Meet the Gods: Adonis
One of the gods associated with Beltane is Adonis, the Greek god of beauty, desire, fertility and renewal. He was born a human, but Zeus later turned him into a god at the request of Aphrodite. Therefore Adonis became known as the god of rebirth, but he is also associated with fertility and vegetation.
The most popular belief is that Adonis is the son of Theias, the king of Syria, and his daughter, Myrrha (or Smyrna). According to World History Encyclopedia, the king boasted his daughter was more beautiful than Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. When Aphrodite heard this, she became angry, and “used her son, Eros, the god of desire and attraction, to make Myrrha fall in love with her father, and even deceived him into committing incest.” It was during their nine nights together in total darkness that Adonis was conceived. Learning of this, Theias was furious and tried to find and kill Myrrha. She pleaded with the gods to change her form and was made into a myrrh tree. In that form she gave birth to Adonis.
Aphrodite was charmed by his beauty, and to protect him from his angry father, gave Adonis to Persephone, queen of the underworld, to raise. He grew to become an astonishingly handsome man, and Persephone fell in love with him, refusing to give Adonis back to Aphrodite. The two fought over him until Zeus declared Adonis would spend four months with each goddess, and have four months to do as he chose. He chose to spend those months with Aphrodite. Together they had two children: Beroe and Golgos.
According to mythology, Artemis became jealous of Adonis’ great hunting skills and sent a wild boar to kill him. Another tale has Aphrodite’s lover, Ares, send the boar. Either way, Aphrodite held Adonis in her arms as he bled to death. Most sources agree with the legend it was Adonis’ blood that created the short-lived crimson anemone, and that his blood turned the Adonis River red each spring.
When he died, Aphrodite pleaded with Zeus who granted Adonis immortality, making him a god. After his transition from mortal to god, Adonis was celebrated for his connection to death and rebirth, aligning him with Beltane. Festivals in his honor in Greece and beyond promoted rainfall and the growth of vegetation. Adonis represented the natural decay of beauty in winter and its return in spring. It is also said that Aphrodite continued to mourn her fallen lover, celebrating his life every spring by holding large parties.
Choosing to work with Adonis at Beltane could mean calling on him as the young god of beauty and desire, or to represent vegetation’s return this time of year. Because Adonis passes easily between realms, he can deliver messages back and forth, he may be petitioned when attempting to contact the dead. According to “Encyclopedia of Spirits” by Judika Illes and cited by occult-world.com, “He is able to determine where to search for missing people: the realms of the living, dead or both.”
Honor him with scarlet wildflowers, myrrh incense, and items a hunter would appreciate. Sex toys and aphrodisiacs are appropriate offerings, as are Easter cakes and breads; pork is not. The article by Illes also recommended serving Adonis the ancient alcoholic beverage, arak, and to not venerate him alone because he likes company. “Incorporate Aphrodite, Persephone, Astarte, Nymphs, or other spirits on his altar,” the website states.
If it’s more comfortable for you to work with John the Baptist or Saint Anthony, know that both are said to be possible guises for Adonis when paganism was forced underground.
About the Author:
All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice.
When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at thewitchonwheels.com, Facebook and Instagram.