Does the Male Deity Get Enough Attention in Modern Paganism?


Picture Found HERE

Is it just me, or does modern Pagan spirituality feel like a hot dog bun fest? Much of the material I come in contact with emphasizes the power of the Goddess, the feminine divine that is necessary for creation. Yet the God, in comparison, merely tags along in the shadows as the Goddess’s consort. In particular, this mostly seems to occur in the Wiccan branches of Paganism. Not so much on the Heathen side of the spectrum.

This tendency to focus more on the feminine aspect of creation is not necessarily a bad thing. I see no problem with Dianic Wiccans that set themselves aside to focus purely on The Goddess. By the same turn, I see nothing wrong with Male Mysteries that focus purely on a God like Apollo or Dionysus.

Yet there are often situations when Pagans claim to worship both the male and female aspects of the divine…but seem to worship the female aspect just a tad more.

Why does the Goddess end up eclipsing the God in modern Paganism? Here is my theory:

Modern Paganism is a reaction against modern day, Patriarchal religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism

2,000 years of worshiping a male God only has created quite the unbalance. Many people retreating from the major world religions have sought refuge by flocking into the opposite direction – by seeking refuge in the bosom of a more maternal Deity: Wise and white armed Athena, powerful Diana, Inspiring Bridget, Beautiful Freya etc.

Many in the Neo-Pagan traditions have re-created the ancient world to be a Matriarchy. Those in the occult are familiar with Aleister Crowley’s Age of Isis. He believed there were three ages of history:

The age of Isis, the age of Osiris, and the age of Horus.

The age of Isis represents the beginning of human history. Crowley believed this was a peaceful age that was more Matriarchal. People lived in small communities in which Priestesses had power and influence over the village.

I do believe that women definitely had more power in Pre-Christian times. However, I have talked to some Pagans who have said absurd things – such as there were only Priestesses and no Priests in the beginning of human history (we’re talking the Neolithic Era).

First of all. There is still much uncertainty that shrouds the ancient world. Much of the Pre-Christian temples, scrolls and texts were burned when Christianity came along. Also, the evidence that points to a “Goddess dominated society” is rather weak. So they had more naked female statues in ancient times? There are also way more female models in magazines, nude women on the internet and images of the female body in art in the modern world. Yet a plethora of female pornography is hardly an indicator of respect for the female form.

Paganism represents many different things to different people. In this blog alone, I cannot say what Paganism is and what it is not. Yet to me, it represents a Spirituality that is more in tune with nature, with the energy manifest in the natural world. Both the Masculine and Feminine energies permeate nature.

I think many in the modern world today are lost. There are many men and women who do not know who they are, because there are countless magazines and television shows telling them what it means to be a “real woman” or a “real man.” All of course designed to make you feel insecure and buy more things.

Yet reading Ancient Mythology can often function as a mirror to reflect upon us the truth of our own natures. These are timeless values remembered and restored because they worked. There are male Gods who are cultured and musical like Apollo, Odin who was wise and loving to his wife, horned Celtic Gods who were wild and free. I’m not saying there is one way to be male or female, but it is helpful to read the ancient myths to see which Gods resonate with you.

What is God to me? I believe the Gods are many and one. All the multi-faceted faces representing the energy of the divine, shining on the multitude sides of a diamond. God as a male is a force of fertility and wisdom. He ploughs the field so that she may bare fruit. He is the brightness of a sun giving life and intensity, while the gentle light of the moon gives comfort and relief. Although that is merely my opinion, I entice you to find your own.

Some Notes on the Male Deity by the Pagan Federation

Facebook: A Place For Male Witches

EDIT: Shortly after writing this article, I found a relevant quote in Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner.”

“The Goddess and God are equal; neither is higher or more deserving of respect. Though some Wiccans focus their rituals toward the Goddess and seem to forget the God entirely, this is a reaction to centuries of stifling patriarchal religion, and the loss of acknowledgement of the feminine aspect of Divinity. Religion based entirely on feminine energy, however, is  as unbalanced and unnatural as one totally masculine in focus. The ideal is a perfect balance of the two. The Goddess and God are equal: complementary.”

28 responses

  1. Reblogged this on A Heathen's Path.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:22 am

    • Awesome! Glad you liked my post.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:07 pm

  2. Ebek

    Very awesome article. :D Will share with a few friends that I have.

    September 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

  3. So well put!
    While I am goddess-focused in my own path, I too have been bugged by exactly this trend in modern paganism. I think you have hit the nail firmly on the head with the reaction to partriarchal religion thing.
    I also love your last paragraph about what the gods are to you. Made me smile in fondness of the male energies in my life (I have a husband and sons).
    Thank you :-)

    September 16, 2012 at 6:12 am

    • Thanks Verdant! I am similar. My own path centers mostly on the Celtic Goddess Brigid. I don’t it’s necessarily because she is female, it’s just more that she is a patron over things that resonate most with my life: the arts, warfare and healing. With that said, I still would appreciate more respect for the male energies that be at a Pagan get together. While I don’t witness any outright hostility for males, I do often encounter a very casual attitude of female superiority that manifests itself in the sphere of the magical and mundane.

      July 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

  4. There’s a lot to think about with this post. I think we often cast our gods in our own image, and so when we divide things into male and female it tends to reflect our Western notions. The truth is what is masculine and feminine changes over time and is very complicated. Men aren’t one thing, and neither are women. I like that you point out the gods who are masculine, but are aligned with arts or tenderness. This is so important.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    • Yeah, I agree. I think our Western Society has a tendency to put things into a taxonomy of sorts. To boil characteristics and tendency down to a lump of generalizations. The great thing we can learn from Pagan stories is that there were many different types of men and women in most Pre-Christian cultures. In the Greek myths you have women who were jealous and wrathful (Hera), wise (Athena), lustful (Aphrodite), nurturing (Hestia), etc. You can say the same of tendencies found among the male gods: warlike and aggressive (Ares), cultured and artistic (Apollo), lustful and impulsive (Zeus), crafty and patient (Hephaestus). I think the turn towards monotheism has created a culture with mono-thinking in general in our approach towards life. One God, one type of man, one type of woman. I definitely like the fluidity of Pagan culture better.

      September 18, 2012 at 11:28 am

  5. Allene Henderson

    Lovely post. I agree. Women have an amazing ability to bring forth new life and a lot of people see creating life as being something divine. The Venus figurines come to mind and this may be where people might be getting some of their ideas about only having Priestesses. I believe they haven’t found any male figures from that era, but I may be misinformed.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:46 am

    • Yeah, I guess the problem is that there is so much about the past we don’t know. At some point many people are just filling in the blanks with an educated guess rather than verifiable facts. To be crude, ancient female figurines could also be the equivalent of cave porn. We just really don’t know. But this would be like if archaeologists 1,000 years from now dug up Disney World and thought it was a mystical temple where humans worshiped a Mouse God. Thanks for the comment! I think there is definitely a feminine, divine energy to creation to be sure.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

  6. Maybe Wiccans do but we Recons emphasize Masculine gods more then enough.

    July 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm

  7. Maybe Wiccans do, but Recons emphasize them more then enough I suppose. So we are fairly good off in terms of gender balance.

    July 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm

  8. I’m a gay guy who tried to attend a few pagan gatherings and found them to be strongly female focused in oddly homophobic ways. I’m pretty feminist in my politics, so I didn’t really mind being part of a feminine space. But it got expressed in some weird ways in terms of my sexuality, where I was seen as a threat to the feminine, as a usurper in some way. It was very uncomfortable. So in those spaces, I was treated as both the patriarchal male and a poser woman (don’t get me started on how irritating that was). Many of the gay male pagans I know only practice with other gay men, because of the chilly way that our masculinity and sexuality is perceived and treated by straight pagans. Gay male paganism tends to focus a lot more on the horned god and the green man, but celebrates the universal feminine. I found my experiences with other gay men to be far more balanced and frankly less creepily homophobic. [It's always disconcerting to be in a ritual space with a group of people who see themselves as liberal and gay-welcoming, but who then act out in homophobic ways.]

    July 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm

  9. Just a short FYI to the above commenter, along with what are assumed to be goddess figurines discovered in caves and burial sites, archeologists have thousands of representational phalluses made of various kinds of stone in various shapes and sizes. They amount to paleolithic dildos. Like metalgaia said of the Venus figurines, we don’t really know what they were for or what they meant to the people who had them. But because they were in graves with bodies, it is assumed they had some kind of religious or ritual significance as well as the obvious sexual content. Also, they have often been found along side the venus figures in the graves. If we use ancient Rome as one possible analogy, both the figures of naked women & the phalluses could be both sexual and religious simultaneously; the two possibilities aren’t mutually exclusive. Fascinating stuff, and very different from our cultures Victorian hangover about sexuality and religion.

    July 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

  10. Very well said. We will never find peace in ourselves until we learn balance between the yin and the yang in all aspects of life — our gods, ourselves, our earth, even the food we eat and each breath we take.

    July 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm

  11. calvin miller

    True

    July 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm

  12. Sean-Thomas

    I agree with the setting of your article. However it’s not just Wicca that has this problem, I’ve also seen it in the Reclaiming tradition and among most solitary practitioners (that do not claim to be Wicca in their practice).
    This is understood because the interest in Paganism in America in the Twentieth Century came about around the 1960s. At the same time a resurgence in equality for Women, Blacks, and the LGBT communities were also in full swing. Equal rights and paganism clove together and grew over the next two decades.
    By the time the 1980’s were here Goddess worship was in full swing. This was in a response to all aspects of the main Patrifocal religions of the time. The Goddess was (in some minds) everything Jehohah was not: compassionate instead of commanding, loving instead of lauding, accepting instead of restricting, etc.
    And so it went. Many pagan traditions focusing on the Goddess while giving the God some lip service.
    I noticed a change in this mindset when I went to PSG this year. I’d been previously in 2008, 1991, and 1992. The main ritual at the beginning of the festival invited the Goddess and the GOD to watch over us during that week. I’d never seen that before, ever. And later that week, the presenters gave a Goddess ritual for the women and a God ritual for the men that culminated in a larger Community Ritual.
    I see a need for BRINGING THE GOD back into our rituals and our mindset.
    Two of the main reasons for this are as follows:
    1) I’m a guy. I can’t help it. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. And I don’t want to feel left out in my experience of knowing Deity in ritual, myth, or mindset. If you’re only focusing on the Goddess, you’re marginalizing me. You’re marginalizing half the population. And if you’re a woman, you’re missing out on knowing your male loved ones are part of the divine.
    (I know people may say: We’re all part of the Goddess, even the men. To which I say: Sorry, but if you insist on engendering the Divine, you have to include, at least, the man two genders.)
    2) Not all male Gods are the one that Paganism tried to get away from in the first place. IOW, Zeus, the Dagda, Osiris, Odin, Bran, etc are not Jehovah. The main cause of being a polytheist person (or at least a duotheistic) is to know that there cannot be all things to all people. Thus the need for male and female aspects.
    And, while I’m on it, having a polytheistic model for the Divine eliminates a need for a dualistic one. That is to say that two halves compliment each other Man/Woman rather that fight each other God/Devil.
    In this sense, there is no evil deity waiting to trip us up, or steal our souls. There is not eternal struggle of Good vs Evil. Good and Evil do exist, they are just not personified in God or Goddess form. In this way the struggle of a greater and lesser selves is a personal one, Not a cosmic one. Also, it doesn’t leave women with the short end of the cosmic stick. For as, if Male is God then Woman is the Devil.

    Therefore engendering God as Man and Woman does the following.
    1. It limits the power or control of deity into a conceptual forever, rather than being all encompassing.
    2. It gives men a form in myth and mindset that they can relate to.
    3. It give a complementary form to the Goddess where the two work together, rather than against each other.
    Which leads to:
    4. It gives women a male understanding of God that is not oppressive or misogynistic.

    July 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm

  13. I agree which why I started a masculine-centric blog over at Pagan Square. To give the masculine divinities better “press”. :)

    July 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm

  14. Warren-Lee

    Cat amongst the pigeons time…. so much Paganism online is what I would describe as New-agey and affirming,healing nurturing etc.(which is not in any way a criticism btw) I think thats not very encouraging for the God side of things.Theres just not a lot being said about hunting,fighting,burning,shouting,boasting,fxcking,toasting,waging wars,gaining honour,singing sagas and spilling lagers which is all very much from your elusive male deity.So ,if anyone reading that short list finds anything they are not quite comfortable with then maybe the Male side of things have been neglected.Also remember that in later days,the God will sleep and recover whilst the Goddess will carry on as usual. Paay no attention to that old chestnut Crowley and his so-called ages…he was just a cheeky old man who liked to get high and have sex. Next Full-Moon I shall be back outdoors running around naked ,howling at the sky with no concerns other than crouching in the nettles.

    July 25, 2013 at 7:09 am

    • Good points. The New Agey Paganism to some degree asserts itself as the continuation of a tradition that is thousands of years old. Yet in many ways, I simply see a continuation of the 1960’s. The real Pagan world of our ancestors is much more brutal than many of us would like to admit, and many would like to ignore the aspects of war, human sacrifice, hunting, looting and raiding – and all the rest of the stuff that our pre-christian ancestors participated in. I’m not saying that we should aim to create a world replete with looting and warfare and the like. Peace and love are obviously better preferences. Yet if we are to objectively study and learn from our ancestors, we need to have an honest dialogue about what their lives were really like, not some watered down “everything was matriarchy and peace!” I feel like Asatru accomplishes this well. They take the values our ancestors developed in having to deal with localized warfare: honor, bravery, honesty and brotherhood – and apply these values to a modern life that doesn’t involve constant warfare.

      However, I’m not saying Asatru is a perfect example that shines above the rest. I’m just lauding their ability to have an honest conversation about the past, and rework principles from the past to fit into everyday, modern situations.

      July 25, 2013 at 10:38 am

  15. Pingback: The Sacred Masculine | Metal Gaia

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  17. WOW!

    I just wrote something particular towards this subject too. Much of the modern “new age” movement seems to be more reactionary, than original. And YES, many (not all) of the Wiccan Traditions of today minimize the importance of the Masculine Energies in most of their workings. I was a member of several different groups who believed in very much the same doctrines.

    I also found it quite insulting that they always talked about “balance”. Yet, their general practices and philosophies were rather one-sided; IE: Minimizing the Male-Energy contributions towards Nature. Seems to go hand-in-hand with the current political-correctness memes. – And Yet, we hear all this talk about “getting religion out of politics”. Well, how about we “get the politics out of religion” and we will all probably feel a bit better for it?

    I would like to re-blog this on my own blog. Though it is a bit dated as of of authorship, it still needs to be reminded towards the many if we are to truly regain our balance in our practices. This piece demonstrates what needed to be said.

    Thank you!

    – Rev. Dragon’s Eye

    March 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    • No prob Rev Dragon’s Eye! I hope you have found a religious community that is more balanced.

      March 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      • I practice solo these days, but that’s perfectly okay with me.

        Sometimes we may need to find our own way again because it differs greatly from the others.

        March 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

  18. Reblogged this on Through The Eyes of a Dragon and commented:
    A very informative post!

    March 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

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  20. anders

    Does real archeology get enough attention todday?

    October 19, 2014 at 9:55 am

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