Bring in the Season of New Life with Cernunnos

At the dawn of prehistory, it is said, humanity worshiped a Goddess who often co-existed with a male Deity, sometimes depicted with horns. Such figures represent humanity's elemental search for survival and meaning in mortality, a relentless quest for unity with the divine and the interdependent nature of the existential web.
Cernunnos is a horned god found in Celtic mythology. He is connected with male animals, particularly the stag in rut, and this has led him to be associated with fertility and vegetation. Depictions of Cernunnos are found in many parts of the British Isles and Western Europe. He is often portrayed with a beard and wild, shaggy hair -- he is, after all, the lord of the forest.
With his mighty antlers, Cernunnos is a protector of the forest and master of the hunt. He is a god of vegetation and trees in his aspect as the Green Man, and a god of lust and fertility when connected with Pan, the Greek satyr God of the Wild. In some traditions, he is seen as a god of death and dying, and takes time to comfort the dead by singing to them on their way to the spirit world.
Cernunnos is a Romanized name meaning "Horned One." The name is most likely derived from "cornu," the Latin word for horn. The meaning of Cernunnos in Gaelic and Old English and Irish is the “horned one or he who has horns.” The Romans had a habit of changing local names to fit the Roman pattern: most Roman names end in "us." Thus "Cernunnos" was probably the new Romanized name given by the Gauls to all their very old horned gods, in which case its use may have been widespread through out Gaul after it became a Roman province.
This God was usually depicted in artwork wearing stag antlers and was normally accompanied by his symbols of the stag, ram, bull and holding a horned and spotted serpent or worm. He is portrayed as a mature man with long hair and a beard. He wears a torc, an ornate neck-ring used by the Celts to denote nobility. He often carries other torcs in his hands and hanging from his horns, as well as a purse filled with coins. He is usually portrayed seated and cross-legged, in a position which some have interpreted as meditative or shamanic, although it may only reflect the fact that the Celts squatted on the ground when hunting.
The earliest known depictions of Cernunnos were found at Val Camonica, in northern Italy, which was under Celtic occupation from about 400 BC. The most famous was also portrayed on the Gundestrup Cauldron, which is a silver ritual vessel found at Gundestrup in Jutland, Denmark and dating to about the 1st century BC. The name "Jutland" would correspond with the Tribe of Judah who is also known as the Phoenicians.

Lord of the Hunt 

Always bearing the horns of a stag, Cernunnos is identified with the hunted, which in turn identifies him as hunter as well - shamanistic practices across the world bear witness to the concept that in order to catch your prey, you must identify in spirit with the prey.

God of Sexuality, Fertility, and Abundance 

Stags are sexually aggressive creatures, and the antlers can certainly be considered phallic, marking Cernunnos as a god of fertility and abundance. This aspect is represented in other symbolism as well: cornucopias, fruit, grain and coins.


Lord of the Underworld 


Along with knowledge, the serpent is also a frequent symbol of death. The cycle of hunter and hunted of course intimately revolves around death and life from death. As Herne the Hunter, generally considered to be the British Celtic version the same figure, he is the leader of the Wild Hunt.
In some traditions of Wicca, the cycle of seasons follows the relationship between the Horned God -- Cernunnos -- and the Goddess. During the fall, the Horned God dies, as the vegetation and land goes dormant, and in the spring, at Imbolc, he is resurrected to impregnate the fertile goddess of the land. However, this relationship is a relatively new Neopaganism concept, and there is no scholarly evidence to indicate that ancient peoples might have celebrated this "marriage" of the Horned God and a mother goddess.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HORNED GODS?
The early Christian Church under the Catholic Brotherhood of various royal families and empires and various kings have made a decision long ago to make war on all Gnostic and pagan Gods of the past simply to maintain control and order over the world's religions. Part of this process involved various propaganda techniques that the church had mastered such as the demonization and evil connotations of all the ancient Gods and Goddesses of the past. They would adopt a zero tolerance policy to any worship or adoration of these deities whom they always strongly opposed.
Just like Pan in the East and because of his horns (and the occasional depiction of a large, erect phallus) Cernunnos has often been misinterpreted by fundamentalists as a symbol of Satan and devil. Certainly, at times, the Christian church has pointed to the Pagan following of Cernunnos as "devil worship." This is in part due to centuries paintings of Satan which included large, ram-like horns much like those of Cernunnos.

Today, many Pagan and Wiccan traditions honor Cernunnos as an aspect of the God, the embodiment of masculine energy and fertility and power.

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