Traditional Witchcraft Deities

If you have started off with wicca, like I did, you probably be left with the belief that people follow a God and a Goddess.

Some people do follow a God and a Goddess, some follow only one deity and others, like me, are polytheistic.  Polytheism is following many deities, often from the same pantheon.

Other traditional witches follow The God of the Witches, which is usually a horned god from one of the pantheons, often Cernunnos or Pan.

Some witches cheerfully assert that “I don’t do deity” and follow no deities at all.

While wicca is a religion, witchcraft is just a craft and the following of deities is optional.

The question is : so which do you do? and why?

I’m a polytheist because many deities have appeared to me in meditation.  Sometimes they just drop in an odd time or two, while others have been more regular.

The deities I follow at the moment are : Donn, The Dagda, The Morrigan, Flidais and Sianon.  There may be more in the future, but that’s up to them.

Finding Your Gods or Your Path

It is not necessary to have a path, or a God and Goddess that you follow. I have known people who have been Pagans for over twenty years and still do not have a path, or a God and Goddess, but do possess a wealth of knowledge.

I recommend that you go to your local library and read all you can from their mythology section. Unfortunately my local library has twice as many books on Witches or Wiccans than mythology (I think it should be the other way around), but it’s a start.

When you have exhausted the mythology section ask at the enquiries desk for more books on pantheons that you either haven’t read or more on the pantheons that you like. In Britain there will be other books in other libraries that the librarian will be able to find and order on the library computer. My local library also has an archive room which houses little-read books and I have found useful.

You could also search on Amazon for books on various pantheons. Be careful to read any reviews that Amazon has and then order the book from your local library if you like the sound of it. In Britain, Pagan books start at £10.00 while ordering from my local library costs £1.00 or £2.00 if they have to go outside the county to find the book which is then usually from the British Museum, but sometimes from university libraries. This has saved me a lot of money, as unfortunately the genre of Pagan books as a whole is low on quality and I have read many books I don’t want to ever see again and am glad I did not shell out over £10.00.   Any books I really like I then buy.

From reading mythology books there will be certain pantheons that you like and some that you dislike, which will narrow down your search for a path. For example, I read about the Norse pantheon as a teenager so when I became Pagan I knew I was not a Norsie as I didn’t really like the Norse gods.

It would be best to start with the pantheons you know you have an ancestral connection to. Then if those do not attract you, try some of the others. I knew a Scottish Pagan woman who after a long while ended up following Thor and then found out that she had Swedish ancestors and I have known a few British pagans who followed Roman gods. Quite possibly they had Roman forebears, but that is unable to be proven.

When you find a pantheon that you are interested in there will be several Gods or Goddesses that catch your imagination. The next step is to research them. When researching on the Internet you have to keep in mind that the information you are reading may be a load of rubbish as anyone can write anything on the Internet. With the less popular Gods and Goddesses you will have a plethora of entries which read something like, X – a Goddess of Y or Z which I found very frustrating as I felt I was not getting anywhere.

Try your local reference library instead. It will have encyclopaedias you can check, plus a mythology reference section. Books take longer than the Internet, but in my experience it is shorter than the Internet to actually get somewhere.

Please bear in mind that this way does not guarantee you to find a path or a God and Goddess. I know of one Pagan who found that her Goddess was Nantosuelta and God Succellos after six years of being a Pagan, and since neither are a popular God and Goddess, nor is the Gaulish pantheon written about a lot, it must have taken a lot of reading.

Keep in mind that you don’t choose your God and Goddess, they choose you. You do not “work with” Gods – they work with you. You may not like or not have chosen the God and Goddess that you end up with. I would not have chosen mine.

I do believe that everyone has a God and Goddess, but it may take time to find them. I would encourage people to persevere even if they do not find a God and Goddess or path, because other Pagans will respect you for your knowledge about other Gods and mythology. It will also help you spot the Pagan wannabees as they quite often talk a load of rubbish about this or that God or Goddess.

I hope this article has given you a start in finding your God, Goddess, and path. Please remember that these are my words and beliefs and you are free to disagree with them and go off and do something totally different. Good luck in your search.

The Annals of the Four Masters Volume 1

This book contains the annals of four people.  The annals are a description of the pseudo-historical events that went on in Ireland, from around 3000 years before Christ and 1600 after Christ.

The first volume goes from the start of Ireland, from The Dagda’s kingship to the 10th century.

Most of this book contains detailed information on kings and saints.  There are some pages of the book that deal with deities, but half of this volume is taken up with King X started reigning, King X died, had reigned for Y number of years and manner of death, King Z started reigning.  The other half is mostly details of saints, with some miracles and plagues added in.

I think that this book will be of most interest to scholars, especially the notes which make up half of the book, but anyone who wants a light read should avoid it.

Talking to Trees

A large part of my path is working with trees.  I do this because I’m the sort of person who is drawn to trees and manages to speak with them with little or no difficulty.  One of the best things in the world is to sit at the roots of a tree in a hot summer day and talk to it.

I have a Common Alder that I go by twice a day on my way to work and talk to.  One evening I found a branch down at the foot of the alder.  This was obviously a gift from it, but I checked all round the alder (which is only ten feet tall) and could see no marks from a branch being either torn or cut from it.

In some books people are advised to talk to trees by imagining the sap inside it.  Whatever you do, do not do this.  I was at a gathering where this was being done, and the poor tree was in agony from strangers poking at its insides.  I psychically built a brick wall around and above it to seal the tree off from humans.  I don’t know if this is permanent as I don’t live in the area, but it was a quick fix in an emergency situation.

The best way to talk to trees is to first find a tree that you like.  It doesn’t matter what the reason is that you like it, but it’s best to start off with a tree which you will want to visit.

Then just say “hello” to it.  If you can, sit at its roots and read or have a picnic and basically spend some time with it.  At first, you may not get any response at all.  The alder I mentioned previously took two to three weeks to start communicating back and that was with me saying “hello” to it twice a day on my way to and from work.

I have found that trees which grow in public places to be easier to communicate with, as they spend more time with humans.  One London Plane in Aylesbury dropped a bit of its bark on me to get my attention!

Don’t try and communicate with a tree which has lost its leaves, as it will be going to sleep for the Winter and conserving its strength and resources to get through that time.  But when the tree has leaf buds out it will be waking up for the Spring and any time between then and when it starts losing its leaves is a good time to start to communicate with it.

I have found that trees that grow on land you own are most friendly and open to communication, but trees growing wild or in forests are difficult to communicate with as they have not had much experience with humans.

Plant Spirit Wisdom by Ross Heaven

Ross Heaven starts the book off badly with a lot of things which are culled from that well-known faker Iolo Morganwg and clearly a whole lot of rubbish.  Five pages in and I was wanting to be sick.

Fifteen pages later and I found that the number of things the author manages to ignore are amazing.  For example, he talks of an Irish world tree and names an oak called (according to him) Crom Bile as the Irish world tree.  There are several named trees in the Irish texts and the ones I know are oak, ash and yew.  So the oak tree alone was not venerated as the Irish world tree as various tribes had their own tree, for example the Yew of Ross.  But that’s a lot less convenient than having a single type of tree as the Irish world tree.

At several points he says the name of a tree is X in Celtic and goes on to mention an Irish or Welsh name.  Since he can’t even differentiate between Irish gaelige and Welsh what he writes is seriously suspect.  He also says that the Celtic name for rowan is luis, which actually means “flame” in Irish gaelige and does not mean rowan.  He got luis from the Irish ogham, where rowan is associated with luis.  Scholarship, what scholarship?

I managed to get through twenty pages of this book before it got too much and had to put it down.  I paid £1 to the local library to get this pile of neo-pagan claptrap, and £1 is too expensive. Avoid, avoid, avoid this book at all costs.  Even if you get this book for nothing it’s really not worth the time spent reading this rubbish.


Today I celebrated Imbolc.  In the morning when I woke I saw that the forsythia had one bloom on it, which I took as a good omen because for me the forsythia blooming is the first sign of Spring.

As usual I did a small ritual.  What is unusual is that I took my shoes and socks off, because as well as celebrating Bridget’s day I was going to do a Snake Dance to awaken the earth and to properly connect I needed to be barefoot.

I marked the circle out as usual and asked the tree itself (which is a weeping willow) my ancestors and the gods of my ancestors to protect and watch over me in my ritual.

I then started saying about Bridget : about how her cross was a protection symbol.  I then set off to do The Snake Dance and saw a woman frowning at me.  I should have taken this for a sign that all was not well, but I missed it.

I then did The Snake Dance while singing The Snake Song.  This is in order to wake the land up for Spring (see Sarah Lawless’ post The Serpent and the Land) and after that I saw a woman smiling at me, which I should have taken for a sign that I’d done this well.

People reading this who don’t live in Britain may be wondering why I am doing this when I saw an omen that Spring had come.  Well, in Britain Spring may have come, but it can disappear again.  I have known Imbolcs when it snowed and once we had several inches of snow in March.  The British weather is at best unpredictable and I for one don’t want the land to go back to sleep again, so I did The Snake Dance and Song.  Besides which, the omen may have just meant that it was right for me to do The Snake Dance and Song.

The Snake Dance and Song is something I have made up.  I’m not reproducing the Song here as I feel that people should make their own up, but the Snake Dance is so simple that people may very well make up the same one.  The Snake Dance is just moving around in a wiggly way as a snake does and only going forward by moving sideways, just like a snake.  Sarah’s blog says that people used their hands, but I don’t see what’s wrong with substituting feet.  Besides which, I have been meaning to use dance in ritual for a while now, and this seems like a good time.

After I’d wound down the circle and went home I did a meditation.  I knew that Bridget wasn’t happy with me and a deity can speak with you with less impediment in meditation.

It turned out that I’d said the wrong words about her in meditation.  I spoke of her protectiveness when I should have spoken about her as a goddess who chose the wrong man and made the first keening in Ireland when her son died.  I should have spoken about her as fire : the fire which makes the smith create tools and weapons and the creative fire which helped me to write The Snake Song in around half an hour, whereas the first and last quatrain I’d written took two hours to write.

To remedy this Brigit told me that I am to write this up in my blog so that others will not make the same mistake.  I was also to make a Brigit Cross, which I have done and hung it up on the door.

For the first time we have a house of our own and in accordance with folklore the old Brigit’s Cross has been hung in the rafters to protect the house against fire.  While I was going up the ladder to the loft to hang the Cross, my betrothed was at the bottom (I couldn’t reach the ladder so had to get him to do it) saying “I don’t know where you’ll be able to hang it” and I saw a nail sticking out of one of the rafters.  The deities certainly provide when you need it and when something’s right.

I also got a gift from the tree of a forked stick.  It’s too small to make into a stang, but I’ll meditate over it when it’s seasoned and find some use for it.

All in all, it’s been an interesting and humbling Imbolc for me.  I hope yours has gone well.