30 Days of Devotion

Day the Third: Symbols and icons of Herne

Day the Third: Symbols and icons of this deity.

Hunting. He always knew where they would be. He knew the forest like the back of his hand, he knew their tracks. He would read his surroundings – the moved earth, the broken branch, the echo of sound. He never came back empty handed. Herne is not for the weak willed, or those against killing animals. To work with Herne is to honour the sacrifice. We eat animal and surely as they eat each other, and sometimes us. Sometimes the animal will understand its time has come to an end, and will offer itself in self-sacrifice. Herne sacrificed himself so his King could live. He threw himself into the path of the White Stag, and coped the brunt of its force. Like Herne, we too must make sacrifices. Perhaps not on the same level, but in our own. We sacrifice what we love for the good of society, to keep the peace within our relationships, for our children and family. We sacrifice what we believe in to hide our ways. Like the animal in the forest running from the hunter, we too must run to save ourselves from those who do not understand, and those who chose to remain ignorant.

Reverence of nature. As mentioned above, the forest was his second home, where he felt most comfortable. Stories say he hunted on his horse, but intuition tells me that he would often hunt barefoot, so he could feel the earth between his toes to assist in being as quiet as he could. He could feel the earth move beneath him, feel the rumble as herds raced by, better than if he wore boots or on horseback. He worked with nature, honoured his surroundings. As must we, if we are to work with him. Honour the green, the blades of grass, the fallen leaves. Honour the flower as it opens to the sunlight. But also honour the urban jungle that so many of us live in. This is hardest for me, given my job is in construction. So I honour what is beneath the surface, find joy from seeing the different layers of earth, the limestone and the others.

Sovereignty. It is said Herne will be seen when Britain is in trouble. He is the King’s man, and I believe he always will be. He gave his life for his King, for this country, and will rise again and again and be at Britannia’s side. He is no longer loyal to one King, as we’ve seen how that worked out. He’s loyal to the land, to the Kingdom, and the energies of the land. It doesn’t matter were in the world you live, or whether your country is still a part of the Commonwealth. Honour where you live, help look after where you live. Honour the land and its inhabitants.

The Darkness Within. Herne hung himself from a great Oak when King Richard II cast him out of the Kingdom. The other hunters had won, and turned the King against his favourite hunter. There is no balance to light without the darkness. I have witnessed Herne be ‘one of the boys’ and a larrikin (as mentioned earlier), but I admire his strong, darker side. The madness, the distress, the hurt that led him to the Oak. The confusion of what to do without his hunting skills.

Knowledge. He’s often associated with this through his ties with the oak and what the oak represents. His knowledge of the hunt and of the forest is what I first associate, and then transfer that to knowledge in general. You cannot master your craft without knowledge of skill, of the field, and knowledge of self. He knew what he was capable of. He knew the forest like the back of his hand. He knew how taught to pull the bowstring, or how hard to throw an axe.

The Wild Hunt. There’s going to be a separate post on this, so I’m going to hold off writing here. Stay tuned!

Other: the oak, winter, bow and arrow, meat and furs,

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