Just recently I saw my first carnival of the season.
As I see Wodanaz in both the Hunt and the Carnival, the first carnival of the year is a moment like the first farmer’s market, where I am seeing a power shift from their winter self to their summer self and I stop to acknowledge the passage of time.
This is, of course, entirely UPG, but the role of carnivals in pop culture is liminal and dangerous, a place where the bad are punished and strange blessings and curses both might come up, so it seems reasonable to me that archetypal Carnival might feed on the same energies as the Hunt. And of course, I first met Wodanaz wearing the face of Mr Dark.
I know other pagans who mark their seasons with nature-based observations, noting when plants first sprout or ripen, but I suspect I’m just not sufficiently earth-attuned for that. I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the signs of the seasons, what the plants are doing and so on, and I can certainly note and appreciate it. It just doesn’t resonate for me the way spotting the lights of a ferris wheel on the side of the freeway does.
There are many Hunts, and they vary almost as much as do their Riders. Some rode for vengeance and some for justice, some ran from the gates of Hell itself, some rode searching for a Heaven that would never be found on the roads they were on. Some rode the horses they’d ridden in life, or strange, dark beasts that nonetheless acquiesced to be carry them, or themselves took the form of wolves or giant cats or other predators. I was not the first to choose a motorcycle, with a headlamp streaming through the twilight, but the image stuck to me.
When I took point, berserker and valkyrie alike in my wake followed suit. No hounds or howls announced our arrival, only the low thunder of perfectly-tuned engines. We’re still a motley crew, riding everything from crotch rockets to cruisers to naked bikes. More often than not, mine is a 1934 Indian. It doesn’t really matter; they run on whetstone sparks and shining wet teeth and gunpowder and fear, not petrol.
Some years are better than others. Some years the picking is ripe and there’s no second thoughts, no bitter taste in the blood of our prey. Some years are strange and the prey sickly-twisted. Some years virtually all we hunt are humans, and some years almost none.
The Hunt is never clean.
No matter how insubstantial the riders, no matter how little is left behind when the Hunt continues from one target to the next, it’s not a clean job. Viscera sticks more in the darkness of the Mists than it does on the battlefield, and the smell… well, when your targets are already rotten inside, there’s little to be done about the disgustingly sweet scents we tracked, each one a unique blend of dying flowers and burnt sugar and greenish meat.
Some of them were human, some of them monster, but all of them were messy.
I would tell you not to bother running if you’re prey, but it doesn’t matter.
Please, do run.
It’s more fun.