By any other name…

Or: my journey to Cernunnos.

Horned One by Marjolijn Ashara. A fallen tree looking like a cloaked, horned figure in the distance.

I discovered witchcraft and paganism in the late ’90s, early ’00s. Our household didn’t have internet yet (gasp! I know!) so all I had available to me were books and the computer in the school library. Back then the only books we could get, especially here in the Netherlands, were wiccan. Wheel of the Year, God and Goddess, circle of protection, wiccan rede, the whole shebang.

The Lord and Lady. I found the idea of that duality fascinating. (Not so much anymore, but that is for a different post) I didn’t come from a Christian background and the times that I’d been to church had been overall a pleasant experience, though not for me. So I didn’t have a problem with a male deity in my path. And, on the other hand, while I found the idea of a female deity empowering and logical, I didn’t have the feminist revelation that most other Goddess-worshippers seemed to have. (That has also changed quite a bit) So for me it was logical. A man and woman, mother and father, who together create all life. Sure, their progression through the wheel of the year seems a bit wonkey, but that’s minor hiccup, right? (Oh how times have changed)

I named my God Cernunnos, the Horned One, Lord of the Wild. And the antlered figure was something that I was very drawn to. The untamed, the wildness of nature, all things that called to me. The Goddess changed for me, many times, but Cernunnos stayed.

the Horned One on my altar

Then, I started learning. I learned that the Lord and Lady were actually supposed to be named Gods, but probably not Cernunnos, but Pan. I learned that we didn’t know anything about Cernunnos, except for the pillar where his name appeared on once, and that’s it. I learned that the aspects that wicca had placed on him: masculinity, virility, sexuality, the forest and woodlands, were not per se for Cernunnos at all. Instead they were for this Horned One, who might be Pan, but who had become this melting pot of all antlered and horned deities who were tied to nature.

But then who had I been calling upon? Who had I been talking to and who had I seen in meditation after meditation? I stepped away from the name Cernunnos, found it not fitting. I didn’t read further into His lore either. My mistake. It also bothered me that everyone seemed to have this Horned One as their male deity. Did I then really have a bond with this deity, or was it just because it was what’s done? Did I even want a bond with a God that allll the other pagans and witches worshipped? (I had a bit of a problem with “popular things”) I started doubting the experiences that I’d had. My second mistake.

My path changed and changed again. I became an atheist secular witch, not believing in the Gods at all. Later I began to see them as Jungian Archetypes, as aspects of myself that I drew to the front when I called upon the Gods. But neither felt right. I realized that even though my logic was saying that they couldn’t be real, that they couldn’t have influence on this reality, our reality, that my heart didn’t care. I believed again. I found two Goddesses whom I am both devoted to; Nehalennia and Baduhenna. I reconnected with whom I had called Horned One for years and restated my devotion to Him as well.

The fact that the Horned One remained nameless started to grate. I had names and titles for my Goddesses, but not for Him. I also had finally truly disconnected Him from the wiccan version of the Lord. This after doing quite a bit of shadow work on, amongst other things my wiccan roots, and gender and deity. The realisation that masculine- and feminine energy meant nothing when talking about deity. That even though the Horned One was a sexual creature, sexuality and masculinity were not the things that I, personally, associated Him with. (Again, this is for a different post) So I started looking into antlered deities again.

Cernunnos by Iren Horrors

I came upon Cernunnos, of course, but this time I stayed. I read and listened. I learned about who He might have been, what the scholars and historians think based upon His imagery. What other pagans, those not so influenced by the dogma of duality thought of Him. And I read. And I read it again and again until finally that one thing registered in my brain.

Cernunnos, meaning “Horned One”.

I reached out to Him, my antlered Lord of the wildness and hunt. “I’ve been calling you by this name the whole time, haven’t I?”
“Yes. It doesn’t matter in what language you say it, I’ve always heard you.”

And so He is named once again. Cernunnos. But not after the masculine half of the wiccan duality. Instead after the ancient, antlered God that has been worshipped by many, many names all over the continent, if not the world. The Gaulish Cernunnos with the horned serpent and torc. God of the forest and the hunt, Dweller in the liminal, Lord of animals and the chthonic roots. And so He is named…

Sacred Space

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Last weekend was the winter edition of Castlefest, which is one of the biggest and most “gezellig” fantasy and pagan festival here in the Netherlands. The summer edition is amazing and we’ve been considering it our holiday for years now. This was the first year that we visited the winter edition and it was a lot of fun! {and cold… so cold!}

One of the things I wanted to look for on Castlefest was a statue of the Goddess that I had had my eye on for a while now. The Mother, sitting on a treestump holding her pregnant belly. I’ve loved it from afar for so long that I decided that I really wanted her to be the consort to my Horned God statue. And I finally found her! Which of course was all the more reason to redecorate my altar and sacred space in a big way.

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Isn’t she lovely? For years I had my altar set up in the same way, but this time I wanted to do it differently: more open space and make everything look prettier. I decided to put the statues on their own wooden disks, a lighter one for my new Mother Goddess. I decorated it with lots of gemstones, shells and feathers, as well as an adorable shell soap that I got from one of my coven sisters. The cauldron stands for the womb of the Goddess so I placed it at her feet. I love it!

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This amazing statue we got on our honeymoon to Glastonbury and I’ve spent forever trying to find a worthy companion. Because He is sitting down, I wanted Her to be sitting down as well, which wasn’t an easy task! The Horned God is sitting on a bigger wooden disk, surrounded by petrified wood, green gemstones and lots of forest findings. There is a small piece of antler there as well and of course more candles!

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For the centre I really wanted to play around with levels and different heights, so I took one of those small wall shelves and placed it upside down in the middle of my altar space. It works like a charm and looks great! Next to the pentacle are a pair of antlers and in front are a two hagstones, one bought in Glastonbury, one found years ago. I filled the space underneath with fake greenery, selenite and quartz.

The entire workspace now feels calming and open and I think I’ve found a set up that’ll suit me for years! {which is why I wanted to share it with you all} I’m very happy with how it all turned out and I’m sure this will help on my path of re-discovering witchcraft and paganism.

I’d love to hear about your sacred spaces, do you have one? What is it like? Let me know!

How to: drawing the God and Goddess

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Oh my, my first tutorial! I’ve been drawing these little Gods and Goddesses for a while now, and my circle sisters kept asking me how I do it. So, yesterday I gave them a little class on how to draw the simple God and Goddess shapes, after which we painted some beautiful stones and wooden disks. Then I thought: I should make a tutorial out of this. So here you go! A small photo tutorial on how I draw the God and Goddess!

The Goddess:

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Step 1: draw a small circle, this will be the head of the Goddess.

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Step 2: draw (or visualise) two guiding lines going straight down from the side of Her head, starting where Her ears would be.

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Step 3: draw a curved line, staying within the guide lines. This will be Her boobies, waist and hips. Leave space between the head and Her torso for Her neck and shoulders, about two neck heights.

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Step 4: repeat on other side.

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Step 5: start at the top of the curved lines, Her armpits as it were, and follow the curve of the head up. You can let Her hands touch if you like, but Her arms will look way too long.

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Step 6: curve back down and form the shoulders and neck. Try to keep the arms the same width by following the outer lines back down again. {practice, practice!}

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Step 7: clean Her up a bit! And (optional) add some curves to Her boobies and a little doodle to Her belly. Tada! You’ve drawn a cute little Goddess!

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Step 8: experiment! Give Her a bigger belly by going outside of the guiding lines, make Her arms bend at the elbows a bit more, etc. etc.

The God:

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Step 1: draw a circle again, this will be the head.

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Step 2: draw the body. Almost a kite-shape, starting from the neck and slanting down. Round the edges a bit and flatten the base.

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Step 3: add antlers. And that’s it actually, the God is a lot easier to draw!

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Step 3.2: how I draw the antlers. First a short line curving up from the head. The second line is a longer one making a slow curve. Thirdly a short little twist from the last quarter of the second line. Simple, yet effective

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And that’s it! Now you know! Fill them with symbols to make them a specific God or Goddess, like the Goddess Baduhenna:

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Or make them really tiny and paint them on some beautiful stones to make elemental markers:

GoddessGodDoodle them, zentangle them, use them in you mandalas, oh the possibilities! I hope you enjoyed this first ever tutorial and if it inspired you to make some art of your own, I would love to see it!