Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Wild Hunt

Åsgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo

The first time I remember reading something about the Wild Hunt was as child in one of my (still) favorite children's books, "The Dark is Rising" by Susan Cooper.

What is it though? Who is hunting, what's the prey and why is it wild? When I hear the word hunt, the first thing that springs to my mind are sassy red jackets, shiny boots and hunting horns.
The Wild Hunt is a little different. No red jackets, no shiny boots, although there might be hunting horns. And believe it or not, but sometimes it gets so wild that the horses won't touch the ground or even go across the skies. Yup, you heard right. Now of course you know that this can't be a normal group of huntsmen.
The Wild Hunt is a myth and the way those go, there are lots of different versions which is no surprise as this myth is prevalent all across Northern, Western and Central Europe.

These huntsmen rode when it was dark, when the wind was fierce and people were sitting shivering in their houses. It was no fun to see the Wild Hunt because it was believed to be an omen for war or plague, but at best it meant your own death.
This was no darkness as beautiful as this one showing in the "Dark Moon" pendant by Nicole Hill.
This was scary darkness ....

The leader can be an unidentified lost soul, a deity or spirit of either gender, but also a historical or legendary figure, like Herne or Wodan or possibly Freya.
The prey can be sinners, young women or even a female troll like in Denmark. I doubt they stood a chance. The huntsmen are said to ride on big horses and I guess big horses can outrun a running person anytime, especially in a group.
Talking about horses, I imagine them to have looked like these ones by Meredith Hilt Design. Just look how the manes are flying!

And let's not forget the hounds. Probably they didn't have greyhounds with them, but big, black monster hounds, "with eyes like saucers, and horrible", as mentioned in the Peterborough Chronicle. They appeared in Peterborough after a disastrous abbot was appointed for the monastery.
I much prefer this greyhound, just as swift, but not as scary. You will find him in the shop of Feathered Gems Jewelry.

I have to admit it, myths like this one appeal to me in their archaic way, being a part of the history of my own country, oh, and I experience Wild Hunts myself from time to time. They are a little smaller than the ones I told you about. The huntsmen don't have horses or dogs, they are furry themselves - and they make meow. Sometimes.

The SATeam blog features artisan handmade creations by the etsy starving artists jewelry team. SATeam members create handcrafted jewelry and beads. More information about our team and its current etsy shop owner members can be found at SATEAM.etsy.com.


angie said...

Cat! What a gorgeous piece of art, and a fascinating story behind it. Well done!

mcstoneworks said...

Fantastic pieces and wonderful article.

faeriiidust said...

Gosh Cat! What an inspired post! Love it!