Neo-Pagans may worship or honor one or more gods of ancient or paganisms or even gods of their own imagining. Often these many gods are seen as aspects or “faces” of an underlying divine unity. Many Neo-Pagans honor an immanent Great Goddess of nature or the Earth, sometimes called “Gaia”.
Like Wiccans, many Neo-Pagans honor a Great Goddess and a male God, of which all other pagan gods and goddesses are aspects. Unlike the Wiccan Goddess and God, which are associated with summer/life and winter/death respectively, the Neo-Pagan pantheon is more complex. In Neo-Paganism, no one gender is associated exclusively with one season. Both genders have light and dark aspects.
The most common forms the Neo-Pagan deities take are the Mother Earth Goddess, the Triple Goddess of the waxing, full, and waning moon, and a duo-form Horned God of the sun and animal life. The Triple Goddess is derived from Robert Graves‘ book, The White Goddess:
“As Goddess of the Underworld she was concerned with Birth, Procreation and Death. As Goddess of the Earth she was concerned with the three season of Spring, Summer and Winter: she animated trees and plants and ruled all living creatures. As Goddess of the Sky she was the Moon, in her three phases of New Moon, Full Moon, and Waning Moon. […] As the New Moon or Spring she was a girl; as the Full Moon or Summer she was woman; as the Old Moon or Winter she was hag.”
The most common form of the Neo-Pagan Triple Goddess is the Maiden-Mother-Crone, which is understood as valorizing womanhood at any age. She also takes the form of Mother-Lover-Slayer, which are the aspects of the Goddess experienced from the male perspective. Some Neo-Pagans describe the Goddess as having four aspects, corresponding to the waxing, waning, full, and new (dark) moons.
Robert Graves also describes a dying-and-rising God who is the consort of the Goddess, and who which is split into two opposed aspects – Gods of the waxing and waning years, rivals and combatants for the love of the Goddess. The story of these deities is concerned with “the birth, life, death and resurrection of the God of the Waxing Year; the central chapters concern the God’s losing battle with the God of the Waning Year for love of the capricious and all-powerful Threefold Goddess, their mother, bride and layer-out.” Graves explains that the Triple Goddess has a son, the God of the Waxing Year, who is also her lover and her victim. The Goddess alternates in her favor with his opposite, darker self, the God of the Waning Year. The Gods of Waxing and Waning Years are at war:
“One succeeds the other in the Moon-woman’s favor, as summer succeeds winter, and winter succeeds summer; as death succeeds birth and birth succeeds death. The Sun grows weaker or stronger as the year takes its course, the branches of the tree are now loaded and now bare, but the Light of the Moon is invariable. She is impartial: she destroys or creates with equal passion.”
In the place of the exclusively male godhead of Christianity, Neo-Paganism presents the Mother Goddess. In place of the transcendent Father and bodiless Holy Ghost, Neo-Paganism offers a Goddess who is embodied in the world, representing a revaluation of nature and the human body. In place of a sex-less God and an unmarried Christ, Neo-Paganism offers a passionate encounter between the Goddess and the God. And in place of the exclusively beneficent Son, Neo-Paganism offers the a dark God of the Waning Year to balance the God of the Waxing Year and a third, dark aspect of the Goddess.