Horned God

The Horned God is one of the two primary deities found in Wicca and some related forms of Neopaganism. The term Horned God itself predates Wicca, and is an early 20th-century syncretic term for a horned or antlered anthropomorphic god with partly pseudohistorical origins, partly based on historical horned deities.[1]

The Horned God represents the male part of the religion's duotheistic theological system, the consort of the female Triple Goddess of the Moon or other Mother Goddess.[2] In common Wiccan belief, he is associated with nature, wilderness, sexuality, hunting, and the life cycle.[3]:32–34 Whilst depictions of the deity vary, he is always shown with either horns or antlers upon his head, often depicted as being theriocephalic (having a beast's head), in this way emphasizing "the union of the divine and the animal", the latter of which includes humanity.[4]:11

In traditional Wicca (British Traditional Wicca), he is generally regarded as a dualistic god of twofold aspects: bright and dark, night and day, summer and winter, the Oak King and the Holly King. In this dualistic view, his two horns symbolize, in part, his dual nature. (The use of horns to symbolize duality is also reflected in the phrase "on the horns of a dilemma.") The three aspects of the Goddess and the two aspects of the Horned God are sometimes mapped on to the five points of the Pentagram, although which points correspond to which deity aspects varies. In some other systems, he is represented as a triune god, split into three aspects that reflect those of the Triple Goddess: the Youth (Warrior), the Father, and the Sage.

The Horned God has been explored within several psychological theories and has become a recurrent theme in fantasy literature.[5]:872

Horned God
A sculpture of the Horned God Bucca of Cornish traditional witchcraft, found in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall.

In Wicca

Gundestrup Cernunnos
The "Cernunnos" type antlered figure on the Gundestrup Cauldron

In traditional and mainstream Wicca, the Horned God is viewed as the divine male principality, being both equal and opposite to the Goddess. The Wiccan god himself can be represented in many forms, including as the Sun God, the Sacrificed God and the Vegetation God,[3] although the Horned God is the most popular representation. The pioneers of the various Wiccan or Witchcraft traditions, such as Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente and Robert Cochrane, all claimed that their religion was a continuation of the pagan religion of the Witch-Cult following historians who had purported the Witch-Cult's existence, such as Jules Michelet and Margaret Murray.

For Wiccans, the Horned God is "the personification of the life force energy in animals and the wild"[6] and is associated with the wilderness, virility and the hunt.[7]:16 Doreen Valiente writes that the Horned God also carries the souls of the dead to the underworld.[8]

Wiccans generally, as well as some other neopagans, tend to conceive of the universe as polarized into gender opposites of male and female energies. In traditional Wicca, the Horned God and the Goddess are seen as equal and opposite in gender polarity. However, in some of the newer traditions of Wicca, and especially those influenced by feminist ideology, there is more emphasis on the Goddess, and consequently the symbolism of the Horned God is less developed than that of the Goddess.[9]:154 In Wicca the cycle of the seasons is celebrated during eight sabbats called The Wheel of the Year. The seasonal cycle is imagined to follow the relationship between the Horned God and the Goddess.[7] The Horned God is born in winter, impregnates the Goddess and then dies during the autumn and winter months and is then reborn by the Goddess at Yule.[10] The different relationships throughout the year are sometimes distinguished by splitting the god into aspects, the Oak King and the Holly King.[7] The relationships between the Goddess and the Horned God are mirrored by Wiccans in seasonal rituals. There is some variation between Wiccan groups as to which sabbat corresponds to which part of the cycle. Some Wiccans regard the Horned God as dying at Lammas, August 1; also known as Lughnasadh, which is the first harvest sabbat. Others may see him dying at Mabon, the autumn equinox, or the second harvest festival. Still other Wiccans conceive of the Horned God dying on October 31, which Wiccans call Samhain, the ritual of which is focused on death. He is then reborn on Winter Solstice, December 21.[11]:190

Other important dates for the Horned God include Imbolc when, according to Valiente, he leads a wild hunt.[8]:191 In Gardnerian Wicca, the Dryghten prayer is recited at the end of every ritual meeting contains the lines referring to the Horned God:

In the name of the Lady of the Moon,
and the Horned Lord of Death and Resurrection[12]

According to Sabina Magliocco,[12]:28 Gerald Gardner says (in 1959's The Meaning of Witchcraft) that The Horned God is an Under-god, a mediator between an unknowable supreme deity and the people. (In Wiccan liturgy in the Book of Shadows, this conception of an unknowable supreme deity is referred to as "Dryghtyn." It is not a personal god, but rather an impersonal divinity similar to the Tao of Taoism.)

Whilst the Horned God is the most common depiction of masculine divinity in Wicca, he is not the only representation. Other examples include the Green Man and the Sun God.[3] In traditional Wicca, however, these other representations of the Wiccan god are subsumed or amalgamated into the Horned God, as aspects or expressions of him. Sometimes this is shown by adding horns or antlers to the iconography. The Green Man, for example, may be shown with branches resembling antlers; and the Sun God may be depicted with a crown or halo of solar rays, that may resemble horns. These other conceptions of the Wiccan god should not be regarded as displacing the Horned God, but rather as elaborating on various facets of his nature. Doreen Valiente has called the Horned God "the eldest of gods" in both The Witches Creed and also in her Invocation To The Horned God.

Wiccans believe that The Horned God, as Lord of Death, is their "comforter and consoler" after death and before reincarnation; and that he rules the Underworld or Summerland where the souls of the dead reside as they await rebirth. Some, such as Joanne Pearson, believe that this is based on the Mesopotamian myth of Inanna's descent into the underworld, though this has not been confirmed.[13]:147


Horned God and Mother Goddess (Doreen Valiente's Altar)
Altar statues of the Horned God and Mother Goddess crafted by Bel Bucca and owned by the "Mother of Wicca", Doreen Valiente

Doreen Valiente, a former High Priestess of the Gardnerian tradition, claimed that Gerald Gardner's Bricket Wood coven referred to the god as Cernunnos, or Kernunno, which is a Latin word, discovered on a stone carving found in France, meaning "the Horned One". Valiente claimed that the coven also referred to the god as Janicot, which she theorised was of Basque origin, and Gardner also used this name in his novel High Magic's Aid.[14]:52–53

Stewart Farrar, a High Priest of the Alexandrian tradition referred to the Horned God as Karnayna, which he believed was a corruption of the word Cernunnos.[15] The historian Ronald Hutton has suggested that it instead came from the Arabic term Dhul-Qarnayn which meant "Horned One". This term had been used in the Qur'an to refer to Cyrus the Great or alternatively Alexander the Great, who considered himself the son of the horned deity Ammon-Zeus, and wore horns as a part of his regalia. Margaret Murray had mentioned this information in her 1933 book The God of the Witches, and Hutton theorised that Alex Sanders had taken it from there, enjoying the fact that he shared his name with the ancient Macedonian emperor.[16]:331

In the writings of Charles Cardell and Raymond Howard, the god was referred to as Atho. Howard had a wooden statue of Atho's head which he claimed was 2200 years old, but the statue was stolen in April 1967. Howard's son later admitted that his father had carved the statue himself.[17]

In Cochrane's Craft, which was founded by Robert Cochrane, the Horned God was often referred to by a Biblical name; Tubal-cain, who, according to the Bible was the first blacksmith.[18] In this neopagan concept, the god is also referred to as Brân, a Welsh mythological figure, Wayland, the smith in Germanic mythology, and Herne, a horned figure from English folklore.[18]

In the neopagan tradition of Stregheria, founded by Raven Grimassi and loosely inspired by the works of Charles Godfrey Leland, the Horned God goes by several names, including Dianus, Faunus, Cern, and Actaeon.

In the Hinduism, the Horned God is referred to Pashupati, See Pashupati seal.

In psychology

Jungian analysis

Gehörnter Gott, Enkomi
Bronze figurine of a "Horned God" from Enkomi, Cyprus

Sherry Salman considers the image of the Horned God in Jungian terms, as an archetypal protector and mediator of the outside world to the objective psyche. In her theory the male psyche's 'Horned God' frequently compensates for inadequate fathering.

When first encountered, the figure is a dangerous, 'hairy chthonic wildman' possessed of kindness and intelligence. If repressed, later in life The Horned God appears as the lord of the Otherworld, or Hades. If split off entirely, he leads to violence, substance abuse and sexual perversion. When integrated he gives the male an ego 'in possession of its own destructiveness' and for the female psyche gives an effective animus relating to both the physical body and the psyche.[19]

In considering the Horned God as a symbol recurring in women's literature, Richard Sugg suggests the Horned God represents the 'natural Eros', a masculine lover subjugating the social-conformist nature of the female shadow, thus encompassing a combination of the shadow and animus. One such example is Heathcliff from Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Sugg goes on to note that female characters who are paired with this character usually end up socially ostracised, or worse – in an inverted ending to the male hero-story.[20]:162

Humanistic psychology

Following the work of Robert Bly in the Mythopoetic men's movement, John Rowan proposes the Horned God as a "Wild Man" be used as a fantasy image or "sub-personality"[21]:38 helpful to men in humanistic psychology, and escaping from "narrow societal images of masculinity"[22]:249 encompassing excessive deference to women and paraphillia.[22]:57-57

Theories of historical origins

Star Carr headdress cropped
A red deer headdress from Star Carr. Many of the 20 other headdresses have more complex sets of antlers.
Pintura Trois Freres
Sketch of Breuil's drawing

Many horned deities are known to have been worshipped in various cultures throughout history. Evidence for horned gods appear very early in the human record. The so-called Sorcerer dates from perhaps 13,000 BCE. Twenty-one red deer headdresses, made from the skulls of the red deer and likely fitted with leather laces, have been uncovered at the Mesolithic site of Star Carr. They are thought to date from roughly 9,000 BCE.[23] Several theories have been created to establish historical roots for modern Neopagan worship of a Horned God.

Margaret Murray

Following the writings of suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage[24] and others, Margaret Murray, in her 1921 book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, proposed the theory that the witches of the early-modern period were remnants of a pagan cult and that the Christian Church had declared the god of the witches was in fact the Devil. Without recourse to any specific representation of this deity, Murray speculates that the head coverings common in inquisition-derived descriptions of the devil "may throw light on one of the possible origins of the cult."[25]

Nejamesa horned god of India
Horned God Naigamesha of the Indian sub-religion Kaumaram. Possibly from the Shunga period (1st-2nd century B.C), or earlier

In 1931 Murray published a sequel, The God of the Witches, which tries to gather evidence in support of her witch-cult theory. In Chapter 1 "The Horned God".[26] Murray claims that various depictions of humans with horns from European and Indian sources, ranging from the paleolithic French cave painting of "The Sorcerer" to the Indic Pashupati to the modern English Dorset Ooser, are evidence for an unbroken, Europe-wide tradition of worship of a singular Horned God. Murray derived this model of a horned god cult from James Frazer and Jules Michelet.[27]:36

In dealing with "The Sorcerer",[25]:23–4 the earliest evidence claimed, Murray based her observations on a drawing by Henri Breuil, which some modern scholars such as Ronald Hutton claim is inaccurate. Hutton states that modern photographs show the original cave art lacks horns, a human torso or any other significant detail on its upper half.[28]:34 However, others, such as celebrated prehistorian Jean Clottes, assert that Breuil's sketch is indeed accurate. Clottes stated that "I have seen it myself perhaps 20 times over the years".[29]

Breuil considered his drawing to represent a shaman or magician - an interpretation which gives the image its name. Murray having seen the drawing called Breuil's image "the first depiction of a deity", an idea which Breuil and others later adopted.

Murray also used an inaccurate drawing of a mesolithic rock-painting at Cogul in northeast Spain as evidence of group religious ceremony of the cult, although the central male figure is not horned.[25]:65 The illustration she used of the Cogul painting leaves out a number of figures, human and animal, and the original is more likely a sequence of superimposed but unrelated illustrations, rather than a depiction of a single scene.[16]:197

Despite widespread criticism of Murray's scholarship some minor aspects of her work continued to have supporters.[30]:9[31]

Influences from literature

The popular image of the Greek god Pan was removed from its classical context in the writings of the Romantics of the 18th century and connected with their ideals of a pastoral England. This, along with the general public's increasing lack of familiarity of Greek mythology at the time led to the figure of Pan becoming generalised as a 'horned god', and applying connotations to the character, such as benevolence that were not evident in the original Greek myths which in turn gave rise to the popular acceptance of Murray's hypothetical horned god of the witches.[16]

The reception of Aradia amongst Neopagans has not been entirely positive. Clifton suggests that modern claims of revealing an Italian pagan witchcraft tradition, for example those of Leo Martello and Raven Grimassi, must be "match[ed] against", and compared with the claims in Aradia. He further suggests that a lack of comfort with Aradia may be due to an "insecurity" within Neopaganism about the movement's claim to authenticity as a religious revival.[32]:61

Chaire Cathédrale Liège 240809 04
Lucifer (Le génie du mal) by Guillaume Geefs (Cathedral of St. Paul, Liège, Belgium)

Valiente offers another explanation for the negative reaction of some neopagans; that the identification of Lucifer as the god of the witches in Aradia was "too strong meat" for Wiccans who were used to the gentler, romantic paganism of Gerald Gardner and were especially quick to reject any relationship between witchcraft and Satanism.[33]

In 1985 Classical historian Georg Luck, in his Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds, theorised that the origins of the Witch-cult may have appeared in late antiquity as a faith primarily designed to worship the Horned God, stemming from the merging of Cernunnos, a horned god of the Celts, with the Greco-Roman Pan/Faunus,[34] a combination of gods which he posits created a new deity, around which the remaining pagans, those refusing to convert to Christianity, rallied and that this deity provided the prototype for later Christian conceptions of the Devil, and his worshippers were cast by the Church as witches.[34]

Influences from occultism

The 19th century image of a Sabbatic Goat, created by Eliphas Lévi. Baphomet serves as an historical model for Murray's concept.

Eliphas Levi's image of "Baphomet" serves as an example of the transformation of the Devil into a benevolent fertility deity and provided the prototype for Murray's horned god.[35] Murray's central thesis that images of the Devil were actually of deities and that Christianity had demonised these worshippers as following Satan, is first recorded in the work of Levi in the fashionable 19th-century Occultist circles of England and France.[35] Levi created his image of Baphomet, published in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (1855), by combining symbolism from diverse traditions, including the Diable card of the 16th and 17th century Tarot of Marseille. Lévi called his image "The Goat of Mendes", possibly following Herodotus' account[36] that the god of Mendes—the Greek name for Djedet, Egypt—was depicted with a goat's face and legs. Herodotus relates how all male goats were held in great reverence by the Mendesians, and how in his time a woman publicly copulated with a goat.[37] E. A. Wallis Budge writes,

At several places in the Delta, e.g. Hermopolis, Lycopolis, and Mendes, the god Pan and a goat were worshipped; Strabo, quoting (xvii. 1, 19) Pindar, says that in these places goats had intercourse with women, and Herodotus (ii. 46) instances a case which was said to have taken place in the open day. The Mendisians, according to this last writer, paid reverence to all goats, and more to the males than to the females, and particularly to one he-goat, on the death of which public mourning is observed throughout the whole Mendesian district; they call both Pan and the goat Mendes, and both were worshipped as gods of generation and fecundity. Diodorus (i. 88) compares the cult of the goat of Mendes with that of Priapus, and groups the god with the Pans and the Satyrs. The goat referred to by all these writers is the famous Mendean Ram, or Ram of Mendes, the cult of which was, according to Manetho, established by Kakau, the king of the IInd dynasty.[38]

Historically, the deity that was venerated at Egyptian Mendes was a ram deity Banebdjedet (literally Ba of the lord of djed, and titled "the Lord of Mendes"), who was the soul of Osiris. Lévi combined the images of the Tarot of Marseilles Devil card and refigured the ram Banebdjed as a he-goat, further imagined by him as "copulator in Anep and inseminator in the district of Mendes".

Gerald Gardner and Wicca

Margaret Murray's theory of the historical origins of the Horned God has been used by Wiccans to create a myth of historical origins for their religion.[7]:110 There is no verifiable evidence to support claims that the religion originates earlier than the mid-20th century.[16]

Modern scholarship has disproved Margaret Murray's theory, however various horned gods and mother goddesses were indeed worshipped in the British Isles during the ancient and early Medieval periods.[39]

The "father of Wicca", Gerald Gardner, who adopted Margaret Murray's thesis, claimed Wicca was a modern survival of an ancient pan-European pagan religion.[40] Gardner states that he had reconstructed elements of the religion from fragments, incorporating elements from Freemasonry, the Occult, and Theosophy, which came together in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, where Gardner met Aleister Crowley, whose influence became the basis for Wiccan magical practices.[41]:27

Gerald Gardner was initiated into the O.T.O. by Aleister Crowley and subsequently went on to found the Neopagan religion of Wicca. Various scholars on early Wiccan history, such as Ronald Hutton, Philip Heselton, and Leo Ruickbie concur that witchcraft's early rituals, as devised by Gardner, contained much from Crowley's writings such as the Gnostic Mass. The third degree initiation ceremony in Gardnerian Wicca (including the Great Rite) is derived almost completely from the Gnostic Mass.[42]

Romano-Celtic fusion

Georg Luck, repeats part of Murray's theory, stating that the Horned God may have appeared in late antiquity, stemming from the merging of Cernunnos, an antlered god of the Continental Celts, with the Greco-Roman Pan/Faunus,[34] a combination of gods which he posits created a new deity, around which the remaining pagans, those refusing to convert to Christianity, rallied and that this deity provided the prototype for later Christian conceptions of the devil, and his worshippers were cast by the Church as witches.[34]

Art, fantasy and science fiction

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes - Witches' Sabbath - WGA10007
Francisco de Goya's Witches Sabbat (1789), which depicts the Devil flanked by Satanic witches. The Witch Cult hypothesis states that such stories are based upon a real-life pagan cult that revered a horned god

In 1908's The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, in Chapter 7, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", Ratty and Mole meet a mystical horned being, powerful, fearsome and kind.[32]:85 Grahame's work was a significant part of the cultural milieu which stripped the Greek god Pan of his cultural identity in favor of an unnamed, generic horned deity which led to Murray's thesis of historical origins.

Outside of works that predate the publication of Murray's thesis, horned god motifs and characters appear in fantasy literature that draws upon her work and that of her followers.

In the novel Childhood's End (1953) by Arthur C. Clarke, all humans have a collective premonition, also described as a memory of the future, of horned aliens which arrive to usher in a new phase of human evolution. The collective subconscious image of the horned aliens is what accounts for mankind's image of the devil or Satan. This theme is also explored in the Doctor Who story The Dæmons in 1971, where the local superstitions around a landmark known as The Devil's Hump prove to be based on reality, as aliens from the planet Dæmos have been affecting man's progress over the millennia and the Hump actually contains a spacecraft. The only Dæmon to appear is a classic interpretation of a horned satyr-like being with hooves.

In the critically acclaimed and influential 1950s TV series created by Nigel Kneale, Quatermass and the Pit, depictions of supernatural horned entities, with specific reference to prehistoric cave-art and shamanistic horned head-dress are revealed to be a "race-memory" of psychic Martian grasshoppers, manifested at the climax of the film by a fiery horned god.[43]:244

Murray's theories has been seen to have had influence on The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), where a murderous female-led cult worships a horned deity named Behemoth.[44]:94

Marion Zimmer Bradley, who acknowledges the influence of Murray, uses the figure of the "horned god" in her feminist fantasy transformation of Arthurian myth, Mists of Avalon (1984), and portrays ritualistic incest between King Arthur as the representative of the horned god and his sister Morgaine as the "spring maiden".[45]:106

In the popular video game Morrowind, its expansion Bloodmoon has a plot enemy known as Hircine, the Daedric god of the Hunt, who appears as a horned man with the face of a deer skull. He condemned his "hounds" (werewolves) to walk the mortal ground during the Bloodmoon until a champion defeats him or Bloodmoon falls. When in combat, Hircine appears as a horned wolf or bear.

The 1992 Discworld novel Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett, features a King of the Elves who is strongly reminiscent of the Horned God. Although not worshipped by the witches who are the heroines of the book (indeed, quite the reverse), they temporarily ally themselves with him out of necessity.

See also


  1. ^ Michael D. Bailey Witchcraft Historiography (review) in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft - Volume 3, Number 1, Summer 2008, pp. 81-85
  2. ^ "from the library of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids". Druidry.org. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  3. ^ a b c Farrar, Janet; Farrar, Stewart (1989). The Witches' God: Lord of the Dance. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7090-3319-2.
  4. ^ d'Este, Sorita (2008). Horns of Power. London: Avalonia. ISBN 1-905297-17-3.
  5. ^ Clute, John The Encyclopedia of Fantasy Clute, John; Grant, John (1997). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. Orbit. ISBN 1-85723-368-9.
  6. ^ "Starhawk" in News-Week On-faith Some basic definitions 2006
  7. ^ a b c d Davy, Barbara Jane (2006). Introduction to Pagan Studies. AltaMira Press. ISBN 0-7591-0819-6.
  8. ^ a b Greenwood, Susan (2005). The nature of magic. Berg Publishers. ISBN 1-84520-095-0.
  9. ^ Hanegraaff, Wouter J. (1997). New Age Religion and Western Culture. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-3854-6.
  10. ^ Farrer, Janet; Stewart Farrer (2002). The Witches' bible. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0-7090-7227-9.
  11. ^ Salomonsen, Jone (2001). Enchanted Feminism. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-22393-8.
  12. ^ a b Magliocco, Sabina (2004). Witching Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-3803-6.
  13. ^ Pearson, Joanne (2002). A Popular Dictionary of Paganism. Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-1591-6.
  14. ^ Valiente, Doreen (2007). The Rebirth of Witchcraft. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0-7090-8369-6.
  15. ^ Farrar, Stewart (2010). What Witches Do. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 0-7090-9014-5.
  16. ^ a b c d Hutton, Ronald (1995). The Triumph of the Moon: a History of Modern Pagan Witchcaraft. Oxford Paperbacks. ISBN 0-19-285449-6.
  17. ^ "The Coven of Atho". Thewica.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2015-06-08. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  18. ^ a b Howard, Mike (2001). The Roebuck in the Thicket: An Anthology of the Robert Cochrane Witchcraft Tradition. Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-86163-155-3. Chapter One.
  19. ^ Kalsched, Donald (1996). The Inner World of Trauma. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12329-1.
  20. ^ Sugg, Richard (1994). Jungian Literary Criticism. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0-8101-1042-3.
  21. ^ Rowan, John (1993). Discover your sub-personalities. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-07366-9.
  22. ^ a b Rowan, John (1996). Healing the Male Psyche. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10049-6.
  23. ^ "British Museum headdresses". Trustees of the British Museum. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  24. ^ Gage, Matilda (2008). Woman, Church and State. Forgotten Books. ISBN 1-60620-191-3.
  25. ^ a b c Murray, Margaret (2006). The Witch-cult in Western Europe (1921). Standard Publications. ISBN 1-59462-126-8.
  26. ^ Murray, Margaret (1970). The God of the Witches (1931). OUA USA. ISBN 0-19-501270-4.
  27. ^ Purkiss, Diane (2006). The Witch in History. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08762-7.
  28. ^ Hutton, Ronald (2006). Witches, Druids, and King Arthur. Hambledon Continuum. ISBN 1-85285-555-X.
  29. ^ "Cave Art Cobblers? - Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog". 6 July 2011.
  30. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo. Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath.
  31. ^ "Other historians, like Byloff and Bonomo, have been willing to build upon the useful aspects of Murray's work without adopting its untenable elements, and the independent and careful researches of contemporary scholars have lent aspects of the Murray thesis considerable new strength." — J. B. Russell (1972) Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Cornell University Press. p.37.
  32. ^ a b Clifton, Chas; Harvey, Graham (2004). The Paganism reader. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-30353-2.
  33. ^ Valiente, Doreen, quoted in Clifton, p. 61.
  34. ^ a b c d Luck, Georg (1985). Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Collection of Ancient Texts. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 6–7.
  35. ^ a b Juliette Wood, "The Celtic Tarot and the Secret Traditions: A Study in Modern Legend Making": Folklore, Vol. 109, 1998
  36. ^ Herodotus, Histories ii. 42, 46 and 166.
  37. ^ Herodotus, Histories ii. 46. Plutarch specifically associates Osiris with the "goat at Mendes." De Iside et Osiride, lxxiii.
  38. ^ Budge, Sir Ernest Alfred Wallis (28 July 2018). "The Gods of the Egyptians: Or, Studies in Egyptian Mythology". Methuen & Company – via Google Books.
  39. ^ Hutton, Ronald (1991). The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles. Blackwell. pp. 260–261. ISBN 0-631-17288-2.
  40. ^ Pearson, Joanne; Roberts, Richard H; Samuel, Geoffrey (December 1998). Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 172. ISBN 0-7486-1057-X. OCLC 39533917.
  41. ^ Berger, Helen; Ezzy, Douglas (2007). Teenage Witches: Magical Youth and the Search for the Self. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-4021-6.
  42. ^ "Ecclesia Ordinis Caelestis Templum Olympicus - Thelemic Origins of Wicca". Eocto.org. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  43. ^ White, Eric (1996) Once they were men: Now they're Landcrabs: Monsterous Becomings in Evolutionist Cinema, in Halberstam, J (1996). Posthuman Bodies. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-253-20970-6.
  44. ^ Hunt, Leon (2001) Necromancy in the UK: Witchcraft and the occult in British horror, in Chibnall, Steve; Petley, Julian (2001). British Horror Cinema. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-23004-7.
  45. ^ van Dyke, Annette (1992). The Search for a Woman-centered Spirituality. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-8770-3.

External links

Media related to Horned God at Wikimedia Commons


The Ambiani were a Belgic people of Celtic language, who were said to be able to muster 10,000 armed men, in 57 BC, the year of Julius Caesar's Belgic campaign. They submitted to Caesar. Their country lay in the valley of the Samara (modern Somme); and their chief town Samarobriva, afterwards called Ambiani and Civitas Ambianensium, is supposed to be represented by Amiens. They were among the people who took part in the great insurrection against the Romans, which is described in the seventh book of Caesar's Gallic War.The Ambiani were consummate minters and Ambianic coinage has been found throughout the territories of the Belgic tribes, including the Belgae of Britain. There is some evidence from coins that bear a stag on one side and a betorced head on the obverse that the Ambiani were followers of the god Cernunnos (horned God). A few Ambiani coins have been found along the south coast of the West Country possibly as the result of trade across the English channel .


Banebdjedet (Banebdjed) was an Ancient Egyptian ram god with a cult centre at Mendes. Khnum was the equivalent god in Upper Egypt.


Belatucadros or Belatucadrus, was a deity worshipped in Celtic northern Britain, particularly in Cumberland and Westmorland. In the Roman period he was identified with Mars and appears to have been worshipped by lower-ranked Roman soldiers as well as by Britons. In five inscriptions he is called Mars Belatucadrus. The name is frequently translated as ‘fair shining one’ or ‘fair slayer’.Belatucadros is known from approximately 28 inscriptions in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall. Dedications to Balatocadrus, Balatucadrus, Balaticaurus, Balatucairus, Baliticaurus, Belatucairus, Belatugagus, Belleticaurus, Blatucadrus and Blatucairus are generally accepted as variants of the most common of these forms; Belatucadrus. Altars dedicated to him were usually small, simple and plain, leading to the suggestion that this god was mainly worshipped by people of low social status. His name never appears with a female consort and there is no certain extant representation of him.

Ross suggests that his name, and that of a similar local god, Cocidius, may be epithets for a common general type of Celtic horned god. A horned head was found near the shrine of Belatucadros at Netherby, Cumbria but can not be securely identified with the god.


Cernunnos is the conventional name given in Celtic studies to depictions of the "horned god" of Celtic polytheism. Cernunnos was a Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. The name itself is only attested once, on the 1st-century Pillar of the Boatmen, but he appears all over Gaul, and among the Celtiberians. Cernunnos is depicted with the antlers of a stag, sometimes carries a purse filled with coin, often seated cross-legged and often associated with animals and holding or wearing torcs, are known from over 50 examples in the Gallo-Roman period, mostly in north-eastern Gaul.Not much is known about the god from literary sources, and details about his name, his followers or his significance in Celtic religion are unknown. Speculative interpretations identify him as a god of nature, life or fertility.

Charles Cardell

Charles Cardell (1892–1977) was an English Wiccan who propagated his own tradition of the Craft, which was distinct from that of Gerald Gardner. Cardell's tradition of Wicca venerated a form of the Horned God known as Atho, and worked with a coven that met in the grounds of his estate in Surrey. His tradition of Wicca was continued through Raymond Howard's Coven of Atho. Indeed it was Cardell who coined the term "Wicca", and referred to its followers as "Wiccens".

Cochrane's Craft

Cochrane’s Craft, which is also known as Cochranianism, is a tradition of traditional witchcraft founded in 1951 by the English witch Robert Cochrane, who himself claimed to have been taught it by some of his elderly family members, a claim that is disputed by some historians such as Ronald Hutton and Leo Ruickbie.

Cochranianism revolved around the veneration of the Horned God and the Mother Goddess, alongside seven deities which are viewed as children of the God and Goddess. Cochranian Witchcraft has several features that separate it from other traditions such as Gardnerian Wicca, such as its emphasis on mysticism and philosophy, and Cochrane's attitude that it was not pagan, but only based upon paganism.

Dorset Ooser

The Dorset Ooser () is a wooden head that featured in the 19th-century folk culture of Melbury Osmond, a village in the southwestern English county of Dorset. The head was hollow, thus perhaps serving as a mask, and included a humanoid face with horns, a beard, and a hinged jaw which allowed the mouth to open and close. Although sometimes used to scare people during practical jokes, its main recorded purpose was as part of a local variant of the charivari custom known as "skimity riding" or "rough music", in which it was used to humiliate those who were deemed to have behaved in an immoral manner.

The Dorset Ooser was first brought to public attention in 1891, at which time it was under the ownership of the Cave family of Melbury Osmond's Holt Farm. After travelling with Edward Cave to Somerset, the Ooser went missing around 1897. Since then, various folklorists and historians have debated the origins of the head, which has possible connections to the horned costumes sometimes worn by participants in English Mummers plays. The folklorists Frederick Thomas Elworthy and H. S. L. Dewar believed that the head was a representation of the Devil and thus was designed to intimidate people into behaving according to the local community's moral system. Conversely, the folklorist Margaret Murray suggested that it represented a pre-Christian god of fertility whose worship survived in Dorset into the modern period, although more recent scholarship has been highly sceptical of this interpretation. The etymology of Ooser is also disputed, with various possibilities available.

In 1975 a replica of the original Ooser was produced by John Byfleet, which has since been on display at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester. This mask retains a place in Dorset folk culture, being removed from the museum for use in local Morris dancing processions held by the Wessex Morris Men on both St. George's Day and May Day. The design of the Ooser has also inspired the production of copies which have been used as representations of the Horned God in the modern Pagan religion of Wicca in both the United Kingdom and United States.


Enkomi (Greek: Έγκωμη; Turkish: Tuzla) is a village near Famagusta in Cyprus. It is the site of an important Bronze Age city, possibly the capital of Alasiya. Enkomi is under the de facto control of Northern Cyprus.

In 1974, Enkomi had about 800 Greek Cypriot inhabitants. They all fled to the south of the island after the Turkish invasion, in the aftermath of the July coup. As of 2011, Enkomi has a population of 2,645. It comprises displaced Turkish Cypriots from Larnaca and Turkish settlers from Adana Province and Trabzon Province.


In ancient Roman religion and myth, Faunus [fau̯nʊs] was the horned god of the forest, plains and fields; when he made cattle fertile he was called Inuus. He came to be equated in literature with the Greek god Pan.

Faunus was one of the oldest Roman deities, known as the di indigetes. According to the epic poet Virgil, he was a legendary king of the Latins. His shade was consulted as a goddess of prophecy under the name of Fatuus, with oracles in the sacred grove of Tibur, around the well Albunea, and on the Aventine Hill in ancient Rome itself.Marcus Terentius Varro asserted that the oracular responses were given in Saturnian verse. Faunus revealed the future in dreams and voices that were communicated to those who came to sleep in his precincts, lying on the fleeces of sacrificed lambs. W. Warde Fowler suggested that Faunus is identical with Favonius, one of the Roman wind gods (compare the Anemoi). Faunus is very probably of Indo-European origin, which he shares with the Vedic god Rudra.

Horned deity

Deities depicted with horns or antlers are found in many different religions across the world.

Horned helmet

Horned helmets were worn by many people around the world. Headpieces mounted with animal horns or replicas were also worn, as in the Mesolithic Star Carr. These were probably used for religious ceremonial or ritual purposes. Horns tend to be impractical on a combat helmet. Much of the evidence for these helmets and headpieces comes from depictions rather than the items themselves.

Raymond Howard (Wiccan)

Raymond Howard was an English practitioner of the modern Pagan new religious movement of Wicca. He promoted his tradition, known as the Coven of Atho, through a correspondence course established in the early part of the 1960s.

In the late 1950s, Howard lived in Charlwood, Surrey, where he worked for the psychologist and Wiccan Charles Cardell. After the pair fell out, Howard assisted a journalist from the London Evening News in spying on a nocturnal ritual carried out by Cardell and his coven. In the early 1960s, he established his own correspondence course, the Coven of Atho, through which he provided instruction on his own variant of Wicca, which drew upon that of Cardell and other sources. By the latter part of that decade he was running an antiques shop in Field Dalling, Norfolk, where he stored a wooden carving of the Wiccan Horned God, known as the "Head of Atho". He attracted press attention for the Head, informing both journalists and other Wiccans that it had been passed down to him by pre-existing Witches, although his son later revealed it to be a forgery created by Howard himself. In April 1967 the head was stolen, perhaps by Cardell, and never recovered.


Seax-Wica is a tradition, or denomination, of the neopagan religion of Wicca which is largely inspired by the iconography of the historical Anglo-Saxon paganism, though, unlike Theodism, it is not a reconstruction of the early mediaeval religion itself.The tradition was founded in 1973 by Raymond Buckland, an English-born high priest of Gardnerian Wicca who moved to the United States in the 1970s. His book, The Tree, was written with the intent for it to be a definitive guide to Seax-Wica, and was published in 1974 by Samuel Weiser, and subsequently republished in 2005 as Buckland's Book of Saxon Witchcraft.

The tradition primarily honours four principal deities: Woden, Thunor, Frig or Freya and Tiw. These are seen as representations of the Wiccan deities of the Horned God and the Mother Goddess. The tradition uses a minimal set of ceremonial tools, including a spear. Runes are also significant.

Sláine (comics)

For other characters with the same name, see Sláine.Sláine (Irish pronunciation: [ˈslɑnʲə]) is a comic hero published for the first time in British magazine 2000 AD.

Sláine is a barbarian fantasy adventure series based on Celtic myths and stories which first appeared in 1983, written by Pat Mills and initially drawn by his then wife, Angela Kincaid. Most of the early stories were drawn by Massimo Belardinelli and Mike McMahon. Other notable artists to have worked on the character include Glenn Fabry and Simon Bisley. The current artist is Simon Davis.

Sláine's favourite weapon is an axe called "Brainbiter". He has the power of the "warp spasm", based on the ríastrad or body-distorting battle frenzy of the Irish hero Cú Chulainn, in which earth power "warps" through his body, turning him into a terrifying, monstrously powerful figure. He is a devotee of the earth goddess Danu.


Stregheria (Italian pronunciation: [streɡeˈriːa]) is a form of Witchcraft with Southern European roots but also includes Italian American witchcraft. Stregheria is sometimes referred to as La Vecchia Religione ("the Old Religion"). The word stregheria is an archaic Italian word for "witchcraft", the most used and modern Italian word being stregoneria. "Stregoneria Italiana" is a form of stregoneria that is Catholic-rooted folk magic having little if any relationship to authentic forms of Italian Witchcraft.

Author Raven Grimassi has written on the topic. Grimassi taught what he called the Aridian tradition from 1980.

He mixed elements of Gardnerian Wicca with ideas inspired by Charles G. Leland's Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches (1899). The name "Aradia" is due to Leland, who claimed that Erodiade (the Italian name of Herodias) was the object of a "witch-cult" in medieval Tuscany. Since 1998, Grimassi has been advocating what he calls the Arician tradition, described as an "initiate level" variant of the religion, involving an initiation ceremony.Stregheria has both similarities and differences with Wicca, and in some ways resembles reconstructionist Neopaganism focussed on a specific nation or culture (in this case the folk religion of ancient and medieval Italy).

Stregheria honors a pantheon centered on a Moon Goddess and a Horned God regarded as central, paralleling Wiccan views of divinity.

The Meaning of Witchcraft

The Meaning of Witchcraft is a non-fiction book written by Gerald Gardner. Gardner, known to many in the modern sense as the "Father of Wicca", based the book around his experiences with the religion of Wicca and the New Forest Coven. It was first published in 1959, only after the British Parliament repealed the Witchcraft Act of 1735, and proved to be Gardner's final book. The Wicca religion as expounded by Gardner was focused on a goddess, identified with the night sky and with wild nature, and a horned god who represented the fertilizing powers of the natural world. It was organized into covens, through which members were initiated through three ascending degrees of competence and authority and which were governed by a high priestess, supported by a high priest. More historical context to the pagan practice of Wicca can be found in the book Wicca: History, Belief, and Community in Modern Pagan Witchcraft That book discusses Wiccan life, covering how and why people convert to Wicca; its denominations; its sociological demographics; its political beliefs, particularly in terms of environmentalist issues; the impact of anti-Wiccan persecution; the transmission of Wiccan and Pagan culture; and the history of academic analysis of Wicca.The Meaning of Witchcraft is a sequel to Gardner's previous book on the subject, Witchcraft Today, which was published in 1954. Chapters include: Witch's Memories and Beliefs, The Stone Age Origins of Witchcraft, Druidism and the Aryan Celts, Magic Thinking, Curious Beliefs about Witches, Signs and Symbols, The Black Mass, Some Allegations Examined. When Gardner died in 1964, the copyright for the book was left to the High Priestess of his coven, Monique Wilson.

Gardner wrote the book in order to publicise Wicca, which he believed would die out unless more converts could be attracted. Gardner himself believed that Wicca was the survival of an ancient pagan Witch-cult, a theory originating from historian Margaret Murray which has now largely been discredited by historians like Ronald Hutton and Jeffrey Russell. Margaret Murray's theory maintained that witches were indeed members of an organized cult surviving from pagan times. According to Murray, Christianity remained a thin veneer which cloaked pagan customs down to the sixteenth century. Hutton does say that all the modern branches of Wicca are either based on or influenced by his (Gardner) teachings. It is the only complete religion (as opposed to sect or denomination) which England has ever given the world.


Wicca (English: ), also termed Pagan Witchcraft, is a contemporary Pagan new religious movement. It was developed in England during the first half of the 20th century and was introduced to the public in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant. Wicca draws upon a diverse set of ancient pagan and 20th-century hermetic motifs for its theological structure and ritual practices.

Wicca has no central authority figure. Its traditional core beliefs, principles and practices were originally outlined in the 1940s and 1950s by Gardner and Doreen Valiente, both in published books as well as in secret written and oral teachings passed along to their initiates. There are many variations on the core structure, and the religion grows and evolves over time. It is divided into a number of diverse lineages, sects and denominations, referred to as traditions, each with its own organisational structure and level of centralisation. Due to its decentralized nature, there is some disagreement over what actually constitutes Wicca. Some traditions, collectively referred to as British Traditional Wicca, strictly follow the initiatory lineage of Gardner and consider the term Wicca to apply only to similar traditions, but not to newer, eclectic traditions.

Wicca is typically duotheistic, worshipping a Goddess and a God. These are traditionally viewed as the Moon Goddess and the Horned God, respectively. These deities may be regarded in a henotheistic way, as having many different divine aspects which can in turn be identified with many diverse pagan deities from different historical pantheons. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as the "Great Goddess" and the "Great Horned God", with the adjective "great" connoting a deity that contains many other deities within their own nature. These two deities are sometimes viewed as facets of a greater pantheistic divinity, which is regarded as an impersonal force or process rather than a personal deity. While duotheism or bitheism is traditional in Wicca, broader Wiccan beliefs range from polytheism to pantheism or monism, even to Goddess monotheism.

Wiccan celebrations encompass both the cycles of the Moon, known as Esbats and commonly associated with the Goddess (female deity), and the cycles of the Sun, seasonally based festivals known as Sabbats and commonly associated with the Horned God (male deity). An unattributed statement known as the Wiccan Rede is a popular expression of Wiccan morality, although it is not universally accepted by Wiccans. Wicca often involves the ritual practice of magic, though it is not always necessary.

Wiccan views of divinity

Wiccan views of divinity are generally theistic, and revolve around a Goddess and a Horned God, thereby being generally dualistic. In traditional Wicca, as expressed in the writings of Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, the emphasis is on the theme of divine gender polarity, and the God and Goddess are regarded as equal and opposite divine cosmic forces. In some newer forms of Wicca, such as feminist or Dianic Wicca, the Goddess is given primacy or even exclusivity. In some forms of Traditional Witchcraft that share a similar duotheistic theology, the Horned God is given precedence over the Goddess.Some Wiccans are polytheists, believing in many different deities taken from various Pagan pantheons, while others would believe that, in the words of Dion Fortune, "all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and all the Gods one God". Some Wiccans are both duotheistic and polytheistic, in that they honor diverse pagan deities while reserving their worship for the Wiccan Goddess and Horned God, whom they regard as the supreme deities. (This approach is not dissimilar to ancient pagan pantheons where one divine couple, a god and goddess, were seen as the supreme deities of an entire pantheon.) Some see divinity as having a real, external existence; others see the Goddesses and Gods as archetypes or thoughtforms within the collective consciousness.

According to several 20th century witches, most notably Gerald Gardner, the "father of Wicca", the witches' God and Goddess are the ancient gods of the British Isles: a Horned God of hunting, death and magic who rules over an after-world paradise (often referred to as the Summerland), and a goddess, the Great Mother (who is simultaneously the Eternal Virgin and the Primordial Enchantress), who gives regeneration and rebirth to souls of the dead and love to the living. The Goddess is especially connected to the Moon and stars and the sea, while the Horned God is connected to the Sun and the forests. Gardner explains that these are the tribal gods of the witches, just as the Egyptians had their tribal gods Isis and Osiris and the Jews had Elohim; he also states that a being higher than any of these tribal gods is recognised by the witches as Prime Mover, but remains unknowable, and is of little concern to them.The Goddess is often seen as having a triple aspect; that of the maiden, mother and crone. The God is traditionally seen as being the Horned God of the woods. A key belief in Wicca is that the gods are able to manifest in personal form, either through dreams, as physical manifestations, or through the bodies of Priestesses and Priests.

Gardnerian Wicca as a denomination is primarily concerned with the priestess or priest's relationship to the Goddess and God. The Lady and Lord (as they are often called) are seen as primal cosmic beings, the source of limitless power, yet they are also familiar figures who comfort and nurture their children, and often challenge or even reprimand them.

Witchcraft Today

Witchcraft Today is a non-fiction book written by Gerald Gardner. Published in 1954, Witchcraft Today recounts Gardner's thoughts on the history and the practices of the witch-cult, and his claim to have met practising Witches in 1930s England. It also deals with his theory that the Knights Templar had practised the religion, and that the belief in faeries in ancient, mediaeval and early modern Europe is due to a secretive pygmy race that lived alongside other communities. Witchcraft Today is one of the foundational texts for the religion of Wicca, along with Gardner's second book on the subject, 1959's The Meaning of Witchcraft.

Gerald Gardner in the Foreword to Witchcraft Today:I have been told by witches in England: "Write and tell people we are not perverts. We are decent people, we only want to be left alone, but there are certain secrets that you mustn't give away." So after some arguments as to exactly what I must not reveal, I am permitted to tell much that has never before been made public concerning their beliefs, their rituals and their reasons for what they do; also to emphasize that neither their present beliefs, rituals nor practices are harmful.

Whilst by the time of writing, Gardner had been initiated into the religion, and had formed his own coven, he did not state this in the book, instead he "posed as a disinterested anthropologist". The introduction to the book was written by Margaret Murray, who had widely supported the witch-cult hypothesis in the 1920s and 1930s through her books The Witch-Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches. In her introduction, she stated that:

Dr Gardner has shown in his book how much of the so-called "witchcraft" is descended from ancient rituals, and has nothing to do with spell-casting and other evil practices, but is the sincere expression of that feeling towards God which is expressed, perhaps more decorously though not more sincerely, by modern Christianity in church services."

In the book Gardner also repeats the claim, which had originated with Matilda Joslyn Gage, that 9 million victims were killed in the European witch-hunts." Current scholarly estimates of the number of people executed for witchcraft during this time period vary between about 40,000 and 100,000.

The book contains seven photographs; one depicting the author, another a magician's circle at the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft, a memorial to those killed in the witch hunts, two further images of rooms in the museum, a statue of a horned god, and a painting of a male witch."

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