By I.M. Knosp
There was a once a soldier who conducted himself with such honor and bravery that he was always the foremost when bullets rained. As long as the war lasted he lived well and knew merriment but eventually, a peace was made. the soldier was dismissed from service and his captain said he might go where he liked. His parents were dead, so he went to his elder brothers and begged for them to allow him into their home. The brothers however saw no use for him he could not farm nor craft and a life of war had made him fierce and dangerous in their eyes. “What use do we have for you?” The brothers would ask “go and make your own way in the world”. He had nothing but his gun, which he strapped over his shoulder and went forth to the world and then through the forest. Where he came upon a circle of trees surrounding a wide heath.
He sat down in sorrow “I have no money nor have I learnt a trade but for fighting, as we are at peace they now see no need for me. It seems I am destined to starve” Just then he heard a rustling and a growl and as he looked around, before him appeared a horned man in a green coat. “I see you are in need and I am able to help”. The soldier was no fool he knew before him stood The Eternal Hunter, master of the forests and the hunt. “Gold and riches thou shalt receive as much as thou wilt ever need, but first I must know that you are fearless. That I not bestow my treasures in vain upon a coward but a worthy warrior”.
“For a warrior cannot allow himself to be consumed with fear”. The Eternal Hunter gestured behind the soldier “Look behind thee” The soldier turned to look around him and saw a large bear, which came growling towards him. The soldier was not afraid in the slightest “I will tickle thy nose and soon you shall learn to loath thy love of growling” The soldier sprung forth his gun seemed to fall behind the years into a blade and he and the bear fought, a short fight and decisive blow to the muzzle and the bear fell to the ground never to stir again. “I see that you have passed the first part of the trial young soldier” The Eternal Hunter stood beside the young soldier. “Are you capable of fulfilling the remaining trials?” The Eternal hunter asked. “If I am able and do not falter, if it does not corrupt me nor deny me a seat at my ancestors table” said the soldier. “Thou wilt decide that for thyself” said the hunter. “For seven years you shall not shave nor cut one hair from your body, you shall not comb your hair nor wash any part of your body, and your nails you shall not trim” The Hunter then took his green coat off and exchanged it for the soldiers. “and this shall be your coat if ever you are in need of money look to the pockets and you shall find all that you need or desire”. The Hunter than reached to the bear and took its skin placing it over the soldier. “You shall wear this bearskin as a mark of your trial, you shall always carry it it will be thine cloak and thy bed and no other bed shalt thou sleepest or lieth within, and from henceforth you shall be known as bearskin”.
“If you survive those seven years you shall have passed and will live in wealth and renown but die and you will fail and fade away” Bearskin agreed to his terms and the Eternal Hunter vanished before his eyes.
With the coat and bearskin the soldier went forth into the world enjoying himself. During the first year his appearance passed for human, but during the second he began to look like a monster, His hair had grown to cover nearly all of his face and body, his hair and beard had matted and his nails had grown into claws, the parts of him not covered with hair were so caked in dirt that if someone has sown cress on him it would have come up. Those who saw him ran away calling him bear or monster, but everywhere he went he shared his riches to the poor and needy of his people.
Hoping that he may survive the seven years and lead a better life amongst his people. In the fourth year he came upon an inn where the landlord refused to allow him to stay. Bearskin reached into his pockets and pulled out a handful of ducats and the landlord agreed to allow him to stay in the outhouse. Bearskin however was obliged to promise to not let himself be seen, lest he give the inn a bad name.
As bearskin sat alone in the evening and wishing from the bottom of his heart that the seven years were over he heard a loud lamenting and sobbing from a nearby room. Bearskin had compassion in his heart and went to open the door to the room, and saw an old man bitterly weeping and wring his hands. Bearskin went nearer but the man in fear tried to escape until Bearskin spoke and the man calmed down realizing Bearskin was human. The man allowed Bearskin to prevail him and eventually told him what was the cause of such grief. He had lost everything, his property had dwindled away and he and his daughters would likely starve he did not even have the money to pay the innkeeper and would likely be tossed into prison. “If that is the cause of your trouble I have plenty of money” Bearskin had the innkeeper come thither, and paid him in gold and put a purse of gold into the poor mans pocket, when the man saw himself set free from his troubles he did not know how he could possibly be grateful enough to the man before him.
“Come with me” the man said to Bearskin “My daughters are all miracles of beauty, choose one of them for thyself as a wife. When they hear what thou hast done for me, they will not refuse thee. Thou dost indeed look like a beast, but she will soon put thee to rights as a man again” This pleased Bearskin and he went with the man to his home. When the eldest daughter saw him she was so terrified that she ran away screaming. The second stood still and looked him from head to toe, but then said with scorn “How can I accept a husband who no longer has human form? The shaven bear who once was here and passed himself off as a man was far more pleasing, it wore fine Hussar clothes and white gloves. If he were but ugly I may have grown used to him”. The youngest however spoke thusly “Dear father, he must be a good man to have given aid in your time of troubles, so if you have promised your daughters hand for doing so, your oath must be kept.”
Twas a pity that Bearskin’s face was too coated in hair and dirt, for if not they might have seen how much joy he felt when he heard these words. He took a ring and broke it in half, he gave her one half and he kept the other. His piece held her name and hers held his. He begged her to keep her piece safe and take care, then he took his leave and said “I must continue to wander for three more years, if I do not return then, thou art free, for I shall have died, may my strength not fail me in this trial”.
The sorrowful betrothed bride dressed herself in mourning clothes, and when she thought of the bear of a bridegrrom she was promised too, her eyes filled with tears. Nothing but contempt and mockery came from her elder sisters. “Take care” would say the eldest “If thou givest him thy hand he may sink his claws into it” “Beware!” said the second “Bears love sweet things and if you find his fancy he may will gobble you up”. “Thou must always does as he fancies” the eldest would began again “or else he will growl and roar” the second one would giggle and say “At least the wedding will be merry for bears are fine dancers” The bride remained silent and did not let their mocking vex her. Bearskin however traveled around the lands from one place to another, doing good for his people where he was able, giving gold generously to the poor to ease their sorrows.
At length as the last day dawned of his seven year trial, he went once more to the circle of the trees and seated himself in the heath. Soon the winds whistled and before him appeared the Eternal Hunter who still held Bearskin’s coat he threw it to him, an impressed yet perturbed smirk across his face. “We have not reached that far yet” said Bearskin “thou must first wash and groom me”
The Eternal Hunter obliged and waters washed the dirt from Bearskin’s skin and his hair was trimmed and combed The Hunter even made sure his nails were cut back. Bearskin now stood before the Eternal Hunter a strong built brave warrior his face had a well kept and respectable beard and he was far handsomer than he had been before the trial. The Eternal Hunter vanished once more, Bearskin was overjoyed, his heavy heart was far lighter he went into town and the people found him to seem a man of great renown and honor he purchased the finest velvet coat he could find and seated himself in a carriage drawn by four white horses, and drove to his bride’s house. No one recognized him and the man he had helped took him for a distinguished general, and led him into a room where his daughters sat. He was forced to sit in between the two eldest daughters. They helped Bearskin to wine and gave him the best pieces of meat, and thought that in all the world never had they seen a more handsome man. His bride however sat in a black dress never raising her eyes, nor did she speak a word.
At some point Bearskin turned the conversation to marrying one of his daughters the eldest daughters jumped up and ran to their bedrooms and put on splendid dresses for they each assumed they were the chosen bride. Bearskin as soon as he was alone with his bride, brought out his half of the ring and placed it in a wine glass, offered it to her, the bride took the wine, and when she had half finished it she found his half of the ring at the bottom of the glass, her heart began to beat. She took the second half from a ribbon around her neck. They joined the halves and when she saw they fit together perfectly Bearskin spoke “I am thy bridegroom, whom thou saw in my bearskin, but through trials and tribulations I have regained human form and once more become clean” He went up to her embracing her and tenderly kissing her.
In the meantime the two sisters had returned and upon finding that the youngest was the chosen bride and that the handsome man was Bearskin they ran out through the woods full of anger and rage. They heard the baying of the hunter’s hounds and the hunt began to descend they ran until one fell though the trees and the other threw herself into a well to escape the Eternal Hunter’s hunt. For the hunt had found its quarry.
Grimm Remything Project
This was the second finished myth of a larger project concerning the mythology hidden in the folklore. As Christianity spread across the land many of our gods and myths were hidden in our folk tales. Behind saints, faeries, spirits, devils, and so on. The goal of this project is to show what could be hidden in the fairy tales we all know and love. While we do our best to see what could be hidden, we do not claim these to be the original versions – far from it. Our goal is to show what lies just beneath the page in the fairy tales we all know and love.
- The God The Eternal Hunter also known as Ewicher Yeeger is one of many possible gods who could fit this role. However, he fit the best combining the symbolism with the role. Other deities could also fulfill the role.
2. It’s rather blatant but this is a clear folk tale featuring a Berserker trial
3. For the Artist go here: https://www.instagram.com/bloodcoven_art/
4. If you wish to buy the Magazine that features this Remything until we can get a full larger book of the project done you can go here: https://www.whitepeoplepress.com/product/europe-diaspora-vol-1-no-2/