Altar Freshening with New Deity Representations

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Maxine Miller’s Cernunnos and Danu statuettes.

I once read in a book–I believe it was one of Deborah Lipp’s–that it was a good idea to move your deity representations around your house every so often.  The idea is that by mixing things up of occasion, the representations don’t have a chance to fade into the background and become part of the random flotsam and jetsam we become blind to in our homes.  In other words, we stay aware of them and the powerful beings they represent.

I still do not have a full home to decorate as I wish (life goals!), but I do have my room and my altar, and what I have taken to doing is changing up every couple of months the representations of deity that I display on my altar.  My true favorites remain Neil Sims’ Cernunnos and Oberon Zell’s Millennial Gaia, but I also adore Paul Borda’s seated God and Goddess, which fondly remind me of some friends who love them, too, as well as of Doreen Valiente’s famous figures.  I have a few other statuary representations that I mix into things, and sometimes I’ve printed off color images I find on the Internet and pop them into 5×7 frames.

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Maxine Miller’s Danu.  I love how regally she stands, and I can’t get enough of the detailing on the back of her robe.

Recently, though, when I close my eyes and try to envision the Goddess, the figure that swims in my mind’s eye looks less like Gaia and more like Robin Wood’s High Priestess card: a lady with watery robes and long, cascading hair.  As it happens, I was flicking through various pagan blogs last year and came across an image that stopped me in my tracks.  It was an image John Beckett had on his post on Danu–Maxine Miller’s statue.  I had seen this statue before at Celtic Jackalope’s booth at Pantheacon, and a local pagan store in Olympia, Druid’s Nook, had carried it, but it had never really jumped out at me before.  But now, it seemed like I was looking at the Goddess in the way I’ve been seeing her more and more these days.  I did a bit of Googling to find other images, and eventually found one that showed the back of the statue–and the gorgeous oak tree under a triple moon with a dragonfly buzzing within its branches and a frog and a salmon leaping at its base.  I thought it was stunning, and all those symbols mean a great deal to me, personally.  A quick pop onto Celtic Jackalope revealed another bonus, at least to my mind:  they were discontinuing her original green finish and were introducing her in cold-cast bronze, which I vastly prefer.

Now, I originally ordered the statue in April.  Soon thereafter, Deborah at Celtic Jackalope contacted me to let me know the stock was out and wouldn’t be replenished until June.  Well, June turned into late August, and the statue that first arrived had some major problems with the finish.  Deborah was really great about working with me, though, and this week my replacement finally arrived.  I couldn’t be more pleased, and am enjoying how my morning devotionals have changed when I use her as a focal point.

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Maxine Miller’s Cernunnos.  This particular representation really makes me ponder who the God is.  It has proved very illuminating to sit and meditate upon some of the symbols Miller wove into his sculpture.

During the long wait for Danu, Miller also expanded her “Celtic Goddesses” line by adding her first God to it:  Cernunnos.  Of course, as soon as I saw it, I placed an order.  It is so hard to find an image of Cernunnos that I feel like I can relate to.  To me, he is an incredibly dynamic, powerful figure–one that I am simultaneously attracted to and repelled by.  The representations that show him to be a benign, bearded man with horns–almost like a Wiccan Jesus–or sleepily seated as on the Gundestrup cauldron as a Buddha don’t really do anything for me, and they feel like they misrepresent his energy.

I really like Miller’s take on him.  He’s a bit different here than on her previously released plaque, which is also amazing.  There’s so much iconography here that captures my imagination, from his elfin features to his hair circling out behind him to create a sun, to the bear claw on his chest, to the oak laves vining out from his groin.  At his feet are scattered coins imprinted with pentacles and a fox. Upon his back is a gorgeous relief of three horned beasts–a ram, a bull, and a stag–crowned by the sun.  He stands in a modified magician’s pose, one hand upraised, the other lowered.  The wicked looking horned serpent he holds upraised in his left arm is not under control as it is in Sims’s representation–it is ready to strike.  This is a representation that makes me think, and–if I’m to be honest–makes me shudder a little.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I had both Sims’ and Miller’s Cernunnos figures on my altar for a few weeks, and meditating on both of them at the same time was highly illuminating.  And, as you see below, Danu looks very nice with Sims’ representation, too.

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A decided bonus for me:  Danu looks especially nice with Sims’ Cernunnos.  They are scaled identically, and look very nearly like a matched pair.

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6 thoughts on “Altar Freshening with New Deity Representations

  1. The Danu statue was one of the first Goddess statues I fell in love with when I first started studying Wicca many years ago. At the time I didn’t even know much about any individual Gods or Goddesses, but the minute I saw her I knew that *that* was what Goddess looked and felt like to me. I have the green statue, but the bronze is really beautiful.

  2. I just put in an order for Miller’s Morrigan and Cernunnos statues as Yule gifts for my HPS and her spouse. (It took all of my willpower not to order them for myself instead.) I simultaneously thank and blame you for exposing me to her beautiful work.

    • Mwah-ha-ha! It can be an addiction. I was just laughing with a friend about how well we’ve supported Maxine in recent years…I think each of us have 3-4 pieces of hers.

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