This image (and especially its title) was inspired by the poem Invocation of the Horned God, a piece of Traditional Wiccan liturgy written by Doreen Valiente. It was published by her in the periodical Pentagram in 1965 and also appears in her book Witchcraft for Tomorrow (although Lady Sheba misquotes it in her Lady Sheba's Book of Shadows and falsely claims it as ancient). It reads, in part:
"By the flame that burneth bright,
O Horned One!
We call thy name into the night,
O Ancient One!
We thee invoke, by the moon-led sea,
By the standing stone and the twisted tree.
Thee we invoke, where gather thine own,
By the nameless shrine forgotten and lone.
Come where the round of the dance is trod,
Horn and hoof of the goatfoot God!
By moonlit meadow, on dusky hill,
When the haunted wood is hushed and still,
Come to the charm of the chanted prayer,
As the moon bewitches the midnight air.
Evoke thy powers, that potent bode
In shining stream and the secret tide,
In fiery flame by the starlight pale,
In shadowy host that rides the gale,
And by the fern-brakes fairy-haunted
Of forest wild and woods enchanted.
Come! O come!
To the heartbeat's drum!
Come to us who gather below
When the broad white moon is climbing slow
Through the stars to heaven's height.
We hear thy hoofs on the wind of night!
As black tree-branches shake and sigh,
By joy and terror we know thee nigh."
It's been a while since I've depicted a masculine facet of the Divine, and I thought it was about time I tried to address the God within my art once again. I generally tend to relate more closely to Goddesses and feminine imagery and thus portray them more frequently in my work, but this does not indicate that I do not choose to honor and acknowledge the God.
I've seen some other imagery of the Horned God, and there seems to be a trend in Pagan artists illustrating Him as a burly, bearded man with antlers that with the addition of a plaid shirt stretched snugly over His barrel chest, would resemble the character on the Brawny paper towel packages. I do not think that there's anything wrong with perceiving Him in that way, it's just that I hope to show that there are other, less generic ways to envision Him. I tend to see Him, not only as a stoic, fatherly figure and protector, but also as very sensual, wild, mischeivous, and extremely wise. He knows of the ultimate pleasure and the ultimate sacrifice (perhaps even as they exist in the same moment), he is both savage and urbane, expressively sensitive yet also an embodiment of strength: oak and holly, hart and bull. In some ways, I have personally come to encounter the Horned God much as the Indian poetess Mirabai engaged her beloved Krishna whom she often referred to as Shyam meaning "Dark One" or "Raven Colored". In this instance, I chose to represent Him as more lithe and youthful than aged and muscular, and in this case, He truly is a Horned rather than an Antlered God (as a matter of fact, He seems to be a double-horned God). He is accompanied by an American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), a faithful companion and messenger, and Norse-inspired tattoos scrawl across the God's pelt. Entwined in His hair and appearing in the immediate foreground are not thorns, but the twigs of the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipfera L.). Once all the petals of this tree's flower, which resembles a tulip or lily, wither and detach, they leave behind a miniature, exquisitely sculpted spire. It is those spires which appear in this piece. I personally feel that the Horned God with whom I am familiar is but another guise of the Faery King.
Winding its way mysteriously into the distance is actually a representation of a real place in my locality which I have dubbed The Raised Road. I discovered it by chance one day while walking along some rural back roads in my township. It was blocked off to motor vehicles by a metal gate and shortly after that a stream was to be found flowing across it. I was greatly intrigued by the unusual sight of a stone-paved road, raised up from the natural forest floor by a number of yards, twisting itself through the trees, and so I decided to pass the gate, cross the water and investigate. As dusk barely began to tinge the horizon, I followed the strange road. From the higher vantage point the road provided, I observed the patterns of the many low, dry-stacked stone walls which divided the forest and the impressive presences of many huge boulders. It seemed like a very enchanted place in the deeply slanted evening sunlight. The road led to something rather conventional enough, a green water tower, but even now knowing the practical purpose for the road did not dispel its liminal quality. And apparently I am not the first traveler there to notice this quality since I found the words "Angels Live Here" scribed in black marker on a squat metal box near the tower.
Media: Clayboard Black, which is a variety of scratchboard.