Friday, February 22, 2013

A Time of Hooting Owls: Fairy Tale of Hooting Ursula

Grimm's Saga No. 298: The Hooting Owl

At midnight in storm and rain the Hackelnberg Huntsman races through the Thuringia Wood and Harz Mountains. His wagon, horse and hounds make a crackling and creaking noise as he breaks through the brush of his favorite haunt: the Hackel Forest. A night owl flies ahead of him and folk call it Hooting Ursula. Wanderers who happen to meet this terrible pair fall down flat on their stomachs and let the wild huntsman pass by. Soon they hear the barking of hounds and the call: Uh-hu!

Many years ago in a remote cloister in Thuringia there lived a nun named Ursula. During her lifetime she always disturbed the choir with her shriek-like singing. For that reason they called her Hooting Ursula. But things only got worse after her death. Each night starting at eleven o’clock she stuck her head through a hole in the church tower and hooted wretchedly. Every morning at four she came uncalled and sang with the sisters. They could endure it for only a few days; on the third morning one nun said softly and full of terror to the nun singing next to her “That is most certainly Ursula!” Suddenly everyone fell silent, their hair stood on end and the nuns ran screaming from the church crying: “Hooting Ursula, Hooting Ursula!” No punishment would induce the nuns to enter the church again until a famous exorcist was called from a Capuchin monastery on the Danube. He banished Hooting Ursula in the form of an owl to the Dummburg region of the Harz Mountains. It was there that Ursula met the Huntsman Hackelnberg. She became charmed by his Hu-hu and he in turn was charmed with her Uh-u! And now they both go out together, flying through the air on the wild hunt. 

Our own Hooting Ursula is nesting in an owl box we attached to the remnants of a once stately pine tree, here are some pictures :

More about owl mythology and an owl fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm:

No comments: