Healing and the Horned God

The Grandmother of Wicca, Doreen Valiente, playfully named him ‘Old Hornie’. The Horned God, honoured by Wiccans and other Pagans, is very close to my heart. To speak of him in the singular is rather misleading because for me, in my own personal understanding, he is a mixture of several different god forms, all of which intimately link with nature and have not been deprived of their sexuality. The Horned God, no matter what aspect or God form we might perceive him to be, remains potent.


It’s true that many have a little more trouble relating to him at first. People’s experience of the Divine Masculine prior to Paganism can often be experienced as extremely negative; it can take some time to erase that judgemental and harsh presence so often associated with the word ‘God’. However, the Horned God is a glorious antidote to that patriarchal, unforgiving, angry father God who many of us feared and desperately tried to please as children.


For many modern pagans, honouring the eight festivals of the Wheel of the Year is a central practice that helps them engage with the Goddess and God in their environment and within themselves. This sacred circle of festivals is a Mandala: a cosmic diagram of the cycles of life, of sun, moon and earth, of the seasons of nature and humankind. For me, the Goddess is both the Mandala’s core and circumference; she is its very essence and the gift of wisdom, peace and centring that it can bring. The God is the Mandala’s spiral dance: the journey of bud, blossom and fruit, of falling leaf and seed. It might be said that she is its wholeness; he its ever changing parts. I have to stress that such ideas are personal and flexible; Paganism invites us to find our own way to the Divine through experience – whatever system we find to deepen our practice remains only one of many routes to commune with the Divine. It’s important not to get too hung up on the system and thereby hopefully avoid creating yet new dogmas to limit our experience (and potentially the experiences of others too!).


The Horned God is essentially a nature God. Many Pagan’s see him as a guardian of nature’s balance. He is a God of fertility, vitality, sexuality and abundance but he is also a God of sacrifice for the greater good and of death too. His shadowed face is not one of destruction for its own sake; rather it is a compassionate expression of death that life may flourish. There is very much a sense of him as hunter and hunted, for as we are all subject to his ‘culling’ – in order for life to continue and the balance to be kept – he is also himself cut down in the harvest of our food (be it animal or vegetable): he knows what it means to die and is seen as a guide and protector on the journey through and beyond death.


He contains within his nature the paradox of ‘life in death and death in life’ and we experience this through his seasonal journey. The waxing and waning energies that make up his nature are often understood as the Oak and Holly God. His expression as Oak God is felt through the waxing, expansive energies of the time of year between winter and summer solstice. His waning energies are felt through the harvest and the dying back of the year from between the summer and winter solstice.


He is the joyous life-force that bursts forth in bud, leaf and fruit: the Green Man’s wild abundance. He is also the golden life-giving sun whose warmth and light fertilises the earth Goddess’s body; the vital energy of its light bringing us happiness, pleasure and life. He is the sacrifice of the harvest that feeds and nourishes us. He is the dying back; the mulch and leaf mould that rots into the Earth Mother’s body, nourishing new life. He is the peace of death and the promise of renewal.


The Horned God is a stark contrast to the stern Old Testament God, for he is a dancing God; a laughing God with a vibrant and well used Phallus; he is a God of joy and pleasure, of the ecstasy of life.


He is also perceived as a Shaman God, a God who travels the World Tree and as such is the Wise Old Man of the woods who knows all the uses of the natural world for healing; who dissolves the normal boundaries to guide us to the Otherworld for our own and other’s healing. 


His horns are a sign of his virility and strength. He is the sky bull who mounts the earth cow and brings the abundance of summer; as ram he is the rampant, irrepressible energy of spring; as goat, he is the lusty, mischievous energy of Pan; as stag he is the ever changing seasons, growing his antlers only to shed and re-grow them. He is Lord of all animals; protector of beasts. He is the pleasure and pain of the body; the power of instinct and desire.


His vital energy gives life to our creativity. Through his dynamic nature we can connect and flow with the life-force within us; we become the hunter of our soul’s desire, reaching for our potential, drawing upon his energy and courage to actualise our dreams, learning to harmonise with nature and its seasons in order to live more effectively and ecologically.


I have found a great deal of healing in my relationship with him, particularly with regard to the sexual abuse of my teens. He introduced me to a new way of understanding the Divine Masculine and through this enabled a more positive grasp of how this might potentially express itself through the men in my life.


Unlike the patriarchal God of my childhood, his word is never carved in stone; it sings from the blackbird; is heard in the rustle of leaves and the silent glory of the stars; it is the pain of letting go; the urgency and desire of a lover’s touch. He is the bright spark of life – the joy and poignancy of living. When we open to him, we open to the wonder and blessing of life; we see the wisdom and meaning of all life’s experiences – the happiness and sadness; we are infused with his strength and bolstered by his protection. In his sharing with us the wisdom of seed and flower, of fruit and falling leaf, the turning tides of our lives become a little easier to navigate; the joy at the heart of creation more apparent, more intensely felt.









  1. Juniper said,

    May 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Beautiful post, I have had much the same experience with Him myself.

    Thank you,


  2. luckyloom1 said,

    May 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Many Thanks Juniper!

  3. greg rigby said,

    July 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    In the most ancient of times, when the night sky was not screened from us by reflection of electrically powered light, the stars seemed much brighter than they do today. Northern latitudes spent much of the winter day was in darkness and the wise men and priests were able to see that some unique stars did not set below the horizon and rotated around the ‘pole’ position in the sky.
    This group of stars gave birth to the idea of God and ‘the horned one’ in a variety of aspects and to his or her home in the heavens.
    The stories that the priests told of these aspects of God and ‘the horned one’ were strong and powerful and included allegories about the birth of mankind and the Paradise that we all aspire to. So strong were these stories that they transcended time as they were passed from parent to child and were prosecuted by chains of fervent religious fanatics. They formed the basis for organised religions whose doctrines have been violently evangelised throughout history. So strong have been these movements that today there exist ‘believers’ who continue to forcefully promote their orthodoxy in the name of ‘God’ and ‘Truth’.
    The God Secret shows clear and irrefutable evidence of these astronomical irreligious origins. It illustrates links to the popular and enduring myths and exposes much of popular ‘belief’ as questionable at best and gobbledegook at worst.

  4. luckyloom1 said,

    July 13, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Thank you for your comment Greg. I think a common trap with any belief system is to allow one’s understanding of it to become rigidly fixed. I don’t think religion is the only culprit here; certainly politics and science can be as guilty of a ‘one true way’ doctrine as the most unbending of organised religions. It worries me when the system becomes more important than the spirit of something. I feel uncomfortable with the ‘one true way’ dogma. How can anyone’s limited perception ever claim to completely grasp the greater mysteries of life? Also, if I cling to a rigid interpretation of something, I close off any opportunity of experiencing potentially enlightening alternatives. Any spiritual path I choose will only ever reveal a partial view. It seems to me that when people express rigidly held certainties, beneath such is a great fear of the unpredictability of life, of our vulnerability and powerlessness in the face of things we have little control over. For me, my spiritual path needs to enable me to connect more deeply with the cycles of nature and my own life. What ‘truth’ I find will inevitably be personal to me, and I wouldn’t dream of enforcing it upon another. Flexibility, openess and tolerance seem like good starting points; a willingness for others to express a different understanding that is never the less valid.
    Best wishes for your book.

  5. dorianeaden said,

    February 17, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Reblogged this on goingdownforthethirdtimeorami.

  6. dorianeaden said,

    February 17, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I also connect very strongly with the horned god. He was the first god I embraced as a druid.

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