Wednesday, December 30, 2015


For folks who identify with Urglaawe, there is a meal requirement on Twelfth Night (December 31, the Feast Night of Berchta), of herring, gruel, and Zammede (pancake or dumpling). More Heathens in different traditions are also beginning to adhere to that requirement. See Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology," volume 1, p. 273 (among other references in the work):

Berchta, like Holda, has the oversight of spinners; whatever spinning she finds unfinished the last day of the year, she spoils. Her festival has to be kept with a certain traditional food, gruel and fish. Thor says he has had sildr ok hafra (herring and oats) for supper...; our white lady has prescribed the country folk a dish of fish and oat-grits for evermore, and is angry whenever it is omitted (Deutsche sage, no. 267). The Thuringians in the Saalfeld country wind up the last day of the year with dumplings and herrings.

This meal on Twelfth Night stands in stark contrast to the meal of Twelfth Day (New Year's Day), which is the ornate pork and sauerkraut of old Pennsylvania German traditions. Juxtaposing the end of Yule's darkest times with the beginning of the New Year reminds us of our hopes and dreams for the future.

Blessed end of Yule to all, and best of luck in 2016!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Photos from Krampuslauf Philadelphia 2015: Parade of Spirits

Most of our photos came from the preparation period because it was difficult to take photos while marching, but there were other people taking photographs of the parade along the marching route. Hopefully we will be able to share more in the future. Featured in our photos are Mike Hicks in his debut in the role of Belsnickel. Robert L. Schreiwer reprised his 2013 role as Gedreier Eckhart, the leader of the Wild Hunt from Deitsch lore. Andria Carpentier marched as a spirit in the Hunt and assisted others with makeup. Corrine Johnson delighted the crowd with her stunning handmade Yule Cat (from Icelandic lore) costume. Joe Barrett and other folks formed a group of Yule Lads. 

Channel 17 has some great pics posted, particularly from the fire performers!

Once again, Krampuslauf Philadelphia: Parade of Spirits has exceeded our expectations. This wondrous, grassroots, community- and participant-driven event continues to grow and to flourish in the City of Brotherly Love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yuletide Sock Drives in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Illinois!

We Need Your Socks!

Socks are one of the most requested items at homeless shelters, but they are also one of the least-donated items.

We will be collecting socks for folks in need. We need all sizes, from baby to adult male. Practical socks, fun socks, fuzzy socks, holiday socks, argyle socks are all needed!

Stock up stacks of socks and stockings and help to bring warmth to the feet of those in need this Yuletide!

Contact Kate Cullifer
Collections in Pasco and Pinellas Counties
Drive runs through December 21, 2015

Collections in Bucks, Philadelphia, and Berks Counties
Drive runs from December 12, 2015 through January 1, 2016

Contact Jo Spinks
Collections in the Pittsburgh Metro Area
Drive runs through January 2, 2016

Contact Valerie Liesenfelt
Collections in Sangamon County, Springfield Metro Area
Drive runs from December 14, 2015 through January 19, 2016

Thank you!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Urglaawe Logo

Based on community discussions via the Urglaawe group page on Facebook, Kate Cullifer designed the new Urglaawe logo!

The logo was rendered to graphics files by Rembranded Illustration Studio

Congratulations on a job well done!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Provisional 2016 Calendar

(Note: This is for observance dates, not necessarily the same as gathering dates)

This is still rough-hewn, but here's the starting blocks for the 2016 calendar.

Sundown December 31: BERCHTASLAAF (Feast Day of goddess Berchta); TWELFTH NIGHT

January 1: Twelfth Day (of Yule), Feast of Frey; New Year's Day

Sundown of Feb. 1 until Sundown February 12: ENTSCHTANNING (including Groundhog Day, which starts sundown Feb. 1 and runs until sundown Feb. 2)

March 20: OSCHDRE (runs for 12 nights)

Sundown April 30: WONNEZEIT (including Walpurgisnacht/Wonnenacht, sundown April 30; May Day, sunrise May 1)

Sundown May 12, May 13, May 14: Observance of Frost Giant attacks

June 9-12: TROTHMOOT at Fort Flagler Retreat Center, Nordland, WA.


Late July/Early August: HOIETFESCHT - Haymaking observances throughout first half of month

September 3: PHILADELPHIA PAGAN PRIDE, Clark Park, Philadelphia, PA

September 22: ERNTFESCHT, Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home

September 28: ZISASEGE, Feast Day of Zisa

Sundown October 30: ALLELIEWEZIEL begins and runs for twelve nights

November 11: HOLLERSEGE/EWICHER YEEGER SEGE; Feast Day of Holler (Ullr)

December 12: KRAMPUSLAUF PHILADELPHIA, Liberty Lands Park, Philadelphia, PA

Sundown December 20: YUUL; Yule begins

Sundown December 31: BERCHTASLAAF

In-Reach Heathen Services Podcast

In-Reach Heathen Prison Services was featured today on the Bits of Heathenry Podcast. Along with the other topics that we addressed, we  discussed some of the varying viewpoints within Heathenry on the worthiness of Heathen prison work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Allelieweziel Article in "Wild Hunt"

The Urglaawe observance of Allelieweziel got a write-up on the Wild Hunt, which is a major Pagan news source. 

It is a good article by Heather Greene with some good photos by Jennifer Milby of Distelfink's ceremony from Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Videos: Panel Presentation on "Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today"

The videos below are of the panel's presentation at the Parliament of the World's Religions on Pagan/Heathen traditions that have their indigenous roots in Europe.

Unfortunately, I was trying to record and to talk at the same time, so the video quality is a bit clumsy, plus the video stopped at least twice, and I lost one of the longer responses to a question. There is an audio recording that was taken, and, if that becomes available, I will post it.

Panel participants from left to right: Robert L. Schreiwer (Urglaawe / Heathenry), Erynn Rowan Laurie (Celtic), Diana Paxson (Asatru / Heathenry), Eli Sheva (Hebrew Polytheism), Kirk Thomas (ADF), Gwendolyn Reece (Hellenic).

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Urglaawe Altar at the Parliament of the World's Religions

This altar to Holle was set up in the Pagan Faith Space during the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City, Utah. Distelfink is honored to have had the opportunity to be present at the event, and we are grateful to Leslie Hugo for providing us with the space. The altar generated interest that led to The Troth's booth, where more materials were available.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Press Release: Allelieweziel Observance

October 21, 2015

Bristol, PA: This year, Distelfink Sippschaft will hold its Allelieweziel (“goal of all love”) observance on Sunday, October 25, 2015, at the organization’s Hof grounds in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, at 1:00 PM. The observance will take place one week prior to the beginning of the actual Allelieweziel holiday dates, which begin at sundown on October 30 and run through sundown on November 11. The early observance is intended to allow members to be present at their homes on Halloween.

Allelieweziel represents the transition from the light half (Brechthelft) of the spiritual year to the dark half (Dunkelheft). The holy days begin with the goddess Holle's departure from the soil onto the Wild Hunt (or Furious Host). Allelieweziel is the death phase of the life-death-rebirth cycle, which is affirmed by the honoring of the god Holler, who is closely associated with death, on November 11 on the holiday of Ewicher Yeeger.

As Holle sets off upon the Wild Hunt, She is followed by an entourage of the lands spirits and the souls of the recently departed. Throughout the dark half of the year, Holle hunts for stray souls. As She finds them, they join the Furious Host until She brings them to her figurative mill to "grind" them into their next life. 

Another aspect to the holiday is the recognition of the contributions and sacrifices that males make for the good of the community. Traditionally, as winter set in, culling of herds, particularly males, helped to provide food for humans and conserve resources for the remaining herd. This recognition is underscored by the burning of the Butzemann, or activated scarecrow, by the end of the first day of Allelieweziel. The Butzemann is the “father” of this year’s crops and is now released from his duties. Prior to the burning, though, he is to be shown seeds or cuttings of plants to help ensue that we will nurture his descendants.  Then, as he is burned, he is to be taking with him all of the things that we wanted to banish from our spiritual lives, particularly things that were on our list of resolutions at the New Year. The pyre is to bring about the extinction of those negative aspects of our lives along with any gifts to the deities. As we watch him burn, we honor his work and reflect upon the year gone by.

The time between Allelieweziel and Yule is considered to be the darkest time: the time between death and rebirth. It is not a time to fear, but instead a time to recognize the need for change within the universe. The end of one thing is a beginning of something new.

The duty of each individual being, whether human, animal, or plant, is to strive to leave the world a better place for our descendants (and us in our next life!) than it was when we came into it. This is the goal of all love. This is Allelieweziel.

Anyone who wishes to attend the Allelieweziel observance is encouraged to contact Robert L. Schreiwer at For more information on Distelfink Sippschaft and Urglaawe, please visit and

The Wild Hunt's Tweet

The Wild Hunt (@thewildhunt) tweeted out a photo of our altar at the Parliament of the World's Religions. :)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Parliament of the World's Religions Underway!

The Parliament of the World's Religions has already exceeded my expectations. I have enjoyed seeing the diversity of the religious practices, and I have equally enjoyed seeing others express interest in Urglaawe and Heathen practices.

The Urglaawe altar is set up in room 150 F (also accessible through 150 G), and booth with Troth representation is #878 in the exhibit section.

I will be representing Urglaawe on the panel presentation titled Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today." On this panel will also be Diana Paxson, Kirk Thomas, Erynn Rowan Laurie, Dr. Gwendolyn Reece, and Eli Sheva, each representing a different tradition.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Distelfink's Press Release for the Parliament of the World's Religions


BRISTOL, PA: In an historic moment for Heathens across the globe, the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, UT, will include two presentations by Heathen leaders. The Parliament runs from October 15 through October 19, 2015.

Robert L. Schreiwer is the President of Distelfink Sippschaft, which is an Urglaawe religious organization based in Bucks County, PA. Schreiwer is also Assistant Steer (Vice-President) of The Troth, which is a large international Heathen organization. Schreiwer will represent the Urglaawe tradition of Heathenry in the panel discussion, “Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today.” Mr. Schreiwer says, “This is a significant opportunity for Heathen leaders to engage and to network with leaders of other religions. This event will increase the visibility of Heathenry in the public eye and set a precedent for inclusion in future endeavors.” 

Diana L. Paxson, Elder in the Troth and in the Covenant of the Goddess, and gythja (leader) of Hrafnar Kindred in California, will lead this momentous discussion.  Fellow panelists Erynn Laurie, Elisheva Nesher, Kirk Thomas, and Dr. Gwendolyn Reece will join Paxson and Schreiwer in discussing the distinction between their traditions and Wicca, and the challenge of resurrecting interrupted pagan traditions from the past. Schreiwer’s portion of the discussion will include the influence of the Pennsylvania German  traditional practices of Braucherei (Pow Wow) and Hexerei on Urglaawe. The panel discussion will take place on Sunday, October 18.

Paxson will also speak on “Staving off Ragnarök: A Heathen Response to Climate Change.” This presentation will focus on the Heathen tradition, offering mythology and values that conceptualize this struggle, work with the powers of nature that sustain us, and fight the forces that would destroy our world.

The Parliament is the oldest, the largest, and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faiths and traditions. This year’s Parliament will bring together 10,000 Global and religious leaders, grassroots activists, and practitioners from 50 traditions and more than 80 countries.  Its theme, “Reclaiming the Heart of our Humanity,” includes discussions and presentations on topics critical to our times: climate change and creation care; war, violence and hate speech; and economic inequality and wasteful living.  Parliament attendees can visit the Heathen information booth or Urglaawe altar in the Pagan Faiths space for more insight into these traditions. 

For more information on the Urglaawe tradition, please visit To support the Heathen contingent in their work at the Parliament, please visit

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Menu for Zisasege

Below is a suggested menu for Zisasege. This list is the creation of discussions in the Urlgaawe Culinary Guild and was assembled by Kate Cullifer.

Main Dish:


2 lbs. veal steak
1 egg, beaten
bread crumbs
lemon juice
Veal should be about ½ inch thick and cut into serving portions. Season with salt and pepper. Dip pieces in bread crumbs, then into the beaten egg and again in the crumbs. Let stand in the refrigerator a while before cooking. Brown in hot fat on both sides, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice.



Side Dish:

Roasted Butternut Squash (or preferred variety) with roasted pine nuts.



2 cups apples, diced
2 cups cooked beets, diced
¼ cup chopped nuts
2 hard boiled eggs
½ cup salad dressing

Mix the apples, beets, and chopped eggs. Add salad dressing (see Grandma’s salad dressing). Mix and garnish with chopped nuts and parsley.



1½ cups cold mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon minced parsley
2 tablespoons cream
corn meal
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon minced onion
dash of pepper
1 egg
Mix up a paste with the potatoes and butter, add the parsley, salt and pepper, cream, onion and egg. Mold into croquettes, dip into the egg white, roll in corn meal. Fry in deep fat.


FUNNEL CAKES (Drechter Kuche)

3 eggs
2 cups milk
¼ cup sugar
3 to 4 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tsps. baking powder
Beat eggs and add sugar and milk. Sift half the flour, salt and baking powder together and add to milk and egg mixture. Beat the batter smooth and add only as much more flour as needed. Batter should be thin enough to run thru a funnel. Drop from funnel into deep, hot fat (375-f). Spirals and endless intricate shapes can be made by swirling and criss-crossing while controlling the funnel spout with a finger. Serve hot with molasses, tart jelly, jam or sprinkle with powdered sugar.



Or (More Deitsch)

An old York County Recipe

½ lb. butter
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, beaten
½ tsp. cinnamon
about 5 cups flour

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs beating well. Sift in the cinnamon and enough flour to make a stiff dough. Roll out the dough very thin on a floured board to about inch thick. Cut into rectangular pieces 3 inches by 5 inches. Make 5 cuts lengthwise in the dough ½ inch apart and 4½ inches long, so that the rectangle remains in one piece. Fry in hot deep fat (360-f) for 2 minutes or until they bob up to the top of the hot grease. When dropping them into the fryer, pick up the 1st, 3rd and 5th strips and pull them upward. Let the 2nd, 4th and 6th sag downward so that in frying they get all fahuudelt (tangled) or as the dutch say, all through each other. Dust with powdered sugar or dribble molasses over them and eat hot.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Heathen (including Urglaawe) Presence at the Parliament of World Religions

This year, for the first time, there will be a Heathen presence at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake City, UT (October 15-19). This is a significant opportunity for Heathen leaders to engage and to network with leaders of other religions. This event will increase the visibility of Heathenry in the public eye and set a precedent for inclusion in future endeavors.

The Parliament will feature the following Heathen presentations:

"Staving off Ragnarök: A Heathen Response to Climate Change" (Diana Paxson) on Saturday, October 17 at 10:00 AM


"Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today" (Diana Paxson, Robert L. Schreiwer, Erynn Laurie, Elisheva Nesher, Kirk Thomas, and Gwendolyn Reese) on Sunday, October 18 at 8:15 AM.

Additionally, there will be a Heathen information booth (#878) with pamphlets and books for distribution and sale. An Urglaawe altar will be present in a shared Pagan Faiths space somewhere in rooms A-G in sections 150 or 151 (clarifying information will be provided as it becomes available).

All of this costs money, so a GoFundMe effort has been set up to help to defray the participants' costs. If you are unable to donate money, please help by passing along the link.

Thank you!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day is Saturday, September 5, 2015
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Clark Park
Baltimore Avenue and S. 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA

2015 Workshops

2015 Vendors

2015 Schedule

2015 Requested Donation Items

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

GoFundMe for Heathen Presence at the World Parliament of Religions

A GoFundMe has been set up to help with the expenses of the trip to Salt Lake City for the World Parliament of Religions. 

Your funds will go directly to support the following four attendees of the 2015 Parliament:

- Diana L. Paxson, Elder in the Troth and Gyðja of Hrafnar

- Robert Lusch-Schreiwer, Vice-Steersman of the Troth, Ziewer of Die Urglaawisch Sippschaft vum Distelfink (Distelfink Sippschaft).

- Lorrie Wood, Þyl of Hrafnar

- Angela Carlson, Þórsgyðja, Othala Hearth

Funds are being collected by The Fellowship of the Spiral Path, a pan-pagan umbrella group and 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Berkeley, California. Spiral will receive 5% of the proceeds and administer the funds to Hrafnar (a heathen kindred based in Berkeley and affiliated with Spiral) and Distelfink Sippschaft (a 501(c)(3) non-profit heathen group based in Bristol, Pennsylvania).

Excess funds raised, if any, will be distributed to Hrafnar and Distelfink for their general use.

The group will run an information booth (#878) at which pamphlets and books can be distributed and sold.

At least two heathen related presentations have been accepted for the program:

· “Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today” (Diana Paxson, Rob Schreiwer, Erynn Laurie, Elisheva Nesher, Kirk Thomas and Gwendolyn Reese) October 18, 8:15 a.m., 

· "Staving off Ragnarök: A Heathen Response to Climate Change”, (Diana Paxson) on October 17th at 10 a.m.

This is an invaluable opportunity for The Troth, for Urglaawe, and for Heathenry to have representation among the worlds's religions. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The next major observance on the Urglaawe calendar is Erntfescht (Harvest Festival or Harvest Home in English), which is associated also with the Autumn Equinox.

Erntfescht, also called Erntdankfescht, is the original Deitsch (Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania German) day of thanksgiving. It is an age-old Germanic celebration of the harvest. 

Families and/or communities would come together to ensure that their loved ones and neighbors had ample food to carry them through the winter. The community took care of its own, which is a concept that is all too seldom practiced these days. Also, this event helped farmers specialize. One farmer may be particularly adept at working with wheat while another may have the perfect soil for growing broccoli. At this time, they would swap their specialized crop for items that were others' specialties.

One important element to note was that the provision of ample food for loved ones was a community effort, but we're not talking about people taking from others in an abusive manner. Folks were expected to be self-reliant when possible. However, there were many circumstances that left a family or part of the community vulnerable: the occasional crop failure; an illness; the advanced age of a person who gave to the community for many years, etc.

Within a community of participation by volition, there is no shame in taking when needed while giving when possible. The generosity of the local community helps to build frith and expand grith. In many ways, this an organic expression of the concepts of welfare and Social Security, which are tainted by their compulsory aspects, mismanagement, and the allowance of widespread abuses by people who cheat the system.

In its organic state, though, this is a beautiful expression of community and tribe. The concept of a harvest home comes from the pre-conversion era in Europe and continued to the present era.

Distelfink Sippschaft observes the harvest and the autumn equinox through food drives, seed swaps, and food exchanges. We also conduct a food drive at this time of year, and we encourage others to do the same to the best of their ability.

Typically honored on this day are Dunner (Thor), Siwwa (Sif), Idunna, and, increasingly, the Matronae.

Dunner, seen in thunder, lightning, and heavy rain, is also identified with crops, particularly as He wards the farmlands and the cattle. Siwwa (name backformed; unknown in Deitsch lore), Dunner's consort or wife, is said in Norse lore to have golden hair, which we may see reflected in the fields of wheat and grain that are so abundant at this time of the year. Lightning helps in the process of atmospheric nitrogen fixation, and the nitrogen oxides are dissolved into rain and brought to the earth as nitrates, which helps to make the soil more fertile. Here we can see Dunner's relationship to Siwwa, and Siwwa brings forth the grain crops that nourish us (and the cattle!). Thus, Urglaawe views Siwwa as a gentle goddess of nutrition and strength.

Tying in with the other deities at this time of year is the goddess Idunna or Idunn (also unknown by name in our lore, though some apple lore does play into our stories). Idunna is the keeper of the apples (usually seen as golden apples) that empower our deities. Without these apples, our deities begin to wither and age. Scandinavian lore (Skáldskaparmál) provides us with a story of how important these apples were to the deities. Apples, of course, are high in antioxidants, which can indeed help slow signs of aging. Add to it that most apples can be stored throughout the winter without rotting, and we can see how our ancestors viewed the importance of the fruit in their presence. As the apple harvest time sets in, we celebrate the deities' harvest of their important staple.

As we enter the latter portion of summer, and while we reap the rewards of our hard work and celebrate the gifts we have before us, let us also prepare for the coming winter. Let us look back over the year and see how far we have come with any resolutions or plans for the year. Let us ensure that our loved ones are secure and safe. Today we hail the deities, the wights, and certainly our ancestors, and we thank them for our successes and for seeing to our future.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Urglaawe Guild Topics

Over the course of the last several months, we have had many discussions within the Urglaawe guild groups on Facebook rise to a point where we needed to keep a more permanent record of them.

To that end, the guilds began to number some discussion topics, and those discussion topics were saved within the Files section of each guild's group page on Facebook.

Now we are beginning to see a need for this information to be shared beyond the guild groups. Thus, on Distelfink Sippschaft's Resources Page, the guild topics now appear as available selections listed under Urglaawe Guild Topics from Facebook. Please note on that page the comment regarding proper citation. 

Hail the Urglaawe!

Dr. Don Yoder passes away

Preeminent Deitsch historian and scholar, Don Yoder, passed away yesterday. This is a major loss to the Deitsch community. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Distelfink Sippschaft Grows

Yesterday at Distelfink Sippschaft's Hoietfescht celebration, we heard the oath of our new brother, Larry Goble, Jr.

Larry has long been a Friend of Distelfink and an active supporter of our community efforts. He is also the proprietor of A New Vibration, LLC, which is an holistic and healing shop in Blackwood, New Jersey.

Hail, Larry!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Trothmoot 2016: Fort Flagler, WA

The High Rede of The Troth has determined that Trothmoot 2016 will be held at Fort Flagler in Washington state. This puts the event in the area of Troth Steward for Washington, Staci Baisch. Staci is also one of the founders of Blauroiger Freibesitz (Blue Heron Freehold), which is a rising Urglaawe group based in the Seattle area. 

We are looking forward to working with her to help build a great program for Trothmoot for next year, and we are also hoping that more Urglaawe folks from around the continent will be able to meet one another at the event next year. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First Friday Event (Bristol, PA)

The July "First Friday" night in Bristol, PA, is this weekend (Friday, July 3, 2015).

Vendors in the town will be staying open later and setting up tables on the sidewalk.

The Troth and Distelfink Sippschaft will have a presence at this event.

The Distelfink-The Troth book and product table in front of Spunky Candles and Crafts at 203 Mill Street will be well stocked, so, if you are in the area, come visit our little town and stock up on some good Heathen books. :)

 Make an evening of it and go out to eat at the historic King George II Inn!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Speculation Topic: Die Oschdre and Matronae Austriahenae

Several discussions have recently emerged on the Urglaawe and Troth groups on Facebook concerning the many Matronae identified through votive stones in Europe. One conversation, in particular, led me to the section on the Matronae Austriahenae (Owwerne Austriahenae, Hausmidder Austriahenae, or Idise Austriahenae) in GardenStone's Gods of the Germanic Peoples, volume 1

According to GardenStone (86-87), almost 150 votive stones have been found that were dedicated to these three Matronae. Most, if not all, of them were found in regions that contributed heavily to the Deitsch migration (Rhein-Erft district and Cologne areas). The name is confirmed to be Germanic, which the root austra meaning east or eastward. GardenStone also makes a case for considering (not assuming, however) a connection to the goddess Ostara/Eoster based on the name.

From Urglaawe myth, we know that at least some Deitsch folk considered there to be three goddesses involved with the Oschdre (Spring Equinox) holiday. In the myth, these three goddesses, Helling ("Daylight"), Oschdra ("of the East"), and Nacht ("Night") brought colors and shades to the world, gave names to the cardinal directions, and are associated with the fertility of animals (Hare and Finch (or Goose, depending on the variant)), and more. 

While it is unlikely that there is a direct connection between this particular myth of the Oschdre and the Matronae Austriahenae, it is worth speculating upon whether tales that were retained or that emerged over the centuries may have some sort of association with deities who were known in days long since passed. Thus, it is worthy to consider whether it is possible that the Oschdre may be a living reflection of previously-known goddesses.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Freeholds and Regional Contacts

Urglaawe is continuing to grow throughout the US and Canada, and we are pleased to announce the establishment and the seeding of new Freeholds and contact points in many states and provinces!

Hail the community!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Oschdre (Where Color Comes From; Origin of the Distelfink)

-------------- PREFACE --------------

Rob had only heard parts of this when he was younger, mostly from relatives or friends of relatives from the stretch between Ashfield and Bowmanstown (version A), PA but also from the Berwick area (version B).  In 2012, Rob asked around the two areas and got leads on some people who may know about the story, and he ended up with 10 new informants for a total of 17. Other informants were familiar with one or two points of the story but not enough to make a significant contribution. More than half of the informants came from farther south, in a stretch from Orwigsburg to New Ringgold (version C). Their versions of the story bore more information and some distinct contrasts with those of the two northern areas. Thus, this particular myth has undergone some reconstruction using as a base the information that the informants provided. The more important variations are noted with footnotes below.

It should also be mentioned that only four informants (all of whom self-identified as knowing Braucherei or Hexerei), looked at any aspect of this as being anything beyond a metaphor. Informant #11 specifically referred to the three Ladies as "goddesses"; #8 referred to Oschdra as a "helpful entity";  #13 and #15 referred to the sisters as "helpful spirits." Therefore, it cannot be said that this was a widespread myth with religious significance historically, but it is applicable to the modern perspectives of Urglaawe.

It is also by no means certain that this is of any particular antiquity; it may be a story that arose in the foothills since the settlement. Thus, it is prudent to encourage readers to look at this as a new myth or a reconstruction or a retelling of a regional folk tale while allowing individuals or kindreds to view it as they will.

Michelle A. Jones and Robert L. Schreiwer

-------------- DIE OSCHDRE --------------

Three sisters, Helling, Nacht, and Oschdra,1 gathered together at a point on the world they called East,2 Each sister wore a cloak of transformative power. Helling wore a cloak of light; Nacht, a cloak of darkness; and Oschdra wore a cloak that could not been seen. They decided to meet at this moment because they were bored with the blandness of existence and wished to make it all appear more interesting and exciting.

Nacht stepped forward first and as She did so, Her cloak covered the world and everything beneath Her and it became black. Oschdra, seeing what happened when Her sister progressed, moved forward next. Only this time, Oschdra’s cloak seemingly had no effect on the world below. Next Helling walked forward, and as She did, the world below Her and Her cloak was cast in white. Most amazingly, as Helling’s white touched Nacht’s black under where Oschdra stood, Oschdra's cloak and everything below Her transformed and could now been seen in a new shade She called "gray."

Oschdra then called upon a pair of Finches,3 Distelfresser and Himmelflucht,4 to fly from Her right hand, a place She called North, to Her left hand, a place She called South. As they would make their flight, everything in their path would be washed in gray.

Distelfresser and Himmelflucht agreed, but asked Oschdra to grant them a simple request: Himmelflucht’s eggs shall also be gray so that she could see them regardless of Helling or Nacht being above them. Oschdra happily granted their request, and the Finches began their flight.

The three Sisters continued their walk around the world. Nacht providing the black hue, Helling, the white, and Oschdra, gray. After nine days, Oschdra became restless once again. She was unhappy that she could only create a tint on the world by standing between Her sisters. She wanted to provide Her very own hue. She looked upon Her cloak and closed Her eyes. She imagined one side of the cloak afire with a varied warm glow and She called it red, orange, and yellow. She imagined the other side luminescent with a cool iridescence and She called it green, blue, and violet.

Oschdra opened Her eyes, and now Her cloak bore all these hues which she called “Farewe,” but in Her own tongue.5 Now as Oschdra walked from the East to the West,6 the skies radiated with the new colors. Her sisters saw the change, and they admired Oschdra’s craft.

Together the three Sisters of the East, thenceforth known as the Oschdre, decided to do more. Helling added white to the colors and Nacht added black. Oschdra’s palette grew and the Sisters loved their work.7 The colors appeared in the sky but not elsewhere in the world. Oschdra and Her Sisters wished for the whole world to emerge with the colors of their work so they sought the assistance of the most prolific of the animal world to help them with their work. They found Haas8 and asked him to transform the world wherever his tail went by saturating everything in its path with the colors of the Ladies' craft. Haas agreed but asked in return that all of his descendents would inherit his role as the bearer of color.

The Oschdre Sisters agreed. While Helling and Nacht stood opposite one another, Oschdra sent Haas forth. Haas was directed to begin at the nest of the Finches, who, having completed their journey, were now flying South to North. Oschdra declared to Himmelflucht, “With Haas' colors, your eggs will always be in your sight.”

Just as Hare painted the last of the eggs,9 Distelfresser landed in the nest to check on them and he was pleased. Haas' tail brushed against him as Haas was leaving and Distelfresser’s plumage transformed to vibrant yellow, blue, green, and red.10

Haas continued on his way, and to this day, wherever Haas goes, color follows his tail.11

-------------- NOTES --------------

1 Only two informants (#13 and #15, both of the New Ringgold area; version C) had names for all three of the ladies: Helling ("Daylight"), Nacht ("Night"), Oschdra ("of the East"). The northern versions (A, B) only listed one individual, the Lady of the East, Oschdra, rather than three. Others in the southern stretch (C) knew one name or another or simply referred to them as "Schweschdere" (sisters).

2 Informant #10 referred to the Lady's home as "Mariyeland" (sometimes spelled "Maryeland"), which could be influenced by the Deitsch name for Morgenland (Lehigh County) and literally means "Tomorrow Land," referring to the East.

3 There is a distinct difference in versions here. Version A refers to a goose while version C refers to a pair of finches. Version B makes no mention of this at all. Rob initially went with the goose route because that was the version he was most acquainted with. However, the goldfinch has as many informants and all of the informants from the area of version C indicated some knowledge (albeit in some cases passive) of the finches being part of the story.

4 Informant #13 (version C) was the sole provider of the names of the finches, and she had stammered significantly on the male's name as she tried to remember what her father had related to her. She ultimately provided Distelfresser ("Thistle-Eater") and Himmelflucht ("Heaven-Flight") as the name of the female. As these were the only names provided, we used them.

5 Whatever word a goddess would use in the language of the Hohegegend (the realm of deity) that would be the equivalent of Farewe ("colors").

6 Almost every informant in versions A and C reported this "walk" from the East to the West. Version B was more simple in a reference to the dawn bringing the colors.

7 Version A included mixing them together to form the earth color brown.

8 Haas ("Hare"). It should be noted that the purpose of the story as related in version B by informant #7 was to explain where the Easter Bunny came from, and the colors were more a secondary tale. In version C, it was the opposite; the purpose of the story was to explain where colors, including those of the Distelfink, came from. Version A fell somewhere in between with more focus on the origination of the colors of the world.

9 This is where the difficulty with version C comes in as the most typical reflections of eggs at Oschdre/Easter are goose eggs and chicken eggs. The only relatively widespread association with smaller bird eggs are those of Robins, who are announcers of springtime in Deitsch lore. The variety of colors and shades among house finch eggs, though, is not to be dismissed. And, also, sometimes a metaphor is just a metaphor.

10 There was some disagreement among the version C informants of this segment. Two informants stated yellow and called it Distelfink.. two stated yellow and red and called it Distelfink... and three related yellow, blue, green, red and called it by both Distelfink and Bird of Paradise. It is anyone's guess whether any of these was the original version or any/all were an alteration to the story to reflect the artistic concepts of the Distelfink/Bird of Paradise depictions. The one conclusion we do draw from this particular tale, though, is that Distelfink got its colors from Haas on his mission to paint the world. Stressing again: It is also by no means certain that this is of any particular antiquity; it may be a story that arose in the foothills since the settlement.

11 This is probably the most widespread portion that people in general remember, even if vaguely, outside of the informants on the list.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


In addition to the Urglaawe-specific words presented in A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology, there are, unfortunately, many words that we use in Deitsch that do not appear in the most accessible dictionaries.

The Deitscherei blog now has lists of words that I have noticed over the years are missing from the dictionaries. The word lists are still not comprehensive, but they do present omitted, yet current, words relating to technology, herbalism, religion, social issues, and more.

There are also lists of the Deitsch names of towns (needs to be updated) and states and countries.

This is going to be a long-term, ongoing effort.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Faas and the Faschingkluck

Although Shrove Tuesday (today) is a Christian observance, it is widely suspected (or known) that some traditions associated with this day are pre-Christian in origin. In Urglaawe, those traditions are tied to the Entschtanning observance that begins on Groundhog Day. I have recently had a change of heart regarding one tradition, particularly as more input arose from the community. Thus, I figured I would share this here. The post originates in the Urglaawe Customs Guild.

Urglaawe Customs Guild Topic 13: Faas and the Faschingkluck

Recently I have made references to a bizarre tradition related to Shrove Tuesday but that very likely has pre-Christian roots. I have also said that it is, perhaps, the sole tradition that may be better off vanishing.

However, since first writing about it in 2012 (see below), I have engaged in several speculative discussions that are making me think about possible origins of this custom. Thus, I need to strip away my reaction to the schoolhouse setting in which this custom was described by Alfred Shoemaker in "Eastertide in Pennsylvania."

John B. Stoudt observed in "Folklore of the Pennsylvania Germans," the religious and spiritual practices of elder generations often end up reflected only in children's games and songs in later generations. That is an important point to keep in mind when reading and considering the schoolhouse game.

Additionally, since 2012, I have had people comment to me that the schoolhouse was not the original location of this game but instead ended up becoming the location only after the rise of organized education provided a readily accessible location, so things that might have been done in a community setting easily transferred to the schools.

So here is a portion of the Faas traditions from "A Dictionary or Urglaawe Terminology," including the bizarre Faschingkluck game, followed by some speculations based on later discussions.

In the Deitscherei, another aspect of the Fasching is that the last person in the household to arise in the morning is deemed "the Faschtnacht," "der Faas," "der Faschingkluck," or myriad names. When I was growing up, within our household, the last child to arise in the morning of the Fasching had to do one extra chore by the end of the day. Customarily, in many Deitsch households, the last child has to tolerate teasing by his siblings all day long.

The same applies to the last child to arrive at school on Shrove Tuesday.

In the past, there were some rather elaborate teasing rituals involving the clucking sound of chickens in school. As the children arrived, the girls would cluck like hens and the boys would crow like roosters. As another child would arrive, he/she would receive instructions that he could not cluck or crow like the others until yet another child arrived. Instead, the last child would have to call out, "Hallo Faas!" to the next arriving child (Shoemaker 1-5).

If a child erred and clucked or crowed, there were penalties involved, particularly having to give a kiss to a member of the opposite gender. Girls, in particular, were encouraged to kiss any boy who caught their fancy.

The clucking, crowing, and kissing sound like they were originally part of some sort of fertility-related ritual. Teachers in the post- modern era would very likely be more than a little bit disquieted by their students engaging in this behavior. However, the tradition was clearly in effect well into the 20th century, and aspects of it may well live on in parts of the Deitscherei even now.


I really do not know how old this game is or how widespread it once was. However, people have since told me that children's animal imitation on a family or community level is something that they recall as innocent games that involved you "becoming" the animal of honor. For instance, engaging in a cow's behavior on a driving day could help to make the drive go more smoothly.

Bearing Stoudt's observance on children's games retaining a portion of prior generations' spirituality, I am wondering whether the ultimate root of this game is in shamanic animal spirit engagement (which is not unknown in Hexerei anyway) that might have been ritual for adults in order to encourage fertility of their animals.

Heck, the Groundhog myths and Butzemann rituals have shamanic elements, and plant spirit work is common, so my personal take (after years of being uncomfortable with the details of this game) is that it is not a big leap to find remnants of another shamanic practice living on in a peculiar children's game.

Thus, my earlier statements about allowing this tradition to die out were too hasty.

Perhaps it is better to reframe it so that the possible origins of it are the focus.


I have recently learned that there are even more bizarre traditions in Flanders that go back to the Middle Ages and involve students engaging pre-Lenten cockfighting. This violent tradition almost certainly shares the same root (though not necessarily the same practice or function) as our current tradition. Our tradition sounds increasingly agreeable to me.

All this investigating provides me with another theory to flesh out by next Groundhog Day. I see from now a few sources that the pre-Lenten (and apparently pre-Christian) practices included various forms of gambling, including the cockfighting, and various games of chance. While our living tradition is rooted in fertility rites and potential life (certainly an aspect of the Entschtanning period), there is an element of mystery, prediction, that which is not yet manifest, and a lot of what is included in folks' interpretation of the Perthro rune. Many people (myself included) connect Perthro to Frigg, whom we also honor during Entschtanning... thus, in my theory, bringing together the fertility and chance aspects of this. If anyone has other thoughts, please share. :)

Friday, February 6, 2015


The video that accompanied the January 25, 2015, newspaper article is available without a subscription on the Bucks County Courier Times website. Please note that the word "Urglaawe" is not pronounced correctly on the video. 

We will begin to put more videos out that include the pronunciation of relevant words, though many videos on our YouTube channel also include the pronunciation of quite a few terms.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Urglaawe in the News

Groundhog Day more than a Weather Forecast for this Faith

Article and video clip on Urglaawe traditions from the Bucks County Courier Times (suburban Philadelphia) on Sunday, January 25, 2015.

The article is available in .PDF format.

Distelfink Sippschaft would like to thank Gwen Shrift and the Courier Times for this opportunity!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

On Ziu in Deitsch Lore

The information on Ziu (Tyr) is not enormous in volume, but we do have some in oral lore and in writings by an historical folklorist. There were also some dots to connect (like a practitioner describing how he would appeal to the North Star for clients in need of justice). He was hardly alone in recognizing the North Star as something unique. Other sentiments expressed about the North Star included (paraphrased) "the axis/pillar of the world," "the star that keeps the world going around," "Sky Father," and, my personal favorite, "the left hand of justice."

The name Ziu did not come up as frequently in interviews with practitioners of Braucherei as Holle or Dunner, but it did occasionally for aiding clients in legal or social matters. The psychological consultation aspect of Braucherei is not as well known as the physical healing aspects, but the healing of the mind is part of the practice. Wudan is the deity (or, for syncretic practitioners, "helpful entity") most commonly appealed to for spiritual quandaries; Berchta or Holle are most commonly appealed to for mental disorders. It seems that the appeals to Ziu were for issues needing definitive clarity, justice, and instances requiring "no shade of gray."

The pages in the Introduction section at the beginning of Fogel's Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans are the most interesting in the book from the perspective of a Heathen. I should disclaim, though, that some of what is written there regarding some deities matches tangentially (or not at all) with our current understanding. There is some conflation of some deities (Ewicher Yeeger and Wudan, for example) and only a passing reference to Holle ("Hulde") and Harke. Still, though, the book attests to the awareness and functional presence of the deities in Deitsch culture, and, for a non-Heathen to be writing of them (and other things, such as sacrificial rites) in 1915 is worthy of remark.

On page 11 he writes, "Tuesday, named for Tiw, Ziu, Tyr, and Thursday, named for Thor, Donar, are the favorite wedding days in most of Pennsylvania German counties." This, by the way, is very much true of Plain sectarians, though I doubt they possess widespread knowledge of the root of those days being chosen for weddings.

Tuesday and Thursday are good days to drive cattle, though the first drive of the year is to be on a Thursday (this is still a common practice). After that, the protected days are Tuesday and Thursday, and it considered inauspicious to drive them on a Monday and bad luck to drive on Wednesday or Friday. Fogel's book, by the way, reflects these superstitions indirectly.

Red is the color associated with both Dunner and Ziu, though Fogel's work only reflects the sacredness to Dunner. In either case, red is one of the old wedding colors (and has been revived). The other color is blue with an association with both Frigg and Holle, and it is interesting to note that blue is also the common wedding color among the Plain sectarians. Friday is also a common wedding day in some areas. Hence, in Urglaawe practice, red and blue are the dominant wedding colors.

Of particular relevance now is an association between Ziu and the Faschtnachtskuche, which is the deep-fried potato doughnut widely made and consumed on Shrove Tuesday (Fogel reflects this but with some serious conflation with Dunner and Oschdra. We've long theorized that Shrove Tuesday (Fasching/Mardi Gras) celebrations are rooted, at least partially, in Wild Hunt depictions (going from dismal or spooky to colorful and joyous after the NewYear) and that the time of the Entschtanning ("emergence") is a twelve-night observance beginning on the current calendar on Groundhog Day.

Although the Faschtnachtskuche are strongly associated with Ash Wednesday traditions within Christianity's own paradigm, there is some evidence (even reflected in Fogel's book) of cake-types of offerings related to fertility or promise that predate the Christianization of Europe.

The link between Ziu and the Faschtnacht is rooted in their serving s a point of community (people make them and share them widely), and the diligence in baking them reflects right-mindedness. There is also a major element of an investment of trust that better times are soon coming and we can splurge a bit on the food in storage. Also, eating a Faschtnachtskuche is said to ensure that you will live a year longer.

The Faschtnachtskuche could also be associated with Frigg (the act of baking causes rising and growth) or with the Idise and motherhood in general. This is most certainly appropriate for Entschtanning as Frigg and the Idise are honored specifically in this time. Perhaps we should consume the doughnuts on the last Friday of Entschtanning.

In herbalism, there are several plants that one could go to in order to consult on matters that relate to issues to which we appeal to Ziu. Most notable among them is the highly poisonous Aconitum napellus, which is known in English as Wolfsbane, Monkshood, or Tyr's Helm. In Deitsch, it is known as Eisehut, Himmelvaddershelm ("Sky Father's Helmet"), Himmelvaddersbeidel ("Sky Father's Scrotum"), and likely others. Although this plant has been used for gout and in ointments (including some occult-types) over the centuries, it is highly poisonous (even deadly) and I would not recommend ingestion in any form. it is more common (and safer) to engage in esoteric practices such as Blanzeschwetze ("plant talking" or meditation). As a matter of prudence, I would recommend wearing gloves when handling the plant. Also, I keep a few snips or scissors that are used only to harvest poisonous plants, and I wash them when finished.

Now comes the esoteric part...

Wolfsbane's spirit is very serious and will listen to appeals. However, it has a low tolerance for for chicanery or especially for "crocodile tears." In short, if someone planted a nasty situation and is now reaping that harvest, the plant will refuse to engage with the mediator. However, the plant will work with those who have taken steps to correct their course of action, and it will go out of its way to aid in the health of the faculties of those who have been clear victims of injustice. It is one of only a very few plants I have encountered in the last few years that will sacrifice itself to lend energy to those engaged in just or "macro," big picture types of causes. That, of course, is consistent with the understanding of Ziu.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Groundhog Day Foods

Groundhog Day contains one wonderful little surprise after another for Heathens, and it has emerged (pun intended) as one of Urglaawe's major observances.

Within the realm of foodstuffs, there are various traditions that serve as symbols of hope, reflections of the Groundhog's actions, and the essence of the season.

Groundhog Day is actually the first day of an observance that we know by a few names: Entschtanning, Uffdredde, or Uffdredding (all of which mean "emergence") in Urglaawe parlance. Our observace shares some roots with the more well known Fasching or Faschtnacht, which is the Christian celebration prior to the beginning of Lent.

The evolution of this within Urglaawe has stretched the Entschanning through twelve days, but we typically are only able to gather as a group for one jam-packed observance of the Groundhog's return as the otherworldly messenger, the celebration of the Idise and of feminine creative energies, the celebration of the hearth goddess (Friggsege), and, although She was not known to us earlier, we also observe the blessings of the goddess Gewwern (Gefion).

More details of this observance will be shared on the other guild groups and on In this post, we will cover the more common food traditions.

Green and White Vegetables

The roots of this tradition are in the crossover between winter (white) and the thawing of the land (green). Most common seem to be cauliflower and broccoli, partially because of their later harvest and also because they tend to keep pretty well. However, other vegetables can be used, too.

"Emergent" Foods

Meat pies, dumplings (including Schnitz un Gnepp), pierogies, stuffed cabbage, etc., are common foods that represent the groundhog within the burrow. Sausages can also fall into this category, so Knockwurst, Bratwurst, etc. are also appropriate, as would stuffed hog's maw.


Many folks eat scrapple on Groundhog Day. While Urglaawe tend now to observe Ewicher Yeeger as a deity associated with scrapple, scrapple was originally made with rabbit, and sometime folks replaced the rabbit with groundhog. However, as is the case with groundhog stew, I am not sure that consuming the otherworldly messenger on the day we honor him is appropriate, so pork-based scrapple would be a better choice.

Birch Beer

Birch beer is widely produced and consumed among the Deitsch communities, and, the fact that it comes from birch is most appropriate for a celebration associated with Frigg.

Corn and Other Seeds

Corn dishes, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, and others are also appropriate to an observance of forthcoming fertility and potential life.


Pretzel Soup, Riwwel Soup


There is no designated method of preparation for these foods, so be creative!



Let's talk about hog's maw... or, as we call it, Seimaage:

This recipe comes from William Woys Weaver's Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking, pp. 142-143.

Yield 10 Servings:

1 cleaned pig's stomach
1.5 cups (8 oz./250 g) diced lean slab bacon
3 cups (350 g) chopped onion
1.3 cups(12 oz/375 g) ground beef, pork, or venison
1.5 teaspoons coarsely grated pepper
.25 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 tablespoon ground marjoram
.5 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon dried savory
2 teaspoons sea salt
.5 cup (50 g) rye breadcrumbs or spelt breadcrumbs
3 large eggs
6 cups (2.5 lbs/1.5 kg) diced cooked red potatoes, peeled or unpeeled
clarified butter

Soak the pig's stomach 2-5 hours in salted water then rinse and drain. Put the slab bacon in a large skillet and fry over medium heat until it begins to brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and pour off the fat. Do not clean the skillet.

Put the skillet back on the stove and add the onion. Fry over medium heat until soft, then add the ground meat. Cook until the meat changes color, then transfer the meat and onion mixture to a deep mixing bowl.

Add the reserved bacon, pepper, cayenne, marjoram, cardamom, savory, salt, and breadcrumbs. Beat the eggs until lemon colored, then add to the meat mixture. Fold in the cooked potatoes.

Turn the stomach inside out. Using a needle and thread, sew up the two smallest holes in the stomach so that they are absolutely tight and will not leak. Turn the stomach right side out and there is no room for air pockets. Sew up the large opening as tightly as possible, leaving only a small space inside for the expansion of the filling.

Bring 2 gallons (8 liters) of salted water to a hard boil. Reduce the heat and add the stomach. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours. At the end of 3 hours, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Remove the stomach from the water and set it in a a baking dish, seam side down. Bake for 20-25 minutes, basting often with the clarified butter only until the surface of the Seimawe [Seimaage] achieves a golden brown color.

Serve immediately on a hot platter.