Friday, September 22, 2017

Halliches Erntfescht

(or Erntdankfescht!)

The autumn equinox and surrounding days served as the time of the original Deitsch (and German, for that matter) Thanksgiving. We Urglaawer observe the equinox and celebrate the harvest as a community as close to the equinox as possible. The Schwenkfelders observe the thanksgiving on September 24, other localities hold it on different days, also often based on the equinox.

In Heathen times, communities pitched in to help to finish harvests, to trade different crops, and to tend to kin and neighbor so that everyone had a variety of foods to store for the winter. This is the root of the Harvest Home tradition, which continues in many churches today.

The establishment of a national Thanksgiving holiday was actually met with some resistance in Deitsch communities because we already had a thanksgiving observance that was placed at the time of the completion of the harvest. The end of November seemed to be an odd time to many people. The traditional harvests were well over by then, it was typically very cold, and, prior to the rise of modern transportation and grocery, people would be more likely conserving their food stores, outside of game, to ensure a supply to carry them through if Spring came late.

The Harvest Home church traditions nowadays take place all throughout September, but they are a legacy of the thanksgiving festival. Urglaawe groups hold thanksgiving festivals as close to the equinox as possible. All of these observances focus on spreading the wealth of the harvest around, most typically in the form of canned food donations to food shelters.

Over time, the national holiday in November has meshed well with traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods and has become part of our lives. However, it is good to keep our cultural traditions alive, too.

Most of us who were born after World War II are so accustomed to supermarkets having everything we could want all throughout the year that it is difficult to fathom the reliance on root cellars, springhouses, and cooperative efforts among neighbors. Jump back a few generations, when most food was grown locally, and it becomes easier to see why there would be a formal expression of gratitude for a successful harvest. We can capture a bit of the experience of our forebears by appreciating events like the end of the harvest.

Besides, it never hurts to have another day where we are a little more deliberate in our gratitude for the food that nourishes us. So, sometime this week, you may want to incorporate an extra expression of gratitude in the religious or philosophical context that resonates with you to the plants and the animals that feed us, to the farmers who produce the food, and to the transportation and outlets that make it available to us.

Let's make Erntfescht/Erntdankfescht a thing again in our communities!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day Note

OPENING RITUAL AND HARVEY DONATIONS:

Tomorrow's opening at 10:00 will be led by the Heathen community. We will call to a few deities in thanks for the bounty received this year. We will also call to Dunner/Thor and Holle to ask for their aid to the victims of Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

To that end, we will set up a cash container at the Welcome Tent to collect donations that we will send to a worthy charity, shelter, or response team in that region.

Looking forward to tomorrow! Hail!

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day
Clark Park
S. 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Saturday, September 2, 2017
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Rain or Shine

Friday, August 18, 2017

Deitsch Eclipse Lore

There are two types of stories related to eclipses. One is sort of "pro" eclipse and the other is rather "con" eclipse. 

An eclipse is called a "Finschderniss" (grammatically feminine, so it takes the article "die"), and an eclipse specifically of the sun is called "Sunnefinschderniss." "Finschderniss" is related to "finschder," means "murky" or "dark." The "pro" story is that Sunna and Muun were lovers (some say married) but that the jealous trickster Schadde had gotten between them (this is where the versions of the stories get confusing, which is why they still have not been published), but he somehow manages to persuade the god associated with sleep, Schlumm, to cast sleep spells on each of them. While they are asleep, Schadde sets them into the sky so that he is between them. 

Sunna and Muun do a dance through the skies, trying to be together, and , when a solar eclipse happens, it means they have achieved that goal, with Muun tossing Schadde behind him. An echo of the noise-making appears in this context with some respondents saying that they tap drinking glasses at this time, which is reminiscent of what people do at weddings when they want the bride and groom to kiss. The reason this is only "sort of" pro is that the way Schadde persuades Schlumm to set them to sleep has something to do with imbalance in Mannheem, and Sunna and Muun being together too long would have catastrophic results. Someday I will get that story's versions harmonized.

The other stories are akin to the Norse and other cultural stories: an animal (usually a fox or a wolf) is chasing the sun and catching it, and banging of pots and pans is performed to scare the animal away.

The first story reminds me a bit of this song...



Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
daß sie am Himmel sich niemals trafen,
denn wenn er aufsteht, dann geht sie schlafen.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie.

Da sind wir beide besser dran, viel besser dran,
weil mich dein Mund so oft ich will am Tage küssen kann.
Hier unten ist das Leben schön für dich und mich,
dein Mund sagt mir so oft ich will: 'Mein Schatz, ich liebe dich!'

Doch Lady, Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
würden gern was dagegen tun,
dass sie so einsam dort oben wandern,
dass sie noch träumen, verliebt vom Andern.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie. Nie! Nie!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Elderberry Bumper Crop

Perhaps it is the wet weather, but the Elder (pdc: Hollerbeer; tax: Sambucus nigra) bushes are producing an abundance of plump berries this year!

It is now Aernet (also known as Aagscht), the month of the harvest, so it is appropriate to continue to collect the berries and to prepare them for their various uses.

Hail to the Elder Mother! Hail to Holle!

This is one big bunch of elderberries!


Friday, May 12, 2017

And, Here They Come...

Although it does not appear that we'll be dealing with freezing temperatures in the Deitscherei over the next three nights, we still observe the end of the Wonnezeit and keep an eye out for the first attack of the Reifries (Frost Giants).

There are at least two full variants of this story exist along with several additional tidbits and remnants turning up in other areas. The versions of the story that make a complete tale are those of the  Oley Freindschaft and the Harrity-Palmerton Freindschaft guilds of Braucherei, and their versions complement each other, with the Harrity-Palmerton version containing many details that the Oley version lacked. There are some clashing points between the versions, such as one stating that each Butzemann defends only his own property and the other referring to the Butzemann army taking the battle with the Frost Giants into the north.

This is the first, raw, harmonized version, which includes features of both principal complete versions as well as aspects of the remnants of others. The final version will be published in the near future.

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Der Reifkeenich (King Frost) heard that the Wild Hunt had returned to Mannheem (the home of humanity) and that his armies were in retreat from Hexefeld as the Wonnedanz revitalized the land. He first ordered Dreizehdax ("Thirteen-Badger") to go to Mannheem to reclaim his lost holdings. The next day, he dispatched Vatzehvedder (or Vatzehfedder, which may be a dialectic reference to "Fourteen-Porcupine"), and on the third day, he sent Fuffzehfux ("Fifteen-Fox"). Each took with him an army of Giants and allies.

Dreizehdax and his soldiers journeyed twelve nights from the Naddbledder ("Northern Leaves" of the World Tree). As they arrived in Mannheem, they brought the temperature down so much tender plants that could not withstand the cold. Dreizehdax and his soldiers feasted upon the spirits of the dying plants. Dreizehdax led his army down from the north, eventually arriving in the farmlands. 

Suddenly, he caught the gaze of a large, powerful, reddish-haired man, and he immediately recognized Him as Dunner. Dunner stood between Dreizehdax and the farmland, which Dreizehdax greedily wished to devour.

The Butzemann (spiritually activated scarecrow) on each farm prepared to fight to protect their children, though they were young and were not sure that they could defeat Dreizehdax and his powerful soldiers. As the Frost Giants stepped forward, Dunner lifted his mighty Hammer and slew one soldier after another, leaving only Dreizehdax, who fled in terror back to the north.

Dunner spoke to the Butzemenner (plural), telling them that He would teach them how to fight the Frost Giants. 

The next night, Vatzehvedder and his armies arrived in Mannheem. His army drenched the mountains in freezing rain, which stung the tenders, and the soldiers devoured the spirits of the dying plants. As the army approached the farmlands, Dunner raised His Hammer and commanded the rain to stop. He told all of the Butzemenner to come out of their shells to fight alongside Him. 

The spirit of each Butzemann stepped forth. Dunner fought the soldiers of Vatzehvedder with His hands, using His breath to warm the air and exerting His Megge (main, megin, life force energy) upon them, which caused them to melt. The Butzemenner followed suit, using the power of their Megge to surround the army so Dunner could destroy it. Vatzehvedder realized that his army was doomed, and he retreated to the north, joining Dreizehdax.

On the third night, Fuffzehfux and his army arrived in Mannheem. He and his soldiers froze the mist in the air, which dropped deadly dew onto the leaves and stems of the tender plants. The dew tortured the tender plants and harmed even many hardier plants. The Frost Giants began to eat the spirits of the damaged plants. 

Suddenly, the Butzemenner emerged from their shells and rose up from the farmlands, coming into the north and destroying the soldiers while they feasted. As the Butzemenner stepped forward the frozen dew turned to a warm mist, and the plants rejoiced.

Fuffzehfux soon found himself standing alone facing the Butzemann army, and he retreated to the north, joining Dreizehdax and Vatzehvedder. The three returned to the Naddbledder to bring the unhappy news of their defeat to King Frost.

As each Butzemann returned home to defend his own land, Dunner appeared before them to congratulate them on their victory. "Your children may now safely take root in the soil of Mannheem."

This is why the tender plants may be brought out after sunrise on May 15.


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Contributing work:

Tobin, Jesse. Der Braucherei Weg (course). Kempton, PA: Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, 2007.

Robert L. Schreiwer and Ammerili Eckhart, original research, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Article on Frith Forge / Germany Sacred Sites

Dr. Karl Seigfried's latest article on The Wild Hunt discusses the upcoming Frith Forge conference (October 5-8, 2017, in Petzow, Germany) and Germany Sacred Sites Tour (October 8-14).

Frith Forge is sponsored by The Troth and several other organizations, including Distelfink Sippschaft. The Sacred Sites Tour is a separate, but related project, being run by Haimo Grebenstein, Ewart of the Verein für Germanisches Heidentum.