Saturday, November 27, 2021

Voryuul/Parade of Spirits: Why The Buggy?

We often hear the phrase, "The Turning of the Wheel," bandied about in many Heathen and Pagan traditions. This often refers to the changeover from one year to the next. For some, that turning is emphasized at the end of October. For others, it is observed at Yule, and, even among those who observe it at those times, most of us still recognize the fact that the wheel is in constant motion through the linear time to which the physical plane is (mostly) relegated to adhere.

One will sometimes also hear phrases to the effect of, "The Wheel of the Year it tilted." Sometimes these comments are referring to the Earth's axial tilt or to the global seasonal differences that result from said tilt. In Urglaawe, though, the Yaahrsraad ("Year Wheel") is not perceived to function on a tilt as much at is is on a multi-layered spiral. Trying to identify a beginning and an end point is not always easy, particularly since the life-death-rebirth cycle is ongoing. There are a few points that could be considered the completion of a wheel rotation and, thus, the start of a new cycle.

Buggy Pull
Trenton Avenue, Bristol, PA
Behind Bristol Borough Jr.-Sr. High School

Among the easiest to point toward is January 1. This is the nearly globally accepted beginning of the new calendar year, but, for many religious and spiritual systems that observe cycles, it does not align with anything in their actual lore. Here, though, Urglaawe does have a relevant point because sunset on December 31 begin Zwelfdi Nacht (Twelfth Night of Yule) and Berchtaslaaf, or the Progression of the goddess Berchta. Many of Berchta's characteristics as a liminal goddess reflect the passing of linear time, and, in some significant ways, one could argue that She represents "Mother Time." She has the only required meal that I know of on any Heathen calendar, and it is a meal of scarcity, likely a reflection of time starving away and the literal death of that calendar year. 

The wheel completes a rotation at sunset the next morning. January 1, is Zwelfder Daag, or Twelfth Day, and a new calendar year awakens. This is Frofescht or Luulfescht, the Feast of Fro or the Feast of Luul. The meal has gone from scarcity to, indeed, a full on feast. Pork and sauerkraut (each of which likely have an origin in being sacred to the god Fro, with pork taking the place of the boar and sauerkraut representing prosperity) is the traditional meal for all Pennsylvania Dutch on this day, though most Deitsch people will cite the reason for the pork being that pigs root forward. The snout, like the wheel, keeps moving forward in linear time.

Another, huge turning of the wheel takes place in February with the creation of the Butzemann, or the activated scarecrow, during the Entschtanning observance. The wheel turns (in a rather "woo" sense) when the remnants of the prior year's crops are used to build the Butzemann, and then the ancestors of those plants are called to awaken the dormant souls inside the plant materials. The wheel turns when the Butzemann is awakened and takes his post to watch over the coming season's crops.

The next wheel turning point takes on a different form. On March 17, a large segment of the Protestant Pennsylvania Dutch community observes a very Heathen-based St. Gertrude's Day. While some of the Protestants might, alongside the Catholics, actually be honoring Gertrude of Nivelles as a saint, most Protestants generally shy way from honoring saints while still keeping the traditions alive. These traditions could hardly be much more Heathen than they actually are, and I will refer to other things written about Urglaawe Grumbieredaag ("Potatoes Day") and the grafting of the goddess Frouwa onto St. Gertrude. However, one key factor in this day is the purpose behind the name: Potatoes, and the Spring Onions that go along with them. A particularly type of bread called a "Datsch" is baked for this day, and among its key ingredients are potatoes and spring onions. The Datsch is offered in the garden, and the first plantings of potatoes is part of the ritual. The wheel turns as the last of the prior year's potatoes is used to create the offering toward the success of the incoming year's crop. 

Oschdre, or the Spring Equinox, is another point that many consider to be the starting point of a new wheel rotation. Indeed, this is the one that I personally consider to be the birth (and rebirth) of new life, and, hence, a new rotation. 

Yet the new rotations keep happening. At Wonnenacht, the Sisters Holle and Berchta meet, embracing in a dance that spins winter away. The wheel turns during the spinning. At Hoietfescht in July/August, the wheel turns as the last of the grains from last year make the breads that celebrate the incoming grain crops. At Allelieweziel, we observe the death phases of existence; the wheel turns as the souls move on toward their next phase of being.

This brings us to Voryuul (Fore-Yule) and to Yuul (Yule). At Yuul, you will see us light up our Flaming, Spinning, Yuletide Sunwheel, which is, quite literally the turning of the wheel. For Urglaawer, this represents the creation of the new soul construct there after the souls of the dead pass through Holle's figurative Mill. We se this actually referred to in our Wonnezeit myth in May, so the implication is that this is an ongoing turning of the wheel. The death arc of the wheel is always in motion, which means the whole of the wheel is also in motion. The wheel of the Mill is always turning, whether Holle is actively on the Hunt or not.

Step backward twelve nights from Yuul, and this leaves us with Voryuul and the purpose of the Buggy, both in the Buggy Pull and in the Parade of Spirits. The descriptions we have of Holle on the Wild Hunt include a buggy or a wagon that looks different from ours. It is said to be three-wheeled and that, as it rolls, each wheel spins thread that joins with the other wheels' threads to create a giant cosmic sack names "Immerraum" ("Always Room") in which the captured lost souls are placed in order to bring them to the Mill. 

We're not quite at the point yet where we can construct the three-wheeled wagon, yet our Buggy is certainly steeped in cultural representation. At the Buggy Pull and in the Parade of Spirits, it is representing the forging forth through linear time - the perpetual motion of the turning wheel. It is to serve as a reminder of just how precious time and life are. Although most Urglaawer believe in rebirth, the rebirth takes place in a new soul construct, which means that the person you are now, due to the restraints of linear time in the physical plane, exists singularly during this lifetime. You are, therefore, unique and precious, and your life and time in this world are to be valued while being invaluable. Even the more convoluted discussions of non-linear time would recognize this sacredness of life.

The debut of the Buggy onto the public scene at the Parade of Spirits might be limited to the sidewalk area of the park in this first year. It will be a curiosity, and most people will likely find it to be really cool. Attaching the significance of the constant turning of the wheel to the Buggy will, over time, add to the lore and to the appreciation of time and of life that are central themes behind the Parade of Spirits.

When you see the Buggy pass, do as Gedreier Eckhart suggests as he quotes the Mighty Dead, and say, "Hail to Life!"

Monday, November 22, 2021

What is the Parade of Spirits?

The Parade of Spirits ("Der Geischderschtrutz" in Pennsylvania Dutch) is a grassroots, family-friendly, community-based, participatory parade that takes place in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Originally founded as Krampuslauf Philadelphia in 2011, the event has expanded its focus to include more folkloric features.

Traditionally, the time in mid-December prior to the winter solstice (Yule) was when the Pennsylvania Dutch held spooky parades and when children donned costumes and went "belsnickeling," or trick-or-treating. The Parade of Spirits is a modern expression of that old tradition. 

The Parade serves as a depiction of the Wild Hunt from Germanic mythology, and features liminal and shadow-side entities, such as Belsnickel, Krampus, and the souls of the recently departed.

At the fore of the "Schtrutz" is the Germanic psychopomp, Gedreier Eckhart, who is a hero in German folklore and who serves the goddess Holle in death just as he did in life. Pennsylvania Dutch myth places him ahead of the Wild Hunt, warning the living of the impending fury as Holle travels the realms of the multiverse, seeking out the lost souls of the recently departed and capturing them to bring them back into the human evolutionary process.

Although the basic functions of the Parade are based in German and Pennsylvania Dutch myth and folklore, this is a secular event. All shadowy-side, shady-side, and dark-side traditions from all cultural backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged (please just keep in mind this is a family-friendly event, and please be careful not to engage in cultural appropriation from historically oppressed or marginalized cultures). This is an inclusive event and welcomes participants of all backgrounds; no bigotry tolerated.

While some costumes may be commercially produced (particularly Krampus, Perchten, or other traditional Alpine costumes), most are handmade, from the simple to the complex. Simply putting green or gray makeup on your face and participating as a ghoul on the Wild Hunt is fantastic!

BRING NOISEMAKERS! THIS IS A NOISY, FUN EVENT!

Arrive at Liberty Lands Park (913 N 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123) at around 4:00 to enjoy the costumes and to talk with old friends and to make new ones. 

Just prior to sunset (16:36/4:36 PM EST), the Parade will begin with opening remarks, and then the organizers will step off from the park onto the streets. Follow Gedreier Eckhart's "Boomba" (a Pennsylvania Dutch percussion instrument that is  played primarily through bouncing) and enjoy yourself as we strut the streets of Northern Liberties.

In 2021, we will debut the Buggy in some form. We need to assess the speed at which it can be moved to see if we can have it on the street, but the Parade marchers will stay on the sidewalks.

After the Parade returns to Liberty Lands Park, please tarry around the bonfire for some fellowship (please have a face mask on hand and follow Philadelphia's covid-19 guidelines on outdoor interaction) until the performance begins.

In 2021, we are delighted to present a fire performance by bellydancer, Lorenda, and her partner, Aly Louise!

There is no cost for this event, but it is PARTICIPATORY, so... make yourself look dead and come out to the 'Schtrutz!

#geischderschtrutz
#paradeofspirits
#pennsylvaniadutch
#firebellydancebylorenda


Sunday, October 24, 2021

DEITSCHE RAANE: How We Got Here

DEITSCHE RAANE: How We Got Here

Focusing on the process of how the Urglaawe rune system came to be only in this post. 

The Deitsch runes presented us with some significant challenges for several reasons:

SYSTEM:

- While some runes have definitely been in the Deitsch culture since migration (some being at the root of some hex signs, barn stars, or other symbols), the full alphabet is certainly not of antiquity; I suspect someone within the last 100 years tried to incorporate more symbols or knowledge, but, with the suppression happening after WWI, what we had in 2008 was badly broken or incomplete. Thus, what we are presenting now is inspired by older symbols, information, and/or lore, but it, of itself, is a new product.

- Very few respondents. A total of 31 contributed some input to the specific topic. Of those, 17 self-identified with Hexerei. Eight self-identified with Braucherei, and the rest did not claim an affiliation.  

- Of those 31, 27 contributed a something significant. Of those, 9 were the primary contributors of the forms.

- None knew the names of all symbols.

- Of the 31, only three had a full complement of symbols, some resembling Elder Futhark symbols while others were very similar to Zodiac symbols.

- Only two had a nearly-complete alphabet devoid of Zodiac symbols, and some of their symbols conflicted with each other.

- Everyone thought there should be a symbol for "p" or "bb," but no one knew the name or the symbol.

- Confusion over the same name ("Geil"; "horses") being applied to two symbols (now "Hengscht"; "stallion"; and "Eiwe"; "yew").

- The runes tended to be drawn with more rounding than with sharper points, partially because they were usually written with the thumb of the person being interviewed.

ELEMENTS (Hexerei):

- The inclusion of twelve elements, each having two runes associated with it, arose from a cluster of 11 self-identified Hexerei practitioners in Northumberland, Columbia, and Montour Counties, with five outliers in other states, plus one in Ontario. The elemental system was inconsistent; quite a few cited knowing that there were twelve, but the twelve that one listed would have differences with the twelve listed by the next.

- Of those who used any twelve elements, all but the one in Ontario ascribed a proactive (typically referred to as "positive") and a reactive (typically referred to as "negative") aspect to each, thereby (at least in theory since the whole system was kind of a mess) linking one rune as a proactive rune and another rune as a reactive rune to each of the twelve elements. In most cases, the proactive corresponded to the pushing of the dominant hand of the practitioner while the reactive corresponded to the shooing or non-dominant hand.

- Three elderly Hexerei practitioners, all from Northumberland County, associated the digits on their four fingers on their pushing hand with twelve runes (or other symbols to fill in the gaps) and the digits on their four fingers of their shooing hand with twelve runes (or other symbols to fill in the gaps). The thumbs were reserved for opening, utilitarian tasks, neutral energy manipulation, and sealing.

- I used their unique Hexerei methods of using the runes/symbols to sweep over the body from the beginning of a healing session to find imbalances of elements within the client. Concentrating on the digits, particularly those of my shooing hand, to be difficult, resulting in a depletion of energy. It was initially much easier to use broad Braucherei sweeps to seek energy blockages and then to use the individual runes to aid in the identification of elemental problems. 

- As the work on the system continued, I revisited the rune/digit associations, and I am finding value in aligning the proactive rune of a particular element on one hand with the reactive rune of the same element on the opposing hand provides a bit of mnemonic aid, and I am becoming more skilled with the use of individual digits. 

- The inconsistencies in the elements identified was a challenge, but coming across Ulf Asgardson's "YYggssbok" (YYggssbok, pp. 81-82. Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2007) in 2011 helped to frame the references. I know nothing about this author other than what I found in the mysticism within that book, and there was enough correspondence to the broken Hexerei lore that the author's elements were all to help to fill in the gaps. 

- The system works! 

RUNES:

Note: All runes have a Rechtdaub, or "upright" meaning and a "Driebdaub," or merkstave meaning; these interpretations are of current-era origin.

Starting with the rune (looks like Fehu with a missing arm) at 0:00/12:00 above the Distelfink's head in the logo, I am going to identify each rune and will include important points, as warranted.

Vieh: One of the better attested too in the group. The form is also described in the work of a Heathen rune author as having turned up in Germany. Whether the form was being used for the same runic concepts is unknown. Deity association: Fro (new)

Ur: No consistent name, but primordial power is an association. The form similar to the upside down U was known by a few respondents, but it was provided in the mirror image from the Uruz rune. Deity association: Holler (new)

Dunner (also: Dorn): The lack of either "th" sound in Deitsch gives this rune the same focal sound as Daag, but this was one of the better known runes among the informants. Deity association: Dunner

Antwatt: Perhaps the rune that started this entire quest. It was the first rune that turned up in an esoteric setting that had not also turned up in a mundane or physical-world setting. It was being used by a Braucherin to awaken the dormant plant spirits within her Butzemann in what is known as a Kannsege, or the Ceremony of the Corn. Deity association: Wudan

Reit: A few names for the form were given, but Reit was the most common. Deity association: Schlumm (new)

Kerze: Another problematic rune. The earliest informants identified this with a torch, or Fackel, but the consonant sound in the middle of the name complicated matters. The form was initially given to look somewhat like a K, but later informants proposed it being set onto its back, whereupon it more resembled a candleholder, and, thus, the Deitsch term for "candle," or "Kerze," became the preferred term, while still bearing the "harnessed fire" concepts of the earlier "Fackel" name. Deity association: Zisa (new)

Gewwe: Commonly used in Hexerei and in some Braucherei practitioners' uses for exchanges and in soul work. Entity association: Folyer/n; deity association: Weisskeppichi

Winsch: The earlier form (looked like a capital W with a line over the top) of this rune was cumbersome, even if more widely used than the current form. The current form, which mirrors Wunjo, was presented by two informants. Deity associations: Wudan, Holler, Fro (new), Frouwa (new)

Haagel: This rune turns up in esoteric and mundane contexts, including a potential link to the rosette hex sign that bears many of the rune's attributes. Deity association: Holle

Not: Widely used in Hexerei sealing and healing. Many associations with deities.

Eisich: Perhaps among the clumsiest names remaining, this rune's name focuses not on the "i" in the "Ei" diphthong but instead on the "i" in the -ich adjectival ending. 

Yaahr: Multiple forms were given for this rune, with the current form being in the plurality. The other prominent form was akin to a spiral.

Eiwe: Troublesome at the beginning because the earliest informant gave the same name to this rune and to what became Hengscht. The determination of the name Eiwe ("yew") came after the emergence of the rune form that looks like a bit like a yew berry.

Peil: No name, no symbol was known to the informants. However, they all believed there had been a symbol to meet the Deitsch sounds of "p" and "bb." A few even had insights how to use the energy behind it, which is how the name Peil eventually became a

Schild: Reported in multiple forms. 

Sunne:  Not uncommon even outside of esoteric practice. The possible root of several other Deitsch symbols. Deity association: Sunna

Tuisko: Originally named Ziu, Schmitz, and Tarm by informants. The Tuisko was a later emergence from a minority (three in the same community) of those interviewed, and it was ultimately the element that helped to sway our team toward choosing Tuisko as part of our practice. As the rune of proactive Earth, the earth-sprung god (believed by some Hexes to be the child of the Sky Father (Ziu) and the Earth Mother (Erda) Tuisto or Tuisco, it led, over the course of a decade, to the use of this name. The debate is not closed, however. Deity associations: Tuisto, Ziu, Zisa

Baerke: Diety association: Strongest with Berchta and Freid; lesser with Holle.

Hengscht: Naming issue cited with Eiwe above. Deity association: Alcis (new). Form supposedly arose from the rider's head being higher than the horse's head.

Mann/Mensch: Several forms were given, including a human stick figure form, which reminded me a bit too much of the Blockheads from Gumby, and, since Blockhead is an old racist term for Germans and Pennsylvania Dutch people, well, the current form was the dominant on. Deity association: Mannaz

Loch: Rune was strongly attested to in form, but the name was hard to pin down. Loch ("hole") was provided as a name in later interviews. Deity association: Schlumm (new)

Engel: Despite the fact that English "angel" and Deitsch "Engel" look a lot alike, they are not derived from the same root. English "angel" has its roots in Greek "angelos" ("messenger"). Deitsch "Engel" is ultimately derived from the name of the Germanic god, Ing. Over the centuries, they have developed the same general meaning due to the religious hegemony of Christianity, but our use of the Engel name for the rune hearkens back to Ing. Form turned up etched into granary walls in Berks County. Deity associations: Ing, Fro

Daag: Several forms provided, but none as functional as the one we're using. Used as a concept in Hexerei (and some Braucherei) dissolution workings, this rune was actually among the most commonly known among the informants. Deity associations: Helling (new)

Ochdem: Several rune forms given. Deity association: Wudan

ELEMENTS AND THEIR RUNE PAIRS (Modern):

Spirit: proactively associated with the rune Haagel and reactively associated with the rune Schild.

Fire: proactively associated with the rune Vieh and reactively associated with the rune Daag.

Time: proactively associated with the rune Yaahr and reactively associated with the rune Peil.

Air: proactively associated with the rune Anwatt and reactively associated with the rune Gewwe.

Water: proactively associated with the rune Hengscht and reactively associated with the rune Loch. 

Light: proactively associated with the rune Reit and reactively associated with the rune Sunne.

Yeast: proactively associated with the rune Winsch and reactively associated with the rune Engel.

Metal: proactively associated with the rune Kerze and reactively associated with the rune Mann. 

Venom: proactively associated with the rune Eiwe and reactively associated with the rune Dunner. 

Salt: proactively associated with the rune Ur and reactively associated with the rune Ochdem.

Ice: proactively associated with Eisich/Is and reactively associated with Not.

Earth: proactively associated with the rune Tuisko  and reactively associated with the rune Baerke.

ELEMENTAL COLORS:

Element color associations are emerging mostly (but not solely) form my personal practice, so, this is new:

Spirit: black

Fire: red

Time: purple

Air: light blue

Water: blue

Light: yellow

Yeast: green

Metal: orange

Venom: light green

Salt: white

Ice: gray

Earth: brown

RUNE-TO-DIGIT CORRESPONDENCE:

Following the method used by the three Northumberland Hexe mentioned in the main article, I am showing the rune-to-digit correspondence but adding the element colors in that are of my own practice. 

Spirit is at the top of the index finger. Its opposite, Earth, is at the bottom of the pinky. The pattern takes the fiery (Fire, Time, Air, Water, Light) runes across the first digits of each finger, then moves down to the second digit of the pinky and moving to the ring finger); the icy runes (Yeast, Metal, Venom, Salt, Ice) move across the bottom digits from the ring finger to the index finger, then move up to the middle digit of the index finger and finish out in the middle digit of the middle finger.




Friday, October 1, 2021

Ewicher Yeeger - South Jersey Pagan Pride 2021

Distelfink Sippschaft will be conducting the closing ritual for South Jersey Pagan Pride Day on Saturday, October 2, 2021. We will be leading a Sege to Ewicher Yeeger.


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Hollerbeer Hof 51 - Summer 2021

Hollerbeer Hof 51 is now available for download. This issue covers the Summer 2020 events, including the debut of "The Buggy" at Hoietfescht!

If you have ideas for future issues, please contact Stacey Steward, Public Relations Director, at pr@urglaawe.org!



Sunday, August 1, 2021

Es Hoietfescht 2021

These pics are from the Urglaawe observance of Hoietfescht (Haymaking Festival); "die Hoiet" is a widely used Pennsylvania Dutch term for the "hay time," which generally falls between mid-July and mid-August. It is also an old/alternate name for the month of July.

The Buggy's Debut

Hoietfescht is a celebration of the first [grain] harvest, so bread is a common offering. While there is a debate among Urglaawer as to whether there is any separation of tribes (Wane and Ase) among the gods, this is considered by most Urglaawer to be a festival of the Wane. The Wane are generally credited with being the originators of the concept of Fruchsfriede or frith. 


India Hogan tending to Erda's image.

Featured this year was a representation of the goddess Erda, whom most Urglaawer believe is our "living culture" cognate of Nerthus. Despite Tacitus' description, though, we didn't bog anyone this year (there’s always next year!).

So Erda's image came out looking a bit like
Cher, circa 1970, but the presence was powerful.

Pimp My Buggy!

India Hogan and Michelle Jones review the work.

This is a celebration, hence the gold hat and gold suspenders!

Mark Speeney, Robert L. Schreiwer, India Hogan

Beck Spille's rebuilt Wane cart.

The smaller wagon is full of flowers and offerings from our gardens. This was the cart before we acquired the buggy, and it still carried the images of some of the other Wane. The cart had been damaged over the years and was, as a result, rebuilt by Beck Spille in 2020 for presentation at Hoietfescht this year. Fun Fact: Beck used coffee to stain the cart!

The Hoietfescht Altar, 2021

Hoietfescht is the first of Urglaawe's two major harvest observances. The second is Erntfescht, which falls around the Fall Equinox in September. There are smaller crop observances throughout the growing season.

Distelfink's Mascots

 


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Hollerbeer Hof 50 - Spring 2021

A new issue of Hollerbeer Hof is available here. You can also find it on the side bar on the right of this page.