THE HORNED GOD – By Damh the Bard

THE HORNED GOD by Damh the Bard.

At first I waited.  For how long I don’t know – how

can the unborn know of time?  I waited in the

blackness, stirred by Her hand, blending, changing,

from man to beast, then back to man again.  Never

thinking of the future, nor of a past that never was,

but waiting.

Then, as humankind became aware, I was

born.  Born of their need for food, for wanting, no,

needing someone to help them find their purpose.  And

in that cave, lit only by one flame, plants became

colour, and colour became a vision, and that vision

became a God – and I became that God.  Borne from the

wishes of the simplest minds it was my destiny to stay

and protect.

So at first I ruled as the stag and God of the Hunt.

Invoked with blood and sweat and the chase.  I led the

hunt through the forest and it was I who bent the

branches to scratch and tear and cut.  For without

effort, what is the point of life?  Without hunger,

what would feed the spirit?  Without need, all life

would die.  So, their sorcerer stood in bloodied skins

and raised his hands and called my name.  Then he fell

to the ground and skin became fur, and feet became

hooves.  Blood gushed as my antlers pushed through

bone and sinew to arise with seven tines, one for each

of the moving lights within the blackness above.

Stood before them I held my head proud and tall – none

met my gaze, they just breathed the stench of death

and the copper taint in the blood filled the air.

They breathed this and it filled them with the hunger,

ready to face their own death in order to feed the

tribe.  Drums suddenly filled the silence, and the

hunters danced my dance, invoking my spirit into their

bodies.  Giving me more life and more power. Until

proud, in full erect manhood I screamed my name again

and again, and they span around the fire, their

throats calling with the gutteral call of the rutting

stag, telling its spirit that the tribe must live, and

it must die for the tribe!  Then in an instant, they

were gone – as the drums suddenly stopped they

disappeared into the forest without a sound.

 

And that is how it was.  Until others became aware of

me.  They called me by another name, as I chased the

virgins through the forest in a land beside the warm

sea.  How they laughed as their white dresses were

torn, and they wondered at me.  They danced as my

pipes played, awakening the animals and birds.  But

when they saw me they laughed no more.  I loved them

all, as only a God can love his women, and after, the

land was reborn into spring.  With every caress I

dressed the bare branches with my green skin and I

played my pipes as others made love under my gaze.

This I did to help the Wheel turn through the seasons.

Until an arrow from a hunter’s bow changed me, and

took me to an oak within a great forest on a green

island, that floated like a leaf upon the sea.

Here I stayed, happy with my new home.  The people

here transformed me back into my first form – the Stag

God – and I watched over the animals of the forest and

the life of the Land.  My face was seen in every tree

and plant, my gaze from the eyes of deer and bear.

The people respected the land of their Mother, and I

ruled with their Mother, and together we bore fruit

for the people – that was the way of things, and it

worked.

Of course the people became sick, but what

animal does not become sick?  Only humans want to live

forever, and no matter how they try, they will always

fail – nothing lives forever.  An animal knows when it

is time to die, even when its destiny is to feed the

people.  I have watched the strongest stag turn to

face the hunters and bow its head in self sacrifice,

acknowledging its fate.  Yet does humankind return

this to the starving wolf, or bear?  When it is they

who are food, they are not so forgiving.  Neither are

they when hunger comes from the cold of winter, when

the long nights and disease claim the weak.  Yet

through it all, my Lady and I walked the Land and

maintained the balance.  From winter through spring,

summer and autumn, our footsteps brought life, and

beneath her black raven’s cloak, she brought death.

But there in the blackness, if you listen carefully,

you can hear the cry of the newborn baby crying for

its mother’s breast.  For although nothing lives

forever, all things are reborn, and we show you this

with the rising of the tides, the cycles of the moon,

and the turning of the seasons.

Even Gods change, and sometimes they die.  I died

beneath an elder tree within the great forest, shot by

a single arrow, but I was reborn in human form.  The

people made their king their God.  The life of the

land became an act of sovereignty, and the fitness of

the ruler was judged by the fruitfulness of their

crops.  If the crops flourished, then the king was

strong and good, and was worshipped by the people as

the chalice that contained the life-blood of the land.

If the crop failed, then the king was sacrificed, his

blood spilled upon the earth to fertilise and bring

new growth, and another king was chosen to fulfil his

destiny as sovereignty saw fit.  It was thus that my

spirit moved into the spirit of humankind for the

first time.  I pushed my way into physical life and

grew as any other man would grow – except I would be

king.  I lived within the spirit of every king that

breathed life and died.  I fought for Her, for my

lover, for the land.  I fought disease, poverty, and

invaders, but sovereignty can be a real bitch, and it

was she who decided to add a third aspect to the game.

I had ruled as the mightiest warrior ever seen.  I had

married sovereignty and devoted my life to her as my

Queen.  But sovereignty was restless, so she seduced

me as my sister and gave birth to my son.  He grew to

be strong, I should be proud of him.  However, the

cycle changed, and I knew it would be my destiny to

fight him for the control of the waxing year.  She was

no longer content with one lover, she needed two – one

for her darker nature, as Her icy breath blew the last

remaining leaves from the trees.  The other to be her

consort through the summer meadows and quicken the

fruit within her belly – to laugh with her and play

under the heat of the sun.  I was a God, and so I

accepted my new role.  I placed the crown of Oak upon

my troubled brow, and turned to face my son, with his

crown of Holly, at the time the sun stands still – the

Solstice.

I lost the fight.

I returned again, but this time into the body of a

foreign Prince.  However, with the land filled with

distrust at invaders, and seemingly suffering from bad

rulership, I was shot by a misaimed arrow, at least

that is what the history books will tell you.  The

Rufus Stone now marks this place and that was the last

time I dwelt within the body of a human King.

Corruption bred within their incestuous veins and I

walked away, leaving them to their carnal pleasures

and greed, and I moved my spirit into an outlaw.

Within the forest I lived, stealing from the greedy

and returning wealth to the people who still

worshipped me.  In green I dressed and gold I gave.

Never was I caught, and never was I seen – except for

the hooded cloak I wore, which was seen moments before

Herne’s arrow tore into flesh.  I was celebrated, and

cheered, yet none knew of my more, shall we say,

Godlike tendencies.  Apart from one woman, who was the

first mortal I ever loved as a man can love a woman.

She danced the dance of beauty, and I could not help

but step into the rhythm with her.  And we made love

and my essence blended with humanity’s and lives

within you all still.  Marion, Queen of the Wild, I

love you as I have ever loved you.  Yet I am immortal,

and I watched her die in my arms and shed tears that

fed the earth, and with every teardrop a vixen wailed

in the night, searching for their mate – as I will for

eternity search for mine. I retreated – I needed time

to heal. For a while I rested in darkness.  Darkness

so thick I could almost reach out and touch it.  I

was, for the first time, confused with my role. In the

beginning it was so simple, but now Humankind had

changed.  They were frightened of other things – no

longer as needy for food, yet fearful of disease and

petty superstition.  They looked to foreign lands for

their salvation and that salvation came in the shape

of a lonely God.  I knew him then as an equal, yet

power and corruption changed me from the Lord of the

Wild into the Christian Devil.  Of course, it never

really changed me, but it changed the way I was

perceived.  So I watched and waited, and there were

still those in the countryside who respected and

honoured me on my special days.

All through the

plagues, fires and burnings, I was there, but these

were strange times.  I rule within Nature – I

understand that the brighter the light, the darker is

the shadow.  Nature is self-regulating and needs no

other to keep life balanced.  So, She brings plague,

hunger, disease, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods,

volcanoes, earthquakes.  None of these things are

evil, they are Her way of keeping the balance.  And

they remind humanity that no matter how advanced they

are, they are still part of Nature’s Way and

answerable ultimately to her.

So I waited and watched and then in the shadow I heard

the cries of the Island.  For out of the Shadows

stepped a threat to Sovereignty, and it came twice in

quick succession.  So I went back into the Cauldron of

Beginnings and was reborn, not once but within the

hearts of millions.  I picked up a gun within every

hand and crossed the water to protect my Lady from

plunder.

And I screamed victory with every death in

the trenches, caked with blood, sweat and mud.  I was

reborn again and again within each, brave heart, and I

choked on gas and felt the explosion of blood and

bone, but I kept going until the threat had passed.

So what of the Horned God now?  Where am I?  Well, I’m

sitting at a bar in London, drinking a wonderful pure

malt whiskey.

I’m standing behind you in the

supermarket, and serving you from the checkout.  I am

the superstar dressed in a long leather coat saving

the world, and the tramp begging for money.

See me

within the gaze of every man who values and loves

Woman.  For all of you are my Goddess, and I will

serve you with all of my power and strength, for as

long as the White Wind blows, and there is life here

on Mother Earth.

By Damh the Bard

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