Our men, our husbands and fathers of our children-what do we know of them from a Pagan standpoint? We know there are no mothers without fathers and we know what the Gods have shown us. Let's first look at the "virile" gods.
Cernunnos/Herne is most definitely a virile God--shown ithyphallic as lord of the animals, he is truly a regenerative deity. (In India, Shiva is shown in a very similar way.) One of the most famous depictions of him is on the Gundestrap Cauldron, which I also feel is significant. I know many people associate cauldrons with Goddesses, but there are other very old connections. Remember, we are trying to get a clear sense of pagan thought and feeling before either monotheistic muddling or anybody's political correctness. (Something to be aware of here is that The Dagda was also associated with a cauldron from which he could produce anything a person needed, certainly any food.) Being Lord of the Animals, he was also the Lord of the Hunt. He insured there would be enough to hunt. One can certainly speculate that he may have imposed standards/expectations on how that hunting was to take place.
Another virile deity that stands out is Freyr. He is seen to be a God of incredible virility-the boar is particularly associated with him, and is a spectacularly virile animal. Freyr is also famously armed with a sword that can fight on its own. Here we have a very clear representation of a virile God who is the guardian of the food supply. Freyr was also considered to be the lord of the male ancestors, the alfar--who were particularly those that kept an interest in the family and acted as guardians. (of the family's magan?)
And who could forget Thor the Thunderer in the Alvismal, cleverly protecting his daughter from the "all-wise" dwarf's untoward advances, and also so clearly a virile and protective deity?
These are very "core" deities. That is, their primary issues touch on very basic issues for all of us-fertility, safety, food. However, I think they are of particular interest to Men, particularly fathers. So for us as wives and mothers, are we honoring these attributes in our men? Are they being allowed, encouraged, acknowledged as the living conduits of this virile god energy and masculine magic in our lives? If we are expecting blessings (or hoping) and working magic that would come from one of these Gods and yet disrespecting this very same energy in our husbands-I think you have a disconnect.
But what does it mean to allow, encourage, and acknowledge this energy? (And remember, this is only one half of the Father energy.) Let's look at the list of attributes again. We had virility, lord and guardian, and provider.
First, how do we (or they) handle their virility? Do we see it as valuable, godly, magical? A source of life and abundance? Something to be respected? Or is it belittled and cut off from any godly, magical source? On a very earthy level, circumcision is an attack on this aspect of our men. We can't control what was done to our husbands already, but we can acknowledge that they were most viciously attacked in their core sexual beings if this did happen to them. If the comparable thing had been done to us women as baby girls, we would certainly consider it a very big deal. We must acknowledge that many of our men were severely hurt and that it is appropriate to have compassion and a desire to do what we can at this late date to make it better. Also, we must not allow this "procedure" to be carried out on our sons. It is a sacred trust to protect our children, and it cannot be more basic than to protect their nascent manhoods from a most cruel assault.
There is another major assault by the knife that is currently common: vasectomy. I know this has a growing popularity and many people think of it as sensible and having the men take responsibility for their virility. It is not. Physically alone, there are many negative side effects. Magically, he is stopping his potency. You are denying and cutting off that unending abundance. Let us remember that controlling and destroying are two very different things. Let us be very, very wary of major alterations in our men's very well-designed physical bodies. When we literally cut off their virility we're saying that it's annoying, unnecessary, even threatening. This is not respect. The ancient statues of Cernunnos had antlers that could be removed seasonally, but the phallus was not removable!
And what about his role as provider? Is that being honored respected and encouraged? However he chooses to provide, is he acknowledged as being vitally necessary? Remember, this is a core role for him. Most fathers need to feel this. Unfortunately, this has gotten somewhat muddled lately, with people thinking "equality" means "sameness". Women's equality with men has led to families where the mother tries to fulfill the virile provider role and no one is really filling the mother's role. (Mothering is in another article.) But if there are no distinctive Godly roles for the Father…then what? He's left frustrated in the virile god energy and must either retreat completely to the wisdom energy, or more commonly, into one of the youthful god energies or even a trickster god energy. (I suspect it's difficult for some men to feel wise if they are busy feeling immasculated.) This trickster God energy, in particular, is not appropriate for the primary god connection for a Father. If you're living with it, you know why! Father's need to provide for their families. Yes, it is a great responsibility, a great weight. It's a role for men, that will remind them they are men, and make them proud-as long as they are being respected for it.
Now what of the third part to the Green god energy, that of the Lord and guardian? Well, does your husband feel like the Lord and guardian of his home, of his family, of his children and you? Or is "lording it" only used pejoratively? There should be two power sources in the home, the masculine deity power being pulled through the father and the female deity power through the mother. (No, this does not mean there are only two aspects to deity.) Is the force/energy of the Gods being felt? It should emanate from your husband, not you. Yes, a mother's maternal protection energy is very powerful-but it is a last ditch resort-hysterical strength (not meant pejoratively)-and not supposed to be a matter of everyday protection.
The role of Guardian is vital for the family (and the community) and the man himself. Yes, there's a reason he's usually bigger and stronger. No, usually he doesn't literally, physically get to fight in our defense anymore, but his body and system are ready for it by nature-by design-and this needs to be acknowledged and respected and encouraged to find positive outlets. Remember to think magically here as well as "practically". (As always.) Let him get the door for you-start openly noticing that he is stronger than you and stop feeling threatened by it. This is not an evil paternalistic overlord come to strip you of your personhood; this is the sacred guardian of the gates of life-you-in your own dear husband's form and he's doing you honor while he waits for a really good chance to defend you. Start being nice to him and let him show you that he is your man.
©2007 Oak Hedge