Despite this book’s ridiculously cheesy and outdated cover, which is odd since the author is such a talented artist, Nigel Jackson’s Masks of Misrule: The Horned God & His Cult in Europe is one of my most beloved books in my library. Nigel Jackson takes on the God of Traditional Pre-Wiccan European Witchcraft by exploring various manifestations of this primordial and wild deity throughout European history such as Cernunnos, Gwyn and Fionn, the Green Man, Herne, Harlequin, Pan, Faunus, the White Stag of Annwyn, Saturnus, Old Hornie, The Lord of Misrule, Tubal-Qayin, The Devil and more. The book is insightful, thought provoking and challenges pre-conceived perceptions of both witchcraft and the Horned God.
His view of the Witch Father is much darker than mainstream witchcraft – writing, “The black Lord of the Witches, the Dark God of the two Horns, is the archetypal initiator-psychopomp who separates the subtle essence of the soul from the coarse material image of the body and who grants the extasis of night-transvection in the ‘living death’ of magical trance. When darkness covers the world and all are asleep in their beds, he is the dark-robed Master who summons forth the Wise to go out of themselves, riding on the turbulent storms and tempests over brake and thicket, ditch and dale to the realms beyond. As the Great Sorcerer and Lord of the Dead, the Horned One enables such translations into the spirit and opens the Devil’s Road to the High Sabbat.”
The book also has a bit of a grimoire vibe with rituals and practices. Masks of Misrule is definitely polarizing and the witch who reads it will either fall in love and thirst to learn more or be completely turned off from it and reject this view of the Horned One. For me, this book was a crucial key to my own path and my own experiences and I suggest that witches try to give it an open-minded read to make their own discernment about the information.