Meeting the Horned God: An Introduction

A dear blogger friend has asked us about the Horned God of Paganism – or rather, I should say, Neo-Paganism: the ‘new’ Paganism that survives today, formed from Ancient Celtic Paganism. We are not, here, talking about Norse, Greek, or Roman Paganism.

Of course, we thought, yes, He needs an explanation for those who are not familiar with Him! And Neometheus and I were more than happy to oblige.

This has become a more monumental task than we realised: we started discussing, thinking, explaining to each other just WHO the Horned God is: who and what he represents to us. And the more we talked and thought, the more we came up with. How do you ‘wrap up’ a living God? – for that is what He is (more on this later.) I had never really thought in depth before about analysing the Horned God: He simply is; I know what He represents to me. Yet this task of sharing Him, of describing Him, has made me think deeply about this subject, and we have decided that there is no way we can describe Him in full measure in just one post. There is too much to say – He encompasses so much, has so many aspects, that one post would end up being ridiculously long! In fact, I wrote down some bullet points – and those alone ended up being 2 pages!

So Neometheus and I have decided that the best way to approach this is by headings, and (trying) to deal with one aspect at a time. Amongst these headings, we will include a personal anecdote of a meeting with the Horned God, as well as a guided meditation/journey for yourselves to meet Him, if you are curious and so choose. There is so much I could say about this right now, but I shall (reluctantly!) leave that for the appropriate time.

I realise this introduction doesn’t really tell you much, but we felt it necessary to explain our approach to this task. It’s probably worth noting at this point that paganism is not a religion – it is a belief system, as Buddhism is, a way of life. Also, Paganism is open to interpretation to each individual – there is no set scripture. If you ask 50 pagans to describe Paganism, or the Horned God, you will probably get 50 different answers. There are of course underlying core values, an understanding of ‘the path’, yet it is a very personal way of living life and interacting with the deities.

Cultural differences

I understand that for our American readers, this may be more revelatory, surprising, and eye-opening than for our British readers. (For other cultures, I don’t know how Paganism is thought of in your countries, so I’m not leaving you out, just pointing out the American/British difference – your thoughts and comments on Paganism in your country are more than welcome). Online and in various ways, I have come across American Pagans. To be Pagan in America seems to be a huge deal: I have heard of people ‘not coming out’ to their family and friends, for fear of being thought a Satanist, ostracised, or dragged to the church to be baptised! Paganism seems to be less accepted and less understood in America. In Britain, it is accepted – or at least, not cared about by those that don’t follow ‘the path’. To say you’re Pagan may result in a raised eyebrow, a few curious questions, and a shrug. Others may think it is ‘cool’. That’s it. I have never feared calling myself Pagan in public, or even thought of hiding it. I am proud to be a Pagan… and proud to honour – we do not worship – the Triple Goddess and the Horned God.

So, time for some FAQs, which I hope will give you a basic and succinct introduction to this beautiful, living natural deity.

The Horned God

The Horned God

So just who is this Horned God?

Let’s state this clearly now: he is NOT Satan. Neopagans do not believe in Satan. Satan is the opposite of the Christian God, and thus, he can only exist within the Christian faith – as we perceive it. The Horned God is not evil.

The Horned God is dynamic, a part of nature, and is often ‘seen’ as living in glades, woodlands, groves and forests – anywhere there is wild nature. He is a hunter, passionate, wild, driven, full of absolute joy – and he is a wise old man, brimming with knowledge. This is his dual aspect –something else we will cover in more detail later.

So why does He have horns and cloven feet?

The Horned God is a god, not human. His animal symbols, as described above, represent his Oneness with nature. They are there to remind us that he is more than human; he is all life. It is not the animalistic nature of Humanity he represents with his horns and hoof; it is his totality with all life. He is guardian of the animals, he is One with them, as well as with us.

What do you mean by the term, ‘a living God’?

The Horned God is in and around everything in nature. He is in the trees; the plants; the animals. He is the cycle of the sun and the seasons. We honour Him as a part of Nature, always around us.

Neo-Paganism has resurrected the Horned God: We don’t know for sure how he was honoured or thought of in ancient Celtic ways, but we know enough to honour Him in our own way, today. He is not who he was then – but he is, and always has been, entwined in every aspect of nature. Just as Nature, and Ages and Culture, cycles and moves on, so too does the Horned God – hence ‘a living God’.

So you worship a male deity then?

No. First off as I have said, the term ‘worship’ is really anathema to neo-pagans. Rather, we honour our deities. We enter into a respected relationship with them. It is a relationship that is alive; interactive; respectful. We feel them in everyday life, we talk to them, offer offerings (no, not living sacrifices!) ask for their ‘favour’ or wisdom, – as long as we give something back to them. In respect of them, we honour all nature, as this is their domain and a part/aspect of them.

What do I mean by ‘they’? The Horned God is consort to the Triple Goddess. Many pagans see Her as the primary deity; many others consider them wholly equal. Either way, even when the Goddess is seen as ‘primary’, they are still in every way equal. This is a difficult concept to explain if you are unfamiliar with it. They have their own energies; power, unique aspects and ways of helping and manifesting to us. The Horned God is the Goddess’ support, Her companion, Her lover. They are two energies helping us in different yet equally important ways. There is much to discuss on this topic, which we hope to cover later.

That’s it for now. We hope that this covers the basics, and gives you a further insight and clarity into the male deity that we neo-pagans honour. We will be happy to answer any further questions that you may have on this subject, and of course we will follow up this introductory post with further details about the Triple Goddess and Horned God.

Blessings be.

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Posted on February 20, 2013, in Paganism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I’m having trouble understanding the difference between the Horned God and the Great Goddess. If the Goddess is all nature and the Creatrix, then isn’t the Horned God part of her and vice versa? How do you separate the two? For example, I’ve read that the Great Goddess is the Earth Mother but the Horned God is the Divine Masculine who has dominion over the woods, forest, hunting, and primal nature. Does that mean that the Great Goddess does not have “dominion” over those aspects of the earth/nature? This is confusing….

    • Melissa,
      apologies for the delay in replying, I have been away from WP for sometime. You raise a good question and it can be confusing, as the nature of the Horned God and the Goddess cannot be defined through rationality and logic, but through intuition, working with them, and self-understanding. Think of them as Yin and Yang, they are seperate yet a part of each other… they exist together, completing the whole cycle, of Nature, of Masculine/Feminine. Essentially, what you said regarding their ‘domains’ is true, but it does not mean that each rules separately, simply that these are their ‘traits’. The Goddess is inherent in all Nature, yet the God is both Hunter and Hunted, competing a cycle of Nature in and of Himself. He teaches us, through this, that all of Nature is important, and is within us, that we can be both ‘prey’ and ‘predator’, yet not through greed nor malice, but in necessity and even joy. The Goddess is both Lover of the Horne God, his Death, and his Rebirth… yet all through understanding, agreement and necessity on his part… to allow Nature and the Cycles to continue. It is a partnership of equal and uneneding Power, Love, Understanding, Strength, and Togetherness.

      I don’t know if this helps you or confuses you further! All I can say is that for further/deeper understanding, this comes with Working with and calling on the Goddess and Horned God, using your intuition and Inner Self to understand the nature of each and how They, with Nature and Unseen Forces, integrate into a whole.

      Blessings be,
      Heidi

  2. Good article that will break down old prejudices. I am very familiar with the Greek god Pan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_(god) who is quite widely accepted in Germany, at least, and perhaps in Europe more widely. He is seen as a symbol for the vitality of Nature, especially woods and mountain wilds. Looking forward to the further articles… Tomas ♥

    • Yes, I think the Horned God of Neopaganism incorporates Pan as one facet, others being Hearne the Hunter and Cernunnos to name a few. The Horned God is not, per se, Pan, but Pan is interchangeable/one facet of him… depending on which Pagan you speak to, and their own particular belief system, of course! 🙂

  3. Dear Alia, I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post and gained a further understanding from it. I’m glad it made sense and that you understand the ‘honouring’ rather than ‘worshipping’ 🙂
    I must admit I haven’t heard of that King-choosing ceremony! That is something that Neometheus and I will research – so again, thank you! And yes, the idea of equality, and honouring, and being one with Nature is what drew me to the Pagan way… more on this in a later post!
    Bleessings be

  4. Wonderful Introduction! Thank you both so much. I have instinctively felt a strong connection with Paganism, the Druids and the Celts. While reading “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley, I was fascinated by the description of the ancient ceremony of choosing a king in ancient Britain. The candidate had to put on the disguise of a stag and run beside and then kill the alpha stag of the herd in order to prove his worthiness to lead the People of the Old Religion. In her version of the story, Ms. Bradley has Arthur engage in this process, after which he mates with one of the virgin priestesses of Avalon, thereby uniting both the People of the Land with the Druid culture of magic and mysticism. So when I saw the horns that looked like deer antlers, I understood that the Horned God came out of the Peoples’ honoring of the Natural World.

    Another point I found interesting is your comparison of how Paganism is viewed in Britain vs. America. I don’t know why Paganism has been equated with Satanism in America and not in Britain. Very interesting. But I do know that before I read your wonderful introduction, my mind was seeing devil’s horns on a man’s head — that is the image that has been projected into our culture to demonize the Pagan God. I am so grateful for your explanation which has relieved my mind and heart considerably. I also like the idea of honoring (equality) rather than worshiping (hierarchical) the deity. There is a natural and easy relationship in the activity of honoring, one that is easily referenced many times during the course of one’s day. Thanks again to both of you for taking the time to inquire and investigate your own understandings in order to bring forth this post to share with all of us. I look forward to the unfolding story.
    Blessings, Alia

  1. Pingback: Meeting The Horned God: Popular Misconceptions | The Eagle and The Serpent

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