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The Horned God by sphinxmuse The Horned God by sphinxmuse
The Horned God by sphinxmuse (print image)


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This image (and especially its title, which is officially "By Standing Stone and Twisted Tree") 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 Wiccan 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 papertowel 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, mischevious, 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 enagaged her beloved Krishna whom she often referred to as Shyam meaning "Dark One". 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.

    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 backroads 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 watertower, 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.

The medium in this case is Clayboard Black, which is a variety of scratchboard.

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Colourbus Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
Intense.I like:)

Tendershark Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012   Traditional Artist
Absolutely breathtaking!
DaniLaur Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2011  Student Artist
god this is beautiful
Lilielo-Lawliet Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2009
DeadMiracles Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2009
nice style, great details =) +fav
deoxymelt Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2008
great representation of Him!
labornthyn Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2008
This is a beautiful work. It really conveys the sense of ancientness and the spirit of a mythic being. The path on the upper left leading into starlit forest is an excellent touch, and the figures are well arranged with the diagonal of the crow's body leading to the face of the being. Well done!
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2008   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much. I've always had a special place for this piece, even though it does not seem to be one of the most generally appreciated ones.
labornthyn Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2008
Perhaps it is the lack of color - but that is the very reason why I like it so much! To render an elemental and mythic being like this, I always feel that grey scale is best, because it emphasizes the symbolic nature of the depiction. And it also allows the eye to dream through all the wonderful textures that you have worked into this!
Mortis-of-midian Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2008
TheWildRover Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2007
So beautiful. The Horned God fascinates me so much. I've done a couple drawings interpeting him.
ShellyWebsterBrutal Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
wow how detiled! O_o Bravo!
everaine Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2007
I absolutely fell in love with this when I saw it on elfwood - and now I see it again and I'm just awestruck. I have no words for what this means to me, really. Thank you.
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2007   Traditional Artist
You're very welcome. I'm glad you like it :) It seems to be an under-appreciated piece.
assylem Featured By Owner May 20, 2007
I enjoy the portrait as much as your thoughts on The God. I've always seen him as alittle bit more pan-ish as well. :D
Raedmund Featured By Owner May 13, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Twilights-Maiden Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
he's lovely!!
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2006   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much! He's now available as a print too!

By the way, I love the Rilke quote you're using as your signature. I'm planning to use it in an essay of mine.
Twilights-Maiden Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
:) I saw that and it's sitting in my basket so I can purchase it as a yule gift for myself :D

isn't that a wonderful quote! you've piqued my interest in your essay. I have to say I love the depth you put into your artist statements on much of your work!
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2006   Traditional Artist
Thank you!

When I finally finish hammering out that essay, I'll be sure to post a link!
Twilights-Maiden Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
that would be great, I'll look forward to it :)
mudshark1013 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2006
That's CLAYboard? OMG.

My thought process:
"oh that's nice... i like some of her other stuff better *readreadread* hmm *looks again; continues reading* CLAYBOARD? HOLY SHITE. *comments*"

So many clayboard pieces I see are so... childish. I thought for sure that this was white charcoal or white Prismacolor on black paper. How wonderful to discover it isn't!
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
beautiful work. i have a fascination with the Horned God and his Goddess.....
and of course, the Raven...
lindseycarr Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006   Traditional Artist
Another brilliant piece! I've never tried clayboard, but I like the effect you've got's really something :)
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006   Traditional Artist
Clayboard Black is a really great medium, I would highly recommend it. It is essentially just like normal scratchboard except on a more sturdy surface, and it does not flake off when doing minute detail.
Senecal Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Very nice work!
Toady-kins Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2006
This is absolutely gorgeous :heart:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2006   Traditional Artist
Thank you :)

I find that this particular piece tends to be somewhat under-appreciated in my other galleries. I'm glad that you took the time to appreciate it!
Toady-kins Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2006
You're very welcome :)

I totally know what you're talking about. I was amazed when there was only like one other comment on this piece. It was silly.
Khokolotte Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2006
Wow, That is amazing! Absolutely AMAZING! You are a great artist
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2006   Traditional Artist
Thank you :)
Khokolotte Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2006
You're welcome
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Submitted on
January 4, 2006
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