The raw, ancient and primordial force symbolised by horns has long had associations with mystery, magick and power. Our ancestors often envisaged their gods as anthropomorphic beings who encapsulated this wild essence. Today the gods of the bull, the ram, the goat and the stag still hold tremendous power and are invoked at rituals by a new priesthood who continue to seek the wildness of nature and the inspiration that it holds. These deities transcend the safe and known boundaries of human structure, sometimes even luring us across the threshold of the known into the unknown worlds beyond.
This unique anthology brings together the work of more than twenty people, including that of dedicated scholars and modern day mystics. Through their written and artistic contributions they illustrate some of the many manifestations of the Horned God. A true cornucopia of both insightful and well researched essays takes us from the well known Celtic Cernunnos and the legend of Herne the Hunter, to the goat-footed Greek Pan, the lesser known Slavic Veles and Egyptian Khnum. Horned serpents, unicorns, the tale of the Battle of the Bulls in the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge, the Welsh Gwyn Ap Nudd and the faery Puck are all also considered.
Then a wild hunt as we journey with the mystics who share their own experiences of the gods of the wildwood and untamed beasts. Each story is as different as the person who experienced it – and each illustrating in its own unique way a Horned God who is wild, unpredictable, loving – and at heart a trickster. For those who wish to dare a bit more than others, visionary meditation journeys to explore the mysteries of Cernunnos and Gwyn Ap Nudd are included. Horns of power would of course be nothing without the horns of beauty of the feminine divine, and in the final section of this anthology the reader is presented with works exploring horned goddesses, such as the lunar horned Hekate, Selene and Artemis and the antlered Elen.
Whether through the mysteries of their existence, the vast scope of their influence or the endurance of their survival through to the modern day, each contribution provides a window into the wonders and mystery of the enduring magick of the horned gods.
The Witch God Cernunnos by Sorita d’Este
Herne: The Royal Hunter by Hortus St Michael
Hero Lord of Annwfn by Gareth Gerrard
Pan: The Hidden All by David Rankine
Veles in Slavic Myth by Kim Huggens
Romano-Celtic Horns by Zachary Yardley
The Horned Serpent by Frater Nechesh
Battle of the Bulls by Dafydd ap Bran
Puck: Forgotten Devil God? by Beth Raven
The Potter from the Nile by Sorita d’Este
Horns from Egypt by Phil Lightwood-Jones
Horn of the Unicorn by Janet Nancy James
Stag & Unicorn
Horn at Dawn by Rhys Chisnall
The Song of Amergin
Light in the Earth by John Canard
The Horned One Rises by Peter J. Jaynes
My Bearded Man by Thea Faye
A Small Mouse by Magin
Encounters in the Woods by Harry Barron
A Quest for Horns by Stephen Blake
Dancing with Bulls by Zagreus
Meditation Journey with Gwynn ap Nudd by Gareth Gerrard
Hymn to Amen-Ra
Journey to the Mound by Gulia Laini
The Fire Horns by Lupus
Luna’s Shining Horns by Gulia Laini
Triple Horns of the Greek Magical Papyri by Sorita d’Este
Ode to the Horned Goddess by Nina Falaise
In Pursuit of Elen by Jenny Sumaya
From the Author
Horns are synonymous with masculine strength and primal power across the world throughout history. Why should horns have such an enduring and universal appeal? Perhaps it is because they are found in so many different forms and sizes. The branched antlers of a stag, the spiral horns of a ram, and the curved horns of a bull, all portray a very different message to those viewing them. Where the stag's antlers might recall the forest through their branchlike appearance, the spiral horns of the ram suggest a journey into mystery, and the horns of a bull hint at the lunar crescent, lifted up to the skies to receive the power of the heavens.
Horns have a magickal polarity which is very masculine, being outwardly active and inwardly passive. Physically they are active, as nature's weapon on the male animal to defend his mate and young, but magickally they are passive, drawing power in from the environment and down from the heavens. This symbolism was known in the ancient world, where the mysteries of the bull gods of Sumeria and ram and bull gods of ancient Egypt were transmitted into the civilizations that would follow.
This is perfectly demonstrated in the person of Alexander the Great, who was often called Karnayn (Horned) and depicted with horns, to emphasise his great martial prowess and supremacy as a leader, whilst also hinting at his divine origins and authority. It was not just the Greeks who expressed the power of horns, seen in the many horned gods found in their pantheon. The early Jews celebrated the power of the bull, associated with storms and a natural symbol of Yahweh, as seen in the horns on the altar of Moses.
Evidence from thousands of years before civilization of the earliest recorded images and archaeological remains abound with horns, showing their enduring and universal appeal. Items made from horn, such as horned headdresses and helmets, horned staffs and tools carved from horn have been found in grave goods for many thousands of years, and antlers bedeck the most famous of all cave figures, the `Sorceror', drawn more than 32,000 years ago, and found in Les Trois-Frères at Ariège in France.
Horned helmets as a symbol of ferocity and power have been seen in cultures from ancient Sumeria through to the Celts and Vikings. By sympathetic magick the wearer of the helmet drew on the immense strength and endurance of the bull or other horned beast represented thereon. The same is of course true of the other uses of horn in magickal tools from drinking horns to horn trumpets to horn wands and staffs.
Indeed, not content with the wide range of horns in nature, man has even invented horned creatures to express the magickal nature of horn in other ways. This idea is explored in detail in two of the essays in this collection, Horn of the Unicorn and The Horned Serpent. The horned beast as an expression of the divine is another common theme in mythology, and we see this in The Battle of the Bulls.
The word horn really only applies to the bony centre covered in keratin and other proteins, as is found in animals such as the goat, ram and bull. Antlers are not horn, as the bone is not covered with a horn coating, rather it is covered with vascular skin whilst it grows, known as velvet. Unlike other horns, rhinoceros horn is made only from keratin with no bony core. And the narwhale tusk, so long confused with the horn of the unicorn, is in fact a giant tooth. Keratin itself is the hard structural protein which also forms nails and hairs in humans. The occurrence of keratin in all these types of horn as well as in us as a species emphasises the personal connection we all have to the strength and power of horn.
To many people horns represent the image of the horned god. But which horned god exactly? The horns of power manifest in many different ways, relevant to people and places, the worshippers and the sacred landscape they live in. In the twenty-first century, with more and more people living in urban centres, it might be argued that the horned gods are more appropriate to the countryside, and yet the horned gods of the Egyptian temple religions can equally easily be worshipped in the city, and who can say where a trickster like Puck will show up?
Horns can represent the primal power of nature, expressed through the strength of a bull or the unstoppable power of a charging herd of buffalo or caribou, the majesty and raw virility of a roaring stag with its antlers silhouetted against the morning sun. They also represent the lunar power in the heavens, lighting the night sky and drawing the tides as the moon waxes and wanes. These different horns emphasise the union of the divine and the animal, man's path from the past to the future, drawing on both to attain balance and gain the power that they all have to offer.
In this anthology essays by a number of scholars, Pagan Priests and Priestesses and other individuals with a special interest in the horned deities of our ancestors are brought together, clearly showing the diversity and widespread belief in these beings in the ancient world as well as providing us with examples of such encounters in the here and now. Furthermore, you will find throughout this volume, examples of evocations, invocations and oracles honouring the horned gods throughout history, breaking through the boundaries of time and space. These have been included to inspire and to induce an atmosphere in which the horned deities on these pages can gain a life of their own in the minds and hearts of the readers, singing their song to the sound of distant music and the dance of the beating heart of the wildwood.
A final section includes a few essays considering the divine feminine as being horned, including the horns and associations with horned deities found in the Greek Magical Papyri related to the goddesses Hekate, Artemis and Selene, and an experiential journey of a Priestess seeking to understand the horned lady Elen. The horned lunar goddess emphasises different types of power to the horned god, but is at least as significant in her dominion. The most obvious indication of this, where the lunar goddess with her crescent horns assumes centre stage, is of course the Wiccan tradition and its many pagan derivatives; some of which also include the horned god.
And so now it is time to hand you, the reader, the cornucopia of knowledge and experience of horned deities that has gathered to the call blown on the horn of convocation, offerings of labour and wisdom inspired by the horns of power.