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"Summer is over"
"Summer is over," Odin said to me, a couple of weeks back. I think it may have been on one of the 95+ degree days of our recent heat wave.
I blinked at Him.
He repeated it: "As I said, summer is over. The Hunt is on the move."
"Well, They should fix the weather, then," I quipped.
"Oh, They are working on it," He assured me.
I tried to laugh this off, or blame it on a moment of poor signal clarity, but that very same day, or the next, when I repeated His words to a dear friend, she offered that the leaves on her dogwood tree were changing color and that He had called her attention to that. We both agreed we could hear hoof beats in the still, heavy summer air: the Host is gearing up earlier than usual this year.
She asked me if Odin had volunteered a reason why that might be, but of course He hasn't--and in truth, I'm not sure He knows why, since it is not His doing but that of the landwights who determine these things. It has been a screwed-up year weather-wise, at least here in Oregon: we had a dry spring, and then 90 degree weather starting in May. The tomatoes in our garden are not ripening as they should, and the lettuces bolted before they even had a chance to grow full and leafy. And although I'm sure the temperature will continue to vary widely for a while yet, yesterday we had our first cool, overcast autumn-like day of the season, with a high in the 60s.
They are, indeed, working on it. This fills me with both apprehension (I'm not ready for it to be Hunt season yet!) and excitement, because Hunt season is the time of year I was born for (and, as a late September baby, literally born during): the dark half of the year, when the leaves crisp and fall, the air cools, the days shorten, and the dead--and not only the human dead--wander freely over the earth.
Last week I found a note scribbled in my date book for today, August 2nd: "landwights who will be joining the Hunt." The odd thing (or maybe not) about this note is that I did not write it, or at least I don't have any memory of doing so, which leads me to suspect Someone Else may have. There are many landwights among the Host, and in fact the non-human dead number the greatest among those I serve, so this will become, in my own personal calendar, a day to reflect upon them and to bless them as they pass through the veil.
August 1st or 2nd is also, obviously, Lammas, which is a traditional day to honor Freyr among those of us who follow the Northern traditions. Freyr is not normally thought of as a god of the dead, not to the extent Odin is, but "Mound Lord" is among His titles--god of those who dwell within the howe, or burial mound. The sagas are peppered with instances of dead folk who became draugr, or undead, and remained in the mound to guard their burial horde of treasure, but in Freyr's case I think the term may apply more to His lordship of the dead who willingly pass into the earth to enrich it, to enhance its fertility and wealth. In any case, although Freyr is not one of the gods I am closest to and is not a regular part of my worship, I think He deserves a place in my Hunt observances due to these connections, as well as His lordship over the elves/alfar/fae (I understand these folk as being a distinct race of their own and not simply the souls of dead humans) who make up such a large part of the Host. I think He and Odin collaborate in the Hunt to a greater extent than many realize.
Many people around the blogosphere are participating in A Month for Freyr throughout August. I am not going to be doing this myself for the same reason I didn't do it for Loki in July (namely, because I haven't done a full month of dedicated blogging for Odin yet), but please do check out some of their posts!
Image credit: Wild Hunt by Larbesta on DeviantArt
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