Close your eyes and think only of the forest path before you. Look at the tall trees and the strength of the ages held in each one of them. Feel the breeze dance between the small bushes and witness the little creatures scampering out of sight. This is the Horned God. He is the God of the Wild, The Greenman, The Lord of the Hunt and He belongs to the mystery of the magic that you find within the dense thickets of the forest.
He is every tree, every bird, and every animal. He is the forest. He is all earth before we humans began building our skyscrapers and our roads to travel through him in a more convenient way. He still exists, everywhere beneath our feet. He is in the garden, in the air, in the trees along the road, he is in everything wild, everything green, and even in everything dark and rotting. He is the earth itself.
It is peculiar within Wicca how we still refer to it as Mother Earth, when we have the Greenman who is the forest, and at first, a practitioner may not understand this apparent confusion between the gendering of the earth. The Earth is the mother of creation, but The Horned God is her eternal consort and it is he who lives, breathes and fertilizes the Mother Earth. He is her guardian and her protector, he is her strength and her lover, he is her passion, and he has been found to stand guard at every gate into the mysteries of the beyond.
The Horned God is the perfect personification of the male mysteries. He is also known as the Lord of Shadows and the Lord of Light. He has two horns to represent his dual nature, for as much as he provides and gives the seed of life, he is also the one who is responsible for taking it back. He controls the balance and the perfect rhythm of the Earth. He ensures that Mother Earth is safe and cared for, he orders the dance of the wild, and when the green Earth is out of balance it is Mother Earth who cries, and He stands up to defend Her and to correct the wrongs that have been done to Her.
The Horned God was known by many names and given many faces by various writers, artists, and philosophers throughout the ages. He shows himself in the manner which the person approaching him will understand. One of his most well-known names and personas is that of the Greenman. The Greenman is almost always depicted as a man in the leaves with only eyes peering back at you. The mystery of Mother Nature is the essence of The Greenman. He is the one who gives her form and meaning. He is the one who gives Her back the truth that allows her to live and breathe within the world. Just like a perfect Jungian relationship between man and woman, the Greenman provides the structure, the strength, and the manifestation to the void that is the Earth Mother. He is the tangible manifestation of Her eternal wisdom. The druids knew the Greenman well. They worshipped Him extensively across Europe and Great Britain. When the Christian uprising tore the old religions from their roots to bring about man-made control and order, they enslaved the people and forced them to build the new Churches on all the areas that were deemed Sacred Groves or sacred places. To keep the essence of the wild wood alive, the pagan builders kept their Greenman from being forgotten by incorporating His visage into the walls and the artwork of all the buildings. These Greenman secrets can still be viewed to this day.
The old ways and the God of the wild wood have become simple fables to more than half of humanity, but to those who remember He is very real. A second and perhaps more terrifying version of The Horned God to the common man, is that of Pan. Pan is the half-goat, half man playing the panpipe and dancing through the forest either chasing or frolicking with forest nymphs. He is the God of fertility, sexual prowess, and the natural order of things. Pan is raw and wild, like the forest itself. He is thought to be young at heart, but his wisdom is known to be beyond any age of any man. The writer and scientist Robert Ogilvie Crombie, lovingly known as ROC, wrote about his own journey with Pan, in his book The Gentleman and the Faun. He was of sound mind, and a book such as this one was a strange thing to come from such a learned man if it didn’t exist. Aleister Crowley was also besotted with Pan, but perhaps another side of him and he wrote many a hymn to Pan.
Pan’s dark side is akin to Dionysus, the frugal personality of merriment, and addiction. Pan is often found around addicts, but it is Him who eventually brings them back to their sanity as well. It is a peculiar path, the path of Pan. To follow this path is to know the raw essence of the wild animal within us all. Cernunnos is another name given to the many-faced Horned God. He is the Celtic wild wood God, the wild stag, the roar of thunder through the trees. He is almost always depicted as sitting in a half-lotus position, holding a snake to represent fertility and surrounded by two specific animals, the boar, and the stag. Another God whose association is not common with the Horned God is the Welsh father God, Dagda. Even though he is not depicted with horns, he is depicted as one of the most fertile gods in the history of paganism. He rules order, fertility, and abundance. His association with the Horned God is the fact that he too can take life with one end of his staff and similarly grant it, with the other.
The concept of the Horned God is about bringing fertility into the land. He also signifies wild abandon, cavorting, drinking, and enjoying every second of life itself. In the same instant, this wild-haired horned God will meet our justice to those that break the code of the caretaker, nurturing Mother Earth, taking only what is needed and giving back all that is good. Sadly, so much magic has been lost, and people have been misinformed about this good-natured earth protector, father, loving consort, and guardian. He has been called the devil by those that have never explored his true symbolism. The monotheistic, conservative paths have painted him out to be the beast in shadows that will corrupt your children, steal your partner, and make your lands desolate. The humor in this is that he will, in fact, provide great security and abundance to those that praise him whilst sharing in the innocent frivolity of life and all the abundant pleasures that She has to offer. Anything in excess will bring a frown upon his brow because he wisely knows that balance is the true nature of this world, and that balance must be kept at all costs.
“Eating the fruit of the tree sustains you, but it is up to you to take those seeds of sustenance and give them back to Mother Earth, so that He can once again provide for future generations.”
~ The Greenman