In a previous post (Jinn Witches of Britain) we tried to solve a riddle regarding the origin of the 16th Century colloquial British term for a witch, Jenny Horne. It was apparently in widespread use, but particularly so in Scotland, where the name was given for the last witch to be executed in Britain.
The root of the English word ‘horn’ comes from the Proto-Germanic ‘hurnaz’, which originates from the PIE *ker, and refers to the uppermost part of the head, in most cases of an animal, and subsequently to an instrument made from this part. The Latin word for ‘horn’ is ‘cornu’, which presumably also shares its origin in the PIE, as the Latin for a deer is ‘cervus’ whereas the Welsh is ‘carw’. A Uni-corn is also an animal with a single horn.
One theory suggests the origin for the place name Corn-wall comes the Anglo-Saxon word for ‘the Walha (foreigners/Ancient Britons) who live on the Cern (the ‘horn’ of the land)’. Another theory is that it comes from the Cornuvii, a tribe who inhabited parts of Britain when the Romans arrived, and who worshipped the horned god Cernunos, and so took his name in veneration. The ‘Cern’ in Cernunos relays across the ages the physical character of this Celtic god – he is always shown with antlers.
The dictionary of the Scottish Language tells us that the word ‘horne’ was used in 16th century Scotland to ‘proclaim an outlaw, three blasts being blown [from a horn] by the king’s messenger… in the phrases at the horne – outlawed, and to put to the horn – to outlaw.’
Our previous summary was that the name Jenny (for a witch) came from the same root as the words ‘Jinni’, and ‘Genie’, both of which describe ‘a spirit which is not the soul, but which lives alongside us during our life’. So one satisfactory conclusion to our puzzle could be ‘Jenny Horne’ simply meant ‘a person with a dark spirit attached who has been outlawed’. Whether it is the person or the spirit that is outlawed, is yet to be discovered..