When they enjoy death in church … (Hejnice - October 2009)

I arrived in Hejnice a few minutes after the parade started. I saw a cart pulled by two horses, drove by four cheerful teenagers and loaded with two dead. A roebuck and a female fallow deer. I pulled into the first side street, where I could park, jumped out of the car and ran to shoot pictures. Unfortunately, I parked in the no entry part, unfortunately opposite a police station and unfortunately for 500 CZK. At that moment I did not care.

I looked at people in the procession. At the school children, most probably from the local forestry school. At children preoccupied by what was happening. At their mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. At women and men in forestry uniforms, some with dogs, others with green flags, and some with torches. At falconers in costumes and falcons on their hands. At horses saddled by other people in costumes and at goddess Diana and St. Hubert who drove on horseback at the head of the parade. They are said to be the goddess of hunting and patron saint of the huntsmen.

The wooden cart with animals sacrificed to the catholic god and his mafia, oops, I meant to say the Church (understandable mistake, right?), was decorated with flowers on the sides and the dead animals were lying on the green branches with green twigs inserted into their mouths. The roebuck and the female fallow deer were cut from neck to belly up to the tail and deprived of their guts. Our female fallow deer had a twig inserted also into the gunshot wound on her side. Her eyes were bloodshot and blood was around her eyes. As if she was crying it.

The procession stopped in front of the local authority, fondled with the local priest, and went to the Basilica of the Visiting Virgin Mary, which is not a virgin, because I have slept with her twice. (This is just between us.)

We were greeted by the priest in front of the basilica, who was obviously moved by this holy event and confirmed his emotion when he began to speak in the church. First, he has put us in the picture with his family ties, so now I know that his uncle is a forester and he is glad about it. He contemplated whether it is better to say huntsman or hunter. Perhaps he should better use huntsman, because hunter sounds so horribly. He talked about how much work must be done by huntsmen in the woods, so that the visitor then can come there and that he could be pleased by the sight and of course that his soul too can be pleased. He praised decorations around the altar, that he can see how much work it was and that it touches his heart.

The decoration, so enjoyed by the priest was, according to my judgement, poor and stupid and a bit of a mockery. On the left side of the altar was the cross with Jesus hanging in pain with a bloody wound on his side. Like the sacrificed female fallow deer, said the girl who was there with me. The cross was decorated with a skull with antlers. Stuffed animals were on both sides of the altar. A badger, a fox, a heron and a marten, which was even attached to the tree branches, so it looked like he was climbing. Flowers. Fruits and chestnuts in the bowls. On one side of the altar was the dead female fallow deer, on the other side the dead fawn. In front of the benches were falconers, men and women in costumes and forestry uniforms. Flaming torches and live huntsmen music. People in the pews listened and the priest talked, prayed and blessed.

Then there were two adepts declared huntsmen, the priest passed out wafers and the mass ended. The church was nearly empty. Only pensioners examined the offerings, some people began to clean up, musicians snuggling between stuffed animals and the shot female fallow deer, to pose for the photographer. A huntsman explained to my friend that this is a stuffed badger and this a shot fawn, and I am still taking pictures, walking around this terror and although I know that it was useless, I stroked the head of the female fallow deer and her red tears.

More about the St. Hubert tradition:

About a dead deer, a stupid tradition and its sanctification (Plumlov - October 2008)

And again photos from Hejnice:


Click on the photo and come to the photogallery.













This entry was posted on Čtvrtek, Listopad 12th, 2009 at 2.29 and is filed under reportage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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