Around the Cauldron · For the Gods · The Forest Path · The Wild Hunt

Finding yourself after death

These last two-three years have brought immense changes for me. I came out as non-binary, left my husband, changed my name, found my soul mate, shed a bunch of weight after surgery that I have likened to Herne’s accident with the stag.

I have shed so much of my old self, through the shedding of those layers I have discovered more about myself than I was ready for.

Since Yule, since partaking on the Wild Hunt with Herne for the first time, I realise I am still feeling the effects of the Hunt. But rather than being the Hunter, I have been the prey.

The darker aspects of death and rebirth is the rebirth. It is not as the new agey belief of “rising like the phoenix” after a death. There is not glory, there is not a sensation of anew. Sometimes, maybe at first. But then you find the dust amongst your feathers. In my case, it has been as though I am still washing my hands and the blood will not come off.

A little grim, sure.

My experience with death was watching my old self die in my arms as I laid in the grave. It was watching the blood release from her wrists as I sung to her and she turned to dust around me. It was knowing that it was okay to let her go.

I’m using her/she terms because it was she. It was her. It was my old self who tried so hard to be female. It was she who wanted to die, and I gave her my blessings.

The experience of rebirth after death is better likened to Buffy after she emerged from the grave. It is the feeling of being unsure, of reassessing everything around you, of looking at things with new eyes as anxiety courses through your body because everything is new. It may be the same mundane aspects of life such as showering, eating, going to work; but it is those mundane aspects without that old self hanging onto your coat tails wanting attention but also wanting to be ignored. That desire for you to know that it is there, and nothing more.

Maybe I am still in mourning with the added realisation of having released/blocked so many memories that are tied to her. Memories that do not reflect who I am now, that serve no purpose for me in this form, at this moment in time.

Reborn without memories of my past. It is not as exciting and enticing as you may believe. It is terrifying. Looking through old photographs posted on Instagram, for example, is like looking at someone else’s account. I feel wrong for using them as your own before-and-after with weight loss, because it feels I am stealing them from a stranger.

I wonder if this is what Herne experienced after his death on the oak, coming back in Spirit with the antlers firmly on his crown. That experience of being Him but not Him. The anxiety and rage, the forgotten memories, the selective memories. The anger the fuelled that Wild Hunt for centuries.

The frustration of all that was lost, of the new regained, knowing the emotional connections as being ‘wrong’ but being unable to express why. The desire to find others like Him to ride with Him, to exact his revenge on those who failed Him.

I have no revenge to administer, but the pennies are dropping so ferociously I need an umbrella.

Blessed are the Children of the Horned One.

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