The horned god


In Neo-pagan witchcraft, where much emphasis is placed upon the Goddess, the Horned God, or Cernunnous, is equally important. He contributes the male role or part in the male-female polarity. He is worshipped. In rites he is personified by the high priest just as the Goddess is personified by the high priestess. The high priest sometimes wears an antlered headdress or a horned helmet.

It is believed the Horned God represents sexuality, vitality, the hunt, logic and power. But, he does not exploit his attributes nor will he let them be exploited. He is considered to be gentle, tender and compassionate in a masculine manner.

The Horned God, the most «male» in the conventional sense, of the Goddess’ projections, is the eternal Hunter, and also the animal which is hunted. He is the beast who is sacrificed that human life may go on, as well as the sacrificer, the one who sheds blood. He is also seen as the sun, eternally hunting the moon across the sky. The waxing and waning of the sun throughout the seasons manifest the cycle of birth and death, creation and dissolution, separation and return.

The horns of the Horned God are believed to represent his domain over the woodlands, and his association with the bull and ram, the animal consorts of the Goddess. His horns also symbolize the crescent moon, the symbol of the Goddess, and represents the increase in all things and waxing fertility.

In art, the Horned God, or Cernunnous, is represented as half man and half animal. This possibly represents the natural union between man and nature.

Neo-pagans believe that there is no association between the Horned God and the Devil. They say Christians have confusingly tried to make such a connection.

The high priest also personifies the Horned God in the performance of two of his duties as the guardian and keeper of the coven. Performing these duties allow the high priestess to carry out the spiritual work of the coven. A.G.H.

Sources: 4, 163-164, 71, 52.