Patheos Pagan Posts: Horned Gods, New Religions, Your Worst Nightmare, and More!

Happy Monday! It’s a bit of a slow news day, must be a festival-season thing, so let’s check out some of the great content available here at the Patheos Pagan portal.

Herne the Hunter. Illustration by Alan E. Cober (1973).

Herne the Hunter. Illustration by Alan E. Cober (1973).

  • At his new Patheos blog Raise the Horns, Jason Mankey wonders how the Celtic god Cernunnos became the dominant Horned God figure within modern Wicca and related Pagan faiths, when it was Pan who enjoyed tremendous popularity in the poetic and artistic fore-bearers to Wicca. Quote: “However, while Pan is the proto-type for our modern image of the Horned God, another god, the Celtic Cernunnos, has superseded him. If you look at most modern images of the Horned God, he tends to look far more Cernunnosy than Pan-like. It’s more likely the Horned God will be sporting antlers than goat horns. His face tends to be more “man-like” and less goat influenced, and he usually has human legs instead of goaty ones.” Check out the responses, they’re top-notch! [For the record, I'm team Herne the Hunter.]
  • Sarah Whedon, founding editor of the Pagan Families site, who recently released a new ebook through Patheos Press entitled “Birth on the Labyrinth Path: Sacred Embodiment in the Childbearing Year,” shares why she wrote the book. Quote: “I was nevertheless newly saddened when, during my pregnancy with my first child, I searched and searched for a book that would offer Pagan guidance on this huge life transition, and found nothing. My bookshelves reveal my hopeless bibliophilia. I had books about fertility awareness, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, the postpartum period, and midwifery. A few of them are especially Pagan friendly, but none of them is really Pagan.”
  • Patheos columnist P. Sufenas Virius Lupus lets you know that he’s your worst nightmare! Quote: “As someone who is a “full-blown Pagan” in every respect—not godless by any stretch of the imagination, but “gods-ful” to an extent most monotheists couldn’t even fathom—as well as having a practice based in devotion to Antinous, a god who received a great deal of censure from the early Christian fathers not only because it was “idolatrous” in their opinion but because he was a deified mortal who was once the lover of the Emperor Hadrian, and as someone who is a “full-blown queer” as well in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity, I look at myself in the mirror and I realize that even at my lowest, I epitomize the fears of many of these people who use such scare-tactics to suggest that legal approval of same-sex marriage is wrong.”
  • Meanwhile, fellow Patheos columnist Gus diZerega provides a different candidate for worst nightmare: The New Apostolic Reformation. Quote: “Christian dominionists seeking to impose theocratic rule on others are powerful beyond their numbers, and Pagans should keep a sharp eye on them. Their power comes from two factors:  First, they manipulate our system to influence high levels of government.  Second, and more importantly, they take advantage of a flaw that I hope will not be fatal to how American elections are conducted.” I’ve written a ton about these guys, and they are indeed pretty scary.
  • At his Including Paganism blog, Aidan Kelly reminds us that all religions start out as new religions. Quote: “All religions have at least one foundational myth as well as an actual history. The myth is not historically true, but instead transmits some of the spiritual values on which the religion is based. The history is true in fact, but, as history, cannot convey values.” Kelly’s recent post on why Wicca is a major world religion is also worth checking out.

There’s obviously much, much, more to be found here, but I’ll leave you with those selections. For even more Pagan blogging goodness, check out recent posts from the Pagan Newswire Collective blogs, and the PaganSquare blogs at the Witches & Pagans site (now with added Byron Ballard and Hecate Demeter). Have a great day!

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • Kate

    Many of these look interesting, but it would also be great to hear more about pagan blogs outside of Patheos and PNC, which seem to be more heavily featured here than anything else (especially since TWH moved to Patheos). There are so many great blogs and books being written in the various pagan communities, lets have some introductions to something new! 

    • http://www.witchesandpagans.com/ Anne Newkirk Niven

      Kate:  Please check out our burgeoning blogosphere at WitchesandPagans.com (look for PaganSquare). We have 9 bloggers now and will likely have 13 by the end of the week.

  • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

    “Happy Monday! It’s a bit of a slow news day”
    Actually Monday was quite newsworthy on the Unitarian Universalist front.

    Stikeman Elliott barrister*solicitor Maitre Marc-André Coulombe failed to respond appropriately to this “electronic communication” that I sent him last Freya’s Day -FROM: robinedgar59@yahoo.caTO: macoulombe@stikeman.comCC: president@uua.org, administration@uua.org, kmontgomery@uua.org  BCC: board@uua.orgFriday, June 15, 2012 8:23:53 AMFriday aka Freya’s Day aka Frigg Day June 15, 2012Without PrejudiceDear Maitre Coulombe,It is now the better part of a full work week since I sent you the email (or what some U*Us would call an “electronic communication”) copied immediately below and dated Monday June 11, 2012, 11:00:25 AM. You have so far neglected, or indeed refused. . . to respond to it in any manner whatsoever. If you and/or your clientthe Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations find yourselves unready, unwilling, or indeed just plain unable. . . to provide some credible evidence supporting the Association’s rather questionable aka “less than credible” accusation to the effect that I am guilty of making “unfounded and vicious allegations to the effect that ministers of the Association engage in such despicable crimes aspedophilia and rape”, and/or that such allegedly “unfounded and vicious allegations” made against “less than perfect” Unitarian Universalist ministers are actually defamatory to the extent that they constitute the criminal act of blasphemous libel (Criminal Code R.S.C. 1985, c. C.46.1), I hereby demand that you and your client must formally and rapidly withdraw these accusations against me, and officially, adequately, and publicly apologize to me for bringing such deeply insulting and AFA*I*AC quite defamatory accusations against me. In fact, you can inform your client that I am hereby formally demanding that an official UUA apology for bringing this highly questionable accusation against me must be delivered publicly in front of a few thousand UUA delegates by UUA President Rev. Dr. Peter Morales and/or UUA Executive Vice President Kathleen “‘Kay” Montgomery during the UUA’s so-called “Justice GA” in Phoenix AZnext week if you fail to provide credible evidence that substantiates what UUA internet moderators might describe as “unsubstantiated rumors” about me by 6:00pm Monday June 18, 2012.Allah prochaine,Robin Edgar

  • Karlsefni of Blue Mountains

    Gus’s article is as penetrating as any Maddow report.  Kudos.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    The “discussion” over Pan or Cernunnos seems a bit more heated than necessary.  Ah, we Pagans just love a good argument.
     

  • http://www.magickal-media.com/ A.C. Fisher Aldag

    Cernunnos got his popularity from the studies of Mr. Gardner and Dr. Murray.  Herne from Shakespeare.  Pan from the “classical” literature of Romans and Greek stories.  Celts and others from the British Isles also called the horned deity the Bwcca (pronounced BOO-kah); the Hooser, Wooser, or Owser — which likely came from the Woodwose; Heladyn which means Hunter; and Norse people often called the wild huntsmen the Einhreriar.  There are many, many depictions of Him throughout all cultures — the Hindu have Pashnupati, the Hopi have a Deer Kachina, and there are African, Japanese, and South American deer-men or horned Gods.  There are ceremonies that began in the dawn of time and are practiced right up until the present day in Europe that have to do with the Horned Lord — including one that starts and ends at a church.  Swearing oaths on horns, putting antlers on poles for both cursing and reverence — every place you see a “Stagpole” or “Stackpole” or “StagPoole” street, tavern or sirname, that had to do with the Horned God.  Mr. Gardner borrowed many things from Oldline Paganism and Witchcraft — Cernunnos is just one.

  • Peg Aloi

    I am also Team Herne the Hunter, Jason. :-)

  • http://northernheimsocal.blogspot.com/ Signy

    That illustration of Herne from “The Dark is Rising” scared the bejoobity out of me when I was a kid–but I couldn’t stop looking at it.  I’ve never been able to get into “The Wind in the Willows”, much though I’ve tried, but the illustration of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is one that I love.  Despite this, I’m Team Cernunnos. (Hey, the Gundestrop Cauldron was found in Denmark, yanno?)

    • Nick Ritter

      “Hey, the Gundestrop Cauldron was found in Denmark, yanno?”

      I read a fascinating article a few years ago that suggested that the Gundestrup cauldron was made by Iranian (Scythian or Sarmatian) wrights, and that the “horned god” figure represents an Iranian analogue to the Indic Pasupati (“Lord of Creatures”, if I’m not mistaken). This has nothing to do with the “Cernunos vs. Pan” debate (concerning which I have no preference); your mention of the cauldron just sparked my memory.

      It is interesting to note that large chunks of what is today Europe were once inhabited by Iranian tribes, though; while these certainly had an early influence on Slavic (and to a lesser extent Baltic) peoples, there was likely also some mutual influence and interaction between these Iranian tribes, Germanic tribes, and Celts.

      • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

         I’ve also come across some interesting bits of information about the influence and interaction of of Finnic and Indo-Iranian peoples. Sometimes I can get so caught up in limiting the scope of interaction of Finnic peoples with Germanic,  Baltic and Slavic peoples that I neglect some older connections, such as those with Iranian peoples. I sometimes forget the extent to which Iranian peoples were in eastern Europe. A notable example is the Finnish word ‘taivas’, meaning sky, which is borrowed from the Indo-Iranian languages and is, of course, cognate with a whole host of Indo-European words related to deities.

        • Nick Ritter

          Another couple of fascinating loans are Finnish vasara “hammer” and Saami væcer “hammer / axe”, both of which go back to the Indo-Iranian root which gives Sanskrit vajra, Indra’s thunder-weapon, and Avestan vazra, Mithra’s thunder-weapon (which was presumably the Iranian Indra’s before Zarathustra’s reforms). 

          • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

             And of course, like Thor/ Indra/ Perkunas and other Indo-European thunder Gods, Ukko/ Ilmarinen had an ‘ukon vasara’, Ukko’s Hammer. I even have an ukon vasara pendant (which looks similar to Thor’s hammer pendants), that I’m wearing today in honor of ukon juhla, Ukko’s festival.

          • Nick Ritter

            I’d be interested to learn more about the connection of Ukko to this holiday. I have my own suspicions, based on comparative study, that Þunor is particularly associated with Midsummer.

      • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

        as far as I know, most scholars and art historians interpret the Gundestrup Cauldron as an artifact of either Celtic La
        Tène background, some also think of Germanic or Thracian (which may contain Scythian influence) influence/origin. To my knowledge, the
        westernmost archaeological remains which are undoubtedly Scythian is
        the beautiful artwork found in Witaszkowo/Western Poland, most likely war trophies used as offerings

  • Daniel SnowKestral

    If I am not mistaken, the Cymraeg/Welsh Deity Gwynn Ap Nudd is also depicted with Antlers via the Wild Hunt from an Otherworldly opening in the Mound of Glastonbury.


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