HERNE, THE HUNTER
Herne, the Hunter, symbolizes male power, fertility, and spirituality. He is the Divine Masculine, ardent lover of the Divine Feminine, or Goddess. He is also a seasonal god, like his counterpart, the Green Man. While the Green Man rules from spring through summer, Herne reigns from summer's end through winter. And while the Green Man nourishes us with the peaceful fruits of agriculture, Herne provides by his skills as a warrior and hunter.
Presiding over the Dark of the Year, there is a dark aspect to Herne. As hunter, he is both a giver and taker of life. He guards and cares for all animals, but does not hesitate to kill in order to protect or to feed his people. Mounted on his stallion, sometimes accompanied by horned serpents, symbolizing his virility and powers of regeneration, he escorts the dead to the Underworld. His bird, the owl, is both wise and a fierce hunter.
A legend tells us that he was once a huntsman for King Richard II. He saved the King's life when he was attacked by a cornered deer, but was mortally wounded in the process. Brought back to life by a magician, who tied the dead animal's horns onto his head, he paid a terrible price for his resuscitation. He had to give up his hunting skills. Desolate over losing his profession, he ran off into the forest he loved, and hung himself from an oak tree, the horns still on his head.
Some believe his ghost haunts Windsor Forest to this day. They claim to have seen or heard him riding on the Wild Hunt with his red-eared Hounds of Hell.
But Herne's most ancient persona is linked to the horned Celtic god, Cernunnos. As Herne/Cernunnos, he is God of the Wild, God of Plenty. Powerful and protective, he understands the need for sacrifice for the greater good. He is a noble partner for the Great Goddess.
Thanks to Eric L. Fitch, whose work, In Search of Herne the Hunter, was invaluable.
Story on back of card
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