A mass of ferocious men ride across the sky on giant black goats and black horses, making a fearsome din as they charge to the hunt, baying black hounds at their sides. Those who hear the approaching noise must not look or they risk being dragged into the Wild Hunt of the dead.
With plenty of local and national variations, this image of phantom hordes of huntsmen or soldiers has deep roots in Northern European culture, most firmly associated with Woden. We first find it recorded in the middle ages in various forms, and after that it never really leaves. Jacob Grimm named and described it in Deutsche Mythologie (Teutonic Mythology) Volume III, arguing that Germans didn’t drop their stories of the gods when they became Christian, but merely assigned them new roles. What he called the Wild Hunt took on the name Hellequin’s (or Herlechin’s, or Helething’s) Hunt, from the Germanic roots heer (“army”) and thing (“assembly”), and a new religious meaning.