Cernunnos is a Celtic/Gaulish god of fertility, vegetation, animals, male power and energy, wealth and the underworld. He is depicted with horns of a stag, therefore also known as “the Horned One”.
There is only one known historical reference that mentions Cernunnos by name, the 1st century Pillar of the Boatmen. However most horned or antlered figures found in prehistoric cave paintings and carvings in Western Europe and Britain are attributed to Cernunnos. The antlered figure is often seated cross-legged, holding a bag of money or coins, accompanied by a ram-headed serpent and a stag. This likeness is seen on the Gundestrup cauldron, discovered in Denmark and thought to date back to the 1st century BCE.
Cernunnos is associated with male energy, horned animals, and the fertile earth. He is Lord of the Hunt, Master of the Forest, and is often compared to the Green Man figure. These associations have led to his comparison with the Greek Pan and the folkloric Herne the Hunter. Early Christians could have mistaken the large horns of Cernunnos and his association with the serpent as his connection to the Christian Satan.
In Wicca, Cernunnos is associated with the annual cycle of life, death and rebirth. He is the Horned God who is born at Yule, matures during spring, marries the Goddess at Beltane, and dies in autumn, a transition which is represented by the changing seasons.
© The New Pagan (2014)