Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cernunnos. The Horned God. Hu Gadarn.

Cernunnos. Known to the Druids as Hu Gadarn. God of the underworld and astral planes.

"The Horned One" is a Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. Cernunnos is depicted with the antlers of a stag, he sometimes carries a purse filled with coin. The Horned God is born at the winter solstice, marries the goddess at Beltane, and dies at the summer solstice. He alternates with the goddess of the moon in ruling over life and death, continuing the cycle of death, rebirth and reincarnation. Paleolithic cave paintings found in France that depict a stag standing upright on hind legs with the upper body of a man, or a man dressed in stag costume. He seems to be celebrating a hunt and wooing a woman.

To the Celts, Cernunnos the Horned God was more than just a fertile being. He is found throughout the Celtic lands and folklore as the guardian of the portal leading to the Otherworld. His symbols are antlers, the torc (female symbol) and a ram headed snake (male symbol). While many today think of Cernunnos as THE Horned God that may in fact be a misnomer, as it is doubtful that long ago there was ever a group of people who referred to him by this specific name.

To most Neopagans Cernunnos is the God who stands at the gateway of life and death and alternates with the Goddess in ruling over life and death. Seen as the God of fertility, life, animal’s wealth and the Underworld he is continually born, and dies returning year after year.

He would in later years be turned, in part, into the Christian Satan (the devil), a character who at no point in the bible is ever described as having horns.

Cernunnos is a member of the Tuatha de Danaan, his exact location in the family tree of the Celtic gods, however, is a matter of debate.

Cernunnos was worshipped as a forest deity, but he was also a psychopompus (a guider of souls/spirits) who escorted the dead to the afterlife. Cernunnos was of such importance to the Celts that they tried to establish him as a national god rather than a local one and regulate the fragmented Celtic deities into a true pantheon. The Romans occupying Britain placed his image on coins.

He is depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron, one of the most celebrated works of early Celtic religious art which was uncovered in a peat bog near the village of Gundestrup, Denmark in 1880, and is now housed in in the museum at Århus. Made of 96 per cent pure silver and originally gilded, the vessel stands 14 in. high, is 25.5 in. in diameter, will hold 28.5 gallons, and weighs nearly 20 pound the cauldron comprises thirteen parts: a plain base plate, and five inner and seven outer plates decorated with mythological scenes.

While the origin and date of the cauldron are still unsettled, commentators generally agree that it was carried, possibly by Teutonic looters, to Gundestrup from a distant place. It may have been transported from Gaul, but stylistic details on the vessel suggest it may have been manufactured as far away as the Balkans, in Thrace or what is now Romania. Many elements depicted, such as torcs, snakes with ram heads, or the boar-headed war trumpet known as the carnyx, are certainly Celtic; other details and motifs are so exotic as not to seem European.

The plates depict gods, conventionally seen as larger than humans, ordinary mortals, and animals. The seated horned god is now commonly accepted as an illustration of Cernunnos. A tall divine figure holding a man over a vat of water is thought to be Teutates accepting human sacrifice.

A female divinity flanked by wheels, as if riding in a cart, has been compared with the Irish Medb. The mortals include a troop of infantry in close-knit short trousers and a company of cavalry with a sacred tree. Three sword-bearing warriors are about to execute three huge bulls.

Although much studied and, more recently, photographed and reproduced, the Gundestrup Cauldron remains enigmatic to many commentators. The most controversial of them, Garrett S. Olmsted, has asserted that the scenes on the plates anticipate the action of the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge [Cattle Raid of Cooley].

Information about the Gundestrup Cauldron courtesy of:

JAMES MacKILLOP. "Gundestrup Cauldron." A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. 2004. 13 Oct. 2010


  1. Hello, The Horned God is the same as God Shiva.

    There is a Story that he transformed into a deer to protect the animals of the forests and that form was known as Pashupatinath.

    Even in Indus/Saraswati Valley Civilization there are images of the Horned God and Swastika.

    This article has artifacts that Druids had Swastika, and used to do Yoga - as the posture is "Padmaasan" in Yoga.

    Hence Celts, Druids, wiccans have their original home in India and originated from the Ancient Vedic Civilization.

    We are the same people, even if our skin color is different.

  2. I have made a permanent post regarding the true origins of the Celts and the meaning of their symbology.

    Origins of the Celts

  3. Hi Druv. Sorry I have only just read your comments concerning our joint origins. Yes it has long been known that both the Irish Celts and the Indian race have the same origin and even our language has the same root. Something we have long been proud of. Colour makes no difference for we are brothers/sisters. I think your permanent post is an extremely interesting idea. Keep in touch and I hope you find my blog of interest. Keep smiling. SilentOwl.

  4. The devil for sure! No doubt

    1. Hi Mick,

      Within the pagan culture Cernunnos is a god of nature whereas the devil is part of the Christian tradition. We don't recognise the 'devil' nor do we have a fear of hell (another Christian invention). However, each to their own.


  5. The worshippers of Shiva are ghouls they eat dead bodies! It's part of there ritual and also they smoke huge amounts of cannabis by the tonne. what I have read don't how true it is.

    1. Hi Mick,

      The folklore of the Indian culture is very similar in many ways to the Celts. Even our language derives from a common Indo-European root. Many of our stories mirror each other. The druids of old used certain plants to enhance ritual experience such as the berries of the Rowan (our most scared tree. I have no doubt that every culture would use mind drugs to help them in their communication with the otherworld and some still do. I wouldn't believe everything you read. By the way our ancestors were both head hunters and cannibalistic in certain circumstances and the Christian church still celebrates its mass with the symbolic consuming of the 'body and blood' of Christ.

  6. Hiiii.
    I keep seeing Cerennos everywhere and I'm a beginner pagan still finding her gods. I am considering praying to Brighid and Cerennos so far.
    But I'm wondering if Cerennos is the devil? WhT im understanding is that the Christians, yet again, stole his identity for the devil. But I'm still confused whether or not he is evil. Doesn't sound like it. And interesting enough, my birthday is on Beltane (May 01) !!!
    Thanks x

    1. Seren -

      Evil is a christian/jewish/muslim construct invented to suppress the masses and threaten the people of earth to fear everything that is not from 'god' or 'jesus' or 'mohammad' or 'allah' - Yet, both 'jesus' and 'satan' are described as light-bearers - Lucifer. Turned by the christians into "The Devil" .. This is a holdover from earlier pre-christian Earth-spirituality teachings of druids and shamans that never got expunged from the christian/muslim pagan cult created to replace it ..

      Within our pre-christian Earth and Star-based spirituality - a belief system that existed globally with an almost identical shared-knowledge of belief across Europe, Britannia, America and Asia - there is only opposites - birth and death, dark and light, cold and warm, male and female, this life and the next life or this life and the past life, the life above and the life below .. but none of them are 'evil' and none of them are 'the devil' .. hell is not evil .. satan is not evil - the devil does not "control" anyone - unless you allow him/her to control you .. you are completely free to refuse whatever you consider 'satanic' or 'evil' and to leave that 'dark underworld' and move to a 'heavenly' world that you see as 'light' .. but the 'underworld' and 'satan' and 'darkness' is just another life, a different way of living, a different way of experiencing and learning what is the right path and the wrong path of living and reaching 'nirvana' and 'peace' .. and knowledge and eternity - each human and each animal must make that journey on their own, with the help of those things around them - humans, animals, plants, rocks, trees, wind, water, stars - that teach them and show them the right way of living, in order to maintain Nature's balance for the next 7 generations .. the industrial revolution did not start 140 years ago - but the DESTRUCTIVE nature of the industrial revolution did - the explosion of manifest destiny, the slaughter of the Native American way of life [the EXACT same way of life that the Celts and Druids lived until a thousand years ago], the exponential growth of fossil fuel and petro-chemical technology after WW1 that is poisoning our air and water and destroying our trees and our oceans and our wildlife - you cannot experience the light of new knowledge unless you have experienced the darkness of damaging knowledge .. you cannot experience an act of 'goodness' unless you have first experienced an act of 'evil' .. all things must be in balance and all things must have an opposite and all things must return to balance .. the destruction of flesh leads to the re-growth of plant-life, the destruction of plant-life leads to the re-birth of the flesh .. air dries water and dehydrates the lakebed - but the water does not disappear. It is taken up into the air and it hydrates the air and it makes the air wet - until the air becomes 'fat' and can no longer breathe - and then the air dumps the water back into the lakebed .. it is how all forces of Nature work .. One Force of Nature rebelling against another Force of Nature. Or in our case, Nature rebelling against the damage Humanity [an indivisible part of Nature] does to Nature, whether that damage is seen, by Humanity, as either "evil" or "good" does not matter .. and Nature restoring Balance to Humanity, by Force if necessary: Dark for Light and Light for Dark - This is the meaning of "god living in the trees" or 'Our Ancient Ancestors speaking to us in the Wind" or "A Vision Quest as seen through the Eyes of an Eagle, or a Wolf" ~ It is not 'evil'. It is a restoration of balance to the Opposing Forces Of Nature - Nature getting pissed and telling us STOP! ~ This is Cernunnos ..

  7. Hi Hiiii.
    Within the pagan culture Cernunnos is a god of nature whereas the devil is part of the Christian tradition. We don't recognise the 'devil' nor do we have a fear of hell (another Christian invention). We do not fear him nor should you. Both Brighid and Cernunnos are associated with nature and fertility and have a strong association with Bealtaine so you may feel drawn to them because of your time of birth. Happy Birthday as it isn't far away.