Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ghostly Riders - The Headless Horseman

Spectral Hunters, Headless Horsemen, the Wild Hunt - ghostly riders have featured prominently  throughout the worlds mythologies.

And they've evolved! The Urban myth of the 'ghost motorbike rider' has arisen where the ghostly horsemen have faded into past.

But let us take a look at two of the earlier ghostly rider myths

Herne the Hunter
There are a few varying myths surrounding Herne the Hunter, but today I shall focus on only one. Herne was apparently one of King Richard II's (1367 - 1400AD) favourite keepers of Windsor Forest. He excelled at hunting and wood carving. Unfortunately, during a hunt that went terribly wrong, Herne was badly injured protecting the King from being mangled by a stag. A dark shadow appeared and man appeared. Some say he was called Philip Urswick, others state he was a wizard. The wizard offered to save Herne, by somehow using the head of the dead stag.
When Herne recovered, he was granted a promotion from the king, but this made the fellow keepers unhappy. How Herne actually died remains something of a mystery, but he allegedly hung himself from an old oak tree. His reasons for doing this are open for debate, but one theory suggests the stag magic used to save him, had the side effect of him losing his hunting capabilities; which made him depressed. Others say the other keepers conspired to murder him. Regardless, his miserable death had him return to the earthly realm as a spectre with massive stag antlers riding a jet black horse.

Interestingly some have since linked Herne the Hunter with the Celtic mythology of the Green man.

The Headless Horseman
 One of America's most famous paranormal figures!
The horror movies of which we are familiar are based on a ghost story, that begins in a place called Sleepy Hollow, near TarryTown, New York.
The ghost story stems from the death of a Hessian soldier (who were hired to suppress the American Revolution). During the battle for Chatterton Hill, October 28, 1776, the headless horseman was one of over 500 soldiers killed. He was apparently killed by decapitation with a canon ball. The soldier was buried in the graveyard. He apparently rises from his uneasy rest and rides about on a horse often a sword in hand. There were for some time after his burial numerous alleged 'sightings' of the spectre. Somehow through fiction, the legend surrounding the ghostly spectre became more of an antagonist ghost who would threaten travellers at night with by chasing on his steed, trying to maim them.

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