Cernunnos

Home Forums BDO Public Forum Cernunnos

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #8896
    david poole
    Participant

    Cernunnos

    This discussion was inspired by an image which I have seen recently. It was a picture which triggered my reaction. To me, there seems to be something here which needs to be explained, to be understood. I think I can explain something of that. To me the image represented a very powerful, masculine energy. I almost feel something radiating from this image. The picture is set with a roundhouse; to me, this evokes strong feelings of shamanism. What it feels like is someone trying to make contact with unseen spirits. I have also spent time studying the Gundestrup Cauldron. My knowledge of this is very bare so far, I have much further to go. However, with this picture I immediately felt a connection, both to the spirit and the knowledge of the cauldron. I would like to examine this connection further, as I feel it reaches to something above and beyond Bardism, although very much within Druidry. I am learning as I have been going; I have attempted to summarise a diversity of sources into one place, hence a rather fragmented style.

    What I would like this examination to be about is the archetype of the Horned God, which I think has many forms, which I would like to look at. Within the Celtic tradition Cernunnos would be the most obvious connection. On the cauldron he is surrounded by animals of different kinds, but also plants or vines or something like that. The animals are supposed to be dogs, bulls, rats, snakes, elks, wolves and aurochs. Depending on which sources you are working with. To put him into historical context, the first known representation of a horned deity is in the Caverne Des Trois Freres in Ariege created during the Paleolithic period. It depicts a man wearing stag antlers on his head. This is supposed to represent the god himself performing a dance of sympathetic magic to increase the number of animals for the tribe to hunt. This is drawn with chalk on a cave wall to my memory. It is called The Sorcerer and dates from around 13000bc. Star Carr, dating from around 9000bc, is a Mesolithic site containing red deer headdresses incorporating leather laces.

    More than fifty images of Cernunnos from the Gallo-Roman period have been found in North Eastern Gaul and the Celtibarians. The name Cernunnos only appears on the pillar of the boatmen from 14ce. This is surprising considering the number of apparent images. The pillar links this deity with sailors, commerce and material wealth; this goes beyond his traditional associations. He shares his pillar with several Roman gods as well as Celtic/Gaulish ones. A coin pouch from the Cernunnos of Rheims appears to second this. The Rheims altar depicts Cernunnos in the centre, flanked by Mercury and Apollo. The god of Etang Sur Arroux bears similarities to the figure depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron. This statue is tricephalic with two faces on the back of his head. There is a petroglyph in Val Camonica is dated between 7th century bc and 4th century ce. There is an antlered child on a relief from Vendeuvres. There are horned or antlered figures among the Celtiberians. The horns may represent aggressive power, genetic vigour and fecundity. Cernunnos has been likened to Dis Pater, Mars and Mercury.An image dating back to Tiberius depicts Cernunnos as an elder. In 2018 archaeologists uncovered a copper alloy figurine possibly dating from the second century at the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire, speculated to be Cernunnos, meaning it would be a continuation of Celtic beliefs in the face of Roman incursion.

    In the eight century Irish tale Tain Bo Fraich horns and serpents play a part in the narrative. Old Irish stories describe Cernunnos under the name of Uindos and as the son of the High King of Ireland. The name Cernunnos may have an etymological link to Conach Cernach, a character from the Ulster Cycle. Compare also the similarity of his role to that of Wotan, one of the many names of Odin (supposedly as many as 205 according to Scandinavian sources); Wotan is the leader of the Wild Hunt, leading spirits on hunts for powerful warriors and spirits of the dead. Wotan was also related to animals, just as Cernunnos is. An artefact from the Indian city of Mohenjo Daro depicts a horned bearded figure surrounded by animals. This is from the Pashupati seal and may depict Shiva or Rudra. In Norse beliefs stag antlers are associated with Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Stags were sacred to the Greek goddess Artemis. The Celtic Curnovi tribe were known as the horned ones. The figure from the Gundestrup Cauldron has been compared to Shiva Pashupati, the Yogic Lord of Beasts.

    In my mind, I can see the Sorcerer or maybe other images, maybe older images, of hunters with spears chasing after animals. This marks hunting as an important and necessary activity to our ancestors. Possibly a rite of passage from youth to adulthood as youths would have been expected to learn tribal skills to provide for their tribe. Throughout history, many cultures would have engaged in hunting; this is a repeating human necessity.

    Representations of a horned god were found in Mesopotamia, Babylonia and Egypt. The greatest Egyptian horned god is Osiris, the giver of all fertility who was often depicted with the horns of a bull. Osiris was believed to be incarnate in a series of sacred bulls, and worshipped as Apis.

    Cernunnos is a word meaning simply ‘horned’. The torc implies nobility in the Celtic culture. Cernunnos often carries or wears other torcs in his hands or on his antlers and also carries a purse of coins. The seated, cross legged position is regarded as meditative and shamanic. Often depicted with animals, he is known as the lord of the animals, the lord of the wild things or the lord of the hunt. The serpent which he holds has the horns of a ram. The horns may symbolise fertility and strength. The earliest known depiction of the god was found at Val Camonica in Italy, dating from the fourth century bc; the best known depiction is from the Gundestrup Cauldron, dating from the first century bc.On an altar found underneath the cathedral in Notre Dame, Paris is a large image dating from 14 ce. This site was so sacred the cathedral was deliberately built over it. In Britain the first recorded instance of worship was in 1303 involving the Bishop of Coventry.

    Herne the Hunter. In the late 1300’s King Richard II employed a hunter in Windsor forest called Herne who saved the king’s life when he was attacked by a white hart. Note also that Herne the Hunter was the name of the shaman who appeared in Robin of Sherwood. While there were similarities in appearance, his behaviour there was very different and he was a man, not a ghost, and his role was also very different. Herne of Windsor was mortally wounded but brought back to life by a wizard who tied the dying hart’s antlers to his head. THis kind of reminds me of the Abbot’s Bromley Horn Dance, although I don’t know if there is any connection between the two. Herne was made to give up his hunting skills and was defamed. He lost favour with the king and hanged himself from an oak tree. His ghost is said to haunt Windsor forest. Herne features in William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.

    Within Wicca he may be known by many names, including Cernunnos, Pan, Herne and Dionysus. His associations are fertility, forest, flock and field, and the hunt. This confirms what we should already know of his main role by now.

    #8913
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Good morning. Interesting reading there David.

    The Dagda – Dagodeiwos – has many names, including Ollathair (All Father) and Fer Benn (Horned/Peaked One) as well as Dáire (Fertile One). He also has the coire ansic (cauldrdon) and a staff, lorg mór or anfaid and an oak harp, the Daur da Bláo (Oak of Two Flowers). The Dagda is very much a chthonic, earth and fertility deity it seems. With the name Ollathair, it would be tempting to see a similarity with Odin/Woden, who in Norse tradition is called Foldardróttinn (Lord of the Earth) and, notably, Alföðr (All Father). Turning to British tradition, the name Gwydion could also be linked in different ways, etymologically, to Woden and given the shapeshifting, trickster-like, nature-based characteristics and epithets along with the connection to trees that all of these figures share in one way or another, it is at least food for thought. Having said that, I’d be careful about jumping to too many conclusions either.

    #8916
    david poole
    Participant

    I think that is wise advice, Dowrgi, don’t jump to too many conclusions. I prefer to start with the evidence and work from there. I find that speculation does become part of the process. It seems hard to avoid. Cernunnos seems fascinating, which is why I chose him as a subject. In a time when animals and the environment are still always under threat, he seems like something of a symbol to stand by. This is the main role which I see him under, as guardian and protector. The Dagda is different, I feel like there is more to him somehow. As you mention, he has different names and more tools which he works with. I think this is relevant. Cernunnos for example possesses a torc and a serpent with rams horns, the serpent is kind of like a tool only not. He is I am certain using it for some specific purpose; this is something which requires further investigation. I must say that you are remarkably well informed Dowrgi, that is some useful information. Do you think that the Celts influenced the Vikings? I think the connection with Woden also bears further investigation.

    #8920
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    I must say that you are remarkably well informed Dowrgi, that is some useful information.

    Thanks, I’m glad you’ve found some of my insights useful, not that I’m claiming to have the last word by any means.

    With regard to Cernunnos, we could write zillions of words on him …

    Reading through what you wrote again, I’d be careful with the Caverne Des Trois Freres image. Do we actually know that it represents a stag deity of some kind? The actual image, I’m sorry to say, is quite disappointing when you see it and it’s rather hard to make out, unlike the drawing that was made. I’ve always thought that image might represent a “shaman” of some kind – perhaps a hunt imitation ritual.

    Re the Roman interpretation, Cernunnos has been indeed been likened to Dis Pater, Mars and Mercury (Woden?), but is all the more interesting in that he was the one Gaulish deity that the Romans didn’t Romanise or that resisted synchretism. He’s also one of the deities who seems to have had a recognisable image before Roman iconography came into play.

    The Celtic Cornovii/Cornavii are problematic in terms of their location, identity and name. The “people of the horn” is the usual etymology given, and would explain their geographical location in Sutherland and Cornwall, however the “main” Cornovii tribe lived in the Shropshire area and only later appeared connected to Cornwall, Kernow, the name of which may be connected. Were they perhaps a sub-tribe of the Dumnonii? The Damnonii also appear in Scotland and their name may mean the “Stag People”. Were these names perhaps poorly understood by the Romans? Horn People, Stag People, perhaps the same people(s)?

    Do we know that the Val Camonica image was definitely a deity and, if so, definitely meant to be Cernunnos. I know it could seem a bit cynical, but these are the questions we need to ask. As for Herne, I thought the earliest text evidence we have from was indeed from Shakespeare, although I do remember Robin of Sherwood too, a series I really liked as child. The thing is, elk, reindeer and stag are fairly ubiquitous and to early hunter-gathers and their later descendants, it would seem a no-brainer that the animal would hold a special place in terms of reverence – that doesn’t mean they were the same, though – at least that’s what an academic would argue. On the other hand, the more spiritual argument could be that the great spirit of nature reveals itself to all peoples in their time and place in a way that they can understand, the name is not really important.

    Do you think that the Celts influenced the Vikings? I think the connection with Woden also bears further investigation.

    I’d be careful here, what we know of Norse, Irish and Welsh mythology comes from Medieval Christian scribes, and thanks to them, we have a lot of material, but we also need to watch out for interpolations, error, misunderstanding and so on. The Norse materials, in particular, can be quite contradictory at times, so as a window on the Iron Age, or pre-Christian and pre-Roman beliefs, caution is advised.

    The Viking Age was a relatively short and revolutionary period in Norse/North Germanic history and there was indeed interaction, both violent and peaceful, with the Celtic peoples of Britain and Ireland, so I would not exclude an influence. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but somewhere or other there are a couple of Norse legends with magical severed heads, including Mimir’s head carried by Odin similar to that of Bendigeidfran or Brân the Blessed, and they may well indicate a Celtic influence. However, I think in terms of what we’re talking about, we have to go much further back. The so-called Celtic/Gaulish and Germanic peoples lived in close proximity, interacted with each other, spoke languages that descended from the same Indo-European proto-language and had belief systems that would have, at least in part, had similar Indo-European roots. Moreover, their geographical proximity and the similarities in their material cultures and environments would all strongly support a view that at least some common origins, archetypes and influences are to be found there.

    Anyway, when I have more time, I’ll post some stuff on Gwydion and Woden and, I must say, I’m enjoying this conversation a lot. Very interesting indeed …

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #8927
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Hello there David, I’ve a little more time now …

    Dwi wedi dod yn ôl at fy nghoed.
    Welsh proverb: I have got a grip of my senses, lit. I am back to my trees.

    In Welsh mythology we find Gwydion fab Dôn from Old Welsh Guidgen and which could mean “He who is born of wood/trees” and this in turn may derive from Proto-Celtic *widus. Welsh has the literary form gwŷdd and the singulative form gwydden. The word gwŷdd can also mean face, from Proto-Celtic *wēdos and ultimately Proto-Indo-European *weyd (to see). In addition, Welsh has the words gwiddon and gwiddan – with a variety of meanings connected to either magic and sorcery or skill and expertise. These names and derivations all seem to be pointing the same way, and therefore it is tempting to see a link with Mercury Uiducus (*Uidugenos) which would furthermore point towards Woden, whom the Romans equated with Mercury.

    The Proto-Germanic *wōd (mad) is attested in Middle English as wood/wode, meaning maddened, possessed or enraged, whereas Proto-Celtic would gives us *wāto (poem) and *wāti (poet). Proto-Germanic *Wodanaz derives from similar roots, namely *wodeno/*wodono with similar meanings and from our root *wet. The English word wood, from Anglo-Saxon/Old English wudu comes from Proto-Germanic *widu, cognate with Welsh gwydd and Gaelic fiodh. Moreover, the English to be wood, i.e., to be enraged, would, I think, still have been understood in Shakespeare’s times.

    So, after all of this linguistic investigation, we find Gwydion and Woden, similar etymologies, both psychopomp divinities, tricksters, shapeshifters, dispensers and seekers of wisdom and both connected to trees and poetry …

    Make of this what you will.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #8950
    david poole
    Participant

    I did not know that Odin was regarded as the trickster within Norse mythology; I thought that that role had already been assigned to Loki? I thought that Odin’s role was very different, seems very different. I don’t get the feeling that that is exactly his role.

    I am aware that in Wiltshire there is a Waden Hill; also, that there is a dyke known as the Wansdyke. From what I know I think that this is derived from the name Woden. Presumably the result of Saxon influence. I would like to look into this more at some point, I know that you said that you might too.

    I kind of feel that the Dagda is like a father figure to the gods, I am aware that he is also regarded as an allfather and also as a sponsor for Druidry, something I would like to know more about. Cernunnos appears to be in contact with the world of the animals, possibly their spirits, which would place him within a very different role. I see Cernunnos operating as part of a pantheon rather than being the main leader.

    #8968
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    I did not know that Odin was regarded as the trickster within Norse mythology; I thought that that role had already been assigned to Loki? I thought that Odin’s role was very different, seems very different.

    Odin/Woden is very much a trickster figure, and a problematic one to categorise too. The Norse legend of Odin’s taking the Mead of Poetry from the giant Suttungr is full of trickery and shapeshifting – Odin transforms himself into a snake and then an eagle to escape. Unlike the thundering hero god Thor/Donar – whom some might equate with the Gaulish Taranos – Odin/Woden wins his battles through cunning and craftiness, and throughout the Norse materials he comes across at times as a rather ambiguous figure. In addition, Odin/Woden has strong associations with animals, especially wolves, ravens and bears and with the totemic warrior-cults of the Bersekr and Úlfhéðnar which may have originated in very ancient ritual hunting cults.

    The distinction between Odin and Loki in Norse mythology is not so easy at times – one of Odin’s epithets is Bölverker (Evil-doer), and we need to remember that these materials have come down to us via Christian monks. It could be that our perception of these figures is also due to Christian monks casting figures in a light that either suited their own theological narrative or simply because it was how they would have quite naturally perceived them themselves. Loki is very problematical in terms of any clear definition or agreement on origin. He is certainly a trickster figure, but a generally malevolent one, so much so that the Aesir have enough of him and he ends up bound by them, a fate which Odin/Woden does not meet.

    I am aware that in Wiltshire there is a Waden Hill; also, that there is a dyke known as the Wansdyke. From what I know I think that this is derived from the name Woden. Presumably the result of Saxon influence.

    I think it’s generally agreed that Wansdyke is indeed derived from Woden’s Dyke. The structure itself is pre-Anglo-Saxon; however, I do believe that the pagan Anglo-Saxons often attributed to the great structures that they found, left over by the Romans and previous peoples, to giants or their own gods as a means to explain them. You could compare this to the Englynion y Beddau from the Black Book of Carmarthen, in which dolmens, barrows and suchlike are attributed to the heroes of Welsh legend. By the way, not too far from your neck of the woods there’s a Neolothic barrow complex known as Wayland’s Smithy, which may also illustrate the point.

    #8969
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    I kind of feel that the Dagda is like a father figure to the gods, I am aware that he is also regarded as an allfather and also as a sponsor for Druidry, something I would like to know more about. Cernunnos appears to be in contact with the world of the animals, possibly their spirits, which would place him within a very different role. I see Cernunnos operating as part of a pantheon rather than being the main leader.

    Indeed, the The Dagda or “Good God” is also called Ollathair (All Father) and is the “druid” of the Tuatha Dé –Ruadh Rofhessa. The Dagda is also a thunder deity and connected to the thunder tree, the oak. My own musing would be that thunder could seem like a deer’s antlers reaching across the sky, could it not?

    #8970
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #8981
    david poole
    Participant

    I was going to look into wolf cults at some point soon, I feel that that would have a lot of interesting things to say. I am already aware of some of the things which you have shared regarding the Norse religion. I feel that the heathen Saxons have had a big influence on our landscape and beliefs; a matter worth consideration in itself. Odin is surrounded by a different range of animals than Cernunnos, it’s like they’re dealing with the animal world and its spirits in different ways. Through my studies I am aware that different cultures have had their own versions of a thunder god; look into it and you may notice some of the similarities. The Vikings came along later than many cultures; it has been my thought that their gods, such as Thor, may have been borrowed from earlier cultures and renamed to fit their culture. I think that a number of thunder gods carry hammers, with obvious implications, if they are connections although it is suggestive. I think the hedgehog mounds just outside Avebury along the Ridgeway are meant to be Saxon? By the way, I am surprised that Odin has so many different names, maybe as many as 205 different names. Any thoughts on that subject? Why would he need to have so many different names?

    #8983
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Well, the way I’ve always seen it is that the Vikings weren’t so much of a culture as one part in a short period in the much longer history of Norse/North Germanic culture. I’m not sure about the so-called hedgehog mounds, I thought these were more Beaker period.

    By the way, I am surprised that Odin has so many different names, maybe as many as 205 different names. Any thoughts on that subject? Why would he need to have so many different names?

    There are probably many answers to that question. In my opinion, what we have that has come down to us, in a way, represents a final stage or codification of the earlier beliefs of societies that were for the most part non-literate. At “codification”, if you like, they became static and frozen in time, but the many names, contradictions and so on would suggest to me that these were notions in constant evolution and change and for this reason the perhaps non-discerning monks and scribes bundled together varying traditions under one roof, so to speak. The Odin/Woden figure a Viking Age person would have recognised might well have differed a great deal from the Wodinaz figure a 1st century CE person from the same Germanic cultural area would have. The epithets, for that’s what they are at the end of the day, were added as the myths, stories, poems and songs accumulated and as the material cultures and circumstances of the peoples in questions changed and developed. In fact, it’s interesting to note how Tyr/Tiw, who should have been the “Jove” figure, is very diminished in importance by the Viking Age and Odin/Woden seems to have usurped his All Father position.

    The second answer wouldn’t be so “academic”. All language is metaphor and metaphors are useful in so far as they’re understood, the epithets are referring to something beyond human ken and vary because of this.

    #9005
    david poole
    Participant

    I have just noticed something rather interesting, if a little confusing. On the Action is Ritual/Ritual is Action page, there is a monthly ritual devoted to Gwydion Ap Don. I suspect this is something you would know about Dowrgi. There is a picture associated with this ritual, which depicts Cernunnos as shown on the Gundestrup Cauldron. This is a bit confusing, as the story is the story of Gwydion, not Cernunnos; unless the author is claiming that there is a connection. Is there? It does not seem apparent.

    #9010
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    A late good evening David.

    I’ve just had a look. First and foremost, far be it from me to critique someone else’s spiritual ideas or comment on how something may indeed reveal itself to them. Furthermore, I think we have to ask ourselves this: do we see Woden, Gwydion, Cernunnos and so on as discrete entities, or do we see them as manifestations, or even an individual’s revelations, of the same truth? This really does depend on a person’s own spiritual world view. I think someone coming from a panentheistic angle might well take the latter route, which is fair enough.

    On the other hand, and leaving aside this particular example, generally, I’d be careful with Cernunnos, we don’t know anything about Cernunnos’s story and we really only have iconography and rather short inscriptions to go off. A really “hard science” academic might even question whether the Gundestrup cauldron can be “proven” to represent Cernunnos at all since we have no engravings, i.e., names, on it. Personally, I think that would be a little too sceptical, albeit what we’d rightfully expect from an academic within an academic context. And here, perhaps, is also the doorway, or at least the keyhole, to something – Cernunnos defies our definitions and in order to find him, if it is he who we are genuinely seeking, we have to work on our own personal revelation.

    You might find the information here interesting: http://www.deomercurio.be/en/cernunnos.html

    Re Gwydion, well, some could possibly see a link between Cernunnos and Gilfaethwy fab Dôn in that in the Fourth Branch, Gwydion is transformed into a stag, then a sow and then a wolf respectively, while Gilfaethwy fab Dôn, his brother, becomes a doe, a boar and a she-wolf – male and female alternating each year. So, we have an animal connection, and – especially – a connection with antlered deer. Having said that, I’d also exercise caution with this interpretation owing to the fact that Cernunnos is invariably depicted as a horned god, an antlered “deer spirit”, whereas the two brothers in the Mabinogi only assume these forms because they are transformed into them as a punishment by Math fab Mathonwy.

    Anyway, that’s my fourpence worth. I hope it is of some use to you.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #9025
    david poole
    Participant

    In spite of everything I feel that there is a powerful force or forces which interact with our lives, which we might describe as powers or gods. Every time I read something about Cernunnos I feel that his name represents something real, whether it can be proven by history or not. I feel that there is something very real out there which can be described as Cernunnos, whether this is its original name or not. Maybe it is a new name which we have given to something much older. In any case, the point is that in ritual or magical terms, calling upon this force by this name should produce a result; there is some kind of magic at work here. I have encountered this before in situations where Cernunnos, if you choose to call him or it that, has been called upon with a result or some kind of feeling of result. I think what is happening here is that we are interfacing with real powers and that the names, while vitally important, do not have to carry historical evidence, only effects and consequences. I say that names are important because different forces have different properties and different consequences. What we commonly think of as Cernunnos is like a shepherd or an animal guardian or protector; he is like a summing up for this particular aspect of the supernatural world. Therefore should he be called upon, he or something like him will respond in an appropriate way.

    There is another minor confusion here; Touchstone has recently published an article by Ben Hopkinson in which an artist, Julie Brett, has depicted Ben as Gwynn Ap Nudd. I need to know more about Gwynn, by the way, which I am sure you will come forward with. Anyway, Ben/Gwynn has been depicted as something like Cernunnos, again based on Gundestrup which seems to be a recurring image in different contexts. Does this prove anything? No. Unless there is some kind of connection, but would that be historical or spiritual? I am hoping that you can shed some light on that question.

    #9046
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Hi there again David.

    Re your first points, of course, everyone will have his or her own reaction and perhaps revelation, and with regard to nomenclature, a rose by any other name would still be a rose, would it not? However, this is so subjective and down to the individual that it is difficult to quantify or qualify in ways that may be meaningful for another. I hope you understand, and I have sought to point out in my answers, that there are the hard, historical and academic answers in terms of what we know in a concrete way and then our own interpretations and revelations. I don’t think there’s an issue as long as we clearly distinguish them. Having said that, if we are going to re-connect with the beliefs, traditions and lore of our ancestors, spiritual ancestors or the the Celtic cultures of the past, surely we owe it to them to be as faithful as we can to what can reasonably be presumed to have been their beliefs and their worldview. It’s a tricky one, I do admit, and in this thread we’re asking questions and seeking answers on a number of different levels.

    Focusing more specifically on Gwyn ap Nudd, he is indeed a difficult figure. Coming to us through the Welsh legends, in some cases we have, dare I say, quite a malevolent or dangerous figure – as is the one described to us in Culhwch and Olwen – punished by Arthur for eternity to fight with Gwythyr ap Greidiol for the hand of Creiddylad ferch Lludd; the trickster figure being punished by the great king, yet we also find him at Arthur’s court in the same legend. In other legends, he appears as the King of Annwn, the leader of the Cŵn Annwn “Hounds of Annwn” and of the Tylwyth Teg “Fairies” – entities who you shouldn’t mess with in Welsh and Cornish folklore! More confusion arises if we consider that Gwyn could be another name for Arawn, perhans linked to the Continental Celtic deity recorded as Arubianus, and who enters into conflict with Gwydion fab Dôn – our strong candidate for a Woden figure.

    Could we identify Gwynn ap Nudd with Cernunnos? I don’t know for sure. We certainly have a lord of the hunt, a psychopomp and a chthonic figure. The name ap Nudd, son of Nudd, suggests a connection with the deity Nodens, whom the Romans identified with Neptune, Mars and Silvanus. If we connect Nodens to the Irish Nuada, we also have, albeit tentatively, a similarity with the Norse deity Týr – in that they are deities that lose a hand and, one way or the other, lose their kingship; in Welsh tradition, we also find Nudd Llaw Ereint, later Ludd Llaw Ereint, with a silver hand. Nodens seems to have been connected with hunting and fishing and there may be further similarities to be found with Njörðr, the Vanir god of fishing in Norse tradition, and later on a faint memory in the Arthurian Fisher King.

    Considering the traditional materials, and acknowledging how confusing and tangled it can be, I would say that with Gwyn ap Nudd, we seem to be moving away from Cernunnos, not towards him, at least in terms of the mythological corpus we have. There was a British and Gaulish God Nodens, we know that for a fact, we have strong reason to believe that Irish Nuada and Welsh Nudd are the same, we also have a Gaulish deity Cernunnos. It might seem facetious, I admit, but if we assume Nodens and Cernunnos to be “contemporaries” and discrete entities, then why isn’t Gywn, Gwyn ap Cernunnos?

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.