The Mask of Cernunnos
Images of horned deities in Celtic culture date back to the late Bronze Age. One of the most famous Celtic items is The Gundestrup cauldron, estimated to be from the 4th Century BCE. It depicts an antlered god sitting cross legged with a neck torc in one hand and a ram-headed serpent in the other. Another representation shows an antlered figure with the partial inscription “ernunnos”. Adding the missing C forms the word,“Cernunnos” which translates to The Horned One. This title has been used widely to refer to many horned deities tied to nature, fertility, and the underworld.
This art piece, Mask of Cernunnos, is made from apiece of driftwood that I picked up in one of many jaunts in nature. I bleached the piece to clean it. It began to resemble a face, more like a mask really, with two horns worn down to nubs. It reeked of age to me. I burned a symbol, not unlike Celtic swirls on it. I also burned the word Cernunnos in Ogam on the200 plus year old oak barnwood base. The stick upon which Cernunnos rests is hazel. Oak is the most revered tree in the forest and hazel was known as the tree of knowledge. The nuts of the hazel dropped into the water and were eaten by the salmon of knowledge. Legends and stories tied to these two woods permeate ancient Celtic spirituality and mythology.