Saturday, December 31, 2011

Zwelfdi Nacht, Berchta, New Year, Frey... In Short, A LOT!

Tonight (December 31 into January 1) is the Twelfth Night of Yule (remember that Heathen (and therefore Urglaawe) days begin at sunset on the prior day. Thus, "Sunday" actually begins at sundown on Saturday.

This is also the night of the progression of Berchta, a powerful goddess known to the Continental and Pennsylvania Germans. She may actually be Holle known by a different name, or She may be a Vanic relative of Holle. However, historical treatment of Her has portrayed Her as much harsher than Holle and as having one foot significantly larger than the other. The difference may actually be a splay that resulted from Her endless spinning. Interestingly, this splay and the subsequent odd appearance of Her foot may be the origins of Mother Goose. ;)

The owl is the sacred animal to Berchta. I find it interesting that Her progression happened in different areas at different times in December, and much of December of the Deitsch Yaahrsraad (zodiac) falls under the sign of the Eil, or the owl. I have not found reason to draw any firm conclusions as to a relationship between them.

Also, apparently Berchta has a favorite dish. It consists of herring and oats or oatmeal. Folklore holds that She gets upset when people eat items other than those sacred foods on Her day. I confess that I am not sure I am ready to have that be my only meal today, so hopefully She will not be offended!

I want to wish you all a successful and prosperous 2012. May you have much luck in the new year!

Much of this information can be found in Jakob Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, volume I, particularly pp. 272-282. Berchta was/is often depicted with an owl beside Her or in Her arms.

Other items, such as the Deitsch Yaahrsraad, come from oral interviews with 80+ Brauchers by the Three Sisters Center and are the property of the Oley Freindschaft (Guild) of Braucherei. Graphic depictions of the Deitsch zodiac are the property of Susan Hess, who may be contacted at the Farm at Coventry in PA.

Additional aspects of this information come from the living traditions of the Deitsch folk as practiced in Urglaawe.