Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cernunnos Isn't Naked.

I really wish this didn't need explaining.

You see that little guy up there on the Gundestrup Cauldron? He's got clothes on, y'know. Striped V-neck shirt, striped britches to match. Studded belt, nice little shoes. And the bling! Not only is he wearing bling - he is holding up more bling for you to marvel at. Gangsta. Clearly this is a man who has taken some time to put himself together.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of Pagans must feel intimidated by his fashion sense. Why else would they deny him his wardrobe?

Maybe they're confusing him with Pan. That would certainly explain why modern artists are always slapping a boner on him, despite the fact that there are absolutely no artifacts in which Cernunnos is even nude to begin with, let alone aroused. (Don't even get me started on the goat legs.)

Or maybe they've bought into the story that he's a god of virility who has something or other to do with the Dagda. That kind of contradicts his equally popular image as a death-dealing hunter who has something or other to do with Herne. But that's okay because the Horned God has a light side and a dark side and some other completely unfounded made-up bullshit that no one cares about!

Maybe "the Horned God" was invented to act as some kind of fetish fuel. Maybe there are just a lot of overgrown children out there who believe that there is no work of art, secular or devotional, that could not be improved by the addition of some conspicuous male genitals. Maybe they're out to mentally and emotionally scar me forever. Maybe "Cernunnos/RamHornedSnake" is their OTP. Maybe they should all just go worship Freyr's proud erection and leave me the hell alone.

Hera, give me strength.


  1. Rule 34.

    The sexually repressed Christians need to stop invading my fandom *cough* I mean religion with all their sick, lusty interpretations of deities. Or something like that.

  2. Excellent article. Thanks!

    @Z.E.---where can I read the rest of the Rules?


  3. Perhaps it is all merely a mistake in identity. Perhaps the rather dapper but prudish Cernunnos has been conflated with his older brother, Pashupati, who I hear borders on sexual deviancy.

  4. This seems likely. Pashupati/Rudra is a much better fit.

  5. Hieronimo - sorry I'm so slow to reply!

  6. Cernunnos is the god of lust and the stag in rut and there is nothing wrong with showing him with the erect penis. The prudishness of the christians has finally made people abandon this valid representation, what a shame. I would have thought pagans to be more staunch than that and secure in their beliefs than to give in to ridiculous pressure. To be truly one with nature, one should be naked. Being sexually aroused is being full of your own power, and should be a proud moment.

  7. It may not be wrong, nude0007. But from the historical standpoint or the Wiccan one, I don't think it's really correct either.

    Historically, we have no evidence that Cernunnos was a god of sexuality. As I said in my post, there are no extant depictions of him in the nude, even when he is shown beside other gods who are quite naked, such as in the Reims relief. (Here he is seated between Apollo and Hermes.) And these images were most certainly carved by the hands of pagans.

    Cernunnos was consistently shown surrounded by animals, and - although this seems to avoid everyone's attention - by wealth, in the form of coins or jewelry. The stag shown beside him in the Niedercorn-Turbelslach depiction is not in the act of rutting, but is, in fact, pouring money out of its mouth. From this combination of images, I think it would be justifiable to see him as presiding over "abundance," but from the evidence we have, I think this is abundance in the cthonic sense of natural or mineral resources. It would be more appropriate to compare him with Hades in this regard, with his plutonic, underworld riches, than with Pan and his agrarian antics.

    Now, in modern Wicca, our God is said to respond to many names, including (but not limited to) Cernunnos and Pan. (The interesting variety of mythological glosses available to our deity is another thing I wish would garner a bit more attention.) In addition - and I know I spoke uncharitably of this in the above post, but nevertheless, these are the facts - the Wiccan God is generally thought of as having two major aspects: a "dark" persona and a "light" persona, ruling over the barren and fertile halves of the year, and for whom the above names are frequently used. Pan is every bit the lusty god, not to mention a patron of farmers and shepherds. For traditions who focus on fertility, he is a natural choice for the Wiccan God's "light" face. But the name of Cernunnos, or Herne (with whom he is frequently conflated by moderns), is consistently associated with the dark half of the year. The Stag-Horned God in Wicca is the herald of the hunt, and of death, and of winter. Wiccans may prefer this name for him in general, regardless of the season - but personally, I think this is more a sign of the fact that his dark aspect is generally the one that is given precedence. And this is just one of several theologies popularly applied to our gods. (Consider, for example, the interpretation of our God as a dying-and-reborn deity, who is himself the crop that grows and dies.)

    Lastly, as a British Traditional Wiccan, I regularly take part in ritual nudity. I think it's an important part of our religion. I have never felt any pressure from the outside world, or from Christians, to renounce that practice. (Neither would I ever suggest that anyone else do so - quite the contrary.) I have, however, felt pressure from other Wiccans to act against my natural impulses, or to behave sexually towards people I was not attracted to. I love my religion, but I think a lot of people out there are overcompensating for their upbringings, in addition to being negligent in their understanding of the gods they claim to worship. And I think it's fair to point that out.

  8. Sorry you base your diatribe on one image but there are others, just as old, that clearly show him naked.

  9. I based it on three images. If you know of images in which he's naked, I would genuinely like to see them.