Yuletide Horrors…

Since Christmas has been pushed on us since October, it’s only fair to bring a bit of Halloween to the merriment with tales of The Wild Hunt. Traditionally associated with Germanic folklore, notions of The Hunt have since spread and been adapted across Europe, and may even have resonated in North America…

The Wild Hunt stretches attempts to explain it a bit, but basically involves a group of spectral or supernatural huntsmen who ride in frenzied pursuit of unknown or unspeakable prey, or portending a catastrophe such as war, plague, famine, or a second Trump administration. The Huntsmen are traditionally led by a god such as Odin, a historical figure such as Theodoric the Great, a figure drawn from religion such as Satan, or at least a really bad dude. The cohorts of the Leader of the Hunt have been seen as elves, faeries, demons, or spirits of the dead. Their bestiary consists of horses (often spectral) and large fierce canines of the hellhound-variety.

Now riders of The Wild Hunt might be glimpsed as a vision or passing mist in the midwinter sky, and such was seldom regarded as a fortuitous thing, portending calamity to the observer at the very least. Unfortunate observers might have their souls sucked from their bodies by the Riders especially if they obstructed or attempted to interfere with the procession, while by some accounts they might also be rewarded if they helped in some way.

Celtic conceptions of Cernunnos, the bestial Lord of the Hunt, may have been influenced by Wild Hunt mythology. He’d give Santa a ride, but he ain’t no reindeer…

And in North America, the mythic concept appears as Ghost Riders (In the Sky), also a haunting song that may help in visualizing the spectacle. — So have yourself a scary little Christmas!

Explore posts in the same categories: creature features, fantasy, furry, horror, legends and folklore


You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

6 Comments on “Yuletide Horrors…”

  1. carycomic Says:

    As I understand it (and this is admittedly second-hand knowledge, at least), Odin–as the lead Wild Hunter–might have been alternately described as driving a reindeer-drawn sleigh as the result of Norse interaction with the Sami tribes of Lapland. Add to that, tales of St. Nicholas of Lycia brought back to medieval Sweden and Russia by Varangian mercenaries (who had done a stint of guard duty for the Byzantine Emperors in Constantinople) and you have one possible inspiration for Clement Moore’s now-classic depiction of Santa Claus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carycomic Says:

      As to other elements of the general back story on the Wild Hunt? The description of mounted hunters might stem from an attempt to explain the partial occurrence of thunder and lightning during Scandinavian blizzards. Especially at Yuletide (pre-Christian version of winter solstice observance)!

      Liked by 1 person

    • vulpesffb Says:

      The “Odin as Santa” story has a number of variants. By some accounts, Odin rode an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir for the Wild Hunt…talk about horsepower! Children would put out their boots filled with sugar and straw for Odin’s mount to have something to eat, and he in return would leave the kids small presents.

      Odin also liked to wander the Earth incognito, and is described as wearing a long white beard and hat as he did so, looking much like Tolkien’s wizard Gandalf or early, skinnier-versions of Santa. It was not until Clement Moore’s poem and Thomas Nast’s drawings that Santa packed on the pounds…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. carycomic Says:

    Yep! The mixed blessing of winter fat.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: