Furious Host

Another class of spectres will prove more fruitful for our investigation: they, like the ignes fatui, include unchristened babes, but instead of straggling singly on the earth as fires, they sweep through forest and air in whole companies with a horrible din. This is the widely spread legend of the furious host, the furious hunt, which is of high antiquity, and interweaves itself, now with gods, and now with heroes. Look where you will, it betrays its connexion with heathism.

The Christians had not so quickly nor so completely renounced their faith in the gods of their fathers, that those imposing figures could all at once drop out of their memory. Obstinately clung to by some, they were merely assigned a new position more in the background. The former god lost his social character, his near familiar features, and assumed the aspect of a dark and dreadful power, that still had a certain amount of influence left. His hold lost upon men and their ministry, he wandered and hovered in the air, a spectre and a devil.

I have already affirmed on p. 132 a connexion between this wütende heer and Wuotan, the god being linked with it in name as in reality. An unprinted poem of Rüdiger von Munir contains among other conjuring formulas ‘bî Wuotunges her.’ Wuotunc and Wuotan are two names of one meaning. Wuotan, the god of war and victory, rides at the head of this aërial phenomenon; when the Mecklenburg peasent of this day hears the noise of it, he says ‘de Wode tüt (zieht),’ Adelung sub v. wüthen; so in Pomerania and Holstein, ‘Wode jaget,’ W. hunts (p. 156). Wuotan appears riding, driving, hunting, as in Norse sagas, with valkyrs and einheriar in his train; the procession resembles an army. Full assurance of this hunting Wode's identity with the heathen god is obtained from parallel phrases and folktales in Scandinavia. The phenomenon of howling wind is refered to Oðin's waggon, as that of thunder is to Thôr's. On hearing a noise at night, as of horses and carts, they say in Sweden ‘Oden far förbi.’ In Schonen an uproar produced perhaps by seafowl on November and December evenings is called Odens jagt. In Bavaria they say nacht-gejaid or nacht-gelait (processio nocturna), Schm. 2, 264. 514; in German Bohemia nacht-goid=spectre, Rank's Böhmerwald pp. 46. 78. 83. 91. In Thuringia, Hesse, Franconia, Swabia, the traditional term is ‘das wütende heer,’ and it must be one of long standing: the 12th cent. poet of the Urstende (Hahn 105, 35) uses ‘daz wuetunde her’ of the jews who fell upon the Saviour; in Rol. 204, 16 Pharaoh's army whelmed by the sea is ‘sîn wôtigez her,’ in Stricker 73b ‘daz wüetende her’; Reinfr. v. Brnswg. 4b ‘daz wüetende her’; Mich. Beheim 176, 5 speaks of a ‘crying and whooping (wufen) as if it were das wutend her’; the poem of Henry the Lion (Massm. denkm. p. 132) says, ‘then came he among daz wöden her, where evil spirits their dwelling have.’ Geiler v. Keiserperg preached on the wütede or wütische heer. H. Sachs has a whole poem on the wütende heer, Agricola and Eiering relate a Mansfeld legend. It is worth noticing, that acc. to Keisersperg all who die a violent death ‘ere that God hath set it for them,’ and acc. to Superst. I, 660 all children dying unbaptized come into the furious host to Holda (p. 269), Berhta and Abunda (p. 288), just as they turn into will o' wisps (p. 918): as the christian god has not made his, they fall due to the old heathen one. This appears to me to have been at least the original course of ideas (see Suppl.).

While in this connexion the meaner sort long cherished the thought of Wuotan, or conveniently stowed him away in a cognate verb; it was quite in the regular course of things that the more cultivated should from an early time put the devil in his place. ‘Si bliesen unde gullen, vreisliche si hullen, sô daz diu helle wagete, alse der tuvel dâ jagete,’ says Veldeck in En. 3239. Caesarius heisterb. 12, 20 tells of a vain woman, who had herself buried in fine new shoes, and whose soul was therefore hunted by the infernalis venator: ‘ex remoto vox quasi venatoris terribiliter buccinantis, necnon et latratus canum venaticorum praecedentium audiuntur,’ ‘der tiuvel hât ûz gesant sîn geswarme und sîn her,’ Rol. 204, 6. ‘der tiuvel und sîn her,’ Renn. 2249. 2870. The people in Bavaria say that on Ash-wednesday the devil chases the little wood-wife, Superst. I, 914b. With the devil is associated the figure of an enormous giant, who can stand for him as well as for Wuotan; and this opinion prevails in Switzerland. There the wild hunt is named dürsten-gejeg (see durs, þurs, p. 521): on summer nights you hear the dürst hunting on the Jura, cheering on the hounds with his hoho; heedless persons, that do not get out of his way, are ridden over. Schm. 1, 458 quotes an old gloss which renders by duris durisis the Lat. Dis Ditis, and plainly means a subterranean infernal deity.

In Lower Saxony and Westphalia this Wild Hunter is identified with a particular person, a certain semi-historic master of the hunt. The accounts of him vary. Westphalian traditions call him Hackelbärend, Hackelbernd, Hackelberg, Hackelblock. This Hackelbärend was a huntsman who went a hunting even on Sundays, for which desecration he was after death (like the man in the moon, p. 717) banished into the air, and there with his hound he must hunt night and day, and never rest. Some say, he only hunts in the twelve nights from Christmas to Twelfth-day; others, whenever the storm-wind howls, and therefore he is called by some the jol-jäger (from yawling, or Yule?). Once, in a ride, Hackelberg left one of his hounds behind in Fehrmann's barn at Isenstädt (bpric. Minden). There the dog lay a whole year, and all attemps to dislodge him were in vain. But the next year, when Hackelberg was around again with his wild hunt, the hound suddenly jumped up, and ran yelping and barking after the troop. Two young fellows from Bergkirchen were walking through the wood one evening to visit their sweethearts, when they heard a wild barking of dogs in the air above them, and a voice calling out between ‘hoto, hoto!’ It was Hackelblock the wild hunter, with his hunt. One of the men had the hardihood to mock his ‘hoto, hoto.’ Hackelblock with his hounds came up, and set the whole pack upon the infatuated man; from that hour not a trace has been found of the poor fellow. This in Westphalia. The Low Saxon legend says, Hans von Hackelnberg was chief master of the hounds to the Duke of Brunswick, and a mighty woodman, said to have died in 1521 (some say, born that year, died 1581), Landau's Jagd 190. His tombstone is three leagues from Goslar, in the garden of an inn called the Klepperkrug. He had a bad dream one night; he fancied he was fighting a terrific boar and got beaten at last. He actually met the beast soon after, and brought it down after a hard figt; in the joy of his victory he kicked at the boar , crying ‘now slash if you can!’ But he had kicked with such force, that the sharp tusk went through his boot, and injured his foot. He thought little of the wound at first, but the foot swelled so that the boot had to be cut off his leg, and a speedy death ensued. Some say he lies buried at Wülperode near Hornburg. This Hackelnberg ‘fatsches’ in storm and rain, with carriage, horses and hounds, through the Thüringerwald, the Harz, and above all the Hackel (a forest between Halberstadt, Gröningen and Derenburg, conf. Praet. welbt. 1, 88). On his deathbed he would not hear a word about heaven, and to the minister's exhortations he replied: ‘the Lord may keep his heaven, so he leave me my hunting;’ whereupon the parson spoke: ‘hunt then til the Day of Judgement!’ which saying is fulfilled unto this day. A faint baying or yelping of hounds gives warning of his approach, before flies a nightowl named by the people Tutosel (tut-ursel, tooting Ursula). Travellers, when he comes their way, fall silently on their faces, and let him pass by; they hear a barking of dogs and the huntsman's ‘huhu!’ Tutosel is said to have been a nun, who after her death joined Hackelnberg and mingled her tuhu with his huhu. The people of Altmark place a wild hunter named Hakkeberg in the Drömling, and make him ride down by night with horses and hounds from the Harz into the Dröling (Temme, p. 37). Ad. Kuhn no. 17 calles him Hackenberg and Hackelberg: he too is said to have hunted on Sundays, and forced all the peasants in his parish to turn out with him; but one day a pair of horsemen suddenly galloped up to him, each calling to him to come along. One looked wild and fierce, and fire spirted out of his horse's nose and mouth; the left-hand rider seemed more quiet and mild, but Hackelberg turned to the wild one, who galloped off with him, and in his company he must hunt until the Last Day. Kuhn has written down some more stories of the wild hunter without proper names, nos. 63. 175. There are others again, which tell how Hackelberg dwelt in the Sölling, near Uslar, that he had lived in fear of God, but his heart was so much in the chase, that on his deathbed he prayed God, that for his share of heaven he might be let hunt in the Sölling till the Judgement-day. His wish became his doom, and oft in that forest one hears by night both bark of hound and horrible blast of horn. His grave is in the Sölling too, the arrangement of the stones is minutely described; two black hounds rest beside him. And lastly, Kuhn's no. 205 and Temme's Altmark p. 106 inform us of a heath-rider Bären, whose burial-place is shewn on the heath near Grimnitz in the Ukermark; this Bären's dream of the stumpfschwanz (bobtail, i.e. boar) points unmistakably to Hackelbärend.

The irreconcilable diversity of domiciles is enough to shew, in the teeth of tombstones, that these accounts all deal with a mythical being: a name that crops up in such various localities must be more than historical. I am disposed to pronounce the Westph. form Hackelberend the most ancient and genuine. An OHG. hahhul [Goth. hakuls], ON. hökull m. and hekla f., AS. hacele f., means garment, cloak, cowl, armour; hence the hakolberand is OS. for a man in armour, conf. OS. wâpanberand (armiger), AS. æscberend, gârberend, helmb., sweordb. (Gramm. 2, 589). And now remember Oðin's dress (p. 146): the god appears in a broad-brimmed hat, a blue and spotted cloak (hekla blâ, flekkôtt); hakolberend is unmistakably an OS. epithet of the heathen god Wôdan, which was gradually corrupted into Hackelberg, Hackenberg, Hackelblock. The name of the Hackel-wood may be an abbrev. of Hakelberend's wood. The ‘saltus Hakel’ in Halberstadt country is mentioned first in the (doubtful) Chron. corbeiense ad an. 936 (Falke p. 708); a long way off, hard by Höxter in the Auga gau, there was a Haculesthorp (Wigand's Corv. güterb. p. 94. Saracho 197. Trad. corb. 385) and afterwards a Hackelbreite; then in L. Hesse, a Hackelsberg near Volkmarsen, and a Hackelberg by Merzhausen (bailiw. Witzenhausen). But if a hakel = wood can be proved, the only trace of a higher being must be looked for in berend, and that may be found some day; in ch. XXXIII. I shall exhibit Hakol in the ON. Hekla as a mountain, hence wooded heights, woodland. In any case we here obtain not only another weighty testimony to Woden-worship, but a fresh confirmation of the meaning I attach to the ‘wütende heer’; and we see clearly how the folktale of Hackelberg came to be preserved in Westphalia and L. Saxony (where heathenism lasted longer) rather than in South Germany (yet see Habsberg, Hägelberg, Mone's Anz. 4, 309. Hachilstat, Graff 4, 797).

That the wild hunter is to be referred to Wôdan, is made perfectly clear by some Mecklenburg legends.

Often of a dark night the airy hounds will bark on open heaths, in thickets, at cross-roads. The countryman well knows their leader Wod, and pities the wayfarer that has not reached home yet; for Wod is often spiteful, seldom merciful. It is only those who keep in the middle of the road that the rough hunter will do nothing to, that is why he calls out to travellers : ‘midden in den weg!’

A peasant was coming home tipsy one night from town, and his road led him through a wood; there he hears the wild hunt, the uproar of the hounds, and the shout of the huntsman up in the air: ‘midden in den weg!’ cries the voice, but he takes no notice. Suddenly out of the clouds there plunges down, right before him, a tall man on a white horse. ‘Are you strong?’ says he, ‘here, catch hold of this chain, we'll see which can pull the hardest.’ The peasant courageously grasped the heavy chain, and up flew the wild hunter into the air. The man twisted the end round an oak that was near, and the hunter tugged in vain. ‘Haven't you tied your end to the oak?’ asked Wod, coming down. ‘No,’ replied the peasant, ‘look, I am holding it in my hands.’ ‘Then you'll be mine up in the clouds,’ cried the hunter as he swung himself aloft. The man in a hurry knotted the chain round the oak again, and Wod could not manage it. ‘You must have passed it round the tree,’ said Wod, plunging down. ‘No,’ answered the peasant, who had deftly disengaged it. ‘here I have got it in my hands.’ ‘Were you heavier than lead, you must up into the clouds with me.’ He rushed up as quick as lightning, but the peasant manage as before. The dogs yelled, the wagons rumbled, and the horses neighed overhead; the tree crackled to the roots, and seemed to twist round. The man's heart began to sink, but no, the oak stood its ground. ‘Well pulled!’ said the hunter, ‘many's the man I've made mine, you are the first that ever held out against me, you shall have your reward.’ On went the hunt, full cry: hallo, holla, wol, wol! The peasant was slinking away, when from unseen heights a stag fell groaning at his feet, and there was Wod, who leaps off his white horse and cuts up the game. ‘Thou shalt have some blood and a hindquarter to boot.’ ‘My lord,’ quoth the peasant, ‘thy servant has neither pot nor pail.’ ‘Pull off thy boot,’ cries Wod. The man did so. ‘Now walk, with blood and flesh, to wife and child.’ At first terror lightened the load, but presently it grew heavier and heavier, and he hardly strength to carry it. With his back bent double, and bathe in sweat, he at length reached his cottage, and behold, the boot was filled with gold, and the hindquarter was a leathern pouch full of silver. Here it is no human hunt-master that shows himself, but the veritable god on his white steed: many a man has he taken up into his cloudy heaven before. The filling of the boot with gold sounds antique.

There was once a rich lady of rank, named frau Gauden; so passionately she loved the chase, that she let fall the sinful word, ‘could she but always hunt, she cared not to win heaven.’ Four-and-twenty daughters had dame Gauden, who all nursed the same desire. One day, as mother and daughters, in wild delight, hunted over woods and fields, and once more that wicked word escaped their lips, that ‘hunting was better than heaven,’ lo, suddenly before their mother's eyes the daughters' dresses turn into tufts of fur, their arms into legs, and four-and-twenty bitches bark around the mother's hunting-car, four doing duty as horses, the rest encircling the carriage ; and away goes the wild train up into the clouds, there betwixt heaven and earth to hunt unceasingly, as they had wished, from day to day, from year to year. They have long wearied of the wild pursuit, and lament their impious wish, but they must bear the fruits of their guilt till the hour of redemption come. Come it will, but who knows when? During the twölven (for at other times we sons of men cannot perceive her) frau Gauden directs her hunt toward human habitations ; best of all she loves on the night of Christmas eve or New Year's eve to drive through the village streets, and where-ever she finds a street-door open, she sends a dog in. Next morning a little dog wags his tail at the inmates, he does them no other harm but that he disturbs their night's rest by his whining. He is not to be pacified, nor driven away. Kill him, and he turns into a stone by day, which, if thrown away, comes back to the house by main force, and is a dog again at night. So he whimpers and whines the whole year round, brings sickness and death upon man and beast, and danger of fire to the house ; not till the twölven come round again does peace return to the house. Hence all are careful in the twelves, to keep the great house-door well locked up after nightfall ; whoever neglects it, has himself to blame if frau Gauden looks him up. That is what happened to the grandparents of the good people now at Bresegardt. They were silly enough to kill the dog into the bargain ; from that hour there was no ‘säg und täg’ (segen bless, ge-deihen thrive), and at length the house came down in flames. Better luck befalls them that have done dame Gauden a service. It happens at times, that in the darkness of night she misses her way, and gets to a cross-road. Cross-roads are to the good lady a stone of stumbling : every time she strays into such, some part of her carriage breaks, which she cannot herself rectify. In this dilemma she was once, when she came, dressed as a stately dame, to the bedside of a labourer at Boeck, awaked him, and implored him to help her in her need. The man was prevailed on, followed her to the cross-roads, and found one of her carriage wheels was off. He put the matter to rights, and by the way of thanks for his trouble she bade him gather up in his pockets sundry deposits left by her canine attendants during their stay at the cross-roads, whether as the effect of great dread or of good digestion. The man was indignant at the proposal, but was partly soothed by the assurance that the present would not prove so worthless as he seemed to think ; and incredulous, yet curious, he took some with him. And lo, at daybreak, to his no small amazement, his earnings glittered like mere gold, and in fact it was gold. He was sorry now that he had not brought it all away, for in the daytime not a trace of it was to be seen at the cross-roads. In similar ways frau Gauden repaid a man at Conow for putting a new pole to her carriage, and a woman at Göhren for letting into the pole the wooden pivot that supports the swing-bar : the chips that fell from pole and pivot turned into sheer glittering gold. In particular, frau Gauden loves young children, and gives them all kinds of good things, so that when children play at fru Gauden, they sing :

fru Gauden hett mi'n lämmken geven,
darmitt sall ik in freuden leven.

Nevertheless in course of time she left the country ; and this is how it came about. Careless folk at Semmerin had left their street-door wide open one St. Silvester night ; so on New-year's morning they found a black doggie lying on the hearth, who dinned their ears the following night with an intolerable whining. They were at their wit's end how to get rid of the unbidden guest. A shrewd woman put them up to a thing : let them brew all the house-beer through an ‘eierdopp.’ They tried the plan ; an eggshell was put in the tap-hole of the brewing-vat, and no sooner had the ‘wörp’ (fermenting beer) run through it, than dame Gauden's doggie got up and spoke in a distinctly audible voice : ‘ik bün so old as Böhmen gold, äwerst dat heff ik min leder nicht truht, wenn man ’t bier dorch ’n eier- dopp brucht,’ after saying which he disappeared, and no one has seen frau Gauden or her dogs ever since (see Suppl.).

This story is of a piece with many other ancient ones. In the first place, frau Gauden resembles frau Holda and Berhta, who likewise travel in the ‘twelves,’ who in the same way get their vehicles repaired and requite the service with gold, and who finally quit the country (pp. 268, 274-6). Then her name is that of frau Gaue, frau Gode, frau Wode (p. 252-3) who seems to have sprung out of a male divinity fro Woden (p. 156), a matter which is placed beyond doubt by her identity with Wodan the wild hunter. The very dog that stays in the house a year, Hakelberg's (p. 921) as well as frau Gauden's, is in perfect keeping. The astonishment he expresses at seemingly perverse actions of men, and which induces him, like other ghostly elvish beings, to speak and begone, is exactly as in the stories given at p. 469.

At the same time the transformation of the wild hunter into goddesses appears to be not purely arbitrary and accidental, but accounted for by yet other narratives.

E. M. Arndt tells the tale of the wild hunter (unnamed) in the following shape : In Saxony there lived in early times a rich and mighty prince, who loved hunting above all things, and sharply punished in his subjects any breach of the forest laws. Once when a boy barked a willow to make himself a whistle, he had his body cut open and his bowels trained round the tree (RA. 519-20. 690) ; a peasant having shot at a stag, he had him fast riveted to the stag. At last he broke his own neck hunting, by dashing up against a beech-tree ; and now in his grave he has no rest, but must hunt every night. He rides a white horse whose nostrils shoot out sparks, wears armour, cracks his whip, and is followed by a countless swarm of hounds : his cry ‘wod wod, hoho, hallo!’ He keeps to forests and lonely heaths, avoiding the common highway ; if he happens to come to a cross-road, down he goes horse and all, and only picks himself up when past it ; he hunts and pursues all manner of weird rabble, thieves, robbers, murderers and witches.

A Low Saxon legend of the Tilssgraben or devil's hole between Dahlum and Bokenem (Harrys 1, 6) says, the wild knight Tils was so fond of the chase that he took no heed of holidays, and one Easter Sunday he had the presumption to say ‘he would bring a beast down that day if it cost him his castle.’ At evening the cock crew out that the castle would sink before night ; and soon after it sank in the lake with all that was in it. A diver once on reaching the bottom of the lake, saw the ritter Tils sitting at a stone table, old and hoary, with his white beard grown through the table.

In the Harz the wild chase thunders past the Eichelberg with its ‘hoho’ and clamour of hounds. Once when a carpenter had the courage to add to it his own ‘hoho,’ a black mass came tumbling down the chimney on the fire, scattering sparks and brands about the peoples ears : a huge horse's thigh lay on the hearth, and the said carpenter was dead. The wild hunter rides a black headless horse, a hunting-whip in one hand and a bugle in the other ; his face is set in his neck, and between the blasts he cries ‘hoho hoho ;’ before and behind go plenty of women, huntsmen and dogs. At times, they say he shews himself kind, and comforts the lost wanderer with meat and drink (Harrys 2, 6).

In Central Germany this ghostly apparition is simply called the Wild huntsman, or has some other and more modern name attached to him. By Wallrod near Schlüchtern in Hanau country are seen tall basaltic crags standing up like ruins : there in former times was the wild man's house, and you may still see his grey gigantic figure make its rounds through the forest, over heath and field, with crashing and uproar (conf. 432 482). A Thuringian story contains (and in a clearer form) that Bavarian chase after the holzweiblein. The wild hunter pursues the moss-folk, the little wood-wives ; he remains unseen, but you hear him bluster in the air, so that it ‘crickles and crackles.’ A peasant of Arntsch-gerente near Saalfeld had the impudence, when he heard shouting and the bark of dogs in the wood, to put in his tongue and mimic the huntsmen's cry : the next morning he found the quarter of a little moss-wife hung up outside his stable door, as if to pay him for his share in the hunt. ‘Dixerunt majores nostri, tempore melioris et probioris aevi, concubinas sacerdotum in aëre, a daemonibus, non aliter quam feras sylvestres a canibus venaticis, agitari atque tandem discerptas inveniri : quod si hominum quispiam haec [hanc ?] audiens venationem suo clamore adjuverit, illi partem vel membrum concubinae dissectum ad januam domus mane a daemonibus suspensum,’ Bebelii Facetiae (Tub. 1555) p. 11a. Here the wood-wives are replaced by priests' wives, but the same may already have been done in the 13th cent. folktale. Our German tradition says nothing about the reason why the airy hunter pursues the wood-wife ; among the people of Upper Germany the wild women themselves play a leading part in the ‘twelve nights,’ and in Lent they are part and parcel of this heathenish spectredom. Even among the Vicentine and Veronese Germans, the keenest sportsman will not venture on the track of game at the seasons just mentioned, for fear of the wild man and the wood-wife. No herdsman will drive cattle out, the flocks and herds are watered in the stable, children fetching the water in earthen vessels from the nearest spring. For the wood-wife the women spin a portion of hair (flax) on their distaffs, and throw it in the fire as a peace-offering to her (Hormayr's Tyrol 1, 141). The legend of the wild hunt extends to the Ardennes, and Wolf in his Niederl. sagen nos. 516-7 (conf. p.706) justly lays stress on the fact that the object hunted is usually the boar, that a woodcutter who had taken part in the hunt was a whole fortnight salting boar's flesh ; which reminds us of the of the einheriar (pp. 318, 386), the caro aprina, and the roast boar in the legend of Walther (Waltharius p. 105) ; and Hackelberg's dream (p. 921) is about the boar (see Suppl.).

The people dread having to do with these powerful spirits, and whoever breaks through this backwardness pays for it heavily. The Westphalian peasant (p. 921) fared worse than he of Saalfeld ; so did a tailor in the Münsterland. When the wild hunt swept over his house, he mocked the hunter by repeating his huhu, klifklaf after him ; then a horse's foot came through the window, and knocked him off his table, while a terrible voice rang out of the air : ‘willstu mit mir jagen, sollst du mit mir knagen (gnaw) !’ DS. no. 309. A girl at Delligsen by Alfeld (Hildesheim country) tells the tale : Mine mutter vertelle, dat de helljäger dorch de luft ejaget herre (had been hunting) un jimmer eraupen ‘ha ha ! tejif, tejaf, tejaf !’ De Knechte (labourers) tau Hohne ut'n ganzen dörpe keimen eins avens to hope, un brochten alle de hunne (dogs) ut'n dörpe mit, umme dat se den helljäger wat brüen wollen. Da kumte ok dorch de luft en ejaget, un wie hei ropt ‘ha ha !’ sau raupt de knechte ok ‘ha ha !’ un wie de hunne in'r luft jilpert, sau jilpert un bleft de hunne ut'n dörpe ok alle; do smitt de helljäger ön wat herunner (some-what down to them) un schriet : ‘wil ji mit jagen, so könn ji ok mit gnagen !’ Ans se den annern (next) morgen tau seien dauet (went to see), wat ön de helljäger henne smetten herre, da ist'n olen perschinken (an old gammon of boar).’ An Austrian folktale in Ziska's Märchen p. 37 tells of another fellow who, when the wilde gjoad swept past, had the audacity to beg for a piece of game to roast; the same in a Nethl. story, Wolf no. 259. On the other hand, a W. Preussen tale in Tettau and Temme no. 260 says, on the Bullerberg in the forest of Skrzynka, Stargard circuit, the wild hunter carries on his operations on Bartholomew's night, and once he flung a man's thigh out of the air into the head forester's carriage, with the words : ‘Some-thing for you out of the hunt !’

 

A Meissen folk-tale calls the spectre Hans Jagenteufel and pictures him as a man booted and spurred, in a long grey coat, with a bugle over his back, but no head, riding through the wood on a grey horse, DS. 309. They also tell of a wild hunter named Mansberg, of what district I do not know. Swabian stories about Elbendrötsch's hunting, about the Muotes heer, I should like to know more fully ; the castle of junker Marten, a wild hunter of Baden, stood at the village of Singen by the Pfinz, and his tombstone is shewn in a chapel on the way to Königsbach ; the people in the Bahnwald see him at night with his dogs (Mone's Anz. 3, 363). Johann Hübner the one-eyed, rides at midnight on a black horse, DS. no. 128. Other tales of S. Germany give no names, but simply place at the head of the wild host a white man on a white horse (Mone's Anz. 7, 370. 8,306) ; an old lord of a castle rides a white horse, which may be seen grazing the meadows, ibid. 3, 259, just as Oden pastured his steed (p. 155n.). Even Michel Beheim (born 1416) made a meister-song on Eberhart, count of Wirtenberg, who hears in the forest a ‘sudden din and uproar vast,’ then beholds a spectre, who tells him the manner of his damnation. When alive he was a lord, that never had his fill of hunting, and at last made his request unto the Lord to let him hunt till the Judgement-day ; the prayer was granted, and these 500 years all but 50, he has hunted a stag that he never can overtake ; his face is wrinkled as a sponge. This is only another form of the L. Saxon legend of Hackelberg (see Suppl.).



"Teutonic Mythology," by Jacob Grimm, trans. by James Steven Stallybrass, page 918-931.



HOME