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Author Topic: Herne made up by Shakespeare?  (Read 2267 times)

NibbleKat

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Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« on: July 06, 2012, 11:56:11 am »
So, I've been reading a very lovely book called, "The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys" by Jennifer Westwood.

I came across an entry on Herne the Hunter, which stated that Herne is often confused with the god Cernunnos, and that he wasn't actually a deity at all, but a huntsman who committed a crime and was hanged from the King Richard II's great oak in his park; that the "horns" on his head are actually a joke referring to his crime.

Can anyone speak to this?
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Darkhawk

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 03:18:08 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62922
Can anyone speak to this?

 
Having once been a human doesn't mean that someone's not a god now.  Or at least on that arc (and who knows when someone becomes a god?).

But yes, Herne and Cernunnos get conflated in weird ways.
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monsnoleedra

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 03:44:48 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62922
So, I've been reading a very lovely book called, "The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys" by Jennifer Westwood.

I came across an entry on Herne the Hunter, which stated that Herne is often confused with the god Cernunnos, and that he wasn't actually a deity at all, but a huntsman who committed a crime and was hanged from the King Richard II's great oak in his park; that the "horns" on his head are actually a joke referring to his crime.

Can anyone speak to this?


While I was stationed in Scotland back in the late 80's Herne was also connected at times to the Greenman.  Yet the whole time he was always a former huntsman who in some stories served the king as a warden or times as a huntsman who broke the law.  In a few places he's also associated to a form of the Wild Hunt and the running of hounds through a certain wood in England.

NibbleKat

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 04:55:48 pm »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;62959
While I was stationed in Scotland back in the late 80's Herne was also connected at times to the Greenman.  Yet the whole time he was always a former huntsman who in some stories served the king as a warden or times as a huntsman who broke the law.  In a few places he's also associated to a form of the Wild Hunt and the running of hounds through a certain wood in England.


Yep! I know that.  :) But I've seen a few sources online and in the book that said his first official mention is in Shakespeare, based on a "real" huntsman, but that THAT huntsman may never have been real at all.  That Herne isn't a god-form at all, but just a piece of folklore not associated with deity in any form.

Especially since the Lore of the Land (if I am remembering correctly) said that his mention of "horns" was a play on words/pun for a cuckolder....
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Darkhawk

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 04:58:56 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62971
Especially since the Lore of the Land (if I am remembering correctly) said that his mention of "horns" was a play on words/pun for a cuckolder....

 
My understanding was that horns were for the cuckold, not the person who had the affair.  My copy of Shakespeare's Bawdy is still packed, though.
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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2012, 05:06:24 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62971
Yep! I know that.  :) But I've seen a few sources online and in the book that said his first official mention is in Shakespeare, based on a "real" huntsman, but that THAT huntsman may never have been real at all.  That Herne isn't a god-form at all, but just a piece of folklore not associated with deity in any form.

Especially since the Lore of the Land (if I am remembering correctly) said that his mention of "horns" was a play on words/pun for a cuckolder....


Oh I agree in most instances Herne is not a god form at all.  At best probably some form of manifested earth spirit or woodland spirit.  It's been years since I really looked into him but I recall he was almost a compilation of various forms.  Sort of like Robinhood in how he may or may not have been real but acquired a lore and history of his own as his image developed.

I can't recall the exact term but there was a Brown Man type figure that was associated to parts of England.  He's not like the typcial notion of the Greenman but more earthly and was regarded as a hunter and woodsman that may have been part of the basis for Herne.

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2012, 05:08:12 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62922
So, I've been reading a very lovely book called, "The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys" by Jennifer Westwood.

I came across an entry on Herne the Hunter, which stated that Herne is often confused with the god Cernunnos, and that he wasn't actually a deity at all, but a huntsman who committed a crime and was hanged from the King Richard II's great oak in his park; that the "horns" on his head are actually a joke referring to his crime.

Can anyone speak to this?

 
Originally made up or not, he's real for a lot of people now and that would settle it for me, at least from a spiritual point.

As an aside, I've always been led to believe that Herne = Cernunnos = the Greenman. Then again, I don't know a whole lot about any of them, so ya learn something new every day. :D:
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NibbleKat

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2012, 05:46:59 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;62973
My understanding was that horns were for the cuckold, not the person who had the affair.  My copy of Shakespeare's Bawdy is still packed, though.

But I thought that the cuckold was a man with an adulterous wife? Granted, I am also looking at Wiki, which... as we all know, is a bit iffy. :)
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NibbleKat

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2012, 05:50:11 pm »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;62976
Oh I agree in most instances Herne is not a god form at all.  At best probably some form of manifested earth spirit or woodland spirit.  It's been years since I really looked into him but I recall he was almost a compilation of various forms.  Sort of like Robinhood in how he may or may not have been real but acquired a lore and history of his own as his image developed.

I can't recall the exact term but there was a Brown Man type figure that was associated to parts of England.  He's not like the typcial notion of the Greenman but more earthly and was regarded as a hunter and woodsman that may have been part of the basis for Herne.


I think I could be more comfortable with this "version" of Herne, if the authors mentioning Shakespeare, etc, are correct.  As in, not so much a god, and not Cernunnos, but an earth spirit that Shakespeare heard of, and then got mashed up into other beliefs.   I think it was Margaret Murray who wrote "God of the Witches in the 1930's who really pulled Cernunnos into being Herne...

...but that's another topic, really. :)  I just hadn't heard the "Woodland spirit/actual man" bit until recently. (Horned gods aren't my specialty.)
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NibbleKat

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2012, 05:54:42 pm »
Quote from: Shine;62977
Originally made up or not, he's real for a lot of people now and that would settle it for me, at least from a spiritual point.

As an aside, I've always been led to believe that Herne = Cernunnos = the Greenman. Then again, I don't know a whole lot about any of them, so ya learn something new every day. :D:


Well, I could see some folks believing that.  If there's an historical basis for him not being a deity, I have more of a problem with it-- but it's a personal thing, and I'm not about to point down at someone and say, "HEY. IDIOT.  He's not real!"  Because if it's real for that person, fine. It's faith, belief.

 But I wouldn't take him as deity for myself.  

I prefer (but am NOT bound to) historical evidence where it can be found; cult sites, artifacts, etc.  That, of course, breaks down after a while, since not as much is left over for a lot of faiths, especially Celtic/British/Gallic.

I also am more or less a hard polytheist, so I believe that not all gods are the same. For me, Epona isn't Rhiannon.  Belisama isn't Brigid. Having said that, I do know that "Have god, will travel"... meaning that folks in one land take their gods with them, and over time, those deities' names might change, but they're still the same one as before, but there might be traceable evidence of this shift happening.
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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2012, 09:35:29 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62983
But I thought that the cuckold was a man with an adulterous wife? Granted, I am also looking at Wiki, which... as we all know, is a bit iffy. :)

 
I can't remember where I encountered this story, and in fact it may have been made up by the person who told it me (my family being what it was :)), but that is exactly where I was told the 'horned' reference came from.  In the story I was told, Herne was a king's huntsman whose wife was unfaithful.  It was his heartbreak which caused him to withdraw into a hermit-like existence in the woods.  Possibly after murdering his wife - it's fuzzy.

He sort of grew stories from there.  I can't think of them, and any I know are unlikely to be historical anyway.  I think at one point I thought he was the huntsman who couldn't bring himself to murder Snow White. :)

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Darkhawk

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2012, 10:03:25 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62983
But I thought that the cuckold was a man with an adulterous wife? Granted, I am also looking at Wiki, which... as we all know, is a bit iffy. :)

 
Yes.  Being cheated on is not a crime.  One doesn't get punished for it, though one may be socially embarrassed and mocked - which is what the horns of the cuckold indicated.
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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2012, 10:04:37 pm »
Quote from: NibbleKat;62988
Well, I could see some folks believing that.  If there's an historical basis for him not being a deity, I have more of a problem with it-- but it's a personal thing, and I'm not about to point down at someone and say, "HEY. IDIOT.  He's not real!"  Because if it's real for that person, fine. It's faith, belief.

 
Why do you think that living as a human being is historical evidence that someone isn't a god now?
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NibbleKat

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2012, 09:34:00 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63029
Why do you think that living as a human being is historical evidence that someone isn't a god now?

I don't have a problem with deities that were once human becoming gods.  Caesar is a big example of this; I know folks who believe (like the Romans did, if my shaky memory serves me right?? Could be wrong) that he ascended from human status to being a god.  I should have made that clear and said "Deity -- once human or otherwise"  My apologies.

I also don't have a problem with deities have little or no evidence for ever existing being worshipped.... Two of my deities have very scant 'paper trails', as it were, when it comes to archaeological evidence and NONE for any mythos.  

What I do have a problem with is if Herne were never really a man at all and if he were never a spirit/deity/brown man etc.  What if Shakespeare (or whoever wrote his plays) made him up, or simply wrote down a local legend that had no basis in a real human or (for lack of a better term) supernatural being?  (We will never be able to find this out, of course.)

I think that it is good to question faith and beliefs.  Otherwise, we blind ourselves.  I personally am in a constant state of questioning.  (Probably to the point of it being detrimental in some cases.)  For me, this discussion is very much an intellectual posit, something to converse about, not any sort of means to point and laugh at folks.

What would it mean if the above were true (the bit about Herne being a bedtime story made up by folks, not about me pointing and laughing?)  What would that mean to the people who worship him?  Would it change things?  Is it possible?  Is it wrong to ask these questions?
 
I guess what is in my mind is... yes, one needs to be open minded and respectful of other people's beliefs, realize that there truly are deities that through UPG have been rediscovered over time after history has destroyed all evidence of their ever existing (isn't there a member here who worships M'Lady?)  but one should at least now and then ask a few questions.   For example, someone might read about a wonderful Irish goddess, set up an altar to her, do a lot of UPG work, build up a relationship, and never find out that the Potato Goddess "documented" by Edain McCoy never existed...

There's just a thin wobbly line that I like to explore now and then, and because of the little blurb I read in the Lore of the Land, I'm very, very much into exploring this one, while trying to be as least offensive as I can.  I'm not trying to accuse.  Just trying to ask (and seeming to do a poor job of communicating it.)

:)
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 09:39:32 pm by NibbleKat »
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NibbleKat

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Re: Herne made up by Shakespeare?
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2012, 09:35:06 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;63017
I can't remember where I encountered this story, and in fact it may have been made up by the person who told it me (my family being what it was :)), but that is exactly where I was told the 'horned' reference came from.  In the story I was told, Herne was a king's huntsman whose wife was unfaithful.  It was his heartbreak which caused him to withdraw into a hermit-like existence in the woods.  Possibly after murdering his wife - it's fuzzy.

He sort of grew stories from there.  I can't think of them, and any I know are unlikely to be historical anyway.  I think at one point I thought he was the huntsman who couldn't bring himself to murder Snow White. :)

Absent


Yes, and not having that Lore of the Land book in front of me, I can't remember what the "crime" was that he did. :)
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