9 November 2013
The Pentagram of Creation: A New Myth and Pantheon
I spent some time recently pondering about the guardians of the four quarters and elements. For some time now I'd been treating them in a rather neutral manner, simply calling upon the spirits of each element in ritual without any specific names or forms. But now as I thought about them, images begun to take shape in my mind, and a story...
This may have been in part inspired by reading I'd done lately about the Feri Tradition, a form of witchcraft not entirely different from Wicca, but distinct in many ways. My own roots are firmly in Wicca and it's not like I'm going to suddenly switch over, but there is a certain kind of... energy in Feri that is fascinating, and a pantheon of deities that is wider and maybe, in some ways, a little more imaginative than mainstream Wicca's... In any case, the deities I describe below are creations of my own mind, not directly borrowed from any tradition.
As I write this article, these are still new ideas for me, and I have no idea whether they will end up as actual parts of my practise. But they seemed interesting enough to put down in writing.
A Creation Myth
In the beginning, there was chaos, and there was Goddess, and the chaos and Goddess were one. Goddess carved out stars and planets from the chaos, and thus our Universe was born.
Goddess came down to one of her planets, taking the form of a mighty wolf, so that she could run and hunt and feel. But she was alone.
Goddess called down a mighty rain and covered the planet in oceans. She shaped the falling rain into a beautiful young maiden and frolicked in the rain.
But there was also sadness in the rain, and the sky was always grey. So Goddess made brilliant colours and took to the skies with rainbow wings.
However, as Rainbow Bird looked down, she saw that Wolf Goddess and Rain Maiden were still alone. So Goddess called forth a mighty dragon of fire from the nearest star. Taking the form of a nimble youth, Sun Dragon danced for them, and they were merry.
Then Goddess took Sun Dragon's fire in her and gave birth to the Fey Lord of Many Shapes. He ran with Wolf Goddess in the wild places as an antlered beast. He soared with Rainbow Bird as a mighty hawk. He danced with Sun Dragon as a shaman in trance. He bathed with Rain Maiden in the darkest depths of the sea. And from the love between Goddess and Fey Lord all living creatures were born.
An oft-quoted saying amongst Wiccans and other occult traditions states that 'All gods are one God, all goddesses are one Goddess.' Personally, I might take it a little further and say: 'All gods and goddesses are one Goddess.' The great Star Goddess, as I understand Her, is vast beyond human conception. She is the pantheistic divinity of the universe. All the phenomena of the universe, including all other deities, are simply aspects of Her. When I speak of these other spirits, I am actually speaking of the Star Goddess, merely outfitted with a specific shape and with a specific title, for a specific purpose.
The one I referred to as the Fey Lord in the above myth, is essentially the Horned God of Wiccan tradition. He is the life force of all living beings. Where the Goddess represents the totality of the universe, the God represents individuality. But he is also a somewhat elusive character, with many shapes, as the myth suggests. He is the consort of the Goddess, but which aspect of the Goddess that is might change.
A linguistic note: the word 'fay' (or 'fae') is derived from an old French word for fairy. The spelling 'fey' has come to be often used in a largely synonymous way, but it is actually derived from a completely different, Germanic word meaning 'doomed to die'. I chose the latter spelling for my Fey Lord specifically because of this double meaning, since as the god of life, he is also the god of death, as all living things must eventually die.
Rainbow Bird is the spirit of air, the east, and spring. I see her as either a beautiful bird with brilliantly coloured plumage, or a beautiful woman with wings and colourful hair. The element of air is often associated with the intellect. This might not be immediately obvious from the admittedly psychedelic appearance of Rainbow Bird, but with her colours she does at least clearly represent sensory perception, a vital part of intelligence. The return of migratory birds is also a powerful symbol of spring, as are colours.
Sun Dragon is the spirit of fire, the south, and summer. I see him as either a great dragon made of living fire, or a dancing, lithe youth. And, unlike the other elemental deities, I actually see him as a male character, albeit rather androgynous. The myth above implies that he is the father of the Fey Lord. This is because life depends on energy, the primary source of which on our planet is the sun. The Wiccan God is often also seen as a solar deity, so the Sun Dragon and the Fey Lord could in fact be seen as aspects of the same figure. Though, of course, both are aspects of Star Goddess...
Rain Maiden is the spirit of water, the west, and autumn. I see her as a beautiful young woman with long hair, flowing, as in water. Despite the name I gave her, she represents all water, in rain, rivers or oceans. Which are, of course, all part of a single global system, the water cycle, and cannot truly be separated. Rain is obviously sacred. It is vital for life on land, and agriculture, but we often also find great aesthetic beauty in it, though often coupled with ideas of sadness and melancholy. It is very fitting that the element of water is commonly associated with emotions. Autumn is also frequently associated with both rain (at least where I live) and melancholy emotions.
Wolf Goddess is the spirit of earth, the north, and winter. I see her as a proud white she-wolf, or as a beautiful, strong woman with a wolf's head. Predatory beasts have been both feared and worshipped throughout human history. In modern times, many people have come to see great beauty in them. Such wild beasts have, of course, a close connection to nature, and through nature to the Earth itself. The white wolf is also a fitting symbol of winter and snow. And there is also a connection to death, the ultimate return to the Earth, both through the association with winter and the predatory nature of the beast.
(Note: the quarters and seasons reflect my life in the northern hemisphere, and northern Europe in particular. Other associations may be more appropriate for other locations. The association with quarters and seasons is, of course, somewhat arbitrary in general. It's not as if the deities only exist in one particular direction or time. These are merely symbols associated with them. They are all always present.)
I titled this article 'The Pentagram of Creation' for a reason. Not only is the pentagram commonly associated with the elements in occult tradition, the symbol, and the way it is traced in rituals, greatly influenced my creation myth.
The order the deities are introduced in in the myth follows the way the pentagram is commonly traced in Wiccan practise (the so-called 'invoking pentagram of earth'), and the way the elements are traditionally associated with each point. Starting with spirit (or akasha, void etc.) at the top (the Star Goddess), down and left to earth (Wolf Goddess), on to water (Rain Maiden), air (Rainbow Bird), fire (Sun Dragon) and finally back again to spirit (this time representing the Fey Lord).
This progression could be seen as an allegory of the creation of our planet, through the accretion of matter, the development of the oceans and atmosphere, and the development of life, taking advantage of the atmosphere and the energy of the sun.
It could also be seen as a kind of transmission of energy from one aspect of the Goddess to another. It would be wrong to think of these deities as fully distinct from each other. Rather, there is a fluid change from shape to shape.
In any case, considered in this way, the act of tracing a pentagram becomes thoroughly connected with all these deities and their myth.