Neo-Pagan Mythology

gaia-2

“Gaia Altarpiece” by Elsie Russell

Myths are stories. They are stories that never happened, but that are, in some sense, always happening. They are symbolically true, but not literally true.

There is no single sacred text for Neo-Pagans and no text is considered absolutely authoritative. Neo-Pagans draw from many sources, both ancient and modern, to construct their myths. These texts are illustrative, rather than definitive, for Neo-Pagans.

The Neo-Pagan Mythos is an amalgam of myths and stories drawn from many different sources, ancient and modern.  It describes the passion of dying and reviving deities and heroes, often including:

  • The monomythic journey of the hero, which involves: a separation from the world, a penetration of the chthonic source of power, and a life-enhancing return (rebirth), and
  • The interaction of a tri-form goddess of nature and sovereignty who is wed to a duo-form phallic consort/sacred king with light and dark aspects, who perpetually struggle with each other, sow the seeds of their own rebirth, and are ritually sacrificed to or by the goddess in a cyclical pattern in order to renew the powers of life.

The Mythos is derived primarily from the “Poetic Theme” of Robert Graves‘ The White Goddess, as well as James Frazer’s metamyth of the dying god of The Golden Bough and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of The Hero with A Thousand Faces.

Stele depicting the goddess Qadesh holding a lotus flower to ithyphallic god Min and a snake to desert god Resheph.

Stele depicting the goddess Qadesh holding a lotus flower to ithyphallic god Min and a snake to desert god Resheph.

The Neo-Pagan Mythos highlights those aspects of the deities which relate to sex and death, which have been excluded from or demonized in the monotheistic religions, and invests these traditionally negative qualities with positive meaning, including the valorization of:

  • The divine feminine generally, and especially the dark aspect of the divine feminine which gives death in order to generate new life; and
  • The wild or bestial phallic/horned god of sexual license liberation.

The Neo-Pagan Mythos is usually structured by eight annual rituals which correspond with annual solar events and seasonal changes, called the Wheel of the Year, which correspond to psycho-spiritual cycles of ascent and decline and growth and stagnation. The principal chapters in the Neo-Pagan Mythos may include:

  • The rebirth of the Sun God at the winter solstice
  • The celebration of the union of Goddess and God in the spring
  • The battle of the Oak King (summer) and the Holly King (winter) for the love of the Goddess
  • The sacrifice of the God of the harvest in the autumn
  • The descent of the Goddess into the underworld to learn the mastery of death

The Neo-Pagan Mythos teaches that everything changes, everything moves in a cycle, and there is balance in the cycle.

Related Pages:

The Wheel of the Year
Neo-Pagan Gods
Mother Earth Goddess
The Triple Goddess
The Horned God
The Dying God
The Mother and Her Son: Zoe and bios

Revised 9/2/14

4 thoughts on “Neo-Pagan Mythology

  1. Great definition of myth. But I steadfastly resist the notion of a canonical Neo-Pagan mythos. I would say these are SOME myths, not THE myths. There are other ways to conceptualize the eight rituals in the Wheel of the Year without recourse to, for example, the Oak King and the Holly King.

  2. Campbells book is “The Hero with 1000 Faces.”

    To state there are 8 points in the wheel of the year, yet only list five points, will confuse many outsiders.

    Some groups seem to have been writing modern myths to express emotional or religious concepts about things never imagined by the ancients.

  3. Pingback: “Why Pagan?” Part 2, The Paganing | Son of Hel

  4. Pingback: “Why ‘Pagan’? An Atheist Pagan’s Response to a Theist” by John Halstead | Humanistic Paganism

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