Title: The Horned God of the Witches
Author: Jason Mankey
Price: $24.99 / $17.99
He is the Horned God. Or maybe he is many Gods. Pan. Cernunnos. Herne. The Green Man. Dionysus. In one form or another, under one name or another, he seems to have been recognized and honored by humans since the Stone Age. While devotion to him disappeared after the European conversion to Christianity, it was revitalized by poets and artists in the Renaissance, and then bloomed in the twentieth century. But who exactly is the Horned God, what do we know about him, and how can we honor him …?
In this extensive work, Mankey chronicles the long and complicated history of the Horned God. Over the course of seventeen chapters, Mankey discusses exactly what is meant by a “horned God” (or even “horned Goddess”); the characteristics of a horned God; the relationship between horns, antlers, phalluses, fertility, and sexuality; the mythology and history of Gods such as Pan, Dionysus, and Cernunnos; and artistic and folkloric figures such as Herne and John Barleycorn. He also offers a number of rituals for honoring the Horned God, poems and hymns, and the basics of building an altar or shrine to the Deity.
While I am familiar with Mankey’s name, and I have read some of his shorter essays and blog posts, The Horned God of the Witches is the first full-length book by him that I have read. And I found it delightful and informative. Mankey’s style is intimate and conversational. He segues easily from academic discussions to personal experiences, and he is up front with his readership about what is historically attested, what is supposition based on the evidence, and what is pure personal gnosis. He also cites sources throughout the text, and offers readers an extensive bibliography for those who wish to continue their own research.
The Horned God of the Witches will make a terrific addition to the library of any witch, Pagan, or lover of mythology. If I have one complaint, it’s about the price. A print edition at $24.99 is high, but not unreasonable. On the other hand, shelling out $17.99 for an ebook of less than three hundred pages seems excessive. I recommend checking it out from the library, looking for it at a used bookstore, or keeping it on a digital watch list and picking it up when it goes on sale. (Unless Llewellyn opts to lower the price permanently.)
Recommended to fans of Mankey, as well as fans of The Path of Paganism by John Beckett; Urban Magick by Diana Rachel; Beneath the Moon and The Triple Goddess, both by Rachel Patterson; Call of the God, edited by Frances Billinghurst; and the forthcoming Naming the God, edited by Trevor Greenfield.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]