... from other Heathen paths?
There are quite a few things, some of which will exceed the scope of this high-level view. It is important to note, though, that no one can be sure that any one Heathen tradition has all of the answers. The mystery of life if one of the great gifts of existence, and having "all" of the answers would render that gift meaningless.
Therefore, adherents to other Heathen paths are urged not to look at our viewpoint as a statement that their understanding is "wrong." This is merely a presentation of several (but not all) features of Urglaawe that originate in our cultural mindset.
Creation and Wurt
While we are compelled by the scarcity of Continental Germanic lore to embrace the Eddaic creation myths, there are some indicators that turn up in Grimm's analysis of syncretic-era and post-conversion writings that support certain features that turn up in Braucherei in the understanding of the initial creation process.
The primary difference is the perceived role of the universe in creating itself and in the creation of man. Scandinavian lore cites that the primal fire and the primal ice were already in existence from the beginning in the Ginnungagap (die Urlick), and the sparks from the primal fire began to thaw the primal ice.
The presence of the sparking fire and the blowing of the melting icy rime indicate motion, but how did the motion come to be? There is no definitive answer, but Urglaawe theory holds that Wurt (Wyrd) is the overarching force to which all of existence must submit. Whether Wurt is conscious or unconscious, it functions as a Creative Life Force and a Maker.
There is evidence from the Scandinavian lore and from the Deitsch lore of goddesses or other entities having a greater understanding of the function of Wurt than humans currently have. The Wurthexe (Norns), Frigg, and Holle all have an ability to manage (but not to surmount) Wurt or have a role in carrying out the goals of Wurt to move existence along from the past into the present while also arranging the likely future.
The understanding of the Teutonic creation myth will almost certainly evolve as more information is discovered, more dots connected, and more research is conducted.
Order and Creation of Humans and the Zusaagpflicht
According to Norse sources, the creation myth has the Giants and the Gods became manifest via heat thawing ice and the licking of a primal cow, named Auðumbla, while the Gods created the Dwarves and Humans. The Giants were the first product of the Cosmos; the Gods were second; Humans third; and Dwarves last.
The Giants were an imperfect creation that expended a huge amount of physical or energetic substance with a low capacity of consciousness. The Gods, on the other hand, were created with a perfect balance between capacity of consciousness and energetic/physical substance.
Humans were created by the Gods from two trees, Ask and Embla. Dwarves were created by the Gods from maggots from the flesh of the slain first Giant, Ymir. The Dwarves represented the opposite of the Giants: less physical/energetic substance with a higher capacity of consciousness.
In the Urglaawe view, the order of creation is slightly different, but it is important in our relationship with the Gods. The German Heldenbuch states that the Dwarves were created first, then the Giants, and then Humans (See Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, p. 563). Ultimately, Humans contain a balance among physical substance, energetic substance, and capacity of consciousness that parallel that of the Gods but at our evolutionary level. This is one reason that the Gods take an interest in the evolution of Humanity; we are Their creations and we have the capacity to evolve to their level. We are also the most likely of Their allies to take an active role in the struggle against chaos, which we will see below.
There are elements in Deitsch lore that indicate a different understanding of the creation of Humans. While the Gods created Humans from existing material, different parts of humans were taken from different materials (rather than just from trees), and not all parts were organic. Grimm (564-574) presents a plausible premise for the Deitsch lore in syncretic texts that may appear to be Christian in content while still containing Heathen concepts.
In all the samples Grimm cites, there is a doctrine of eight natural parts used for the creation of Humans. The most interesting of the citations is a poem from the 12th century on the four Gospels (see Grimm 566), where the eight parts used are as paraphrased below. Although seemingly Christian, there are echoes of Heathen perspectives:
From loam is created flesh.
From dew is created sweat.
From stone is created bone.
From worts (herbs) are created veins.
From grass is created hair.
From the sea is created blood.
From the clouds are created mood and mind.
From the sun are created the eyes.
There is a ninth element that includes the breath of life, attributed, in this case, to the Judeo-Christian Jehovah, but, borrowing from Norse lore, this would be the soul and the spark of divinity, given to us by Wudan through His breath.
The salient line in this poem from the Deitsch perspective is the use of worts for the veins. There is an old tradition that plants and humans share a common bond that gives both plants and humans a stake in each other's survival. While the Urglaawe concept of the Zusaagpflicht (The Sacred Duty) lists nurturing of plants as part of our duty to existence, the inclusion of herbs in the process of creating humanity is remarkable. Although the primal cow, Auðumbla, is very likely a metaphor for the Milky Way, the concept of her as a cow ties the fate of humanity and plants to that of animals, too, thus explaining the presence of the three parties in the Zusaagpflicht.
The Zusaagpflicht is an element of Urglaawe not seen in any other Heathen path.
Tuisco vs. Ymir; Ziu
Over the years, I have seen quite a few references to the Tuisco mentioned by Tacitus in Germania being the same as the Norse Ymir. I have also seen theories about that Tuisco is the same as Ziu.
The relationship between Ymir and Tuisco is partially based on theories that "Tuisco" means "double" and be hermaphroditic, as Ymir was. It has come to my attention recently that research has been conducted in Germany, most likely including research from older theories, that indicates that His name means "son of Ziu."
If He is the son of Ziu, then He would be counted among the Ase. Urglaawe belief, unless countered by the new results of research, has held that He is more likely of the Wane, particularly since He is described in Germania as being an "earth-sprung god." One argument for Him being of the Wane is that His son, Mannus, begat the Ingvaeones, Istvaeones, and Irminones. "Ingvaeones" translates to "people of Yngvi" or the people of "Ing," and Ing is another name for the Wane god Frey.
Whether Tuisto/Tuisco/Tiusco is of the Wane or the Ase is, thus, unclear, but the connection with Ymir seems even more unlikely. To begin with, Ymir was slain by the other deities, which would render the celebration of him as a living god rather meaningless. Additionally, Ymir is generally presented in an unfavorable light, while Tuisco is apparently honored.
The role of Tuisco and Ziu are evolving in the Urglaawe philosophy. There is little doubt that Ziu's historic role among the Teutonic peoples was central and far greater than is known today. This is one aspect of our understanding of deity that is likely to change as more research and information emerge.
The Nine Worlds
The Nine Worlds, as presented in Norse lore, are as follows:
Asgard - home of the Aesir
Vanaheim - home of the Vanir
Alfheim - home of the Light Elves
Svartalfheim - home of the Dark Elves (some say Dwarves)
Jotunheim - home of the Frost Giants
Midgard - the realm of humanity; the physical world
Helheim - realm of the dead
Niflheim - world of primal ice
Muspelheim - world of primal fire and home of Surt and the Fire Giants
The Nine Regions cosmology of the Deitsch Lewesbaam (Tree of Life) differs somewhat:
Hohegegend: the realm of Divinity, including both the Ase and the Wane
Himmelgegend: the realm of spiritually advanced ancestors
Hatzholz: realm of the physical plane
Unnergegend: realm of earth-based spirits, evolving ancestors, and those waiting to be born or reborn
Dunkelgegend: realm of destruction and transformation
Naddbledder: place of ice
Suddbledder: place of fire
Oschtbledder: place of magic
Weschtbledder: place of spiritual journeys
This cosmology is presented through Braucherei oral lore and was reported by Braucherin Lauren Sicher in Hollerbeer Haven. There are other cosmologies, but this is the most complete and intact in our oral lore.
The Forces of Chaos and the Purpose of Life
The Giants, especially the Fire Giants and the Sons of Surt, are seen as the primary destructive opponents in Norse lore, and they will eventually be successful in their efforts to undo the order of the Cosmos (hence supporting Wurt as an overarching force).
This physical threat is certainly accepted in Urglaawe, but we face daily challenges from forces of chaos in our spiritual and evolutionary life, too. Among the most commonly confronted forces of chaos are Ignorance, Apathy, Rootlessness, and Unenlightened Self-Interest. From the Urglaawe perspective, it is these forces that concern Holle, Wudan, and the other deities most when considering human advancement.
The deities, as the creators of the orderly universe, are the pinnacle of creation. However, even they are evolving, as we see, for example, in Odin sacrificing His eye for the knowledge of the Well of Wyrd. Humans are also on a continuous path of evolution, and, hearkening back to the balance of our physical/energetic "footprint" and our capacity for advanced consciousness, the deities have a vested interest in us.
In Urglaawe philosophy, the Gods and Goddesses wish for us to be, at the end of this Cosmic Day, where They were at the beginning of it. The advancement of our understanding of the Cosmos and of ourselves matters. This is humanity's role in the Cosmic order: to continue existence through the next Cosmic Night and to aid those who come after us the same as the deities aided us.
The problem is that humanity is backsliding. When the majority of humans surrendered their freedom of consciousness and abandoned their responsibility for their own evolution to priest classes of religions that demand blind loyalty, the evolution slowed. Add to it that some of these religions actively discourage, forbid, or delude adherents from pursuing an advanced consciousness or from even questioning the tenets of their faith, and we have the bulk of humanity serving the forces of chaos.
This is not how it is supposed to be, and it is our responsibility to live our lives with a goal towards enlightening ourselves. We are to put our minds and our spirits to use for the improvement of the world (and all of existence) around us for ourselves, our communities, and our descendants. Discussions of how to set ourselves and our communities on a right path will be included in future articles.
The Wild Hunt
Die Wild Yacht (the Wild Hunt) has some definite differences in understanding between the Norse lore and the Urglaawe perspective. In Urglaawe, the Wild Hunt begins at Allelieweziel (31. Gehling or October 31), which is a time of year when the veil among the worlds is at its thinnest. Deitsch oral lore describes this as being the time when Holle departs from the Hatzholz (Midgard, Mannheem, or the physical word) to lead the parade of souls through the sky.
While Wudan (Odin) does indeed accompany Her on the journey, Holle has a more distinct purpose for leading the hunt and for being followed by so many souls. The purpose of the Wild Hunt is to find the souls of the recently departed or to capture souls that have been lost or stuck. Holle bring these souls, who follow Her throughout the Dunkelheeft (the Dark Half of the year), back into the Lewesraad (Cycle of Life) so that they may continue to progress their advancement along with the rest of humanity. It is for this reason that Holle maintains an association with spirals and cycles in the Deitsch culture.
Wudan, for His part, is undertaking cosmically important endeavors at this time, too. He spends an inordinate amount of time among His people, checking the progress of the advancement of individuals and rewarding those whom He sees as deserving. It is in this context that He appears as Belsnickel (the aspects of the Seeker or the Riddler) and Santa Claus (the aspects of the Wish-Granter or the Rewarder).
Wild Hunt traditions are very much alive, even if disconnected from their original roots: tricks-or-treats at Halloween; King Frost festivals in November; the old Deitsch tradition of Belsnickeling; Mummenschanz at the New Year; Groundhog Day and the Uffdrede or Entschtanning (Fasching); the roots of some April Fools traditions; and certainly the Krampuslauf and Walpurgisnacht. All the costumed figures represent participants in the Wild Hunt. These parades all cease at the onset of the Wonnetzeit, when Holle returns to the physical plane and the Wild Hunt ends.
The vast majority of Urglaawer believe in the rebirth of a part (or multiple parts) of the soul construct. This makes Urglaawe a "reincarnation" faith, but not in the way that many Eastern religions view it.
We discussed the Urglaawe view of this aspect of existence last month in the article on Holle's Mill, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel here. However, the distinction of part of the soul being reborn in order to attain higher consciousness versus going to the hall of a deity, as is often cited in Norse lore, is a distinguishing feature of Urglaawe.
It should be mentioned that Norse lore is not completely lacking the concept of partial soul rebirth, either, but it is not the dominant belief in Asatru that it is in Urglaawe.
"We Are Our Deeds"
This is an oft-cited Heathen slogan, and it is certainly not false. However, from the Urglaawe perspective, it is not that simple. Our deeds are woven along with our thoughts and words -- and our inactions -- to form who we are.
In a sense, it is plausible to say that a thought or a word is a form of deed. However, in the conventional sense, semantics imply that the thought is an internal event, a word is an utterance or expression of the thought, and the deed is the physical execution of the thought.
Intention and words are at the very core of healing and magical practices such as Braucherei and Hexerei. There is little dispute among Heathens that runic thoughts and utterances (galdr, Zauber, Bann) have impact on the world around us, yet they are conspicuously absent from the "we are our deeds" slogan.
Additionally, paying no heed to the thoughts and the words behind a deed can lead to a misconception about the nature of the deed. Suppose, for example, that a person performs a deed that seems, on the surface, as a well executed effort. However, according to Braucherei concepts, if the thought behind the deed was not consistent with the deed's projected outcome, then the deed is stained or corrupted. To put it another way (inexact but presented to make the point clearer):
Doing the right thing for the wrong reason results in the corruption of deed. Conversely, doing the wrong thing for the right reason also results in the corruption of deed.
The thought matters.
Similarly, the wrong word for the right thought and the right word for the wrong thought also result in corruption.
The word matters.
Our inactions also form ourselves and the world around us. Frequently, the choice not to act upon something is the result of a thought, but there are times when a stimulus is not sensed, so no response is elicited. Sometimes, doing nothing is the best response to a situation. Expending energy (Megge, megin, main) on thoughts, words, and actions towards some situations or people, particularly sappers, merely empowers them and their causes. Even a good deed in those circumstances may be detrimental to one's overall health or to the Fruchsfriede (frith) of a community.
Deeds matter, but whether to act or not to act also matters.
These are just a few of the distinguishing features of Urglaawe. There are many more, particularly due to the agricultural nature (versus warrior nature) of our folk culture. There will, almost assuredly, be additional articles of this sort in the future.
Please note: This article will be included in an upcoming edition of Hollerbeer Haven.
Grimm, Jacob, James Stallybrass, trans. Teutonic Mythology (4 vols). New York: Dover Publications, 1966.
Schreiwer, Robert L. and Ammerili Eckhart. A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology. Lulu.com, 2012.
Sicher, Lauren. "The Tree of Life: Der Lewwebaam." Hollerbeier Haven vol. 2 no. 2, pp. 6, 16. Kempton, PA: The Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, Fall 2018.
Tacitus, Pubilius Cornelius, Herbert W. Benario, trans. "Germany." Agricola, Germany, and Dialogue on Orators, pp. 63-88. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2006.