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The Wild Hunt is Riding

“As far as practitioners of nature spiritualities are concerned, the Wild Hunt offers an initiation into the wild and an opening up of the senses; a sense of dissolution of self in confrontation with fear and death, an exposure to a ‘whirlwind pulse that runs through life’. In short, engagement with the Hunt is a bid to restore a reciprocity and harmony between humans and nature.”

— Anthropologist Susan Greenwood
Åsgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Åsgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The word has spread around the blogosphere; the Wild Hunt is riding.

It’s early.  Really early. For me, they rode in to BC and the Pacific Northwest US on the night of the last full moon, riding with the great storm.

Some say they’re riding against Daesh for their desecration of ancient Pagan religious sites.  Some say they’re riding for something else.  I think there’s a lot of reasons for them to be out riding.

The leader of the hunt depends greatly on the pantheon, and has been named as Odin, Holda, Berchta, Gwydion, Gwynn ap Nudd, King Arthur, Nuada, King Herla, Woden, Freya, Frigg, the Devil, Krampus, the Faery King, the Queen of Air and Darkness, Mab, the Morrigan, Fionn MacCumhaill, Arawn, Artemis, Diana, Cernunnos, Herne the Hunter, and a variety of historical figures that have been slightly mythologized.  The Steeds are nightmares or faery horses, winged horses, faery deer or skeletal beasts; the Hounds are hellhounds, Dandy Hounds, faery hounds, yeth hounds, greyhounds, wolves, winged wolves, ravens, raptors, transformed sparrows, Gabriel Ratchets, the Cwn Annwn and the Fianna.  When I See visions of the Hunt, I see the Huntsman as Herne, because He’s the deity I follow and He and I have a “thing.”  But Beth Wodanis Sees Odin, since she is a godspouse married to Him.  Others will See the Hunt differently.

Some call them the Wild Army, the Furious Army or the Furious Ride.  They are also called by the names of the Hounds; the Cwn Annwn and the Fianna of Fionn.  In some myths they are the Unseelie Faery Ride, the Sidhe or the Faery Calvacade; in others they are the unquiet dead; in still others they are simply the Witches Sabbath.  They might sweep along anyone in their path; or they might ride against the forces of darkness to take them up into the Ride.  In his classic medieval book The Art of Courtly Love, Andreas Capellanus wrote of how the King and Queen of Love rode out in the autumn to strike down all faithless lovers.  In a manner of speaking, Robin Hood and his band of merry men could be seen as another manifestation of the Wild Hunt, riding to protect the land and its people from the depredations of the wealthy elite.

I can think of a few “forces of darkness” I’d like to see swept along in the Ride; can’t you?

I, too, have been dreaming of the Hunt.  Last night, I instead dreamed of the Round Table.  King Arthur, who wore a Horned Crown, said, “All those who would take up arms against the foe; draw your swords and ride out with me!” And I reached out to draw one of the swords of the Round Table knights (or Kings, depending on your interpretation,) knowing I would not be able to draw it if I was not meant to, just as Excalibur can only be drawn by the true King.  But it came away easily in my hand, with no resistance at all, and it felt as though it had been made for me.

Let us take a cue from Dion Fortune’s magickal experiment, and visualize the Wild Hunt riding against the true enemy we all know is out there, scouring the darkness from the land and taking them up into the Ride!  Who will take up arms against the foe?  Who will ride out with us?

The Magick: Tomorrow night is the full harvest supermoon in Aries, and a lunar eclipse.  Visualize the Wild Hunt as you see it.  Find the Leader of the Hunt and fly beside Hir for a while.  Ask who the quarry is.  Think about the “forces of darkness” as you understand them — the Kyriarchy, the Banksters, the CEOs of the large monopoly corporations, corrupt officials who do the bidding of their corporate masters, etc. — and ask the Hunter if E will help to scour them from the land.  The Hunter may ask you to perform a task in return.  Listen for guidance.  If you are willing to agree to take on the task, do so.  Visualize the Hunt riding against the quarry you’ve requested, riding them down or sweeping them up into the Hunt’s ranks, as appropriate.  Return to your body and make an appropriate offering.

Footnote: I had not yet read Lee’s article The Hunt and the Hound, Part 1 (published Sept. 13) when I wrote this; however, I think this Working may work well in conjunction with his Working, and I will be creating my canine spirit house as part of this full moon rite. A canine skull mysteriously found its way into my compost pile; I have been cleaning it and wondering what to do with it.  It seems I have an answer. 

21 Comments »

  1. I’ve been seeing some talk along these lines lately, and I am noticing one large assumption underlying it all – that the Hunt has the function of pursuing/destroying something wicked (and furthermore, destroying something we humans might want destroyed). Where is this coming from? The Hunt has generally been viewed, to my knowledge, as terrifying, perilous, something that could easily harm even a totally innocent person if they encountered it. Something that people desperately want to avoid – just hearing it is an ill omen. It is usually made up of the dead, often the restless dead. It IS a force of darkness, rather than something that combats or fights against forces of darkness. The quarry, when it is even mentioned, is often something like the wood wives, who certainly don’t “deserve” to be hunted. The Hunt is essentially a force of nature, amoral at best (like so many spirits, by our terms). At least, this is what I’ve gleaned from my not-insignificant reading on the topic.

    As polytheists, is it really appropriate to try to impose our priorities and worldview on such wild and dark spirits? And, might it not be a rather dangerous suggestion to have people opening themselves up to the Hunt in this manner (assuming such a visualization has a real magical effect, which I’m assuming is at least the intention here). These are extremely powerful gods and spirits with their own agenda and their own rules and a history of causing harm to those who even happen to be nearby… I have never seen any indication that they can be petitioned to make our personal enemies their quarry, and it seems from the folklore that they would be just as likely to turn their rather terrifying sights on the person who drew their attention.

    Frankly, this approach seems based more on romanticization than on any actual source material. And while one might just dismiss such an approach as wishful thinking, in this case it seems potentially rather dangerous.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Thanks for saying this Dver. Lee’s post made me quite uncomfortable but I couldn’t find the words. Your response above to Sable says it so well. Perhaps it highlights a tension between more devotionally centered people and more magic centered ones in that the former don’t see the gods as possible to invoke, direct, or – being blunt -‘use’?

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      • No edit function: Just to be clear, above I was using ‘invoke’ in the specific sense of compelling to be present, rather than simply to ‘invite the presence of’.

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      • I see myself as either straddling both devotional and magically inclined – or at least spending time in both camps. I should think my view of the Gods is more akin to the devotionally minded than a functional, magically minded one.

        The sense I use invoke isn’t quite the ‘compelling’ but a supplication, an invitation. I am fully prepared for the gods not to answer or to do things as they wish but it certainly isn’t a command.

        In the work I am doing, it didn’t stem from nowhere and I am of the belief that the Hunt was going to be riding out anyway. I don’t recall completely whether it was a whisper in the ear or a finger from the sky sort of moment which led me to this, but it was certainly someone nudging. What has happened is that another goddess has made her feelings clear and is going to be working with the Hunt – this is something the Land wants. The work is to align myself WITH it and ride WITH it, rather than be sitting at the sidelines or watching from afar.

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    • I’m no scholar on the Wild Hunt, but I have read several sources regarding it in the past few months. From my perspective, in one sense you are right – the Hunt has nothing to do with what humans may want. However. The Hunt rides for reasons.

      It rides to cull that which no longer serves a purpose – no matter how innocent that item/human may be. It rides to serve its own needs – and perhaps those needs are aligned with those of humanity at times. It rides to further its own agenda – and with the noticeable rise/resurgence of polytheism in recent years among cultures all over the world who are from a dominant monotheism I suspect protecting those who give honor to Them is most definitely a part of their agenda.

      And as for their history of harming those who come near it, that is not always the case. It rides to take humans along for the Ride, year after year, while they continue to live as normal humans the rest of the year, to publicize the fact that the Ride does, in fact, exist.

      I’m no spirit worker, but I can feel it in the air that They ride, this year with more violence and passion, than at any time in at least the past 20 years or so that I recall. They ride, and the world will be culled of much that no longer serves it, and us, as a result.

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    • I think it depends on the culture. In Urglaawe the Wild Hunt is Frau Holle gathering up lost souls to take them to the next life. Having recently lost my father to cancer, the thought of him being taken by Frau Holle instead of his soul wandering in confusion is comforting to me.

      Since there are many leaders of the hunt, I think that must mean there are many hunts. Perhaps some are more benevolent in their intentions than others.

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    • The thing about the Wild Hunt is that the majority of source material is crystallised from the medieval to early modern periods onwards, and it is from these periods that our current forms for the Hunt arise; the Furious Host, chasing the unwary, the fear, the terror and ‘demonisation’ of the Hunt.

      It certainly didn’t appear from nowhere and going back 1000 or 2000 years prior to this you get to the roots of the Wild Hunt – and it is a different animal altogether. in much the same way that gods and beings were turned into something to fear by the monotheistic over-culture, so the Hunt was also tuned into something different in the intervening millennia.

      The research I have been doing, plus experience with Gwyn and more recently – and oddly – Rigantona, is that human society not only took part in the Hunt but were integral to its functions and roles. The Hunt used to work WITH human society and served to bring together the civil, the town and the settled along with the wild, the untamed and the dead who lived beyond the walls.

      It is this earlier incarnation of the Hunt that I am looking for connection to, and it is this earlier way of developing a relationship with the dead, the andedion and their leader who I am looking to work with.

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    • I both agree and disagree.

      On the one hand, what exactly the Hunt hunts and what affect it has varies by culture and which leader is referenced. It seems potentially fruitful to me to join and follow the Hunt if it’s a hunt lead by a deity the individual already works with and is known to hunt suitably for their purposes. Possibly redundant, however.

      On the other hand, none of them are described as being directable in Their path – maybe avoidable in some cases, but not actually targetable. So I’m not sure how successful this would be even in a best case scenario.

      As a metaphor I find it potentially VERY useful. As a practical action with the actual spirits involved, I’m not so sure. And I say this as someone who DOES have relationships with *several* of the Hunt’s various leaders. I’ve always viewed the Hunt itself as a force of nature, not a force of justice, but even in the contexts where it’s the latter, I know I’m not the one who gets to choose what justice means to the Hunt.

      -E-

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  2. Sable, I would agree with you that the Hunt rides for many different reasons (simultaneously), and also that it has many different leaders, both according to culture and according to individual experience and perspective, Odin is the leader of *my* Hunt–and when I speak of my Hunt, I speak of a very distinct group of spirits who owe allegiance to Odin and who have chosen me, personally, as Their Queen. (Which office is like a combination of lightning rod, petrie dish, magnifying glass, door, and den mother; Midgard is not the world in which these spirits have physical reality and I help them gain purchase here, to accomplish their goals and those of my Husband.) My service to the Hunt–and theirs to Odin–is not at all dependent on what is “recorded in the lore,” but on my Job as revealed to me directly by my Husband and King: Odin. I just wanted to clarify that much. I do not claim to be a representative of heathenry or any established and document-dependent tradition. I work directly with Odin and my other spirits, in an entirely independent capacity as determined by Him–and thus, polytheist agreement regarding the extant “lore” of the spirits I work with is irrelevant to me at best.

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  3. I notice a few folks bring up the trembling upon calling the Wild Hunt upon ‘enemies,’ and I’m glad they do so, as it’s something often missing from American Pagan discourse. Forgetting that the dead and the Hunters are agents leads to all sorts of mistakes (just as we get when we treat gods as vending machines…).

    That being said, I think both Sable and Lee are doing really important work here, as I’m reminded of what I’d found when in Bretagne a few years ago regarding the hunt/hunted/hunter.

    That is, ‘who calls whom?’ If the entourage is called and appear, can we really be said to have been full agents of that calling? Because they won’t show up if they don’t want to, no matter our ‘power.’

    And if they do show up, can it really be said that we ‘called’ them, or is it actually that we echoed their call? I’ve noticed this particularly with the gods I know. Particularly with Bran, I’m pretty sure my ‘call’ is actually my ‘response,’ in the same way falling in love with someone is both act and re-action.

    I suspect, then, that the awareness of many regarding this awakening of the hounds and hunters is probably part of many people hearing a call from the Other and echoing it here, rather than reviving the delusional Crowleyite ‘master of the realms’ relationship we’re all trying to throw off.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Hey Rhyd, your eloquent and generous reply may reflect the wider context – of which I am not especially aware – but Lee did use the words ‘evoke’ and ‘direct’, and Sable (though framing it more as a negotiation) compares her working to that of Dion Fortune.

      That said, I’m actually really sympathetic to the instincts behind these projects. As will be clear from my own recent posts I have local battles I’d love to have the Others as allies for. But speaking only from my own experience of local Others, I sense their reticence goes a lot deeper than the fact that no one has asked them to help. Perhaps something for me to flesh out into a post.

      Great conversations that are really helpful. Thanks to everyone involved including Lee and Sable.

      AN

      Liked by 1 person

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