Having arrived at “Horned God” as a starting point for my new batch of representation searches, I finally have what I call a “google-able term.” Simply putting that into Google’s image search yields thousands of evocative images. Narrowing it down a bit with “horned god sculpture” brings up all sorts of possibilities.
With a few days and some ever-increasing googling creativity, I’ve drummed up 18 potential options. The list could have been expanded a little, but I chose not to include Paul Borda’s work as most of his Horned God pieces are wall-mount affairs, which I definitely do not want. I also eliminated all bust sculptures, all Baphomets, all Norse gods (horns typically from helmets…not to mention it’s a highly specific pantheon), all minimalist-style sculptures (though these are gorgeous!), and anything that looked poorly constructed. As it shook down, all the images that made it past those basic filters were all mass-produced on some scale (with the exception of Jeff Cullen’s work), which means no haggling with commissions.
Of the sculptures left, I determined that they largely fell into two main groups: Pan-style and Cernunnos-style. Let’s begin by looking at the pros and cons for the Pans.
From left to right we see Oberon Zell’s Forest Faun (Young Pan), and his Pan the Piper. The Zell pieces are followed by a Museum Store Company replica and another replica from Design Toscana. That especially phallic Pan is followed by a colorful little guy, a 5 inch high Misaki figurine and two cold-cast bronze items. The first bronze is a goat-horned smiling man from Private Label, and the other is a ram-horned scowling man from Pacific Gifts.
Right off, I can tell you that I’d never even consider the two replica pieces. In the first place, I’m after a more neo-pagan aesthetic than a reconstructionist one, so I would prefer art that was born from contemporary conceptions of the gods. In the second place, both of them strongly remind me of images I’ve seen in The Exorcist. I’ve got zero chance of connecting with either of them.
Given that I’m looking for a more contemporary sensibility, the two Zell pieces would logically be decent candidates, especially as they’re from the same hands that crafted my Gaia. Unfortunately, they’re both way too cartoon-y for my tastes, as is the little Misaki figurine. None of them seem to represent a powerful masculinity that could make the constant goddess change.
The two bronze pieces are a little more up my alley. In fact, I’ve almost bought them at different times in my long search. I also have a small history with the goat-horned one: he’s the representation on the Hartwood Grove altar. He’s a comfortable choice, and he’s clearly physically powerful. However, there’s also an element of playfulness about him that I specifically associate with Pan and not with the Horned God archetype. Clearly, there’s not so much playfulness in the ram-horned piece…and I think that of all of these, he’s the one who’s closest to my mental conception of the horned god. Physically powerful. Sexual. Dominant. Dangerous. Desirable. He could be a hunter or a lover very easily, and he would definitely be the type that could stir up some potent change. If he just didn’t have those stupid pipes, I probably would have bought him long ago.
Of course, there’s a whole other grouping of Horned Gods to be sorted through still, and so I present the Cernunnoses (Cernunnosi?).
Just as I immediately discounted the museum Pans, so too do I immediately dismiss the whole top row: Oberon Zell’s Cernunnos, a Gundestrup replica, and Kernunnos of St. Germain. None of them spark a connection with me, and they’re all “artifact” inspired, and I’m in search of contemporary. In the middle row, the first is an example of artist Jeff Cullen’s work. He’s the same artist behind the unfortunate “invisible fellator” Pan I cringed over earlier. While I find his Cernunnos to be better executed, I also find it unsettling for other reasons: mainly that it looks quite sinister, which really isn’t the vibe I get from this God. The second in the line just makes me giggle. Its proportions are ridiculous, and I’m not just talking about the prominent cock. There’s no way I could seriously consider it. The third in line–Lord of the Wildwood–is VERY contemporary, but he reminds me too much of Jesus, and the fourth reminds me too much of a cross between a totally zen yogi and Herne as depicted in the 1984 TV series, Robin of Sherwood. In the third row, the first in line–The God of the Forest–reminds me more of a Yeti than a god. The second two have more promise than any of the rest. Like my favorite Pans, they are both made of that cold-cast bronze material, and I like their proportions. I particularly like the hunter motif of the first, with the bow and arrows. Alas, his face is far too “Jesus”-like for me: that total, serene calm. The last one escapes the immediate Jesus vibe of the first, but he unfortunately reads more “sensitive poet” than “Lord of the Hunt” or “Lord of the Dance.” I definitely need this God to have more action!
As I’d almost given up with the Cerunnos-styled Horned Gods, I happened to come across Neil Sims’ work. And I immediately had a “click” moment almost like what I had the first time I saw Gaia. I knew that I had found my God.
One of the things that immediately captured me was how well Sims has blended animal features with human features. This Cernunnos doesn’t just have a goat head and legs attached to a human torso. The animal features blend with humanoid proportions. The femur length, for example, is just what it should be for a man. For some reason, I find this to be very evocative of the same simultaneous immanent/transcendent nature of divinity that I discussed when expounding on my connection with the Gaia sculpture. The god is both man and animal, civilization and the wilderness, hunter and hunted, but in being both he is also neither.
More importantly, though, I find that there’s something about this sculpture that makes me think “movement”, like I’m surprised the statue remains still. It is, to its very core, dynamic, and that is the root of what I feel God energy is. This is the image that I can see being the great hunter of the forest, the warmth of the sun, the king of beasts, and the lover of the Goddess.
Happily, I also think he meets my aesthetic wish list! He has grabbed me, his representation definitely jives with my idea of his energy, and he shares several macro concepts with Gaia being full bodied, highly detailed, and primarily one color with a few accents. He’s also definitely neo-Pagan through and through: very contemporary representation with the artistry coming straight from the concept we’ve been developing over the past 60-70 years and not necessarily a literal representation of ancient images.
Sims’ Cernunnos is much taller than Zell’s Gaia: 11 1/4 inches to her 7. I think, though, that their comparative scales are more equal with Gaia perhaps being larger: she’s another 6 inches tall from the bottom of her spine to the top of her ankle. It would be a fairly simple thing to make up a four-inch tall pedestal for her to rest upon to get more symmetrical heights on the male and female sides of my altar. I think, then, that when I can save up a little disposable income, I’ll snap up a copy of Sims’ work.