In 2014, Burning Man and the Gathering had begun attracting such huge crowds that states were threatening to shut them down. With the massive influx into the nomad community, these annual celebrations were far to important to let die, but the organizers of the events were getting old, and the meaning of the events themselves were being lost in the ever growing Corporate sponsors and materialistic attitudes that eventually destroy all celebrations of freedom.
More than just a celebration, The Wild Hunt was centered around a mish mash of old Greek, Roman, Norse and Celtic religions and practices, most importantly the practice of the Wild Hunt, a week long celebration culminating in a simulated hunt of virgins which leads to a giant orgy of anyone attending. The Wild Hunt is organized by a Snake affiliated family known simply as Herne’s Hunters. The actual membership of Herne’s Hunters is meager, with a little over 150 members nationwide, and about 200 more in Europe. Herne’s Hunters are one of the harsher tribes to belong to. Their rules are simple, you keep only what you can take and defend, wisdom is to be respected, and strength is to be honored. Not to say that they are heartless, but they have no room for weakness in their membership, and all advanced is based on what you can take and what you have only lasts so long as you can keep it. The hunt is also very in tune with nature and places importance on living simply and close to the earth.
Replacing Burning Man, the Wild Hunt has become a national Nomad holiday and attracts huge crowds. Most come just for the party, and have little interest in adopting the religious aspects personally, which is how Herne’s Hunters like it. Statics are invited as well, but caution is given, leave your morals and hang-ups at home, if you show up and start railing against the “heathens” don’t be surprised if you wake up crucified to a tree.
It’s not all just a drunken party. Art, stories, the trading of goods, much like an impromptu Nomad Market. There is live music everywhere, and over the course of a week at the center stage, plays and dance performances are put on. The Hunt itself lasts only 7 days, however people begin setting up and arriving for the festivities up to two weeks early.
The Wild Hunt is held on the week culminating in the Autumnal Equinox (Sept. 22-23) every year.
The official events include the performances on stage, and the last five nights each revolve around a central contest. The first night is a fire walk, where artistic merit is judged as men and women dance across the flames. The second night is a pole sitting contest, where participants perch atop high poles to prove their balance and patience. The next night is the most taxing, a triathlon consisting of a 5km run, a 1 km swim, and a 10km mountain bike ride. On the fourth night is the most brutal event. A giant free-for-all brawl, this years brawl had over 100 participants. The winner and top five finishers of any one of these events is assured a place in the Wild Hunt itself. Anyone who participates in all the events and isn’t either too injured or doesn’t die from exhaustion, is given special honor, and a five minute head start on the Hunt itself. To date, no one has ever won every event, however Swift of the Broken Saints, did manage to place second in every event this year.
On the fifth and final night of the official festivities, a huge feast is given. Afterwards 100 of the prettiest women among the gathered crowds volunteer to act as “virgins”. They are stripped naked and painted red in a variety of tribal designs, then released into the woods. They are given one hour to hide, though most remain quite visible and easy to find. After that hour, the winners of the previous events are similarly stripped naked and painted blue, and then released to hunt down the “virgins”. The return of the virgins to the camp signals the beginning of an orgy that lasts until dawn. The rules of the orgy itself are simple, anyone wishing to partake strips naked and paints themselves (no one else can paint you unless you ask in the open, in front of witnesses) white. If you do wish to partake, you are declaring yourself free for anyone who wishes to couple with you, though of course you can refuse anyone you wish. Participating in the hunt is seen as truly becoming one with the wild and any activities undertaken during are NOT considered a betrayal of marriage vows or moral law within the community (though you should definitely make sure your spouse feels the same way). Condoms are provided copiously, and are always within reach. Anything goes; nothing is considered taboo during this time, so long as consent is given.
When dawn breaks, one more communal feast is had, as well as ceremonies of rebirth and cleansing. And everyone goes on their way.
This year’s event was held in Alabama, at the Horseshoe Bend national park. Next years will be held at Crater Lake in Oregon. Plan now; trust me you haven’t lived until you have seen 125, lust driven, inebriated, painted, nomads running naked through the woods…
Written by Deric "D" Bernier, Images from Burning Man, No Escape, Doomsday, GI Joe