Through the years I have seen and heard things in these woods that I could never explain, the dark season and the Wild Hunt by far are when I’ve seen the most. Winter here is stunningly beautiful, a snow-covered forest, snowbanks sparkling like crystals, and icicles that never end….
But here in the wood, there are dark aspects to this season as well. For there are wild untamed forces of nature, that in winter show their more dark and chthonic sides. The mercury has dipped down to -55 with the wind chill here, and sadly only the strongest survive. Cold to the bone temperatures with gray days and long dark nights is the norm here, but we all find our ways to cope. It’s when I’m writing or reading by the fire late at night that I hear them, the screeches and screams of the ones being taken. Some years the hunt stays within the woods and the fauna, but for others, it’s taken to the skies.
For the most part, the hunt comes around the New Year and often arrives upon the third. In Germanic folklore, it is referred to as the Wildes Heer derived by Jacob Grimm’s belief that a collection of stories where the folkloric accounts of Germanic pagan traditions. Grimm saw the Wild Hunt occurrence as pre-Christian folk beliefs, with the god Woden at the reins. Woden himself going through a transformation, becoming a demonic specter.
At times his counterpart can be leading the hunt, Old Mother Frost, and Woden’s wife, the goddess Holda. These nocturnal rides are prone to appear before plagues, wars, and famines. Which would account for last year’s flight…
Wolves drive the hunt by ground and flight here, their howls heard best on the coldest nights. Some say dogs or horses have been seen leading this hunt. The horses having multiple legs, and fiery blood red eyes.
Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to bring upon one such a fate as plague, death, or destruction. These unfortunate folk could be ripped from their spirits, forced to join the hunt, or taken beneath the Sidhe hills.
But there be ways to escape these unpleasant fates if you happen to know what they are.
If one takes a stand against the hunters, a punishment will surely be repaid. But if one offers a helping hand to the hunt instead a reward of bountiful riches be had. Or so it was told… More often than not the demons being tricksters giving instead a leg of a slain animal or human. This leg being demonically cursed, making it impossible to be rid of. Unless a sorcerer be found, able to end the curse or trick the Wild Hunt into taking the remains back.
Being in the center of the road as this demonic team flies by was said to be a way of escape. Middle of the crossroad in my wood works for me, but this year there wasn’t a flight. In its stead was a ground hunt that came to these woods so I am hoping now for brighter days and quieter nights…
Dark and Wild Winter Blessings.