bringer of winter


January, 2018

Meet the Gods: Boreas



Merry meet.

When the wind would blow and the windows or the screen door would startle her dog, my aunt would say, “That’s Maria,” referring to Kingston Trio song from the ’60s, “They Call The Wind Maria.”

When you hear the cold north wind blow this winter, you can call it Boreas, the Greek god of the cold north wind and the bringer of winter. His name meant “North Wind” or “Devouring One” and is the source of the adjective boreal, meaning of, relating to, or located in the northern region.

Like Maria, he will wail, whine, blow the stars around and set the clouds a-flying. The lyrics continue, “Maria makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin’.”

The same can be said for Boreas, only without the banjo, guitars and matching outfits.

He was the son of Astraeus and Eos; Hesperus, Zephyrus, and Notus were his brothers. Boreas lived in a cave on Mount Haemus in Thrace. Beyond his land was a northern land known as Hyperborea that was said to be a place where people with extraordinarily long lifespans lived in complete happiness.

Some legends have him the father of Cleopatra and the Goddess of Snow, Chione; along with the Boreades, a pair of winged heroes; three giant Hyperborean priests and 12 horses.



According to Myths and Mortals (Greek Mythology) – Wind Gods on, Boreas is closely associated with horses – as were the winds from all directions – and is said to have taken the form of a stallion and fathered 12 colts that could “run across a field of grain without trampling the plants,”

Boreas is depicted as very strong, with an equally strong temper. “He was frequently shown as a winged old man with shaggy hair and beard, holding a conch shell and wearing a billowing cloak,” according to

Often he is shown with winged human feet. His wings are purple. Another representation depicts him as a face with puffed cheeks blowing cold winds, in keeping with the belief he’d sweep down from the cold mountains of Thrace, his icy breath freezing the air and bringing snow.

Legends say the people prayed to him and sent winds that destroyed ships that were to attack the Athens, and that he assisted the Megalopolitans against the Spartans who honored him at Megalopolis with an annual festival, according to the “Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.”

As the Athenians of ancient times, commanded by an oracle, prayed to Boreas to be saved from attack, today’s pagans can call upon the North Wind to blow something away, keeping it from harming you. You could also recognize his arrival with the Solstice and presence during winter, thanking him for his cold that brings the world rest and offers a time of reflection, wisdom, visions and insight.

Instead of making sacrifices to honor him, an offering would be more appropriate – perhaps snowflakes cut from folded paper, or a snow globe. And when you feel him against your face, thank him for his gifts.

Merry part. And merry meet again.



About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.