In this episode of Lore, Follow the Leader, Aaron Mahnke delves into folklore describing what is known as The Wild Hunt. Mostly rooted in Germanic legend, the wild hunt is often described as a supernatural horde of warriors hunting great beasts through the forest or across the sky. The sight or sound of these hunters is supposed to portend times of great chaos such as war, famine, or plague. The hunt is often lead by a mythological figure and followed by the souls of the dead or sometimes valkyries, elves, or demons. It has even been thought to have inspired our modern interpretation of Santa Claus riding through the night sky as an agent of chaotic good. After all, the leader of the wild hunt is often Odin on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, bringing both gifts and destruction depending on his mood.
Of all the tales we tell ourselves about the things that go bump in the night, the wild hunt is one that stands apart from our tales of lurking demons, monstrous predators, or lonely ghosts with tales of terrible sadness and pain. And yet it resonates deeply across a variety of cultures. Although it may be a harbinger of doom, there is an excitement and longing to it as well. The danger of the wild hunt to mortals is that they should be swept up in the chaos and never return either by choice or by madness.
As a person who spent a large chunk of my teen years galloping horses across fields and through the woods I can’t say I wouldn’t be immune to the call of the horn. I’ve dreamt of flying up beyond the clouds, being on the edge of collossal ocean waves, and exploring ever deepening worlds below the earth.These dreams are supernatural and often overwhelmingly detailed and beautiful. No matter the danger I often wake with a sense of longing and regret; my mind won’t accept that it isn’t real.
Benovolent or malevolent, all of us crave a bit of chaos from time to time. Even our most domesticated animals occasionally express their feral natures. As humans, our feral natures encourage us to endure and navigate long distances. Traveling into the unknown is an inherent part of our genetics. This drive is likely what drove men and women to cross oceans, take to the sky, and explore our solar system and beyond. Wherever it comes from, when the horn sounds, we want to follow.