Often of a dark night the airy hounds will bark on open heaths, in thickets, at cross-roads. The countryman well knows their leader Wod, and pities the wayfarer that has not reached his home yet.
What is it about Christmas and Yule that makes us love stories, the fireplace, and where do the scary and dark ones come from?
There are some dark Christmas Witches I found in lore I thought I would share and oddly enough from researching Krampus of all things.
Witch Queen Siballa
The Sibillini Mountains that stretch between Umbria and the Marche, are a mountain range named after Mount Sibilla, particularly famous for the fact its peak is home to the cave of the same name which, according to legend, is the home or shelter of Sibilla, the Apennine Sibyl.
The Apennine Sibyl, also known as Sibilla Picena or Sibilla di Norcia, has been a character of the folklore since medieval times. She is described as a sorceress or fortune teller, the queen of an underground world that you enter through a cave named after her. Some of the tradition describes her without any negative connotations, like a fairy, an expert of medicine and astronomy, or a priestess who offers prophecies and sees the future.
When the storm howls and rages in the woods at night, people in Lucerne say: “The Tuerst (or Thirst) is on the prowl!”
In Entlebuch they know this spirit as the Posterli. He is a demon, who leads an enormous procession on the Thursday before Christmas Day, with frightful noise and loud clanging sounds.
The people of Lucerne call this ghost the Straeggele, a witch, who on the Holy Wednesday Feast Night before Christmas, haunts the landscape. She brings special trouble to maids who have not spun their daily portion of flax, exacting punishment in many different ways. That is why this evening is also call the Straeggele Night.
In Salzburg country there is a popular merrymaking called a Posterli-hunt, performed by the country-folk themselves on the Thursday before Christmas, it become an established custom. The Posterli is imagined to be a spectre in the shape of an old woman or she-goat. In the evening the young fellows of the village assemble, and with loud shouts and clashing of tins, blowing of alp-horns, ringing of cow-bells and goat-bells, and cracking of whips, tramp over hill and dale to another village to receive her, a spectre in the shape of an old woman.
Tradition never lost it’s memory of how witches and the old Holy Days were connected, but in places where the persecution had been fiercest, the celebration was twisted around and turned against the witches.
In Germany special precautions were taken against witches on Walpurgisnacht. In Britain, on Halloween. In Switzerland, Austria and Hungary, around Twelfth Night.
In some regions, Frau Gaude led the Wild Hunt, a riotous procession of ghosts and spirits who rode across the stormy night skies during Yule.