In Celtic culture, the mysterious image of a horned being permeates from the Iron Age in the Gaulish La Tène culture all the way up to 19th century England in the legends of Herne the Hunter. In spite of several depictions of a “horned god” in Celtic artwork throughout the centuries, the answers to exactly who this horned being was is not clear.
The name “Cernunnos” is found on an artifact known as “the Pillar of the Boatman”. It’s a carving from the first century CE, and it is the only time the name Cernunnos appears in reference to this horned being. However, the oldest image of Cernunnos is found on the Gundestrup Cauldron, an Iron Age relic of the ancient Celtic people of mainland Europe. Modern interpretation speculates that Cernunnos was a god of nature and fertility. In spite of the uncertainty behind this arcane creature, one thing is clear, his importance to the Celts must have been great in order for his legend to endure for so many centuries.
I love Cernunnos because of the mystique and secrecy that surrounds him. In addition to antlers on his head, he is often depicted holding a torc in one hand, and a serpent in the other. Again, the significance of this is unknown as the Celts did not write it down, but I find the riddle of Cernunnos to be fascinating. My drawing pays homage to this enigmatic figure of the forest by depicting the horned figure, torc in one hand, serpent in the other, as he has been depicted since the earliest times. My interpretation of Cernunnos was done in a Celtic style, which seemed fitting to me since this is a character from Celtic mythology. He is in an action pose because I imagine Cernunnos having the speed and agility of a deer or elk to match the antlers on his head. I would think that anyone who spends all their time in the forest would have to show some measure of athleticism.