The Great Horned God
The consort of the Goddess and symbol of male energy in the form of the divine, The Horned God reigns. He is the lord of the woodlands, the hunt and animals. He provides for the tribe through the hunt and is honoured or rewarded for his deed by being permitted to copulate with the Goddess through the Great Rite.
The Horned God is the lord of life, death and the underworld. And is the Sun to the Goddess’ Moon. He alternates with the Goddess in ruling over the fertility cycle of birth, death and rebirth. He is born at the winter solstice, unites with the Goddess in marriage at Beltane, and dies at the summer solstice to bring fertility to the land as the sacred king.
He is not just a Celtic representation of the God, nor does he solely belong to Wicca, as he has been associated with many deities throughout the world.
- Cernunnos, The Celtic God of fertility, animals and the underworld.
- Herne The Hunter, a spectre of Britain.
- Pan the Greek god of the woodlands,
- Janus the Roman god of good beings.
- Tammuz and Damuzi, the son, lover and consorts to Ishtar and Inanna.
- Osiris, the Egyptian Lord of the underworld.
- Dionysus, the Greek god of vegetation and vine.
- The Green Man, the lord of vegetation and the woodlands.
The History Of The Horned One
Paintings discovered in the Caverne des Trois Freres at Ariege, France provides evidence of the first views of the Horned One. Depicted as a stag standing upright on hind legs with the upper body of a man, the figure is celebrating what appears to be a hunt and wooing a woman.
From some of the earliest myths come the union between the fertile Goddess and the triumphant phallus hunter, the Horned God. The more successful the tribal hunter in providing for his people, the greater his stature became. The more likely he would be the one chosen to impregnate the “Mother” of the tribe. Often seen as the High Priestess or at least a tribal woman who was touched by the goddess because of her prowess at becoming pregnant and extending the life of the tribe. Something that was needed during the days of ancient man, as life spans were short and death by illness or disease was common.
Many legends describe fertility celebrations occurring at the spring gathering and again in late fall. Each of these, coinciding with a spring hunt to bring food to the tribe after a cold desolate winter, and in the fall to provide meat for the tribe during the winter months. The most successful hunter won the prize of sleeping with the “Goddess”, most often before the Tribe watching. Something that is seen as repugnant today, in ancient times, it was a spiritual event and is revitalized in what we see as the great rite of today.
During these rituals, the Hunter would appear dressed or cloaked in the skin of his kill with the horns of the stag resting victoriously upon his head. Some legends describe the blood of the beast engulfing both the Horned Hunter and the Goddess, believing the life taken from the animal is transferred to the womb of the fertile Mother, thus providing life.
To the Celts as Cernunnos, the Horned God was more than just a fertile being. He is found throughout the Celtic lands and folklore as the guardian of the portal leading to the Otherworld. The name Cernunnos is known only through damaged carvings found at Notre Dame. In these carvings, a deity with short horns carries the incomplete inscription ‘ERNUNNO’. In his earliest of days he was probably the fertility god to the Gauls. But as time progressed and his legends grew, he became associated with wealth and prosperity. He was such an important deity to the pagan Celts, that his image and prowess became a major target for the early Christian church. It is his image that is believed to have been adopted for their mythos of the Devil ‘deo falsus’ or the false god. His status as the god of Hell would coincide with the view of the pagan Celts as the guardian of the Otherworld.
As Herne the Hunter, the British version of the Horned God; he is seen as the leader of the Wild Hunt. As an antlered giant, he is rumored to still survive and live in the forests of Windsor Great Park. His longevity is owed to the cult of Cernunnos, who have also linked his generosity to provide for the tribe to the legend of Robin Hood. Some suggest that Herne was the father to Robin of Loxley; which is probably more an association since Herne is a much older figure in legend and myth. In this ability to provide for the tribe as the great Hunter of the wood, he is forever linked to the Horned God.
As the Greek deity of pastures, flocks and herds, Pan was half man and half goat. With the legs and horns and beard of a goat. He is the offspring of Hermes, but his mothers lineage is in question. Either he is the result of Hermes and Dryope daughter of King Dropys, who’s flocks he tended. Or Hermes and Penelope. His cult is centered around Arcadia where he is reported to haunt the woodlands, hills and mountains. Sleeping at noon and then dancing through the woods as he played the panpipes, which he is credited with inventing. He is the lusty leader of the satyrs (woodland deities), and continually chases the nymphs (the beautiful nature goddesses). During rituals, his essence is invoked to for fertility of the flocks or for an abundant hunt. Associating him with the legends of the Horned God.
As Osiris the Egyptian god of the lower world, he is seen as the judge of the dead. Linking him to the concept of Cernunnos as the guardian of the gate to the Other World. He is the brother of Isis, but he is also her husband. Isis as the goddess of fertility her status as the Mother is propagated by the services provided her by Osiris. Once again linking his image with that of the Horned One.
As the Green Man he is the God of the woodlands and vegetation. He is also known as ‘Green Jack”, “Jack in the Green” and “Green George”. He represents the spirits of the trees, plants and foliage who has many powers over nature that promote growth. He has the power to make it rain and foster the livestock with lush meadows. As Green George he has been represented as a young man cloaked head to foot in greenery. In early depictions, the green vegetation emphasized his phallic symbol of fertility as he lead processions through tribal lands. As the Green Man he shares his woodland home with the forest fairies often called “Greenies” or “Greencoaties”. What today we call Nature Sprites. The Green Man is depicted as a horned man peering out from a mask of foliage, connecting him to the image of Horned God.
So as we know everything is connected, how do you connect to the horned god?