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Herne The Hunter

Updated on April 24, 2016

Herne Or Cernunnos

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Herne The Hunter or Cernunnos

Herne the Hunter, or Cernunnos, is the leader of the Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is a ghostly group of huntsman, horses and hounds, which, according to legend, madly rushes across the landscape, gathering all in its path.

Cernunnos is a Celtic horned god, who is sometimes found in images flanked by wolf-like animals and holding a serpent. He may also hold a torque, a symbol of sovereignty in his hand.

Herne the Hunter

The image is by George Cruikshank, c 1893
The image is by George Cruikshank, c 1893 | Source

The Legend Of Herne The Hunter

Herne is also known as Cernunnos, The Green Man, or the Horned God. There are many stories and legends about him in Celtic and English folklore. Herne is also known as Lord of the Wild Hunt.

The Wild Hunt is a ghostly ride, with huntsmen, hounds and hunting horns. There may also be an owl flying above them. If you are caught outside when the hunt passes, you may be fated to join Herne and the Wild Hunt forever!

You can read one of the versions of the Berkshire Herne the Hunter legend here

Another version of the legend, which I really like is at http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2117

There are many more, and if you are interested in Herne and Celtic legends, there is much to be discovered.

Herne is reputed to appear when England is in danger. Sightings have been reported over the years, and have frightened many.

Herne In The Forest

Herne, by Angela Latham
Herne, by Angela Latham | Source

Herne by Angela Latham

Above is a beautiful otherworldly image of Herne in the forest.

This picture is used here by kind permission of the owner, Angela Latham, and is copyright. You may see the original at her website http://www.celticmystery.co.uk/

Even Shakespeare Knew About Herne!

There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter,

Some time a keeper here in Windsor Forest,

Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,

Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;

And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,

And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain

In a most hideous and dreadful manner.

You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know

The superstitious idle-headed eld

Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,

This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.

.......William Shakespeare, "The Merry Wives of Windsor"

Shakespeare by Cobbe

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Cernunnos - The Gundestrup Cauldron

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Seated Cernunnos

Cernunnos in a seated position, holding a torque and a serpent, and surrounded by animals.

This is just one of the sections of the Gundestrup Cauldron, which was found in a peat bog near Himmerland, Denmark in 1891.

This has been copied many times, in jewellery, statues, and paintings. You'll find a picture of a statue based on this a little further down the page.

The Green Man

The Green Man.   Wall hanging by Snakesmum
The Green Man. Wall hanging by Snakesmum

Cernunnos As The Green Man

Herne or Cernunnos, also known as the Green Man, or The Horned God, is also the consort of the goddess in Paganism. He is a nature and fertility god, and may also be called Lord of the Animals. He was known to the ancient Celts and Gauls.

There is not a lot of written history about him, but images of a horned man have been found in cave paintings and carvings in many places in Europe.

There are cave paintings in France which show an image of the god. He is shown as a stag, but his body is chest is that of a man.

It is said that there are several aspects to the Horned God. In Summer, as the Green Man, he rules over the fertility of the earth, but in Winter, the darker side of the god appears as Herne the Hunter, the ruler of life and death, overseeing the earth while it sleeps.

The Wild Hunt

Painting of The Wild Hunt by Artist: Peter Nicolai Arbo (Norway 1831-1892)
Painting of The Wild Hunt by Artist: Peter Nicolai Arbo (Norway 1831-1892) | Source

Cernunnos

Photo by Snakesmum.
Photo by Snakesmum.

The picture is of a statue of Cernunnos, which appears to be based on the Gundestrup Cauldron image. It is of Cernunnos/Herne, seated in a shamanic position, holding a torque and a serpent.

Today, Cernunnos, or Herne, is often called upon by modern pagans in their rituals. Some call upon him as Cernunnos, some as Herne, but whichever name he is called by, he is always a fertility god, protector of nature and wildlife, and the consort of the goddess.

The photo was taken by me, and is not to be used without permission, thanks.

The Pashupati Seal

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Is Pashupati Also Herne?

The Hindu Horned God

All horned gods, from whichever region they are related to, seem to be very masculine, and are associated with animals, especially stags. Pashupati is such a god.

Pashupati is thought to be another name for Shiva. It means "Lord of all Animals", Pashu meaning animals, and pati meaning lord.

Pashupati was known in the Indus Valley, and was the Horned God of that region. He is believed to be the forerunner of Shiva by some sources.

Since the language of the seal (pictured) has not yet been translated properly, not much is known about the people of the Indus Valley or their Gods.

The Green Man In Festivals

This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)  Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFD
This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFD | Source

The Green Man In Festivals

Neo-Pagans often use the Green Man to represent the Gods Cernunnos, Pan, and Herne.

There are many festivals in England which celebrate the Green Man. Here is a photo from Scarborough Faire.

A Red Deer Stag

By Smudge 9000  http://www.flickr.com/people/smudge9000/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Smudge 9000 http://www.flickr.com/people/smudge9000/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Stags Are Often Associated With Herne The Hunter

Herne, or Cernunnos, is often called upon in Pagan rituals. As a God, he is the leader of the Wild Hunt, and is sometimes referred to as consort of our Lady, the goddess.

When you look at a magnificent red deer stag, such as the one in the photo, it is easy to see why people would wish to be associated with a powerful god-figure as Herne.

Your Comments Please

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    • profile image

      AdeleMC 4 years ago

      Nice! Thank you for this topic and wonderful pictures

    • Deannamay LM profile image

      Deannamay LM 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens. Thanks

    • momsANDkids profile image

      momsANDkids 4 years ago

      Red deer stag - it is beautiful!

    • Socialpro54 LM profile image

      Socialpro54 LM 4 years ago

      Nice lens

    • ValerieJoy profile image

      Valerie Smith 4 years ago from New Zealand

      I must admit that I haven't known much about Herne but I'm pleased to have found your lens. I like the photo of the Red Dear Stag but I don't think I would want to encounter him in real life. Thanks for a very interesting lens :)

    • Snakesmum profile image
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      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @jamesdesalvo lm: Herne won't hurt you if you give him respect! :-) Thanks for dropping by.

    • jamesdesalvo lm profile image

      jamesdesalvo lm 4 years ago

      Nice (and creepy) tales. Now I have to be nervous out here in my house in the woods. Thanks. : )