the Horned One
Cernunnos is the Horned God. The Master of the Hunt. The Lord of the animals, Herne the Hunter, Pan, Lugh, and the Indian form Pashupati. He is the Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. He was worshipped in Gaul and spread throughout Europe, settling in Britain.
The Stag Lord, as He is also called, can be traced back to Paleolithic times. The first carvings were found on the walls of a cave in northern Italy in Val Camonica at about 400 BC. There were also other cave drawings found in Caverne des Trois Freres at Ariege, France. The most notable work containing Cernunnos is the Gundestrap Cauldron. The cauldron itself was unearthed in 1891 in Northern Jutland, Denmark. It was made of fourteen panels (one is still missing) and beaten from silver. The Horned God is depicted with several different kinds of animals, including the faithful stag and serpent, and oddly enough, a boy on a fish.
In Gaul, He was depicted having three heads. As the worship of Him spread throughout Europe, He was seen with stag antlers, seven points on each side. He carries a snake with ram horns in His left hand, (a creature that represents knowledge) and a torc in His right hand (a celtic neck ring, which is a symbol for nobility). He is always shown with a stag, which has seven tines as well.
The primary job for Cernunnos is to purify, through selection or sacrifice, so that the powers of growth and fertility do not stagnate. An ideal representation of this is He, Himself being born on the winter solstice, marrying the Goddess at Beltane, and dying at the summer solstice. This also helps to represent the balance of power shared with the moon goddess within the wheel of the year.
Unlike Brighid and Anu, Cernunnos was not adopted into Christianity as a saint, but as the anti-christ. it was very easy to transform the Horned One of the Underworld into the devil. First, with His outward appearance, the horns, and second, His area of responsibility, Lord of the Underworld.
Cernunnos is worshipped in rites personified by the High Priest, just as the Goddess is personified by the High Priestess. The High Priest sometimes wears an antlered headdress or a horned helmet.
It is believed that the Horned God represents sexuality, vitality, the hunt, logic, and power. He does not exploit His attributes, nor does He allow His attributes to be exploited. He is considered to be gentle, tender, and compassionate in a masculine manner.
He is the eternal hunter, and yet He is also the animal which is hunted.
He is seen as the sun, forever hunting the moon across the sky. The waxing and waning of the sun throughout the seasons manifest the cycles of birth & death, creation & destruction, and separation & return.
Cernunnos is Lord of the Underworld, the One who escorts the souls to and from this life, He is our guide, our strength, our protection.