Witchy Wednesdays this week will explore an important god in my practice: the Horned God. So, we all know I worship Dionysos but I worship another god as well – though this god I do not have the kind of personal relationship like I do with Dionysos. I relate more to him thru an archetype. I leave him offerings, I perform rites, but he is silent: watching, accepting, teaching from a distance. This doesn’t make him “less” of a god or less important. I would say both gods are equal in my practice but, Dionysos is my beloved; the The Horned God is more of a paternal figure. I am usually happy to receive a “feeling” from Dionysos, he is the god that offers me strength or inspiration while the The Horned God rarely comes for comfort (he might come for something else though). Feelings and lessons from him are often harsh like the cycles of nature he personifies.
The Horned God of Wicca is a composite of Celtic and Indo-European fertility gods with horns. Often times he named as the Celtic god Cernunnos (which very little is objectively known since he had no Roman equivalent and was not absorbed into the Roman religion at the time Romans came to Celtic lands). Wicca is a dualistic religion, balancing the Triple Goddess with the Horned God and the Green Man in a mythic cycle similar to the Inanna-Dumuzi cycle of rebirth and sacred consorts. That being said, the dualism in Wicca is something I reject and thus why I do not consider myself Wiccan. I do not perform any “Wiccan” rites to the Horned God, but I do use him in magic and during wheel of the year celebrations. He personifies fertility, animal life, and wilderness. He is similar to the Green Man. For my practice the Horned God and the Green Man are both mirror images of the same force of vegetation, masculine fertility, active principles in the universe, and harsh bringer of lessons, judgement, and the seasons. The Green Man brings spring and summer while the Horned God brings Winter. I prefer the Horned God to the Holly King because I feel Winter is a harsh season, the Holly King looks to damn happy to personify something bitter and harsh.
So, I’m not Wiccan but I once was and I still use the archetypal Horned God for a lot of season rituals. I see him in the Wiccan sense of an archetype, the eldest god, the ancestor god who watches and rules from afar. He is the harshness of nature personified for me. I have personal relationships with other gods, like Dionysos: they are personal gods, they comfort me, see me, help me – he does not. He sits and watches. I also don’t believe he came from a past practice, he was an archetype crafted in the early 1900s as an ancestral Indo-European deity and I’m perfectly fine with that!