Grant me my prayers, O Mighty One,
You who knows what it is to suffer.
Grant me my prayers, O Antlered One,
You who are the Great Giver.
Part of the “Prayer to Cernunnos” by Míchealín Daugherty (www.irelandsown.net), adapted from several prayers in Serith, C. “A Pagan Book of Prayer”
You who knows what it is to suffer. That line struck me as I read through the prayer. Cernunnos is not typically seen as a suffering deity. I have found no stories of him putting Himself through harm in the pursuit of knowledge. He is not chained and tortured, and those He loves are not senselessly transformed or murdered or harmed. In fact, He covers so many facets of life and has so little specific written mythos that it’s sometimes hard to pin Him down.
He is said to be the protector and healer of injured animals, and He is the Great Hunter. He is Guardian of Knowledge, God of Nature, Lord of All Living Creatures. Cernunnos is the God Who Sits Between the Worlds, sending His siblings the sidhe to guide the souls of the dead to the Otherworld, especially those of the wild creatures He hunts and protects. He is virile and potent in the spring, growing old and withered in autumn. He dies on Samhain to be born again at Yule, only to mature, grow old, and die again.
Walking between the worlds of the living and the dead. Hunting the same creatures one is charged to protect. Guiding the dead to their end, and dying oneself each year. It may not be suffering as other myths tell it, but I can see suffering in His roles nonetheless.
You who know what it is to suffer. He knows pain, His own and that of others. He is the embodiment of death and and decay. He is responsible for the dead and the dying, the living and the vibrant. Straddling those worlds, seeing both sides, sympathizing with the grieving and the dying and the dead… that can be its own suffering.
He who knows what it is to suffer. He who suffers, for Himself and His charges. He who suffers with me when I hurt, He who is pained when I am cruel to myself. He who would change that part of me, would heal the wounded little bird who has come to His care.
I see better now who He is, who He has been, and I choose to suffer with Him in love and in sympathy.