A Pilgrimage to Jordan

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.”

Over the next ten days I’ll be posting from holy sites throughout Jordan as I travel with a group of Christian journalists and bloggers, courtesy of the Jordan Tourism Board of North America. We’ll visit Amman, Jerash, Madaba, Mt. Nebo, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Petra, Wadi Rum, and Mukawir. The baptismal site of Jesus, the place where Moses stood to behold the promised land, some of the cities of the Decapolis, the site where Jesus exorcised the Gerasene demons, the enigmatic Copper Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls, early Christian churches, and other locations are all part of the itinerary. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I plan to share what I can when I can from the road. 

The easiest way for me to do quick posts and photos that populate across social media is through Tumblr, which will then send it to the Wonderful Things blog, Twitter, and Facebook. You can follow me at any of those places to see updates and look for the shared hashtag #HolyJordan.

Longer pieces will appear at my blog at the National Catholic Register, and will also be linked here. 

Please pray for safe travels for all the pilgrims and, as always, for peace in the Holy Land. 

The Wild Hunt and the Purgatorial Procession

The Wild Hunt and the Purgatorial Procession:

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.