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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Saint Eustace in a Landscape – Works – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Bright Heart, Bright Mind


Pay No Attention to That Cross Between the Antlers


“Saint” Hubert, they call him: patron of hunters.

Check out Albrecht Durer's painting of Hubert's famous vision. What do you see? A man, kneeling to a worshipful Stag, praying.

Pay no attention to that cross between the antlers.

You know the story. Maybe you've lived it yourself.

Good Friday, when all good Christians should be in church, praying. You're not among them. You, you're out in the woods instead, hunting.


What do you find there? The Horned, the worshipful Stag: the Animal God, lord of all humanity.

Hubert, hyge beorht in the old Language of the Witches: “bright heart”, “bright mind.”

That crucifix between the antlers? A mere cloak to hide behind during the Hidden Times, a bringing-in of the Old Ways.

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When, on the morning after

the witches' sabbat, the Horned

leads us up out of the woods and,

to the singing of meadowlarks,

mounts the horizon and,

lambent with white flame,

disappears over the edge,

I've always wondered whether

he sinks down into Earth

or walks off into the Sky,

or maybe both;

but now I know.


I, Steven of Prodea,

Steven son of Russell,

with my own eyes have seen

the Gates of Heaven swing

wide to admit him, and lo!

to the sounding of horns

and trumpets he entered in,

and lo! the gates were shut.

This with my own lips I tell you,

and what I tell is true.


Myth meets myth.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



'...In All the Greater Temples'

Long ago, the Horned God was worshiped “in all the greater temples”, to use Gardner's pungent phrase.

(Well, maybe not all, but why pass up a snazzy quote like that?)

Then came the Great Forgetting. When he wasn't forgotten, he was reviled. Oh, our lives were the worse for it.

A few of us remembered, though. Always we missed him. In the consoling darkness, we whispered to one another prophecies of his Return.

Well, guess what, folks: the prophecies were true.

In a traditional society, now, remembering, we would make a lament for all those Lost Years.


Get Out Your Sieve

In terms of structure and realized characters, Goat Foot God (1936) is Dion Fortune's best novel: better, really, than either Sea Priestess or Moon Magic.

Which, of course, is not to say that it's a good novel, mind you. (As a friend once put it, “Dion Fortune couldn't write her way out of a chalk circle.”) But—unlike her turgid and (frankly) unreadable non-fiction—it has at least characters and a story to embody her ideas. The casual (and gratuitous) racism and unquestioned class prejudice of one who presumably regarded herself as enlightened should stand as a warning to the reader to judge her ideas on intrinsic merit, not on authority. Caveat lector.

Still, it's her novel about the Horned God and his Return. That you've got to love and, indeed, on that topic she has much to impart. As for the bugs in the flour...well, sift carefully. The sieve is a traditional witch's tool for a reason.

The Great God Pan she describes, in Christian idiom, as “God made manifest in Nature.” The novel tells two stories simultaneously: one of an early 20th century Englishman with a serious Vitamin P deficiency (talk about a pungent phrase), and a 15th-century English monk who rediscovers Pan via some Greek manuscripts.

Well, we need our stories from the Lost Years, too: so we remember “...or, failing that, invent” (Monique Wittig).


A Lament for the Horned

As epigraph to the book, Fortune cites four stanzas from her Rite of Pan. Rereading them recently, I found myself thinking: Well, there's our Lament for the Horned.


The Goat-Foot God

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


This is a drabsha.

Unrelated to the Christian cross (but is it?), the drabsha is an important symbol of the Mandaeans, called the Last Gnostics, an ethno-religious minority originally from the southeastern Middle East, now dispersed throughout the world.

A wooden cross draped with a white silk cloth and decked with branches of laurel, it symbolizes the light of the supreme god Hayyi Rabbi, “the Great Life,” covering the four quarters of the world.

This is a stang.

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One of humanity's oldest gods, the Horned is still worshiped around the world.


We do him no wrong if we think of him as the collective body of animal life on planet Earth.


Through the Hidden Centuries, the witches of the West kept faith with him and his ancient ways, as they still do.


In our day, once again, he raises up a people to himself.

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Tell now of the Horned, His Bestiary.

Soon told.

For is this not his Book of Beasts, and him the All-Beast? in which is told the likeness of each beast, and kind, and singularity: its life and loves and ways, and life within his life?

For are they not in him, and he in them?

Is his life not in them, and theirs in him?

And does he not delight in them, as they in him?

His the life-in-great, and theirs in-small?

And every birth of them an increase to his being, and every death, diminishment?

And, being beasts ourselves, does not our love go out to them, and so to him?

To him the All-Beast, one-in-many, manyness in one?

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Hermes Kriophoros (detail) | Hermes(?) carrying a ram. [Roma… | Flickr 

Tale in a Time of Plague


As Pausanias tells it, the god Hermes once saved the city of Tanagra, in Boeotia, from a pandemic.

At the time, the plague raged all around the city, and the Tanagrans feared it was only a matter of time until it came to their doorsteps as well. Then Hermes, that ever-young god, was seen walking the circuit of the city's walls, bearing a ram on his shoulders.

Not one Tanagran died of plague.

Ever after, Hermes Kriophóros (“the ram-bearer”) was accounted the city's patron, and on his festivals the handsomest youth in town would ceremonially walk the circuit of the city's walls, bearing a lamb on his shoulders.

(Although Pausanias does not say so, presumably the lamb would have been borne ultimately to the god's temple, and there given to him in sacrifice.)

In Classical art, Ram-Bearing Hermes became a common icon of philanthropy, humanitas, and divine protection. The motif continued into the Christian centuries and, indeed, to this very day.

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