Episode 152: Follow the Leader



It's one of the most popular activities in America according to the most recent statistics. Roughly forty five million people love to do it whenever they can or about thirteen percents of the US. Population every day people had outside and go hiking. And it's hard to blame them that fresh air that distance from the bustle of everyday life and that connection to the natural world. Those are attractive things. Sure. It can also be physically challenging, but that's the price of admission for anyone who wants to take trek into the wilderness. But there are shadows in the forest as well. If you've ever hiked alone, you're all too familiar with that anxious feeling that happens when you hear sound you can't identify or catch movement out of the corner of your eye despite all that beauty with the woods have more than anything else. Is Darkness. For thousands of years people have filled that gloom with something that could help them come to grips with the unknown stories. Even today, our collective folklore is treasury chest of legends about who and what Rome through the wooded areas of our world. The forest for many people is sacred space. But the woods are more than just a place to visit their home to challenges, risks and even dangerous wild animals, difficult terrain, and the dark side of all bat peace and quiet. The lack of human assistance can all conspire to turn a pleasant afternoon into an unexpected tragedy? And it's been that way for as long as humans have been around. But. If the tales are true, the forest might also be home to something else something that we mere mortals are woefully unprepared to deal with. Dangers. From another round. I'm Aaron Minke. And this. Is Lower? I could start with legends of supernatural creatures. I could start with the intricacies of fairies or deities or the mythology various cultures. But if I'm honest, the best and most efficient way to journey deep into the folklore of the forest is through one very specific bit of legend. And it's called. The Wild Hunt. It's a small segment of European folklore that historians can trace back to at least the post medieval period but those scraps clearly evidence of something much older and in a lot of ways, it's unlike many of the tales we bump into on a regular basis, it might involve common players or ideas, but the way it's all put together is something special. and very dark as well. Those, who studied the hunt typically break it into two distinct. Each originating from different parts of Germany in the southern region of the country, we can find hails of the dust hair or the furious host. This is the citing of a mysterious hunting party in the forest accompanied by the sounds of horns and shouting voices. Furious host is typically seen as a sort of omen a sign that some kind of catastrophe was headed toward the people who witnessed it. It could be a natural disaster or one brought on by the darker aspects of our human nature such as war or murder, or even the loss of a beloved leader. In. The northern parts of Germany, they call it the villa Yagi and this one is much more fearsome than its southern counterparts stories of this hunt describe it as a party of warlike writers or a band of deadly hunters. It's always led by a prominent figure rather than bring an omen of impending doom. This type of hunt has the chance of taking something with them often a loved one. From one perspective, it's a supernatural hunt with other worldly creatures on both sides of the chase. Those writing through the woods are thought to be the spirits of the dead or revenue the dead who have returned to the land of the living. While they're query are monstrous creatures. Some legends say the Hunters Chase Dragon while others feature them tracking down the devil himself. In the process, this other worldly hunting party would encounter human witnesses. Sometimes, these witnesses would stand up to the hunter and refused to let them pass. Those people would be punished for. Others chose to help the hunt and if they did so they would receive a reward either in the form of money or some other valuable portion of the slain animal but making deal with these ghostly hunters always came with the risk. Those who witnessed the wild hunt were said to be at risk of contracting the plague or bringing war down on their homeland. Others said that they risked being kidnapped by the ferries or dragged off to the underworld. But what's clear from all the legends is that the people believed these hunts really happened and they feared what could result from encountering them. And then of course, there's the typical bid of suspicion that creeps into society in these stories. Just s countless Europeans spent centuries afraid that their neighbors might be witches. Some people were also accused of willingly participating in wild hunt locals claimed that these people can lay asleep in bed and yet send their spirits out to ride with the hunters. Whether Europeans were punished for the suspected crimes is something I've been unable to track down. And then of course, there were the leaders of the hunt they varied from place to place, but usually took on a few key characteristics, each hunt leader someone who had failed morally in some way in these legends, their membership in the hunting party was a punishment for sins committed while alive. A good example was the dead nobleman can't von Hackl Berg it. Was said that when he was mortal, this count blew off church in favor of his friends on hunt during the course of their fund that morning they encountered to mysterious travellers one djelic and one devilish after mocking the angelic one for some unknown reason accounts entire hunting party was cursed to ride off into the other world and is still hunting to this day. Other leaders of the hunts have included Boden also known in the northern lands as Odin and elsewhere in Germany the leader was said to be burqa goddess of the Alpine region whose name translates as the bright one. Her southern counterpart, the goddess Holda. was similar in a lot of respects even known as the White Lady but she was also referred to as the dark grandmother and was closely associated with German witchcraft early depictions of Holda show her riding a broom through the night sky if that tells you what people thought of her. Over the centuries these legends have evolved, we can blame a lot of that change on Jacob Grimm of the brothers Grimm fame, his eighteen thirty, five book Deutsche Mythology included a collection of stories about the wild hunt. But in the process, he also blended them with more ancient theories about where they might have come from giving them new life in an old school sort of way. But. Just because these tales are old doesn't mean they've stopped evolving as nations rose and fell and culture spread out from Germany, they took their stories of the wild hunt with them. So it should come as no surprise that these old ideas found

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