How I Came To Know The Lord
When I went hunting in 1999, I had the opportunity to meet and get to know Herne, also known as Cernunnos, The Green Man, Pan or The Horned One. While the hunting trip was a bust for bringing home a harvest, the enlightenment I was given was, by far, worth the whole experience for me. I spent the following six months after the hunt ruminating and parking the whole adventure in the back of my mind for the "sleep on it" method of understanding. But I am getting ahead of myself here.
When I first completely embraced a pagan belief system, I knew - intellectually - about the duality of the godhead: The God/dess. I was unable to put a name to either She or He, but was confident They know who They are, so I was in no particular hurry to find a specific diety. However, I was unable to connect in my heart with The Lord and when I said "God/dess," I normally meant more your general goddess than god.
After a year of learning some of the ways of Wicca, I went deer hunting. From my studies, I knew Herne was The Lord of the Hunt and of the animals of the forest. So, I celebrated Mabon in the woods with my own very small bonfire in the icy, star studded night. After my ritual, I sat hugged up to the warmth of the fire and carried on a monologue with Him. He was still not yet a part of my heart, but - I figured - ask, and ye shall receive. I believed in His existence without doubt and knew if I asked Him for a good hunt, He'd likely offer me a gift of harvest. As the fire burned to embers and my eyes grew heavy with the hour, I felt at peace and had an underlying anticipation of the coming hunt. As the predawn crept into the westering darkness, I dowsed the fire and walked in the dark back to my tent. Barefoot in the frostbitten long-grass, I was only halfway across the meadow when I felt a twinge and looked about as if someone were there. Of course, no one corporeal was there, I was the only person camped in the forest for miles around. Yet still, I cocked my head and pushed my senses out and felt a wry expectation lurking just inside the tree line. I felt no threat and made no attempt to understand it, knowing in time, if it was meant to be, I would reach understanding. Little did I know....
Days went by and I combed the surrounding woods looking for sign of deer. I spent a lot of time just wandering aimlessly, following impulse and soaking up the beauty and sense of contentment that comes from being in the forest alone. The men finally arrived, the mundane took precedence and the anticipation of opening day was the topic on everyone's mind. The business of finding the harvest was in full swing.
The night before opening day, I smudged my tent-trailer with sage, lit my God/dess candle, said a quick, sincere prayer of thanks and once again asked Herne to attend the hunt with me. Boy. Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it!!! I was to now find out up front and personal where the wry expectation was coming from on the night of Mabon. My Lord does have a sense of humor!!
He was everywhere for the next 11 days. I "saw" Him in the trees, peering from the stumps, He undulated in the streams, He writhed in the grass, He whispered behind my head, He sent dragons racing in the clouds and poised them in the woods to watch over me and guide me. He presented me with two magnificent young bucks, both of which I thanked Him for and lowered my rifle. They were this year's babes and, while I could see the little bumps where the antlers go, there was no visible horn on either. I had forgotten to tell Herne when I asked Him to attend that the tender flesh of the fawn, while much valued by Him, was not a harvest I could reap. And each time I watched the doe and fawn wander unknowingly away, I sensed Him smile and felt a warmth in my bosom that almost made me drop to my knees. The rush of pride, of delight, of approval was palpable. Perhaps His offerings were more of a test of my care for His creatures?
One day I was in camp mid-day. I was the only one there, I'd just had lunch and was down at the stream getting water for washing dishes. As I filled my pot, I felt like I was being watched. I looked up and there, on the other side of the stream was the biggest buck I have ever seen in my life. He had six points on each antler, he stood almost as tall as a horse, and he was solid white with wise, brown eyes. I froze. He was only a matter of yards from me. My first thought was, "Damn, the things you see when you don't have a rifle," followed immediately by, "He is GORgeous!" And he was staring right at me. He then walked slowly up to the stream directly across from me, no more than 8 feet away and drank from the stream. I filled my eyes with his beauty and the joy of seeing such a thing filled me with wonder and delight. After drinking leisurely, he once again gazed upon me as I feasted my gaze upon him. Then, slowly as though he had no care in the world, he turned and walked sedately back up the bank and almost halfway to the crest of the hill. He stopped once more and turned to look at me over his shoulder. Then, suddenly, he just evaporated. He did not slip over the side of the hill, there was no brush for him to disappear into and my eyes did not play any tricks on me. I blinked and then wondered if I'd seen the whole thing or not. I immediately looked in the mud at the edge of the stream where he had quenched his thirst. There was no hoofprint - as if he had not been there at all. That was proof enough to me I'd seen My Lord Herne. And now I understand all the stories of the magnificent white buck scattered here and there throughout the world.
After a few more days, the time finally came for the hunt to end and for my return to civilization. I was loathe to leave the woods, but more than ready to be quit of men, missing my wife and dog and needing a long, hot shower. I sped from the womb of Mother Earth and The Lord's frontyard and resumed my normal life.
Since then, I rarely use the term "God/dess" anymore and have finally been able to say, "The Lord and Lady" with a fuller understanding. I have also noticed a subtle shift in my perceptions of Him and Her and the nuances of responsibility Each has toward Their charges (us and EVERYthing around us). It's funny - when I first shed the mantle of Christianity, I leaned more toward Goddess. Now HE's the one I sought out most (in 2004 I met My Lady Cailleach and now call on Each equally).
In Celtic lore (where I pull most of my belief system from), I have come to perceive the goddess Gaia, the Earth, as the One who watches over and cares for all the growing things that reach INto the earth: plants, running or standing water, mountains, plains -- the geography of our planet. Herne is the benefactor, protector and harvester of all that moves ON the earth: fish, bird, insect, animals -- the creatures from single amoebae to the top of the food chain.
Now - here's the logical progression and it was quite a revelation for me. Herne is in charge of animals. Well - a deer is an animal. So are horses and cattle. And if livestock is under His umbrella, so is my chihuahua, Prusilla Pipsqueak. It only stands to reason, He holds Pru's welfare and destiny in His hands the same as He did those young bucks. So it was easy to start thanking HIM for my dog's presence in my life. Herne let me swallow this bit of enlightenment for a couple months and then I got hit with another slaps-forehead-revelation. If He is the benefactor of Pru, and mankind is ALSO classified as animal, well - it stands to reason He is also MY benefactor! It makes such logical sense. And damn - it feels so right. So when my fundamentalist Christian acquaintances talked about The Lord I can now seamlessly blend into the conversation because my belief system has shifted back to walking with The Lord.
God is good, God is great. Hail Herne.
Email Me: webmistress AT sunnibergeron DOT com
Copyright 1998-2010 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: November 2 2010