Sunday, 11 November 2018

Wotan's Hunt

I am sure that most of my readers will be familiar with the concept of the Wild Hunt, known in modern German as Wilde Jagd (Wild Hunt or Chase) or Wildes Heer (Wild Host or Army). The English term is no doubt a translation from the German. However in my opinion the term Wild is incorrect. It is a faulty modern German and English translation of the far older Wutanes Her.

Jacob Grimm makes the connection between the God Wotan and wuetende heer in volume 1 of his Teutonic Mythology:
"The form wuotunc seems not to differ in sense; an unprinted poem of the 13th century says 'Wuetunges her' apparently for the 'wuetende heer', the host led as it were by Wuotan; and Wuotunc is likewise a man's name in OHG." (page 132)
Later in volume 3 of Teutonic Mythology Grimm goes into much more detail about the 'Furious Host', giving many examples from legend and folklore from all over Germany. I would recommend that my readers buy all four volumes of Teutonic Mythology, not just the more popular volume 1 as the whole set provides a wealth of detail on the continental Germanic aspects of Teutonic mythology, not merely the Norse or Eddic sources.

The God's name Wotan has thus been hidden in the German adjective wuetend-furious, angry. These are obviously qualities of the darker side of Wotan but it is this darker side which has been promoted by the church to the exclusion of His positive attributes. Let us make no mistake about this: Wotan is a God with both a light and dark side but these sides are held in balance. The clearest way to illustrate this symbolically is in the taijitu symbol of Yin and Yang. So Wotan's name has been hidden in a cognate adjective and wuetend in turn has been replaced with wild, a toned down form of the other adjective so that it is no longer cognate with Wotan. Thus it is my thesis that the term Wotan's Hunt is a more accurate term which we should endeavour to use, thus giving due honour to Him.

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