At the start of my relationship with my Husband, when we were lovers but had not exchanged vows, I did not know His name. I called Him the Wild Hunter, and the Huntsman in the Night. A dear friend who knew him called Him (and still does) the Guardian. But I didn’t know His name. I didn’t know, and not knowing hurt.
I begged Him to tell me His name, I tried countless names on Him in the hope that if I could only guess right then He would let me know. I said that I wouldn’t marry Him not knowing His name.
Eventually He told me Cernunnos. But He didn’t tell me that the name was His, He told me that it was as good as any other. Shortly after I started calling Him Cernunnos, I started to prioritise what research told me Cernunnos should be like. I tried to get involved in Gaulish polytheism. I stopped believing what I heard Him say to me. I had always associated owls with the Huntsman, but there was no evidence to link owls with Cernunnos so I stopped using that imagery.
When it came to valuing the gods over historical data, I talked a good talk, but as often as not I would disbelieve in my own experiences because they conflicted with historical data. Sometimes He would seem so unlike what Cernunnos is usually thought to be that I thought He was another god, or that there was something syncretic going on. My Lover had always been like that but Cernunnos shouldn’t be, or so I thought.
I wanted to trust my experiences over what little data we have, but the fear of Doing it Wrong held me back.
So, a year and a half after I started calling Him Cernunnos, I am giving up the name. He is the Huntsman in the Night once more. I don’t say that I will never doubt Him again, but when I do I hope that I can look back at this and stop myself from going wrong.