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Flora, Fauna, Persona
the art & writing of Desirée Isphording
Mistress of the Wild Hunt 
27th-Aug-2007 08:06 pm

This piece was inspired by traditional tales of the Wilde Jagd (German for "Wild Hunt") gleaned from various sources, and specifically by a particular entry describing Frau Goden as the main huntress of this spectral procession in German folklore. "Goden" is likely a morphing of the name of the God Woden/Odin who was also said to lead the Wild Hunt in Teutonic lore, and She is likely His female counterpart. Frau Holda in some cases also takes this role.

The Wild Hunt in various forms existed across many European cultures as a group of hounds and riders spilling out from the Otherworld in a fevered search for quarry. In Scotland the Wild Hunt was expressed in the form of the Sluagh or the Host and was composed of the restless spirits of the Unforgiven Dead. In other cases, the daimons which ravenged the countryside could be composed of the souls of the unbaptised, fallen angels, and/or the fay Themselves.

The faery hounds accompanying the Hunt are often said to be either black or white with red-tipped ears, and they have also accumulated their own share of names depending upon the locality including: Gabriel Hounds, sky yelpers, Gabriel Ratchets, Yell-Hounds, Yeth-Hounds, Wish Hounds (these former three terms are said to refer to a headless variety), Devil's Dandy Dogs, Cwn Annwn, hell hounds, etc.

In my depiction of this fey mistress she carries a horn inscribed with Norse knotwork, and woven through her fingers she balances a stone-tipped arrow. In the past, the discovery of Neolithic arrowheads was often attributed to faery craftsmen. The fey were said to use such arrowheads in the infliction of the "elf-shot" or "elf-blow" which could cause immediate paralysis and indicated that the soul of the person or animal wounded had been carried off by Them, leaving only a physical shell behind.

If you are interested in learning more about the Wild Hunt in folklore, and especially in the context of Germanic culture, I would highly recommend Penance, Power, and Pursuit: On the Trail of the Wild Hunt.

Size: 4.5" x 6"
Media: Prismacolor colored pencils, acrylic, ink, and watercolor on wood panel (the actual panel has semi-circular shapes which are cut out of each corner)

copyright Desiree Isphording 2007 - all rights reserved -
28th-Aug-2007 01:12 am (UTC)
That is STUNNING. *jaw drops*

Is it for sale?
28th-Aug-2007 12:16 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...I had not thought of that. I do plan to offer prints shortly, but I may need a bit more time to sever the umbilical cord with this piece.
28th-Aug-2007 01:16 am (UTC)
Stunning. Absolutely stunning.
(Deleted comment)
28th-Aug-2007 12:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, I'm very much aware that many folkloric references to the Wild Hunt have strong post-Christian influence since some tales refer to the leader of the Wild Hunt as the Devil himself who obviously only came along after the church established itself in the region. However, the evidence does seem to indicate that its origins are pre-Christian.

I was also using the term "daimon" in its older sense (and in a morally neutral fashion) and not necessarily as a synonym for the more modern concept of "demon."
30th-Aug-2007 01:15 am (UTC) - a personal perspective on daimons
(I deleted the previous version of this comment because of the invalid markup.)

The context for which I was utilizing the word daimon is in keeping with the following definition: " 1) An inferior deity, such as a deified hero. 2) An attendant spirit; a genius." I've taken a particular liking to that term after reading The Philosopher's Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination where Patrick Harpur uses the term to reference numinous creatures who are real, but metaphorically rather than literally so. I also appareciate the fact that he describes daimons as somewhere between being material/physical and immaterial rather than being wholly ethereal as is often the connotation with the term "spirit." I'm not sure exactly how historically accurate that aspect of Harpur's use of the term is, but I strongly resonate with it nonetheless.

"daimon." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 28 Aug. 2007. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/daimon.
28th-Aug-2007 01:35 am (UTC)
Beautiful work.
28th-Aug-2007 02:05 am (UTC)

Desiree, the first word that comes to mind as in most of your work is power, you have such a gift to create with both power and grace, it gives the viewer a sense of the forbidden and yet we are compelled to take a closer look

a remarkable work, and thank you for the back story!

28th-Sep-2007 04:07 am (UTC)
I apologize for my delay in responding to your comment, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it. I'm not sure if I'm truly worthy of such a wonderful description at this point in my artistic journey, but I hope I will be.
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