Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Typically, Belsnickel is viewed through the post-conversion lens of St. Nicholas, much like Santa Claus is. The translation of the name itself, "fur Nick" or "Nicholas in furs," reflects that image. However, is St. Nicholas really the character from whom either Belsnickel or Santa Claus comes?
The case against St. Nicholas is fairly simple. There is no reindeer in Anatolia; the North Pole, Elves, Yuletide, and the sleigh ride through the skies with "Mrs. Claus" (a.k.a. Holle) with all sorts of other spirits present (read: Wild Hunt), and numerous other references give the major clues to the true origin of both entities.As has been pointed out on other Heathen, including Urglaawe, sites, an argument can be made that the Heathen origins of Belsnickel/Krampus and Santa Claus reflect two aspects of the same deity (Wudan, Wodan, Wotan, Odin).
The classic features of der Belsnickel are still visible in some areas of the Deitscherei today, but, in most places, they have shaped him into a more innocuous figure than in prior generations. Typically, Belsnickel appeared anytime in mid-December (not just at the Church-appointed St. Nicholas Day, the date of which may be part of the reason that St. Nicholas was chosen as the saint to diminish the god). He would arrive, looking haggard, dirty, frightening, and dressed in pelts. Whether he had horns or not seemed to depend on locality; those that I remember did not, but plenty of other people in the region relate the presence of horns.
Belsnickel would ask arcane riddles, many of which actually had a simple answer. He actually allowed a fair amount of time for an answer. In fact, I remember him encouraging children to work together in order to solve certain riddles. However, each child was ultimately responsible to provide an answer for the riddles on his or her own. If the child answered incorrectly, or not at all, he or she had to vie for a horse chestnut against other children who did to answer correctly. There was always one less horse chestnut than there were children. As the children were trying to grab a chestnut, Belsnickel would take swats at their hands with a switch. Whichever child ended up with no horse chestnut took a whack on the butt from the switch.
The other children had proven their worthiness in "battle" by winning a horse chestnut and were prepared for Santa Claus' gifts, and while the whack on the butt was certainly terrifying for the victim, it also resulted in the complete exoneration of the child from any wrongdoing, including not being able to answer the riddle. I suspect, however, that in the distant past, that the representation of the whipping had more negative implications.
Wudan, as der Belsnickel, is the shady Seeker, who rewards wisdsom and punishes ignorance. He also presents the dark side of life and teaches us to use our intelligence and skill to deal with it. Wudan, as Santa Claus, reveals His Wish-Granter aspect. Here he projects the joys of life, the concept of generosity, and the social gains to be made through gift exchange. These aspects represent a balance and an understanding of life in a variety of contexts that can help a community face the dangers of life while also recognizing and actualizing love, joy, etc.
The intense hyper-marketing of Santa Claus and the marginalization of Belsnickel remove an opportunity for life lessons to be taught at a young age. The Consumer Culture Christmas has created a bubble around children in an attempt to shield them from the realities of life. Everything has to be "perfect," and the dark side of real life is allowed only in the context of video games, where violence is simultaneously bred and undone by restarting the game. This bubble, ultimately, does the children a disservice.
Our children see acts of violence everywhere, especially in their games. The answer in those games to solving and avoiding violent issues, however, is always more violence. Using ones wit or coming together as a community for mutual benefit is, as far as I know, generally absent from computer games. On the one hand, we have a bubble shielding children from outside violence. On the other hand, we have the violence -- and a skewed way of responding to challenges -- taking a special, invitation-only place within the home.
Our ancestors were often much wiser than we think. Fairy tales and replications of deity actions often served as lessons for the children in how to deal with real life. These are lessons that are projected by Belsnickel, or the Krampus, today.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
Her presence is still visible in present-day Augsburg, where the city symbol is the pine cone, which is also a symbol of Zisa. The Catholic Church eventually burgled Her likeness as Mary the Undoer-of-Knots (Maria Knotenlöserin), and in that context, Her presence is seen in a painting that has recently been restored in the Rathaus in Augsburg. The Church of St. Peter am Perlach stands on the grounds of Her temple at Zisenberg in Augsburg.
Information can be found (mostly in Latin) within Grimm’s “Teutonic Mythology” (I, 291-299). I believe Nigel Pennick wrote about it in one of the volumes of “Tyr,” but I am not at home to check which volume and page numbers. Also, James Chisholm includes it in “Grove and Gallows” (page 63 or 73, again, I am not at home to check the exact page number).
This is one of Urglaawe’s more important festivals....
Losset uns die Zisa heele!
Friday, August 24, 2012
This issue covers topics such as our folks' experiences at Trothmoot 2012 and our Hoietfescht and Freyfaxi event/ The plant of the quarter is Monarda Punctata/
Mach's immer besser!
Monday, May 14, 2012
The Oley Freindschaft’s lore of Fuffzehfux again is very similar to that of Dreizehdax and Vatzehvedder, with Dunner’s presence again forcing the retreat, and the Giants give up their attempt to destabilize the land, thus allowing for the planting of all crops and herbs.
The Parryville-Harrity Freindschaft’s variation differs again.
In that version, Fuffzehfux is reputed to be more cunning than his two compatriots. Rather than coming forward boldly, he attempts to sneak around across the countryside to make sporadic attacks on the land. However, Dunner had trained the Butzemenner during the Vatzehvedder attack to combat the Frost Giants. Each Butzemann now defends his turf against Fuffzehfux. Fuffzehfux is said only to be successful on lands without a Butzemann’s presence, though Dunner does remain present to oversee the Butzemenner in their actions and eventually steps in to force Fuffzehfux to retreat into the mountains in the north.
The overarching theme of this version is that Dunner has now fully prepared each Butzemann to defend his land against any baneful wight attacks. If a Butzemann can thwart a Frost Giant, then he could also thwart entities like a Hexewolf. The Frost Giants desist, and the full planting goes forward.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
The interpretation of this Frost Giant’s name is one that has posed some challenges. A literal reading of it would present the name of “Fourteen-Fathers,” but that makes little sense in the context of the oral lore. An audio transmission of the name would provide another option: “Fourteen-Feather” or, perhaps more significantly, “Fourteen-Quill.” The current-era spelling of this name would thus be “Vatzehfedder,” however.
In the case of “Fourteen-Quill,” there is a possible link between the reference to the quill and a porcupine. If this is the case, then the understanding of the Frost Giant’s name would reflect upon his disposition as “Fourteen-Porcupine.” This is, however, only a theory.
The lore of Vatzehvedder, as transmitted with the Oley Freindschaft Braucherei guild, is very similar to that of Dreizehdax. The Frost Giant attempts to bring chaos to the land but is forced by Dunner to retreat.
A variation of the lore is transmitted through the Parryville-Harrity Freindschaft. The Dreizehdax portion is the same, and, indeed, Dunner does force Vatzehvedder’s retreat. However, in this version, Dunner provides instruction to the Butzemenner (plural of Butzemann or the scarecrow that was spiritually activated at Groundhog Day) on how to combat the Frost Giant. This is seen as part of the Butzemann’s preparation for protecting the property and crops throughout the season. The Butzemenner learn from Dunner and observe Him removing the chaotic threat from the land.
The last Frost Giant will visit tomorrow night.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Dreizehdax is thwarted by Dunner and is forced to retreat.
Hail Dunner! :)
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
|The tribes' combined altar by the Sacred Oak|
|Feier im Brischtol|
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This book is a repository of the terms, concepts, symbols and mythological references used in the Heathen path of Urglaawe. The entries include the cultural values, spiritual awareness, and wisdom carried through the centuries in the oral lore of the Elder healing practice of Braucherei, which is also known as Pow Wow. Included in the entries are traditions and customs that are part of the living Deitsch, -- Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch -- folk culture. Adherents to Heathen paths, including Ásatrú, Irminenschaft, Theodism, Forn Sidr, Odinism, and other traditions, will find these entries useful as they provide another voice to the totality of the Teutonic folk experience.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Teutonic peoples used a lunar calendar, which means that Urglaawe's "days" actually begin at nightfall. Thus, Walpurgisnacht is the evening of April 30 on the modern calendar, but that reckons to the beginning of May 1 on the Urglaawe calendar. Throughout the Germanic lands (including the Deitscherei), Walpurgisnacht is known as a night of "witch's dances." Urglaawe embraces this concept in so far as it relates to Holle, the spirits of the land, and the spirits returning from the Wild Hunt.
The month of May is called "Wonnet" in Urglaawish (to utilize a rare English adjective for our faith) Deitsch. This root of this word, which has cognates in other Germanic languages, means "joy" or "bliss" and relates to the joy of seeing the return of the warmth to the land. In Urglaawe, this is also extended to the bliss bestowed by Holle among Her people when She returns to Brocken and Hexekopp (Hexenkopf) and thence to the rest of the land.
Instead of "Witches' Dances," we celebrate the "Wonnetdanz," or the Dance of Joy. This dance can present itself in the threading of a Maypole or a Queschtbaam. It can also be as simple as the joy and peace in one's heart at the thought of the coming abundance. In this celebration, we join with the spirits of the land who welcome back their kin and their goddess.
The seeds of change in your life should be planted by Walpurgisnacht. This means straightening out anything that you want to have grow in a different direction or putting new plans into place. The Dark Half (Dunkelheft) of the Year is over, and it is time to turn away from introspection and isolation and to move into the Bright Half (Breechtheft) with our friends, family, kin, and loved ones.
By Walpurgisnacht, Spring Cleaning is to be completed. On the night of April 30 into May 1, open your windows and, if possible, your doors. Place signs under the windows greeting "Walburga!" or "Holle!," thus inviting Her into your home.
Although this year the Spring has come early, there are still obstacles that remain after Holle's return. Those obstacles are the coming of the Frost Giants (Reifries) in mid-May. We'll explore the lore that relates to them as the time approaches.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
We are making Hollerbeer Haven 14 - Volume 5, Issue 1 - Spring 2012 available in .PDF format at no cost. Former active subscribers to the Three Sisters Center guild will receive printed copies of the first three issues.
We hope you find it enjoyable!
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Tonight I was with two of my kinsmen. We were looking up at the clear night sky, and we noticed that streams from jets had set almost perfect triangles that outlined the constellation of Orion. Interestingly, to the right of Orion, we noticed that the lines of the triangles had created a giant Valknut in the sky!
The left-most angle of the Valknut almost touched Delta Orionis (Mintaka), which, interestingly, is one of the star's in the constellation known to earlier Teutonic generations as "Frigg's Distaff." It was one of those instances in which I wish I had a camera capable of capturing night shots!
Also, Ewicher Yeeger has been heard the last two nights on nearby Neversink Mountain. The rumblings have been heard late at night and into the early morning. :)
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Wieland is perhaps better known as Wayland the Smith. No, I am not referring to Waylon Smithers from The Simpsons. The mythological Wieland is hardly a sycophant like the cartoon character!
|Badhild in Wieland's Smithy - Source: Wikimedia Commons|
Known from Continental German, Scandinavian, and Anglo-Saxon sources, Wieland has come to represent what images come to the minds of many of us when we think of a smith.
In German lore, he is known as the father of the hero Witige in the legends of Dietrich von Bern.
In Norse references, in which he is known as Völundr, he and his two brothers lived with three Valkyries. The Valkyries eventually left the brothers. Other versions contain references to Völundr marrying a swan maiden.
He is known to have made many powerful and magical swords and rings, and he is credited with having made Beowulf's mail shirt.
I have been pondering reasons for which I might have awakened with his name on my mind. I have some inklings. In these lean times, we are seeing large segments of society working to master old, traditional skills.
Just within Distelfink Sippschaft we have several practicing herbalists, two Brauchers, several who are adept at soap-making and candle-making, a few who engage in canning, several who can knit or crochet, and at least two who can spin thread. I am sure I am leaving some of the traditional skills off of this list.
With the passing of one of our kinsmen, who was a smith, in October, we still have two in our fellowship who are skilled at smithing. I am not one of them. Smithing is a skill about which I know completely nothing.
So today I would like to hail Wieland and to hail all the folks who have taken up the old trade and skill of smithing. Hail!
Monday, February 6, 2012
|Still small, yet powerful!|
Here is an example of how the process works!
At the Kannsege (Ceremony of the Corn) yesterday, we activated the first Butzemann of one of our kinfolk. A Butzemann may either state his own name or be given a name by his landlord. This Butzemann was given the name of Arnold.
Next year, when the material of Arnold's children form a new Butzemann, the new Butzemann will have the surname of Arnoldsen. Yes, the -sen ending is an old Deitsch tradition (appearing even in Lambert's Pennsylvania German Dictionary). While the -n or -in ending is still quite common among Deitsch speakers, the practice of referring to children with a -sen ending is seldom witnessed since the end of the Suppression Era.
So let's say that Arnold's son tells you that his name is Besereis. His full name would be:
Besereis Arnold Arnoldsen
Besereis is the first name, Arnold is the patronymic (name of the father), and Arnoldsen is the name of the clan as it relates to offspring.
Here's where it gets a little muddy!
Around Hoietfescht (late July or early August), Besereis Arnold Arnoldsen's children will be "mature" enough that Besereis will drop the -sen ending from his name. Until his task is done, his name will be such:
Besereis Arnold Arnold.
Now let's assume that Besereis has a son named Deffel. Deffel would take on the patronymic of Besereis:
Deffel Besereis Arnoldsen
The -sen ending is again added until Deffel becomes a full adult around Hoietfescht.
The naming is typically conducted at the moment of activation at the Kannsege. The community bears witness to the lineage of the Butzemann.
So, the four Butzemenner that were activated this weekend bear the following names:
Arnold (technically Arnold der Nei, or Arnold the New)
Otto Eirich Henrichsen
Kunraad Aamet Aametsen
Muunyaager Schtoffel Müsselmansen
Heel zu de Butzemenner!
In unserm Haus herum, dideldum,
’S danzt en Bi-ba Butzemann
In unserm Haus haerum.
Er riddelt sich, er schiddelt sich,
Er waerft sei Seckli hinner sich.
‘S danzt en Bi-ba Butzemann
In unserm Haus haerum.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
For an agricultural people, the upcoming weather would be of primary importance, which is perhaps the root of the reason that the groundhog and his weather prediction has lived on. However, this is typically only one small part of his message. Anyone who has ever been to a Grundsau Lodge on February 2 will know that the groundhog delivers numerous prognostications. Granted, in the Lodges, most of these are in jest, but journey-work done on February 2 or other, more esoteric works, are said to be more revealing.
Second is the tradition of February 2 celebrating the Hearth goddess, who would be Frigg, as well as the feminine creative energies. Female ancestors are also celebrated on Feb. 2, which is consistent with some other Heathen groups' Disir blots at this time of year. As a result of these creative energies, the Butzemann (an activated scarecrow) is ceremonially given birth (more technically, he is given "rebirth" through the remnants of last year's crop). There are ceremonies that Urglaawe has inherited from Braucherei for his rebirth and appointment as protector of the land. He sticks around until he is burned sometime between the autumn equinox and Allelieweziel (Halloween). There are some great stories about what happens after Allelieweziel.
One other thing that is to happen on February 2 in relation to Frigg: we are to clean out our hearths, fireplaces, candlestick, or whatever place we use as our primary spot for fire. After the site or item is cleaned, we are to light a new fire using birch. If there is a central hearth through a community celebration, ember pots may be used to take the new flame from the central fire to the home hearth.
The cleaning of the Hearth is the beginning of the time of Spring Cleaning. We have from now until Walpurgisnacht (April 30) to get our homes in order in preparation for Holle's return. :)
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Items from Deitsch culure that are known to be sacred to Dunner: hammers, houseleeks, goats, fences (defended with some posts turned upside down to create "Dunnerkeil" ("thunderbolts") that resembled Thor's Hammers).
The name of Dunner often was (and still is) used in curses that called for lightning strikes. Because the Deitsch word for "thunder" and Thor's name in Deitsch are both "Dunner," it would make more sense for the curse to call for "Blitz" ("lightning") if it is referring to the natural phenomenon. Since it calls for Dunner, it is far more likely that the reference is to Thor and not to the thunder.
In Braucherei, Dunner's help is requested in times of physical peril, in times when troubles threaten to overwhelm the client, and when the client's general strength of will needs empowerment. Deitsch culture is also aware of Dunner's reputation as a slayer of Giants (think of it as battling chaos and ignorance). We know the names (Dreizehdax, Vatzehvedder, Fuffzehfux) of three specific "Reifries" ("Frost Giants") who challenge the folk every year in May. Dunner beats them back, and after they are gone, it is safe to take outside all outdoor, zone-appropriate plants.
Dunner is the everyman-god. Seen as a patron of the working classes, the farmers, the peasants. He is seen in the flashes of lightning and heard in the boom of the thunder. Heavy rains present us with His power. The bountiful fields represent the golden hair of His wife, Siwwa (Sif). While She is seen in the fruit of the land, He is seen in the cattle, for which He is the defender.
Dunner is not the "god of thunder" or the "god of lightning." He is seen in these forces. In fact, items sacred to him are traditionally placed in certain areas in order to ward off lightning strikes. The most common item would be the houseleek. Planting even a small houseleek plant on the roof of a home is believed to prevent lightning strikes.
Some Scandinavian cultures held Dunner as the overseer of the Thing (our Ding), which was the governing assembly of Germanic cultures. While Urglaawe views Ziu (Tyr) in this role, different tribes had different traditions.
Most of us probably have a view of Thor in our heads already, perhaps influenced by Scandinavian lore, comic books, or the recent movie. This view is pretty consistent with the Deitsch view. Dunner is sometimes not particularly "book smart," and he certainly has no patience for his enemies. However, he also has a "street smart" wisdom, a strong sense of right and wrong, and a stark loyalty to the friends of the gods and goddesses.
Heel zum Dunner!