The Horned-god had a second sacred time after Yule and before Oimelc, also indicative of the Cernunnos-Calluinn (Hazel) association. According to Dwelly, there is an old Gaelic myth that New Year’s night is the night of the fecundation of the trees, when the winds blow from the west, and is called Calluinn night. On this night Bogles may walk. Bogles are wood spirits, connected with Cernunnos in the following interesting manner. The word Body or the Scottish Bogle is a diminutive of the original word Bog, with cognates in the Slavic, “Bog” god, and in Proto-Celtic “Boc” god. The Welsh “boucca” evolved into Puck, the wood sprite, and the Highland Bogey, spirit inhabiting wild or lonely places. “Poccan” is a male goat, and “Puc” is the goat-god who presides over the Puck fair celebrations in Ireland.
Fall Equinox Essay:
A Druid Missal-Any, Fall Equinox 1983
By Emmon Bodfish
Fall Equinox, this is the season associated with Cernunnos, the horned god, patron of hunters, wild creatures, herders and flocks. Write Thomas Cross, of Post Oak Protogrove, Texas, the preferred spelling should be Cernunnos from the original inscription found in Gaul and dating from Roman times: _ERNUNNOS.
In its other aspect, the Fall Equinox is an astronomical holiday associated with marking the passage of time and the need to keep the calendar rectified. The Druids were astronomer-priests, as numerous classical authors attest. Watching the heavens, keeping the calendar and predicting lunar eclipses were among their skills and duties. But they were not the first people to be able to do this. They may have learned from the Megalithic cultures that predated them, either in the Indo-European homeland, or during the long trek across Europe before 1500 BC when they arrived in the British Isles. When they came to England, it was already inhabited by a thriving stone age culture which had built Stone Henge, by the use of which it could rectify its calendar and foretell eclipses of the Moon. Many archeologists now believe that the great monument is a perpetual calendar and sidereal computer. Its location and construction show a sophisticated knowledge of the heavens and the Earth. The Moon/eclipse system could have been worked out by careful record keeping over a long period of time, something ancient priesthoods were good at, but because of the geometry of the Earth/Moon/Sun system, it is possible to construct this type of stone marker system for both the Sun and Moon only at the exact latitude of Stonehenge. Calculation of this requires knowledge of mathematics and geometry. According to John Gribbin (Timewarps, Delacorte Press, 1979) “even 20 or 30 miles north or south, the doubly significant rectangular observing marker could not have been built.”
The effort involved in the construction of this Megalith must have been great; by implication, the society that built it must have been both rich and stable, because in the first place, it could support a group of “wise ones” who were able to study the astronomical alignments over decades, and probably centuries, and to develop the mathematics necessary to plan the great observatory, and secondly it could take men out of active production for the long periods of time necessary to build the stone megalith, circles and ditch-works. Jim Duran, Ph.D. feels that the pre-Celtic people of Britain were organized in sets of matri-clans, based on fishing and hoe cultivation. Matri-clans foster a spirit of co-operative labor among men, as they are accustomed to working with other men from diverse family groups, wife’s brothers, sisters’ husbands, uncles, rather than feeling at ease only with his own family, his brothers, his father, as is usually the case in closed, patrilineal systems. The system of matri-clan organization is also a distinct advantage to a society engaged in long distance trading and raiding, as Duran thinks the ancient Britains were. Sea raiding may have helped to enrich the economy and make huge projects the economy and make huge projects like Stonehenge feasible. (See Emmon Bodfish’s future monograph, “The Financing of Stonehenge.”)
As asserted, when the men are going to be away for long periods going to be away for long periods of time, raiding, trading or engaged in public works projects, they prefer to leave the homesteads in the care of their sisters and their mother’s people, who will guard their mutual inheritance, rather than in the keeping of the wives, as under patrilineage. The wives would be from a different, also raiding clan, and their loyalty would be divided.
Gribbon, reasoning from the workings of the marker stones at Stonehenge, deducts that basic megalithic calculations were in 3/1 and 7/1 ratios. These, especially three, were important number in Celtic ritual also. This may be the basis of our seven day week, an institution that pre-dates recorded history, in Northern Europe. Though the Druids did not build Stonehenge, they may have understood its workings, and certainly the working of the Solar calendar it marks. With it they could have calculated not only the Fall Equinox which is at 7:42 AM Pacific time this year, but also the fact that it is a Friday, though they would not have called it that. The names, as most people know, are Norse.
Fall Equinox Essay: Cernunnos
A Druid Missal-Any, Fall Equinox 1984
By Emmon Bodfish
Equinox approaches the time sacred to Cernunnos, the Hunter God. “Now is come September, the Hunter’s Moon begun.” 1as Holly sings it, and now is the time of Cernunnos, the god of the hunt, the immortal shaman invoking and controlling the quarry. In Gaul, an altar was dedicated to him below what is now Paris. He is one of the prototypes of that inexhaustible figure, The Horned Man.
As Master of the Animals, he embodies their spirits and can parley with them, bringing game to the hunter, or protecting and sustaining cattle and flocks. As the Woods-god, he directs primary energy, the life forces, creative, magical, and procreative of animals and wilderness. As the Shaman-god his function is to be a connecting link between the human and non-human worlds, and to balance the two with their opposing tensions. From these two roles flow his later attributes, God of Wealth, magician, juggler, and Lord of the Dance.
He is appealed to to communicate to the spirit of the animals to let one of their number be taken for food, to make the cattle flourish, and to increase the herds. Most pagan cultures believe that it is not prudent or even possible to catch game or raise an animal for slaughter without its permission on the spiritual level. This is always a bargain, requiring the prey’s cooperation. Ritual and honor must be paid to prey species, or to the Master of Cattle, in return.
Though Margaret Murray was ridiculed for suggesting it in the 30s, it has since become clear that we are dealing with a Paleolithic cult in the Horned God, yet one that has continued down to the present day. This shows a strong, basic archetypal appeal. Like all good archetypes, he has multiple and voluminous levels of meaning
In Celtic mythology, he forms a triad with Eusus and Sylvanus. As with other Celtic triple divinities, these may be different facets of the same being. He is close on the left side to Eusus, god of the underworld and riches, and on the right to Sylvanus, Wood spirit, god of vegetation, the Green Man. The links with wealth and death on one hand and magic and fecundity on the other go all the way back to Cernunnos’ stone age roots. Around the pictures of horned men on cave walls are other pictures, most of them of animals. All were animals which were important in the hunt, but which were dangerous to hunt. Species known to have been hunted, but which are not dangerous, are not represented. These animals, deer, bison, bulls, wolves, horses are ones that have to be reckoned with, and this was done magically. As the Finn-Ugric and Siberian hunters, heirs to Paleolithic Europe, explained it in the 19th century, there are three things the hunter wants to insure: that he kill the quarry and that it not kill him. That is that his spirit, mana or tapa, overcome the animal’s spirit. And thirdly, he wants to insure that his hunting not cause the prey species to flee or to become depleted. He wishes to propitiate the spirits of the animals for the loss of some of their number, and to insure the fertility of the herd and secure its increase.
Among many Northern European peoples it was important to assure the animal killed of a way to be reborn, to come back and continue its life. Its bones were collected and treated with special funeral rites and magic to aid this return. Ideas presaging the concept of reincarnation are common to Eurasian hunter cultures and south to the Caucus and the Indo-European homelands. Here, then are the Cernunnos' triad’s attributes:
with magic as the connecting link or directing force which humans and gods assert, influencing the course of events for their benefits.
Cernunnos is the Gaulish deity whom Caesar equated with Roman Mars. This was more than chance resemblance. There is some evidence of for their common I.E. roots. Mars was not always a god of war. Originally he was a god of vegetation. Cato and Varro concur on this, telling us that it was to Mars that the farmers prayed for good crops and prosperity, and for protection of their cattle. He had an old title, from pre-Republican days, of Mars Silvanus, Mars of the Woods. The elements of War and martial spirit were later connected with him when Rome began its expansions and conquest. There is a myth recorded in Plutarch’s “Parallela,” in which Mars takes on a mortal woman as his lover. Her name is Silvia; she bears him a son whose soul is contained in a spear.
God of the Wood
Protector of Cattle
At the other end of the Indo-European spectrum, in Vedic India, is the figure of Rudra, who may be cognate with Mars. He is the patron of the Kesin, long haired, woods-dwelling ascetics. And there is reason to think that Sylvanias, Silvanus, and Shiva are the same. The latter two share similar myths of travels in the Underworld. If we accept the Irish Wildman-of-the-Woods, Mad Suibhni (Swee’ nee) as a late Christian euhemerization of Sylvanias/Cernunnos, then the Celtic Horned-god(s) made similar journeys to the Underworld, under or inside Magic Mountains. All these tales include a visit to a female figure who lives inside the Mountain and who is the source of wealth or knowledge. In Siberia she is the Reindeer Mother. Among the early Greeks she is the Bear Mother. On Shiva's journey, she is Devi, Madam Bramha, conqueror of the Bull-Demon, bulls, cattle, and herds.
In the Caucus she is Mother of the Dead, who suckles the soul of the newly dead, as the Reindeer Mother suckles each would-be shaman who finds his way through the labyrinth to her cave. There is nothing like her in African, Chinese, or Australian myths, no source figure who is a Lady-inside-a-Mountain. She is an Eurasian figure, probably of Paleolithic origin. In her we may be seeing who “Venus of Willendorf” was.2 Similar Magdalenian and Gravettian female figurines have been found far down in caves and caverns under mountains in France and Switzerland. These caves are often difficult and dangerous to climb down into, yet the walls are elaborately painted with figures of animals and outlined handprints of humans, or whole rooms painted red with ochre. Footprints in the hardened clay show that dances and ceremonies were held here around her figurines, or around clay models of gravid or copulating bison. Here someone painted on the wall the famous “dancing sorcerer” of the Arièges, the proto-type of the Horned Man.
Cernunnos, King of the Wood, Lord of the Animals, he can be appealed to for difficulties with pets or with wild animals. His color is brown, burn aromatic woods or pine pitch or incense. Brown is a very special color; it is not found in the spectrum. It is a mixture of red and green with yellow for warm brown, or blue for cool brown mixed in, in lesser quantities. But there is no brown light. The sensation, brown, is created within the human visual system. This is fitting for Cernunnos, the mind-traveler, the shaman. Francis of Assisi, preaching to the birds, living in the forest, and specifying humble brown robes of local material for his Order, was in the old I.E. tradition of the Holy-Man-in-the-Woods. These old currents of thought change direction and name, but do not die out as quickly and as easily as textbook history would portray.
Cernunnos can best be experienced out-of-doors in the woods or wild places. After 2:00 a.m., and the last lights are out and radios off, even fairly tame bits of the out-of-doors, backyards, and gardens return essentially to Nature. Smells and sounds change. Try sitting like Cernunnos in his Gunderstrup pose in this setting. If you cannot find a horned serpent, use some other symbol of the Mountain Mother,2 and a torc, sign of the warrior and of his bond to his patron deity.
1Holly Tannen, “Invocation.” Kicking Mule Records, KM 236.
2James Duran, “The Horned God of Europe,” Spring Seminar, 1984.
Fall Equinox Essay: Michaelmas
A Druid Missal-Any, Fall Equinox 1985
By Emmon Bodfish
Fall Equinox is associated in the Celtic parts of the British Isles with the gathering of root crops. Many of the old customs have continued, in the Highlands and the Islands, and are enacted now in the name of the Michael-mass festivals. Michael is the Christian personality most often substituted for Lugh, or even Llyr, by the Old Celtic Church when it first came to the Celtic countries in the 4th and 5th centuries. The flaming sword and warrior aspect of the Archangel may have suggested a similarity to Lugh-of-the-Long-Arm and his spear in his defender, protector role. Most particularly, the quality of “shiningness” links the two.
Alexander Carmichael, collecting oral folklore in the 1830s, notes that in the Highlands, St. Michael is spoke of as “an Brian Michael,” that is, the Demi-god Michael. Christian saints, such as Columba or Andrew were called “Naomh” the usual translation of the Latin “sanctus.” Brian Michael rides a winged horse, and is the patron of sailors and ships, the former province of Llyr. There is no basis for either magical horses or control of the sea in the Biblical Archangel’s exploits that I recall. The same powers and a fiery steed are attributed to him in Cornwall and Brittany, but never in Greek or Roman Christianity, i.e. south of the Alps.
Since some tiny carrots have sprung up in our lawn, we may do a version of the Highland Carrot ceremony come Fall Equinox. (The benefits of using kitchen compost for fertilizer.)
While one of our members went to the gathering at Harbin Hot Springs, the remaining Live Oak members celebrated Lughnasadh with a Bonnack Bake. Bonnacks, or in Scot’s Gaelic “bonnachann,” are small, unleavened cakes of sweet meal, often mentioned in old Celtic song and lore. The Romans on Hadrian’s Wall describe Pictish raiders baking them over their campfires on the flats of their swords.
A Druid Missal-Any, Fall Equinox 1985
By Emmon Bodfish
[Several pictures of the procedure.]
Cut your grain with a bronze sickle when the heads are an even tan and dry. Thrash it over a clean white cloth and winnow it with your breath. Grind it until it is a fine meal. Mix it with whiskey and water and pat it into cakes. Cook slowly over a smoored fire, (on the flat of a sword) without turning them. (8-10 min.)
“Tha bonnach min milas aig Bride a’taobh d’an sliabh.”
When it ripened, we cut the rye and wheat that had sprouted spontaneously in our Grove circle. We decided to make some ceremonial bonnacks out of it. We thrashed it by hand, rubbing the grain heads between our hands, letting the grain fall on a clean white cloth, as described for the old Highland rites. Stacey discovered the best method of winnowing. She put the rubbed gain, still in its husks, in a sloping sided bowl, and blew lightly down the near side of the bowl, puffing the fine chaff up the opposite side and out, all the while shaking the grain in the bowl to bring more chaff to the top.
We made a fire of the last of the wood that Joan Carruth, ex A.D. of Live Oak Grove, current A.D. of Birch Grove, had donated when she moved East a few years ago. The fire burned down to good glowing cooking coals while we took turns grinding the grain in a hand bill, a never-used-before pepper mill, actually. We baked the bonnachann on the lat of a sword, in the old Pictish (Cruithinig) tradition, Raphael lending his sword for the purpose. During the grinding we chanted the old Highland Quern Blessing, Larry reading the English and Emmon reading the Gaelic. Although we were prepared to bite into something “not so wonderful” and eat it anyway, the result were surprisingly good, especially with sweet butter. As Raphael said, “Boy, this is bread ‘from scratch’.”
Fall Equinox is associated with the gathering of root crops in Scotland and England, and perhaps, before the potato, in Ireland as well. Many of the old customs are preserved in the Highlands, enacted now in the name of “Michaelmas” festivals. Michael was the Christian personality most often substituted for Lugh, or, in other contexts, for Llyr, by the Old Celtic Church. The flaming sword and warrior aspect of the Archangel may have suggested a similarity to Lugh-of-the-Long-Arm with his magical spear. It also carries on the Celtic God’s protective image and his function as defender of the people, but most particularly it is the quality of “shining-ness” that links the two.
Alexander Carmichael, collecting oral folklore in the 1800s, notes that in the Highlands, St. Michael is spoken of as “an brian Michael.” That is “The Demi-god Michael.” Christian saints, such as Columba or Andrew, are called Santo, Saint, from the Latin. Archangel Gabriel is “aingeal” a Gàidhlig word deriving from the Latin, or “Naomh,” Gàidhlig for holy, sacred. No one else is “brian,” demi-god. The Highlanders’ Michael is pictured riding a winged horse, and is the patron of sailors and ships. There is not basis in the Biblical angel’s character for this; it is probably a co-option from Llyr, God of the Western Ocean and Master of Horses. The same characteristics, and the combination of associations with ships and with a fiery steed, are attributed to Manannan McLlyr, in Cornwall and Brittany.
The ceremony of the carrots, described by Carmichael, in connection with Fall Equinox and Llyr/Lugh’s Time, is something that could be adapted to the present R.D.N.A. celebration. It follows:
On the 29th of September, a festival in honour of St. Michael is held throughout the Western Coasts and Isles. This is much the most imposing pageant and much the most popular of the Celtic year. Many causes conduce to this--causes which move the minds and the hearts of the people to their utmost tension. To the young the Day is a day of promise, to the old a day of fulfillment, to the aged a day of retrospect. It is a day when pagan cult and Christian doctrine meet and mingle like the lights and shadows on their own Highland hills.
The Even of St. Michael is the eve of bringing in the carrots, of baking the “struan,” of killing the lamb, of stealing the horses. The Day of St. Michael is the Day of the early mass, the day of the sacrificial lamb, the day of the oblation ‘struan,’ the day of the distribution of the lamb, the day of the distribution of the ‘struan,’ the day of the pilgrimage to the burial-ground of their fathers, the day of the burial-ground service, the day of the burial-ground circuiting, the day of giving and receiving the carrots with their wishes and acknowledgements, and the day of the ‘oda’--the athletics of men and the racing of horses. And the Night of Michael is the night of the dance and the song, of the merry-making of the love-making, and of the love-gifts.
Some days before the festival of St. Michael the women and girls go to the fields and plains of the townland to procure carrots. The afternoon of the Sunday immediately proceeding St. Michael’s Day is especially devoted to this purpose, and on this account is known as “Domhnach Curran”--Carrot Sunday. When the soil is soft and friable, the carrots can be pulled out of the ground without digging. When, however, the soil is hard, a space is dug to give the hand access to the root. This space is made in the form of an equal-sided triangle, technically called ‘torcan,’ diminutive of “torc,” a cleft. The instrument used is a small mattock of three prongs, called ‘tri-meurach,’ three-fingered, ‘sliopag,’ ‘sliobhag.’ The three sided ‘torcan’ is meant to typify the three sided shield, and the three-fingered ‘sliopag,’ the trident of St. Michael, and possibly each to symbolize the Trinity. The many brightly-clad figures swing to and for, in and out, like the figures in a kaleidoscope, are singularly pretty and picturesque. Each woman intones a rune to her own tune and time irrespective of those around her. The following fragment was intoned to me in a soft, subdued voice by a woman who had gathered carrots eighty years previously: