Children of Ben Dudlach
Iconography of the Stag Lord is all over the place. In some places he is depicted as a man with a Stag’s head. In others he has the lower half of a Stag, but the torso and head of a man with antlers growing from his brows. In most images he is just a man wearing a crown made from antlers.
The Stag Lord is a spirit of the Wild. He rules over beasts and birds, trees and thorns, that live at the edges of human settlement. He represents the implacable fury of nature, but also the balancing power of death which enables growth and new birth. The Stag Lord is ascendent in the Winter. It is said that on Samain he turns on his brother Maponos, murdering him and dancing on his corpse. At Beltain each year Maponos is resurrected by the Mother Spirit and the Stag Lord is transformed into a beast and banished to the wild to await the return of Winter.
Druids cautiously revere the Stag Lord as a source of wisdom about the working of the world. Most Druidic sacrifices are done in the name of the Stag Lord, and many Druidic rituals incorporate prayers to the Stag Lord and his brother Maponos.
At the popular level the Stag Lord is more feared than worshipped. He is a force to be appeased or avoided more than admired. Cealtanach mothers threaten their children with stories of the Stag Lord abducting disobedient children or ordering his beasts to tear them apart. Warriors and Hunters sometimes make signs or say prayers to keep the Stag Lord away, especially in Winter time.
Among Clans and villages that still practice the Old Ways children are set aside every 7th Year and trained as sacrificial warriors who, if need be, are sacrificed to the Stag Lord in order to end a long Winter. In such places an animal is usually sacrificed each full moon between Samain and Beltain and left at the edge of the forest to keep the Beasts away.