When I was a young adult living in Connecticut (US), I had an experience that shook me. I was in a park that overlooked the Housatonic River in late November. When the sun was setting, I walked back to my car. Suddenly the wind picked up, and the clouds boiled over in swirling blacks and reds. Loud barking and blasts from hunting horns assaulted my ears. As the hair on my arms stood up, I felt the temperature drop.
I fell to the ground, and just laid there cowering with my hands over my head. As blackness enveloped the park, the air grew heavy. The din became deafening as shadows flew over and around me. I continue to lay there, shaking uncontrollably.
Then complete silence. Softly the moon emerged in the clearing sky. In a daze, I got up, dashed to my car, and sped home. Arriving, I went immediately to bed and stayed there for two days. My family was worried for me but I could not say what had happened to me. Later, I had a nervous breakdown.
I had encountered the Wild Hunt, which of course I had no knowledge of at the time. A part of European folklore, the Wild Hunt has been sighted in North America. Here it is called “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” My French-Canadian relatives referred to it as “Chasse-galerie.” This “motif” entails a mythological figure leading a supernatural group of hunters and dead souls. The leader of the Hunt ranges from Odin to Herne the Hunter to King Arthur. Black hounds and horses with fiery eyes accompany the horde. Some believe that the Hunt collects souls, while others claim that the Hounds of Hell are chasing sinners. Whatever, it is considered a bad omen, foretelling doom.
People who encountered the Hunt are either taken, warned, punished, or rewarded. Staying in the middle of a road will keep the person safe. A person could cooperate with the leader’s requests and hope the Hunt will pass them by. I was saved by my nearby car and half-eaten sandwich in my jacket pocket. Bread and steel protect an individual from being taken, since the Hunt will avoid both elements. My adult life has been divided into before and after seeing the Hunt. What I experienced long ago still frightens me.