Monday, 5 September 2016

The Wild Hunt

We have read about the Wild Hunt:

"...the dead riding on the night wind..."
-Poul Anderson, "The Sorrow Of Odin The Goth" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 333-465 AT 1980, p. 390.

"Something white flickered yonder - a scrap of cloud, or Swanhild riding behind the Wanderer?" (op. cit., 374, p. 465)

In Anderson's Three Hearts And Three Lions, Chapter Twenty-Four, Holger is pursued by the Wild Hunt, his last challenge:

faint far horns like wind, sea, wings, a hawk and a raven;
shouting wind;
shrilling, wailing anguish;
the horns of the damned;
hoofs in the sky;
immortal hounds baying;
shrieking sorrow;
the sound of the feet of nightmare dogs;
lunatic yelling;
when Holger looks back, Alianora's hair hides their pursuers;
metal ablaze;
dead men's bones clattering;
"...surely all men are pursued with us..." (p. 151);
- by striding Time and marching Chaos;
the Wild Hunt howling and sweeping downward;
clamoring winds and murk;
cold through the heart;
wind whistling between the ribs;
an overwhelming roar.

How will he get out of this one? A nightmare enacted, especially Alianora's hair hiding the pursuit.

I know a self-professed "Dark Wiccan" who worships Herne the Wild Hunter and acknowledges that Wodan was a previous version.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Oh dear, this "Dark Wiccan" gives me some concern. I immediately wondered if we might see some day Dark Wiccans who cast aside with contempt the more absurd and naive illusions some contemporary neo-pagans have for pre-Christians. That is, might some Dark Wiccans resurrect some of the more obscene and bloody rites of actual, historical pagans?

Poul Anderson, for all his very real and deep affection for the Scandinavian culture and legends of "Eddaic" times, also had no illusions about them. He knew quite well that Scandinavian paganism practiced "...heathen rites obscene or bloody" (from his introduction to HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA). Including human sacrifices.

There were reasons, after all, why the Scandinavians eventually became Christians!