While many Pagan paths identify themselves as “goddess traditions,” there are just as many which honor the sacred masculine alongside the divine feminine. Rather than being goddess-centric, a tradition honoring the sacred masculine will put the god on an equal playing field with the goddess rather than identifying him as simply the divine consort - and some Pagan traditions do honor just a god, and leave the goddess out completely.
As with the sacred feminine, the celebration of the sacred masculine often relies upon a system of archetypes. From an anthropological standpoint, there are several major male archetypes that seem to appear in a variety of cultures: the warrior/hero, the hunter, the priest/magician, the lover and the king.
The warrior appears in many forms and shapes. He is brave and honorable, and fights for that which he believes is right and just. While the warrior may not always make decisions which are popular, he typically tries to make the ones that are fair. The warrior can be seen in deities such as the Roman Mars, the Greek Ares, and the Norse god Thor. The hero is the youthful, more impulsive incarnation of the warrior. The warrior is someone who defends those he loves, and doesn’t raise his sword out of anger.
The hunter also appears, in modern society, as the provider. While men may no longer have to go out and spear a mastodon to feed their family, many man remain the breadwinners in the home, and find themselves under increasing pressure to continue to provide well. Some men find the very nature of this archetype confining. Dustin is a Pennsylvania Heathen who says, “My wife has a career and a job that’s as good as mine. We’re both equally capable and responsible. But I was raised by a mom who stayed home while my dad worked two jobs - it’s hard for me to put aside the idea that I have to be the sole breadwinner. On the other hand, by being an equal partner with my wife, that creates less financial stress for me as an individual.”
The priest, or magician, is the creative inventor or problem solver. He takes on intellectual challenges, asks lots of questions, and becomes analytical in his dealings with others. The magician or priest can also be a bit manipulative, because he’s smart - he’ll sometimes deliberately ask a question knowing the answer, as a sort of test.
Another well known aspect of the sacred masculine is the archetype of the fertile lover. He is sensual and passionate, embracing pleasure both for himself and his partner. In the spring, this aspect of the masculine is often embodied in Cernunnos, the forest god. The lover is in touch with his own intuition, and is compassionate and empathetic. If the warrior takes on life’s physical challenges, the lover takes on our emotional challenges.
Finally, the kingly archetype is that of the leader. A king is always in charge, because he is able to bring the qualities of all the other archetypes together into one handy package. He has the strength of the warrior, the wisdom of the priest, the compassion of the lover, and the nurturing aspects of the provider/hunter.
Some god-centric traditions have faced backlash from the Pagan community for not honoring the sacred feminine. Asher, a Pagan in Florida, belongs to a Roman Pagan group that pays tribute to the god Mars. They do not honor a goddess. “None of the other Roman groups seem to mind, but when we get to any sort of community event, a lot of the NeoWiccan groups get really upset. We’ve been accused of promoting patriarchy, discriminating against women, and trying to oppress the female members of our community. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re trying to celebrate the masculine, but that doesn’t - and shouldn’t - take away from people who honor the feminine.”