The Wilde Jagd rides on

Queen Helvig

While the ghostly Wilde Jagd, or Wild Hunt, is common across Europe, there are local wild hunts as well, such as the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag who died in 1375.  This formed the basis for composer Arnold Schoenberg’s canticle “Gurre-Lieder” of 1910. This one is perhaps not as much fun as the others, but has the advantage of having been recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the 2002 Proms, and comes complete with English subtitles.

In the first two sections, boy meets girl (Valdemar meets Tove, but it was probably really a different Valdemar), and boy loses girl (Tove dies in the bath).  One of the Valdemars’ wives, Helvig of Schleswig, is in there somewhere. Helvig has a Wikipedia article, Tove does not.

King Valdemar

The first two sections of the cantata were composed in 1900 in a Wagner-inspired late Romantic style.  In the third and last section, composed ten years later in a supposedly more pared-down Romantic style, a distraught Valdemar calls forth his deceased retainers out of their graves to ride across the sky, until the break of dawn in the last and perhaps overly dramatic finale, Seht die Sonne!  (Look, the sun).

Death by bathing

In Danish balladry, both Tove and Helvig are chewed up and spit out by The Patriarchy.  Helvig was the daughter of  Eric II, Duke of Schleswig, and one of the claimants to the Danish throne, who did quite well by giving up his claims to the throne several times in exchange for property.  Helvig married Valdemar IV in 1340, only to find Tove was already the royal favorite. Helvig brought dowry to the marriage which helped Valdemar with his politics, but she had her own castle and lived there with her court, or perhaps she was only imprisoned there — her daughter Queen Margaret I of Denmark was born at the prison of Søborg Castle.

Bain public de Russie
Russian bathhouse 1768

After bearing six children, including Queen Margaret I of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Helvig retired to Esrum Abbey, but not before being blamed for killing Tove by overheating the bathhouse.  Now this sounds kind of weird to me.  Aren’t saunas supposed to be hot, and if it was too hot, wouldn’t you just go out and roll around in the snow?  But I have to admit I’m not really up on the medieval Danish bathhouse thing.

The final hex on Valdemar, compelling him to the wild hunt, may have been placed on him by the head of Esrum Abbey, which eventually benefited from Helvig’s royal endowments.  In those days, it didn’t pay to get on the wrong side of the clergy.

If you just want the last five minutes, Seht die Sonne is here, with subtitles:

Otherwise, the BBC production is here; you can never go wrong with the Beeb.  Scroll down for a list of songs. The orchestral prelude (Section 3, #8) starts around 1:41:00.


Part one

  1. Orchestral Prelude
  2. Nun dämpft die Dämm’rung (tenor = Waldemar)
  3. O, wenn des Mondes Strahlen (soprano = Tove)
  4. Ross! Mein Ross! (Waldemar)
  5. Sterne jubeln (Tove)
  6. So tanzen die Engel vor Gottes Thron nicht (Waldemar)
  7. Nun sag ich dir zum ersten Mal (Tove)
  8. Es ist Mitternachtszeit (Waldemar)
  9. Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick (Tove)
  10. Du wunderliche Tove! (Waldemar)
  11. Orchestral Interlude
  12. Tauben von Gurre! (mezzo-soprano = Wood Dove)

Part two

Herrgott, weißt du, was du tatest (Waldemar)

Part three

  1. Erwacht, König Waldemars Mannen wert! (Waldemar)
  2. Deckel des Sarges klappert (bass-baritone = Peasant, men’s chorus)
  3. Gegrüsst, o König (men’s chorus = Waldemar’s men)
  4. Mit Toves Stimme flüstert der Wald (Waldemar)
  5. Ein seltsamer Vogel ist so’n Aal (Klaus the Jester)
  6. Du strenger Richter droben (Waldemar)
  7. Der Hahn erhebt den Kopf zur Kraht (men’s chorus)

Des Sommerwindes wilde Jagd / The Summer Wind’s Wild Hunt

  1. Orchestral Prelude
  2. Herr Gänsefuss, Frau Gänsekraut (speaker)
  3. Seht die Sonne! (mixed chorus)

Waldemar_IV_Otherday_of_Denmark_c_1375 color Haelwig_of_Denmark_c_1375 color


Riding out the storm

1 wildhunt 5Until the end of Epiphany-tide, around about Jan. 17, the ghost riders of the Wild Hunt are still likely to be about.

The classic Western song about them, Ghost Riders in the Sky, has gone through numerous incarnations, in various languages, often as an instrumental.

Here is an incredible recording by Korean jazz artist Youn Sun Nah (H/T Rosashills):

Historical versions

The first commercial recording,  by Burl Ives, of Christmas Special fame, in 1949 here.  There is a compendium here with several dozen artists, from crooners to folk singers — you can use the playlist to select a particular artist.  Elvis attempts it and laughs his way through after missing the high note.

Here is the very first ever recording, done in 1949 at 78 rpm, by the songwriter, Stan Jones and his Death Valley Rangers. It has been preserved at the Internet Archives.  Can you imagine what Wikipedia’s deletionists would do to it if they could get their hands on it?

Here is another one from the archives, a scratchy and not very humorous drunk parody from 1953-ish by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, but at 2:10 it breaks into a wonderful ragtime instrumental of the tune.

Italian opera tenor Mario del Monaco, with a score for tuba:


The tune went mariachi as “Jinetes en el Cielo”: here is a supposedly rock instrumental from the 60s by “Los beatnicks”, complete with horse sound effects, but it comes off more as “Rawhide”.

Here it is from “Los Babys”, a Mexican group from 1958 that survived through the rock era, this is worth watching for the showmanship alone:

The Doors’ song “Riders on the Storm” came out of a jam session where the band was messing around with “Ghost Riders In the Sky.” Jim Morrison’s overdubbed whispered vocals were the last thing he did as an artist.

Now for the coloring:




Ghost riders

Until Epiphany-tide is over, more or less on Jan 17, beware the Wild Hunt, Wilde Jagd, Cŵn Annwn, or just plain Ghost Riders in the sky. If you actually see them, or they come into your house, keep all the doors open so they can find their way out again.

The Johnny Cash classic:

The Liszt Trancendental Etude No.8 Wilde Jagd performed by Linzi Pan. compare this with Boris Berezovsy who sweats a lot and has a Wikipedia article: Transcendental Etude No.8, Wilde Jagd (Berezovsky). Almost didn’t click on these women because they didn’t “look like” musicians–really reinforces the idea of blind auditions, no? Linzi Pan made the Washington Post at age 11.

“Omnis terra adóret te, Deus” Introit for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

Alexa: dudes dig me

So who reads Genderdesk?


Can we see that a little closer?

Dudes. And more dudes than the average. This is not always accurate, see for example the notes at the gender guesser , or this about gender on Twitter.

But what can I say.  Dudes are really into me.   Can’t blame them really.

What kind of dudes?

Dudes who are highly educated. Dudes with a good brain.  Dudes who know words, who have all the best words.  I was going to use the term “stable genius” but this is Wikipedia after all, maybe we can just go with “genius”.

Dudes who are not expected to do anything at work.

I don’t know why anyone would read me at home, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the “home” contingent on the above graph is my European fan base and they are just in a different time zone.

So these are smart dudes, but are they dudes from Wikipediocracy?


Um, no.

The only one I recognize is Wikipedia, which is a little surprising to see Barbour or his cohorts here since their site has a vaguely porny vibe. And I don’t see Wikirev either, which started out strong, but which everyone deserted since it turned into a Breitbart SEO optimization hub outpost.  They never did recover from getting trashed by IAC. The others I think have something to do with something called Rational Wiki, but that was before my time.

UPDATE: Oh my, the website is claimed by “team IAC” the paid editing clique from India with all the bizarre conspiracy theories. I have to admit it was worth it though just to see arbitrator Drmies admit to receiving his Wikipedia payoffs in bitcoin through the Cayman Islands. Too bad The Darkened Knight deleted his comments at the end, and now his account too, he knew some stuff about them.

reddit team IAC thread


christine blk drs1Sunday is the Golden Globe awards, and this year it will be political statement about sexual harassment and the #metoo hashtag.

Last year the Golden Globes was an opportunity to urge journalists to ask women less frivolous questions (like maybe, their careers) on the red carpet with the #askhermore hashtag campaign.

This year a more somber line of questioning is expected, and you to can play along at home tomorrow (Sunday Jan 7, 2018) with the #WhyWeWearBlack hashtag, by why we wear blackphotographing yourself wearing black and posting it online.

In the meantime, alt-right street artist Sabo, told the Guardian he has been paid to put up “she knew” posters of Meryl Streep around her home in retaliation for her role in the movie The Post.

Why yes, now that you mention it, I DO have a LBD.

Twelfth night

FOOL: “Yes, by Saint Anne, and ginger shall be hot i’ the mouth too.”

We would do well to invoke St. Anne on this Twelfthtide eve. While weather pundits in the US celebrate the movement of yesterday’s unusual bomb cyclone weather pattern “out to sea”, a quick look at the map of Canada shows the eye of the storm is actually hovered over the obscure Quebec village of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts in the St. Lawrence seaway.

At this point, our Québécoise readership is unlikely to escape the storm, but the least we can do is send them an image of the beleaguered saint, standing like a beacon atop the Église de Sainte Anne des Monts. There will always be time later for shoveling.

Traditionally the Twelfth night is celebrated by going out to the apple grove and singing to the oldest apple tree for the coming harvest. There is an entire ritual, a mock king and queen, cake, and either a cider-based apple wassail or “lambswool“, an ale-based spiced apple drink.

Next crown the bowl full  With gentle lamb’s wool  Add sugar, nutmeg and ginger,  With store of ale too;  And thus ye must do  To make a wassail a swinger. – Robert Herrick, 17th c

Dates for the feast varied. While the 12 days of Christmas end on January 6, some areas still celebrate wassailing on the 17th January, Old Twelfth Night. Perhaps I should wait.

There is another reason to stay inside though. The Yule season is known for the Wild Hunt, when the spirits of the dead were allowed to return, and might pick you up and carry you all over the countryside before putting you back down again, or a stray Helhound might remain behind to keep you company.

Yule, and with it the danger of the Wild Hunt, can end with the 12th day of Christmas, but in some areas continues until the 24th night, the end of Epiphany-tide. Yes, perhaps it is better to stay inside for another 12 days after all.

Here are some drawings of the Wild Hunt to color, by Ludwig Pietsch.

Hmm, and here’s Obi Wan before he became Obi Wan: