The Wild Hunt is a folklore motif (ATU E501) that historically occurs in European folklore. Wild Hunts typically involve a ghostly or supernatural group of hunters passing in wild pursuit. It is also about pagan youths engaging in hunting to have ecstatic practices to connect to Odin and the spirits of the ancestral dead, holding these events as their processions of certain times of the year. In the Norse lands the ancestral dead are usually said to be the souls of dead warriors, Odin or Odin and a consort leading the hunt and sometimes the hunt may tear men to shreds, bring dead loved ones or severed limbs to the hunter instead of achievements.

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  • The Wild Hunt is a folklore motif (ATU E501) that historically occurs in European folklore. Wild Hunts typically involve a ghostly or supernatural group of hunters passing in wild pursuit. It is also about pagan youths engaging in hunting to have ecstatic practices to connect to Odin and the spirits of the ancestral dead, holding these events as their processions of certain times of the year. In the Norse lands the ancestral dead are usually said to be the souls of dead warriors, Odin or Odin and a consort leading the hunt and sometimes the hunt may tear men to shreds, bring dead loved ones or severed limbs to the hunter instead of achievements. Carrying out these practices is blessing the land, such as for a harvest. Germany popularised the Wild Hunt. Whether leading the dead or blessing the land, the attitude and the Wild Hunt's connotation is danger to life or limb; many men flee indoors when there is a Wild Hunt. In England it is Herne the Hunter that leads, rattling the chains of the dead, vegetation and vine god, keeper of the forest, though Norse legend suggests it is Odin in disguise, exploring for the right rewards in amidst turmoil. The hunters may be elves or fairies or the dead, and the leader of the hunt is often a named figure associated with Odin (or other reflections of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer ("Wuodan's Army") of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.), but may variously be a historical or legendary figure like Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd, biblical figures such as Herod, Cain, Gabriel or the Devil, or an unidentified lost soul or spirit either male or female. 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. People encountering the Hunt might also be abducted to the underworld or the fairy kingdom. In some instances, it was also believed that people's spirits could be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade. The concept was developed based on comparative mythology by Jacob Grimm in Deutsche Mythologie (1835) as a folkloristic survival of Germanic pagan tradition, but comparable folk myths are found throughout Northern, Western and Central Europe. Grimm popularised the term Wilde Jagd ("Wild Hunt") for the phenomenon. (en)
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  • The Wild Hunt is a folklore motif (ATU E501) that historically occurs in European folklore. Wild Hunts typically involve a ghostly or supernatural group of hunters passing in wild pursuit. It is also about pagan youths engaging in hunting to have ecstatic practices to connect to Odin and the spirits of the ancestral dead, holding these events as their processions of certain times of the year. In the Norse lands the ancestral dead are usually said to be the souls of dead warriors, Odin or Odin and a consort leading the hunt and sometimes the hunt may tear men to shreds, bring dead loved ones or severed limbs to the hunter instead of achievements. (en)
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  • Wild Hunt (en)
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