The god of going off to college

For Haley’s graduation, my mom made a wall sculpture (not pictured) for him to hang in his new digs at college. It’s a ceramic face with antlers attached and is an interpretation of the ancient carving you see above, depicting the god Cernunnos.

She picked Cernunnos because he is truly a mystery. He’s a Celtic god, but we know almost nothing about him. Only a few pictures of him remain, and his name only appears in one place — on a pillar erected by Roman-era sailors on the Seine River in what is now Paris. Because of this, the column is called the Pillar of the Boatmen. It was discovered under the foundations of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

As you can see from the carving, Cernunnos is a bearded guy with horns, and he’s got a metal ring, a torque, around each of his horns. Was he the god of playing ring toss games? Did you win a stuffed animal if you got one around his horns? I don’t know. In fact, nobody knows. He might have been a nature god because of the horns. He might have been a god of river travel, since his pillar was carved by sailors on the Seine.

My mom decided he could be the god of anything Haley wanted, since Cernunnos is such a mystery. So Cernunnos is going off the college with Haley, and I guess we’ll have to see what he’s the god of — hopefully wonderful things!

Rick Riordan