herne-the-hunter

You are the man in the trees, 
the green man of the woods,
who brings life to the dawning spring.
You are the deer in rut,
mighty Horned One,
who roams the autumn woods,
the hunter circling round the oak,
the antlers of the wild stag, 
and the lifeblood that spills upon 
the ground each season.

Mythological Gentlemen: Cernunnos

"In the center of the storm, there is calm.
In the center of confusion, there is peace.
In the center of exhaustion, there is rest.
Cernunnos, sitting in the midst of the world,
lead me to the center
and grant me the calm and peace and rest that is
found there.”

- Ceisiwr Serith
A Book of Pagan Prayer
http://amzn.to/157Ypzd

Image Credit: vityso @ DeviantArt

herne the hunter

OTGW HEADCANON:

Okay, I may be wrong here, but that’s why it’s called a headcanon.

The Beast looked so familiar to me when we first caught a glimpse of his shape that it’s been literally eating away at me. The more I watched the more it ate at me that I’d seen some creature somewhere similar to him. I just couldn’t figure it out though so I pushed it to the back of my mind.

Now over the last week I re-watched OTGW. It’s finals week so I’ve been watching while studying for my classes in between episodes. And it was during one of these little study sessions that I realized why I kept thinking I recognized The Beast was because of the way he hides among the trees

I’m a folklore minor and during a folk story class this semester we were encouraged to look into folk stories and creatures that weren’t in the class material, that way we could write about something we’d found in our journals that we could look into more for ourselves. I was skimming through my journal when I found a list of English folktales and creatures I had made during the semester (I chose English and Japanese folk creatures cause so many students in my class were looking into American folklore that it wouldn’t have been interesting to me)

That is where I finally remembered the folk creature/being Herne the Hunter. (below art is by George Cruikshank, c.1843)

Herne the Hunter is mostly associated as a ghost, sometimes a keeper of Windsor forest in England, who is, according to Shakespeare, seen to “walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns” at midnight during winter-time.

Winter time anyone? WINTER! (kay I’m done sorry)

Shakespeare wrote

Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest, Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight, Walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns; And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle, And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain In a most hideous and dreadful manner. You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know The superstitious idle-headed eld Receiv’d, and did deliver to our age, This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.

— William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor

He appears antlered, sometimes beneath the tree on which he was hanged, known as “Herne’s Oak”, but more often riding his horse.

Herne is interesting to me because not only is he an anomaly of sorts, as in despite a lot of speculation not many wrote of him, Herne has also been considered a deity at times, as well as a ghost. Some accounts by Shakespeare and Samuel Ireland identify Herne as a once living person, but this can be speculated.

I honestly like the idea of a spirit who is seen in winter. That’s what initially brought me back to Herne when I was thinking about the Beast. But what really brought me to think of Herne the Hunter as the same being that is the Beast was a little passage I had copied into my journal:

Many versions of the Herne legend exist. Some say that Herne hanged himself after committing a terrible crime, whilst another tells of a forest demon that takes on his appearance. The demon is said to place stag horns on its head haunting the forest still trying to convince keepers that it is Herne and that they should sell their souls to him.

- The Legend of Herne the Hunter

Yes, you read that right. A forest demon taking on the appearance of a man, trying to convince people to sell their souls to him. Sound familiar?

I mean, they even look similar. But yeah, these are just my observations. I like to entertain the thought of the demon because hot damn, the beast would do anything to keep his soul lit.

Here’s a few more old drawings to tickle your fancy:

by George Cruikshank

last is by Andrew L. Paciorek with the caption:

Herne the Hunter may be seen at night throughout Windsor Park in Berkshire, hunting or simply standing watching, armed with a bow and a quill full of invisible yet devastating arrows that could instantly still a man’s beating heart. As Herne coursed by night, the mournful blast of his hunting-horn has been said to wither foliage, kill livestock and even cause distant cows’ milk to run with blood. At times he may be seen to travel on horseback, accompanied by a pack of hounds and sometimes also by a screech owl. Part man, part stag, some think that Herne is a manifestation of the ancient fertility Horned God whilst others say that he is the conjoined suicide-ghost of a hunter and his prey and may even be an omen of death and disaster.

There, I’m done. Enjoy your information.

"The image of the Horned God in Witchcraft is radically different from any other image of masculinity in our culture. He is difficult to understand, because He does not fit into any of the expected stereotypes, neither those of the "macho" male nor the reverse-images of those who deliberately seek effeminacy. He is gentle, tender, and comforting, but He is also the Hunter. He is the Dying God-but his death is always in the service of the life force. He is untamed sexuality-but sexuality as a deep, holy, connecting power. He is the power of feeling, and the image of what men could be if they were liberated from the constraints of patriarchal culture.

The image of the Horned God was deliberately perverted by the medieval Church into the image of the Christian Devil. Witches do not believe in or worship the Devil-they consider it a concept peculiar to Christianity. The God of the Witches is sexual-but sexuality is seen as sacred, not as obscene or blasphemous.

[…]

The Horned God represents powerful, positive male qualities that derive from deeper sources than the stereotypes and the violence and emotional crippling of men in our society. If man had been created in the Horned God’s image, he would be free to be wild without being cruel, angry without being violent, sexual without being coercive, spiritual without being unsexed, and able to truly love. The mermaids, who are the Goddess, would sing to him.

The Goddess is the Encircler, the Ground of Being; the God is That-Which-Is-Brought-Forth, her mirror image, her other pole. She is the earth; He is the grain. She is the all-encompassing sky; He is the sun, her fireball. She is the Wheel; He is the Traveler. His is the sacrifice of life to death that life may go on. She is Mother and Destroyer; He is all that is born and is destroyed.

For men, the God is the image of inner power and of a potency that is more than merely sexual. He is the undivided Self, in which mind is not split from body, nor spirit from flesh. United, both can function at the peak of creative and emotional power.

In our culture, men are taught that masculinity demands a lack of feeling. They are conditioned to function in a military mode; to cut off their emotions and ignore the messages of their bodies; to deny physical discomfort, pain, and fear, in order to fight and conquer most efficiently. This holds true whether the field of conquest is the battlefield, the bedroom, or the business office.

It has become something of a cliche to say that men have been trained to be aggressive and dominant and women have been taught to be passive and submissive, that men are allowed to be angry and women are not. In patriarchal culture, both women and men learn to function within a hierarchy, in which those at the top dominate those below. One aspect of that dominance is the privilege of expressing anger. The general chews out the sergeant; the private cannot. The boss is free to blow his stack, but not his assistant. The boss’s wife yells at her maid, not vice versa. Because women have usually been at the bottom of hierarchies, from the business world to the traditional family, they have borne the brunt of a great deal of male anger, and been the ultimate victims of violence. Anger can be seen as a response to an attack; very few men are in positions where they can afford to directly confront their attackers.

Men’s anger, then, becomes twisted and perverted. It is threatening to recognize the true source of his rage, because he would then be forced to recognize the helplessness, powerlessness, and humiliation of his position. Instead, he may turn his anger on safer targets-women, children, or still less powerful men. Or his anger may turn to self-destruction: disease, depression, alcoholism, or any of a smorgasbord of readily available addictions.

Patriarchy literally means “rule of the fathers,” but in a patriarchy, very few men are allowed to enact the role of “father” outside the limited family sphere. The structure of hierarchical institutions is pyramidal: One man at the top controls many below. Men compete for money and power over others; the majority, who do not reach the top of the chain of command, are forced to remain immature, enacting the roles of either dutiful or rebel sons. The good sons eternally seek to please the father by obedience; the bad sons seek to overthrow him and take his place. Either way, they are cut off from their own true desires and feelings.

And so our religions reflect a cosmos in which Father God exhorts his “children” to obey the rules and do what they are told, lest they align them-selves with the Great Rebel. Our psychology is one of war between sons and fathers who eternally vie for exclusive possession of the mother, who, like all women under patriarchy, is the ultimate prize for success. And progressive politics are reduced to alignments of rebel sons, who overthrow the father only to institute their own hierarchies.

The Horned God, however, is born of a Virgin mother. He is a model of male power that is free from father-son rivalry or oedipal conflicts. He has no father; He is his own father and as He grows and passes through his changes on the Wheel, He remains in relationship to the prime nurturing force. His power is drawn directly from the Goddess: He participates in Her.

The God embodies the power of feeling. His animal horns represent the truth of undisguised emotion, which seeks to please no masters. He is untamed. But untamed feelings are very different from enacted violence. The God is the life force, the life cycle. He remains within the orbit of the Goddess; his power is always directed toward the service of life.

The God of the Witches is the God of love. This love includes sexuality, which is also wild and untamed as well as gentle and tender. His sexuality is fully felt, in a context in which sexual desire is sacred, not only because it is the means by which life is procreated but also because it is the means by which our own lives are most deeply and ecstatically realized. In Witchcraft, sex is a sacrament, an outward sign of an inward grace. That grace is the deep connection and recognition of the wholeness of another person. In its essence, it is not limited to the physical act-it is an exchange of energy, of subtle nourishment, between people. Through connection with another, we connect with all.”

― Starhawk
The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess
http://amzn.to/1u4b7q4

Image Credit: Amdhuscias @ Deviantart

"Stags appear in very old myths and legends, particularly in northern Europe. Among them the White Stag is of particular mystical meaning and symbolism associated with the Otherworld and the Faery Realm of pre-Christian lore. Its appearance is often a sign that entry to or from such realms is at hand. The stag itself featured prominently in ancient cultures and is currently linked to modern traditions of Paganism and Witchcraft."

- Raven Grimassi
Horns of Honor: Regaining the Spirit of the Pagan Horned God
http://amzn.to/1FfVEXm

Image Credit: Ruth Sanderson

Recommended Reading: The Horned God & Greenman

The Book of Baphomet- Julian Vayne

The Call of the Horned Piper - Nigel Aldcroft Jackson

Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy - Vikki Bramshaw

Earth God Rising: The Return of the Male Mysteries - Alan Richardson

Ecstatic: For Dionysos - H. Jeremiah Lewis

The Goat Foot God - Dion Fortune

The Goat Foot God - Author Diotima

The God of the Witches - Margaret Murray

The Green Man - Kathleen Basford

The Green Man: Spirit of Nature - John Matthews

The Green Man : Tales from the Mythic Forest - Ellen Datlow

Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth - William Anderso

The Horned God: Feminism and Men as Wounding and Healing - John Rowan

The Horned God of Wytches - Zan Fraser

Horns of Honor: Regaining the Spirit of the Pagan Horned God - Fredrick Thomas Elworthy

Horns of Power: Manifestations of the Horned God - Sorita d’Este

Masks of Misrule: The Horned God & His Cult in Europe - Nigel Jackson

Out of Arcadia: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Pan - Diotima Sophia

The Spirit of The Green Man - Mary Neasham

Walking With the Green Man - Bob Curan

The Way of The Horned God: A Young Man’s Guide to Modern Paganism - Dancing Rabbit

The Witches’ God - Stewart Farrar


Image Credit: Ian Daniels


Click Here For More Recommended Reading Lists


There is an old tale goes that Herne the hunter,
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns;
And there he blasts the tree and takes the cattle
And makes milch-kine yield blood and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner:
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Received and did deliver to our age
This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.
—  The Merry Wives of Windsor  Act 4, Scene 4

"Kriya yoga for example, introduced to the United States in the 1950s by Paramahansa Yogananda, is an excellent meditation method. Kriya yoga seeks to "decarbonize" human blood and infuse it instead with greater amounts of oxygen. Oxygen transforms the cells of the body to higher levels of energy and light. By oxygenating the body, one awakens the energetic and spiritual centers - the brain and the spinal chord - to a higher and more delicate spiritual vibration. When the body attains a more delicate and higher level of energy vibration, it comes into attunement with the frequency of creation. At this divine frequency (the word of God or Om), a human being can evolve spiritually at a higher pace than one might without the help of meditation.

While we have come to think of meditation as an Eastern practice, meditation may have been practiced by the ancient Celts. The Celtic god of wild things, Cernunnos, is frequently depicted in a cross-legged meditation position as shown here on the Gundestrup cauldron dating to the first-century BCE.”

- Catriona MacGregor
Partnering with Nature: The Wild Path to Reconnecting with the Earth
http://amzn.to/1vBXvqf

Image Credit: The Gundestrup Cauldron