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© Storm Genevieve Black 2015. All Rights Reserved

First published in Connect Magazine June/July 2016

In the modern time in which we live the masculine element of Witchcraft is often seen as insignificant, sometimes even irrelevant. It does however play a big part in the craft. In days long past before Christianity came along, when the Romans themselves practised Pagan beliefs, the masculine element was prevalent through out communities. Gods such as Pan of ancient Greece, the companion of the Nymphs, a trickster and protector of the shepherd and his flock. Baphomet The sabbatic goat God, associated with the accusations made against the Knights Templar, an important figure within the cosmology of Thelema, the mystical belief system established by Alistair Crowley, and the gnostic mass. Loki the Norse shape-shifter God, another trickster. The Green man, who can still be found carved into the wood and stone of Pagan temples and sanctuaries. Or our very own Herne, who we work with in the coven (also known as Cernunnos to some). The stag horned God of the Celts. Lord of animals and protector of our Mother Earth. All of these deities bring a strong masculine energy with them. The first written account of Herne is featured in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor 'Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest, Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight, walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns; and there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle, and makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain in a most hideous and dreadful manner. You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know the superstitious idle-headed eld receiv'd, and did deliver to our age, this tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.' William Shakespeare – The Merry Wives of Windsor 1597. For such an old God this seems surprisingly recent. As do the Victorian embellishments to the legend, in which it is told that Herne the greatest huntsman of King Richard II threw himself in front of a charging stag to save the life of the king. The King then hired a Druid to bring Herne back from the dead. The Druid worked a spell, sacrificing the stag, and fixing the beasts antlers to the huntsman’s head. However Herne's hunting abilities were also sacrificed as the spell was cast. Herne could not live like this, and so hung himself from the mighty oak at Windsor park, giving rise to the afore mentioned tale recorded by the bard. It is more likely, given the dates of the tales, that the Huntsman was a human (who some call Richard Herne or Horn) drawing on the strength of the God, rather than the God himself. In the craft we still draw on the strengths of the Gods we work with. The masculine role in a coven is to be it's protector. To take your cue from the Horned God, the Lord of Animals. To be strong yet nurturing. This role is just as important to the harmonious working of the coven as that of the Goddess. For without one, the other could not survive. In our coven we accept men and women. We do not segregate belief by sex. We understand how important each role in the coven is, and while it is possible to practice the craft alone, as many folk do, you will still be working with the two masculine elements of Air and Fire, as well as the two feminine elements of Earth and Water. It is this symmetry that keeps your casting balanced. As a female Witch I know how hard it can be to connect with the masculine, the God. Male witches can find it just as hard to connect with the feminine, the Goddess. This could go some way to explaining why many men do not turn to Witchcraft. Many men I have spoken to in the past have believed a coven to be “a group of women all dancing naked around a camp fire” A few have even suggested we might wear black cat suits to dance around after being told that we didn't work sky-clad. “It's all about women being in charge” “just a bunch of man hating lesbians” and “All about the feminine, the Goddess instead of the God” are just some of the misconceptions I have heard about the craft I practice. While it is true that women are usually more interested in the craft than men, I have met a few chaps who were curious enough to venture down this path. Some of them stay, some decide it's not for them and go on to find something more suited to them. However what most people don't even think about, is that women do exactly the same. Some choose this path, others take the fork in the road to find a different one. I personally found Witchcraft very easy to fall into. When I first shook the web I felt like I had come home. While I cannot speak for other covens or groups, I can say that in our coven we live by the seasons. We celebrate the turning wheel of the year, we cast for the good of the community we are part of. All things that men are welcome to do as much as women. We are not a scary bunch of man hating lesbians. We understand balance and work with it. The Masculine is just as important to us as the feminine. Everyone has chance to have their say, but that is how it should be.