30 Days of Devotion · Around the Cauldron · For the Gods

31 Days of Devotion – Week Two

Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)

He was local to London, to Berkshire, and to Windsor Forest. His reach extended out from there through story, through generations, and then through his comparison to Cernunnos. He certainly isn’t Cernunnos, as Cernunnos is as old as time. Herne was once a man.

He was a man who, in death, became more than a man. He is a man, a hunter, who wears his stag antlers on his head with pride. It’s become an aspect of who he is, as helps to cement his role as Guardian and Lord of the Forests.

He is the Hunter, and the Hunted. The torturer, and the tortured.

He is linked to Cernunnos – a lot – which I believe is why he rose to Deity “status”.

Common mistakes about this deity.

Major one: He is not Cernunnos. Please stop saying that he is another facet of Cernunnos. They are not interchangeable. Just like Athena and Diana are not the same Deity – they are individuals! [pause for Monty Python response]

Another facet of the Horned God, yes. Of Cernunnos himself, no.

One that gets me constantly frustrated is… please don’t read a website or two and assume that you know what he’s all about. Don’t read my blog then believe you know what to expect of him, that you know him. I’ve worked with him for years and I don’t even know all of what he is.

The only way to get to know someone in the real world is to spend time with them, talk to them, share stories, and get to know them.

The same goes with Herne.

Sometimes I worry that I don’t paint the right image of him here, that I make him out to be soft and fluffy. Ohhhhhh he isn’t. By golly gosh, he isn’t. His dark side is dark and painful. He can switch between tortured and angry, to pensive, to happy and joyous. His memory is long and he doesn’t forget.

Do not assume with him.

Historical and UPG (Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis).

Historically, I can’t find mention. I’ve looked in my books, and naturally on Google. The feeling I get is that historically it’d be meat.

Red, raw meat. Preferably from a fresh kill from the forest.

hernes incense blend
Herne the Hunter Incense Blend

Given that a lot of my practice is at my altar in my study, I tend to burn a loose blend that I made for him. I also use an oil that I made for him to anoint myself, my tools for him, and his statue.

I personally will not leave an offering of meat as we have four cats inside, and it’s half enough keeping them off my altar as it is without the added incentive of meat. Sometimes, depending on the night, I’ll pour a glass of alcoholic-something for myself and Herne which I’ll leave overnight and pour in the morning.

Then there are the things that he insists on you buying for him when you’re out shopping…you can leave the store, but you’ll be back!

Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity.

The Horn Dance.

I first read about the Horn Dance in Eric Fitch’s book, In Search of Herne the Hunter, mentions a local festival which he believes is “a living echo” of an earlier time.

In A Staffordshire village there is still enacted a ritual dance incorporating not only traditional figured and costumes but also antlers. In early September for one day the village of Abbots Bromley sees a remarkable folk custom taking place in its streets. Called the Horn Dance it consists of six dancers who each hold a set of antlers and engage in a folk dance accompanied by a group of other characters.

It is England’s oldest continual-running traditional dance, and carbon dating places the reindeer antlers to 10th Century.

Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year

For those of us whose practice is more Neo-Pagan, we can honour Herne through our traditional Wheel of the Year. I choose to celebrate at both Litha and Yule. Outside of the story of the Holly and Oak Kings, I see it as two aspects of Herne’s reign, and two aspects of his personality. At Yule I honour his darker aspects, the Herne that leads the Wild Hunt. At Litha, I honour his lighter aspects, the Herne that is the Lord of the Forests.

Personally I’ve love the between times – feeling his energy rise and fall between to two major holidays.

Places associated with Herne and their worship.

The most notable is Windsor Forest. It was there that he hunted, and in death lead his Wild Hunt.

A replacement of his Oak Tree is still there, as the original fell to rot and had to be removed in the 1800s.

For those of us wanting to reach out to him, go into nature. It could be your local park, the forest, the national park – anywhere where you can connect to the land.

What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?

Land conservation. Being that one aspect of who he is as the Lord of the Forests, most notably Windsor Forest, the world needs to be green.

Respectful treatment of animals, general politics (he’s still interested, even after the way he was treated).

Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?

I’ve looked in books and online, and there is little that I can find of traditional ways to honour Herne. All I can go off is my personal ways of honouring him, and what I’ve read from other people’s blogs in honouring him.

I’d like to extend an invitation – if people feel comfortable – in using this space and the comments section as a way of sharing how you honour Herne.

I guess one of the biggest ways I personally honour him, honour our relationship, is studying my degree at university. The decision to go to university was largely influenced by Herne as a way of bringing balance to my spiritual and muggle life.Being a city girl who has never gone hunting (with the exception of one time riding along on the back of a ute rabbit shooting as a child) I honour Herne through offerings of resin and oil, though studying my course at uni, through getting to know him, and through spending time outdoors. I honour him by picking up litter, looking after our eleven cats (two were dumped, the rest were born stray, and of those nine born stray two are house-trained and live indoors) and through trying to be a good student of his teachings.

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