There are lots of things involved in Paganism and Witchcraft that lend themselves to multiple offshoots and various sub-topics. When thinking about how to present the concept of the Divine Masculine, this becomes an easy thing to fall into. There are all sorts of historical, political, social, religious, and practical angles to consider that it soon becomes obvious that the topic is as big as the concept itself. I mean really, what’s bigger than God?
So, I will touch on a few things but try to keep the focused point heading in a single (or at least narrowed) direction.
I talk a bit about the idea of the Divine Masculine in another blog post. But now I want to go into more of what his role is among those who follow or want to follow him. Who is He?
My first relationships with the concept of a male deity were pretty similar to that of most people. At least, I imagine that to be so, having grown up surrounded predominately by a Christian (in one form or another) environment. Even people who have no real religious experience or teaching given to them fall into the cultural paradigm of Christianity that exists from living in a country where God is constantly referenced, churches are everywhere, and even cartoons and advertisements use Christian mythological symbolism like halos and pitchforks. So when coming into Pagan beliefs from such a background, what happens? When does the idea of God shift from what is culturally imbibed to something older, more primal, more rustic, and more natural to a Pagan?
Like anything else, I can only really speak from my own experience and possibly from the viewpoints of others close to me whose understanding I have witnessed. I struggled for a year or so with accepting and incorporating the idea of a Pagan god into my life. I had the benefit of being spiritually agnostic for a while before discovering Paganism. So for me, I’d already really divorced myself from the concept of what the Judeo-Christian god is like and everything that went along with him before I was introduced to Witchcraft. My first study of Witchcraft brought me to an understanding of a feminine deity. I latched onto that concept very easily and for a couple of years, was okay with paying lip-service to the other half of things. Sure, the books said that there was a God who was her sacred partner, child, etc. But he wasn’t entirely necessary… right? I mean, I read in some of Z. Budapest’s writings that someone could have an entire spiritual practice without any male counterpart at all. So I figured if he was there, and if he was around, he could give me a bit of space to explore and get myself grounded in my new path before seeking him out.
And he did. I found Goddess spirituality very helpful, very healing, and for the most part exciting, liberating, and magical. But, I kept feeling like I was missing out on something. Z.’s books were good, but they weren’t quite there for me. I kept reading other things as well that insisted that the Goddess had another half, and while I believe that my time spent with just Her was a necessary part of my growth, it was just a step along the road and not the conclusion to my journey.
I think it’s a unique challenge among Pagan practitioners who are coming into the path from another arena to find where they fit with regard to the idea of a Goddess, and a God who is very different from the culturally familiar one of the Judeo-Christian system. I think also that men have unique challenges to face in Paganism, both based on where they come from, and what they are coming into.
The idea of the Divine Masculine in Paganism has many angles to examine. He is a multifaceted being, very complex, and at the same time, very simple. He is neither all-loving, nor is He all-ruthless. He is gentle and comforting, but He is also the hunter who culls the wild herd. He is a protector and defender, but He has a vicious side and a fierce temper as well. Like all things, really, He cannot be broken down into either being ‘good’ or ‘evil’. He is a balance of them both because He IS the balance.
He is nature. He is the new green on the trees and the scent of fallen leaves blanketing the earth. He is the crash of thunder and the fire that lights the skies during a storm. He is the whipping rain and the wind that uproots trees. He is the sun, shining down in gentle, life-giving rays or burning the ground to dust. He is the growl of the wolf, the roar of the lion, the piercing shriek of the eagle, the purr of a tomcat, and the soft velvet upon a stag’s crown of antlers. He is life. He is passion, lust, freedom, sacrifice, love, wisdom, power, pride, anger, laughter, warmth, and pain. There is nothing that exists that does not wear His face or share His touch. He is present in the features of every young baby, every small boy, every rebellious teenager, every angst-ridden youth, every foolish fellow chasing dreams, every optimistic young man, every cautious father, every harsh teacher, every bitter elder, and every wizened old sage. He is in the girls and women too, though we may have to look harder to find Him within ourselves. He brazenly shines through every one of his sons and they all reflect aspects of Him at different times in their lives, sometimes in their smiles, sometimes in their tempers, sometimes in their arm as they swing a tool, wield a weapon, or throw a ball, and sometimes in their footsteps as they seek Him out in quiet groves and grottoes or in the night sky among the stars and distant worlds beyond this world. The Divine Masculine is also not only the Warrior, He is the Poet, the Healer. He is not just the Sage, He is the Fool. He is not just the gentle Lover, He is the stern Judge.
Our society has backed the Divine Masculine into a tight corner, a little box, and cut off his balls while simultaneously telling His human representatives they have to “Man Up.” The idea then becomes how can men show their power? They can’t find it within themselves; they’ve been separated from that source, so they have to look outward. But they can’t find it there either because the ultimate example accepted in our society of the male face of the Divine is an impotent, unsexed single parent with a bad attitude, and his virgin son.*
This is disheartening. It gives men nothing realistic to aim for and women nothing to want. In Paganism, it can be a huge shock as well for men who deep down, are seeking to find that missing part of themselves and their spiritual voice. There is a large focus on the feminine in Witchcraft, as there should be. But not to the exclusion of the other half of life. Women are given positions of respect and leadership, and among some of the more established paths and traditions, even given an edge over the male in rank and power. I don’t really agree with this either. I believe that both are totally equal to one another. That is what I strive for, teach, and practice: for focus and balance in equal parts. One may get more attention for a time, but then that deity will step back to allow the other to move into the lead.
The Divine Masculine has suffered indignities along the same lines of the Divine Feminine. Both have been shoved back and ignored. Like Her, His strengths have been wrongly identified as faults or sins, things to be overcome or ashamed of instead of embraced and celebrated. His human representatives, boys and men, have been separated from what makes them whole and complete beings and lied to about this whole thing. It is my sincerest wish that all men have a chance to go into the woods, build a fire, beat out primal rhythms on drums and free themselves to scream with their true voices, dance unto dizziness, and find that connection within themselves that has been so long ignored.
As a woman, I looked long and hard to find Him. Once I did, I will gladly never be rid of Him.
*Personally, I think the historical Jesus got it on with Mary Magdalene, but that’s not accepted canon by the church. They would rather see him as unmarried and virginal.