Posts Tagged ‘Cernunnos’

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 26

February 24, 2016


This chapter reveals a change in the direction of the novel, or, hopefully, a deepening of the theme.  What Bess finds out in her research in the library points to Celtic mythology, history, etc.  This chapter won’t interest readers who have no interest or knowledge in Celtic mythology, but those who do, and stick with this, will find some good, historic  Celtic poetry entwined. JKB.

Madame Gormosy has made herself scarce. This is welcome because I can spend just so many hours playing faro and waving a fan. The Demon disappears behind his books during the day, and frequently leaves the house, to return by dusk. I am left to myself, and fill my hours with trying to finish the novel, the event that brought me to this place.

We have an unspoken agreement. I will not trespass on his time with his books, and he will not bother me when I am writing. I now see that regardless how I end the book, things have spiraled out of control, and there are forces at work far beyond what I have imagined.


This dream of Cernunnos bothers me for more than what is obvious. Perhaps this ‘fancy’ was not so random. Perhaps it has a deeper meaning, unrevealed, and it was ‘placed’ there by some unknown force, hopefully leading somewhere. Although the Demon claims control, I think he is unaware of what it portends.

Madame is a tricky devil. She claims the demon comes from a royal line, and is no common demon. I have called him a ‘demon’ because I have no other way to define him, my knowledge of mythology scant. Of course, magic confuses the picture, and devils are known for their trickery. Perhaps that is the seat of the confusion

As the Demon left the house, I went into the library and looked for some clues. There are enough books, all of them old. I thought about the libraries at Alexandria, destroyed by barbarian hordes. There, surely, with the combined knowledge and wisdom of Persian and so many cultures, would be the answers I seek. But that is dust and this is just dusty, and I am left to find what answers I can.

As I removed books from a high shelf over my head, one large book was unbalanced, and fell at my fo0t.  It was of Celtic Mythology. I was not one who was superstitious, but this seemed as good a place as any to start.   The dream of Cernunnos ran parallel to this book in my hand. Upon opening it, the first words I read expressed a dichotomy that was alive in my present life.


“It seems to Bran a wondrous beauty

In his curragh on a clear sea

While to me in my chariot from afar

It is a flowery plain on which I ride 

What is a clear sea

For the prowed craft in which Bran is,

Is a Plain of Delights with profusion of flowers

For me in my two-wheeled chariot

Bran sees

A host of waves breaking across a clear sea

I myself see in Magh Mon

Red-tipped flowers without blemish 

Sea-horses glisten in the summer

As far as Bran’s eye can stretch

Flowers pour forth a stream of honey

In the land of Manannan son of Ler

Speckled salmon leap forth from the womb

Of the white sea upon which you look;

They are calves, bright-coloured lambs

At peace, without mutual hostility


It is along the top of a wood

That your tiny craft has sailed along the ridges,

A beautiful wood with its harvest of fruit,

Under the prow of your tiny boat.”


Here is my confusion. Here is an answer, though only a piece of it. The Demon and I came from separate worlds, but now occupy the same. He floated through mine, and I stepped into his. This poem was spoken by the Otherworldly Manannan, attempting to explain to the mortal Bran how their differences in perception lie at the root of their divergent realities.

This spoke to the bafflement that ran through our life together. This spoke to my frustration.

As I read on, I began to understand the symbolism of the dream, as it was reflected in the world of the Celts. The natural world surrounded these people on all sides. They were aware of its presence and their dependence on its balance and fertility for their basic nurture and comfort.   Nothing bypassed this dependence, whether the soil, their crops or the animals. The hunters went out to the forest, to bring food for their families. The wolves and bears stalked the settlements for their own. Nature, in fang and claw, in blood and gore, would have shaped days and nights and filled dreams. It would have seeped into every hope and fear. The satyrs were symbols of the fusion of humankind and animals, and part of the magic and religious system that they carried in belief. And Cernunnos? He was the embodiment of the fertility that was necessary for the seasons to turn and mankind and all else to survive. I was, in that dream, very much part of that ritual of life. I could have been a vessel for that seed, from Cernunnos’ loins, planted into the soil, to be fruitful and nourish new life.

Image result for cernunnos

There was much more of this same theme as I read on. The foundation, the building stones of what I was reading, and this Celtic culture, was called animistic thinking.   I came across a dramatic example of this in the poem Cad Coddeu, or “The Battle of the Trees”. A mythical battle between two forces, one mortal against the forces of the chthonic deities, dwelling beneath the earth, where a wizard Gwyddion transformed a forest of trees into a writhing, hostile army.


“…Alder, pre-eminant in lineage, attacked first

     Willow and rowan were late to the battle

   Thorny plum greedy for slaughter,

   Powerful dogwood, resisting prince….

…Swift and mighty oak, before him trembled heaven and earth…”

Perhaps the Demon, though, at times I could no longer think of him such, would call forth a similar army.

This was a time, a period, and a culture, where shape-shifting was part of it all. It was part of the ‘DNA’ if you will, of a culture remembering the totemistic myths of previous ancestors. Clans seemed to arise around a particular animal. There might be bird-people, or wolf-people, oak-people or river people. Each clan would feel a strong kinship to a particular animal or element. It would be taboo to violate these totem creatures in any way. These spirits, these ancestral spirits protected the clan from disease and violence. To harm any member of the clan would provoke the wrath of this daemonic spirit. I thought perhaps, considering his courting manners, that the demon Garrett, …was part of the Goat Clan.

The more I read, the more I became convinced what I was witnessing here, between Garrett and Obadiah, was a magical conflict that battled though out an early history. In the myth/song, Tain Bo Cuailgne, the rivalry of two bulls, in separate regions, became a war of many transformations for the bulls. In fact (if that word can be used in mythology!) the two bulls were rival druid priests. They transformed themselves for their conflict into ravens, otters, and ‘screeching spectres’ and many other creatures, before they transformed themselves into grains of wheat, to be devoured by cattle and reborn as the two great bulls, Finn, The Light One, and Dub, The Dark. I could find no termination in their feud. But it was a story of kidnapping of each other’s consorts, mates, and enslavement for revenge. All within an animistic frame of reference.

There is comfort in knowing your dreams and illusions are shared by others. Small comfort, but not to be ignored. But why had I framed Garrett and Obadiah in the Christian mythology? Because it was the only one I knew. Though not a practicing Christian, and for a few years interested in pagan religions, I had Christian culture surrounding me from birth. It seeped into the brain and consciousness and formed my only reference for myth. But here, within the Celtic myths, was a culture with dark and light, perhaps good and bad, and this was easy to understand.   Religion stripped of its saints and devils harkened back to the first companions of mankind, the animals. This I could embrace. It felt natural.

I read further. There seemed to be three consistent parts to the Celtic mythology. The conception by magical means, the divine descent through amours of a divinity, and finally, rebirth.

CuChullain  (one version….)


Another one…..

Image result for cu chulainn

Garrett had no knowledge of his parentage. Like Etain, who forgot her former existence as a goddess, now newly mortal. So it was with Cuchulainn, of great significance in Celtic myth, reborn as his father Lug. From the Father Lug, to the son, Cuchulainn, to be reborn again as the Father, Lug. It sounded like the Christian Trinity to me. But what was the Christian Trinity in Ireland, but Christianity covering the myths and religions of thousands of years before? Garrett had no knowledge of his parentage. He was like Etain,

Cuchulainn, and so many others caught up and born in the fog of myths. But I had the clue he was of royal blood. His powers were too significant to auger mere magic. There was something of the supernatural about him. Perhaps these Celtic myths pointed the way, as readily as a compass held in the palm of the hand.

I read further and found more of interest. “As mankind in his settlements achieves greater ascendancy over his environments, the gods and goddesses change to reflect his powers, mortal though he be. The gods showed more increasingly human characteristics. They had fallacies, weaknesses, had a connection with mankind. They bred with mortals, populated the earth with their seed. These half mortals have powers, and they are the heroes of their tribes and regions. They are represented by their fathers as numerous as the stars in the heavens. For different tribes had different Gods and Goddesses.”

There are  parallels with what I know of the Greeks and similar cultures.

I came across the experiences of the bard Taliesin in the Cad Goddeu :


I was in many shapes before I was released: I was a slender, enchanted sword – I believe it was done, 

I was a rain drop in air, I was a star’s beam,

I was a word of letters, I was a book in origin,

I was lanterns of light for a year and a half;

I was a bridge that stretched over sixty estuaries,

I was a path, I was an eagle, I was a coracle in the seas.

Shape-shifting among these immortals seems to be of two powers. One that was applied to oneself only, and other higher power, where it was possible with self and others. Garrett had shown his ability with the second. I remember the ride in the carriage, where he had transformed my face and form to an elderly, repugnant woman. I thought of his powers of flight, where he transformed distance into mere seconds. Even this snapping of his fingers and his ale appears, and my tea. He calls it ‘common, vulgar magic’. To me, there is wonder and awe in it. He talks vaguely of many transformations, and I have come to well believe him. He is arrogant with the power of knowledge and experience. He seems some sort of god to me. Or close enough.

Something that intrigued me, that focused my attention, was the reading of relationship of king (god) to queen (goddess) to the land. In the embrace of a true king, the land would be fertile, for the role of goddess (queen) would be to do so. In the embrace of a false king, the land would suffer, the seasons harsh and long, the harvests thin, and births were either deformed or infrequent in both humans and animals. The queen, the goddess, would languish, until a proper consort was found. Until the false king was overthrown, was sacrificed either through war or death. Vanquished so the land could become fecund again. I thought about Garrett and Obadiah, such opposite forces. Surely they would represent the true and false kings. And I? I was to remain the constant, though I believed myself barren. Already, my Demon has stirred my womb and I bleed. He protects my ripening fertility, he says, from all others. And yet, did he have control over Cernunnos? If I bred, would I carry Cernunnos’ seed or was that seed on my thigh Garrett’s? And if Obadiah would kidnap me away, would I breed to him for the same purpose? Is this what Garrett hinted in his words to me? I would have ‘power’ in his dimension…I would have prestige besides him as his consort.

There were no answers here, only pointers in many directions. But enough to start me to construct my own dimension with what I had read. Perhaps the dream gave a hint where Garrett was from. Perhaps this book, heavy and dusty and almost crushing my foot, had fallen for a purpose. Perhaps it was as much of a compass sitting in my lap as if I had held one in the small of my palm.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016….with thanks to for Cernunnos carving. for the first image of Cuchulainn.











“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 35

July 5, 2013


I know this drives readers crazy, and probably away, but I’m jumping around here as I proof this book. This will be the first introduction I believe, on the blog, of Madame Gormosy, the Demon of Lust from Hell. She is a transgender devil apparently, changing from Monsieur to Madame at will, though she really perfers her shape as Madame. She plays faro and cheats, but she is also a tender devil.

Garrett has been advised by Lord Abigor and Lord Aamon, two Arch Dukes of Hell, to travel back in time to gather his forces for this upcoming battle with Obadiah and his legions of Hell.

Lady Nyo


Chapter 35

“So, M. Demon”, Madame Gormosy raised her head from her cards and addressed Garrett across the table. “Tell us a bit of who declared for your side. Mon Dieu! This house was so full of those Devils that day! They have left soot marks on the walls and some dents in the floors.”

Madame Gormosy was having her fun. I am assured by the Demon nothing of the sort has happened downstairs. However, it is a couple of days before I was allowed outside of this room, and perhaps there was a kernel of truth in Madame’s comments.

The Demon looked up from his hand. He was losing, but that was because Madame had subtle tricks with the cards. She cheats. Faro was her game and she was hard to beat at cards. Garrett has not caught on yet, but he will. His pile of coin was lessening and Madame’s was growing. My old trick of launching my shoe to the side of Madame and peering at her cards was not working today, for she was not indulging my trickery. That was tolerated only when we are alone. I am not winning a coin here.

Garrett looked up at her and thought a minute. “Almost enough for my side of the board.” He referred to the impending warfare as the Chess Game From Hell.

“Ah! And who are these Demons that have come to your side?” Madame coyly kept her eyes on her cards.

Garrett uttered a low curse, and threw his hand on the table. He was a poor loser at cards, and not gracious at all.

“Madame”, he said sharply. “Will you indulge me and allow me some time with this woman?” He shifted his eyes and Madame smiled slyly.

“Of course, Monsieur le Demon. I have other work to attend.” Madame got up and left the room gracefully, my Demon bowing her out the door.

I put my cards down, suspicious of his behavior. “Were you losing that much money this morning?” I know he hates faro, and isn’t the card sharp Madame is to best her.

He turned from the door, his expression hard to read. “We have things to discuss Bess this morning. You can play with Madame later.”

He moved to his chair across from our tea table. “I have talked to Abigor. He agrees with my plans.” He sat there, not looking at me, and I could see he is struggling with something he had to say.

“And if they include me, would you at least tell me my part?” I saw him hesitate.

“These dreams you have, Bess. Abigor thinks they are important.”

Ah! So Abigor, an Arch Duke of Hell thought them important, never mind my sleep was wracked with images that frighten me.

“Aamon has bound me to him. I have promised to follow his counsel and visit the otherworld. You’re going with me.” He looked at me, and I could see from his eyes that he would not brook an argument. I remembered his handling of the whip a few days ago.

“Then tell me what this ‘otherworld’ is, Garrett. At least allow me the favor of this.”

“You know the dreams of the Morrigen and Cernunnos? They are not idle events. They speak to a kinship that I have known for a while and have avoided for various reasons.”

At least this is a start! It gave some shape and comfort to what happened here and some answers to his origin.

“But this otherworld you speak of. What is it exactly? Is it like Hell?”

“No, it actually would be something you would have studied perhaps. Let’s call it the Mystic Isles for the moment.” He looks at the floor, deep in thought.

“Somewhere in Scotland?” I think of a previous dream, that first one of Culloden.

“Close. But more distant, too.”

Ah! He’s into games this morning. But I’m not following.

“Avalon?” He smiles, he is humoring me.

“Avalon is only a small part of it all. The two worlds, the present and the otherworld have portals. Your visits from Morrigen and Aine had meaning to me but until I discussed them with Abigor and Aamon, I didn’t know how important they were.”

He sucked on a thumb and spit out a piece of a nail. “I am to seek support and forces from among my own kin. Obadiah has his forces from Hell, as do I have, but I also have the magic of this particular otherworld to plunder.”

He finally turned to me and looked at me closely. “Abigor thinks you essential to this. The Morrigen is going through you to reach me.” He pauses and scowls. “As is Cernunnos.”

It seemed to me both Cernunnos and the Morrigen had no qualms in how they reached him. If I was a vessel, the price I paid was a costly one.
“Whatever kinship I have with these others, I will have to claim it soon. That is why we will leave in a matter of days. You, as my consort among demons, will have the same position among these others.”

Ah! I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

“Tell me, Demon, what actually will you be doing in this otherworld you speak?”

“It grows near to the Beltaine. The Great Marriage between the Horned One and the Mother draws nigh. The fertility rites will be attended by us. You and I will be part of the consecration and you will be confirmed as my consort. That is only a part of the work. I will be conversing with others there as to the merits of my case with Obadiah.”

“And what does that entail, Demon?” I am all ears.

“Lots of orgies and gore. Perhaps a sacrifice or two.” He expects me to be frightened. He is not amiss in his expectations.

“Garrett, explain please. You are talking in riddles.”

“Any kinship I can claim to Cu Chulainn , as I am told I have rights, will force these spirits to come to my side. I can raise an army from my birthright.”

Good and fine. “Now tell me, Demon, what you expect of my presence?”

Garrett looked at me with a serious expression. “You, as my consort, will be expected to attend me in the ritual of the Great Marriage.”

“And what it that?” I seem to have remembered some pagan rite of spring, something to do with the fertility of the land, but whatever I once knew, it has faded.

“You know of the festival of Beltaine?” I nod my head. “A number of times a year, more than two, but is known by most at Samhain and Beltaine, the Horned God and the Goddess couple in symbolic gesture. They, by their mating, assure the fertility of the land for the halfyear to come. At this ritual, you will be initiated as my consort, and will enact the same rites.”

I look at him in confusion. “We are to get married?”

He smiles to himself, but I see that there is more to this smile than he lets on. “A very public wedding night. Shared by others.”

“What part of all this is shared by others?” This should be interesting.

“You will be instructed by women as to how to deport yourself. And we will not see each other for a number of weeks. I will have my own instruction to attend to. You will be in the good hands of women who are steeped in these mysteries. Your time there will teach you far more than mere magic.”

I feel that he is avoiding my questions, but what he has said gives me meat enough for thought. After a while he leaves me to myself, and I notice a book placed in the window sill. I had not noticed it before, nor was it one of the few that I had brought up from downstairs. The Demon must have placed it there, or perhaps Madame Gormosy. I settled at my tea table and read what I could. It was a book on the history of the Druids and in it I came across what he called “The Great Marriage”. The pages were spotted with age and water, and the printing had strange characters in its alphabet, but I read on.

It seemed the Great Marriage was a ritual more public festival among pagans than the Christian monks would wish. In our eyes, some of the parts of the rituals would be distasteful enough, but one was especially perverse. It seems that a white horse was found at Beltaine and the Horned God, I would suppose Cernunnos, would mate with this mare. She would be killed, he washed in the blood, and would eat of the raw flesh. White horses were rare, and the sacrifice of one was a significant event. Then there was a very public ritual of the mating of Cernunnos with the Goddess, and it seemed that all hell broke loose. Bonfires were set on hills, and cattle driven over the flames or between two bonfires to insure fertility. Young women and men would jump through the flames, and they would pair off and mate in the open and throughout the forest or glen. This was not frowned upon, at least by the ordinary folk, for in its superstition, it assured the coming fertility of the crops and the expected harvest. Some man with antlers representing Cernunnos would run around and mate with as many women as possible. I shivered thinking about my own encounter with Cernunnos. I could do well to avoid him again.

Madame Gormosy came back later in the evening. We would begin to pack for the trip. She recommended stout and warm clothing, and boots and woolen stockings. Since it was still not spring, I thought as we traveled, we would meet a cold and dreary landscape. If my trips to Scotland and England taught me anything, it was that the weather was awful, and I’d probably get sick. We packed what woolen clothes I had, and a stout pair of leather boots. My red woolen cloak and some shawls completed my trousseau, for what I packed was a strange assortment of wedding finery. No modest veils or satin, and the heaviest of linen chemises for my wedding night. Hah!

There was little else I could do or prepare, and went back to playing faro with Madame. She was not to come with us, and I realized that I would miss her companionship. Although Madame, and at times, Monsieur, kept me guessing, she was, as my Demon declared, all sweetness and light. That’s when I didn’t catch her trickery at cards, but she had centuries of cheating beneath her belt, and I continued to play the plucked chicken.

Ah, Madame! I will miss your smile and your wandering hands. What I face on the morrow would be much soothed by your company!

Jane Kohut-Bartels,
Copyrighted, 2009, 2013

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