O…K. Today’s nearly-random subject of interest is the Wild Hunt. The wild hunt is believed to have Pagan origins and was converted to folklore by ye olde Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm in Teutonic Mythology (1882), which is a delightful read on German mythology. Wanna read it? No worries, fam. There’s a link at the bottom of the post.
A wild hunt is basically a group of supernatural beings like elves, fairies, the dead, or possibly even gods chasing after some thing or another, usually a lady. The sight of a hunt is sometimes considered a bad omen of death or possibly a sign that war is about to break out.
One of the most central figures in these little supernatural parties is Woden, aka Odin, aka Wuotan, aka Mr. Wednesday (#Gaimanrulz) etc. etc. etc.
Here is a fantastic Wikipedia description of what happened to Odin during these hunts as described by Grimm: “Grimm interpreted the Wild Hunt phenomenon as having pre-Christian origins, arguing that the male figure who appeared in it was a survival of folk beliefs about the god Wodan, who had ‘lost his sociable character, his near familiar features, and assumed the aspect of a dark and dreadful power… a spectre and a devil.’ Grimm believed that this male figure was sometimes replaced by a female counterpart, whom he referred to as Holda and Berchta. In his words, “not only Wuotan and other gods, but heathen goddesses too, may head the furious host: the wild hunter passes into the wood-wife, Wôden into frau Gaude.” He added his opinion that this female figure was Woden’s wife.”
Um, what??? “lost his sociable character, his near familiar features, and assumed the aspect of a dark and dreadful power… a spectre and a devil.”
OMG, not only that, he turned into a lady? “this male figure was sometimes replaced by a female counterpart, whom he referred to as Holda and Berchta”
Okay, so he turned into an evil lady, who was also his wife. Sure, totally makes sense. Like, why wouldn’t he?
Side note: I often judge people who date and/or marry people who look like themselves. I’m not sure how to categorize this level of narcissism.
Stories about the hunt can feature someone who stumbles upon the hunt and is forced to choose whether to aid the hunt or um…not aid the hunt. Depending on that person’s choice, they can either be rewarded or punished. They might also outwit the hunt.
There are variations, of course, because mythology always has its variations, kinda like the telephone game, only occurring over a good many years. Depending on what version you read, Odin might be switched out with characters such as: “Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd, biblical figures such as Herod, Cain, Gabriel or the Devil, or an unidentified lost soul or spirit either male or female.”
Hans Peter Duerr theorized that it “is generally difficult to decide, on the basis of the sources, whether what is involved in the reports about the appearance of the Wild Hunt is merely a demonic interpretation of natural phenomenon, or whether we are dealing with a description of ritual processions of humans changed into demons.”
I am totally in love with this concept and have plotted out a story inspired by it for future use.