Indistinct Mumblings of an Unsound Mind

On the quarter night, when the year draws nigh
With wolves in tow, the Huntsman comes.
To feast! To feed the chase with blood
Blasting carnyx and beating drums!

Hideous, the sound, Hide! You cannot run!
When found, do join the Hunt to reave
Youthful and frail; a sacred harvest.
Engorged with flesh, without reprieve.

At this midpoint between the second Harvest Festival and Yule, where the night becomes the boundary between the waning warmth of the summer’s sun and the oncoming frost of midwinter’s moon, the veil that parts and shapes worlds is thin; easily granting trespass to those that seek it. This night is an in-between place, a transition from one thing into another.

On this night, the leader of the hunt, Gwyn ap Nuad, blows loudly his horn, gathering up the souls of the fallen hunters and predatory spirits before crossing the mists into our world. On great black horses and bleating goats the men and creatures of two legs ride, while their beastly companions rend sod from the earth with every stomping step. Sharp, red-eyes dart back and forth, diving into and out of the foray. Howling, the hounds run ahead, wide-mouthed and foaming, their charcoal coats blending mutely into the darkness of the sky.

 At first, all that’s heard is thunder – the rumbling approach is little more than a tumultuous cloud.  But closer and closer, the hoofbeats and braying and cackling comes. It tears down upon the land, screaming and growling into the night. The raid has begun to move from their world into ours. Only the strongest  can cross over, even on this special night. The discordant wails of those left behind penetrates the night sky, despair and malcontent spreading thickly over the procession. The horns, again, calling up the hunters of our land: falconers and hawkers, soldiers and warriors, constables and killers; it beckons to all that prey on the lives of others, inviting them to join.

Frenzied, craving flesh and blood for drink, the Wild Hunt takes with force what it desires. No exemption for man. Nor for woman, nor child. Claim is lain to those that do not join, marking those unworthy souls as the hunted – marking their flesh to be the spoils. On this night, the Wild Hunt seeks to gather enough to feed, nay: to feast as Lords for the following year.

But not all are so meek. In the darkness, a different path is formed – a way to escape the hunt using knowledge and understanding. To never fear the blade of otherworldly men or the predators unblinking stare. Gwyddion’s gift, this idea. Put on the likeness of their party and become as they are, for they do not reap their own. Hide among the others, pretend to join their ranks. There, shall we be safe.

Imbibe their drink and sing their songs. Man, Beast, and Formor walk together while the veil is parted. At last when darkness turns, departing into light, so shall the Wild Hunt. With due haste, grant them a parting gift: honor them as your brothers, for this night you have ridden together under the light of the moon.

Samhain is the threshold for many things, marking equilibrium between the longest day and the longest night, the change from light to dark, and the movement from summer into winter. In life, a great many things will present themselves, and not all of them will be clearly divisible into good and evil or cleanly black and white. Instead, they will fall into a brilliantly diverse gradient, displaying varying shades of grey and attributes of both good and evil. Sort of an “in-between” area, where two or more opposing ideas can be both right and wrong at the same time. It is our duty to understand not only the extremes, but to gain clarity and comprehension of the complexity and diversity between them. It is there, wandering back and forth in the shadows of the day and the moonbeams of the night, that we must remain, balancing these ideas and contemplating how to make use of the best parts in each one.

 

Categories: Grimoire

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