Aphrodite (left) Museum Collection: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France , Aphrodite Frejus"
Cernunnos (center) This image is derived from a carving on the Gunderstrup Cauldron, as well as other sources, however, I would like to note that Celtic scholar John Matthews in his book The Celtic Shaman states that he believes the image on the Gunderstrup cauldron to be that of a Celtic shaman and not the god Cernnunos.
Wicca has its roots in the Ancient European cultures, so many of the Gods and Goddesses that are honored are from those cultures. Other pantheons which are drawn from frequently include the Egyptian, either in their Egyptian form or in the later assimilated Hellenic forms ascribed to the major Egyptian Gods. So, where do you begin?
My thoughts would be to start from your own inherent pool of genetic memory. This is not to say that someone of German descent should not work with or explore a Greek Pantheon; but often by taking a first look at the area from which you have come will open the doors to finding what Deity you most comfortably resonate with. Often embedded in the rich history of your own heritage are myths and stories that may awaken within memory of times long past and Deities that will reclaim your devotion.
Another suggestion would be to think back on what time of Ancient history you were most interested in as a young student. Did the Ancient Egyptians really capture your imagination? Did the exploits of the Greek Deities take hold or did stories of the mystical Isles and lands of the Celts inspire you to ask and question more?
Selecting a pantheon to follow is largely a personal and intuitive thing. The heart and prime instinct will lead you in the right direction if you are open and willing to follow.
Generally speaking, it is not wise to mix pantheons (cultures) when doing magickal workings. There is often a natural discord that will arise and just as each culture has its own style flavor and expectations of social proprieties, so too the Deities have their own parameters. We will discuss this more in future lessons. For example: If you were to write a ritual around the energies of Brighid, choosing the God, Lugh would be most compatible. Using Toth or Odin would not be the best choice.
Most importantly, do some research on the myths and the general cultural environment of the times during which a particular Deity was most honored and set in a place of devotion. The more information you can bring to the process of creating effective communication and differentiation of the varying energies the Deities may exude the more likely you are to connect with those energies.
Please Note: This is the briefest of overviews of a subject that is extensive.
The Celtic Pantheon
The Celts were inclusive of a variety of regions throughout eastern Europe and encompassed lands stretching from the British Isles to Gallatia. Additionally, they had frequent interactions with those cultures that bordered their lands and as such held the potencies and cultural flavors of each within their own attribution of Deity. Within the Celtic Pantheon, many female deities were held in high importance, ranging from ruling, to mother to warrior goddesses. The Priestesses were highly revered and sang the dying to sleep, did charms, enchantments, prophecies, healing, etc. They knew the power of words, stones and herbs. One of the central features of their Groves was a cauldron, bowl or pool. Many of the Gods and Goddesses also held a tri-part nature.
One of the Major Clans of Deity are the Tuatha De Danann:
The Tuatha Dé Danann
by Micha F. Lindemans
In Irish-Celtic mythology, the Tuatha Dé Danann ("People of the goddess Danu") are the Irish race of gods, founded by the goddess Danu. These gods, who originally lived on 'the islands in the west', had perfected the use of magic. They traveled on a big cloud to the land that later would be called Ireland and settled there.
Important members of the Tuatha Dé are: The Dagda, Brigid, Nuada, Lugh, Dian Cecht, Ogma, and Lir. The goddess Danu can also be identified with the Welsh goddess Don.
The Greek Pantheon
The Gods and Goddesses of the Greek pantheons were very much akin to the humans who worshipped them. Most had traits and attributes that were quite human in nature and therefore very easily to identify with from a human standpoint. Unlike the Egyptian pantheons, these Deity were fully human in their appearances and were thought to frequently mingle among those of mortality. Many of these Gods and Goddesses were also attributed to the energies of the planets and their natures were reflections of those cosmic entities in a form that was more closely connected to earth and the human realm.
These Great Gods and Goddesses were said to reside on Mount Olympus in Greece, and it was from this vantage point that all of human daily life and existence could be observed and on occasion interacted with.
The following list taken from a the Encyclopedia Mythica and Edith Hamiltons classic work "Mythology" New York 1940 gives a brief listing of some of the more frequently invoked Gods and Goddesses of the Greco/Roman pantheons:
Greek/Roman Name Sphere of Influence
Zeus/Jupiter (Jove) King of the Gods
God of Lightning
Father of the Gods
Hera/Juno Queen of the Gods
Goddess of Marriage/Revenge
Posideon/Neptune God of the Ocean/Water
Brother of Zeus/Jupiter
Hades/Pluto God of the Dead/Underworld
God of Wealth, Brother of
Ares/Mars God of War/Strife/Wrath
Athena/Minerva Goddess of Wisdom/Civilization
Daughter of Zeus/Jupiter
Artemis/Diana Goddess of the Moon/Huntress
Apollo(Helios) God of the Sun, the Arts
Apollo (Sol) Healing, Music, Poetry
Dionysius/Bacchus God of Wine,
Pan/Faunus God of Nature
Hermes/Mercury Messenger of the Gods
Aphrodite/Venus Goddess of Love/Beauty
Hephaestus/Vulcan God of Blacksmiths, Craftsmen
Hestia/Vesta Goddess of Hearth and Home
Demeter/Ceres Goddess of the Harvest