Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hollerbeer Haven 17 - Winter 2013

The PDF version of Hollerbeer Haven 17 (Winter 2013) is now available.

This issue continues the discussion of Braucherei in the Urglaawe context with the first installment of a description of Urglaawe philosophy. As this is a complex topic, the next few issues will also continue this discussion.

The featured herb of this issue is Boneset, and, as always, news and pictures of Distelfink events are included.

This is a large file that is intended for professional printing, so please be patient during the download.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Frau Holle" from the Urglaawe Perspective

This is a rewrite of an analysis written a few years ago. I cannot find the original text, so I hope I am not omitting any insights that were present in the original piece.

The story of Frau Holle (or Fraa Holle in Deitsch) is beloved among Grimm’s Fairy Tales. On the surface, it appears to be a simple “ardent” versus “lazy” tale comparing and contrasting two character archetypes.

From an Urglaawe perspective, though, the tale goes much deeper. It reveals facets of the goddess Holle that were submerged within folklore for centuries after the conversion, and it reveals a Heathen mindset in the treatment of its characters. I am using the version of the story that is found on pp. 128-134 of Maria Tatar’s (with whom I frequently disagree in analyses of fairy tales) The Annotated Brothers Grimm (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004), but most any version of the tale will suffice.

In the beginning of the story, we find a home in which a widow lives with her two daughters. As is often the case in these fairy tales, one is her natural daughter and the other is her step-daughter. The step-daughter is the conscientious worker who keeps the household in order. Every day, she sits near a well and is compelled to spin under her fingers start to bleed.

One day, her blood covers the spindle, so she walks over to the well to rinse it off. She drops the spindle into the well, and her step-mother forces her to go back and get it. In some versions of the tale, she falls into the well in her effort to retrieve it. In this version, she jumps in. Either way, she loses consciousness at the bottom of the well. When she recovers, she finds herself in a meadow.

From the Urglaawe perspective, the blood and the fall down the well represents the death of this girl. She loses her connection to the physical world, and, when she awakens, she finds herself in Holle’s realm at the other end of the well.

Our heroine then wanders around the home and finds an oven in which loaves of bread are baking. The loaves calls out to her for help, saying that they will burn if they are not removed from the oven. They also say that they had been done long ago.

Keeping in mind that this girl was the keeper of the order of the house while she was alive, she is keeping order immediately upon arrival in this new realm, too. Allowing the bread to burn would be wasteful and an act of inefficiency.

Our heroine continues wandering, and this time she comes upon apple trees that are calling out for someone to shake them in order to release their ripe apples. The dutiful heroine once again does what is requested of her.

In each of these scenes, particularly with the bread, the girl’s sense of order is coupled with acts of compassion. Tatar adds an aspect that I had not previously considered but do find to be interesting: the bread and the apples are coming to the end of a transition, as is the girl. From that, I can extrapolate that the the ripening of the apples and the completion of the baking are consistent with the end of one phase of existence for the girl.

It is at this point that the girl comes upon a little house and meets Mother Holle. At first, she is afraid of Holle’s appearance, which includes an attribute of large teeth (a discussion for another time and place). Holle introduces Herself and includes a reference that is consistent with Holle’s association with falling snow. Although the heroine was frightened at first by Holle’s appearance, she finds Holle’s disposition and nature to be very benevolent and loving.

Holle offers the girl to stay with her, implying that the girl will be rewarded if she is good with the household chores. The girl agrees, and she has a pleasant life with Holle, including no harsh words and meat on the table every night (at least one version of this story implies the meat is of goose, but most versions seem to be silent on the menu).

This segment is, from the Urglaawe perspective, reflecting the time of decay in the physical realm while the soul is undergoing transitions, growth, and reward in Holle’s hall.

The girl eventually becomes homesick. Although she is much better off in Holle’s realm, she longs to return to this one. She expresses her desire to Holle, who is so sympathetic that She offers to take the girl back herself. She takes the girl by the hand and leads to a large gate. When the girl passes through the gate, gold showers down upon her, covering her from head to toe. Holle tells the girl that this is her reward for working so hard, and returns to her the spindle that she had originally lost. The girl then finds herself suddenly near her mother’s house.

At this point, from the Urglaawe perspective, we’re looking at the Higher Self of the girl’s sould seeking to fulfill the purpose of its existence. Although the girl is in a state of bliss with Holle, the higher purpose of the soul’s existence is to advance the human consciousness and to make the physical realm a better place in which to exist, particularly since the deities want us to advance to the level that they are at now. The heroine cannot succeed to that goal without returning to this realm. As Holle is the goddess of the Cycle of Life, She leads the girl back to this realm.

The gold is the effect of Wurt (Wyrd) upon the girl. In her previous life, the girl lived conscientiously, keeping her home and family in order despite the harsh conditions that were presented to her by her step-mother and sister. While she was in Holle’s realm, she exhibited compassion and the same diligence with which she lived her last physical life. Therefore, her Wurt has placed her in a situation that is far improved. The location of being near her mother’s home indicates, from the Urglaawe perspective, that she has been reborn with her previous community.

The next stage includes a rooster crowing about the girl’s good fortune. Tatar states that this inclusion seems odd and tries to juxtapose it with a dominant male proclaiming the girl’s success. I am not so sure about her theory. This aspect has a fair amount of guesswork in it, but there could be a relationship between the presence of the rooster in this scene and odd fertility rites in the Deitscherei in past centuries. The crowing of roosters does have an association of predicting fertility in some Deitsch folklore, including an odd (and mostly bygone) practice of boys mimicking crowing roosters during the time of Fasching or Entschtanning (which has different implications in Urglaawe from the Christian Fasching).

This theory is by no means certain, but, if there is a link between this rooster crowing and Germanic fertility associations with roosters, then, perhaps, the rooster is implying that the girl will also be more wealthy and successful. The rooster’s crowing does include a statement that the girl is well-to-do, so this theory may not be too farfetched.

Now, although the Urglaawe perspective has the heroine reborn in this story, it cannot achieve its contrast with the negative Wurt of the sister if the girl does not talk to her step-mother and sister about her experiences. The girl relates what happened to her, and the step-mother decides she wants the same thing to happen to her natural daughter. However, this girl does not want to work.

Instead of spinning to make her fingers bleed, she uses a thorn to prick her finger. She throws the spindle into the well and jumps after it. She ends up in the meadow, but ignores the bread and the apples. She has no fear of Holle because her sister had already described Holle’s appearance to her, and she immediately agrees to work for Holle because she believes the payout will be worth it.

At first, the girl works hard, but she eventually slacks off. Holle ends her service, which is fine with this girl, who thinks that she will now get the gold. Holle takes the girl to the gate, but, instead of gold, pitch pours down on this girl. Holle tells her that the pitch is the reward for her service. The rooster crows some insulting words towards that girl, and the pitch stays with that girl for the rest of her life.

Once again, we’re looking at the effects of Wurt. The girls intentions are based in greed from the get-go, and that influences everything else she does. She does not even pretend to have compassion for anyone who cannot or will not give her what she wants. When she is in the presence of Holle, who can give her what she desires, she strives to create the facade of a decent, orderly person. She event engages in the ruse of being a hard worker, but she is unable to maintain the required productivity, even with the belief that she would receive the reward that her sister got. Instead, her true nature continues during her time with Holle, and her Wurt is to have her soul stained in her next life by her actions in her previous life. Much like the stains that are present when the Urleeg (orlog) attaches itself to the soul, the pitch stays with her for her entire life. Interestingly, the Deitsch word for "pitch" ("Bech") and its German cognate both also mean "bad luck."

From the Urglaawe perspective, this tale is about life, death, and rebirth and the impact our actions have on our souls from one life to the next.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hollerbeer Haven Issues


All old issues of Hollerbeer Haven, the Journal of Urglaawe, Braucherei, and Detisch Wisdom, are now available here on