As the Goddess is, so the God can truly be called the God of Ten Thousand Names. To the Greeks he was Zeus and Apollo. To the Egyptians Ra and Osiris. To the Celts he was Lugh and Cernunnos. To the Hindus he was Shiva and Krishna and to the Native Americans he was Taiowa and Haashchʼééłtiʼí. Where there is human civilization, there he is.
The God, being the Divine Masculine, is usually associated with the sun that warms and fertilizes the Earth, without which none of us could live. (There are, however, notable exceptions of moon gods, like Thoth (Egyptian) and Tsukiyomi (Japanese)). He is the Lord of life and yet, He dies and is reborn each year in the Wheel of the Year. He rules the Sun, but He also rules the shadows that the sun casts. He is the spirit of growing things and vegetation, whether that refers to agriculture or the wild. He is the Hunter and wild animals are His dominion, and yet tools and technology are also under His hand. He is associated with Death and the Underworld. And although this is hardly an exclusive domain, it is the God who is said to rule passion and sexuality.
Wicca traditionally worships the God in His horned form, although many Wiccans do worship Him in another deity form that appeals to them more in their private practice. However, usually at least on the Sabbats the God is honored in His horned form. Pan, Cernunnos, Dionysus, Osiris, and other fertility and vegetation Gods were depicted as horned, either by a stag, a bull, a ram-whatever was honored in their culture. Apis is depicted often with the horns of a bull (1). Pan, Cernunnos and Dionysus were all depicted with horns.
Although less formalized then the Goddess, the God too also has a triple form: Youth, Father, and King/Sage. This honors the cycle that the God goes through each mytho-poetical Wheel of the Year, where He is born of the Goddess, grows and falls in love with her, weds her, grows old and dies with the harvest, only to be reborn of the Goddess the next year. How this relates to the God and His roles is covered briefly below.
Youth: This is the God during Yule (when he is born of the Goddess), and Imbolc and Ostara. He is still finding his strength, growing. He is not courting the Goddess yet.
Father: This is the God during Beltane and Litha. At Beltane the Goddess takes him as her consort and they join in sexual union. The God is at his strongest at this period, ruling over both plants and animals as they grow and flourish. In his union with the Goddess, They conceive the God who will be born at Yule.
Sage: This is the God at Lughnasadh and Mabon. His strength wanes, the nights get longer. The harvest reaches maturity and is brought in. The animals mature; hunting can begin.
At Samhain the God dies. He takes his place as Lord of the Underworld. He will be reborn again of the Goddess at Yule and the cycle will begin again.(2)
This is an article on the God, and not on the Wheel of the Year, so I’m going to leave a discussion of any of the factors that you might be wondering about until later. This, however, lays out how the God is typically worshipped in Wiccan ritual, especially during the Sabbats.
Traditionally, in Wicca (with the exception of Dianic Wicca, which only worships a Goddess), the God and the Goddess are equal. To leave out or overemphasize the feminine is seen as potentially as problematic as leaving out or overemphasizing the masculine. But you might have noticed this article is a little bit shorter then the one on the Goddess. That is true. The “roles” of the Goddess are simply better developed in Wiccan thought and there is some overlap (the Goddess is an earth Goddess, but it is the God who is given dominion over the wild animals, for example). But part of it is simply that for many Wiccans, it is difficult to worship the God. Most Wiccans came from a background in a Judeo-Christian religion; that’s just population statistics- Wicca’s main areas of growth have been in Europe, North America, and Australia. Therefore our mental and spiritual image of God is the God of the Bible.
I do not desire to trash on any of the religions that have the Bible as their holy book, so I am not going to go into the myriad problems that most Wiccans would say are in the Bible and its portrayal of God. Suffice it to say that most Wiccans would say that there are myriad problems, and because of that, when many get to Wicca, they are quite happy to wash their hands of worshipping a God in general. They are thrilled to have found a religion that worships/reverences the Divine Feminine and has true equality for men and women and they look at this God with horns on his head with a little bit of suspicion. Isn’t that the same way Christians portray the devil, after all? And how do you feel close to a God like that?
Scott Cunningham doesn’t shy away from addressing this in his book “Living Wicca”.
“Let’s speak frankly here. The Goddess appears to be more loving, more understanding, and more caring than the God. The God, through no fault of His own, may appear to be unapproachable except in Wiccan ritual, and even then, formalized prayers are necessary…Many new Wiccans have difficulty approaching the God.”
The nonsense about the Horned God being Satan has been so thoroughly debunked it almost doesn’t seem worth the energy of writing the sentence. Besides, to most Christians, even if we aren’t knowingly worshipping Satan in worshipping the Horned God, we’re worshipping Satan because we’re not worshipping the Holy Trinity, so what does it matter anyways? They feel the same way about the Goddess- that we’re worshipping Satan, even if we’re not intending to, because we’re not worshipping the “true God.” But, just in case someone reading this has never read anything on the topic before- no, the Horned God is not Satan. Satan is the Christian quasi-deity of “pure evil”, a counterpoint to God, even if they are not equal in power. Wiccans do not believe in such a being. We also do not believe in the servants of this or any other “big bad evil” guy that are “pure evil” themselves, known as demons (in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim sense of the word demons)*. There is debate over whether or not Wicca believes in negative spirits at all.
The only way to get over this block with the God is by getting to know the God. Ultimately, the same ways of doing this are the ways you get to know the Goddess. Research various pantheons, especially ones that particularly appeal to you. If the gods of the Celts or the Greeks particularly appeal to you, that could be the way the God is reaching out to you. Spend time in nature, particularly on sunny days, and seek the energy of the God the way you would the energy of the Goddess in the moon. Pray. Meditate. Do a guided meditation to find your patron God or to get to connect with the God better. I personally have found connecting with the God through a patron deity is easier for me then connecting with “the God” in general. Others find the namelessness or the encompassing nature of the ‘general’ term comfortable. Write a ritual asking the God to help you connect with him and do it. Be creative.
*I am aware there are Satanists, demonologists, and those who do not work with positive magick or who deal with ceremonial magick where summoning other kinds of spirits is a possibility. To deal with that is beyond the scope of this article.