Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Intimations of a Horned God: A Bronze la Tène Lamp, Circa 100 BCE

Open-form lamp with twisted handle and bull's head finial (bronze)

La Tène culture (3-1st c. BCE)

Switzerland

(Private collection)

 

By the light of this ancient Keltic lamp, the modern witch sees the shadow of the Horned God.

Look closely. What do you see?

With a little imagination, one may read this small (length: 9½") bronze lamp as a bull lying on his back: the lamp's bowl is the bull's body, its twisted handle and decorative finial the bull's neck and head.

Ex tauro, lux: from the bull, light.

Known as Lighber, the light-bearer, the god of the witches is understood by his votaries as the Enlightener, He Who Gives Understanding to his people, Wisdom to the Wise. Between His Horns burns the flame of illumination. If we read this god, Lord of the Beasts, as the collective body of all animal life on planet Earth, this understanding articulates the rise of consciousness, in which material existence gains self-awareness.

To the witch's eye, this ancient artifact embodies this understanding.

Although described in a recent auctioneer's catalog as an oil lamp, in all likelihood this lamp (given its Alpine origin) was fueled by animal fat instead, even—rather poignantly, one thinks—by tallow (beef fat).

From the bull, light.

To the witchly eye, there are further intimations of the Horned to be read here. With its serpentine, twisted neck, one thinks of the torques (literally, “twisted”) and serpents that frequently accompany the Horned in ancient Keltic iconography, not to mention His boon companion, the ram-headed serpent.

There is, of course, no indication that this lamp would have borne any of these meanings to the ancient Continental Kelts who originally made and used it. What you read here is a thoroughly modern pagan act of eisigesis: reading-into.

But by the god-light from between the Horns, the witch's eye sees what it sees.

Ex tauro, lux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.
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