View Full Version : Cernunnos and the Green Man
Mar 16th, 2005, 1:24 AM
Cernunnos-The Horned Shaman
"The Horned One" is a Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. Paleolithic cave paintings found in France that depict a stag standing upright or a man dressed in stag costume seem to indicate that Cernunnos' origins date to those times.
The God In The Wild Wood
At the Sacred Centre, in the Grove of all Worlds, He sits with legs crossed beneath an ancient Oak. Entranced, connecting the three worlds Earth, Sea, and Sky and the worlds behind the worlds, the god and the Great Tree are One, His immense limbs widespread, stretching into distant sky and starry space. His massive trunk, spine of the Middleworld, is the heart of the Ancient Forest around which all Life, all worlds turn. His limitless root web growing deep into secret earth and Underworld. Above him the great turning circles of Sun, Moon, and Stars. All around Him subtle movements of the leaves in melodious, singing air. Everywhere the pulsing, gleaming Green awash in drifts of gold and shimmering mist. Beneath Him soft moss creeping over the dark, deep, moist of spawning earth. At His feet the great Cauldron from which the Five Rivers Flow. Through the forest stillness they come, whispering wings and secret glide, rustling leaves, and silent step, the first Ancestors, the Oldest Animals, to gather around Him: Blackbird, Keeper of the Gate; Stag of Seven Tines, Master of Time; Ancient Owl, Crone of the Night; Eagle, Lord of the Air, Eye of the Sun; and Salmon, Oldest of the Old, Wisest of the Wise leaping from the juncture of the Five Springs. He welcomes them and blesses them, and they honor Him, Cernunnos of the nut brown skin and lustrous curling hair. The god whose eyes flash star-fire, whose flesh is a reservoir of ancient waters, His cells alive with Mystery, original primeval essence. Naked, phallus erect, He wears a crown of antlers limned in green fire and twined with ivy. In his right hand the Torq of gold, testament of his nobility and his sacred pledge. In his left hand the horned serpent symbol of his sexual power sacred to the Goddess. Cernunnos in His Ancient Forest, His Sacred Temple, His Holy Grove, Cernunnos and His children dream the Worlds.
Mar 16th, 2005, 1:26 AM
THE ORIGINS OF CERNNUNOS
Cernunnos, a nature and fertility god, has appeared in a multitude of forms and made himself known by many names to nearly every culture throughout time. He is perhaps best known to us now in his Celtic aspects of the untamed Horned God of the Animals and the leaf-covered Green Man, Guardian of the Green World, but He is much older. Cernunnos worked his magic when the first humans were becoming. Our prehistoric ancestors knew him as a shape-shifting, shamanic god of the Hunt. He is painted in caves and carved everywhere, on cliffs, stones, even in the Earth Herself. Humans sought to commune with Him and receive his power and that of his animal children by dressing themselves in skins and skulls, adorning themselves with feathers and bones, by dancing His dance. Yet He is older still. In the time of the dinosaurs, the great swamps and subtropical forests of cycads, seed ferns and conifers, and later in the time of the deciduous plants and flowers, when the pollinators came and the first tiny mammals were creeping up from beneath the ground, Cernunnos was the difference and diversity of life, the frenzy and ferment of evolution. But, He is much older still. He is oldest of the Ancient Ones, first born of the Goddess. At the time of First Earth, Cernunnos grew in the womb of the All Mother, Anu, waiting to be born, to come forth to initiate the everlasting, unbroken Circle of Life.
THE MANY FACES & NATURES OF CERNNUNOS
Cernunnos, as The Horned God, Lord of the Animals is portrayed as human or half human with an antler crown. Though he wears a human face his energy and his concerns are non-human. He is protector of animals and it is Cernunnos who is the law-sayer of hunting and harvest. While He is recognized most often through his connection to animals and our own deeply buried, dimly recalled, instinctual animal natures, Cernunnos is also a tree, forest, and vegetation god in his foliate aspect of The Green Man, Guardian of the Green World. His branching antlers symbolize the spreading treetops of the forest as well as his animal nature. As Master of the Sacrificial Hunt, His is the life that is given in service of new life. His wisdom is that the old must pass away to make way for the new. In his Underworld aspect Cernunnos is The Dark Man, the god who dwells in the House Beneath the Hill, the Underworld. He is the one who comforts and sings the souls of the dead to their rest in the Summerlands of the Otherworld. Cernunnos, as Master of the Wild Hunt, who pursues the souls of evil doers, is not associated with a biblical or even modern morality, but with the protection and continuance of the Land and Nature and the spirits that dwell therein. Pan, lusty Satyr god of the Greeks is another aspect of the Horned God. "Pan is a proud celebration of the liberating power of male erotic energy in its purest and most beautiful form." (5) He is portrayed as playful and cunning, but He also has a darker, dangerous nature. The panic or terror often associated with Pan is not related to human violence, but to the Life and Death of the natural world. In this form he is called the "All Devourer." However, Pan, as Protector of the Wilderness and as a god prone to fits of madness and violence, can induce panic or wild fear in those who threaten his domain. Cernunnos appears again in Elizabethan England, and is mentioned by Shakespeare, as Herne the Hunter, the demon and guardian of Windsor Forest, the Royal Wood. In this aspect it is said that he appears as Guardian of the Realm during times of National emergency and crisis. In modern times he is often called the God of the Witches and embodies uncorrupted masculine energy. A masculine energy that is fully-developed and in balance with the natural world.
CERNNUNOS & THE SACRED WHEEL OF THE SEASONS
We celebrate and honor Cernunnos as the Green Man in spring and summer, the light half of the year and as the Dark One or the Dark God in autumn and winter, the dark half of the year. He appears in spring as the young Son, child of the Goddess, embodiment of the budding, growing, greening world. In summer He is the Green Man, vibrant, pulsing with life essence, the consort of the Green Lady Goddess. It is in autumn, the dying time, that perhaps we see the Horned God most clearly. He is the sacrificed one, who, wounded unto death begins his journey to the Underworld, returning to the Earth from which he was born and where the seeds of light released from his decaying body will quicken Her womb with a new Sun once again.
THE PATH TO CERNNUNOS
The path to Cernunnos is both through the natural world: seeking out the wild places and a deep understanding of the processes of growth, bounty, decay, rest, and rebirth, and through Otherworld journeys to the Middleworld forest of which he is guardian. One may experience this both actually and symbolically by following the path that disappears over the horizon into the distance and moves away from the "civilized" world and into the heart of the Wild Wood. Often experienced as traveling away from the centre to the perimeter, this is in actuality a return to the Centre. When the seeker reaches the god's forest the track ends, and her/his pathways are found by other means. After entering the Wildwood the seeker cannot be followed, nor can s/he follow another. Whatever pathways are discovered disappear in passing, and the Wood is trackless once again, for each one's way is different. In the Forest of Cernunnos there is a stillness, an otherworldly feeling, as if one has passed out of time. Here the mind is not supreme. It is instinct, the innate wisdom of the body that guides us to Him.
THE WAY OF CERNNUNOS
The way of Cernunnos is the way of the shaman or any person who truly seeks Communion with the Land. Yet, one cannot speak of Cernunnos without speaking of Anu or Don, the All Mother who gave Him birth. The way of Cernunnos is through the One. Like Her, Cernunnos is a Being or Power that existed before time and before the gods, the Shining Ones. Together they are First Mother and First Father, All Mother and All Father who brought the gods into being. Limitless and everlasting His energy permeates Her matter through every aspect of life to the sub-atomic. As Lord of the Dance He is present in the billions and billions of infinitely small movements that make up the seemingly chaotic Dance of Life, the Dance of Making and Unmaking. He is truly the Life that never, never dies, for even as nothingness he is self-originating. He is triple as She is triple. He is Cernunnos: Father, Son, and Wild Spirit.
Depiction of Cernunnos from the Pilier des nautes, ParisCernunnos was an important deity of the Celts, essentially a nature god associated with produce and fertility. He was called the "Horned One" (a literal translation of his name) or the "Horned God", and was one of a number of similar deities found in many ancient cultures.
He was worshipped over a wide area of Europe, from Romania to Ireland, as evidenced by various representations found in around thirty different sites across the continent. The earliest known depiction of Cernunnos was found at Val Camonica in Italy, dating from the 4th century BC, while the best known depiction is on the famous Gundestrup cauldron found in Denmark and dating from the 1st century BC. His name is known from the "Pillar of the Boatmen" ("Pilier des nautes"), a monument now displayed in the Musйe national du Moyen Age in Paris. It is believed to have been erected as an altar by Gallic sailors in the early 1st century AD and was found in the foundations of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris on the site of the Celtic settlement of Lutetia. It depicts Cernunnos and other Celtic deities alongside Roman divinities, providing an illustration of the way in which Celtic gods were absorbed into the Roman pantheon. Indeed, Julius Caesar associated him with the Roman god Dis Pater, while other Roman sources associated him with Mercury.
The Pilier des nautes provides the only written record of the deity's name. It is not known whether the name Cernunnos (given as Kernunno) was a local name bestowed by the Parisii tribe (from whom Paris got its name). The structure of the name suggests otherwise. The word Cornu means "horned" in modern French and the cognate Celtic Cern_ means much the same.
Whether or not the name differed from place to place, the depictions of Cernunnos are strikingly consistent throughout the Celtic world. His most distinctive attribute are his stag's horns, and he is usually 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 or 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 floor and did not use chairs.
Mar 16th, 2005, 1:28 AM
Cernunnos is nearly always portrayed with animals, in particular the stag. He is also frequently associated with a unique beast that seems to belong only to him: a serpent with the horns of a ram. This creature appears to have been a deity in its own right. Less often he is associated with other beasts, including bulls, dogs and rats. Because of his frequent association with beasts scholars often describe Cenunnos as the "Lord of the Animals" or the "Lord of Wild Things". Because of his association with stags in particular (a particularly hunted beast) he is also described as the "Lord of the Hunt". Interestingly, the Pilier des nautes links him with sailors and with commerce, suggesting that he was also associated with material wealth.
The worship of Cernunnos was particularly vehemently opposed by early Christianity, which saw him as an unacceptable symbol of paganism. Illustrations of Cernunnos-like figures were used to symbolise demonic and anti-Christian forces, and it may be presumed that shrines to Cernunnos were targets of early attempts to root out paganism. Even so, traces of the god survived well into Christian times. The literary traditions of both Wales and Ireland contain allusions to him, while in Brittany the legendary saint Korneli (or Cornйly) had attributes of Cernunnos. It has also been suggested that the English myth of Herne the Hunter is an allusion to Cernunnos, though this seems doubtful.
In the modern Neo-Pagan movements, of which Wicca is the most notable, the worship of the Horned God has been revived. Whether or not these religious groups are actually surviving cults or modern reconstructions, the adherents generally follow the life-fertility-death cycle for Cernunnos, though his death is now usually set at Samhain, the Celtic New Year Festival usually associated with October 31.
Cernunnos is perhaps one of the best-known Gaulish deities, due to his adoption in the modern Wiccan religion.
In this thread we consider the historical Cernunnos in the time period of ancient Gaul. The picture here is from the Gallo-Roman town of Reims, capital of the Remi and shows a seated antlered Cernunnos flanked by smaller Mercury and Apollo figures.
Before the Romans came to Britain, the native population worshipped nature spirits. One of the most important cults was that associated with the Celtic mother-goddess. Small outdoor shrines were common throughout the countryside, particularly near rivers, streams or ponds. Trees, foliage and groves were worshipped by the native population.
Archaeologists working in the Dartford area have found Iron Age bronze and tin coins decorated with the symbols of pagan belief and worship. The main British pagan idols and deities were Etharun, the stag-horned god Cernunnos, the bull-horned or ram-horned God of War, Sulis the healing deity, and at least three different mother goddesses concerned with the earth, fertility, sexual pleasures and the magical aspects of warfare.
Mar 16th, 2005, 1:29 AM
Cernunnos is the lord of the forest,
The un-tammed one,
and sometimes called the dark god,
He is fertility,
He posseses knowlage (he holds a serpent with horns of a ram),
He is lord of the beasts (he is seen with a stag),
God of the hunt,
He is ruthless, yet loving,
He is your passion, while the goddess is the reward that keeps you going.
He represents death and renewal. He maries the goddess (she is the mother of life is and pleasure itself). The goddess is represented by the moon, and Cernunnos is the sun. The sun gets to the moon, but then has to continue its rought, so he sacrafices himself for the continuing of nature. He continues going around the planet knowing they will meet again, some say he dies at night, but then in the morning he is reborn. There are more elaborate beliefs on this subject that i dont care for myself. This is simply a metaphor to most people, Cernunnos is not literaly the sun, but he is in the sun.
Cernunnos and Baphomet
Side by Side:
Mar 16th, 2005, 1:31 AM
The Mythology of the Green Man goes back to the very first societies and traditions. In Egypt, the Pharaoh and god Horus was associated with the Green Man, in the mode of fertility of vegitation and crops. The Green Man, like Cernunnos, is associated with the god of lust and procreation in the horned Pan.
The Green Man is that spirit, energy, presence, inherent in every cell of the vegetative realm, and transmitted to the animal/human realms through the foods we eat, the flowers we smell, the trees we hug. He is Pan. He is what Dylan Thomas calls:
"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
drives my green age."
The Green Man is the ever-returning energy of vegetation and wild Nature. His magic is celebrated througout the world, but he is most often associated with northern Europe and Celtic cultures.
The great cathedrals of Europe are adorned with thousands of GreenMan gargoyles and carvings. The Dark-Ages, the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance saw European indigenous religions and Nature under constant attack by the christian church.
Mar 16th, 2005, 1:32 AM
Mar 16th, 2005, 6:34 AM
A horned god, eh?!? Does remind me of the depictions of Satan...
Mar 16th, 2005, 4:09 PM
Regarding the Green Man, I wonder if Robert Jordan's first book of his "Wheel of Time" series, "The Eye of the World", used the Green Man as his influence for the entity that guarded the Horn of Valere (can't remember the entity's name). That first picture in post #5 is pretty much exactly what I imagined in my head when I read it about 3 years ago.
Oct 18th, 2005, 1:28 AM
Exactly Dutchi (nice pic), and the 'horned shaman' predates the icon of Cernunnos back 40,000 years to Cave Art depictions. I find it very interesting that the icon of the Celtic Cernunnos, is nearly identical to that of the Baphomet figure from the Knights Templar....
More Mythology of the Green Man:
Feb 19th, 2008, 1:28 PM
Bumping this thread because its good.
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