The Vision of St. Hubertus", Wilhelm Räuber (1849-1926) , closely related to the tale of St. Eustace. Both are originally Pagan traditions of love and honor of sacred animals and our Pagan Gods, and respect for Nature, which were preserved by hiding the

The Sacred White Hart, the Einherjar, and Raby Castle

English Gardens are some of the most beautiful in the world, and even where the British have only a mobile home, there often will be a small but lovely garden outside it, just as in Germany, even when there is an apartment with no outdoor space, window boxes can be seen with trailing ivy, or lobelias, or other brilliantly hued leaves and blooms, bringing the brightness of Nature to an otherwise stark street corner.

Formal British gardens, such as those at stately homes, are even more wonderful. Most beautiful of all, are the surviving ancient castle gardens which have not been modernized. They are a living bit of history. I wrote about a few such gardens, and their Pagan connotations, including photos I took of them, here.

Sacred Trees and Pagan Plants Survive in Medieval English Gardens

More recently, while doing genealogical research, I came across yet another castle that I have not visited, one which also has Heathen connotations and what appear to be glorious formal gardens and fountains on the grounds, and golden- hued coaches as in Schloss Nymphenburg, in München. Raby Castle is a fortified castle, surrounded by a small moat, Yew hedges, and 200 acres of deer park…

Raby Castle on a Stormy Afternoon Photo Credit: Aaron Cowen
Raby Castle on a Stormy Afternoon Photo Credit: Aaron Cowen

Some of the deer at Raby Castle are pure white. The White Harts were once held sacred by our Odinist ancestors, and still are held so by those of us who feel the awe of Nature..

There are two twin Christian tales of the sighting of a glowing white hart, with a holy symbol between his antlers. Both clearly were modeled upon an original European Pagan story of great antiquity, or perhaps even more than one Heathen tradition.  One is the story of St. Hubert’s heavenly vision of the White Hart, and this tale is said to have been about the vision of the eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, a keen huntsman.

<em>The Vision of St. Hubertus</em>, Wilhelm Räuber (1849-1926) , closely related to the tale of St. Eustace. Both are originally Pagan traditions of love and honor of sacred animals and our Pagan Gods, and respect for Nature, which were preserved by hiding them within Christianity.
The Vision of St. Hubertus, Wilhelm Räuber (1849-1926) , closely related to the tale of St. Eustace. Both are originally Pagan traditions of love and honor of sacred animals and our Pagan Gods, and respect for Nature, which were preserved by hiding them within Christianity.

The other story is that of St.  Eustace, or Εὐστάθιος, who is said to have been a Roman general who served under Trajan, and whose name originally had been Placidus. Even the Catholic Church admits the Christian version of the tale, in which Placidus is said to have been martyred for refusing to perform a Pagan sacrifice, is completely fabricated. The St. Hubert version is very much the same, albeit later in origin. The tale of St. Eustace, originates in the 2nd century AD, while Hubert’s story dates from 656 AD, and originates in Leige, Belgium, as opposed to Rome.

The mysterious Celtic antlered Stag God, God, Cerunincos (in Gaulish) or Cerrunnos, was apparently particularly popular in northeastern Gaul, but there are traces of him throughout Europe. He has been associated with a number of European deities and heroes from Cuchulainn, a form of the God Lugh, in Ireland, to Dis Pater, a roman version, who is a form of Pluto, or in Greece, Hades. In ancient art, Cerrnunnos often can be seen wearing a torque, and in the company of animals, or carrying coins and he is associated with the Underworld, and the wealth and fertility of the Earth. His ancient iconography travels as far afield as Rome, Gaul, Thrace, Ireland, England, and Denmark. Here he is portrayed on the marvelous silver Pagan Gundestrup Cauldron dating from approximately 150 BCE to 1BCE, currently in the National Museum of Denmark. Photo Credit: Nationalmuseet, CC BY-SA 3.0.
The mysterious Celtic antlered Stag God, God, Cerunincos (in Gaulish) or Cernunnos, was apparently particularly popular in northeastern Gaul, but there are traces of him throughout Europe. He has been associated with a number of European deities and heroes from Cuchulainn, a form of the God Lugh, in Ireland, to Dis Pater, a Roman version, who is a form of Pluto, or in Greece, of Hades. In ancient art, Cernunnos often can be seen wearing a torque, and in the company of animals, or carrying coins and he is associated with the Underworld, and the wealth and fertility of the Earth. His ancient iconography travels as far afield as Rome, Gaul, Thrace, Ireland, England, and Denmark. Here he is portrayed on the marvelous silver Pagan Gundestrup Cauldron dating from approximately 150 BCE to 1 BCE, currently in the National Museum of Denmark. Photo Credit: Nationalmuseet, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Of course, the most  famous huntsman associated with a stag in the Greco-Roman tradition is the Theban Actaeon, or Ἀκταίων, who in various legends is said to have been turned into a stag by the Greek Goddess Artemis, otherwise known as Diana. His crime was said to be hubris in one tale in which he boasted of being better at hunting than Artemis herself, while in another variant, he is reported to have angered the Goddess by inadvertently witnessing her bathing. In both tales however, Actaeon’s grisly fate is the same.. He is torn asunder by his own hunting hounds after having been turned into a stag by the Goddess.

Another variant of this tradition is the legend of Herne the Hunter, said to be a spirit with antlers on his head, seen with his steed, hounds, and owl in Windsor Forest, particularly  in the vicinity of a great oak tree. There is a historical account of this ghostly figure being observed by the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Surrey. Herne, the Huntsman also is mentioned in Shakespeare’s play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, where Herne is portrayed as a protector of the forest and the Sacred Oak.  In his book, The History of the Devil – The Horned God of the West Herne, R. Lowe Thompson suggests that Herne is our Celtic, Gaulish  God, Cernunnos. Personally, I think  Cernunnos might also be considered to be the Gaulish version of the Greenman of Pagan Anglo-Saxon England, who is our Norse God, Freyr.

There is disagreement about which oak in Windsor Forest is the sacred Oak referred to in the legend of Herne.
There is disagreement about which oak in Windsor Forest is the sacred Oak referred to in the legend of Herne.

William Harrison Ainsworth, in his 1843 novel, Windsor Castle, suggests that Herne was gored by a stag, and was saved by the Devil, but only on the condition that he wear the stag’s antlers. Other folklorish traditions include the idea that those who were to see the heavenly hunter, Herne, would first hear his hunting horn, and hounds calling out.  The fact that this mysterious hunter, who is part stag, has many parallels throughout Europe, demonstrates that he is based upon a tradition of great antiquity and range.

Perhaps the most interesting and influential theory regarding the Pagan origin of Herne was suggested by Jacob Grimm himself, who believed that Herne had once been thought of as the leader of the Wild Hunt. The title Herian is one of the names of Woden, the Angles’ equivalent of the Norse Odin, who is sometimes said to be the leader of the Wild Hunt. The Einherjar, the heavenly legions of warriors, like the Valkyries, are believed to be reincarnated, to be reborn, and to awaken when needed to save this realm from the powers of chaos.

In our legends, our European deities, who are shape-shifters, have been known to take the form of mystical White or glowing stags, sometimes at times when a Law of Nature is being transgressed, or as a sign that it is time for warriors to pursue a particular quest, favored by the Gods..  Here, an Odinist Stag enters Eglise Saint-Eustachine, the very cathedral named after St. Eustace, who is said to have seen our sacred white stag, and whose story must have been modeled upon an original Heathen legend. It seems likely that this very spot was once the site of one of our holy sanctuaries, and one wonders if this sacred stag is taking back our place of worship… Are the events in this video a sign that Nature soon will triumph over the Jewish cult that has been inflicted upon us so long?

Odinists value our connection with our ancestors and I am no exception. Many generations of my family were born on this land in the images below, where the wild white stags still roam. Some of my ancestors were born in this castle, Raby Castle, which was built by by John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, between approximately 1367 and 1390, but a Viking ancestor is thought to have had a manor house on the land previously.

Raby Castle, a panorama of the castle showing the towers and defenses from the north east Photo: Hugh Mortimer
Raby Castle, a panorama of the castle showing the towers and defenses from the north east
Photo: Hugh Mortimer

The name Raby is derived from Ra‘, the Danish word for a boundary, and ‘Bi‘, which means settlement or dwelling. The Raby name goes back to the early 11th Century, at least as far as my 26th great grandfather, Uchtred FitzMaldred, Lord of Raby, who was born in 1075. The line continues back to the Kings of Northumbria, and of Scotland, the Pictish royal family, the royal line of Dál Riata, and the Kings of ancient Ireland, who are descended, according to legend, from the Tuatha Dé Danann, or Tuath Déor, the Tribe of Gods, a supernatural race with unearthly powers said to be descended from the Goddess Danu. The Christians later portrayed them as fallen angels just as they portrayed our other Gods as devils.

May our sacred gardens soon be filled to overflowing with our true Odinist spirit..

Raby Castle Gardens.. Photo Credit: David Bramhall
Raby Castle Gardens.. Photo Credit: David Bramhall

© Seana Fenner 2018