Autumn, 2018-Chris Friend
fall, you-all! One of my favorite mid-winter subjects has to be the Wild Hunt.
This eldritch activity has
many versions. In some, the Norse god Odin is the leader, but during the
Christian era the leader was Lucifer himself. In a few versions the hunt is led
by the ghosts of men who cared more about hunting than going to church, and
were thus damned to the eternal hunt. In one story the hunt was led by a man
who prayed that he would be allowed to hunt forever and was granted his wish by
leading the dark hunt as a ghost.
For my purposes the hunt is led by a shadowy figure who
travels the mid-winter skies with a devilish entourage of ghosts, fairies, the
undead, and howling hell-hounds, out for weary souls who may have made the
mistake of wandering about on this the longest night of the year. For many of
the ancients the hunt was a clear omen of death and Christians were warned
against being out on that dark night when the huntsmen went looking for souls
The original leader of the hunt may have been the
mother of all witches—Hecate. She is possibly one of the oldest deities in all
of folklore. Her origins are Greek and she was often described as leading a
grand procession of ghosts, fairies, and hell-hounds quite similar to the Wild Hunt
of Northern Europe.
Also described as having three faces, she became
guardian of the crossroads, a notoriously uncanny place. As Great Queen of the
Underworld, she ruled over ghosts, fairies, and other spirits. During the
Christian era Hecate became an especially terrifying spirit, who might cast a
curse on the innocent. Halloween night was notably a bad night to run into this
terrible apparition. In earlier times it was considered a good idea to leave
offerings to Hecate to pacify her. One such offering was a cake covered in
candles, which evolved into our modern birthday cake. Later, Christian shrines
were erected at crossroads to make them more respectable and possibly to ward
off spooks such as Hecate…
Over many years I’ve developed a great respect for one of
the most controversial horror films ever—The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 version). Frequently shown on the
sci-fi channel, it has become one of, if not my favorite, horror films.
Often criticized for being very gory, we actually see little bloodshed. I’m not
saying that it’s not a repellent film with much cruelty, but most is off-camera.
Director T. Hooper was actually going for a PG rating—fat chance! Loosely
based on the murders of Ed Gein, Hooper got inspired while Christmas shopping
in a crowded mall and wondered how much damage a chainsaw might do to shoppers.
At least this is what I once heard.
The plot starts out with a bunch of young people who travel
through Texas to check on their family graveyard after a series of cemetery
vandalisms. At one point they pick up a Manson-like hitchhiker who takes photos
of the young people and insists that he be paid for them. When refused he goes
on a slashing spree and gets thrown out of the young folks’ van. It pretty much
gets worst from there. I have gotten to admire it more and more due to the
stark realism of this low budget wonder. The dirty, sordid family of
sickos recalls the Manson family’s murders. It is an unflinching look at
how monstrously evil human beings can be. And the low budget production values
add to the sense of mayhem. In my opinion, avoid the sequels and remakes and
stick with this shocking original cult classic—recommended for mature audiences
only, since it’s truly horrifying. Happy Halloween, Earthlings!
Made from bones of
across the hills,
with dark enchantment.
The blood moon
Like a ghost in
Chris Friend, email@example.com, of Parkersberg, W.Va , wrote BP’s fall
2018 poem, “Demons Play Flutes” (+ BP # 84’s poems, “The Sentinel” and “Psalm
of Mithra”; the BP #81 poem set, “Angel of the Bereft, “Beauty’s Sleep,” &
“Dark Trinity”; the BP #80 poem, “The Temple of Colors”; BP #79 poems, “The
Marquis” and “My Bloody Valentine”; the BP #78 poem, “The Old Yule Goat”; BP
#77’s 4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage Halloween,” & “Xmas in the
Asylum”; BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy Communion,” “Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night
Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”; 2 poems for BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan
Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; BP #72’s 2-poem set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour
Puss”; and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”), writes and illustrates our “MARS
News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in 2000 for the fall issue,
and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two websites for him and prints his
column seasonally. Chris has a gallery at http://chris.michaelherring.net/
and was featured artist in
Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].