Myths and Folklore: Cernunnos, Pan, and 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. 

— William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor

In neopagan terms Pan, Cernunnos, and Herne are versions of the Horned God, and indeed they have many common attributes.

Pan is the Greek god of nature, mountains, shepherds and flock, rustic music, and he is companion of nymphs.
He has legs and horns as a goat. His Roman counterpart is Faunus.
Pan's origins aren't that clear. Sometimes he is the son of Zeus, but most often he is seen as a son of either Hermes or Dionysus.
Satyrs or fauns are his male companions, they are also half human and half goat. They are connected with pipe music.
The sculpture on the right is a Roman copy of Greek original. It is probably not very accurate, as Romans were rather liberal when copying Greek originals. But these Roman copies are often the only link to Ancient Greek art, because many of it was lost forever.

Cernunnos is the name for the Celtic horned god. He has either horns or antlers. There aren't any literary sources, but there is the Pillar of the Boatmen, which shows many deities including a horned god, probably Cernunnos. He is usually seen as the god of nature and animals.
Herne the Hunter is an English folklore figure. He is a ghost associated with the Windsor Forest. He also has antlers. Very often he is understood as an aspect of Cernunnos.


John Keats: The Major Works: Including Endymion, the Odes and Selected Letters by John Keats

Keats based the poem Endymion on the Greek myth of Endymion, the shepherd beloved by the moon goddess Selene.
It starts by painting a rustic scene of trees, rivers, shepherds, and sheep. The shepherds gather around an altar and pray to Pan, god of shepherds and flocks.

The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare 

 The earliest written account of Herne comes from this play.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

First edition cover.

Pan is the "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" in the seventh chapter of this books.

In Search of Herne the Hunter by Eric Fitch
His work commences with an introduction to Herne's story, the oak on which Herne hanged himself and its significance in history and mythology. It goes on to investigate antlers and their symbology in prehistoric religions, with a study of the horned god Cernunnos, the Wild Hunt and its associations with Woden, Herne and the Christian devil and a descriptive chapter on the tradition of dressing up as animals and the wearing and use of antlers in particular. Herne's suicide and its connection with Woden and prehistoric sacrifice is covered, together with the most complete collection of Herne's appearances, plus an investigation into the nature of his hauntings. Photographs, illustrations and diagrams enhance the text. The book also contains appendices covering the 19th century opera on the legend of Herne, Herne and his status in certain esoteric circles and Herne and Paganism/Wicca.


Anonymous said...

What a fabulous, detailed post! I'm familiar with Pan but not the other versions of him.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I think I've only heard of 'herne' as being 'the hunter'. Don't think I've really read much about him otherwise. Very informative post!

Anonymous said...

Fab post about myths! Love it! ♥

Petra said...

Thank you! :)

Sayomay said...

Awesome! Im reading the Nichol Flemal series by Micheal Scott and Ive never seen nor heard of Cernunnos before. Who makes appearance in the series; its nice to get a visual!

Petra said...

There's Cernunnos in that series? I have the first book, so probably I should read it as soon as possible! :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Petra! :)

Willette Mitchell said...

I love how legends can serve as great ways to inspire writers!

Post a Comment

I love reading your comments! :)