As most people will know by now, I worship a Horned God. A lot of people who worship a Horned God are soft polytheists, which I am not. Many others are Wiccans, and the Horned God they worship is a rather specific one with a specific name - again, this does not apply to me.
I go a bit back and forth wondering whether the Horned God I worship is the god of Wicca. At present I'm fairly sure He isn't. It isn't outside the realms of possibility that one could worship Wiccan gods outside of Wicca, or even that such a god wouldn't require one to join a coven. (Although, fair cop, He may do in the future for all I know! But it would run a bit counter to everything required of me so far.) But I've said all this before.
I'm wondering again, as I read through something talking about Murray, where I stand here. I don't believe Murray's ideas. I don't believe they're based on anything particularly solid. (I mean she seemed like a fab old lady but that doesn't mean the things she wrote were equally fab.) On what basis do I know this God? How did I even find Him - or how did He find me? I reached out into the ether and He was there; was He waiting for me, or did He hear me call?
It's times like this I wish I had made more of an effort to write down my thoughts and experiences Way Back When instead of just copying notes verbatim from crappy pop-witchcraft books. Take note, newbies: the thoughts and experiences you have, however silly or uneventful they seem at the time, are more valuable in the long run than copying stuff down from library books. Also, date everything. I hate not being able to remember when it was I first picked up a book on witchcraft.
It's hard to read about Horned God entities. That sort of thing is so full of irritations. You have a slew of books taking the soft-poly stance; a bunch that think Herne is a god (he's not); a heap that seem to think Pan and Cernunnos are the same entity; and the rest of them bang on the Murray drum until you can't hear yourself think. I mean, Janicot? "Oh yerss it is a Basque deity" well that's nice, would you like to let us know whence this information came? Oh, you wouldn't? Cheers for that.
I guess it serves me right for not yet having summoned up the courage to read "Witchcult in Western Europe" or "God of the Witches" for myself. For all I know everything is laid out perfectly soundly. Meanwhile dear Valiente, of whom I am fond because she wrote marvellously, insists that no one took Murray seriously because she was banging on about witchcraft being a religion and witches were teh evilz. I'm afraid not, dear. It's not a big conspiracy after all; she was just wrong.
But really all that's neither here nor there. I'm still no closer to really knowing where I stand here, or how I feel about how I got here. I can describe my UPG of my God all day if you like, so it's not like I feel He isn't there - and you never know, maybe it will correspond with yours. Or perhaps we just read the same books, eh?
That's part of the trouble. A lot of these books that talk about a Horned God strike a chord occasionally, and then do an about-turn and wind up somewhere else. How much did I internalise from these books, and how much was pure UPG? And, when you get right down to it, who is that book talking about? Is it talking about the Gaulish Cernunnos? The Greek Pan? The Wiccan God? Some not-really-real-just-a-metaphor god? The same God that I worship? Another Horned God altogether?
Because to be honest, sometimes when I read these (often but not always soft-polytheistic) Eclectic-Neo-Pagan witchcraft books I wonder if they're just making shit up. Or rather, repeating something someone else made up. Like 80% of these books are just an echo chamber, repeating back to one another everything they've heard from everyone else.
Triple Goddess, Horned God, pentacle. Add magick circle and mix until holy.
I'm not even annoyed, I'm just sort of confused. I really don't have a good bead on what, or indeed Who, many of these books are talking about. It doesn't help that half of them talk about worshipping "the Horned God", describe this entity in detail (whoever he is) and then sort of toss him out the window and suggest you worship gods A, B and C instead. Or (worse) provide you with a table of different gods to worship in different situations, depending on what it is you want. Which is just sort of weird to me. Why devote a whole chapter to a god in your book and then not really mention that god in all your prayers and rituals?
I suppose in a way my Horned God is no more nebulous in traceable history than my Goddess. I guess it's the Horned part that really suggests He should have something more of a solid past; He has an element of physical description that She does not really have. I feel like I lean more heavily on UPG for Her.... and then on the other hand, there's something more in the way of just assuming when it comes to the concept of a Great Goddess. Like we all feel there should have been one, way back in prehistory somewhere, even if there turns out to be no evidence for it (not totally convinced re: the porn dollies, myself). A Great Goddess arises in rather a more organic way; it's less of a surprise to me that worship of Her should be adopted, even if at this point I remain unconvinced that the next person is worshipping the same Great Goddess as I am. Whether they are or not isn't particularly important, anyway; we're not worshipping together, so we can be worshipping the same Goddess or different Goddesses and really either way it's just as interesting.
Speak to me of your Great Goddess, ditheists and goddess-worshippers. Let us exchange notes.
So I'm fine to accept that as a natural element of mankind, the tendency towards worshipping a Great Goddess. For some reason I'm a lot more sceptical when it comes to Great Gods. Maybe it is the "Horned" bit, the physical descriptor. The way people get hung up on calling their Horned God Cernunnos when Cernunnos is a specific deity Who already existed, and is part of an established pantheon. The whole Murray thing, with the "the devil = the Horned God" and all the associated blurred lines and grey areas. When one tosses out Murray's bollocks one is forced to confront many of the ideas she presented; if Gardner nabbed his Horned God from Murray and everyone else's version of a Horned God is derived in some way from Gardner's, does the whole thing fall down? Can we keep small pieces of Murray's ideas and discard the rest without being hypocrites?
This is all just idle thought; while I am occasionally bothered by not having a clear line of history on my God, I've had enough in the way of UPG to not be particularly distressed. I'm not about to throw my worship out the window, is what I'm saying. I am fairly sure He is there. And getting to know Him may be a bit like flailing around in the dark, and sometimes it's very slow going, but that's the deal, and I'm OK with that.
Antlers aren't technically horns, anyway. Does a god with antlers keep them all year, or do they fall off? Since it's always antler-time for some deer species somewhere in the world, does it really matter? Maybe antlered gods just like having antlers on all the time. Maybe consistent antlerage is a symbol of immortality. (Actually, I rather like that idea. Wouldn't work with the Wiccan god, of course.) Or maybe they are equatorial-brand antlers and just don't get shed.