The Horned One

Child of a New Day

Well-Known Member
Reaction score
New York
While understanding (long ago) that the image of the Horned one is in no way “Satanic” or a representation of the “Devil” for Wiccans. I, as an Eclectic Wiccan still do not view the God in this way. I understand that many do believe that to be the true image of the God (or one of the main). You see I do not view the God or Goddess as physical beings having or holding an (one) image. If I had to explain how I perceive them I might need a lot more space then one thread. I find myself editing invocations to say simply just God as apposed to “Horned One”. I have felt that if I expressed this, that I would be ostracized from the Wiccan community. I have however learned that this will not happen. I do also understand that by making this statement I will upset some people but of coarse I mean no offense. Any thoughts?
Horned gods are certainly popular among Wiccans (just like Aradia, Diana, and Hecate are popular goddesses.) Different Wiccan groups worship different deities though, and even within specific denominations there is often diversity regarding which deities individuals choose to honour.

Any Wiccan who would ostracise you for not choosing the "correct" god (whatever THAT is!) is not a person who is worth hanging around with, in my humble opinion.

Personally, I have a soft spot for Ganesh.
I was under the impression that the "Horned One" was a focus on masculine energy in the first place (bull, ram, goat,) etc??
I said:
I was under the impression that the "Horned One" was a focus on masculine energy in the first place (bull, ram, goat,) etc??

I think a lot of the emphasis on horned gods stems from attempts by the early Wiccans to validate themselves using Margaret Murray's speculative (and largely debunked since then) work on witchcraft.

Murray took the witch-hunt records and accounts and then assumed that there had to be an actual, universal, organized witch cult. She based her descriptions of what this cult must have been like on the very questionable material provided through torture.

It's important to remember that many of the "confessions" in the witch trials were only assumed to be true if they had been extracted under torture -- and the method for obtaining those "confessions" involved the torturer having a prewritten "confession" that the victim was forced to confirm. Since the "confessions" were concocted by the witchhunters how can we expect any of their claims to be true?

The witch-hunters wanted to make it clear that witches were actually in league with the Christian Devil, and so the God of the Witches according to Murray was inevitably going to turn out to be a horned one.

There are Pagan deities with horns, but there are also many that are not depicted with horns. Margaret Murray's influence on Gerald Gardner is still in strong evidence in Wicca today (Gardner's heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s after all!) but there are increasing numbers of Wiccans who realize that Murray's depictions of what a witch-cult might have been like are not necessarily authoritative or even the model we need to be following today.
Last edited:
Thank you for your replies. Bouncing things off another helps when in study. I am reading a Grimassi Book "The Wiccan Mysteries". In this book he says "The traditional deity is represented in Wicca by a crescent crowned goddess and a horned god. On another page he elaborates to say, "In initiate level teachings of Wicca, the God has three aspects." Horned (representing the hunter gatherer), Hooded (hooded in the Green / the Green Man) and lastly he is the old one. Does this mean that The Horned God is originally or traditionally the first or main God figure in the “umbrella” of Wicca (not a specific tradition)? Does this come from that same influence? Does anyone feel that it is essential to worship the Horned God in Wicca and if so why? check out this link:
Whenever you see statements about what is "traditional" within Wicca, they usually mean a few specific things:

- It's the way that things are done or are taught within specific established denominations. It would be more helpful though if the person making the statement would also identify WHICH denomination -- Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca, Georgian Wicca, or many of the dozens and dozens of other established denominations.


- They're trying to imply that this is one of the older ways of doing or believing things in Wicca in general. However, since Wicca only goes back to Gerald Gardner saying something is "traditional" within Wicca doesn't mean it's an idea that is necessarily more than a hundred years old. (Gardner's heyday in Wicca was in the 1950s and 1960s.)

Wicca does draw on ideas, practices, and mythology that is older of course. However the way these things are practiced or taught within Wicca is not necessarily the same as the way they were practiced or taught within the originating cultures.

The age of something, of course, has very little to do with whether it is effective or meaningful for the people who practice it. But there is a tendency among some Wiccans to try and build up an aura of ancient lineage (which to date has very little to confirm it.)
If I may .... there is another possibility for the "horned one" which is connected with the internal energy within the human body .... in our brain is a covering over the central chamber that houses the "third eye" or the pineal gland .... it is called the "caudate nucleus" and when you look at it from above, it is shaped like the horns of a ram .... I believe this is the foundation for the association with the Ram's that line the path to the great pyramid .... it is all in the symbols .... the same structure "the caudate nucleus" can also look like the wings of an angel and is also referenced in the angels or cupids that protect the ark of the covenant (as I also interpret the ark of the covenant as being a symbol of the center of the brain) ....

In Elisabeth Haich's book "Initiation" she describes a scene that I interpret to refer to this part of the brain and while it appears to be darkness, it is not .... here is part of it "I lie in the stone coffin and peer into the darkness. Darkness? It's not really darkness, for in the middle of my field of vision I observe a greenish phosphorescent light ...... (and the description goes on) .... These dim, black energies attack the points of light. The points of light are sucked up by this fore, desroyed. A contour appears, creating a boundary around this empty, dark hole that radiates this invisible force. Before my horrified eyes, there gradually appears a face, the errie features of a monster ..... I know, I just know this disembodied monster is Evil itself ..... this bodiless face resembles the head of a goat. The silhouette clearly shows the form of horns over a long, pinched face that ends with a little goatee. Or perhaps, are all these shapes only radiations of invisible forces? " (Chapt 37, The Initiation) .... in my words now, what she is describing is the process of initiation when one goes into a trance state and begins to move the energy upward into the brain (the place of visions) and it is a dark passage that one goes through to emerge into the world of light or knowledge .... the place in the brain where the energies spiral and merge is protected by this special covering that does resemble the horns of a ram .... it is not evil and exists within all of us (if we have a brain) .... so I Brien, you are correct about the "ram" image in my view, just take the symbolism a little deeper into the brain .... once I recognized the "caudate nucleus" and its shape and its place in the brain, I have never feared darkness again .... so check out the "caudate nucleus" ..... aloha nui, pohaikawahine p.s. the energy spirals up the spinal column, which is symbolized in the staff or the pitch fork with the three points on top (which to me symbolize the three hemispheres of the brain) .... ok, even my husband says I see brain in everything .....
That's very interesting speculation about why some deities might have horns, but I suspect it has more to do with various cultures revering animals which were important to them than possible human brain structures or imagery during meditation or trance states.

After all, there have been deities with cat heads, lion heads, ibis heads, dog heads, crocodile heads, and lots more. I somehow doubt there are human brain structures that look like those animals even in their most abstract diagrammatic forms.

Imagery and symbolism witnessed in meditative and trance states are also highly subjective. Different cultures have widely different associations for the same symbols. For instance, in some cultures the colour black is considered negative and is associated with death, while in others the colour white is the colour you wear when you are in mourning. Some associate the colour red with abundance and sweetness (apples and other fruit) but others can only see it as symbolizing pain and violence because it looks like blood.

The trance image of a pan-like figure as described by Elisabeth Haich reveals more about her own associations and cultural expectations (i.e. what Evil looks like) than any absolute meaning of a particular deity or symbol.
If you dont feel any affinity with the horned one, perhaps you should consider forming one. I mean, he's pretty important, especially during Beltane. Choosing not to name him in ritual is up to you, but to leave him out altogether is a loss, imo.
Well I do feel affinity towards the God and the Goddess. I am not sure what you mean? Not acknowledging both (God and Goddess by any name) or that the Horned One is the true God (image) and should be honored on Beltane? If there is something I would miss out on I am willing to hear exactly why.
I'm curious too about the statement that the Horned God (which one, by the way?) is an absolute requirement for a proper Beltane celebration.

Certainly the Great Rite is the central theme of Beltane for many Wiccans, but there are lots of manifestations of the hieros gamos that involve gods that aren't usually depicted with horns.
Okay, I too was wondering which "horned one" we're talking about. But I mentioned Beltane because of the Lord/King Stag, since I think Beltane without any consideration for this "horned one" would be lacking. And I wasnt trying to say this Lord Stag should be theeee God. He is however, the virile masculine fertility component to the Rite/Ritual/Festival/Holiday (however you want to celebrate it).
I've been reading a book entitled His Story: Masculinity in the Post-Patriarchal World, by Nicholas R. Mann. Part of the focus of this book is on Celtic mythology. Mann presents a nice overview of the Celtic calendar, and in doing so, presents a dual aspect of the masculine archetype; one of which is the "Horned God," who he terms the "Serpent Son." The opposite polarity of this earthy, dark, and mysterious aspect is what Mann terms the "Star Son"--the solar, 'heroic', law-giving aspect of the masculine. In terms of Celtic mythology, the two are represented by Gwynn ap Nudd (representative of the Serpent Son) and Gwythyr ap Greidyawl (the Star Son). Mann points out that these are merely two aspects of masculine energy, and the Celts honored each one at different times of year; or more specifically, each archetype was associated with a specific portion of the year.

Nicholas R. Mann said:
In the Mabinogion, Gwynn is described as being locked in a perpetual struggle with Gwyther ap Greidyawl--son of "Scorcher"--for the favors of Creiddylad. Neither could triumph, for she was the goddess. Their struggle was the journey around her cycle of transformation. It is significant that the scene of their struggle should be Glastonbury Tor every May Day, the cross-quarter festival of Beltane. On this occasion, Gwynn is said to have been defeated. This will prove to be highly significant. Gwynn does not appear in the mythological calendar again until Samhain, when he rides out, banishes the light half of the year, and gathers up the souls of the dead. This pattern neatly divides the year in two. Gwythyr, who was identified with Saint Michael, presides over the period from Beltane to Samhain and Gwynn from Samhain to Beltane. In the hands of the Christians, Gwynn, as the god of the dark half of the year, was to become a serpent and a monster--"in whom was set the energy of the demons of Annwn."

Mann goes on to mention that "The twin gods, being two faces of one aspect, could be seen as three, their unified state being the third aspect." He describes a triad of Celtic deities: "Cernunnos, the horned god; Taranis, whose symbol is the wheel; Esus, whose symbol is evidently the tree." Mann implies that Esus is the middleground between the two extremes of the masculine archetype.
There are all sorts of other ways of representing the annual dance between two competing gods. One common one in Celtic myth depicts one of the gods as the Oak, the other as Holly. Oak is at its height at the Summer Solstice, and the Holly is crowned at the Winter Solstice.

Another describes the two gods as both being very Earth-based -- one is the Horned God (representing the hunt and the animals that are hunted) and the other is the Green Man, representing the fruits of the plant world. This pair appears in a number of cultures besides Celtic ones. In Mesopotamian myth it is said to be represented by Gilgamesh (the hunter) and Enkidu (the vegetation wild man) for instance.