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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Cernunnos
SER-nun-nos or Ser-NUN-nos? KER-nun-nos or Ker-NUN-nos?

The Old Gaulish antlered god Cernunnos is hot these days. (Ask me, He's always been hot.) So how do you pronounce His Name?

SER-nun-nos or Ser-NUN-nos? KER-nun-nos or Ker-NUN-nos?

Well, how you pronounce your god's name is up to you and certainly none of my business. But if you'd like to know the historic pronunciation—how, for instance, the sculptor that carved the famous Paris Cernunnos relief (shown here in full modern reconstruction) would have articulated the god's name, there historical linguistics can help you.

Historically speaking, we can rule out the first two pronunciations immediately. In Gaulish, C was always “hard” (i.e. pronounced as K).

So, KER-nun-nos or Ker-NUN-nos? One hears both pronunciations these days. (I've never heard anyone attempt Ker-nun-NOS, bless His Horns.)

Well, we can't say with absolute certainty that it's one or the other, since Gaulish has been a dead language for considerably more than a millennium. According to Dutch linguist Peter Schrijver (Schrijver 20), however, available evidence indicates that, as a rule, the Gaulish language favored stress on the penultimate (next-to-the-last) syllable.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Some Thoughts on a Contemporary Cernunnos

That the Horned God speaks directly to contemporary needs and sensibilities may readily be deduced from the hundreds—if not thousands—of contemporary visual images that He has inspired.

I'd like to take a little time to muse on what strikes me as one of the simplest, most beautiful and, simultaneously, most articulate of those many images: Thalia Took's "Cernunnos." 

Took takes as her prototype the famous—and eponymous—image of Cernunnos from the Gallo-Roman Pillar of the Boatmen discovered in 1710 underneath the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris (see below). Both images share a full-face view of the god, with antlers, beard, torque, and leaf-shaped cervine ears. Clearly this is a god who readily hears prayer, his hearing as sensitive as a deer's. Both images are inscribed with the name of the god: in the Notre Dame Cernunnos, above the image itself; in Took's, charmingly, below.

I'm struck by the visual economy of Took's rendering. We see only the base of the god's antlers; his shoulders and bare chest suggest both virility and nudity. His pentagrammatic face—beard, antler, ear, ear, antler, beard again—gazes out directly at the viewer, enhaloed in his wild tangle of hair. This is a wilder, more untamed god than that of the Paris Boatmen. 

In your imagination, take away Cernunnos' antlers, ears, and "torque" (on which, more shortly).  Connoisseurs of historic irony will note that the god, with his open face, short beard, and centrally-parted shoulder-length hair bears a strong resemblance to traditional images of Jesus. This is sheer brilliance on Took's part: it both lends the image a disquieting familiarity, and with gentle humor redresses the fact that early Christian artists, in the absence of any real knowledge of the historical Jesus' appearance, based what has come to be the standard image of the Christian god on pagan prototypes. Call it a cattle-raid of icons.

Note both the economy and the aptness of Took's palette. The original Pillar of the Boatmen Cernunnos sculpture would likely have been painted, but we can no longer say what the colors might have been. Took here renders the god solely in greens and browns: precisely what one would expect for a god of woodland and wildlife.

Also well worth noting are the ways in which Took departs from the Paris image. We see here the subtlety of her approach. The Paris Cernunnos wears a royal torque and, as god of wealth, sports two more hanging from his antlers. Here, though, what at first seems to be a torque proves, on closer inspection, to be a green snake. Like Shiva, the Western Antlered also wears around his neck a living serpent, which (as witches well know) whispers into his leaf-shaped cervine ears the mysteries of the Great Below.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Please, and with my blessing!
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Beautiful! Another one to print out for my inmates' binder of shadows. Thanks.
Why I Don't Call the Horned God 'Cernunnos'

The Horned God is assuredly one of the preeminent (and, I would contend, patron) gods of the Pagan Revival, and I would be willing to hazard a guess that in English-speaking Pagandom at large, He is named by the majority of His votaries as “Cernunnos.”

(Writer and thinker Ceisiwr Serith once remarked to me that an image search for “Cernunnos” turns up mostly modern, and very little ancient, art.)

But though the Horned is my heart-god and I offer to Him daily, I myself never call Him Cernunnos.

Why not?

To me, names are culture-specific—one could even say culture-bound—material. “Cernunnos” is a specifically Gaulish name, bound to a particular language, place, and people. I'm not a Gaul, I don't live in historic Gaul, and I don't speak Gaulish. Therefore, though I honor the Name and recognize it, I don't use it.

The same with “Herne,” “Pan,” or most other historic Names that you'd care to mention.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Well, of course how you, or anyone else, conduct your spiritual lives, Greybeard, is no business of mine. But if one accepts my pr
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Wait. What? We can't say Cernunnos because we aren't Gaulish? Can we say Ishtar if we aren't Babylonian? Can we say Diana if
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    Indeed, I don't think of him as antlered, but horned. I was born under the sign of the ram, was raised around cattle. I see the ho
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Joanna. Personally, I'm a big fan of precision in language. If that's pedantry, so mote it be. The issue that you raise is
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Plus, Cernunnos is an antlered god, not a horned god Am I the only pedantic when it comes to this lol? Great blog post, great b

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Cernunnos is known by many names. The Horned God, God of the Hunt, Lord of the Animals. He can be found in the sacred grove in the heart of the forest, in the call of the rutting stag. Of all the names he is known as I grew up knowing him as Herne the Hunter. As I generally make female dolls I was quite surprised that Cernunnos appeared, maybe I was inspired by the fallow deer stags I got to hang out with this summer.

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  • Jude Lally
    Jude Lally says #
    Ah! I was wondering who he had a message for, as it wasn't me!!!
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    Yep, apparently!
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    OMG I love him! I shouldn't have, but...yeah, that was me who just snatched him up. I've been wanting one of your dolls - still in

b2ap3_thumbnail_Minerva_Sulis.jpg

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

On Saturday July 16th at sundown, we completed a two year project to build a Shrine to Cernunnos.  There are earlier blog entries here that describe the process of building the structure.  This entry describes the final touches and the consecration.

 

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  • Cascadia Grove
    Cascadia Grove says #
    Thanks Steven!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My heart beats with pride for your work: May the Antlered grant you abundance.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

On the grounds of Trout Lake Abbey, is a Labyrinth.  It is shared by White Mountain Druid Sanctuary and the Mt Adams Zen Temple.  Yes, there is a Buddhist Temple on site too.  It’s amazing how easily Buddhists and Druids get along, but that’s for another post.  The Labyrinth is a great example of this cooperation.  There is a small shrine to light incense at the beginning (and end) of the walk.

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