PaganSquare


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Horned God

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Old God of Aldborough

 "The Horned God of the Brigantes"

(Guy Ragland Phillips)

 

If I told you that a Roman era image of the Horned God was being venerated in a parish church in Yorkshire, would you believe me?

Well, it's true.

Next time you're in the West Riding of Yorkshire, check out St. Andrew's Church in the little village of Aldborough (lit. “old fortified town”). There, set into a wall in the transept, you'll find a 1600+-year old bas relief of a mysterious figure that Guy Ragland Phillips, in his Brigantia: A Mysteriography (1976) calls “the Horned God of the Brigantes” ; for these were, indeed, the old tribal hunting runs of the Celtic people known as the Brigantes.

Despite its current diminished state, Aldborough was once a thriving Roman civitas called Isuriam Brigantum. Here, while digging foundations for St. Andrew's in the 1330s, was discovered the mysterious relief of the “Horned God.” The relief was subsequently set (aptly enough) into a churchyard wall; centuries of exposure to the elements explains its current weathered condition. The god was not moved to his current location inside the church until the 19th century.

17th century sources make it clear that the relief originally represented the Roman god Mercury; the herald's staff that he once held in his right hand is no longer visible. It's possible that the image was once part of a temple of Mercury on the same location.

Lest this identification should seem to consort but ill with Phillips' reading, bear in mind that, in Romano-Celtic times, it was not unusual for the old Celtic Horned God to be identified with (inter alia) the Roman Mercury. Cross-pantheon identification is, to say the very least, an inexact science. Mercury's virile nudity, his patronage of cattle, his fatherhood of the god Pan, and the wings on his hat made him a not unreasonable interpretatio Romana of the old horned god. Wings, horns: really, what's the big difference?

As one would expect, since the Pagan Revival, the Old God of Aldborough has become known to, and venerated by, local pagans. I have it from a local source who wishes to remain anonymous that the church's staff regularly find offerings of flowers, fruit, and money laid before the god.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Sorry, I'm not following.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I like it. For some reason the phrase "flipping the bird to materialism" comes to mind.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    That's really cool.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Visit to St. Cornely's

...if you'll please just step this way, we come to one of the highlights of our tour of St. Cornely's: a Roman Era bas-relief depicting St. Cornely himself, dating to roughly A.D. 425. Though worn, note the quality of the sculpture.

Horns? Rather surprising things to find on the head of a saint, no? Although of course, Moses frequently wears them as well in medieval art, as you know. Well, no, those aren't actually horns per se...the name Cornely derives from the Latin clan name, Cornelius. While the name's ultimate origin is unclear, it's thought to derive from Latin cornu, “horn.” So the horns are, in effect, a visual pun identifying the saint, alluding to his name.

Ah, yes indeed, the saint's nudity: visitors always comment. Surprising, is it not? Although not, of course, unparalleled in Christian art. This alludes to the manner of his death: stripped naked and thrown into the arena to be trampled by wild bulls.

But, of course, he's not entirely naked, is he? Does anyone know the name of the kind of neck-ring that he's wearing? Yes, that's right, a torc: a type of jewelry associated with ancient Celtic nobility. This particular torc is one of the mysteries of St. Cornely's. The reason for its inclusion here is unclear: there's no mention of it in the legend of St. Cornely. Perhaps this sculpture was commissioned by a noble Celtic family: this part of England was once, as you know, the territory of a Celtic tribe called the Dobunni. Perhaps the torc is by way of making a claim of local ancestry for the saint, though of course such a claim would be highly unlikely, historically speaking. As it is, we simply don't know.

Note the bull here to Cornely's right—not looking particularly wild, I must say—with the saint's hand raised in blessing over its head. This alludes to the manner of the saint's death which, according to the rather gruesome logic of canonization, makes St. Cornely the patron saint of cattle and cattle-herding. In fact, the Dobunni were known far and wide for their fine herds, so the choice of this particular saint as patron for this particular parish makes a great deal of sense.

As it happens, Cornely is rather unusual among saints in having two feast days each year, both of which, interestingly, correspond with major events in the cattle-herder's year. The annual Blessing of the Herds falls in late April, just before the cattle would have been driven to the summer pastures, and the other in early November, just after All Saints' Day, at the time of the annual slaughter. Intriguing, no?

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    In fact, there actually is a Roman Era bas-relief of a Horned God in a little parish church up north somewhere (Yorkshire?). (Good
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    No, but you've read my rune: he's the fiction that tells the truth.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    So, the local version of the horned god continued onward wearing St. Cornely as a mask. Is this St. Cornely found in Lives of the

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Little Horn of Ointment

Oh, he's a hard god, the Horned: he hurts, but then he heals.

His seal upon you is a scar, your witch's mark. (They say it's the mark of his teeth.) We are the Scarred, the witches: a people like our god. He, too, is Scarred; I know, for I have seen.

Make him unhappy, and he flogs: publicly, at the Sabbat. Back in the hills whence I come, they say that he uses rose canes to do this.

But to each, he gives a little horn of ointment. He hurts, but then he heals: the rose and the thorn. As the Basque witches told Inquisitor Pierre de Lancre (a curse upon his memory), after he flogs, or sets his mark upon you, he anoints you with his special salve, and heals you of your hurts (Wilby 115).

(This explains why, when examined, the Basque witches—confessions notwithstanding—showed no sign of tooth or lash: the Horned's ointment heals all hurts, they say.)

To my knowledge, anyway, it's been long and long since the rose canes came out at the Sabbat; but I've been there myself, and danced, and seen the scarring, and the anointing thereafter.

Nor should you think that what I say is only metaphor.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wert

“Our Mother, who art in Heaven....”

(Our Mother in Heaven: that would be the Moon, right?)

Och, gods help me: if I never see another pagan rewrite of the Our Father again, it will still be way too soon.

I understand, I understand. We're pagans; so much of our lore has been lost down the centuries that we're hungry, hungry. Cooking up something from scratch is hard; it's easier if you have a recipe to tweak.

Well, I have no problems with “reclaiming” material per se: certainly I've done my share of it down the years. (Most wassailing songs, for instance, reclaim very nicely, thank you very much.) It does seem to me that there's a certain etiquette involved in the process, though. (These things must be done delicately, or you hurt the spell.) You have no right to borrow something unless you can rightfully claim to have improved it.

So much for Mater Nostra.

What Protestants call the “Lord's Prayer” has its own integrity. For one thing, it sticks to basics, unlike virtually all of the bad pagan rewrites that I've seen. In America, where most of us take the basics for granted—and shame be upon us for it—we're left with nothing to pray for but intangibles like enlightenment and spiritual advancement.

As my grandmother used to say: Feh.

The last Our Mother that came my way (I think it began: “Our Mother and Father...”) was sent around—this was back in the days of on-line lists—by the moderator of the list. I'm not sure whether he intended it as a serious attempt at creating pagan liturgy (“Blessed be: welcome to the Pagan Irony-Free Zone”), or if he was just trying to stir up controversy. Either way, the results did not impress.

Besides, I'm a votary of the Horned. Witches don't need a new version of the Our Father; we've already got our own.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witches Stink

Such a smell of sulfur!”

(Glinda the Good)

 

Witches stink.

No, that's not some sort of paganophobic slur. Seriously, take a whiff. Can you smell it? That little hint of sulfur?

Yes, sulfur. Like god, like people, you might think. Well, yes, that's true, and in a bit I'll tell you the story. (There's a story for everything in the Craft.) But what it really comes down to is the old saw: you are what you eat.

What witches eat are lots (and lots and lots) of the king and queen of sulfurousness: onions and garlic. They're our favorite vegetables.

Food has to get flavor from somewhere. The gentry use meat; well, they can afford to. As for the rest of us, meat is expensive and mostly only for firedays. Most of the time, our food gets its savor grâce à that Royal Couple of the Underworld: you know who I mean.

When the Horned our god came down from heaven (but that's another story for another night), they say that where His left Hoof struck ground, garlic sprang up. (Old Hornie being Old Hornie, of course he landed Left-Hoof first.) Where His right Hoof hit, onions grew. To this day, you'll note that each clove of garlic still looks like half a miniature cloven hoof. Now you know why.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    OMGs, that sounds delicious! Wish I were able to celebrate with Prodea. xo
'Horned God, with Animals': A Call to Pagan Artists

The Horned, seated among animals.

This iconographic type—long familiar from the Gundestrup Cauldron and the famous “Pashupati” seal from the Indus Valley—is surely known to nearly every modern pagan.

All paganism is, of course, local. What horns the god wears, naturally, vary from place to place. So, too, do the animals gathered around him: stag, wolf, snake (in Denmark), rhinocerous, elephant, and tiger (in Pakistan), beaver, eel, and bear (in Siberia).

If I could paint in pigments, instead of just in words, I would paint a Minnesota “Cernunnos”: antlered, cross-legged, among bison, bear, deer, beaver, cougar, wolf, and loon.

What would a Rocky Mountain Horned look like? What horns would he wear? What animals would attend him?

A Florida Horned? Saskatchewan?

As pagans of the New Pagan Era, it cannot suffice merely to copy Old Pagan art. Rather, it is our responsibility to create a New Pagan Art specific to our own environments.

In days to come, I foresee a temple adorned with a series of canvases or murals depicting the Horned in all his varied environments: Lord of the Broadleaf Forest, of the Boreal Forest, of the Prairie, of the Tundra, of the Mountain, of the Wetland.

What would the Horned of your place look like? What horns does he wear, what beasts would he gather to him?

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Domestic and wild: that's Him. He's all about the Divided Self. Hence the two horns.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The horned is lord of the animals both domestic and wild. Around here he would have both the horns of cattle and the antlers of a

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Thrice-Bent God

Do you know what torques me off most* in contemporary depictions of the Horned God?

When the artist gets the legs wrong.

He's called the Thrice-Bent for a reason. In the arms, one bend. In the legs, two.

Check out the picture of the goat leg shown above. Note that the hind legs feature two bends: one pointing forward, one pointing back.

The forward bend is called the knee. The backward bend is called the hock.

When the Horned is shown with the rear legs of an animal (he isn't always), he should have both.

If you love the Horned well enough to depict him, you should love him well enough to look.

Last modified on

Additional information