Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lessons of der Belsnickel

It is now mid-December, and the Yuletide is coming upon us quickly. The first observance in the Deitscherei that is directly related to the Yuletide is the coming of der Belsnickel.

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

Die Butzemannbrenning

"The Burning of the Butzemann," also known as "Die Butzemannverbrenning" and a few other terms.

The Butzemann is constructed at Grundsaudaag (Groundhog Day) out of selected and preserved remnants of last year's harvest and the lingering spirits of those remnants are then activated (along with the  physical material and the clothing to house them) through a ritual that Urglaawe inherited from Braucherei. He is given a name, which includes the patronymic and surname of his lineage, which is tracked from generation to generation. He then wards over the land that he is assigned. There is even one story of Butzemenner being trained by Dunner to thwart a marauding Frost Giant in mid-springtime.

Throughout the growing season, the Butzemann is nurtured and honored. Around the autumn equinox or as certain crops' harvests are completed, the Butzemann's duties are fulfilled. The activated plant spirit remnants prepare to retire. Due to the activation of the physical material and clothing (or, in our case, the shell) of the Butzemann, it now becomes imperative that the Butzemann be ceremonially burned. Braucherei tradition tells us that the burning must occur no later than Allelieweziel (Oct. 31). Tradition tells us that, if a Butzemann is not burned by the appointed time, the retired plant spirit will follow Holle as She sets out upon the Wild Hunt/Furious Host. Once the plant spirit departs, the clothes or the shell remain activated, thus becoming attractive to other spirits. The neglect of a Butzemann is considered an inhospitable act, thus adding a stain that makes the shell more attractive to baneful spirits.

If a baneful spirit occupies the shell, it becomes what is known as a Butz, which is linguistically related to Puck and pucca. A Butz is very much a bogeyman, and there are quite a few tales of neglected scarecrows wreaking havoc across the countryside. Many Deitsch folks remember being told to get back into bed on Christmas Eve or "the Butzemann will get you!"

Now our Butzemenner have been small so far, mostly due to my lack of artistic ability. Now that more of our folks are embracing the tradition, I expect more human-sized Butzemenner to show up. I should add, too, that there is a Verbot (taboo) in Braucherei against donning any clothing that has ever been on an activated Butzemann. I have encountered several explanations for this forbiddance. The one most cited is that the activation continues to attract spirits, thus inviting madness. Other explanations include 1). viewing the wearing of the clothes as theft of the clothes; 2). the wearing constitutes an effective stealing of the plants' spirits, thus creating a hex and a major stain on the Wurt of the offending party; 3). if the offending party is the landowner, the descendants of the Butzemann (read: next years' crops) may fail as a result of the dishonor done to their father. In a similar vein, each Butzemann should have his own clothes.

Many people seem perplexed by anyone even wanting to wear an item that had been on a scarecrow outside for nine months. This requires one to look at history. In the past, whether distant or as recent as the Colonial era, there were many wanderers and vagrants going from location to location. Sometimes their clothes became more shoddy and tattered than the clothing of the Butzemann. Thus, we can see one reason for which a person might take a Butzemann's clothes. 

A few years ago, a colleague in another Braucherei guild reported to me that their guild's oral lore included a story of a woman who took a section of clothing off of a Butzemann, made some patches from it, and sewed the patches inside the seams of a jacket. She then gave the quilt as a gift to another individual. This, of course, constitutes a hex or a curse.

In recent decades, references have been made to a "Butzefraa" or a scarecrow with female conventional attributes. The fact that our tradition has always had the Butzemann carry masculine attributes is no accident. Allelieweziel is also a time honoring males and masculine energies. In particular, tradition tells us that we are to recognize (and to be grateful for) the contributions and sacfices that males make for their families and communities. The timing of this honoring may have its roots in the culling of herds before winter. Similar awareness and gratitude are expressed to females and feminine energies at Grundsaudaag. Also, the earth is the physical mother of the coming year's crop, and the Butzemann represents the physical father, bringing the spirits of those plants from which the seeds come that give rise to the next crop. 

Although the Butzemann is associated with Allelieweziel and Distelfink's Butzemannbrenning typically takes place on the same day as the Allelieweziel Sege, the two events are actually separate rituals linked together by the need to burn the Butzemann by the Allelieweziel deadline. 

We wish everyone a blessed Allelieweziel. Take some time to honor your ancestors, for they are we, and we are our descendants. 

Macht's immer besser!

Friday, September 28, 2012


September 28 is the celebration of the Festival of Zisa, patroness of Zizarim (now Augsburg). Also, in the 1st century BCE, the Romans, under Titus Annius inauspiciously picked this date for an attempt to seize Zizarim. They discovered during the siege that there were far more people, including warriors, in the city (due to the festival) than they had anticipated, and the Romans suffered a major defeat.

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!
Hail Zisa!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hollerbeer Haven, Summer 2012

The .PDF version of the Summer 2012 edition of Hollerbeer Haven is now available for free download. This is a fairly large file, so please be patient during the download.

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


Tonight is the observance of the arrival of the Frost Giant called Fuffzehfux (FUFF-tsay-FOOX, with the primary stress of FUFF and secondary stress of FOOX), whose name means “Fifteen-Fox.”

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.

Rob  :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Now with Dreizehdax (I guess I should try to provide an approximate pronunciation: DRY-tsay-DAX, with DRY being the primary stress and DAX being a secondary stress) has fled, we observe overnight tonight the arrival of Vatzehvedder (FAHT-tsay-FED-dahw with the primary stress on FAHT and secondary stress on FED. The ending –er sound in Deitsch differs strongly from an –er ending in either English or Deutsch).

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


Overnight tonight is the observance of the arrival and retreat of the Reifries (Frost Giant) Dreizehdax (Thirteen-Badger), who attempts to undermine the restored order of the land that was established by Holle's return on Walpurgisnacht.

Dreizehdax is thwarted by Dunner and is forced to retreat.

Hail Dunner! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Glory of Walpurgisnacht and the Moifescht

This weekend witnessed a flurry of Walpurgisnacht activity across the region. On Sunday, Distelfink joined with the Norsewind tribe for a beautiful ceremony at the Sacred Oak in Oley, PA. Along with a tip of the hat to the site's Lenape predecessors, we honored our deities and ancestors. This was truly a blessed event. We celebrate the bonds of friendship and frith that are expanding throughout the Heathen community.

The tribes' combined altar by the Sacred Oak

The small stream (Heffners Runn or Heffner's Run, though there may be other names in English and Lenape) that feeds the roots of the great Sacred Oak carried away the flowers with our well wishes to the deities, the ancestors, and the Lenape warriors and tribe. We are honored to have access to two significant Lenape legacies (the Sacred Oak and the Warriors' Ring nearby), and their contributions to the Deitsch colonial survival must not be forgotten or ignored. Similarly, the long-standing friendship of the Deitsch and the Lenape is well recorded historically. We must reinvigorate these bonds and celebrate our shared love for this land.

Heffners Runn
Walpurgisnacht began at dusk on April 30 (30. Oschdret). By Urglaawe reckoning, dusk begins the next day, so the event starts actually at the onset of May 1 (1. Wonnet). We welcomed Holle back to the land with a large fire that represented the end of the Dark Half (Dunkelhelft) of the year. 

Feier im Brischtol

Holle's return to Hexenkopf (with visits to other locations, such as Hexebaerrick and Hexefeld) also means an end to the Wild Hunt (Wildi Yacht). In Urglaawe tradition, Holle now changes Her focus from seeking the lost souls of the departed to reinvigorating the land. The wights (Wichde) that accompanied Wudan and Her on the Hunt now return to the land and to the streams and rivers. 

At this time of the year, we focus on the compassion (Mitleid) that Holle holds up to us a virtue. This understanding is reflected in the "fairy tale," which is more aptly called a "folk tale," of Frau Holle. In the story, Holle rewards the diligent girl for her acts of compassion towards the baking bread and the ripened apples while punishing the lazy girl who ignores both. Industriousness and generosity are also known aspects of Holle's personality and disposition towards humankind, and it is our responsibility to embrace these virtues in order to build community and Fruchsfriede (frith).

Dawn on May 1 brings the Moifescht (Mayfest), also known as the Wonnetdanz (Joy Dance). The Wonnetdanz is represented in the decorating of the Maypole or Queschtbaam. Between now and the Midsummer (Summer Solstice), we are to recognize the joy of life. Celebrate love, family, and friends. By now, New Year's Resolutions should be in effect and the seeds of change should be planted. We are in the Rebirth phase of the Lewesraad (Cycle of Life), and our spirits should be rejuvenated along with the land.

Moifescht greetings and blessings to all!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology

The first widely accessible Urglaawe book is now available on

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

More on Walpurgisnacht

As Walpurgisnacht draws nearer, we begin to reflect on the spiritual significance of this event. Beyond the symbolic, if not literal, return of full fertility of the land, there is a related transition in the state of the mind and of being.

Urglaawe recognizes the cycles of life in the form of the Lewesraad (Life Wheel). While we usually describe it as the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, there are other spokes on the wheel that reflect other phases of life. 

If Grundsaudaag (February 2) represents conception or the potential for rebirth, and if Oschdre (Spring Equinox) represents the physical rebirth, then Walpurgisnacht represents the rise of awareness and the increasing maturity of the mind. This expansion of consciousness and of purpose and determination in our daily living is a central theme in Urglaawe. 

Although the physical rebirth is represented in March, the Bright Half of the year does not begin until the spark of consciousness turns into a growing flame. Holle's return from the Wild Hunt represents a settling of order that provides the environment in which the planted seeds (physical and spiritual) may take root and grow.

Interestingly, the arrival of the three Frost Giants in May serve multiple purposes. First, they represent the physical threat of frost to the tender plants. Second, they represent the threat of the forces of chaos to the survival of the Mannheim and to cosmic order. Third, they represent the forces of ignorance as a threat to the rising, yet tender, consciousness.

As Dunner forces the retreat of each of these Frost Giants, He defends the realm of Mannheim from the threats to the physical and to the spiritual. In this context, we see the interaction of the Wane (Vanir) and the Ase (Aesir) in terms of the physical representations of fertility and the ability to advance human consciousness. Holle prepares the environment; Dunner defends it, thus allowing for more the expansion of the creation.

Our role in this is to use the gifts bestowed on us by Wudan, Wille, and Weih to continue the advancement of the human life wave. The physical and spiritual provisions are not complete without the use of the mind to secure and to stabilize the order in our realm. In a manners similar to the proverbial horse and water, the deities give us the gift of consciousness and will help and guide us, but it is up to us to use our minds to take advantage of the gift.

We have the capacity to help the gods and the goddesses in their pursuit of cosmic order, enlightenment, and consciousness. The awareness of that capacity, and the rise in our ability to put it to use, is represented in the observance of Walpurgisnacht.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We are a little more than ten days away from Walpurgisnacht, which is, perhaps, the highest holiday on the Urglaawe calendar.

 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

Hollerbeer Haven

Hollerbeer Haven, formerly Hollerbeier Haven, the journal of the Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, is now a quarterly publication of Distelfink Sippschaft! 

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

Neversink Mountain Happenings


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


Did you ever awaken from a dream with a particular name or circumstance on your mind? Well, that happened to me this morning. While I am not sure exactly what my dreams were about, I woke up with the name of Wieland on my mind.

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

Butzemann Naming Convention

In Urglaawe tradition, the naming of the Butzemann follows an old-era Deitsch convention that includes a surname derived from the Butzemann's eldest known ancestor. He then is also given a patronymic as a middle name.

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!

‎"Es Butzemannslied" (Deitschi Fassing)

‘S danzt en Bi-ba Butzemann
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

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a multi-faceted observance, both in the Elder tradition of Braucherei and in Urglaawe. February 2 presents us with a thinner "veil" among the realms/worlds, and that the first of the land spirits/wights take this opportunity to return from the Wild Hunt. The groundhog represents the "otherworldly messenger," who (in a manner similar to Ratatosk on Yggdrasil) runs through his burrow, which has openings in each of the nine worlds. Thus, the groundhog brings reports from the other worlds.

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


This is the season for Distelfink Sippschaft and for Hottenstein Freibesitz (and probably other Urglaawe organizations) to celebrate the Dunnersege, or the Thor Blessing. Amid the readings of Thor and Thrym and of His journey to Jötunheim, we related the importance of Thor, as we call him in Deitsch, Dunner, to our folk.

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!