Not so long ago, at the height of December’s retail busy season—which also happened to be the height of Wild Hunt season—I had a dream. Okay, let’s call it what it was: a nightmare. In it, I was asleep in our bedroom and thought I heard Jo talking in her sleep from her own bed. Then I realized it was actually my mother—who used to talk in her sleep a fair amount and who has been dead for twenty years (although that detail didn’t occur to me in the dream). I called out something about trying to sleep, but she kept talking.
And then I realized that it wasn’t my mother speaking at all; the voice was harder, unfamiliar, while still female. I realized she was telling a story, in a somewhat sing-song voice, a horrible story that I was certain I didn’t want to hear the end of. (No, I don’t remember what the story was—although in retrospect, I have my suspicions, of which I won’t speak.) As she neared the end of it, she rose from her bed and approached mine, not asleep at all. I wanted to move or scream but was utterly paralyzed. I tried to call for help—from Odin, from the Hunt—but no help appeared. The woman—a farm wife in dress and apron–smiled down at me with her hard face and glittering, hard eyes, smiling into my eyes as she spoke the final words of the story. And then she reached into my mouth and down my throat and into my chest—just rammed her entire hand and arm in.
I awoke. I rose and went to my shrine, lit a candle, not wanting to go back to sleep. I’m not sure I slept any more that night at all. I had an ache in the general area of my heart chakra for the next several days.
Only the next day did I being to realize who the dream-woman had been. The clues were simple: 1) she had been menacing, but had not actually harmed me (although she had done something—something that was Allowed, apparently; 2) neither Odin nor the Hunt had volunteered any help; thus, no matter how scary she had been, she didn’t actually intend any harm to me; 3) the warding Odin has placed on me and our house—which is quite thorough—did not keep her away, and 4) in the dream, I had at first identified her with my mother, then realized that was almost correct, but not quite. I struggled with what my intuition was telling me for hours before sheepishly asking Odin if I was right. He confirmed that I was.
My dream visitor was none other than my mother-in-law, the Queen Mother of Asgard: Bestla. And the next night when I saw Her in the Hunt, She flashed Her dream disguise at me briefly before transforming back into Her usual glamorous self, and winked.