From the Gundustrop Cauldron
Cernunnos: The Horned God
Cernunnos is pictured on the Gundustrop Cauldron as a human with the antlers of a young stag, receiving wisdom from the wild creatures at his side. He brings what WildCat calls "WildMind," a fully present awareness of one's own Divine Presence, the other Beings creating the moment, and the intention or task at hand. He also brings a shape-shifter's ecstatic sense of one's own vitality and aliveness, an appreciation for one's own strength and grace, and delight in the sensual experience of the world.
In his hand he holds a torque, an open circlet that represents the archetype of the tension between commitment and liberty, or civility and wildness. The Horned God is traditionally born at the Winter Solstice, and is the Springtime lover of the great creator Goddess. He brings us the ability to be passionate, devoted lovers without surrendering our sovereignty and becoming a slave, and as such invites us to create interdependent relationship forms in which adults can be both responsible and free. The serpent in his other hand is, like the dragon of Michael, a symbol of mastery of the unconscious self, and the power the self-Master wields in the world.
The antlered god Cernunnos comes from the pre-Christian traditions in Roman Gaul, and echoes shamanic images of hunter-gatherer peoples the world over who honor the animals they kill in order to live. In this sense he also brings the ability to walk the line of an ethical meat-eater, attached to the physical Earth, yet fully aware of our Spiritual reality as well, and the karma that comes from consuming natural resources (especially meat). A careful look at the artist's depiction reveals the life force of the plants surrounding them and filling the interior of the animals, showing the shaman's awareness of the cycle of life force in Nature and our proper ethical place within it.