A vital yet greatly misunderstood component of our rich Pagan inheritance
By Pat Regan, author of The New Pagan Handbook
Many of today’s untutored individuals eschew the inverted ‘Horned God/Goat’s Head’ pentagram, believing it to be just another satanic logo.
It is true that a few sensation-seeking satanic groups have in the last few years adopted this emblem. However, its heritage as an authentically-based Pagan symbol, stretches back much further in time than quaint Hammer Horror films, Christian mediaeval heresy or modern organisations like The Church of Satan.
Above: the pentacle/pentagram (upright or indeed reversed) is essentially a sign of our earth-oriented, Pagan spiritual heritage.
Horned deities and horns themselves originally represented masculine qualities such as virility, swiftness and strength. Horns are also hollow like the womb thus they have associations with feminine aspects of divinity such as fertility, intuition, grace and maternal generosity.
Satan was a part of dualistic Christian ethos and had no dwelling place in the belief systems of our Pagan ancestors. The Church deemed that its omnipotent saviour figure (Christ) had to have an ultimate adversary; ergo the Devil was introduced into its credo.
What was not in league with iron-fist Christian dictatorship was deemed to be evil, in cahoots with Satan, and had to be either converted or destroyed.
This new fanatical dogma ensured that the sacred spiritual traditions of countless Pagan cultures would soon be swept aside to make way for the intolerant new religion from the East.
Above: ‘Pan – the god of the wildwood’; from the original painting by Pat Regan
The age-old title for male sexual prowess ‘Horny’ of course arises from the lustful nature of horned gods. The early, sexually-repressed Christian Church seems to have had little trouble in demonizing ancient horned deities like the Greek Pan and Celtic Cernunnos into twisted representations of the ‘Devil Incarnate!’
"This wicked Pagan god has horns so he must be the Dark Lord Satan himself," they must have cried.
This odious denouncement against native Pagan divinity rapidly produced excellent results for the Christian zealots in terms of both evangelisation and innocent souls being brought to the Hangman’s noose or Blazing stake.
The ‘MARK OF THE HORNED ONE’ (I say "One" rather than God herein because of male/female connections) has links stretching back thousands of years into the mists of time.
The vital polarisation of opposite yet complementary aspects of masculine/feminine principles of divinity inherent in the ‘Horned One’ can be seen in the symbolism of many cultures.
Recall for instance the black and white, ‘Yin/Yang’ sign from Chinese tradition, which represents equal yet opposing aspects of life force (or Chi).
Again, the ‘Great Polarisation’ can be seen at the ancient Neolithic site of Windmill Hill, Avebury in England.
The Square Enclosure Oxhead (c. 3700 BCE) comprised of eleven pits that when viewed from the West takes on the appearance of a squatting/birthing ‘Mother Goddess.’
The arms legs and head make up the five cardinal points of the pentagram shape, whilst when reversed the pits become the horns, nose and shoulders (or ears) of the Oxhead.
The early pre-literate farming peoples of these isles believed that the ‘White Ox’ was a representation of the Goddess in bovine form. This fact would seem to conflict with the hypothesis of this symbol’s portrayal of both male/female aspects, however life of course is never that simple! The Neolithic peoples did not always make a ‘clear’ distinction between the sexes.
Numerous bisexual deity figures have been unearthed at such old sites with statuettes of goddesses displaying masculine features as well as breasts.
Goddesses were sometimes carved with beards, in fact male and female were ultimately personified as ‘One.’
Later on in time the distinction marking the sexes (with an increasing understanding of the fertilising sexual union itself) made sure that the ‘horny’ nature of the deity was properly attributed to the God and not the Goddess, hence the contemporary Horned God logo!
The early sex-hating Church fathers of course labelled sacred Pagan sexuality ‘demonic’.
To them the Goat’s head symbol stood for Satan’s kingdom as opposed to God’s spiritual realm.
The early Church equated the material world with evil and its proud representative, the Horned One, had to be banished and smashed. Sadly, such narrow-thinking ignorance still persists thanks to misleading, earlier Church propaganda.
Thanks to sensationalist media coverage, Church-inspired ignorance, extroverted modern satanic adoption and neo-Pagan naivety the old horned fellow has been given an undeservedly rough ride.
Nevertheless, this essential embodiment of masculine aspects in the natural cycle cannot ever be truly suppressed. Mankind cannot deny that which is a vital part of his/her complete nature!
Without the fertilising power of ‘Old Horny’ all life would cease to exist as reproduction would come to a grinding halt! Furthermore, if man had genuinely undertaken to observe the repressive, anti-sex credo of the Church we would now potentially have been either an endangered species or in fact extinct.
The ancient symbol of the Horned God is an indisputable reminder of our vast Pagan heritage, which intimately links us to this planet and beyond.
All freethinkers must reclaim this vitally sacred Pagan symbol and give it the proud position and respect it so rightly deserves, for it is a token of the critical ‘Life force’ we all need to survive!
If Paganism inadvertently jettisons its holy symbols, so as not to offend the delicate sensitivities of unenlightened individuals, then what ancient symbols goes next - Thor’s Hammer, the Pentacle, Celtic Knots, etc?
All such items are deemed to be satanically - inspired and not biblical enough by the more hard-line monotheistic fundamentalist. Therefore it is vital in this instance to discard any compromises, which ultimately denigrate our astounding Pagan heritage!
The future of native, Pre-Christian legacy rests with those brave souls that refuse to be intimidated through social pressure from ignorant self-appointed moral guardians. And unfortunately this frequently includes many naive, so-called ‘Pagan leaders’ (i.e. New Age pretenders) that would ultimately put us back to the days of the Inquisition!
THE HORNED ONE
When reversed the Oxhead becomes the Earth Mother in birth-giving position, (source: The Avebury Cycle by Michael Dames).
This powerful image gives us a deep insight into the spiritual beliefs of our most ancient ancestors.
The Horned God/Goddess motif (and its subsequent evolution into the semblance of the five pointed star sign variations) was, is and always will remain a symbol of our authentic Pagan heritage.
UFO: The Search for Truth (2012, extended edition)
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The New Pagan Handbook
Peter Swift and the Secret of Genounia
Dirty Politics (now in second edition)
The Torch and the Spear
Fly Fishing on Wild Becks
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