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Touched by Pashupati

For some time I have been researching the winding historical trail of the Horned God. This journey has led to many deep and fascinating insights, not the least of which is the identification of the Western Horned God with his Hindu equivalent Lord Shiva. The Harrapan or Indus Valley Civilisation lived along the banks of the Indus river in modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and India between 3300 BC and 1300 BC. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia this was one of the most advanced societies in world at that time. The Indus script used by these people is still undeciphered, as such their beliefs can only be inferred from archaeological remains. A number of seals have been discovered one of which depicts a horned figure surrounded by animals, the figure possibly has three faces and is seated in what appears to be a yoga pose. There is debate among academics regarding who or what this seal depicts however one interpretation is that the figure is a representation of the god Pashupati. Lord Pashupati or Pashupatinath is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and His name means ‘Protector of Animals’, He is revered by Hindus and is unofficially the patron deity of Nepal. Lord Shiva is an important God to me personally since I believe him to be the origin and source of Reiki as well as the originator of Yoga and the patron God of the arts and sciences.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva

This is not to mention His metaphysical role within the Trimurti as ‘the transformer and destroyer’, followers of Lord Shiva (Shaivites) believe Him to be the Supreme God or Mahadeva. Lord Shiva is generally acknowledged to be the oldest of the Hindu pantheon, in His earliest forms He was worshipped in his horned form as Pashupati. I have come to believe that the Horned God and Pashupati are one and the same entity. I have a number of reasons for this conclusion which I am not going to cover at this time. However these pictures demonstrate at least the iconographic similarities between Cernunnos (a European Horned god) and the Indus Valley Pashupati.

Depiction of Cernunnos on the Gundestrup Cauldron c200BC -300AD

Depiction of Cernunnos on the Gundestrup Cauldron, Denmark c200BC -300AD

Pashupati Seal from Mohenjodaro, Pakistan. c2500BC-2400BC

Pashupati Seal from Mohenjodaro, Pakistan. c2500BC-2400BC

Recently I have attempted to call upon Pashupati/Horned Shiva during Reiki healings. My reason being that if the Horned Shiva is both the source of Reiki and my primary deity He may lend me aid. The first time I attempted this was when healing myself, I was amazed to feel a slow welling surge of energy. It is difficult to describe the difference between this energy and the usual Reiki energy, whilst Reiki often comes on instantly like a light switch and usually heals over a relatively small area, this Shiva Reiki wells up more slowly but seems to spread further and feels more ‘expansive’ for want of a better word. I soon had permission to try this energy out on Heidi during a healing, she found the experience to be very similar – a great up-welling of energy filling her head with tremendous heat. Despite the volume of energy that is channelled it seems to be just as gentle as a normal Reiki healing. I injured my back at work the following week and asked Heidi to do a healing for me, knowing my affinity for the Horned Shiva she too called upon His aid and was granted it, she described the ‘feel’ of the energy in the same manner as I had experienced it. It is interesting to find that this energy has been lent to both of us, without any kind of initiation or attunement. I would be very much interested to know if this energy is available to adherents of Lord Shiva or the Horned God who are not Reiki attuned, or even to anyone who asks.

These experiences were nothing compared to what was to come. Heidi carried out a distance healing in which she was attacked by an unfriendly entity. Between her, the angels and her spirit guardians she managed to defended herself and the person she was healing and rebuffed the attack. The entity that attacked her was trying to place hooks into her aura, and although these were stopped Heidi asked me to perform a healing on her to make sure none had reached her. When I did this I scanned her aura and found a very small hook had reached into the fringe of her aura. When attempting this sort of healing I make sure to call upon my animal guardians, the Reiki guides and angels for protection and guidance. In this instance I called also upon the aid of the Horned Shiva and asked Him to lend me His strength. After finding the hook and cleansing Heidi’s aura I was guided to grasp the hook and use it like a fishing line to draw in towards me the entity it belongs to. This sounds risky but I have learned to trust such guidance, I started to wind the hook (which appeared to me like a dark filament) around my arm with great speed, which dragged the entity towards me. As the being got close what I can only describe as a great warm wind of energy rose behind me, it felt much like the Shiva healing energy, steady and powerful but gentle. The wind passed around me and pushed against the creature who I was still holding. I was guided to release the filament I had been holding and it snapped back to the creature, the wind of energy then blew the creature into the distance, it seemed like a great space was placed between myself and the entity and it disappeared into the distance, following that a barrier of energy was placed preventing the entity from getting near us again. This whole process took no more than a about twenty seconds, though in retrospect it feels much longer. I knew instinctively that the Horned Shiva had been responsible for the creatures’ ensnarement and banishment, so I gave my thanks and returned my attention to cleansing Heidi’s aura. When I felt the cleansing was complete I again thanked Lord Shiva for his assistance and asked if there was anything we could do to defend against such attacks in the future. To my astonishment I was given a golden trident or trishula which seemed to crackle with some kind of energy, I knew this was the main symbol of Lord Shiva, I instinctively knew that this could be used as both a healing tool and weapon, and that it is an extension of Lord Shiva Himself, I was also given another object, which I could not identify.  It looked like a rounded golden barbell that was to be held in the middle, it was channelled that the object could be used like a shield to absorb energy and also to emit powerful bursts of energy when shaken or twisted. Needless to say I was stunned, and shocked, this is the most dramatic and bizarre healing experience I have ever had. After the healing I explained what had happened to Heidi, but I had difficulty believing it, it was so fantastical. Later on that evening I was reading about Lord Shiva, still in a kind of shocked disbelief after what had happened when I saw a picture of Lord Shiva’s drum, the Damaru, I recognised it immediately, it was the other object I had been given. I read in fascination that the Damaru is a kind of double headed drum, common in India which is sacred to Hindus and Buddhists. Apparently the instrument is known as a power drum and is believed to generate spiritual energy when played, its sounds where used as the basis of the Sanskrit language and it is used by Lord Shiva in the Cosmic Dance. Needless to say I was in awe, this is was a confirmation that what had occurred during the healing was not a figment of my imagination. I have not yet had the opportunity to use these gifts during a healing, but I await the opportunity with anticipation.

Damaru Drum

Damaru Drum

Golden Trishula and Damaru drum, the divine tools of Lord Shiva

Golden Trishula and Damaru drum, the divine tools of Lord Shiva

If before this experience I was drawn to amazing similarities in iconography and function between the Horned God and Pashupati, now I am mesmerised and humbled. This will be a new focus in my ongoing spiritual journey.

Thank you for reading and blessings be,

Neometheus )O(

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Post Samhain Post

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Yesterday was is the Pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-wain’) , this is one of the eight major Neopagan festivals and is considered to be New Years’ Eve by many Pagans. Due to the festivals’ significance to the pre-Christian peoples of north-western Europe it was Christianised as All Hallows Eve, later abbreviated to Hallow’een/Halloween. Many of the popular Halloween traditions observed today have their origins in ancient Pagan practices.

The significance of Samhain must be understood in terms of the Wheel of the Year. In the Neopagan cosmology the Horned God is a Solar deity who undergoes a birth-death-rebirth journey every year. The Triple Goddess represents Mother Earth (as well as the Moon), transforming through Her Maid, Mother and Crone aspects with the progress of the seasons . Together the Triple Goddess and the Horned God in their joint journey provide the mythological basis for the changing of the seasons.  At Midwinter the Horned God is born, and the Goddess is renewed as the Maid, by the spring the Horned God has matured to be the Young Hunter pursuing the Maiden Goddess, at Midsummer the Goddess and God are lovers, the Goddess is pregnant with the bounty of summer and the God is in his prime. In the autumn the God transfers his strength and virility to the ripening harvests, whilst the Goddess transforms into Her Crone aspect. At Samhain the Horned God’s strength is spent and He dies, passing on to travel the underworld until He is reborn again at Yule.

Artwork by Margaret Ellis

The Wheel of the Year artwork by Margaret Ellis

As such Samhain represents the death of the Horned God, the end of the Year, the end of the Summer bounty and Harvest and ritual preparation for the descent into the cold dark of Winter. The death of the Horned God gives the day its association with the dead, it is the day at which the veil that divides this world from the other-worlds is at its thinnest. Traditionally it was believed that spirits of the dead and otherworldly entities would walk abroad. Many Halloween traditions were originally directed at tricking or appeasing these entities, wearing disguises and collecting communal offerings have gradually transformed into trick or treating. It is possible that these practices are part of the folk memory stemming from the distant past when Pagan priests and priestesses would have been dressed as deities and represented them on Earth, receiving offerings and sacrifices in thanks for the years’ bounty and in promise for the return of the Sun the following year. Since the veil between worlds is so frail this is the ideal time for practising divination, which was often done communally and evolved into practices like apple bobbing.

To me the significance of Samhain rests in its main spiritual aspect – the descent into the Underworld. The Horned God has a great many aspects, included in these is the Lord of the Underworld. The Pagan Underworld is not the same as Christian Hell, it is the abode of the Dead and the realm of the ancestors. However, it is neither limbo nor a realm of suffering, it is more a repository of spiritual history and wisdom, the place where deep and ancient knowledge can be obtained. In His role as the Lord of the Underworld the Horned God plays the role of psychopomp (guiding the spirits of the dead to their spiritual resting place), the master/teacher of arcane wisdom and the holder of knowledge that is by its nature a mystery to living. The Triple Goddess in Her aspect as the Crone represents much the same thing. Both deities can be appealed to for assistance and wisdom throughout the year however their winter aspects lend a harder edge to their personas. Winter and death represent literally and symbolically the subject of destruction and endings, this can be frightening and has ‘dark’ associations though there is no element of evil involved. I find myself drawn to the unknown and unknowable and have a love for autumn and Samhain in particular.

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There are ritual formulas for observing Samhain, usually involving the lighting of a bonfire as at Beltane, communing with the ancestors and divining the coming year. This year we took a relaxed approach to our celebration, we carved a pumpkin and bought sweets for the local trick-or-treaters, when they had finished their rounds we set up our altar and circle with each of the four elements and representations of the Horned God and Goddess, sealed the room and cast our circle in the same manner we always do. We gave our thanks to our ancestors known and unknown for all that they have done and given and poured an offering of mead in their honour. With the formalities over we could have done a vision quest or journey, engaged in shamanic drumming or divination but instead we chose to start working our staffs. Reikiheidi had gathered a number of fallen branches over the past months with the intention of working them into ritual/magickal tools such as staffs and wands. We felt that Samhain would be a nice time to cut them to size, whittle away unwanted pieces and sand them down. This is the first time we had worked wood with ritual intention and we both found the exercise to be very calming and engaging, like any activity that requires full attention it has meditative qualities, and the satisfaction of seeing the item take form. I had not intended to do anything specific but whilst whittling away at my staff I found myself carving the top of my staff into the head of an eagle (one of my power animals). We ended the evening and the ritual with a meal.

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It was a relaxed and understated evening, we both enjoyed ourselves and gave our thanks for an exciting and interesting past year which was full of change and growth and are looking forward to what the new year has to bring.

 

Samhain blessings,

Neometheus

Meeting The Triple Goddess

We have spoken about The Horned God and mentioned very little about his counterpart, the Triple Goddess. I thought it was about time we introduced this all-encompassing female deity.

Just as Neometheus and I found it a challenge to put into words and describe the Horned God, so we have found the Triple Goddess. It seems this exercise of writing down our beliefs to share with you, dear readers, has really made us examine what we think and how we think of those that we honour.

Where do I begin? What do I say about someone, or something, that encompasses all life? Exactly that: She IS all life. Goddess Mother. She is the earth: She nourishes us, protects us, and it is to her womb we return when we die. ‘Mother’ earth, Gaia – all are names for the Goddess. She is the cycle of the seasons, She is the Moon, She is the keeper of magical power, She is Fertility, She is Creativity, She is Will. When we honour Her, and the Horned God, we are honouring the earth and the aspect of each season, each cycle of the moon. The two aspects – physical and divine – are intertwined.

So who IS the Triple Goddess? Brighid; Arianrhod; Epona; Ceridwen, Morrigan – are some of the more well-known names of the Celtic Goddesses. Then you have other Goddesses from Ancient times – Hecate, Diana, Aphrodite, Isis, and many many more, too numerous to mention. Some Pagans honour specific Goddesses such as these, and the particular aspect that each represents.

Other Pagans, including myself – and by extension, Neometheus, do not honour a specific Goddess; we honour the Triple Goddess. Why? Why not give her a name? Because to us, she is all of these Goddesses rolled into one, and yet none of them. They are a part of Her, and She of Them, and yet they are separate deities. Think of it as a hologram. To understand this concept, you have to forget the mundane world and enter the Divine world; a kind of dream vision, where things don’t work in terms of ‘reality’.

It is interesting to note that both the Morrigan and Hecate are Triple Goddesses in themselves; The Morrigan is A Goddess, and incorporates Macha, Anu and Badb. She is also known by other names, there are many variations and myths surrounding her, but essentially each of these has Her own characteristics, traits and mythology. Hecate is shown as actually having three faces. So the Triple aspect is repeated in other Goddesses.

The-Tripple-Goddess

The term ‘Triple Goddess’ refers to her changing role as Maid, Mother, Crone. The Crone is perhaps the least well loved, the least understood, and the image that has been most distorted through modern times… and we shall see why, as I explain each of these aspects.

It is worth mentioning here that it is very hard to pin down an EXACT mythology of the Goddess. As we have said earlier, Neopagans do not have a structure, nor scripture. Each is free to believe, honour, and follow the path in their own way. Therefore the below is MY interpretation of the Goddess, which will perhaps differ somewhat from other neopagans, yet will have the same underlying core values.

The Maid

The Maid is of course, the young woman, a virgin, and who is pursued by the young lusty hunter, the Horned God. She is Spring; resurgence of life, the new bloom. She is hope in life, joy, youth, and new beginnings. She is potential.

The Mother

Is the Lover of the Horned God: He has caught – and courted – Her, and they stand side by side, strong in love and equal in power. She is Strength, she is the protector. She is Creativity. She is Summer, sustenance, calm, strength and power. She is wisdom. Her power starts waning as autumn gives way to winter.

At the Harvest, the Horned God sacrifices himself, giving himself to the corn, and being ‘harvested’ by the Goddess, to make way for new life. As the sun wanes, so too does the strength of the Horned God, he sets sail – to the West, say some, to the Underworld, say others, to rest and regather his strength (as he goes so the sun goes, and thus we have winter – as the sun goes, so he goes… you can read it either way, this is the symbology of the Horned God).

The Crone

The Crone is the old woman. Ugly? NO. Warty? NO. Wearing a black shroud and muttering over a cauldron? Quite possibly…

The Crone is the keeper of the deep mystical secrets, deep knowledge of the Otherworld, and of the after-life. The Cauldron is the tool with which She helps guides souls back into rebirth. The cauldron is also a symbol of the womb, as well as the keeping of magics. She is Wisdom, She is Magic. This doesn’t seem a lot to say about her, but they are the two most powerful things to have. She can see far beyond and is also known as the keeper of the web of the Wyrd (Fate). She is the Winter – cold, harsh winter. But as with all life – what has been given must be reaped; taken again.

As Maid, she gave life, bloom, love – she kept, sustained and nourished this as the Mother in Summer – and now, as life cycles round, she takes away again, even unto death.  Yet she does not bring death – she is the knowledge of death, and the guardian of it (Just as the Horned God is).  The earth needs to rest and gather its strength. She is the Dark Moon.

Crone

As such, she is perhaps the least of the aspects of the Goddess that a Witch will favour, or ask a boon of – not because she is less loved, but because her boons and knowledge are so powerful, one must be sure what she/he is doing when he/she casts a circle for the Crone. However, she is also the One that is called upon to diminish: to banish anything negative, to get rid of unwanted things in life, and to lessen power of something no longer needed.

At this point, the Horned God has become the ‘wise old man’.(Yes, I know I said he ‘went away with the Sun’, but this was allegorical, He simply metamorphosises into this other aspect). Think of Merlin: the only person, or character, depending on how you think of him – who incorporates the traits of the old Horned God. Wise, intelligent, also guardian of death – He is the Light in the Dark, the companion on the road – knower of deep magic and mysteries, friend to all the animals. He is calm, sure, patient, knowing all things come in time.

The Crone and the Horned God are not often – if ever – seen together, yet they are still equal counter-parts.

From this, it is easy to see why the crone has been distorted throughout history: the most to be feared, the darkest. Her image has been warped to an ugly old woman working horrible tricks to evil ends (Disney haven’t helped this image, yet they are not the only nor the first to project such a distortion), yet nothing could be further from the truth. With Light, there is dark; with warmth, the cold. So it is with Maid-Mother-Crone. She, the Crone, is the culmination and the balance of Her other two aspects.

The Mother Goddess is under my feet when I walk. She is the face of the moon at which I look. She is the strength in my heart and the song in my soul. She is the knowledge unknown. She is the power being tapped.

When I call on the Goddess, how can I describe to you how I feel? I know I am free. Absolutely, totally free, in my soul. I know I cannot be harmed, for She is in me and beside me. She is beautiful, wise. Is She benign? Yes, but not weak. She will not suffer foolish frivolity. She is honest love, deep passion, and raw power.

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This is (my) Triple Goddess. I hope you have come to understand Her a little better, Her relationship with the world we live in, and Her relationship with us, as witches, neopagans, and/or simply people.

Blessings be.

Meeting The Horned God: Popular Misconceptions

Following from reikiheidi’s introductory post about the Horned God, I thought I would go into more detail regarding some of misconceptions about the Horned God. Many people are still influenced by ancient Christian propaganda and more or less equate the Horned God with Satan. This is not the case as I will attempt to demonstrate.

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A boil covered Job flees from Satan. From William Caxton’s The Golden Legend, ca 1483-1484.

According to the Bible (Ezekiel 28:12) God describes Lucifer as “…perfect in beauty.” He was created by God as a cherub angel, and is considered the greatest being ever created, outranking even the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Bible (Ezekiel 10:10-17) describes a cherub angel as having four faces: one of a cherub, one of man, one of a lion and one of an eagle. They stand at about 18 feet tall, have four wings with hands underneath, and their entire bodies are covered in eyes. This description applied to Satan before his fall from Heaven. Whether his appearance changed following his fall is not, to my knowledge, stated. Alternately in Revelations (12:3), Satan is described as a seven-headed dragon with 10 horns. Evidently there is scant biblical support for the supposed iconographic similarities between Satan and the Horned God.

Detail of Pan from a vase painting depicting the Judgement of Paris. Ca 320 BC

Detail of Pan from a vase painting depicting the Judgement of Paris. Ca 320 BC

So where did this perception come from? It can be traced back to early Christian attempts to convert the old pagan populations of Europe to Christianity. The exact origin of the demonisation of the ancient horned Gods has been lost in the mists of time. Pan is perhaps the best known of these pagan Gods, and shares much of the His symbology with popular conceptions of Satan including horns, goats legs, cloven hoofs and tail. It is worth noting that in most modern and ancient depictions the Horned God possesses only the horns and not the goat aspects. It is easy to see that the libidinous image of Pan with his partly animal form and permanent erection (a symbol of virility), would be abhorrent to the ascetic early Church Fathers. It seems that Pan who is just one of many old horned Gods revered around Europe and the Mediterranean has been used as a blueprint for the most common image of the Christian Satan. There is evidence that Pan had a wide following around the formerly Hellenistic regions of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For instance a shrine to Pan located at the ancient site of Ceasaera Phillipi near the Jordan River and the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Archaeologists excavating the shrine, that was erected some time following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC, found that although the ritual practices seem to change over time, the shrine did not fall out of use until some 700 years later in the 4th century AD. That Pan was not indigenous to the region and yet outlived the Hellenic culture that exported him there by many centuries – even here in the birthplace of Christianity – demonstrates his popularity, at least with rural populations. Nor is Ceasaera Phillipi an isolated case, in Egypt Pan was equated with Egypt’s own horned Gods such Banebdjedet (the Ram of Mendes) and even Zeus-Ammon, and perhaps also the phallic deity Min. The same equivalence and similarities were seen elswhere; the Basque image of the horned God Akerbeltz, the celtic Cerrunos and Herne and the Roman Faunus. To the early Chritians Pan came to symbolise all the pagan Gods and their most dangerous aspect: freedom. The early pagans were absent the idea of sin, Pan epitomised this perhaps most of all, with his guilt free and promiscuous nature he would have been seen as the antithesis of the Abrahamic perceptions of sex and the marginal role of women. Thus he became synonomous with the arch-daemon of Christianity. It seems this perception was formed relatively quickly; in the early 4th CE Eusebius responded to Plutarch’s report of the alleged ‘death of the Great God Pan’, claiming that the Christian God had rid humankind of its biggest demon. By this time apparently the perceived equivalence of Pan, and thus all the pagan Gods, with demons and Satan was already established. The Christian church spent most of its first millennium mopping up pockets of paganism around Europe. Turning the pagan’s own symbology against them was one of the many tools employed in this task. The medieval Church zealously re-iterated this horned depiction of Satan and it is solidly ingrained even today. The simple facts of the matter are that the Horned God symbolism pre-dates Christianity by millennia, and contradicts Christianity’s own biblical depictions of Satan. The success of the adoption and transformation of the image of the Horned God and Pan in particular is indicative of how popular and therefore threatening the horned Gods were to early Christianity, and also of Christian flexibility in adapting pagan symbology into it’s own dogma. It is worth mentioning that another popular symbol of the Devil, the pitchfork or trident is most likely a reference to the Greek God Poseidon who also bore a trident, the symbol is not to my knowledge associated with the Horned God.

Baphomet, the Sabbatic Goat, by Eliphas Levi, 1855.

The misunderstandings are exacerbated further by the use of aspects of Horned God symbolism by Satanists. The Church of Satan has adopted Baphomet as its official emblem. The symbol of Baphomet has a curious history, which I will not relate here. Instead of being a pre-Christian emblem of the Horned God, it is a post-Christian reaction to Christianity itself, incorporating the horned and goat-like characteristics that, as I have discussed, were taken by Christians from the original pagan sources. For instance the name Baphomet is most likely a medieval corruption of ‘Mahomet’ an old rendering of Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam. The originator of the Baphomet symbol Eliphas Levi derived it, in part, from the ‘Devil’ card of the eighteenth century Tarot of Marseilles and representations of the Egyptian ‘Ram of Mendes’, Banebdjedet. Levi’s image does not and it seems has never been intended to depict the Horned God, but instead depicts Satan or in Alestair Crowley’s words “the hieroglyph of arcane perfection”. It is ironic that Satanism has adopted the very same symbols for use against Christianity that the Christians themselves lifted from paganism in order to discredit it.

Needless to say therefore, Neopagans do not worship the Devil. In fact we do not believe in Satan or even in the Christian duality of good and evil. Rejecting the good/evil dualism does not mean that Neopaganism is amoral; most if not all practitioners follow a form of the Golden Rule, often called the Wiccan Rede, which states ‘Do what thou wilt, though it harm none’.

Detail of a Horned God probably the Celtic Cernunnos, from the Gundestrup Cauldron. Ca 200 BC – 300 AD.

Additionally there is the ‘Rule of Three’ or ‘Law of Returns’, a principle similar to Karma which attests that whatever energy and intent you put out into the world, constructive or destructive, will be returned to you three-fold.

I hope this goes some way to resolve some of the anxieties and misunderstandings commonly associated with the Horned God. The next posts on the topic will go into more detail about who the Horned God actually is, his role, attributes, history etc.

Thanks for reading and blessings be )O(

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.