The Raging Host Rides Forth, and Things Go Crash in the Night…

“Spirits leave the heart of the earth and dwell, if it so pleased them, above the ground.”

The long, cold, dark nights leading up to Yule heralds the start of a period in which the spirits are let loose – free to walk the earth, or join the raging host in a wild hunt across the stormy, nighttime skies.  So feared were these spirits that it was once considered unsafe to venture outside after dark. Travellers found themselves led astray by Will o’ the Wisp, or stalked silently by large black dogs, or would find their path beset by white rabbits that would hop along just under their feet. It is still unwise to travel alone after nightfall, without taking some protective steps first, but we’ll get to those in a bit…

Throughout the world the belief in a Raging Host, a Wild Hunt or spirits, raising from the ground and rushing, howling through the air on stormy nights prevail. In some places is it a group of huntsmen or huntswomen with their horses and hounds in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground, or just above it… Sometimes it is the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd or Herne the Hunter at the head, sometimes Woden or Odin, sometimes Berchtold, Holda, or the Cailleach… And even sometimes the Devil himself, accompanied by his Witches shrieking & screaming, is witnessed rampaging throughout the blackened clouds… In some places it’s a train of the unhappy souls of the unbaptized, those who died by violent hands, the accursed of one kind or another, the restless dead… And even sometimes those lucky enough will catch a glimpse of St. Thomas’s, driving through the night at the toll of midnight, in his chariot of fire…

And for some, like me, it’s an Old Black Man with a walking stick riding a black goat, and the Cailleach chasing clouds, and culling Her herds! But that, my friends, is a whole post in it’s own right…

...The huntsmen were black, huge, and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats, and their hounds were jet black, with eyes like saucers, and horrible...

As the Ancestral Spirits,  were permitted to leave their gravemounds at Yule to return to the realm of the living, so too were Otherworldly mischievous and hideous creatures given their leave… Faeries of the un-gossamered winged type, trows and other mischievous spirits are rife at this time of year…

Yule’s strong association with these Otherworldly creatures, undoubtedly stems from its origin as a feast for the dead. Much like Samhuinn, Yule was a festival for honouring the dead, who were thought to be vital for luck as well as the well being of the livestock and family…

Preparations to honour the Ancestors, appease and placate the creatures of the Otherworld and protect your loved ones should be carried out at this time… Things WILL most definitely go awry if not…

And I learned my lesson again this year, usually my preparations are made before I put the tree up, but this year I’m running late and my schedule is thrown off. But in making that mistake, our tree is now laying on it’s side, completely beyond repair. These precautions are one of my most important Yule traditions – they are a necessity to protect life and property from the influence of these Otherworldly creatures…

Trow - A small, troll-like creature, squat, round, and misshapen. They are completely nocturnal and love to prowl about in the night hiding things in odd places, and breaking stuff just for the fun of aggravating humans...

So this weekend when I find myself some time, and before we try to fix the tree, or buy a new one (which looks more likely), I will prepare the house for Yule properly. Sacred water will be mixed with consecrated salt, and I will sprinkle it throughout the house, starting from outside and working my way around the house and out the back door. Then house will be fumigated with fragrant plumes of incense. From the front door to the back, while a bell is rung and chants and invocations intoned.  Wards reset. And small charms made of crossed pins, red thread and straw will be placed beneath our beds, and the door mat on the front porch…

These Otherworldly creatures, the Outdwellers, will then be plied with gifts of food and drink, which will be left outside the back of the house for them. They like sweet things, shiny things and alcoholic things. Sweet bread or cake… Honeyed milk… Whisky and ales… Silver beads, smooth & shimmery stones, and sea-glass have all been well received offerings in the past…

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3 responses to “The Raging Host Rides Forth, and Things Go Crash in the Night…

  1. I’ve long wondered if this is the basis of the ‘Ghost Riders’ that so many western singers tell of.

  2. Inspiring, eloquent and informative as always! (thank you)

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