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Home My Articles, Personal, The Tree Non-standard Deities in Traditional Wicca


Non-standard Deities in Traditional Wicca

I’m writing this article only because I feel it has become necessary to explain some aspects of my own practice.

I’m Seax-Wican. That should be obvious from all the information and articles I have on my site about Seax-Wica. I have conversed with Raymond Buckland multiple times, I have worked with people and written articles about Seax-Wica, and I’ve even created and administered chat groups about Seax-Wica. There was also one aborted attempt at creating a Seax-Wican coven in our home, right around the same time I was asked to give a class on Seax-Wica and what it was about to a group of Witchcraft 101 students.

Unfortunately one of the persistent criticisms that have come my way as a result of my being very public in my practices, is that I’m not “truly a Seax-Wican” because I don’t worship Woden and Freya, the deities of Seax-Wica. Again and again I have defended my deities and pointed out that my private practice is my private practice, and not subject to anyone’s discussion nor criticism.

Unfortunately this has not stopped the critics. So here, once and for all, is my first, last and only word on the subject. This is not to try to draw out the Drama; it is not to continue debates and arguments. It is meant to be a resource that I can point to when this topic comes up again.

Let me tell you a story about my personal spiritual quest.

Back when I was first studying about Wicca and Paganism, I found a book called “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft.” It was illuminating, it was everything I wanted and needed. The concepts in the book weren’t that foreign to me since I had been studying metaphysics since I was 4 years old. I knew about Auras, chakras, handwriting analysis, astrology, Aliens and UFOs, Angels and extra-planar entities, and had a good grounding in classical mythology and Germanic mythology. These were my interests and passions as I grew up. (And before the critics start saying that I’m trying to present myself as “better” than others because I’ve studied longer let me derail that. I am adding this simply by way of information, nothing more.)

I started reading Buckland’s and it organized the information I knew and had in my head in a different way. I started seeing connections I hadn’t considered before. I saw that the Gods were not a remote group of beings who were dead, but that they were living entities who lacked worshipers and missed us just as much as we needed and missed Them. I started seeing the Gods as immediate and present, and it was a shocking revelation.

I dedicated myself into Wicca. No particular tradition, just the generic dedication ceremony that was present in the Complete Book of Witchcraft. At first I had picked Cernunos as my God and Rhiannon of the Birds as my Goddess. Why? Well, I saw Cernunos’ name in many places as the God of Witches, and Rhiannon was a beautiful name. My wife had been married to a Welshman before she married me and she mentioned the name several times. I thought “good name” and decided that among the goddesses I knew of, Rhiannon could possibly be the one I felt most comfortable with.

Remember, at this time I knew ONLY the Classical Greek and Roman goddesses as well as goddesses of the Norse. None of them spoke to me when I went “shopping” for a Goddess.

So I had picked Rhiannon and Cernunos as my deities by default, mainly because I didn’t know better. I was comfortable with that. I spoke to my wife multiple times on the subject, and she advised me to not use Cernunos, but Herne who was basically the same God, just with a more Anglo-Saxon aspect on Him. I saw no harm in that, and since I was fascinated by the British Isles, I agreed. Thus my dedication to Herne and Rhiannon began.

Over the next 10 months, there was a LOT of very direct, very immediate, very intimate contact between myself and Rhiannon. She and I resonated on levels I didn’t even know existed. She taught me many things about myself, about my wife, about life, and She actually initiated me into the Mysteries. I had many many seminal events with Her, learning much about myself and Her and life in general.

At the same time, this was also happening between myself and Herne. He was a bit more remote than Rhiannon, maybe because I had more of a problem with father figures and had bad associations with anyone who was male and greater than myself. He taught me about how a Man is supposed to act, what is honorable and what is not, what is simple machismo and what is critical for a Human Being. I learned secrets of love and the Life in the Woods, the cycles of the animals and how they acted.

They claimed me as Their own child and student, and worked very hard to make me Their Priest.

About a year after my dedication, my wife and I met a man through my step-daughter who was named Steve. He was an initiated Seax-Wican, author and martial artist. I liked him immediately. He hung out at our house since we had similar interests, but it was still months before I shared my interest in Wicca.

To this point, I was dedicated of no specific tradition. But I had been looking for a Seax-Wica coven or person to talk to since that tradition of Wicca made the most sense. I had first encountered Seax-Wica from the descriptions that Buckland put into The Complete Book of Witchcraft. I read about Alexandrian, I did what research I could on Gardnerian, I got several books out of the library and read. (To put this in context, this was in 1992 or so, when the Internet was not even formed, it was a collection of BBSs, and the computer I owned was an Apple ][ e, which I used to write articles, do a diary and play Taipan on.) Meeting Steve was a godsend. And he taught me some and we discussed even more issues and thoughts about spirituality. He gave me a copy of The Tree.

I read every word of that book. I studied it, I memorized it. I lived it. Since I was a Wiccan anyhow, I adapted the rituals to Herne and Rhiannon and asked Their permission to do so. I met no resistance.

Now, before you start condemning me, understand that I consulted Herne and Rhiannon on every step of this process of self discovery. I had looked at other traditions, from Circle Wicca taught by the Frosts, to the works of Stewart and Janet Farrar to old books by Gardner and the books by Graves and Adler, Starhawk and Murray, you know, the REAL classics of Witchcraft. I knew that Rhiannon and Herne were NEVER linked in the myths, it was always Rhiannon and Pwyll or Rhiannon and Manawyddan, not Herne the Hunter. I had talked to both Deities and asked Their permission to make sure there wasn’t a problem with either of Them in working with each other or with me. I was told that to Them it didn’t matter since the deities I prayed to were what I needed and wanted, not what They needed.

So when I read in The Tree that I had to pray to Woden and Freya, I tried. I really did. I spent months working with Woden and Freya, calling Them, talking to Them, trying to feel who They were, reading the myths I could on Them. I got very little response from either of Them. I have no clue to this day why neither of Them ever talked to me. And the impressions I got in ritual were that Woden was a man who didn’t care a bit about me, I was just some schlub who didn’t matter, and Freya didn’t care about me because she was too absorbed in herself to pay attention.

(When I lamented this fact recently on my LiveJournal, a friend of mine pointed out that it was probably incompatibility of ancestry. I am from Celtic descent, through my father and mother, from about 5 different ways. I have one German ancestor, and no Norse or Viking that I know of anywhere. So there was no connection to either Woden or Freya from the originators of the traditions, and I have very little Anglo-Saxon or Saxon ancestry either. It is Scottish, Irish, Midlands of Scotland, and American Mutt. So it is quite possible that since I had no call to be in Scandinavia or the area where Woden and Freya are worshiped, that They ignored me. But I am called to Wales and to Scotland and Ireland. I hope to visit there some day.)

I have never run down anyone who does pray to Them, and I have never had a problem with those deities specifically. It is simply that They do not call to me, nor do They move me as Herne and Rhiannon does.

I agonized over this. I spent months in meditation thinking that it was MY fault somehow, that there was something lacking in me that made that connection somehow fail. I finally came to the conclusion talking to a Teacher of mine that the failure is not in me, and it was not Them, it was simply that I was working with an incompatible personality in those deities, and I already had Patron and Matron deities, and while I could learn from Woden and Freya, they would not be my gods. And honestly, I was happy with that.

(And you can ask my wife about this time of my life. I was lost spiritually and floundering in my growth. I meditated for about a half an hour every night, talking to the Deities and other astral beings. I talked to my wife, I talked to the spirits she channeled and I read a lot.)

When I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t me, or the Gods, that were at fault in the compatibility with Seax-Wica, I was so relieved that I wept and had one of the two moments of complete and total Union with the ALL. I understood so much more that night. It truly was a plateau in my life.

So I set about changing the basic rituals I performed with my wife in our house to reflect the fact that Herne and Rhiannon were our Gods. It was nothing more than changing the names in the rituals, and copying them down into my hand-made Book of Shadows, our family copy of The Tree.

From there I started a personal practice wherein I used the structure of Seax-Wica, but substituted deities that cared about me and whom I cared about. But I did try. May all the Gods witness I did try.

Since then, I have corresponded with other Seax-Wicans, taught classes, corresponded with Buckland and I have NEVER had a problem with whom I pray to in my rituals. I have ALWAYS been up front about the fact that I don’t care for Woden and Freya, but in any ritual I do in public as a Seax-Wican priest I always call Woden and Freya anyhow. I save Herne and Rhiannon for my private household rituals. Whenever I teach Seax-Wica, I make sure the students understand that I don’t necessarily pray to Woden and Freya and so whatever I say about Them is going to be slightly biased since I’m not talking about Them from personal experience.

Then I got online and become active with my website and with various groups online. Even they didn’t have a problem with who I prayed to, until it came time to have a “leader of all Seax-Wica”. Then I get dismissed, belittled, put down, regaled to “Not a TRUE Seax-Wican”, told that I’m a heretic, that I am a blasphemer, that my oaths are not valid and that I disgust the Gods. This happened with the Mark V debacle, and it’s happening again with the “new” Stieward of Seax-Wica (who has claimed several times before now that he didn’t want to be Stieward) and his cronies. Every time I turn around, he or one of his groupies belittle and insult me and my Gods and I won’t stand for it.

I have labored, I have defended, I have supported, I have worked and taught, I have been the best example I could be of what a Seax-Wican is. I have renounced my oaths to a group once, have tried to renounce my oaths as a Seax-Wican twice (the Gods wouldn’t let me renounce them), and I have written and defended Them over the last 20 years of my life. I have been Seax-Wican longer than I have been anything else, including married or a Father. It is who I am. I won’t let one embittered jerk who has never met me in the flesh or talked to me about anything other than religion belittle me any more. I won’t keep justifying my Gods on lists any longer. I’m tired of it.

So here it is. This is the path of my Gods I traveled to get to this point. If it speaks to you, good. If not, allow me the courtesy of praying to whom I want while I wish you blessings on YOUR path. I won’t say that people I meet who tell me I’m not truly Seax-Wican are themselves not, I’m not in a position to judge their spirituality at all. I will say that by saying that they themselves demonstrate that they are not living up to the very oaths of tolerance and succor they swore on their Initiation.

And something we should all think about when we start trying to determine who is and is not a real religious person:

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty Gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson


2 Responses to “Non-standard Deities in Traditional Wicca”

  1. Starlah says:

    This is actually the article I read right before I sent you an email. Its your fault the dam broke, lol.

  2. Gary Hamblin says:

    So new I do not count but even I have read that no one is right or wrong. Even in Raymond Buckland books he says your God and Gaddess is yours and no one can take that from you.

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