The Horned God: The Many Faces and Horns

I wrote about the crone goddess last week. Now it is time to talk about the horned god. Rock out your inner shaman! His is a story of seasonal birth, growth and sacrifice. As well as being the consort who impregnates the goddess, he dies, sacrifices himself to the Earth and opens the gates of the Otherworld. The timing usually is this: The horned god is born around Yule and dies around harvest time. At Yule he is birthed by the goddess, and that it is the crone goddess who gives birth to him is a little problematic. She also gets reborn herself around this time. At Imbolc the young god and young goddess share a blush. At Ostara they would likely have their first kiss. By the time of Beltane or Litha, they perform the Great Rite. It depends on who you talk to but at some time during the harvest rituals the horned god dies. Some say Mabon is the best timing because he needs to be in the Otherworld for a while. He needs to have chosen whom of the dead would come out for a little while to visit the living at Samhain. He needs to open the gates of the Otherworld at that time. This is a typical dance of the horned god and goddess over the year.

The horned god goes by many different names and these are some of them: Cernunnos, Pan, Veles, Khnum and Finnbennachand:

Cernunnos has many depictions showing him with bull horns and on occasion antlers. He is shown on the Gundestrup Cauldron with antlers. He is a god of wealth, and there are images of him with coins. He is a god of the wild depicted with various animals around him. He opens the gates of the Otherworld on Samhain.

Pan is a god with goat horns and has a predilection for the unconventional. He could be bisexual. Pan has a companionable arm around Daphnis on a famous statue in which he is teaching the youth to play the panpipes. Let’s face it, he likes chaos. He liked female figures such as nymphs, Selene and Aphrodite. He chased some of the nymphs around mercilessly. For example he pursued Syrinx. She didn’t want Pan’s attentions, fled and asked her sisters for help. They turned her into reeds. Pan found the reeds and discovered that as air blew through these reeds, they created beautiful music. He fashioned some of these reeds into his panpipes or what he named syrinx. Pan could create “panic” to anyone wandering through the woods or lonely places. The word “panic” comes from his name. Yet, he is a wonder at playing the panpipes. He is quite the dancer. He watches over shepherds and is a god of the wild. If you are thinking of working with him, he is a brilliant god. But, also be ready for his disorderly nature.

Veles is a Slavic god of both wild animals and cattle. His original form was that of a bear, but later his form became a bull. In lore about him and the storm god Perun, Veles stole cattle, and as a result he and Perun fought. Perun killed Veles who spilled precious stolen rainwater on the land when he died. This is a yearly story of what is considered to be a sacrifice to the Earth. He is a god of the Otherworld and sends the dead out to visit the living each year on Samhain. On a cheerful note, Veles is a god of music.

Egyptian God Khnum who is depicted with ram horns, had a potters wheel on which he created bodies for living beings and inserted their ka (life force) into them. He also took responsibility for the Nile to flood. As he got older and wanted less work, he invented the womb with a little potter’s wheel inside. Khnum was known as a fertility god.

What about a horned goddess? Egyptian goddess Hathor is depicted with bull horns, but beyond that and to my knowledge, there are no other horned goddesses in the same way of horned gods. But the crescent moon does have horns for goddesses! Visualize the crescent moon as horns and make magic.

These are some of the strengths of the horned god. And you can work with the horned god whoever you are. This a god of protection. Just as Pan keeps vigilance over shepherds so can you watch over the people who are important to you be they friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and more. Like Khnum, nurture something, a plant, animal or your family. Working on your physical, mental and emotional strength is a great way to celebrate the horned god. Strength is one of the things Finnbennach, the white bull and the brown bull within the story of The Cattle Raid of Cooley are all about. As they fight each other, physical strength is only one type of strength they use. You, too could work with the horned god on building up any kind of strength. You can work with the Veles on sacrificing something “for the greater good.” For example, you may choose to be less judgemental to help “the greater good”. This is a god of the Otherworld, and as such think about your mortality. Go over your will and obituary if you already made them or create them. Like Pan and Veles you can work on making music or dance. The horned god has got a lot of substance to offer.

To men, women, and LGBTQ+ enjoy rocking your inner horned god or goddess!

Suggested Investigation:

David Rankine & Sorita D’Este, The Isles of the Many Gods, Avalonia, 2007.

Edain McCoy, Celtic Myth & Magick, Llewellyn, 1995.

Google Gundestrup Cauldron images for depictions of Cernunnos.

Google The Goddess Hathor – The Brooklyn Museum for an image of her with horns.

Jason Mankey, The Horned God of the Witches, Llewellyn, 2021.

Google Pan and Daphnis statue for an image of them.

Google Reims stela to see Cernunnos with his bag of coins.

Sorita D’Este, Horns of Power, Avalonia, 2008.

I will continue to post on Wednesdays.

Auburn Greene

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