The myth of the Wild Hunt appears in many manifestations in Europe’s folklore. In Celtic lore, Cernunnous, with his magnificent horns and large phallus, is associated with male animals, particularly the Stag in rut; which has led him to be connected to lust and fertility.

Cernunnous is the protector of the forest and as master of the Wild Hunt, during which he comforts the dead and dying, leading and singing them to the spirit world. He is the god of vegetation and protects woods and trees. In his aspect as the Green Man, he is the god of lust and fertility. He appears in Greek mythology as Pan, the Satyr.

Cernunnous also appears to be associated with Herne the Hunter, but Herne appears to have manifested in Berkshire and is local only to that county, where he embodies fealty to royalty. Herne appeared in the Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare. In his summer aspect, he is the Green Man, protector of the lush greenery of summer, who can be seen in glimpses through the trees.

Some Wiccan traditions believe that Cernunnous dies in autumn causing the land to go dormant, to rise in spring to impregnate the mother goddess.

In my painting I have depicted Cernunnous in his winter aspect, leading the wild hunt. In the background, there is his red eyed white wolf and his skeletal horse, used to carry the souls of the dead to their rest. He is holding his golden torc, a symbol of his status.


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