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The 8-Fold Gods and Goddesses, a Wiccan Pantheon for Eclectic Covens

Updated on October 23, 2014

Many traditions of Wicca, witchcraft and paganism focus on specific named Gods and Goddesses. One path might be slanted to seeing the Goddess as Diana, another might see her as Aradia and yet another might work with Isis.

When working in an eclectic group or coven, challenges can arise when deciding which deities to call. This is even more likely when dealing with more experienced witches, who often have strong working relationships with their personal patron deities.

A pagan handfasting ritual.
A pagan handfasting ritual. | Source

Pantheon Soup

The problem here is that in many cases this leads to Pantheon Soup, with one deity from column A, and another from column B.

The named deities each have specific ways that they desire to be worshiped and worked with. And they don't always get along well with deities from other pantheons. Heck, sometimes they don't even get along within the same pantheon - just ask Arianrhod how she feels about dealing with Gwydion!

Some covens solve this challenge by taking turns. This month they might focus on the Egyptian pantheon, next month they might work with Norse deities.

What do you do when folks in your coven or group want to work with different pantheons or deities?

See results

In our path, we solve this challenge by focusing on eight greater archetypes (four gods and four goddesses) rather than on the named gods and goddesses. These archetypes come to us from the Wysardn side of our path (a survival of the Druids and the court magicians of Europe).

On the feminine Lunar side our four goddesses are: Maiden, Mother, Matron and Crone. We view the masculine Solar gods as Lover, Father, Warrior and Hunter.

We are unusual in our path, in the inclusion of the Matron. Most traditions of Wicca only recognize a Triple Goddess

In this series-in-progress, I will explore each of these 8-fold god/desses in no particular order as the mood strikes. (Do stop by again for more of these, as I'm in the middle of much article writing!)

The Green Man
The Green Man | Source

Why Eight Gods?

Most paths of Generic Wicca have three goddess forms and count the Moon phases as Waxing, (Maiden) Full Moon (Mother) and Waning (Crone). However there are actually at least 4 Moon phases (we can even divide that up into eight if we want to get technical), typically known as "quarters." You can find the dates of those quarters on many calendars.

So it made sense to focus on 4 archetypal goddess forms, one associated with each of those quarters. Besides that, the Matron (a warrior-like defender of the hearth) is an archetype that is strongly rooted in mythology, and yet she (and the goddesses that fall under her umbrella) doesn't comfortably "belong" to the other three archetypes.

Generic Wicca often recognizes only two major male god forms, the Dark God, Hunter or Horned One of the waning year, and the Bright or Green God of the waxing year. Here as well, we felt that there are archetypes that fall outside of these two divisions and chose to honor a god associated with each quarter of the year.

Lady of the Lake
Lady of the Lake | Source

Since There Are 8 Moon Phases and 8 Sabbats, Could we have 16 Gods/Goddesses?

While this might be an interesting intellectual exercise, I doubt it would be useful in practice.

Each of the 8-fold Gods is already an established archetype within the Collective Unconscious, and most named gods fit the mold of one or another of these eight quite easily. Further subdividing each of these aspects in half would be challenging.

It would also be a bit clunky - imagine having to call in sixteen aspects before you could get on to the working of your ritual or spell!

Daphne and Apollo, sculpture in ivory by Jacob Auer
Daphne and Apollo, sculpture in ivory by Jacob Auer | Source

Deity Pairings

Each of the 8-fold gods come in a male-female pairing. The Maiden's complement is the Lover, Mother and Father are a couple, as are the Matron and Warrior and the Hunter and Crone.

The elements in each of these pairs complement and nurture the other. Water nourishes the Earth and helps the plants to grow, while Air gives oxygen to fan the flames of Fire.

Invocations to the 8-Fold Gods and Goddesses

Because our path is focused on creating balance, we tend to call the gods in the order female-male, then male-female. In this way we are saying that neither masculine nor feminine energies are "better" or "more important" than the other. Instead they take turns.

Sometimes a men will call the male deities, and the women the female ones sometimes we'll do it the opposite way. More often we just call them all in unison. Another alternative we use is to have the person who feels in need of working with that energy choose to call a particular deity, with no regard to the gender of the person calling them.

The simplest invocation to the 8-Fold gods, consists of merely calling their names. This is the form we most often use during Esbats. For Sabbats, especially if we're performing a public ritual, we tend to get more fancy.

(Facing East) "Maiden and Lover..."

(Turning to the South) "Father and Mother..."

(Turning to the West) "Matron and Warrior..."

Turning to the North) "Hunter and Crone,"

(Turning to the center) "Join us in our Circle and bless us with (whatever kind of energy the rite is focused on - wisdom, courage, compassion, etc.). Hail and Welcome!"

8-Fold Gods Time Associations

God/Goddess
Moon Phase
Time of Day
Season
Maiden
First Crescent to First Quarter
-
Spring - Imbolc to Beltaine
Lover
-
Dawn
Spring - Imbolc to Beltaine
Father
-
Noon
Summer - Betaine to Lammas
Mother
First Quarter through Full Moon
-
Summer - Betaine to Lammas
Matron
Just after Full Moon to Third Quarter
-
Autumn - Lammas to Samhain
Warrior
-
Sunset
Autumn - Lammas to Samhain
Hunter
-
Midnight
Winter - Samhain to Imbolc
Crone
Third Quarter through Dark (new) Moon
-
Winter - Samhain to Imbolc

8-Fold Gods Colors, Elements and Directions

God/Goddess
Color(s)
Element
Direction
Maiden
White
Earth
East
Lover
Green & Blue
Water
East
Father
Light Blue & Gray
Air
South
Mother
Red
Fire
South
Matron
Golden Yellow
Air
West
Warrior
Orange & Red
Fire
West
Hunter
Brown & Black
Earth
North
Crone
Black
Water
North

Here is a more lengthy invocation, that I wrote for a sabbat years ago:

I am the Maiden. I rise from the depth of darkness to bring new life to Earth. I am the crocus peeking through the snow, and the courage to strive ever upward toward the Light. I am the bright blush of innocence unfolding within you; laughter bubbling forth like spring thaw. I am the butterfly dancing across the meadow; the finch singing exultation; the freedom of being truly Self. Yet all goddesses are one Goddess...

"Dancing in the Fields" Waning Grain God and Ravens
"Dancing in the Fields" Waning Grain God and Ravens | Source

I am the Lover. I am the liquid thrill of the pipes that causes the sap to rise within you. I am the pollen, faery dust gilding that sets the woodlands aglow, beckoning you deeper. I am the grain thrusting proud and green from the earth. I am the seed of the first harvest, the power of a love great enough to sacrifice all that Life may continue and the Wheel turn on. Yet all gods are one God...

I am the Father. I am the golden orb which helps you to illume your inner essence. I am the breeze whispering eternal knowledge, the limitless horizons unfolding to the probing mind, if you have but ears to listen and a moment to be still. I am the hand that reaches toward you, yet trusts enough to let you make your own faltering steps. Yet all gods are one God...

I am the Mother, pregnant with my own self-expression. In my joy I become full and round until I can contain no more. And as Life must will out, I push forth that which I have held inside, bringing bounty into the world. I am the flowing of lava, creating new land, even as I destroy that which has gone before, I am the flame of passion that causes sparks to leap between our hands and the hearthfire that warms the heart and sustains the spirit. Yet all goddesses are one Goddess...

I am the Matron. I am the lapwing leading the fox away from the nest. I am the she-wolf defending the den of my sister, that the pups may grow and thrive. I am the pruning knife which trims that which serves us no longer, letting our bindings float away, drifting like leaves on the wind. I am the power of words to separate, threshing wheat from chaff, truth from un-truth. Yet all goddesses are one Goddess...

I am the Warrior. I am the heat of the brush fire, conquering all within my reach. The raging flame of passion that consumes, giving you the courage to achieve that which you most desire. I am the spark of need, which drives us towards the stars, jumping the fire-brakes to enforce my will upon the world. And though I may leave seeming barrenness in my path, some seeds require heat to sprout to fullness. Yet all gods are one God...

I am the Hunter. I am the arrow that seeks true to the heart. I am the stag running from the chase, drawing the bowsman to the tangled reaches of the forest. I am the door of the dolmen, beckoning forward. I am the mystic, measuring fear against understanding, and finding the price worth the dare. I am the stumbling shadowing fear, yet I journey forward, trusting that a thread of silver shall guide me through. I am the crux of darkness which leads into light. I am the shed of snakeskin, giving away to death, that life be renewed. Yet all gods are one God...

I am the Crone. I settle the hoar-frost of my cloak upon the Earth, that all may find quiet and rest. I am the still of the scrying pool in which you may reflect and gain understanding. I am the ice which preserves, yet locks into form. I am the bone chilling waters that threaten to drag you under whence you chance upon thin ice. In my depths, tomb becomes womb, ending becomes beginning and all is transformed. Yet all goddesses are one Goddess....

Further Benefits of Working with the 8-Fold Gods

Having worked with the 8-fold gods for almost two decades now, I've found other benefits of working with the 8-fold gods, besides simply making which deities to call an easier question.

New Insight into the Named Gods

Besides making group work, easier, studying the named gods as part of their greater 8-Fold archetype has given me new insight into those gods themselves.

I'd always known that my patroness, Arianrhod is a Crone goddess. (Many folks who have written about her, but haven't worked with her label her as a Mother goddess. Just because a God or Goddess has children in their legend does not make them a parent.}

Studying the Crone archetype as a whole, gave me new understanding of Arianrhod's workings and place in the cosmos.

God/Goddess
Examples of Named Gods
Maiden
Artemis, Persephone, Rhiannon, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Hathor, Oshun, Aphrodite
Lover
Green Man, Tammuz, Lugh, Pan, Eros, Dian y Glas, Dionysus, Lono
Father
Zeus, Dagda, Freyr, Obatala, Osiris, Mannannan Mac Llyr, Arthur, Sky Father, Kane
Mother
Cerridwen, Demeter, Hera, Gaia, Freya, Isis, Innana, Epona, Danu, Selene, Earth Mother
Matron
Athene, Morrigan, Oya, Kali, Sekhmet, Maeve
Warrior
Ares, Thor, Ogun, Nuada, Balor, Ku-ka Ilimoku,
Hunter
Cernunnos/Herne, Gwydion, Odin, Hades, Arawn, Gwyn ap Nudd
Crone
Arianrhod, Hecate, Grandmother Spiderwoman, Ereskigal, Hel

Which archetype do you identify most with?

See results

Understanding God Forms You Don't Connect With

Most witches have a small handful of deities they work with on a regular basis. These are generally their patrons (I don't use the term "matrons" to represent a female patroness) and a few other gods they've worked with in the past or who take them on temporarily to teach specific lessons.

One of the exercises we do as a course of our tradition studies is to take one aspect of the 8-fold gods that we relate to and one that we don't and meditate on, journal about, and make a point of working with that aspect.

When I approached this lesson, I realized that I'd never been "tapped" by any of the Father deities, and that I was pretty uncomfortable with every single one of the named Father deities that I could think of, other than Skyfather.

This exercise gave me new insight into fatherhood itself, and the ways in which I (despite the fact that I'm female) express Father energy.

"Magic Circle"
"Magic Circle" | Source

Understanding the Facets of Self

The next logical step after studying the archetypes that you connect most and least with, is to explore all eight.

Doing so helps us understand that we contain facets of all these archetypes within us, even when we relate more to some than others. And, of course, it will also help you understand and connect with those archetypes themselves when you call them into your rites.

Some questions you might ask in both this and the previous exercise:

  • What aspects do I feel most drawn to? Why?
  • What archetype am I most uncomfortable with? Why?
  • What scares me about each aspect? (Even the ones I feel drawn to?)
  • What part of these archetypes am I drawn to?
  • In what ways am I now expressing the energy of that deity? How have I expressed that deity in the past?

Photo Credits

Via Wikimedia Commons by Creative Commons Share Alike

Pagan Handfasting ShahMai Network

Via Wikimedia Commons by Public Domain

Magic Circle John William Waterhouse

Via Flickr by Creative Commons Share Alike

Green Man Joanne Munro

Daphne & Apollo Guilio Nepi

Via Flickr by Creative Commons No Derivatives

Lady of the Lake Eddi van W.

Dancing in the Fields H. Koppdelaney

Articles in the 8-Fold Gods Series

Thus far I've only covered the Mother, however check back, as I'll be making pages for all eight deities.

Source

Red is for the Mother Goddess

An exploration into the Mother archetype.

The Queen of the Earth, Moon and Stars, in her many roles including the Full Moon, the Bounty of Earth, the Fire of Creation and Destruction, Parenting aspects and more.

Source

© 2014 Lionrhod

What aspects or deities do you work with and how do you handle working with more than one pantheon?

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