Who is the Horned God?

Mary McMahon

The Horned God is an important figure in the Neopagan pantheon. He is viewed as the male counterpart to the Goddess, representing masculinity and the male essence, and he is often portrayed as the partner or consort of the Goddess. Beliefs about the Horned God vary widely, with some historians suggesting that he is essentially an artificial construct created during the rise of Neopaganism to satisfy the desire for a unified and easily understood mythology.

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

Numerous cultures integrate figures with horns into their mythology, including Cernunnos, Herne the Hunter, Pan, and many others. In the 19th century, when Neopagan mysticism began to become very popular, several prominent authors combined stories about various horned figures in mythology to create a Horned God, sometimes also referred to as the Green Man. Many of these writings continue to be relied upon today, despite the fact that they are obviously hodgepodges of mythology which are not well researched or even grounded in history.

According to the 19th century Neopagans, the Horned God was a universal figure in Pagan mythology, and he was driven underground by the rise of Christianity. Some writers even linked the Horned God with Satan, arguing that Satan was not, in fact, evil, but rather that he was a powerful nature spirit who suffered when Christian empires repressed pagan religions. 19th century depictions of the Horned God often look suspiciously like Christian paintings of Satan, including horns and cloven hooves.

In most Neopagan circles, the Horned God is linked with masculine tendencies, including virility. In addition, he is often associated with the forest and with wild animals, and in many cases he is linked with hunting, as well. This rings true with many historical depictions of horned nature spirits and mythological figures, who are often depicted hunting and wearing the horns of their kills. Many circles associate him with the fall, holding ceremonies for the Horned God around the fall equinox.

Many Neopagan-influenced fantasy novels include the Horned God in various guises, and he is worshiped in many Neopagan groups, as well. Some people have rejected the idea of a generic “Horned God,” choosing instead to focus on a specific figure in mythology. In a way, this is more true to the ancient practice of pagan religions, as it draws upon figures who actually appear in ancient art, folktales, and writings.

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Discussion Comments


The Horned God is still acknowledged in witchcraft (Wicca) and shamanism. They look at him as the lord of the woodlands, the hunt, and the animals. He provides for the tribe and is rewarded by being allowed to copulate with the Goddess through the Great Rite.

There were paintings found in the Caverne des Trois Freres at Ariege, France of the horned god. He was depicted as a stag standing upright on his hind legs with the upper body of a man. In this particular painting, he is celebrating a hunt and wooing a woman.


What did this Horned God supposedly look like? Is that associated with the wiccans?

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