Cernunnos (Horned God)

Cernunnos is the mysterious horned deity worshipped by Iron age Celts across Europe until the end of the first century. Very little is known about Cernunnos except his name and his image, which appears on numerous stone carvings and other religious artifacts throughout Europe. He appears crowned with stag’s antlers, often seated in a meditative position, and is almost always depicted with images of wild game animals. His Celtic name is unknown, although he may be associated with Derg Corra, the early Celtic “Man in the Tree.” He may also be related to the Celtic god Fionn (Finn MacCuill), who had a close affinity with deer.

Cernunnos is a descriptive Roman name meaning “horned one.” He is often associated with Herne the hunter, a character of British folk myth, and the “Green man” of European architecture. Roman invaders associated Cernunnos with the god Mercury. He is later associated with Herne, a trickster character of European legend, and his appearance arguably influenced the appearance of the Christian Devil. The image which appears above is taken from the Gundestrup Cauldron, a ritual object of unknown use discovered in a peat bog in Denmark.

Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor describes the character of Herne:

“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 Receiv’d, and did deliver to our age, This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.”

hernethewildhunter glossarygundestrup
Herne the Hunter Segment from the Gundestrup cauldron, a ritual object of worked silver discovered in a Denmark peat bog and decorated with images from Celtic mythology

Related Symbols:

Cerne Abbas giantSheela-na-gigGreen man

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Hikuri Yuavi December 29, 2016 at 1:09 pm

The huicholes, an indigenous group from Central Mexico, who eat peyote and practice animistic shamanism, believe foremost in a deer God they call kayumari. Kayumari, to the huicholes, is the intermediary between man and divine. Also, their god of hunting. Strikingly similar to cernunnos in appearance and roll.

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Victroce April 27, 2015 at 9:23 am

I want to know whats the significant in the torg and serpent he’s holding

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Jennifer May 2, 2015 at 7:56 pm

I imagine they represent wisdom or cleverness (the snake) and authority, as the torc was an emblem of status and power

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ruru July 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

he came to me once in a dream years ago – so you may be on to something

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Arc July 7, 2011 at 3:06 am

It looks like a shaman.

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