Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter Traditions and Holidays Part 10 - Wild Hunt

Wild Hunt
  • The Wild Hunt is a European folk myth involving a ghostly or supernatural group of huntsmen passing in wild pursuit. The hunters may be either elves or fairies or the dead, and the leader of the hunt is often a named figure associated with Woden (or other reflections of the same god
    • England - Herlaþing or Woden's Hunt,
    • Wales - as Cŵn Annwn (Welsh: "hounds of Annwn").
    • Scandinavia - Oskoreia or Asgårdsreia
    • France, - Mesnée d'Hellequin (Old North French: "household of Hellequin").
    • Europe has names for each region with slightly different versions of this story
  • Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. People encountering the Hunt might also be abducted to the underworld or the fairy kingdom.
  • Sometimes Wodan is replaced by a female counterpart, whom he referred to as Holda and Berchta.
  • The myth of the Wild Hunt has through the ages been modified to accommodate other gods and folk heroes, among them King Arthur, other kings or corrupt noblemen.
  • In some stories if the person stands up against the hunters, he will be punished. If he helps the hunt, he will be awarded money, gold or, most often, a leg of a slain animal or human, which is often cursed in a way that makes it impossible to be rid of it. In this case, the person has to find a priest or magician able to ban it, or trick the Wild Hunt into taking the leg back by asking for salt, which the hunt can not deliver. In many versions, a person staying right in the middle of the road during the encounter is safe.
  • The subject of Stan Jones' American country song "Ghost Riders in the Sky" of 1948, which tells of cowboys chasing the Devil's cattle through the night sky, resembles the European myth.

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