Saturday, January 18, 2020

Planning for Entschtanning


This post is not about the actual Entschtanning ritual, but it is about the education piece for the Urglaawe community in the Deitscherei and the Diaspora. Entschtanning begins at sunset on February 1 (February 2 by our reckoning) and ends at sunset on February 13 (February 14 by our reckoning).

Entschtanning is our most complex observance. When meeting in person, we have to squeeze twelve days of effort into one day for the sake of practicality, since we don't all live near enough to one another to meet up several times during Entschtanning.

The actual ritual that folks do can still feature everything that is necessary, but the Discussion can be fanned out so that the information about the ritual comes in smaller chunks. For example, it is possible to hail the Matronae at ritual without having to go in depth on them on site the day of the ritual; that information could be explored on a day prior to or after the actual ritual.

Arranging it this way may help to ease the overflow of information that comes all at once when folks are beginning to learn about the observance.

Again, due to practicality, group ritual does not always fall on February 2. In years when it doesn't, we can focus on just one piece of the Entschtanning observance (notably, Grundsaudaag for February 2). The next day we could, perhaps, focus on the cleaning of the hearth, and then the other aspects can be spanned out.

Regarding February 2, the only aspect of Entschtanning that really has to take place on that exact date is Grundsaudaag.

The cleaning of the hearth is associated with February 2, also, but we have also done that on different dates when our ritual did not fall on February 2.

The Butzemann needs to be explained well before Entschtanning so that people who are interested have time to collect materials and to build some understanding. The Butzemannsege pretty much needs to happen at our group ritual, but solo practitioners may conduct that at anytime during Entschtanning (and technically they could do it all the way up to the Fall Equinox).

So, regardless of the date of our ritual, we can share the educational piece in smaller bits throughout Entschtanning.

We write posts daily throughout Entschtanning, focusing on individual topics and, when possible, connecting something learned on one day to a related topic on the next day.

1: February 2 (GRUNDSAUDAAG): We can post about the significance of the Grundsau and what Entschtanning means.

2: February 3: Discussion about Freid.

3: February 4: The importance of birch and the cleaning of the hearth.

4: February 5: An explanation of the general spring cleaning and how it turns back up in the lore of Wonnenacht.

5: February 6: The importance of oaths.

6: February 7: Zusaagpflicht

7: February 8: Explanation of Idise and feminine energies, including Gewwern

8: February 9: Explanation of Butzemannsege, tipping off from the fact that the spirits we are appealing to in the Weschtbledder bear some similarity to being Idise for the plants in the physical realm.

9: February 10: Matronae

10: February 11: Gemietlichkeet and the sense of belonging.

11: February 12: Explanation of our understanding of Fastnachts/Fettkuche. Greasing the tools

12: February 13 (LICHTFESCHT): Mindshifts - the emergence from the complications of being adherents to a non-dualistic religion in a society rife with dualism. Emergence of change; resolutions going into effect. Moving toward Oschdre and the rebirth.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Noochyuul ("after Yule") begins at sunset today and is mostly a quiet period that lasts until sunset on February 1. This is the time when resolutions are begun and are most challenging.

Berchtoldsdaag begins tonight, too. This is a larger event in Switzerland than here. The lore there involves compulsion to drink (not a fan) and elements perhaps akin to the Lord of Misrule.
The very scant lore I have come across indicates that the tradition may be rooted in testing one’s mettle and ability to succeed at the resolutions that were made.

Various versions of who Berchtold is exist. One is that it honors Berchtold V, the Duke of Zähringen, who founded Bern in 1191. Another cites it being related to a monk named Berchtold of Engelberg.

What survives in a shred of our Hexerei lore is yet another theory, which is that it is is connected to Berchta. Indeed, costumes depicting creatures related to Berchta used to be common in the past. However, the tiny bit of lore we have essentially assigns Berchtold as the consort of Berchta, and He is thus a god by our lore's assessment.

This is still something that requires a lot of research, but, until we learn more, the Urglaawe community is using the information that we have as a starting point and honoring Berchtold from sunset on January 1 through sunset on January 2.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Berchtaslaaf: Herring, Lentils, Coins

Berchtaslaaf begins at sunset tonight.

In addition to the required herring and gruel meal, we have a couple of other things to consider.

- Three coins set out on the windowsill. There is an echo of the Lutzelfraa's begging during Voryuul in this custom.

- Lentils (uncooked and not to eat) scattered. Lentils are not part of the required meal, but there is an association in some circles between Berchta and legumes, and our oral lore specifically names lentils.

The lentils are scattered in a manner similar to the three-bean offerings that we are to do when we disturb the soil for gardening or planting. Lentils are good nitrogen fixers, which could be also a link between Berchta's concerns with rebirth and renewal and Luul's concern with keeping young greens safe and strong through the winter.

Many Urglaawer have come to know Berchta better in 2019. I am among those who have. Now with Twelfth Night fast approaching, I have come to understand the beating that She gave me during Voryuul with my musings. All of this turmoil actually has paid off. I got Her message (with a bit of help from Frouwa for extra clarity). I have worked through and understood some of the things that made me uncomfortable, and I can base some New Year's Resolutions on changing my reactions to some of these inputs.

This will be an extra special Berchtaslaaf because it will be the first time that we carry Her statuary through the town. I expect this to become a growing and evolving tradition over the next few years.

Hail Berchta!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 12

VORYUUL - Night 12

So, the light is low, even though the solstice is not until Saturday, Yuul begins tomorrow at sunset by Urglaawe reckoning. Also, the sunrise time is 07:17 and sunset time tonight and tomorrow are both 16:36 in Bristol, so this is about as short as the days get.

The second stag has relinquished his light. The altar is plunged into darkness. Outside, the frigid temperatures mirror the coldness of the resting stags. Voryuul is drawing to a close.

Tonight's musing has my head in a spin. Hearkening back to Night 3's hope (which I later described as an "absurd hope" and a "useless hope" because not all things can be fixed, what happens when that hope suddenly seems to be within reach again without one's own instigation?

This is classic shadow side for me. I know better. I know when something is broken and can't be fixed, yet I am a fixer. I am that insipid peacemaker, Libra-seeking-balance-at-all-costs wistful dreamer. The opportunity to correct mistakes of the past is more alluring to me than the One Ring is to Gollum. And so the utopian visions commence of everyone holding hands and finding peace and joy (or at least contentment) in one another's presence. A big part of me is sounding alarms more furiously than my hand on the cowbell during the Parade of Spirits.

Yet... When an opportunity presents itself and there is a chance to repair something that you were partially responsible for breaking, should it be ignored because it is the shadow side doing the thinking? One side of the scales says to cut losses because things will never change. The other side says that "never" is a very long time, and it is always worth the effort to try to make amends. The actual solution is likely somewhere in a continuum of options between the balance and the counterbalance, yet it rips my mind apart trying to figure out the right answer.

Sometimes the biggest hex one can receive is the fulfillment of a wish or the reigniting of a hope. Or it can be the biggest blessing. Berchta is either rewarding me or kicking my ass again. What to do? 

I spent enough time on my shadow side during these twelve nights to recognize what is going on. I know what the shadows are doing to me. I know the fix-it drive. I know the approval-seeking and the desire to take advantage of an opportunity. Those are not the best reasons to take a chance. However, I also do believe in allowing for change, learning from past mistakes while still being compassionate, and that caring for myself also means looking at all sides of an issue to strike the balance between what I want and what is really in my best interests. I am such a freaking Libra... lol

Thus, I will proceed cautiously, respectfully, and with an eye toward balance. Ultimately, all of this mental masturbation over the past twelve nights has resulted in illumination for me... Some of it is positive; some of it is negative, but I have  some resolutions to consider in the New Year.

Tomorrow Yuul officially begins, and I can begin to celebrate the rebirth and the things in my life that bring me joy. 

Thank you all for being on this bizarre ride through my mind. I hope that some of my explorations and musings have helped you to get to know yourself and your motivations better. 

Hail to the Voryuul! May it go quietly and not turn back. :D

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 11

"Imposter Syndrome"

"Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. 'Imposters' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence." (Harvard Business Review, May 7, 2008)

One may wonder how Imposter Syndrome is a shadow side problem. Well, a lot of it has to do with that self-doubt and the sense of intellectual fraudulence. That level of insecurity can rob an individual of the rewards of their own successes, and it may even prevent them from sharing their skills. 

Keeping in mind that the shadow side is not necessarily bad, elements of that insecurity can certainly keep one's ego in check. It can also compel one to work harder at being better and more confident in the skills in question. It is when it crosses that line of undermining self-worth that it becomes a real problem.

I used to have a real problem with Imposter Syndrome, even with things that I knew very well. I always felt like there was always a better expert on whatever the issue was, and it caused me a lot of stress in my former jobs. The same thing happened in my studies. I learned early on in school with subjects that did not interest me that I could get a lot of traction by guiding my teachers or professors to have low expectations on my reports. They'd expect something that they'd have to bury in the back yard, but, then I'd turn in a decent report, and they'd be so relieved that they'd give me a better grade. At least that is what I thought.

Looking back on some of those things now, I realize that a lot of my reports were more than decent. They were good and solid, particularly for an area that was of little interest to me. To this end, the shadow of low expectations served me pretty well... Yet it took me until my mid-40's to recognize that I had more talent in some areas than I'd ever anticipated.

Public speaking used to be a horror show. I was always nervous about everything from my accent to my stammering to my inability to stand still (though I did stand still for 30 seconds after the Parade of Spirits, so that is progress), etc. Urglaawe cured me of that for subjects that are of interest to me. I don't mind standing up and sharing the results of the research or the theories behind our practices, etc. 

Being Steer of The Troth also thickened my skin a bit. I love that organization, but it is often like a bucking bronco, which did have the positive effect of making me less sensitive to criticism.

In my professional career currently, the only time I really deal with Imposter Syndrome is when it comes to some of the intricacies of IEPs and that sort of thing. When I was student teaching, it was a problem all the time, but, now that I know my students and my population, I am far more comfortable. If I were ever to end up with a classroom (as opposed to being an itinerant teacher), it may reappear because it has been so long since I have had to manage a classroom. I am better at dealing with the complicated cases in a traveling setting.

For the most part, Imposter Syndrome is not too much of an issue for my professional and spiritual careers. It is still an element in personal relationships at some levels. After discussing this topic with a coworker, we realized just how much Imposter Syndrome can play a role in interpersonal relationships. Dating was a topic of concern to my coworker, and the images that people project on dating apps may not match what the person senses of him-/her-/themself... Instead, Imposter Syndrome may actually lead them to become actual imposters and to live a lie because the lie is more interesting than the actual self. 

The same can happen on social media, where many (most?) people have a tendency to project the best image of themselves. Ironically, this is one of the reasons I am writing about this topic. These public musings on the shadow sides during Voryuul are showing sides of myself that I generally do not reveal until someone knows me pretty well in person. However, my normal Facebook postings are very much me, too. I am, overall, actually a pretty happy, hyper, content man with a wry, dry sense of humor. Yet there are those moments of self-doubt and feelings of being adrift that drag me down. Neither projection is actually an imposter; it is simply the recognition of the totality of me... but within that self-doubt is the occasional questioning of whether my thoughts and opinions are of any value and whether anything that I do actually makes a difference in this world. I am quite sure I am not alone in any of that. The annoying part is that I have no easy solution to those pangs of Imposter Syndrome outside of communication among community members, deliberate and conscious living, and finding joy in belonging (all of which will probably become topics during Yule).

Interestingly, I am about to head into the city to drop off socks from the Yuletide Sock Drive. The temperature is entering Code Blue ranges, and snow squalls are in the forecast. I have done this a few times this week, yet I still found myself yesterday questioning what good I do in the world. Weird stuff, eh? The logical mind may "know" something, but it requires the emotional self to accept that knowledge in order to achieve balance and contentment.

Fun stuff.

Tomorrow is the final musing for Voryuul and the night the second stag's light goes out. 

Hail to the shadow side... For good or for bad, it is a part of each of us.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 10

"All alone in a crowd."

This one may sting for a lot of us.

Loneliness is difficult... Perhaps one of the most difficult feelings for humans, as social creatures, to process. Loneliness in a crowd adds insult to injury, especially if everyone else seems to belong. Belonging is typically not automatic; people have to find belonging, often even within their own families. Many of us who do not meet the traditional social paradigms find ourselves feeling on the outs for much of our lives. This feeling can be a major cause of, or contributor to, the force of chaos we call rootlessness (Enwatzeling, Entwatzeling, or Watzellosichkeet). Rootlessness is not the same as independence or individualism. It is the utter lack of connection to others that can lead to a general lack of concern for others' welfare or the state of society. Rootlessness is actually one of the things that most denominations of Heathenry, including Urglaawe, aim to address.

Loneliness, rootlessness, and other feelings of being adrift are among the most difficult things for the individual to address. Depression is often a factor, as are the wounds from prior damaged relationships, traumatic experiences, lack of safety and security, etc.

None of these feelings hits me particularly often. I am particularly wary of rootlessness, and I am fortunate to have access to my family, kindred, and ethnic community, which help to keep the roots fresh. Also, though, one of my life's purposes is to fight rootlessness and to build opportunities for communities to develop.

Yet I sometimes feel alone in a crowd. It makes no logical sense, but insecurity is often not logical. I know my triggers for this sense, and many of them are things that I tried to expel from myself in my 30's (see Night 9's musing). Yet they are still on the shadow side, and it occasionally only takes some sort of rejection or loss for the feeling to emerge. Then comes that lack of a sense of belonging; logically, I know better, but there it is.

True shadow expressions can result in expressions of ill will based in jealousy. This I have under control pretty well and it rarely happens. Instead, when this happens, I retreat into myself and feel like I am unworthy of love. It's such a waste of time, yet it happens, and I am quite sure it happens to many people. What's even worse is that, at those moments, there's usually a bunch of friends and family upon whom I could rely for the love and acceptance that I feel is lacking, but I am instead lost in the misery of disconnection.

Disconnection sucks. It is one thing to take time too oneself. It is another thing not to even have the option of being connected. Seeing the world going on around oneself at those times is painful. Seeing people having fun, going places, or connected while you are feeling lonely and disconnected can deepen the feelings, develop rancor, etc. The cycle feeds upon itself and can express itself in attempts for approval at any costs, doing whatever is necessary to fit in, and making bad decisions for the appearance of being accepted. Next thing I know, all the crap that I described in the prior nights' musings are at the fore, and I am distracted from the beneficial work I have to do and from my life's purpose. This is why rootlessness is a force of chaos. It is important to keep that fact in the conscious mind and not to fall victim to traps of one's own making.

The remaining stag's light is getting dimmer. The darkest nights are upon us. The shadows are at their strongest; the liminal beings are on the move. Still, these pondering, whether my own or those that others are sharing with me, are empowering. I have learned a lot over the past ten nights. I have confessed to myself and, occasionally, to others the things I have learned.

Tomorrow's meditation will likely be on imposter syndrome.

In the meantime, I will tonight be happy for the community I have, the things I have built, the compassion and love that flows among my friends and me, and the connections that I have in my daily life. Although I may feel like it sometimes, I am most certainly not alone in a crowd.

Monday, December 16, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 9


Here's one that has cost me some relationships in the past. Compartmentalization can be a very useful tool, actually, so why is this turning up as part of a meditation on the shadow side?

Well, that is what I am hoping to find out by being honest with myself about it (this is, after all, a Voryuul musing). Compartmentalization is not uncommon among people born under the Baer moon, much like it is fairly common among Libras. The dictionary defines it as "the division of something into sections or categories," which sounds innocuous enough, but let's dig deeper... right into the shadows.

It is actually the assignment of people, tasks, emotions, hobbies, everything into an individual box within the mind. Whether any of those boxes are ever opened at the same time or not becomes a really laborious task of the mind to process. The what-ifs and the risks are almost always given a higher priority than the benefits. Keeping things in their separate compartments in the mind and in the physical world is safer. It makes it a lot easier not to hold grudges (which I typically do not, but see Night 3's meditation for the sucky side of that). It leads to the ability to separate love and sex (which is a rabbit hole until itself until the compartments accidentally get opened at the same time), and it allows me to see all sides of all issues within the context of their own compartments (definitely a Libra thing). It allows for a separation between work and home, which is positive because I rarely bring my work troubles through my threshold, but it also has historically had a minimizing effect of not allowing work friends to become too familiar with my life outside of work. This continues to this day, though the paradigm has begun to shift.

I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I was told that in almost every job I ever held. It is true in one sense. Within that work compartment, the emotions I am feeling are generally apparent (this has changed as I have matured). However, the background to the emotion may be merely a projection -- a convenient screen -- for tumult that is taking place in a different compartment. However, I cannot be open about that compartment because it exposes me to potential danger. 

During my recent migraine spates, several compartments that should have stayed isolated opened simultaneously, and their contents merged. The disruption from the migraines themselves and from the adverse reaction to the meds led to some lapses in judgment that really shook up my conscious self. During this meditative time, I am wondering whether I would have benefited from being more open across the compartments when I was in full control of my faculties, but some of that is spilt milk at this point. The troubles from those compartments consumed by consciousness throughout all of November, with the migraines pulsing through my head and the desire to escape from them pulling me in all sorts of directions... sigh... Even after the migraines subsided and I recognized the reaction to the meds, the chaos from those compartments continued. I am still feeling reverberations now, though the lack of migraine symptoms is making it easier to make wiser choices. 

It was ultimately the onset of Voryuul that began to bring order back to my mind. These meditations have helped, but getting back out and living with purpose have helped me even more. There's that Urglaawe mind shift lighting the way again.

However, some of those compartments are still open and their contents damaged. Some need to be closed permanently; others need to be placed into larger boxes alongside the contents of other compartments. Still others need to be shaken up and their contents transmuted into something more beneficial for myself and for others.

I know this is all cryptic; heck, that is the nature of shadow side compartmentalization. I do not foresee myself ever being free of compartmentalization. It keeps me organized within my seeming disorganization. It keeps me focused on multiple tasks at the same time. It helps me with compassion and the ability to see others' perspectives.

But it also can leave me teetering from one sentiment to another. It can lead to indecision and imbalance in interpersonal relationships, which, in turn, can bring a lot of hurt to people who do not compartmentalize the same way. 

And it can lead to me feeling alone in a crowd. It can leave me feeling like I am adrift even while people who love me are being my anchors. This is the environment in which  rootlessness thrives, and rootlessness as one of the Big Agents of Chaos, leads to all sorts of other troubles. 

Fortunately, I am not usually stuck in those types of compartments, but, when I am, it is pretty apparent that something is amiss, it is just a question of which compartment it is really in. This is solid shadow side bullshit, and I need to get past some of it.

I think the "alone in a crowd" will be the theme for tomorrow night.

Thank you all who are with me during these Voryuul shadow-side confrontations. Hail.