Jack Donovan | Die Wilde Jagd - The Wild Hunt
A Wolves of Vinland ritual invoking The Wild Hunt, Winter Solstice, and a poem by Arthur Fitger.
Die Wilde Jagd, Arthur Fitger, Heathen, Heathenry, Lore, Runes, Paganism, Spirituality, Odin, Wotan, Odinism, Asatru, Brosatru, Pagan, Paul Waggener, Wolves of Vinland, Wolves, WOV, Ritual, Peter Beste
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Die Wilde Jagd (The Wild Hunt)

In February 2017, my brother Afi and I performed a blood ritual at the center of the Sonnenobservatorium Goseck in Germany. The construction of the solar observatory there has been dated to approximately 4900 BC. We traveled home with a jar of soil from this site where ancient pagans left traces of ritual fires, animal bones and human remains, and we buried some of it inside our own altar or “Hargu” (drawing from unattested Proto-Germanic).

The cycles of the sun have been observed and acknowledged by our heathen ancestors for thousands of years.

Our ancestors believed that during the long nights of winter, the barrier between the worlds of gods and spirits and the world of men was thinner. In the darkness, they heard the galloping hooves of Sleipnir and the call of Odin or Wotan, leading a wild hunt across the sky. Who were the gods hunting? Some mystical quarry? Were they snatching the lonely souls of wayward, wandering men, women or children? There are many tales and many versions of the wild hunt theme. Germanic people brought them to Britain and even to the New World, where old cowboys told stories of the “ghost riders” that haunted the night sky. Even today, children search the same heavens for signs of a magical, bearded man carried by eight reindeer. Perhaps this is a nod to Odin’s eight-legged horse…

In early December, the Cascadian chapter of the Wolves of Vinland gathered to invoke Wotan and his ghostly horde. As I was conducting research in preparation for this ritual, I came across this fantastic German poem about the hunt, written by the brilliant painter, playwright and poet Arthur Fitger. It captures the essence of the lore, with Wotan hanging, saying “Call me in the storm and night…” offering to guide our restless, life-loving souls on a hunt through all eternities. When we die, let the wind whip over our graves and take us up to join his never-ending hunt.

I sung a few lines from this poem during our rite, captured by photographer Peter Beste, and in observance of tonight, the longest night of the year, I’m sharing the full text of Fitger’s German poem paired with a rough English translation below. Tonight, my brother and I will open our jar of earth from Goseck, and mark the solstice at Waldgang as our ancestors have been for thousands of years — the same cycles, turning over and over, for life after life after life.

Photos copyright Peter Beste, 2017. Contact him directly for usage permission. 

The Wild Hunt

Wilde Jagd

Es pfeift im Hagedorn,

Laut ächzt es in den Föhren,

Da läßt sein schmetternd Horn

Der wilde Jäger hören.

 

Hoch droben durch die Schlucht

Der sturmzerriss’nen Wolke

Jauchzt er in wilder Flucht

Vorbei mit seinem Volke.

 

Er schwingt den Eschenschaft

In erzgewalt’gen Händen,

Und Lebensüberkraft

Flammt in des Auges Bränden. –

 

“Der du verschmäht die Rast

Des Himmels und des Grabes,

Der du begehrt die Last

Des ew’gen Wanderstabes,

 

Ruf’ mich in Sturm und Nacht

Empor, dich zu geleiten

Auf wilder Lebensjagd

Durch alle Ewigkeiten.

 

Die Seel’ erstickt in mir,

Denk’ ich der Gruft, der engen,

Und tobend möcht’ ich schier

Des Todes Fesseln sprengen.

 

Endlose Lebenslust,

Nein! du sollst nicht verrauchen,

Nicht elend in den Wust

Des Staubes untertauchen.

 

Wenn über meiner Gruft

Die Frühlingswinde pfeifen,

Wenn wirbelnd in der Luft

Die falben Blätter schweifen;

 

Dann bannt auch mich nicht mehr

Der dumpfe Totenhügel,

Dann jag’ auch ich daher

Auf freiem Sturmesflügel.”

 

Arthur Fitger . 1840 – 1909

Wild Hunt

It whistles in the hawthorn

It creaks loudly in the pines

There his chilling horn

The Wild Hunter let hear

 

High above through the canyon

The storm-torn cloud

He exults in wild escape

Over with his folk

 

He swings the ash tree shaft

In ore like/powered hands

And strength that goes beyond life’s power

In his eyes burning fires

 

“Thou who refuses to rest

In heaven or grave

Thou who crave the burden

Of the eternal wanderstick

 

Call upon me in storm and night

Up to give you retinue

On the wild hunt of our life

Through all eternity

 

The soul is suffocating in me

When I think of the so tight grave

And in fury I want

To burst the fetters of death

 

Endless lust of life

NO! You shall not vanish like smoke in the wind

Not miserable into the heap

Of dust drowning

 

When over my crypt

The winds of spring whistle

When twirling in the air

Pale leaves fly

 

Then I won’t be captivated

By the dull hill of the death

Then I hunt around

On the free wings of the storm.

 

Translation by V. from Wölfe Nordland