De Wilde Jacht / The Wild Hunt

Sassisk

“Het spoekt op de heide; daor gun in het veld,
Daor heur ij de hond’n, die bleekt met geweld.
A’j lustert, a’j rondkiekt; dan weet ij het wal:
En troep wilde jaogers met horengeschal.
De peerde, die trappelt; zie guntert en snoeft.
De kerels, die jaogt, dat zie klettert en stoeft.
Zie soest deur de wolken, zie riedt in de sprong
Daor hoog in de locht; al begriep ij ‘t niet jong.
Dat volk giet oet jaog’n met raozend geweld;
Daor is heur en tied van weerumkomm’n steld.
Zie moet zuk wal haost’n; want gaauw giet de tied.
As zie niet te sprong doet, dan haolt zie het niet.
Het kraokt in de boom’n en wild boest de wind;
Roeg jaogt de wolk’n, die toestereg zint.
A’j goed loert, dan zie’j hum – maor lang niet elkien.
Daor is haost gien staarfling, die Wodan kan zien.”

J.H. Bergmans-Beins, Drentsche Volksoverleveringen (1945), s. 7

In harvst of winter höyren ju de wind råsen döärch boumen hen, grelsk as en wudend paerd. Dår et oaver et arv hinspooket en suust en stuuvet, glöövt eyn al gauw, dat et hyr geit üm wat meyr, wat anders, as en normåle sturm. Lykas en grup mannen med wåpens up paerderüggen achter de renen an, glyk sou as de hunden dårby belken, sou hard belket de wind teagen de müren van de sküppe an.

Dat achter disse sturmervaring en jågend selskop vöärsteld wurdet, is an sik geyn ny idea, noch allennig to vinden in sassiske ümråden: vöär heyl Eurasien is et vünden (Ulrike Kindle, “Wilde Jagd”, in Enzyklopädie des Märchens 14. band, s. 798). Disse vörm, oft med disse vorklåring, is ouk to vinden in de motyvnåmen: Thompson nöömt et E501 The Wild Hunt, en Meder TM 3405 De Wilde Jacht.

Et idea, dat de wilde winterwind personaliseard wurdet, is geyn vrümde. Ik weyt my noch as kind dat is in’t nachtmidden süms vrümde gelüden höyrde, houg de lucht in. Ik dacht dowdestyds altyd dat et üm groute vlegende skepen güng, geyn vleegtuug, mor meyr en UFO-achtig dink. Tosåmen med myn kinderlike fantasy, is et ouk de vråg how seriös de vorklåring van de wilde winterwind as en wilde jacht is. Villicht was dee fantasy wat üm de düüsternis van de winter to vorlichten vöär al dee arme wichter, dee now binnen blyven sitten mütten al vrug up de åvend.

En andere fantasy, dee eyn ofter by groute lüde vindet, is dat de Wilde Jacht uut vöärkristlike tyden haer kümt. Dit is en argument dat wy ofter seen hebben, to’n byspil hyr. Ik nööm dan, dat disse såken oft neet sou old binnen – meynstentyds neet older as de 19. eyw. Sou likt dat ouk to weasen vöär dit dichtwark, dat uut anfang 20. eyw haerkümt. Probleam: disse såk ligt hyr doch stuurder as anders.

Sou likt et us to, dat eyn van de oldste versionen uut de 11. eyw haerkümt uut Grout-Brittanien (Ulrike Kindle, “Wilde Jagd”, in Enzyklopädie des Märchens 14. band, s. 797). Neet en bült låter, in 14. eyw, givt et en versioon uut Düütskland, uut de Münchener Nachtsegen, en gebed üm good de nacht döärch to kommen. In dit gebed vindet eyn twey interessante rygels, versen 18 en 19:

“Truttan unde wutan

Wutanes h[er] un[d] alle sine man”

Theodor von Grienberger, “Der Münchener Nachtsegen”, Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur 41 (1897), s. 337.

Now, ju völen et al: dee wutanes her, dat is seakers Woden! Dee woorden binnen sou glyk an enkander, et geit håst neet anders! Von Grienberger dacht dat ouk (s. 351), en ik was my doch eyrst wat skeptisk. An de rechtersyde, in de engelske öäversetting, seet eyn doch the furious en the furious lord stån, dår dat en gangbåre öäversetting is van disse sats, meyr gangbår as Woden. Mor dat wutan en Woden, villicht stån disse beide woorden naer enkander. Orel, to’n byspil, stelt dat et oldsassiske Woden vurdkümt uut proto-germaansk (dat meynt, de germaanske språke bevöär disse uuteynvallen waren in al dee språken lykas noorsk, sweedsk, düütsk, sassisk, ensouwyder) *wōðanaz. Wutan, döärby, kümt vurd uut *wōðaz of villicht *wōðīn. Now lyken *wōðanaz en *wōðaz doch en bült up enkander. Dat is hum jüüst, neavens Orel, dår *wōðanaz deriveard is uut *wōðaz (Vladimir Orel, A Handbook of Germanic Etymology (2003), s. 469). Is disse wudende könink villicht glyk an unse old Alvåder Woden, neet allennig etymologisk, mor ouk, tja, wårlik?

Wat hyr gangs weasen kin, is dat Woden hyr in de volkserinnering bleaven is nådat et kristendum höär de sassiske vöärkristlike pagaanske religioon kurd slågen hev. Seakers sünt 800 nå Kristus wurdden heyl wat lüde, tja, kristlik, en is de tyd dat eyn neet länger en sood med höär olde goden düt. Steadig an weyt geyn eyn meyr good wel of precys dee Woden is, of Donar, of eyn van dee andre, oldmoodske goden uut tydstyden haer. Wat lüde der noch an weyten, dat vorandert – eyrst goden, mor now, under et regime van de kristlike kark, wurden disse weasens demonen. Woden is neet länge unse Alvåder, mor en wudende demonenköning, dee döärch lucht hen med syn haerskap geit.

Et skyre is, dat Woden dat neet allennig in Nedderland en Düütskland düt. Ouk in Sweaden jåget disse Wilde Jacht, dee man oft Odensjakt nöömt, de jacht van Óðinn of Woden. Of dat dår en olde traditsioon is, is neet düdlik: disse ard vortellingen kommen vurd uut sweadske folklorekollektsionen uut de 19. en 20. eyw, en wy weyten neet, how wyd torüch disse vortellingen gån (Bengt av Klintberg, Svenska Folksägner (1972), s. 1-2).

Kyk, normål bin ik en nöälpöter, en bin ik swår kritisk up al dee lüde dee seggen, dat disse folklore erinneringen binnen an de godenvortellingen uut de vöärkristlike tyd. Normål geit en vortelling neet so wyd torüch. Hyr müt ik villicht doch wat minder nöälen. Now is et glyk sou dat der en grout gat is in öäverlevering: tüsken de 14. en 19. eyw hebben wy krekt geyn vortellingen, dee Woden med de Wilde Jacht vorbinden. Villicht is et sou, dat de vortellingen uut de 19. en 20. eyw sik inspirearen låten döär de forsking uut dee tyd, dee alles, dat neet kristlik is, vöärkristlik maken wil.

Dårby: dit fenomean krygt ouk al wat andre nåmen, lykas Helse Jacht, Rebelske Jacht, Jacht van de Eywige Jödde, Tilkesjacht, Knüppeljacht, Turkusjacht, Tyltkesjacht, Jacht van Scholten Joost, de Höllekerjacht, Juulkesjacht, Jifferkesjacht, Hulbertusjacht, Tüpisnacht, Küpisnacht – en dit is allennig vöär Nedderland, en sülvs disse lyst is neet kompleat. Et is unwårskynlik, al disse nåmen med Woden to vorbinden kinnen. Mor glyk sou kan ik neet definityv bewysen, dat disse vortellingen neet wat uut de vöärkristlike tyd erinneren, seakers dår et in vorskynene ümråden disse vortelling in vorbinding med Woden givt. Dår givt et villicht ouk andre vorklårings vöär (lykas vorspreiding döar de Hanse, glyk sou as in dit nåricht), mor up to de tyd dat disse vorbindingen stark understutst binnen, gå good med Woden!

English

“The meadow is haunted, down there on the field

The dogs they are roaring, they will never yield.

Just listen, just look ‘round, and you’ll know for sure:

The horns of the hunters, and wild ones the more.

The horses are kicking and whinnying longingly.

The men sure are hunting and gushing noisily.

They whizz through the clouds all in full gallop

Up high in the sky, you’ll wonder non-stop

They go out for hunting, violent and frantic;

They were given a time to continue this antic.

But they have to hurry, since time flows on by.

And if they don’t make it, they’ll miss out and cry.

The trees they are moaning and wild the wind blows;

The clouds’ hunt is rough, as it rowdily shows.

Look out and you’ll see him – if not, don’t be sorry.

Barely a mortal beholds Wodan’s glory.

J.H. Bergmans-Beins, Drentsche Volksoverleveringen (1945), p. 7

In fall or winter, one hears the winds soaring through the trees, angry as a seething horse. Since it roars over the courtyard, whizzing and gushing, one is quick to believe that this is something more, something different, from a normal storm. Just like a pack of armed men on horseback hunting for deer, just like the dogs howling then, that is how loudly the wind howls against the walls of the barn.

That a hunting pack is imagined behind this experience of a storm is not necessarily a new idea, nor is it restricted to the Saxon areas: it is found throughout all of Eurasia (Ulrike Kindle, “Wilde Jagd”, in Enzyklopädie des Märchens 14. band, p. 798). This form, often including the same explanation, is also found in the names for the motifs: Thompson calls it E501 The Wild Hunt, and Meder TM 3405 De Wilde Jacht (also ‘The Wild Hunt’).

The idea that the wild winter wind is personified is not exceptional. I can remember being a wee lad, hearing odd sounds high in the sky in the middle of the night. Then I imagined it was caused by huge flying aircrafts, not airplanes, but more UFO-like. Just like my childish fantasy we should wonder how serious we can take the explanation of the wild winter wind as a wild hunt. Perhaps that fantasy was used to cheer up the winter darkness for all those poor children who were forced to remain inside starting early in the evening.

Another fantasy, often found among grownups, is that the Wild Hunt stems from pre-Christian times. This is an argument that we have seen before, like here. There I mentioned that these things are often not that old – most of the times not older than the 19th century. That seems apparent for this poem as well, which stems from the beginning of the 20th century. There is a problem: here it is more complicated than at other times.

It seems that one of the oldest versions is from the 11th century from Great Britain (Ulrike Kindle, “Wilde Jagd”, in Enzyklopädie des Märchens 14. band, p. 797). Not much later, in the 14th century, there is a version from Germany from the Münchener Nachtsegen, a prayer to get through the night. In this prayer we find two interesting lines, 18 and 19:

“The trustworthy and furious ones

The Furious lord and all his men”

Der Münchener Nachtsegen (my translation)

Well, there you have it: that Furious Lord (wutanes her), that is definitely Woden! Those words are so similar, it cannot be otherwise! Von Grienberger thought so as well (Theodor von Grienberger, “Der Münchener Nachtsegen”, Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur 41 (1897), s. 351), but I was sceptical at first. Just above in the translation one sees the furious and the furious lord, which is a common translation of this phrase, more common than Woden. But yeah, wutan and Woden, perhaps these words are closely related. Orel, for example, claims that the Old Saxon word ‘Woden’ comes from proto-Germanic (that means the Germanic language before it split up into all these languages like Norwegian, Swedish, German, Saxon, and so on) *ðanaz. Wutan, moreover, stems from *ðaz or perhaps *ðīn. Of course *wōðanaz en *wōðaz look quite alike. That’s exactly it according to Orel, since *wōðanaz is derived from *wōðaz (Vladimir Orel, A Handbook of Germanic Etymology (2003), s. 469). Is this furious lord perhaps the same as our Allfather Woden, not only etymological, but also, well, truly?

What could be going on here is that Woden was retained in folk memory here after Christianity annihilated the Saxon pre-Christian pagan religion. At least from 800 after Christ onwards many people became, well, Christian, and it is the time that people do no longer concern themselves with their old gods a lot. Steadily, everyone forgets who Woden really is, or Donar, or any of the outdated gods from the past. What people remember is altered – first they were gods, but now, under the church’s regime, these beings change into demons. Woden is no longer our Allfather, but an angry demon lord, who travels through the sky with his army.

The cool thing is that Woden does not only do this in the Netherlands and Germany. This Wild Hunt also haunts in Sweden, which is often called Odensjakt, the hunt of Óðinn or Woden. Whether this is an old tradition is unclear: these types of stories are found in Swedisch folklore connections from the 19th and 20th centuries, and we don’t know how far back these stories go (Bengt av Klintberg, Svenska Folksägner (1972), p. 1-2).

Look, normally I’m a nagger, and I’m quite critical about all those people claiming that this folklore reflects memories of the sagas of the gods from the pre-Christian era. Normally a story does not hearken back that far. But perhaps I cannot nag that much here. Still, we have a great gap in transmission: between the 14th and 19th century we have no stories connecting Woden to the Wild Hunt. It could be that the stories from the 19th and 20th were inspired by the research done during that time, who turned everything un-Christian into something pre-Christian.

Next to that: this phenomenon gains many different names, like the Hellish Hunt, the Rebellic Hunt, the Hunt of the Eternal Jew, the Witches’ Hunt, the Club Hunt, another Witches’ Hunt, yet another Witches’ Hunt, Scholten Joost’s Hunt, the Cripple’s Hunt, Jule’s Hunt, Wild Women’s Hunt, Hulbertus’ Hunt, Tüpis’ Night, Küpis’ Night – and this is just the Netherlands, while not even being complete. It is unlikely that all these names can be connected to Woden. At the same time, it is hard for me to definitely disprove that these stories don’t refer back to pre-Christian times, certainly because different areas connect this story to Woden. Perhaps there are other explanations for that (like spread by means of the Hansa network, like in this blog), but until those links are solidly established, fare thee well in Woden’s stead!

Zie soest deur de wolken, zie riedt in de sprong / They whizz through the clouds all in full gallop. Foto/Model: Arnout/

Spookplåtkepråt

Üm et maken van de foto

Disse plåt is van eyn sündagske middagwandeling in Theysen’s grasland, vöär de luchten. Eyn kearl up paerd was neet sou maklik to vinden. Endlik en glüklik vünd eyn kammeråd van my en plåt van humsülv, suusend!

Spooky Spectral Speculations

About creating the picture

This one is taken during a Sunday afternoon walk in Thesinge’s meadows, for the sky. A running horse with a horsemen on it was not easy to find. Eventually and luckily, a friend of mine found one of himself, whizzing!

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