Fifty Shades of Fae.
As soon as that first bite of cool wind punctures our Indian Summer, I get goosies. One of my witch friends says she starts to hear hoofbeats at Mabon.
We feel in our bones the turning of the Wheel of the Year. The lengthening nights herald a descent of sorts into the dark half of the year. We all stand, as Persephone, on the brink of the Underworld. Yet, as a devotee of a Celtic path and the Faerie faith, my gaze instead turns upward toward the night sky. The Wild Hunt is afoot!
Folklore so ancient and widespread that it is impossible to find a definitive source which tells of a frenzied procession of all manner of Faeries and otherworldly spirits. This is not the gentle stride of the white Faerie steed of the willowy Faerie Queen and her flower Faerie attendants, but the mania of dark Fae, the Winter Fae and their Horned God.
Or, depending on whether you look to Western European, Northern European, Germanic or even Christian folktales, this is a cavalcade of the dead, or even of demons, hellbent on slaying those who have lingered too long in this world, or nabbing human daughters and carrying them off to the Underworld. Humans are well-advised by folk wisdom to huddle inside after dark, with doors bolted and sashes pulled.
Truly, the Celtic mythology we have to work with is not particularly clear on the distinctions between the Fae, the Gods and Goddesses, and the ancestors. We do know, however, that as Samhain approaches, the veil between the worlds is thinning, so the potential for meeting some (or all!) of them is heightened.
I have profound respect for the Fae, and their penchant for chaos is part of their magic. The Wild Hunt is a primal celebration of Nature, red as She is in tooth and hoof, but as things tend to go with the Fae, all is not as it seems. Faeries can change form at will, and often conform to human expectations of their appearance.
Plus, Faerie-time moves differently from ours. It slows and quickens and circles so that just when you think you grasp what’s going on… it slips away. You can never capture anything in Faerie and hold it as your own, not even a memory, not even a death. All we can do is experience their energies, which are as varied as a quantum rainbow.
The energy of the Wild Hunt is unbridled, ecstatic revelry. It’s like a huge block party in the sky with the Shining Ones, Unseelies and nature spirits with insect wings and animal parts and sickles on stallions, red-eared Faerie hounds and Grandma in tow (her t-shirt reading FUK RIP). What more could we wish for on Samhain? Which one will be your costume?
I am most content when surrounded by the all-encompassing womb-warm oceanic energy of my Faerie guide. But I’ll gladly get down with the madness and Misrule of this time of year.
I am planning to spend the night outdoors in our woods on Samhain to catch a glimpse of the trooping Faeries. Of course, I’ll have my burly husband and hell-hounds with me along with my Faerie cross, amulets and a protection spell, just in case. I’m just hoping that I can eye-lock with my deceased father, but if I know him, he will be riding front and center, racing Cernunnos to the Hunter’s Moon.
Jere Alexander is an a/r/tographer, working at the intersections of art, research, and teaching. Also a former lawyer, she now practices hooping and homesteading on a small farm in rural North Carolina with her husband and critter family. Learn more of her story at her website.