Introduction and notes
The date of the 1st May 762 has been taken from Chinese records: ‘on 3rd April in Chinese lunar year 762, i.e., 1st May AD762, at night red lights appeared in north-west, the ﬂame-like light covered the sky and penetrated the north pole, then moved
to the east and covered north-east with the bright lights which illuminated as far as more than several tens of miles and long time later the lights were ceased.’
This was recorded as a major aurora being seen at very southerly latitudes. Although the Anglo Saxon Chronicle fails to record the event, there is however mention of what may be the same event but recorded out of time by some 12 years in 774: ‘This year also appeared in the heavens a red crucifix, after sunset… and wonderful serpents were seen (in the sky) in the land of the South-Saxons (Sussex) and elsewhere…. to the astonishment of all. ‘
In Norse mythology some attributed the aurora to reflections from the shields of the Valkyries (OE Wælcyrige or Haegtesse).
‘The helmet beings, came down from the sky’ has been taken from the Edda: Helgakviea Hundingsbana I - Stanza 54 ‘From the sky there came down the helmet beings….’
A thirteenth-century Middle Dutch poem known as De natuurkunde van het geheelal., connects the Hægtesse with fires in the sky.
Hægtesse = a female version of the wild hunt sometimes to be summoned in battle to scare the enemy, also a scan for Wælcyrige (Valkyries).
Tha mihtigen wif (OE) = the mighty women.
The First of May, AD 762
Walpurgis was wild, earth powers were high,
Upon the morrow, doom hung in the sky.
Witches were about, healing herbs to hunt,
Folk kept their distance, they dare not confront.
From fiery embers, doth smoke still ascend,
Fun and merriment, laughter without end.
Young maids run about, with fellers unseen,
With flowers in hair, they look like a queen.
As sun goes down, over merry May Day,
Bizarre beasts conjure, in high heavens fay.
Serpents and dragons, appear to the eye,
Dancing and leaping, like flames in the sky.
Little by little, we all turn to north,
In distant dark skies, Hægtesse rides forth.
A nervous stillness, spreads over the throng,
People fall silent, I hear no more song.
Strange flickering light, flashing northern sky,
Hægtesse ride out, is the end now nigh?
Tha mihtigen wif, on nocturnal flights,
From silent armour, forms the northern lights.
Emblazoned helmets, flashing shining shields,
Who summoned them forth, above our cornfields.
The helmet beings, come down from the sky,
Where will they appear, could it be nearby?
Copyright Andrew Rea August 2015