Wild Hunt

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The Wild Hunt is an ancient folk myth prevalent across Northern, Western and Central Europe.[1] The fundamental premise in all instances is the same: a phantasmal group of huntsmen with the accoutrements of hunting, horses, hounds, etc., in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground, or just above it.[2]

The hunters may be the dead or the fairies (often in folklore connected with the dead).[3] The hunter may be an unidentified lost soul, a deity or spirit of either gender, or may be a historical or legendary figure like Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd or the Germanic Woden[1] (or other reflections of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer ("Wuodan's Host") of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.)

It has been variously referred to as Wilde Jagd (German: "wild hunt/chase") or Wildes Heer (German: "wild host"), Herlaþing (Old English: "Herla's assembly"), Woden's Hunt, Herod's Hunt, Cain's Hunt,[4] the Devil's Dandy Dogs (in Cornwall),[5] Gabriel's Hounds (in northern England),[6] Ghost Riders (in North America),[7] Mesnée d'Hellequin (Old North French: "household of Hellequin"), Cŵn Annwn (Welsh: "hounds of Annwn"), divoká honba or štvaní (Czech: "wild hunt", "baiting") , Dziki Gon or Dziki Łów (Polish), Oskoreia or Åsgårdsreia (Norwegian: "ride of Asgard"),[8] Estantiga (from Hoste Antiga, Galician: "the old army"), Hostia or Compaña ("troop, company") in Galicia, and güestia in Asturias.

Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it.[9] Mortals getting in the path of or following the Hunt could be kidnapped and brought to the land of the dead. A girl who saw Wild Edric's Ride was warned by her father to put her apron over her head to avoid the sight.[10] Others believed that people's spirits could be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade.[11]

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