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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Horned God

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Cross-Legged God

The god who sits cross-legged: you know Who I mean. The position is central to the iconography of the Horned, in art both ancient and modern. In Old Craft symbolism, the Master may be represented by the skull of a horned animal with two longbones crossed beneath it. If Witchdom had pirates (!), I suppose that's what they'd fly on their flags. The Lord of the Red Bones, above and below.

Even in images such as Lévi's Baphomet and the Gundestrup Antlered, where the god is seated in a position not fully “tailor seat” (as we used to call it), his crossed or bent legs at least allude to the fully cross-legged seat. It's well worth asking what this pose can tell us about the god.

Nature. Civilized people (and their gods) sit on furniture. Barbarians sit on the ground, and cross-legged is the natural way to do so. This is an untamed god, a god in touch with the powers of nature, drawing strength and stability from the Earth.

Duality. The iconography of the Horned lord is dominated by doubling, and this speaks deeply to His nature. He is both Dark and Light, Lord of life and death, the master driven by his own internal contradictions. (Whereas Wicca tends to read duality in terms of male-female pairing, Old Craft generally looks to the divided self for the primal articulation of Twoness.) Just as his legs cross beneath him, so too do the two sides of his self cross and intersect with one another, the basis of his Being.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Sign of the Hoof

A mudra that links Star Trek, Orthodox Jewish liturgy, and the god of witches.

Fascinating.

The “Vulcan salute” premiered in 1967 during Star Trek's second season. Series creator Gene Roddenberry felt that the words of the newly-invented Vulcan greeting needed some sort of physical gesture to go with them. Actor Leonard Nimoy held up his hand, palm facing out, thumb extended, fingers divided between the second and third fingers. In that moment, a pop-culture icon was born. Live long and prosper, folks.

Nimoy knew the gesture from his childhood. Six times a year in the Orthodox synagogue that his grandfather took him to, the kohanim—men from priestly families—would face the congregation, raise both hands before their faces making the same hand-sign, and pronounce the ancient Threefold Blessing:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Deus eduxit eum de Aegypto cuius fortitude similis est rincerotis. So, a god whose strength is like unto a rhino's. Well.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yikes. My first thought was, "they must have been working from a different underlying Hebrew text," which, given the difficulties
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I would agree that your reading makes sense of 24:8 with its singular object, Brian, and would add that some MSS. read motsi'o for
  • Brian Niskala
    Brian Niskala says #
    One thing I find funny is the Septuagint's translation here: ὡς δόξα μονοκέρωτος αὐτῷ, taking the Hebrew's תוֹעֲפֹת רְאֵם as 'glo
  • Brian Niskala
    Brian Niskala says #
    I would question that translation of Number 23:20/24:8. That reading of 'lo' לוֹ as a possessive here doesn't quite work; I read i

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Of Gods and Rats

The Reims Cernunnos, shown above, is one of the most famous images of a Horned God from antiquity. A product of Roman-era Gaul, it shows the Antlered seated cross-legged on a plinth or altar in a miniature temple. Apollo and Mercury attend him. In his lap, he holds a bag of circular objects—generally identified as either coins or grain—which he pours out to a bull and a stag before him. Mysteriously, in the pediment above him is carved a rat (or mouse; for the purposes of this discussion, the two are interchangeable).

There's much to be said concerning the symbolism of this relief, but here I will focus only on the most curious aspect of its iconography: the Rat.

The Horned Lord tends, in pantheon after pantheon, to be a Master of Animals generally, but still the choice seems an odd one. The scholarly literature has tended to address this question cursorily, generally preferring one of two readings.

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The War of the Elements: A Folktale of the Latter-Day Hwicce in an Age of Climate Change

They say that once the elements were at war.

The land quaked, and the sea rose up to drown it. Wildfires raged; the winds wreaked havoc.

The people were frightened and sent a delegation of elders to the forest to speak with Him of the Horns.

They found him sitting at the foot of an oak, wearing Grass Snake around his neck. He heard their words, and when they had finished, he took Grass Snake in his hands. Grass Snake began to grow and grow until he was as big as the world. Then he wrapped his long body around the whole world and took the tip of his tail into his mouth.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Song of the Crow Man

he wold com to my hows top in the shape of a crow, or lyk a dear or in any uther shap now and then, I wold ken his woice at the first heiring of it, and wold goe forth to him and hav carnall cowpula[tio]n w[i]th him 

  [Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie, of the Devil (1662)]

For just a moment, I thought that somehow I'd driven onto a set from Hitchcock's The Birds.

Sunset, Christmas Eve 2000. In the stillness of the Yule-frith, the only things moving were me and the stoplights, as I drove to work in downtown Minneapolis.

And the crows. Thousands of crows, literally, filling the trees that lined Park Avenue. Hundreds, raucous black fruit, in each tree, silhouetted against the sunset sky. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Goat-Man of the Hindu Kush

The Kalasha are the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush. Numbering about 4000, in three adjoining valleys in northwest Pakistan, they are known for their proud polytheism, the freedom (and beauty) of their women, and their wine-drinking.

The Kalasha are a transhumant society. In the spring, the young men take the herds of sheep and goats up to the high mountain pastures, where they spend the entire summer and autumn. In late October, they return, just in time for the Prun, the three-day harvest festival that marks the end of the growing season, the return of the flocks, and the first drinking of the New Wine, led by a mysterious figure called the Budálak, the Goat-Man.

The Budálak wears horns and goat-skins, and on the third and final night of the festival, as drums throb around the bonfires and wine flows freely, the women garland him and he joins their wild dance. He is the embodiment of the purity, fertility, and rampant maleness of the high mountains, the realm of the peri (“fairies”), and his role is to transmit this fruitfulness to the entire community.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Osculum Infame

Warning: Contains material some readers may find offensive.

You've heard the stories. Do you know what those wacky-ass witches do at their sabbats? They actually kiss the Devil's hairy bung-hole: the Kiss in tergo, as the chroniclers coyly put it.

Ah, yes: the osculum infame, “the notorious kiss,” as it's known. You might think that this is one of the parts of medieval witchery that didn't quite make it to the modern witchcraft revival, but I think that you'd be wrong on that count. Twelve'll get you thirteen that the good old Kiss from Behind is ancestral to the Book of Shadows' Fivefold Kiss. Breathes there a Wiccan who would admit it, though? 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Perimede
    Perimede says #
    Well, I've certainly been colder than the North slope of one. Can't wait.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Perimede, I'm going to be quoting you on that one: thanks. Wait till you see the one on "witches' tits"!
  • Perimede
    Perimede says #
    (lol) Opening your blog in the morning is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. Ya' never know what you're going to get. But i

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