who has passed through youth and motherhood and emerged richer and wiser. She is declining and approaching death, but what she has to offer is the valuable secrets of experience.
While we have represented the Wiccan Goddess as "the Triple Goddess", for her aspects of Maiden, Mother & Crone, we would also like to make note that although this is a common way of identifying and referring to the Goddess, it is not necessarily the way in which all Wiccans have come to know her best.
Certainly, the aspects of her in this triple form are closely linked to the role she plays in the seasonal cycle and her seasonal relationship with the Horned God, but ultimately the way in which an individual Wiccan views the God and Goddess will be determined by a combination of personal experience and the workings of their coven.
The consort of the Goddess is commonly referred to as The Horned God, by those who follow him, whether Wiccan or not. The true name of this God as used by Wiccans is a guarded secret that is only revealed after initiation. But not knowing the name of The Horned God does not stop people knowing who he is and the role he may take in our lives. More importantly, this is the first step to achieving a relationship with him.
Who is the Horned God?
The personage of The Horned God has been inspired by the myths of many Gods from around the world, as well as various fictional works that are often noted as milestones to modern Paganism.
World mythology has many Gods with horns, wear horned headdresses or otherwise have horns as a symbol to represent them. The Horned God of the Wicca follows in this tradition. It should be noted though, that The Horned God is more rightly viewed as an Antlered God, rather than literal horns, making him synonymous with the noble stag and the way in which deer grow and shed their antlers with the change of the seasons. This too is part of his imagery and a note to his British heritage.
The Horned God is a diune God, meaning that he exists in two primary elements, which in his case are the God of Life, and the God of Death. These two identities are different sides of who he is aspects of his personality which become evident as the seasons change and the God engages in his continuous cycle of life, death and rebirth.
As he moves between his dark and light aspects, The Horned God adopts different roles which reflect his duties in the changing seasons of the world. To make these roles easier to understand, they have been divided below into who he is according to the four great Sabbats and who he is in the imagery of the Solstices & Equinoxes.
The God of the Sabbats
The Young God
From the Yule to Midsummer the God progresses from a child to a man. This part of his life, as a youth, is best represented in the Sabbats of Imbolg and Beltane.
At Imbolc we see the young God as a child playing merrily in the newly born natural world. He is taking his first steps into the forest, which will someday rule as a king. But for now he is a child, revealing in the joys of the fields and the forests.
As we move to Beltane he has grown into a strong and virile youth, romantically frolicking with the Goddess in the forest that he has now claimed for his own. He is like the stag, walking tall and proud, and assuming sexual dominance in his territory.
The Corn King
When the Sabbat of Lughnassadh comes round, it is the beginning of the Harvest time. By now the Horned God is old and this is his time of sacrifice. The God is one with the land and so he willingly gives his life in the grain harvest so that his people will be able to eat in the coming cold seasons. This is the Horned God in the role of The Corn King, the lord of the fields whose body is the food of the community. He is a willing sacrifice and the harvests mark his transition from God of Life to God of Death.
The Lord of the Underworld
With Autumn and Winter the Horned God has taken up his throne in the Underworld. He is the Dark God of death, and ruler of the realm of spirits. He opens the door between life and death on Samhain and then is protector of the Goddess as she passes through the Underworld to emerge as the new world on the other side of death, path which time she will prepare for the rebirth of the God on Yule.