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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

HORNED GOD

The High Priest invoking the 'Horned God' Cernunnos...
A Coven's High Priest invokes
the 'Horned God' Cernunnos...

The male deity of Wicca and some other forms of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, the consort of the Goddess and representative of the male principle of the Supreme Deity.

In Wicca, the Horned God is thus perceived both as a strongly ithyphallic hunter and as a gentle, caring pastoral deity and, by contrast, as the dark, dying god who represents the austerities of winter.

The Horned God is the lord of the woodlands, the hunt and animals.   He also is the lord of life, death and the Underworld. He is the Sun to the Goddess's Moon.   The Horned God alternates with the Goddess in ruling over the fertility cycle of birth-death-rebirth.

The Horned God is born at the winter solstice, unites with the Goddess in marriage at Beltane and dies at the summer solstice.   His death is a Sacrifice to bring new life.

The origin of the Horned God perhaps dates back to Paleolithic times, as evidenced by a ritualistic cave painting discovered in the Caverne des Trois Freres at Ariege, France. One of the figures is of a man dressed in stag costume in a Dance.   The wearing of animal clothes in rituals to secure game was practiced in Europe for thousands of years.

Among the deities and beings associated with the Horned God are Cernunnos, the Celtic god of fertility, animals and the Underworld; Herne the Hunter, a specter of Britain; Pan, the Greek god of the woodlands; Janus, the Roman god of good beginnings, whose two-faced visage represents youth and age, life and death; Tammuz and Damuzi, the son-Iover-consorts to Ishtar and Inanna; Osiris, Egyptian lord of the Underworld; and Bacchus, Roman god of vegetation and the vine, whose cult observed rites of dismemberment and resurrection.

The horns of the Horned God are associated with his domain of the woodlands, and with the bull and the ram, animal consorts of the Goddess.   The horns also symbolize the crescent moon, which is the symbol of the Goddess and represents increase in all things and waxing fertility.   In art, the Horned God may be portrayed as half man and half animal, as were Cernunnos and Pan.

There is NO association between the Horned God and Satan, except in the minds of some poorly informed Christians.

Wicca, and Neo-Pagan Witchcraft in general, emphasizes the Goddess, though the Horned God is considered equally im-portant in his role in male-female polarity.   He is worshipped in rites, in which he is personified by the high priest, who sometimes wears an antlered headdress or a horned helmet.

The Horned God represents sexuality, vitality, the hunt, logic and power, but not in an exploitative fashion.   He is considered gentle, tender and compassionate yet is not effeminate.

see also: CERNUNNOS; MANO CORNUTO; GUNDESTRUP BOWL


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PLEASE NOTE:
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc



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