Profile of a God: The North Wind

By Tony Guay

This Greek god teaches the proper use of force. Take some time this month to meditate on Boreas and what he means in your life.
by Tony Guay
Name: Boreas (pronounced bohr'-ee-uhs)-Greek God of the North Wind.

AKA: Aquilo, North Wind, Devouring One.

Mythology/Source: Greek mythology.

Symbolism: Boreas, the Greek God of the North Wind, is one of the four Anemoi-wind gods associated with the cardinal directions. Boreas is often depicted as a purple-winged god with hair and beard infused with ice. Also known as the god of winter, the strong and masculine Boreas lived in Thrace. Boreas and the other Anemoi were the children of Astraeus (a Titan) and Eos (goddess of the Dawn). Zephyrus represented the West Wind, Notus the South Wind, and of course, Boreas the North Wind. Eurus was known as the unlucky East Wind, but was not a brother to Zephyrus, Notus, or Boreas.

Boreas was well-known for his forcefulness and bad temper. During the Persian war, Boreas showed favor to the Athenians by destroying ships of the barbarians. He also showed favor to the Megalopolitans over the Spartans, and was therefore honored with annual festivals in Megalopolis. In another example of Boreas's powerful and boastful tendency, he and Helios (the Sun) argued about which one was the most powerful. They agreed to a contest-whoever could first strip a passing man of his clothes would be declared the victor. Boreas blew with all his strength, but the stronger his blasts of icy winter wind, the tighter the traveler wrapped his clothes around him. Finally Boreas calmed his wind. Helios shone with all his brightness and warmth. Feeling the Sun's gentle warmth, the traveler took off one garment after another as Helios warmed his body until he had to completely disrobe and bathe in a nearby stream to cool his body. It was unclear if Boreas learned the obvious lesson-persuasion is always more productive than force.

Interpretation: Boreas teaches us that there are two sides to force and anger. They can be used as a catalyst for positive change and growth. Their energies can be used to speak truth to power, to give voice to one's inner truth, to stand up for one's own self-interest, and to stand against any real injustice in your life or in our world. Boreas teaches us that when used to impose our will on another, force and anger lead to fear, and this isolates us from ourselves and all those around us, especially those that we claim to love, as well as those who love us. When we feed the negative energies of force and anger, we give away our true power and become weak and alone. This does not serve us well, but focusing our attention on the positive energies that Boreas represents can serve us very well indeed.

Meditation: My strongest and most memorable encounters with the energy of the North Wind were during winters in Maine. I spent a lot of time in the North Woods of Maine as a young man. I recall many long, cold snowshoe hikes deep into the forest, and so often the energy of Boreas was with me. The sound of the North Wind, whipping through the hemlock, pine, spruce, and fir, was at once calming, and with its full power, a bit unsettling.

Boreas represents both the positive and negative aspects of the North Wind and its energy. Take some time each week (especially during these winter months when Boreas is most active) to meditate on Boreas and what he represents in your life. The North Wind is most active in the afternoon and evening, before and during winter storms, so try to meditate on Boreas during these times. If at all possible, snowshoe or ski into a backcountry area with mature coniferous trees; their crowns seem to amplify and accentuate the qualities of the North Wind. If a backcountry location is not accessible, explore local city parks (Liberty Park has many large conifers)or  anywhere you can sit beneath and among a few large coniferous trees. You can also make do with a quiet indoor location, although it will be more difficult to reach the inner space best for meditating on Boreas. If you do choose an indoor setting, try to mimic a winter conifer forest setting as much as possible. Look for one of the many 'sounds of nature' audio CDs, and choose one that contains forest sounds of winter to further prepare your indoor space for meditating on Boreas.

Begin your meditation by sitting comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on taking full, deep breaths, exhaling fully. Try to let your thoughts settle down, and begin meditating on how you use the energies of Boreas in your life. How do you apply inner force and anger in your own life, both as you relate to your self and as you relate to others? Do you use your inner force and anger to your benefit and to the benefit of those around you? Are you skilled in the ability to forcefully and clearly state your own needs, desires, and preferences? Do you have the ability to stand up for your inner truth, for those you love, and to stand against injustice in your life? If you lack this ability, and wish to foster it, then meditate on the positive aspects of Boreas.

Meditate on speaking forcefully and clearly in your life. When your words and feelings are infused with anger yet applied with love and respect, the results usually benefit everyone.

While meditating on Boreas, also spend some time on the negative aspects of force and anger that might be present in your life. Whether you are the one generating negative energy or the one buffeted by the North Wind is less important than recognizing these qualitiesand taking the steps necessary to change them. Remember they come from a place of fear, not love, and they only bring isolation and loneliness-these never serve you well. Choose and nurture what serves you well.

Tony may be reached at:

This article was originally published on January 1, 2008.