C is for Ceridwen and Cernunnos

So I’m playing catch up as it’s been a busy week.

Ceridwen and Cernunnos are my patron deities as everyone who’s symbl’d with me will doubtless know. When I first decided to become a Wiccan I worked my way through Hedgewitch quite seriously, using it as essentially a workbook for each Esbat (I use Esbat in it’s common sense as ‘Full Moon working’ and Sabbat. I worked with the energies and spirits that I found and, probably because I had grown-up within a religion of non-directly responsive gods (Church of England Christianity specifically) I gave praise to a generic Mother Goddess figure and an equally generic God.

I had more influences than Rae Beth though, Starhawk’s conception of the Gods as being intrinsically linked to each other remains central to my understanding and practice. But I started out with concepts, spaces in my practice and my understanding waiting to be filled. I took my self-initiation as seriously as only a religious adolescent year old could. I lived for a year and a day under the tutelage of Rae Beth’s Hedgewitch and then performed one of the most awesome meditative rituals I ever have. (I think I only surpassed it last year actually in terms of dedicated effort.) Of course, for a year and a day I’d been putting myself as a witch out there and Ceridwen had been waiting to fill one of the gaps I had left.

She flowed in to my circle and my conciousness as if she owned the place, scared me massively, made me *UNDERSTAND* what it was I was doing in the fullest sense of the world and then when I proved all the more determined for this new understanding to hold on, grabbed me and hasn’t let go since.

How did I know who she was? She told me. I had to go look her up afterwards and found a Welsh Goddess who hadn’t always been a Goddess, she was a witch, a sorceress from Wales who’s legend doesn’t explain her transition to Godhood.
She is an ancient lady; though a Goddess for only three hundred years that’s longer than I’ve been alive and she’s a Goddess who has achieved her immortality. Has she been a Goddess for three hundred years or has she lived for three hundred years? We only really get her described as a Goddess since the seventies? She tells me she’s been worshipped since before she died, but she’d happily tell me she was worshipped when Stonehenge was built and that takes her to three thousand, never mind three hundred. She is a woman in full understanding of her own power and…I don’t really know how to explain her, I’ve never known how you go about explaining a Goddess.

As my patron deity, she kicks my arse regularly, she encourages me in ways that people who don’t know me may not see as encouragement and she has little patience with my guilt and depression etc.etc. Patron deities are a concept I think I might blog about later on in this Blog Project, they’re gods that come along or get searched out to be your specific gods. It’s a very neo-pagan idea, I guess to make up for the fact that most of us are converts into this faith and so we don’t automatically have a group of ancestral deities to worship.

I like the fact that she’s a Goddess now, and wasn’t always, she encourages me to step up and get going, even when I don’t quite manage it, she was also very much *there* to be my patron Goddess before I really started looking.

Now the notion that I might need two patron deities comes really from the base concept of Wicca, which is that of dualism. There are a lot of other concepts within Wicca, I feel I should point out but the base dualism of God and Goddess underlies almost all of it. So, I fell into the trap that most neo-pagans do, that of looking for a Patron God to compliment my patron Goddess. I did not, at that time, have a particularly easy relationship, or indeed any relationship with Gods. Goddesses by the dozen popped up around my altar and were taken on board and built relationships with, but not Gods.

In many ways my trip to Japan was really the catalyst for my choice of Patron God, and in this case, I really did choose the God, rather than as with Cerridwen, the God choosing me. I did not come back with a Japanese God as my patron, of course, rather I came back with good working relationships with several of the Lucky Gods, Daikokuten, Ebisu and Hotei particularly. My relationships with the Japanese Gods had been extensions of my relationship with the Japanese country and land, therefore it occured to me that this was what I was looking for in my Patron God.

Cernunnos is not a god I know well, our relationship is still developing, but he did agree to be my Patron God, I continue to honour him and to try to seek to know the land and through it deepen my relationship with him.

Cernunnos is a bit like Cerridwen in some ways in that he is not a God with a lot of historical evidence. In fact in some ways there is less for him, or more, it really depends how you rank a story as opposed to a cauldron. The image that represents Cernunnos has no labels, no nice historical evidence saying ‘Here be Cernunnos’, in fact I’ve met Heathens who have said that it’s Frey. Maybe it was to start with, but it is an image of him. My experiences with Cernunnos have almost all been mystical, more so than with Cerridwen who tends to the practical – they have had an underlying sense of the physically mystical. I come from a background that tells me trance states are entered into quietly, meditatively, my god tells me, shows me in fact that this is not so.
I entered into a relationship with him with an idea of getting to know the land, and through him the land enters into me, I am learning trance by tramping across hilltops, through woodlands and over dales. The sense of him, the understanding pounds through me with each step.

Certainly parts of my understanding of him have been reached through fiction I liked when I was younger, Stag Boy was a favourite of mine and underpins not only my understanding of him but possibly also explains why I’ve had problems building relationships with Gods previously. (The girl saves the boy and the nature of the dualism has some of the usual Romantic issues with maleness and masculinity. I’m using the term ‘Romantic’ to indicate the movement of Romanticism rather than to discuss romance.)

I may well talk further later on in the project about Patron Deities, but I think that’s a reasonable introduction to Cerridwen and Cernunnos.

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