The most important and well-known animal symbol of the ancient Celts, the Celtic stag symbol, is associated with Cernunnos, the horned (antlered) god of all wild animals, hunting and fertility and the consort of the Great Mother. Cernunnos represents the active side of nature; consequently, he is the god of sexuality (in the detail on the left he is depicted holding a torc in one hand and a serpent in the other – symbols of female and male sexuality). This characteristic caused him to be branded as evil by the early Christian Church, which identified him with Satan himself. In actual fact, Cernunnos was not an evil god, but the fact that he was worshipped by pagan Celtic populations as the god of all things made him an altogether too popular rival for the Church.
Cernunnos the horned god is also associated with another well-known symbol, the Green Man.
In Celtic mythology the white stag is a sign of the Otherworld, and appears to the heroes of stories to indicate the entrance to the otherworld or the presence of gods or spirits (the white stag appears at the beginning and end of the Narnia adventure in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).
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