Today as I was looking at dailywicca.com, I found this description of the Horned God, Cernunnos.
The Druids believe that Cernunnos (under many names) is the oldest of the Ancient Ones, first born of the Goddess at the time of First Earth. They believe he grew in the womb of the All Mother, waiting to be born to initiate the everlasting, unbroken Circle of Life. While he is the Lord of Animals, he is also a tree, forest, and vegetation god, making him the Guardian of the Green World. In his Dark Man, or Underworld aspect, he is the one who comforts and sings the souls of the dead to rest in the Summerland. He’s one busy fellow!
During the spring and summer months, he is celebrated as the Green Man. He first appears as the young god, son of the Goddess. Then, in summer, he becomes her consort. In autumn and winter, he is the Dark God, who journeys to the Underworld to die and return to the earth. There, as his body is embraced by the earth, the seeds of his light are released and rouse the Goddess’s womb. Soon, he will once again be born as the new son in the spring. He is seen by the Druids as a triple god: Father, Son, and World Spirit.
But this god does not belong just to the Druids. Many pagans of various traditions and beliefs have a strong relationship with Cernunnos.
Frequently mentioned as a principal god in the Celtic pantheon, he is seen as the embodiment of virile fertility, life, animals, wealth, good fortune and the Underworld. Usually pictured seated in a half-lotus position, he wears the antlers of a stag. He is depicted as a mature man with long hair and beard usually wearing a torc or holding a torc in his right hand. A ram-horned serpent is usually in his left hand. Sometimes he holds a purse brimming with coin. Sometimes, he is a man with a stag’s head. He is often depicted with wild animals at his feet or near him and vegetation surrounding him.
The antlers signify his stature among beasts just as the torc denotes his stature of nobility. (To the Ancient Celts, the torc was a Celtic symbol of being initiated into nobility.) The antlers also represent the spreading branches of a tree. The serpent reflects his wisdom and his knowledge. Cernunnos is the spirit of the woods, a powerful archetypal nature spirit, and male partner to Mother Earth. Because the hunter often falls in pursuit of the prey, he is recognized as both the God of Death and the Guardian of the Underworld, and embodies both hunter and prey. (This is another aspect indicated by the serpent.) It has been suggested by some because of the Celtic torc, that perhaps he was also the Celtic God of Initiation, though nothing in Celtic lore remains to substantiate or disprove this theory….
…Regardless, Cernunnos is placed today at the head of the Celtic pantheon by any number of religious groups. He is honored for his role in the turning of the Wheel and his relationship with the Goddess. He is worshiped for his wild spirit, the fertility he lavishes on the Earth, the animals he protects and for his connection with the Underworld. He embodies all that is male and wild within nature and is honored and respected for it.
I have always, as long as I can remember, felt a drawing toward the energy of the Horned God. I know that so many know him by so many names. Even when I worked in the church, I saw the trinity very much like the description of Cernunnos above….but unlike many in the Christian church who tried to make God sexless, neutered, ambiguous…I saw him a strong, virile, sexual energy…ready and desiring to impart that same energy to me.
Though I have a strong devotion to the goddess, I feel that I have always hungered for that male energy…that part of me that I never really felt existed as a gay man. Having grown up on a farm in rural North Carolina, you learned to hide any part of you that didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the way the other guys around you acted. I know that many young gay men struggled with these expectations. I found myself, at an early age, thrown into the midst of the ‘reindeer games’ as I like to call them. Young bucks going out into the woods to hunt….punching arms and calling names and skinny-dipping. I look back on this now and see that it was all a part of showing dominance and strength. I fell into it quite naturally. Hunting was easy for me. It was all about listening and watching. My granny had taught me to track a rabbit in a snowstorm. I can still do it, if need be. I have always been an exhibitionist, so skinny dipping was old hat.
I remember one fellow in particular who seemed threatened with the fact that most of this came easily to me. He began to step up the arm punching and name calling. We were all in the woods setting up a camping site and I turned around to help with the tent. He tripped me and I fell flat on my face….I was also taught to turn the other cheek by my granny. I laughed it off and brushed off the leaves and dirt and went about my business.
The next day is when it happened. He saw me staring just a little too long at one of the other guys as he washed off in the creek. He pulled me aside and threatened to tell all the other guys. He was determined he would be liked the most…..if I think back on it, though, I remember seeing his gaze linger just a little extra too. Every day, he made my life miserable. The hitting got worse….the name calling….I remember the last day it happened though. He was bigger than I was and he caught me with his arm at my throat around a corner at school. He lifted me into a row of lockers and he threatened me. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t hurt. I was angry. At that point every ounce of strength I had welled up into my arms and legs. I rared back as far as I could and I hit him square in the jaw. It wasn’t that hard of a punch but it caught him in just the right place and he went flying backwards. After that day, he never looked at me or harassed me again. That was the beginning of the energy of the Horned One and I didn’t even realize it.
With some of us gay men who follow the path, we have immersed ourselves in goddess energy…that is completely fine. Nothing is wrong with that at all….but every so often, I find myself in need of that Wild Man of the Woods. That energy that is purely masculine….purely sexual…a hunger that can be met with no other energy but that of Cernunnos. I find that it is an energy that holds the divine masculine at its core.
I have the most incredible, strong circle of women who surround me. It is a circle of four women and one other man besides myself. I love the goddess energy that flows forth from all in this circle, but then there are the times you just really need that god energy. That sharing of the divine masculine that you can only share with another male. Hell, we all have to have our time of pissing on trees.
Yesterday evening, I went to the woods. It was misty and damp and rainy. I had my cloak on and it felt like a heavy wet blanket, so I took it off and packed it away. My sense of smell was stronger than it had ever seemed to be as I approached the woods. I could smell that damp heavy smell that leaves give off as they decompose. I could smell the rain looming. I could smell something that I had never smelled before in those woods….it was an animal. I could also sense its energy. I looked up and not 20 feet from me was a deer. Just from experience, it was more than likely a doe (I couldn’t get that close). I was careful to keep still and just watch. I watched her dance back and forth between the trees….graceful beyond words. I watched her stop and listen…taking in all around her. My eyes met hers. I knew this was a gift….the energy that I could feel transferring between us. Then came the sound of her loping through the woods…deeper into hiding, further away.
I was honestly dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to think or what to do. I had talked to two friends on Friday about us making a conscious effort on Saturday to connect with Cernunnos energy…..who would have ever thought that he would come to me….but in female form. It was proof…deep in my spirit, as to how closely the divine masculine and the divine feminine are intertwined.
The energy that encircled me was undeniable. It was the energy of the rutting stag, full of fire and virility and heat….encompassed by the energy of the doe, calming and strong and ever-watching. Those combined energies took me back to a time when there was no fear in me. You see, I have seen lately that we humans are afraid of everything. We have come to the point of letting every tiny little circumstance rule over and control our lives. The ancients responded to situations…..we have come to the point of only reacting.
There was a time in my life when change was nothing more than going in a different direction. Since then, I have let it become something that I worry over…fret about…cry, kick, and scream. It is time to tap back into that wild energy. The animals do not concern themselves with every little piddling thing about life. They just live it. What happens, happens and you adjust accordingly. It is time for me to pull on that old resolve. What happens…..happens. I will adjust. I will live. I will not whimper and whine about it not being the fantasy I had all planned out.
I stand prepared. Staff in hand….wand at the ready. Moving forward is the only option. The animals will guide me. I listen for the call of Mama Crow and the howl of Wolf. Even the songbird has something to teach me…as do toad and cat. My ears are pricked forward. It is time for that change to begin.
I have embraced this hairy, masculine coat that I have been given. It is time to let the rest of the world embrace it too.