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Celtic Gods - Cernunnos, the Great Horned God

Updated on November 10, 2015
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Cernunnos is widely known as the Great Horned God in Celtic tradition. He is the God of Initiation, King of the Sun and God of Nature and Fertility. As the Lord of the Animals/The Lord of Wild Things, Cernunnos is described as “a peaceful God of Nature and Fruitfulness.” His horns are interpreted as representing “aggressive power, genetic vigor and fecundity.”

His name is Roman, meaning “Horned One” and he is often depicted as a mature man with long hair and beard, seated in the lotus position, cross-legged in a meditative or shamanic position. He is horned or antlered. Cernunnos is associated with the animal kingdom and is often holding or wearing a torc, a neck ring typically made of strands of metal twisted together worn by the Celts to denote nobility. Often he carries other torcs in his hands or they hang from his horns/antlers.

Cernunnos is often associated with the ram-horned serpent, bulls, dogs and rats. He is also associated with material wealth. The Pilier des nautes, the coin pouch from the Cernunnos of Rheims in France and the depiction of him as a stag vomiting coins from Niederforn-Turbelslach in the lands of the Trevori, a tribe of Gauls who inhabited the lower valley of the Moselle from around 150 B.C.E at the latest until their eventual absorption into the Franks, are all examples of the proof available to know Cernunnos to have been revered as a God of Material Wealth and Abundance.

Cernunnos' name appears on the Pillar of the Boatmen. The dedication to Emperor Tiberius is one of the earliest pieces of representative Gaulish sculpture to carry a written inscription. The Pillar of the Boatmen originally stood in the Gallo-Roman town of Lutetia. Here, Cernunnos is depicted as having a stag's antlers from which hang two torcs. The Pillar of the Boatmen is now displayed in the Musee National du Moyen Age in Paris and is known to have been created by Gaulish sailors in around 14 C.E. It was found in 1710 in the foundations of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, the ancient site of Lutetia, the civitas capital of the Celtic Parisii.

The Great Horned God also appears on the Gundestrup Cauldron, a richly decorated silver vessel dating to the first century B.C. The Gundestrup Cauldron was found in 1891 in a peat bog near the hamlet of Gundestrup, located in Aars Parish, in Himmerland, Denmark. The cauldron is now treasured at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen and is the largest known example of European Iron Age silver work at a diameter of 69cm and a height of 42cm. There is a replica of the Gundestrup Cauldron in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

The earliest image of Cernunnos, found to date, is carved on a rock in Northern Italy. The carving is dated to the fourth century B.C.

Cernunnos is often compared to the Greek and Roman Gods of Mercury, Acteon, some forms of Jupiter and Dis Pater. (Dis Pater was acknowledged as the ancestor of the Gauls by Julius Caesar.) He is also seen as the same God as Conall Cernach, the foster brother of the Irish hero Cuchulainn, in Irish legend. As well, some of Cernunnos' attributes were borrowed and written into the life of one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, Saint Ciaran of Saighir. The saint's first disciple was a boar gentled by God, followed by a fox, a badger, a wolf and a stag.

In Wicca, a modern religion based on ancient Witchcraft traditions, Cernunnos reflects the Wheel of the Year in an annual cycle of life, death and rebirth. He is known as Kernunno partially in the Gardnerian tradition.

"The Song of Amergin"

I am a stag of seven tines,

I am a wide flood on a plain,

I am a wind on the deep waters,

I am a shining tear of the Sun,

I am a hawk on a cliff,

I am fair among flowers,

I am a God who sets the head afire with smoke.

I am a battle waging spear,

I am a salmon in the pool,

I am a hill of poetry,

I am a ruthless boar,

I am a threatening noise of the sea,

I am a wave of the sea,

Who but I knows the secrets of the unhewn dolmen?


-Origin obscure, but known to be Celtic

Associated with shamanism, magick and rebirth, Cernunnos' darker attributes are connected to the mysteries of death and sexuality. He is wild and untamable. He may be called upon to remove inhibitions. He calls out our deep, primal power and releases us from bonds.

Invoke Cernunnos for magic, prosperity, wealth, commerce, trade, rebirth, regeneration, virility, nobility, reincarnation, shamanism, abundance, knowledge, fertility, shape-shifting, male potency, good fortune, chieftainship, love spells, sex magic, hunting, male mysteries, Earth mysteries, workings which relate to the spiral of life, culling herds, protecting wild animals, helping to maintain the balance of Nature, and working with animals. Sitting in the lotus position is best for his invocation...

Source

Invocation to the God:

Father of death, father of night,
Father of birth, father of light,
Cernunnos, Cernunnos, Cernunnos.

Come by Flame, come by fire,
Come now, whom we desire,
Cernunnos, Cernunnos, Cernunnos.

O Horned one, O ancient one,
God of the sun, Bringer of light,
The powers of Darkness put to flight.

O Horned one, O ancient one,
Who comes from beyond the gates of death and birth,
Come who gives life to all on earth.

Come, I invoke Thee,
For you are Pan, Apollo, Cernunnos,
Lord of Hades, Lord of death,
You are them all, yet you are he.

Come, come my Lord, I beckon thee.
Come, come my lord, of wild delights,
Come, join with us in these secret-mystic rites.
Come, come my Lord, of fire and flame,
As I call out your sacred and holy name,
Cernunnos, Cernunnos, Cernunnos. 

Source

My Dedication...

I wish to dedicate this hub to a God I once knew. He has left this plane to spend some time in the Otherworld and I miss him a great deal. No celebration is the same without him, but the fond memories create bliss in themselves. I love you and next time, I'm not letting you go!

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    • VAMPGYRL420 profile imageAUTHOR

      Windy Grace Mason 

      6 years ago from Belle Haven, VA

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Radical Rog. The problem is, in America, that people fail to stand their ground and react against unjust legislation. Thank you so very much for the very interesting, additional information :) I'm thinking I need to go deeper ;)

      Love & Light,

      Windy Grace AKA Vampgyrl

    • Radical Rog profile image

      Peter Rogers 

      6 years ago from Plymouth

      If the hunters only knew, when the last Labour government acted to ban hunting, they could have argued a spiritual link. The cup passed at the start of the hunt equates to that used in ritual. The hunting horn is not only to direct the hounds, but top call Cernunnos to judge. A favourable judgement allows the hunted animal to escape, an unfavourable, because it is ill or old means it is killed. Cernunnos judges. Other things like the blooding of a new member equate to an initiation ritual. Get deep into it and there are more and more correspondences, all usurped by the 'Hurray Henry Set,' but there all the same.

    • profile image

      Pharmb888 

      6 years ago

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    • profile image

      Pharmk553 

      6 years ago

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    • VAMPGYRL420 profile imageAUTHOR

      Windy Grace Mason 

      7 years ago from Belle Haven, VA

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Celestial Elf :) Just checked out your video...Awesome job :)

      Merry Meet and Blessed Be ;)

      Love & Light,

      Windy Grace

    • profile image

      Celestial Elf 

      7 years ago

      Great Post,

      I thought that you might like my machinima film of

      The Song Of Amergin, A Samhain Story,

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aZsoPRqWqw

      Blessed Be By Stone and Star,

      Celestial Elf ~

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