The narrative in this great video is as old as time with the central theme of the hunted and the hunter, the hunter being the horned god known variously as Cernunnos, a European name, or by his British name Herne and as Master of the Hunt known as Herne's Rade he is depicted with the antler of a stag or horns of a ram which have associations with fertility and, of course, he is accompanied by his pack of hounds. He is featured on the Celtic Gundestrup Cauldron for example. The hunt motif can also be interpreted less literally as it could be a metaphor for the rounding up of souls to bring them to the otherworld but he is more usually the god of the woodlands, animals and male fertility but there are other stories some connecting him to Windsor Forest
Katherine Briggs, a famous academic who has written widely on the world of fairy, relates that in 1915 one of the teachers at her school in Edinburgh told her that the father of this teacher, a retired colonel with apartments in Windsor Castle, used to see Herne the Hunter on moonlight nights standing under his oak. She also relates a story she was told in 1964 by a member of the English Folk Dance and Song society which concerned some youths up to mischief in Windsor Forest one of whom found a horn in the bushes and proceeded to blow it. 'The horn gave such a groan and a blast he nearly fainted and as he stood shaking there was a terrible yell among the trees and great hounds baying.' Some of the other lads made it to the safety of a church while the pursuit continued and they listened to the hounds baying and heard the twang of an arrow and the victim's scream but there was no arrow through him nor any hounds or hunter to be found.
Other motifs in the narrative are the old men and women with symbolic objects such as the fish, the bird which they hold up. Finn/ Fionn/ Fingal, for example, gained his esoteric wisdom when he burnt his finger on the salmon of knowledge by accident and then licked his finger to cool it.
The narrative ends with the hunter and his hounds meeting the hunted who is then transformed by light as essentially both are in reality one. The hounds by chance, who I have to say performed brilliantly, also brought out the duality in the contrast of the black with the silver hound.
And you thought this was just a video!
Thanks to the Helps family and, of course, Beardswood Marmion and Greyfriars Gille of Beardswood as well as 'After the Ice' themselves.
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