Monday, November 28, 2016

Urglaawe Yuul Cards

The Troth's Merchandising Team has created Yuul cards with Deitsch verbiage geared toward the Urglaawe community! Check out their Zazzle store for those cards and more products! 

Over time, we will increase the options of this type of useful item for the Urglaawe community. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Regarding Standing Rock...

Today, many Heathens are posting this video to express our solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters, and I would like to share my personal sentiments as well.

The opening of the video makes a reference to the forces of nature, personified in the giant troll women, turning against King Frothi for his unjust leadership, thereby bringing down his kingdom.

We Urglaawer just completed the observance of Allelieweziel. Part of our observance is the recognition that the settlers of Allemaengel had violated a social contract that exists among all living things, thereby causing the plants and animals to abandon them. Had the settlers not recognized their error and been instructed by Hexes and Brauchers to make amends, the colony would have perished.

Standing Rock presents the potential for the same circumstance. I recognize that the matter has some complicating angles. For example, I drive vehicles for my private use as well as for part of my paid job. I recognize that fuel is necessary for our society to continue. However, does the pipeline need to be built through the sacred lands of the Dakota and Lakota? Does their water supply really need to be put in jeopardy?

The history of the relationship between the tribes and the US government is well known: Broken promises, broken treaties, broken arrows, and wounded knees. The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is itself the result of a broken treaty that unilaterally altered the Great Sioux Reservation. A feature of this action was to break up the tribal culture and relationship that existed among the tribes and bands in the region. Something about that undermining of a folk culture sounds familiar to this Deitsch man.

The broken promises and broken treaties are of critical importance to me as a Heathen. The keeping of oaths is central to our religion and our social integrity. The US breaking treaties affects our Wurt as a nation, and our government's actions toward the tribes diminish our honor and imperil our future.

Additionally, the pipeline construction endangers burial grounds of the tribes' ancestors. As a Heathen who owns a cemetery, I recognize the importance to my own soul of honoring my ancestors.

To allow for the disruption or destruction of the tribes' sacred graveyards is beyond reprehensible and places a stain on us that will last from generation to generation. How would the average American feel if his or her ancestors graveyards were overturned for someone else's profit? It is appalling that we are even having to talk about this in the current era. Have we learned nothing since the 19th Century?

Apparently we have not. We are seeing the violation of Standing Rock sovereignty and Dakota/Lakota dignity in order to feed the corporate machine. We are seeing a disrespect for the land, for the land spirits, and for those who have gone before. We are witnessing the violation of promises and treaties. This is unacceptable.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Yuletide Sock Drive

Socks are one of the most requested items at homeless shelters, but they are also one of the least-donated items.

From December 17, 2016 (Krampuslauf Philadelphia: Parade of Spirits) through January 1, 2016, Distelfink Sippschaft will be collecting new, unworn socks for folks in need. We need all sizes, from baby to adult male. Practical socks, fun socks, fuzzy socks, holiday socks, argyle socks are all needed!

Stock up stacks of socks and stockings and help to bring warmth to the feet of those in need this Yuletide!

Contact Robert L. Schreiwer (schreiwer@urglaawe.org) for collection sites. The first location will be at Parade of Spirits/Krampuslauf in Liberty Lands Park.

Donations will be directed to homeless shelters in the Delaware Valley.

Delaware Valley Pagan Network Clergy Submission Form

Let's build a list of Clergy folk in the Delaware Valley Pagan Network. 

Please note that the information submitted will be made public, so please do not share anything that you do not wish to have available publicly.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ewicher Yeeger: Why Honor Death?

Tonight starts the final day of the Urglaawe observance of Allelieweziel. Now we honor Holler, who is also known as Ewicher Yeeger. His association with death is reflected in the translation of His byname into English: the Eternal Hunter. Indeed, He is seen by many as Death personified, and imagery and versions of folk tales over the centuries have presented Him as a bringer of disruption, disease, destruction, and, well, death. So, this begs the question: Why honor Him?

There are many possible answers to this question. Ironically, the most significant tale about Holler shows a merciful side to Him that is not typically associated with death. While death appeared imminent to the settlers of Lynn Township, the fact that they recognized the error of their ways and gave up offerings caused Holler to save the colony. Driving game over the Blobarrick ridge provided the settlers with food to survive through the winter months. 

While this story is one version of the best known tale of Ewicher Yeeger, there are bits of knowledge and remnants of other tales that reflect a complex character to this god. One of the more curious remnants reflects the push and pull among the various forces in existence as viewed within our physical world. After Holle’s departure and the burning of the Butzemenner, King Frost’s armies are on the move into our realm. The Frost Giants seize the spirits of the plants and animals (and humans, for that matter?) that they kill, thereby removing them from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In this tale remnant, Holler brings death and/or dormancy to the weaker plants and animals. Those who die are released to the Wild Hunt, which ensures their continuity in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The Frost Giants pass by the dormant spirits, who sleep safely until Spring under the care of an entity named Schlumm. 

In this case, we see Holler playing a role in tandem with Holle. He aids in the ongoing cycle of life even while bringing death. This reinforces the idea that death is a part of life and also of rebirth.

Another tidbit is a little more confusing because it conflates Ewicher Yeeger with aspects of Krampus. In this instance, Ewicher Yeeger is a punisher and a wild, primal beast. This tidbit is an outlier from most understandings of Ewicher Yeeger, but it is not the only one. Other versions reflect lore related to the Wild Hunt found in other Germanic lands. Some say Ewicher Yeeger is actually a cursed nobleman (much like Count Hackelberg in Germany) who is doomed to hunt as payback for his misdeeds in life. 

These stories are worth mentioning, though, because they reflect the convolution of tales over many centuries and across many lands, including the Deitsch lands in Pennsylvania. However, the most intact story from the Deitsch cultural context places Ewicher Yeeger as an entity (or in the Urglaawe context, a god) strongly associated with death yet not to be pigeonholed.

The understanding conveyed to me about Ewicher Yeeger throughout my lifetime has been one of an entity who is much larger than our understanding. He has His own agenda and purposes for actions that we cannot always fathom. In Braucherei, He is appealed to for brute strength, terminations, and transformations. 

The transformation aspect plays a major role in our understanding of death. Death is scary. Death is unwanted. Yet Death comes to all of us at some point. One theme of Allelieweziel is that we live in a society that, on the one hand, likes to pretend that death does not exist. Yet, on the other hand, we are obsessed with it. We depict is so cavalierly in movies and on television, yet we don’t want to plan for the end of the lives of our loved ones or of ourselves. 

Most Urglaawer believe in some form of rebirth. The most common belief is that at least one part of the soul is reborn into a new, unique construct, thus giving us opportunities to grow and to expand our consciousness from lifetime to lifetime. We hope that, at the end of this cosmic cycle, we will be where the deities were at the beginning of it. Our corporeal forms have limits to our lifetimes, but each experience in this physical realm affords us the opportunity to increase the human life wave. 

Thus, death is not to be feared per se; instead, it is part of the continuity of life and the evolution of existence. While we are to embrace our lives and to make the most of them, the eventuality of death is something with which we all must reconcile ourselves. 

Therefore, we take a moment at this time of Ewicher Yeeger to understand our mortality, to consider how to make the most of the current life we have, and to ponder the prospects for a better future for humanity. We honor the god who helps us to prepare for and to confront the reality of death even while celebrating the life we have. 

Thus, at this time of the observance of Ewicher Yeeger, let us hail Holler.

Hail!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Article in The Morning Call

From the Morning Call (Lehigh Valley, PA), Friday, October 28, 2016:


While Urglaawe focuses on Hexenkopf more in the Wonnezeit (end of April, early May), the myths around the site year-round are certainly important!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Washing of the Distelfink Statue

The Distelfink statue (spelled on the plaque using the Dutchified English spelling of "Distlefink") is a popular target of visitors' cameras at the Berks County Heritage Center along the Tulpehocken Creek. It is also the site of the founding of Distelfink Sippschaft, so it is sort of our mascot. 



Over the years, the paint on the statue has become worn. We reached out to the Heritage Center a few years ago, but it is in this year that solid efforts have begun to restore the beauty to this representation of the symbol of the very soul of the Deitsch folk.



I'd heard a rumor (that turned out to be true) that hex sign craftsman, Eric Claypoole, and Deitsch artist, Rachel Yoder would be repainting the statue. Eric confirmed that there was a plan to do this, and provided me with the name of his contact at the Center, Cathy Wegener.



Cathy and I spoke at length about the statue. She and I share the same zeal for it, and she asked whether some of us would be willing to help the process by washing the old dirt off of the statue to prepare it for repainting. 



This was a great honor, and I accepted the offer eagerly. Many Urglaawer, both in Pennsylvania and in the Diaspora, offered to help in one way or another.

On the day of the washing (Sunday, October 2), the weather was dreary and dismal, which, along with the need to go into work, prevented several of our folks from making the trip to the park. Among the group were Jeni Jumper and her awesome daughters, Bea and Celia. 



However, a few of us did get there, and we had a great time washing the statue (of course, I soaked myself during the rinsing phase). We also had opportunities to talk to patrons of the concurrent Berks County Heritage Festival, which also, unfortunately, had a lower attendance rate than usual due to the weather.



The rain, though, held out for us until we were done with the washing and the placement of offerings. Bea and I planted twelve chrysanthemum plants around the Distelfink. The plants were funded, in large part, by donations from Urglaawer in the Diaspora. These flowers were wonderful gifts.



Celia and Bea chose some gourds, squash, and pumpkins to go onto the statue as offerings, and Bea placed a sprig of chrysanthemum on the Distelfink's beak so it could "build a nest." 



The Distelfink is now ready for repainting, and we had a wonderful experience as a group.



Hail the Distelfink!