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Ch.17 Cernunnos (WMB 17.b)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @


Chapter 17 - Cernunnos - part b

That Ernunno is an abbreviation of the name Cernunnos has been confirmed from inscriptions and finds from other parts of Europe through the variants discovered. An inscription with the name Cernunnos was found at Polenza in Italy, and a variant, Cernenus at Verespatak in Rumania where he was equated with Jupiter. Other European inscriptions include one to Deo Cernunico at Seinsel-Rëlent in Germany and a Greek inscription at Montagnac in France to Karnonos. When the Romans encountered Cernunnos first in Gaul, they associated him with their god Mercury, although Julius Caesar likened him to Dis Pater (‘the wealthy father’) as the major god.

The classic image on which most of the modern perception of Cernunnos is based comes from the Gundestrup cauldron, a beautiful piece of silverware found in Denmark dating between the fourth to first century BCE. The image shows a seated horned figure and a female figure, with various animals around them. Evidence on the style, dating and construction of the cauldron has confirmed it originally came from the Indus Valley, and depicted a god called Pashupati, whose name means ’Lord of the Animals’, and who has been viewed as the earliest form of the Hindu god, Shiva.

Other seals found in the Indus Valley from around 3,000 BCE also depict Pashupati in the same posture, with deer hooves instead of feet, surrounded by animals, and significantly, with bull horns. That this transition from bull horns to stag horns is seen in both Pashupati and Cernunnos is suggestive of a trend, perhaps from an image of the virility of the bull to the wildness of the stag. Stags cannot be tamed like bulls, and may be seen to symbolise more clearly the wild nature of the lord of the beasts. When Gardner wrote in Witchcraft Today that the God in the Myth of the Goddess was Shiva, he was probably nearer to the truth than he realised:

“Again you can say it is simply Siva, the God of Death and Resurrection; but here again the story is different.”

Pashupati as the root of the horned god in the Wiccan tradition actually fits perfectly when you consider that the Harappan culture in the Indus Valley from which he came also worshipped a mother goddess. So the Harappans actually provide us with an example of a culture five thousand years ago, who worshipped a mother goddess and a horned god! The pre-eminent mother goddess was worshipped for thousands of years in India, gaining a variety of names, in a manner similar to that later seen in the Wiccan theology.

As an aside, we would also point out that though he may not be directly related to Wicca, the biggest temple complex in the ancient world is the temple of the goat horned god, Amun-Ra at Karnak in Egypt, which means the world’s biggest temple is to a horned god!

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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