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Pan & Cernunnos


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#1 Penrose

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 02:19 PM

Hey everyone.

I have a couple questions and would love your insight. Lately I've been having dreams about goats, a goat-horned man and an antlered man. In these dreams I'm always in a forest and sometimes I'm holding a book that I can't open. The book isn't locked, I just can't physically open it.

Anyway, what I'm wondering is for those of you who believe in deities, do you view Cernunnos and Pan as different aspects of one god? Or do you believe they are separate entities altogether? The information I've found varies wildly. I know that there isn't much information on Cernunnos and much of what I read is speculation, whereas there is a lot to read regarding Pan. Some things I read say that these two gods, along with other horned gods, are all the same but given different names within different cultures. Does anyone here have experience working with or worshiping/honoring Cernunnos AND Pan?

Thanks!

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#2 Caps

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 04:03 PM

The main personal experience I can comment on doesn't center around deities or worshiping anything but around a specific type of horned entities I identify as Djinn. As far as your question, there is a lot of overlap across Europe of many early deities and it's entirely possible that there is some amount of conflation between Cernunnos and Pan and other satyrs but most of what we know about myth is fractured and incomplete, even about the deities the Greeks and Romans worshiped. Much of it still can be linked to Mesopotamia with deities like Baal (Hadad) which leads us into the direction of Zeus/Jupiter. There is literally almost nothing we know about Cernunnos, keep in mind, in spite of what "contemporary" sources may say.

Another possible route to explore is the horned shamans of the Celts, Vikings, Uralics, etc., often wearing antlers or ram adornments in their workings and the idea that although Cernunnos is portrayed as a horned god they may actually be referring to effigies of ancient shamans. Perhaps one of your ancestors was one of these shamans? As far as opening the book perhaps it is just a reminder that there is always more to learn.

"It is the still and silent sea that drowns a man." - Old Norse proverb

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#3 Penrose

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 04:28 PM

Very interesting, I never even thought of the possible ancestor link. Thanks.
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#4 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 05:32 PM

Deities and their similarities/differences is such a complex and fluid concept for me and I'm not sure if my perspective will be helpful or just muddy the waters for you.

I think our identification for individual deities are complicated by cultural confusions and assimilation, and also by the entities themselves not wanting to stay within boxes of human understanding. This is why we see so many similar deities across all the continents, yet two neghboring villages may have worshipped completely differently. People groups move and take their gods and goddesses with them along with their culture. Sometimes the entities move with them and get mixed in with the new culture. Sometimes, I think the actual entities *don't* move with the people... perhaps they are more tied to the land than others. But new entities in the new land will attach themselves to those worshippers and their traditions under the guise of their old gods, I think, changing themselves to fit the worship and shaping the worshippers to fit them. A few thousand generations of this sort of swirling web of cultural change and movement and we start to see these similarities and differences forming throughout cultures. Sometimes the differences seem very contradicting about the attritbutes of the gods and goddesses. I think that's just because these entities are much more fluid and complex then their traditions reflect.

It's the humans that need the detailed profiles, folkloric back stories and correspondences to connect deeply with the gods, and then the gods perhaps pick and choose who they manifest to and how they appear. Even the male/female designations that we've assigned them are very human labels limited to human understanding, though many of these entities will seem more masculine or more feminine to us in their nature. Add into the mix the fact the certain ancestral entities may gain power as their bloodlines do and even become worshipped as deity themselves and it adds more layers to the onion. So it's certainly not as cut and dry as many religions would have you believe. This is my personal opinion of course and many will disagree. I was a Christian minister for many years before becoming a witch and even then, I was starting to see evidence that places of worship attract other entities that will take the guise of the god being worshipped there and do a pretty good job of fooling the worshippers.


So how does that affect the traditional witch? We reach out to deity using the methods and traditions that we know will get the attention of certain entities to work with them. And we wait to see who shows up. One of the teachers in my tradition warns that if you've romanticized one of the gods or goddesses of our pantheon in your mind, the less likely they are to show up and work with you. It's going to be difficult for you to see them as they truly are (or have chosen to be in the moment) rather than how you've imagined them to be. Or perhaps you will close yourself off to the deity that wants to work with you because you are reaching out in earnest to a silent god who has no interest in your time and place. It's possible that whatever spirit or entity that wants to work with you took this guise of a Horned God because it knows it will get your attention and that you will recognize it as a helpful, powerful spirit by the horns you associate with Pan or Cernunnos.

So is Pan one god who responds to multiple names and archetypes of horned gods? Or are there many horned gods that will answer to Pan or other names and have certain similarities? I think both statements are true. You could read and research about the traditions of the horned gods and see which ones feels the most like the entity that has contacted you. Or you can let this horned entity teach you who about himself beyond what the traditions and folklore say, and give you the name He wants you to call him by.


These are my thoughts, but fair warning, I am a novice witch at best, although I think my past as a minister gives me a unique perspective on working with deities. (Especially manipulative and sneaky ones)

Edited by RapunzelGnome, 27 January 2016 - 05:48 PM.

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#5 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 05:33 PM

Double post, apologies

Edited by RapunzelGnome, 27 January 2016 - 05:40 PM.

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#6 Penrose

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 05:47 PM

Thank you RapunzelGnome. I really like your answer. I'm in no rush to find out who/what has been manifesting in my dreams, just trying to get a feel and curious of others' opinions. I will definitely do a little more research on these horned aspects but I'm also going to be patient for whatever these entities are really trying to tell me, if anything at all.
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#7 SororMIMM

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 07:57 PM

That is a really interesting perspective, Caps! I've often contemplated the nature of Djinn but typically conceptualize it in kabalistic models of Boaz and the sephirothic associations to Binah. I've also mulled around the relationship of the HGA and Djinn as being two pillars of the magician - our shadow self and our light self, both reflected and pulling on the individual between the pillars. Now the horned-Djinn as Pan/Cernunnos and associations to the mighty dead is really interesting...
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#8 Aina

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 08:17 PM

FYI - I'm in a "maybe" mood today.

Cernunnos, Pan - maybe neither of them. Maybe the dream isn't pointing to a particular deity but toward the animal - its energy, symbolism. Have you done any research on goats?

As for the book that "isn't locked, I just can't physically open it." Maybe you're not ready for the contents. Maybe you're ready for the contents but you're looking in the wrong direction. Maybe the book is symbolic of you - you can't physically open it because you're looking outside of yourself.

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#9 Michele

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 11:37 PM

Divinities morph all the time into different "aspects".... so what really happens is that divinity itself is beyond the understanding of the human. So humans take different forces they perceive as divine and attach human attributes to these forces (aka personifications) to make them accessible to the individual. Then as society changes and the needs of society change, god personifications gradually change to fit those new needs. The stream//force that is divine has not changed, but the way the human has perceived it and relates to it has changed, and therefore the personification has changed. So any god is a personification of a specific force. And the personifications are real because the human has concentrated the form of the force and it now reacts within that form.

My opinion in a nutshell, lol

M

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#10 Penrose

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Posted 29 January 2016 - 01:15 AM

Aina, your maybes made me chuckle. Thanks for the input, especially about the book.

I like the perspective of them possibly not being gods at all.

Michele, well put. It's refreshing to come here and not have everyone jump on "oh it's definitely ONE of these two gods!"

Everyone's responses have really made me think.

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#11 Moondark

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Posted 29 January 2016 - 07:59 AM

From what I've read and experienced, the two're day'n night.

Cernunnos *probably* originated as a god of the Underworld, and is likely an epithet for a Celtic god of death called Dis, identified with Pluto by the Romans. The only known image of Cernunnos(such famous images as the Gunddestrup(sp?) cauldron don't actually bear his name), if I remember correctly, pictures him with animals and coins in a hunter's crouch, the former signifying both wildness and the hunt and the latter indicating the chthonic. I find he's far more somber and detached than Pan, much like a funeral home director. Kinda grim.

Pan, on the other hand, is not only from a completely different part of Europe but is just the opposite: a god of sex, fertility, shepherds(read: domestic animals, though also concerned with wilderness), beekeeping and for some odd reason divination. In mythology he just has /too much/ life in him; he's humping everything that moves for all of Greekdom. He's also a notorious rapist.

I think the reason Cernunnos got so popular in Witchcraft is because A)he has no mythology, so they could write it for him as they pleased and B) he's a deer, not a goat, thus distancing him from the common conception of the Devil.

I've never seen any convincing evidence that the two were ever historically equated, or even had similar origins.

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#12 Oroboros

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 02:34 PM

Let me first say I have not worked with either of these deities and therefore have no personal knowledge of them.

I tend to think the physical attributes between pan and cernunnos are unlikely to be a coincidence. Someone stated they have no similarities beyond that. While I do not know enough to claim to be right or wrong, the little bit of reading I have done on them connects them both to being fertility gods and gods of the hunt and also having a trickster element as well as a strong male sexual element.

But to my real point:
Please plug in "the shaman cave art" into google and peruse the results.Attached File  image.png   581.67KB   0 downloadsThis archetype has been around a VERY VERY long time...

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#13 Oroboros

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 03:05 PM

RG said... "I was a Christian minister for many years before becoming a witch and even then, I was starting to see evidence that places of worship attract other entities that will take the guise of the god being worshipped there and do a pretty good job of fooling the worshippers."

I would really like to hear more about THIS. I have heard similar comments made by others on this forum. Maybe a discussion on a new thread if your interested RG, or anyone else with this experience ... Hint, hint.

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...From ev’ry depth of good and ill , The mystery which binds me still...— Poe

#14 RoseRed

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 05:39 PM

I don't suggest invoking Pan unless you're ready to turn your life upside.  It's a wild ride.


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#15 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:17 PM

Oroboros-
I have considered doing that, and perhaps I will at some point. It's still a bit raw for me, and I'm still trying to understand a lot of my experiences from my new perspective. One part of the equation that I haven't gotten a firm grasp on is concerning the many witchcraft traditions that have incorporated Christian elements (I'm thinking about voudon, voodoo, hoodoo, Appalachian granny magic, South American Catholic cults, and other traditions that I know almost nothing about). I feel like learning more about these traditions might help me understand a little more about what my instincts are telling me. When I have a better grip on these concepts, I will definitely share that with every one. My pet theory is that most Christians are invoking and worship spirits unwittingly and there are plenty of spirits that are willing to play along.

Back to the topic:
That cave painting is a great find, Oroboros. My limited experience with these horned gods leads me to believe they are ancient indeed.

I think Pan (and his associated identities) is a bit of witch-finder myself...courting folks to explore their shadow selves and then pushing them down the path before moving on to the next. I don't think Cernunnos and Pan are night and day necessarily just because one is associated more with the underworld and the other with sex and fertility. For the ancients, fertility and death were much more linked as part of the same cycle, for the seed must die and be buried to foster the next harvest. I think of Freyja, goddess of love and yet the one who collects half of the battle-dead for herself. And interestingly, her brother Freyr would be a likely candidate for Pan's Nordic counterpart (the argument could also be made for Odinn). The primary characteristic of these horned/antlered gods seems to be that they are very primal, embodying the wilderness in humanity (the urge to mate, kill, hunt, survive) and help us find the magical energy of nature within ourselves and the world we are a part of.

I still haven't decided whether these gods are several like-creatures with different names, or many names and attributes for the same entity. My inclination is toward the latter, but I may never know for sure. I think it's a bit beyond my understanding. I don't think that just because one god appears with antlers and another with horns means they are different entities...as I stated before, I think they take those forms for our benefit and so it makes sense that they would appear different to different cultures.

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#16 Christine

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 10:46 PM

I'm... not a believer. Put that out there right off. On the other hand, I have met enough really, really powerful beings that are willing to fill deific roles that I am not a disbeliever. So.

 

Pan or Cernunnos? Couldn't say, personally I've never met either. But from reports of meeting that I have read, I would think that they are in fact distinct beings, for the reason that I have come across zero accounts of anyone working with Cernunnos and falling prey to panic, the terror of the bee-loud glade at noontide, or really any serious hackle-raising. If you meet Pan even in a dream or vision, pretty sure you ought to be more or less pissing yourself at some point.  


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#17 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 20 February 2016 - 12:32 AM

But again, it's not unreasonable to wonder if Pan would not adjust the way he appears to someone based on which form he was taking? And that he may decide what form to take based on several factors depending on the situation itself? If someone is expecting him to show up with terror and madness, half-goat, half man, then he may appear that way as it suits him. But if someone would relate more to the Cernunnos (for cultural reasons or otherwise) figure, Pan might take that form.

It doesn't necessarily mean that it's two different gods. In the same regard, we don't know that every instance of someone meeting Pan is actually the same ancient entity, but could possibly be an entity choosing to appear as Pan because of the human energies and expectations around that diety. For me, it's a bit of a chicken or egg argument.

I'm not saying necessarily that you are not correct, but either is possible. Maybe Pan is a single ancient personality with a single name and Cernunnos is a separate being that just happens to share some attributes with Pan and other horned gods. It's very possible. My personal opinion on it is that the identities and personalities of spiritual entities and deities is not as cut and dry as human personalities and identities. So I keep the door open for possibilities. It doesn't help that the spirits themselves like to keep this aspect of them shrouded in mystery.

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#18 FrozenThunderbolt

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 08:56 PM

While I worship neither (in a prostrate yourself in awe sense).

 

I offer to Pan, his statue graces one of my trees - he gets rum, incense and milk. To me he embodies chaos and fertility and helps to navigate the former and ensure the latter (in my land I own). He is also a guardian to cause panic in those that seek to threaten me and the land I'm Kaitiaki (guardian/steward) of.

To me he is a more human feeling god like a wicked uncle - an element of trickster abut him, but interested in people if only as amusing playthings.

 

Cernunnos is wilder, rawer, more untamed. I have a deal to plant 100 trees for him before Samhain of next year.


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