The Ancient Ones
Gods and Goddesses are the forms that we use to focus our attention and energy through. Sometimes we choose these forms by researching our choices and picking the god/goddess myths that touch us the most deeply. Other times, often times with Solitaries, the form chooses us and makes itself know by dreams and synchronistic events.
When we work with a Pantheon (a group of gods and goddesses with stories and images with which we can familiarize ourselves. A Pantheon is often culture specific.) we can pick a particular form to work with during a particular working. For instance, if we were working for justice, we might invoke images of Hecate. When we pick the form we want to work with, we match it to our goal or need. Most traditions work with a specific pantheon, others work with only the Lord and Lady, and others work with only the energies themselves.
Gods and Goddesses are many things to many people. Some think of them as literal beings while others consider them to be archetypes, or energies that have been given power by continued and repeated use. Jung said that the subconscious is a depository of experiences, remembered or not. And the collective consciousness is a collection of primordial symbols which are universal images that have existed since the first humans.
Witches tend to be feministic in their viewpoints although there are exceptions to this. Most witches choose to believe that the Goddess came first and is supreme; they view her as the primordial force, epitomized in the phases of the moon, cycles, and tides. Symbols for the goddess are such things as crescents, moonstones, mirrors, silver, dolls, shells, holed stones, water, and hands.
The Triple Goddess
The Goddess is often worked with in the triple form of Maiden, Mother, Crone. These aspects coincide with the phases of the Moon and represents a specific energy and focus.
The Maiden represents youth, the New Moon, rebirth and wonder. The Mother represents the Full moon, protection, nature, and nurturing. The Crone represents the Waning, and sometimes, the Dark Moon, shrewd counsel, logic, and wisdom.
The God, as Silver Ravenwolf proclaims AIN'T Satan. The god represents the sun. His symbols are gold, brass, fires, bulls, snakes, horns, all phallic symbols, and hunting. He is often seen as the Horned One and is sometimes represented by a goat or a goat footed man, like Pan. He is the primal spark and creative energy, as well as Fatherly guidance.
Doreen Valiente, in Witchcraft for Tomorrow, says: "All the gods are one god and all the goddesses are one goddess, and there is one initiator. The Initiator is one's own high self with which the personality becomes more and more integrated as the path of spiritual evolution is followed."
If you choose to work with a Pantheon, study it well. Do not mix and match energies as this can muddle the energy of workings.
Is it necessary to work with god or goddess forms? No, you may chose to work with elemental energies, or focused concentration and still accomplish the same things as those who chose to work with god-forms. It is entirely up to you. I do not work with such forms myself; instead I work with Elemental energies.
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