When you think of the gods of nature, who do you think of? Do you think of the Wiccan Lord and Lady (also beloved of many non-Wiccan pagans), she a long-haired woman wrapped in vines and fruits and grain, he a man hirsute and burly and surrounded by large, wild mammals? Do you imagine Artemis or Diana, huntresses and maidens and carriers of the moon? Or perhaps Gaea, her swelling belly the Earth itself? I wager that nine times out of ten, the deity you first thought of took the form of a human, female or male or otherwise, but almost certainly formed in our own image.
But I want to tell you about the forgotten gods of nature, the ones whose stories were never written down because their devoted ones never wrote a word in their lives. I want to tell you about the gods who refused to give up their own shapes and vowed never to bow to the hubristic human ape. I want to tell you about the gods underfoot, hidden in the trees, nestled in the rocks among swift-running currents and riding breezes higher than the cirrus clouds that never once soil themselves with the earth. Let me tell you a few tales of nameless divinities, all but obliterated by the rise of woman and man and the deities they brought with them.
I sing to you of the goddess and god of the family of Salmon, whose children hurl themselves upon stone and flood each year so that the family may go on. I sing to you of the divine twin faces, he with the strongest, boldest coloring of the spawning male, she the skeletal maw that waits to slay all who mate in the birthing pool. She it is who beckons the salmon on in their madness, even as they plunge to their own deaths; he it is who urges them onward and fills their muscles with strength pulled from every last fiber of being. For years, the young salmon hear tales of the gods’ irresistible pull, but even the most vehement naysayers among them are helpless the moment they hear divine fate’s song in their bones.
I sing to you of the wind god of the family of Pine, whose generations may be furthered by the swift breeze, but who may be laid low to the ground in the fearsome storm. I sing to you of prayers whispered through clasped needles and released into gentle eddies of air, that the god may be merciful in spring storms and in winter blizzards, in the chill autumn night and the sudden summer squall. For it is the god who decides which line of trees will go forth into the future, and a capricious wind it is that carries the pollen safely to the cone–or onto barren stone to die. And it is the god who carries the trees away in his terrible anger, leaving one standing but snatching a root-mate away in an instant.
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