Christmas Witches

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.

Jacob Grimm

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.

Posterli

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.

During the 15th century in France, people believed that witches, fairies, and other creatures of the occult entered homes through chimneys. 
Frau Gaude
According to old folk beliefs, Frau Gaude, followed by her pack of phantom dogs, once haunted the streets of German-speaking Europe during the Twelve Days of Christmas. If she found a house with an open door, she would send in one of her dogs, which the householders would find impossible to drive away. If they killed the dog, it would turn into a stone. Regardless of where the family left the stone, it would always return to their house at night as a whimpering dog, bringing them bad luck throughout the year. 

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.

Wilde Jogd
The furious hunt (Wilde Jogd) is a very old tradition in the area surrounding the Untersberg mountain. It seems as  the root of this tradition is coming from the celtics that were living in the area of Salzburg.
There are 12 typical figures within the hunting society. They represent the twelve days between Thomas’ day on the 21st December and the 6th of January.
The Witch of the Untersberg is called descendant of the Untersberg’s wild women. The Unterberg’s witch of the furious hunt.
The “Habergoaß” is described as a general legendary figure of the Flachgau. She is an apparition and is often depicted with a goat head and a three-legged bird body. 





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