Gods, Myths, and Reality
What is a God? This is a major question, which must be answered before we can decide for ourselves with which Deities we will choose to work; which ones to call upon in our everyday lives.
We, as Witches, do not conceive of a Giant, Supernatural Being who, upon a whim one day, sat down to "make" us like a cake. We perceive of a larger entity, of whom we are part and parcel. We are not "created in the image of God", but rather it is we who, by our very natures, "create God"! As Above, So Below; As Without, So Within; the whole is the Sum of All Its Parts. Therefore, as we are, so Deity is, and as Deity is, so we are.
Each and every aspect of the God and Goddess represents and aspect of Nature, and so represents an aspect of each of us. Viewed in this manner, it becomes obvious that by coming to know the various Gods and Goddesses, we may come to a measure of self-knowledge that will allow us to better become of that we are capable of being. By under-standing the Gods, we may more fully manifest the Gods within us, becoming, then, more "God-like", and achieving more fully that which we refer to as the "Great Work", or union (One-ness) with Deity.
The myths portray the actions of the Deities and that the myth cycle reproduces itself regularly within each and every aspect of Nature, including the lives of human beings. By the means of our meditations and rituals, during which we become aware of our own participation in the cycle, we are able to take our places among the Gods, to be "elevated to Godhood", to perform the Great Work.
In his book, MYTHS TO LIVE BY, Joseph Campbell states that "myths are facts of the mind, made manifest in a fiction of matter." Our deep minds do not comprehend spoken language, and respond, instead to pictures. The myths, therefore, paint the pictures that our deep minds can interpret, and put us in touch with our own inner realities. Since the old traditions which supported the myths have faded away, it is our purpose to develop techniques which will allow us to retain the understanding they provided. The world of science has confronted us with an entirely new "reality", so we must study, analyze, interpret and meditate upon the myths in order to preserve our older inner reality, as we become more knowledgeable of the outward reality.
The psychologist, Freud, looked upon myths as "public dreams", while seeing the dreams of the individual as "private myths". This is actually a very good definition. However, Freud viewed these myths negatively, as expressions of repressions and neuroses. On the other hand, according to Carl Jung, it is possible for our outward consciousness to lose touch with the inner reality, and myths are a means to bring us back in touch. They are telling us, in the picture language that can be understood by the deep mind, of powers that can be recognized and integrated into our own lives, powers that have been common to the human spirit since the beginning of time. (Witness the similarity in the myths of very diverse time periods and cultures.) These myths represent the wisdom and understanding that is intrinsic to making the powers that have allowed us to survive and evolve.
The Gods, and the myths, have not been and cannot be replaced by the findings of science, which relate to the outside world rather than to the depths of nature, the spirit of the human being. Through meditation, ritual, and the study of myths, we can learn to know and understand the inner self. If we keep the myths, and therefore the Gods, alive within ourselves, we may be nourished by the well-spring of our own wisdom.
By participation in the rituals that make up the festival year, we take a major step toward understanding the nature of the Gods, and therefore our own inner nature. These rituals create a relationship between the participants and the Gods through a recognition that the cycles of the Universe are manifest within each human being.
The persons who take on the actual roles of the major participants in the rituals experience first hand a "Gods-eye" view of life's patterns. The other members of the Circle share these experiences, both by taking part in the rituals and by looking on each major participant as their own personal representative. In our own way of working, these "roles" are not just a set of ritual actions, but play a major part in the lives of the participants during the ritual year. In this way, the rituals are "personalized" and the experience more valuable.
The members who are chosen to act as Dark Lord, Bright Lord, Summer Queen, Sacred King, and Crone, find themselves taking on attributes associated with the Godform in question. During each part of the cycle, as these representatives establish personal contact with the Gods and Goddesses, they bring the energy patterns of the God and goddess to the Circle with them, thus bringing that force into manifestation within the lives of the Circle members.
This form of living ritual is certainly not the only way to come to know the Gods, and to understand one's own relationship with them, but it is a very effective way. As the year progresses, the patterns of the cycle become more and more real. This process acts upon the deep mind as a major Initiatory process, as we shall see in the following chapter.
When ritual is combined with meditation on a regular basis, the patterns of our lives begin to synchronize with the cycles, and to become more and more manifest. An excellent (although not too common) example is the instance of the chosen Sacred King and Summer Queen, who found themselves falling in love at Candlemas, marrying at Beltane, and birthing a baby boy at Yule. The child, by the way, is blond, blue-eyed, bright, and very Solar. This could be an extravagant coincidence, but it was certainly effective for the participants and the Coven!
Interestingly, a child conceived during her father's cycle as Dark Lord is female, with dark hair and dark eyes.
We should not expect that each and every year cycle will become as plainly visible as the one described above, but by careful observation, the more subtle manifestations become obvious. The realization that the cycles of the Earth and the Universe are duplicated within our own lives is the desired result of this type of intensive work.
This is the process we refer to when we speak of "High Magick", or the "Great Work of Initiation".