Hunting for a God Representation, part 1

So now we know of my great adoration for Oberon Zell’s “Millennial Gaia” sculpture and how strongly it is, for me, a representation of the Goddess.  Unfortunately, there’s another side of the story.  Another major component of what I believe the nature of deity to be is that it is both male and female: that there is, in fact, a God as well as a Goddess and that they join to create The One.

Alas, I have never been able to find a God representation that I believe can stand as a true consort to what is my Goddess representation.  I have been using Oberon Zell’s Bacchus plaque as my God representation in the interim, since I definitely want to increase the Dionysian energies in my decidedly Apollonian life, but I’ve always known that this was not a long term solution.  For years now–really over a decade–I’ve been looking for that other representation.

While I searched, I ended up developing a “wish list” for what my ideal God representation should have.  These are the current highlights:

  • He should “grab me” in a similar way that Oberon’s Gaia did. It should speak to me of a core aspect of divinity.
  • His representation should match his energy.
  • He should ‘look well’ with Gaia.  This does not have to be a matched set, obviously, but there should be some sort of aesthetic similarity.  For example, since Gaia is a statue and not a wall-mounted plaque, He should also be a statue.  Since Gaia is a full-body statue and not a bust, He should be a full-body statue.  Since Gaia is highly detailed, He should be highly detailed.  Since Gaia is primarily one color (green with blue, gold, and silver accents), He should be primarily one color…preferably with a few accents.
  • He should ‘work well’ with Gaia.  This is something of a tall order, since I am taking the position that Oberon’s Gaia is not synonymous with the Greek primordial deity.  Instead, I find it to be highly contemporary iconography and born of neo-Pagan poetics.  Therefore, I would like Him to reflect what contemporary paganism has brought to his mythos instead of an emphasis on historical accuracy.

I know.  I’m insane.  This is an order so tall and abstract, it will never be able to be filled.

A sculpture of Pan someone commissioned from artist Jeff Cullen.

One good friend of mine once mentioned that if I’m going to be so particular, I should either learn how to sculpt or save my pennies so that I could some day commission a piece to my liking.

I’ll not say she didn’t have a point, but I don’t think either of those are feasible avenues for me.  Although I am a fairly crafty person and really enjoy creating art, I know where my interests and energies lie.  Even if I did become a competent sculptor, I would never have the skill or talent to make the art I desire.  And I never would become a competent sculptor, for I deeply loathe the mess of sculpting.  Commissioning an artist to create for me would probably yield something quite lovely, but I doubt it would be ‘right.’  Commission work loses something, I find.  The artist isn’t so invested in capturing the evocative thrust of a piece so much as they are in pleasing their client.  Something suffers.

There’s also the fear I have that a commissioned piece would turn out something like this Pan here.  Apparently the client was thrilled with it, as well they should be. This is a Pan with a lot of artistic character. But every time I look at it, my immediate thought is that the hand placement looks like Pan is forcing an invisible head around his prominent cock.  It is a lovely piece, and my association with it is most certainly not one meant by the artist, but I couldn’t stand to go through the whole process of commissioning something only to see something unintentional in the final piece.

I do, however, need a concrete starting place.  In the past, I’ve tried looking for representations of specific gods–Hermes, Dionysus, Odin, etc.–to see what people have come up with.  Over the past five years especially, I’ve found that many pagan artists are bringing contemporary iconography to these god forms, but it increasingly specifies that representation to that God or Goddess.  There is absolutely no way, for example, that Maxine Miller’s Brigid could work as a symbol of that simultaneous immanence and transcendence of the Great God Heads.  Every part of that sculpture pulls on very specific myths of Brigid.  So browsing sculptures based on specific gods has gotten me no where.

Recently, though, I think I’ve had a bit of a break through.  Thanks to working with Hartwood Grove, I am developing a stronger relationship with the God, particularly in terms of how British Traditional Wiccans view him.  I’m starting to see the Horned One not as a specific God with a specific cultural context, but as more as a personified metaphor of a theological gendered truth.

The BTW clan always take great care in framing the God as the Goddess’s consort.  I have always bristled against this language, for I take “consort” to mean “less than.”  Contextually, this word is almost exclusively used in reference to a monarch in which the monarch’s consort is his or her spouse, but does not have the political power of the monarch.  Since I strongly–and rightly–believe that the male and female energies are equivalent, I did not like the implication that the God’s powers were somehow less than the Goddess’s when he is referred to as her consort.  I still believe that our language needs a bit of help, but I’ve come to have an appreciation for this word in this context, for its use does highlight the fact that the gendered energies are decidedly different.  That is crucially important, for equivalence does not mean identical, and that is a nuance that can be lost.

In fact, the use of “consort” in reference to the relationship of male energies to the female might be the most accurate.  In biology, the male is actually superfluous.  Even some multicellular species still reproduce parthenogenetically–or from an unfertilized ovum.  It is routine reproduction among many plant species and simpler animal species, and it is speculated that even more complicated animal species have occasionally produced parthenogenetic offspring; after all, it just takes a happenstance in meiosis to pull all the chromosomes into one ovum to essentially create a fertile unfertilized cell.  It’s statistically very, very rare (and becomes more improbable with the more chromosomes a species has) but it is not impossible.

So, in theory, the female of a species could be genetically immortal since her parthenogenetic daughters would be clones (or near clones since parthenogenesis does not preclude genetic recombination or mutation).  What the male contributes, then, is variety…and variety is crucial for evolutionary change.  If the female is the eternal constant, the male is the eternal dynamic.  He is a consort because he is not necessary to perpetuate life, but he is necessary if life is to be plastic enough to endure all obstacles.  In a way, then, the male also gives life since he is necessary to ensure it endures on an evolutionary scale…and that is what makes his energies equivalent to–but not the same as–the female’s.

I can see, then, why Wiccans associate the God with wilderness and virility and the hunt.  The forces of the wild and of predation are what make him necessary to ensuring species virility over the long term.  And I can see where mythically he would annually succumb to these forces in order to understand the changes he must create so that life can continue the following year.  I can also see how this role would put him in the space of mediator between life and death, between the eternal constant goddess and her creations–creations that are both a part of and a part from herself.

The more and more I think about what the biologic differences between the genders are, the more I can understand and agree with how the Horned God is figured in Wiccan theology.  And the more he becomes my God.

So maybe I should begin with him in searching for my personal representation.

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