Friday, December 13, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 6

Tonight is the traditional night of the appearance of the Lutzelfraa ("lantern lady"), who appears as a beggar seeking aid in the form of food or clothing. Those who do not have the means to assist Her but engage Her respectfully are rewarded with luck in the New Year. Those who have the means and help Her are equally rewarded. Those who have the means but do not provide aid or show compassion are punished with a slit to the belly (probably a metaphor for illness or bad luck). This action reveals the link between the Lutzelfraa and Berchta, who is indeed roaming Mannheem at this time of year. 



Our Yuletide Sock (and Underwear) Drive continues, with the first direct donations being planned for tonight in Philadelphia after the Parade of Spirits. These donations from the Urglaawe (and others) community reflect that need to be responsible to the welfare of those not in the position to help themselves. This topic led to a good debate among Distelfink about charitable donations (providing needed resources vs. enabling), and the community was in general agreement that we are responsible to do our duty and to allow others to exercise their free will. What someone "might" do with a donation does not absolve us of our requirement to ease the suffering within our own communities.

Again, there is a mirror between the actions of the community and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. During Voryuul, we are observing and pondering the time prior to [re-]birth, after the soul has gone through the Mill and is split apart. The Lutzelfraa's appearance promises new light and integration of the self within a new soul construct. In a sense, that is what the Lutzelfraa demands of Her people: be the bringers of light and aid and help to reintegrate community. 


I have found the first five nights of Voryuul to be tough with the recognition of shadow side motives and actions, and tonight posed its own challenges as well. However, Night 6 bridges that time between the shattering of the old self and the beginnings of integration. 

Hail to the Lutzelfraa!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 5

Those of you who know me know I am, by far, more of a conflict-avoidant peacemaker than anything, but tonight's shadow side discussion relates to a side of me I really do not like and that I have worked hard over the past two decades to keep in check. However, it does appear from time to time, particularly when I feel unjustly accused of something or when people misread my motives, and it results in conflict. This one is a difficult topic for me, but, since it is Voryuul and I am working to be as honest with myself and with my community as possible, here goes.



Tonight's meditation has actually been in my head all day today. It started with the question, "What do you do when you win the battle but lose the war?" By "battle" here I do not mean literal battle (though that could certainly apply here as well). Instead, I mean the struggles that we encounter with unstable friendships/relationships or the strains of improving one's career or whatever it is that we find ourselves vying to attain.

My mind may tell me to cut my losses and move forward, but my shadow side (redoubted by my thymus gland) tells me that I should not acquiesce that which I have gained in the battle that I won... This is a horrible state of affairs because it leads to inner conflict, ambivalence, and an abject distraction from determining what right action is in the particular circumstance.

From there, my meditation leads me to Pyrrhic victories. Those are the wars you win but at such high cost to yourself that you probably would have been better off losing to begin with.

The two have a lot in common. They are both "in for a penny, in for a pound" situations. Once I've set off on the attempt to protect the figurative battle victory by continuing to fight a war I have already lost, all that remains is collapse and disaster.

The Pyrrhic scenario is no better; it is almost worse, really. Whatever the battle was, it likely caused an upheaval not only within myself but within the others involved. They are harmed, and for what? So I can watch as my victory is not blessed by the gods or by the forebears? Was the conflict even worth the fight? That is where clarity (or lack thereof) of right action plays a critical role. Some wars are worth fighting. Some are not.

But, when the war is over and I have already lost so much (even if victorious), can I just stop? Usually, yes. Actually, I usually avoid conflict to begin with, but, if I experience even the slightest feeling of injustice at the result, then the twin of that absurd hope (Night 3) will appear unless I am able to keep it contained.

The hope I described the other night is problematic, but it really is based in a desire to heal rifts. Its twin, though... not so much. Actually, not at all. This is where that hope begins to take on aspects of desperation. I have to prove that I am right or that I did no wrong. Protecting or recovering that victory takes on an exaggerated importance to the point where it governs my waking thoughts and speaks to me in my dreams. This is one reason I am so careful with my Hexerei because I could, all too easily, inflict harm. 

Frankly, I am suspecting that improper handling of this sort of thing is a major contributor to the recent escalation in the intensity of my migraines. I do not think it is the cause, but it almost certainly contributed to them. Of course, the adverse reaction to the medicine did not help either. 

The migraines are gone at this time, but the shadowy impulses are still lurking in the depths of my psyche. There are conflicts that I need to let go of; in the grand scheme of things, they are senseless and not particularly important. They could become important, though, if I don't turn my mind's eye away from them and focus on the things that are actually worth pursuing. Yet that need to protect the minor victory remains. 

Fortunately, I am not weighed down by this sort of thing often,  but it is important for me to examine the function of this behavior. 

I am a bit shocked at how much clarity has come to me during this particular meditation time. There is no need to worry about me; this post is simply me being honest with myself during the Voryuul period of introspection. 

May Ziu bring wisdom and clarity to all of us as we confront the hard realities of ourselves, and may Berchta ease up on kicking my ass for just a bit. It's a bit sore now. :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 4

This evening, I am going a little bit meta and thinking about the past few nights' meditations, particularly the aspects of confronting the shadow side of myself and developing a better understanding of the totality of myself. 



What are my motivators? What are the causes of my actions?

All behavior can be boiled down to four functions: attention, avoidance, sensory stimulation, and access to tangibles. What impels some of the shadowy behaviors? Without going into too much personal detail, I sometimes see attention as a primary motivator, even more so than avoidance, which would have been a major player when I was younger. Of course, all of us shift from function to function throughout our lives, but it is the nagging, troublesome shadowy behaviors that I am looking at within myself. 

Did you ever notice certain patterns in your life, particularly those that result in detriment to yourself? Are there things that you keep noticing are causing problems with relationships, jobs, self-fulfillment? The old saying is, "Do what you always do and get what you always get." Sometimes we need introspection (Selbschtreiguck) to move toward self-improvement (Selbschtverbessering). Tracking those things back to the behavioral function that they serve may help with some enlightenment and some positive change... Or, at the very least, understanding why we do the things we do can lead to more deliberate choices, even on the shadow side.

Voryuul is indeed the time for introspection, and confronting the shadow side is just about as introspective as one can get!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 3

Tonight I am meditating upon one of the most painful aspects of human existence: acceptance of loss of relationships: friends, lovers, spouses, etc. I am fortunate in many ways when it comes to a strong, stable home life, but the echoes of lost or damaged relationships have a tendency to resound from the past into the present, and the reverberations shake me up periodically.  Trying to find the positive aspects about lost relationships is very difficult, particularly for people like me who always hold a hope somewhere deep in the psyche that everything can be worked out if everyone just were able to speak rationally to each other.

Expecting rationality in all circumstances is, of course, irrational. Some things cannot be repaired, and some things are not even worthy of the attempt. Yet that hope remains, and the dissonance created by utopian aspirations against the hard realities used to plunge me into states of melancholy that the Germans call Weltschmerz. As I have gotten older and somewhat wiser, I do not fall into that trap as frequently. I know I am an odd duck because I still believe in humanity and still aspire to people treating one another kindly.

However, defining “kindly” is difficult. One person’s meat is another’s poison. Not all conflict is bad; it often results in growth and learning. 

This glimmer of hope on the surface would seem like a bright or enlightened feature. The reality is, though, that the continual (or continuous) dashing of that hope activates many shadow side traits that end up holding back the growth that is needed. It was not until I shifted my mindset to Urglaawe that I really began to understand that, yes, sometimes my niceness really IS weakness. 




There are things for which I need to dispel that useless hope so I may more boldly continue onward in my journey with lessons learned and wisdom attained. That does not mean I will not continue to be nice; it just means I need to be more conscious of whether my niceness is coming from rationality and strength or from irrational hopes and weakness.

Dealing with these inner conflicts forces us all to face the shadow sides of ourselves, and this is one of the purposes of the Voryuul period.  Tonight I feel like I struck a nerve within myself, and that pain is part of the process of being figuratively reborn.

Monday, December 9, 2019

VORYUUL - Night 2

The Voryuul time bridges the observances related to death, endings, loss, ultimate transformations, etc., and the observances related to birth, rebirth, and new beginnings. Voryuul is a time of contemplation and acceptance about the hard realities of life as we enter the darkest days of the year. 

Life is precious because it is short. Even when considering non-linear time concepts, the life each of us is living right now as the person we each are at this point of existence is unique. Whether one’s life is comfortable or strained, it provides opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others and to set the Urleeg for future generations. 



What is happening with the soul prior to birth or rebirth? What does the divine portion experience while in Berchta’s care after passing through the Mill? Religions all around the world attempt to understand and to interpret the “afterlife.” While there are some people said to be able to remember parts of their souls’ journeys, the reality is that it is that no one really knows, so we look to the forbears for history and insight. 

Tonight I am contemplating things that changed in my life since last Voryuul. There have been losses, and, as painful the grief has been, it reflects the importance that those people had on me. There have also been many joyous moments as well, and it is worthy to remember and to celebrate them.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

VORYUUL

This one is an observance that finally began to find its roots last year, even though some of us have actually been doing elements of it throughout our lives. There are some fading traditions here that are in need of revival, and that revival is what we are aiming to begin this year. There are also some newer practices, so, here we go.

The Geischderschtrutz (Parade of Spirits, Wild Hunt) is well under way, and it is Berchta's and Wudan's time in this realm. The character of Belsnickel may well have some roots in Wudan, though centuries of Christian dominance have resulted in numerous influences on Belsnickel's character. That being said, though, within Belsnickel we can see things that resonate with our understandings of Wudan. As a Seeker, he goes from house to house asking riddles. He rewards correct answers with candy or with nuts (in particular, a horse chestnut that may be left out on a plate as a token for Santa Claus to exchange for gifts). Those who fail to answer correctly may need to vie for a horse chestnut by scrambling to get one as Belsnickel tosses some out of his pocket. As they vie for the horse chestnuts, he taps at their hands (in reality, this is a very gentle matter) with his hickory switch. Typically, every child ends up with what is needed to get their rewards, but, historically, Belsnickel was the one to tend to the naughty children. It is, though, that wisdom-seeking that is part of the process.

Krampus is not unknown in our lore, either, though Belsnickel by far dominates. There is some conflation of Krampus with Ewicher Yeeger in Lebanon County, with the role played being like that of Belsnickel.

Historically, Deitsch tricks-or-treats took place during December. In some areas, it was tied to St. Nicholas Day. In others, it was (and still is, feebly) around the middle of the month, and in others, it was on December 26. This trick-or-treating is called "Belsnickeling," and children dress up like ghoulish figures and go from door to door "begging" for treats. 

Then there is the shadowy Lutezelfraa or Fraa Lutz, who appears during this time (specifically December 13) as a beggar with a lantern or candle asking for food. If She is given food, great luck will ensue in the coming year. If She is denied food or other assistance, She slits the denier's belly open and removes its contents. This obviously is reminiscent of Berchta and is likely a metaphor for illness or ill luck. We see ties to the Christian St. Lucy in the lore, and depictions imply that Lutzelfraa may appear at the home of those who aid Her with candles on Her head, thus bringing light in the darkest times.

Belsnickeling and Lutzelfraa's lore clearly involve hospitality and tending to other's needs in difficult times.

On the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, Voryuul is the time between death and rebirth. It is the time we do not remember, the mystical time when our divinity is awaiting the formation of a new soul construct before being reborn. The light from the last life is fading, and the darkest of times is yet to come.

Voryuul really pretty much starts when Allelieweziel ends, but, as a discrete observance, we begin on the night of December 8 (which is December 9 by Urglaawe lunar reckoning). That night, we light twelve candles, and then snuff out one. Last year, I spent a moment each time I snuffed out a candle meditating on different things. In particularly, I actually began to think about what to remove or change in the coming year. 

On the second night, we light eleven candles, and then blow out one. Each night through the 19th, we light one fewer candle and blow out one more. This brings us up to the night of the 20th, which is the beginning of Yule and the rebirth.

There's a lot going on here, but we are seeing our liminal deities at work in this realm during Voryuul. 

Philadelphia's Parade of Spirits has always had a connection to these traditions, but, as it continues to evolve, it is becoming one of the loudest echoes of the Belsnickeling tradition. It is important that we mirror the hospitality to the host of the Hunt. We will bolster our Yuletide Sock (and Underwear) Drive and we encourage Urglaawer who are close enough to each other to revive Belsnickeling around the night of December 12 (which, again is December 13 on our calendar). 

This observance will definitely evolve, and I will post the program for Voryuul as soon as it is written.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Birch Tea Rite / Baerketeeiwwergangsgebrauch

A very meaningful rite comes into Urglaawe directly from Braucherei. It is widely accepted within most Braucherei communities to be ultimately of heathen-era origin, particularly due to the close association of birch with the goddesses Berchta, Holle, and Freid.

Birch represents renewal. It is easily killed by fire, yet it is also one of the first trees to sprout again after a forest fire, and this fact is what oral tradition relates to the origin of the Birch Tree Rite.

Death leaves a stain of strong reactive energy on those whom it touches. The process of grieving, the energy put into coping with loss, the strain of planning for funerals and tending to the deceased's affairs all place a burden on the survivors. Typically this means the closest friends and relatives of the person who passed.

Additionally, the soul -- or parts of it -- of the deceased can linger around others, particularly those who were closest at the time of death. This is usually of little benefit to either party, and it is usually better to break that link in order to release the spirit to the Hunt and to allow the grieving person to heal from the loss.

This is where the Birch Tea Rite comes in. The tea breaks the unhealthy connections and removes the energies of death from the living. It is actually very simple and elegant. This tea is usually made by a person who is less affected by the passing because those affected may inadvertently imbue the tea with energies based in sorrow. However, in my experience, this spirit of Birch is powerful enough to neutralize those energies. 

Birch bark, twigs, and/or wood are placed into a pot of water and decocted from a cold temperature to a hard boil. The boil is then turned down to a simmer and the tea is to steep on the heat for at least one hour (thicker branches are often decocted for several hours). After that time, the heat is turned up once again to a hard boil, and then the heat is turned off. The birch stays in the water and continues to steep until cool. Some people keep the birch in the water overnight, but it is fine to strain the tea and to place it in glass jars once it is cool.

Although prayers and blessings may be uttered into the tea at any time throughout the process, it is really the straining that lends itself best to the application of intention. I find myself sympathetically mirroring the action of straining out the tea with straining out the thick energy of death from the body. The straining can be done by pouring or by using a ladle or other tool. I typically use a ladle through cheesecloth or fine mesh, and I find that it is very easy to slip into a meditative state during that process.

Part of Urglaawe funerary practices is a time to anoint the foreheads of the living with the tea. Often this uses a birch twig, but it is just as often done with the hand of the ritual leader or with flowers or branches. Some people do drink of the tea ritually in a manner similar to Urglaawe Sammel. Please note, though, that wintergreen  oil can be toxic. Most teas do not contain the oil at a dangerous level, but this is a strong decoction. If anyone chooses to ingest the tea, it should be at minimal levels. Pregnant women should not ingest the tea and may want to avoid pouring over the body.

Those who are hardest hit by the loss are to take an ample amount of the tea, and, during bathing, they are to rinse their bodies with the birch tea. Traditionally, a trusted friend, spouse, or partner is to be present to gently pour the tea over the grieving person. This may sound odd to our modern ear, and not everyone has such a person to take on this role, but it can be a beautiful expression of support and caring during a time of loss.

The birch tea is to stay on the body for a few minutes and then may be washed away, taking with it the unwanted energies of death. It is not intended to end the grieving process, but it can have a palliative effect. In fact, the process of boiling the birch releases volatile oils into the air, and the methyl salicylate smells like wintergreen. The oil and the aroma can actually aid in the coping process.

This is a rite of passage, particularly in the case of those who are most closely affected by the loss. It represents the physical separation from the deceased and the beginning of life without a particularly significant loved one.

Hail.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halliches Allelieweziel!

Tonight the past is ablaze in bright candlelight. 

I ponder humanity’s march through time. Those who have gone before have blazed the trail. Sometimes that trail is clear and easy to follow. Other times that trail is grown over and hard to walk. All too often, the twists and turns on that trail have taken us farther from the destination of the perfected human, and the wrongs and atrocities have slowed our progress to a near standstill. 

We can do better. 

We can learn from the wiser of the forebears and work to fix the follies and injustices of the past. Our society is the product of the combined actions of the forebears. They are us, and we are they. Let’s do our best to make this world, or at the very least, our communities a better way place for those who are with us and for those who follow.



Halliches Allelieweziel!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Der Letscht Sege / Last Rite (Urglaawe)

Meeg dir die Rees blatt sei.  (Roon Reit)
Meeg fer dich es Schtromwasser waarem sei  (Loch)
Meeg dir der Laaf darrich der Busch sicher sei (Baerk)
Un meege der Holle ihre Hend dich darrich die Miehl voraafiehre. (Yaahr)
Meeg dei Warick dir en guder Urleeg baue (Engel)
Meeg dei Naame lang gschproche warre (Gewwe)
Mit gudem Lob un mit Liewe.  (Winsch)
Meeg dich die Vorgenger aalache. (Ochdem)
Weil du des Lewe verlosscht (Haagel)
Weess as du dei Abdruck hinterlosse hoscht. (Eis)
Vorwaerts noch die Miehl! (Reit)
Vorwaerts noch Endlosichkeet! (Yaahr)
Heele zum Reeser / zur Reesern  (Fackel)
Mach's immer besser! (Engel)
Mach's immer so! (Mann)

May your journey be smooth and even,  (Reit rune)
May the stream waters be warm for you. (Loch)
May the walk through the wilderness be safe (Baerk)
And may the hands of Holle guide you to the Mill.  (Yaahr)
May your actions build you a good Urleeg (Engel)
May your name long be spoken (Gewwe)
With a good reputation and with love. (Winsch)
May the forebears smile upon you. (Ochdem)
As you leave this life, (Haagel)
Know that you have left behind your imprint. (Eis)
Forward toward the Mill! (Reit)
Forward toward infinity! (Yaahr)
Hail to the traveler! (Fackel)
Make it always better! (Engel)
Make it always so!  (Mann)

______________________________________
Robert L. Schreiwer, 13. Gehling 2019

To be used as a final rite when someone is nearing death.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Harvest of the Grain Goddess

“‘Siss net alle Daag Ernt”

So goes the old proverb

Indeed, every day is not the harvest.

The harvest is special;

It empowers us
,
Feeds us
,
And carries us forth.

Like the Grain Goddess
--
Anticipated
,
Expected
,
Yet Her name so elusive

Through the rocky course of history.

Yet we know 
She exists;

We feel Her pull, 

And we yearn to meet Her.

She feeds us as Her own

For we are kernels nestled together

Protected by Her husk.

Her silky hair surrounds us

As we grow as siblings
.
Her name reflects the strength of kin

As She reveals Herself to us at last:

Siwwa, Sibba, Sippa, Sif

Hail to the Grain Goddess!

Hail to the Lady of Kinship!

In Thy hall every day is the harvest.

And the grains fall to us in Mannheem.

We plant them 

And nourish our bodies

And our souls.

-- Robert L. Schreiwer, 2019

The Apples of Idunn

All hail the Apple

Perennial fruit of health!

That which keeps the doctor away.

Medium of tests,

Such as the shaking of Holle´s tree.

Medium of schemes,

Such as the poisoned ones of tales.

This Apple

Is a mighty fruit!

Often not given its due

In this modern age

Of widespread transport

Bringing fruit from all places

To a store near each of us.

Yet the Apple holds a higher place

As the Guardian of the Gods

Keeping Age and Death at bay

And thwarting even Time.

Who is worthy to carry them,

These incarnations of Life Force?

It is the graceful Idunn,

Goddess of Rejuvenation,

Who bears the miraculous fruit.

Science has proven

What the ancients knew from experience.

That which Idunn brings

Bestows health and wellness

Upon those who partake of it.

So hail to the Apple,

Hail to the Great Goddess Idunn!

Hail also to the community

That She sustains! 

--  Robert L. Schreiwer, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Es Erntfescht

The "Yankee" Thanksgiving was originally widely rejected by the Deitsch, since we have our own observances of thanksgiving that fall around the autumn equinox. Erntfescht (Urglaawe use), Erntedankfescht, and Harvest Home are expressions of these observances, which are rooted in ancient practices and sustained into the current era.

This weekend, Urglaawe communities will conduct in their annual food drives, seed and crop swaps, and celebrations of the bounty of this wonderful land.

Of course, this does not negate the celebration of Thanksgiving in November; having two observances of gratefulness is a wonderful thing. It is, however, culturally and physically relevant to our location on the globe to keep our traditions alive. :)



Given the state of the environment these days, we cannot overstate how important the gratitude for the harvest is. Erntfescht features seed swaps, meaning that you bring seeds from your gardens or from your favorite foods that others can take to begin to grow the same plants in their gardens; you may take what interests you. Those of us who have gardens can bring what we grow for others to partake of. The altar features our harvested plants, so bring some with you, if you grow any. We also collect food for local pantries at this time, but only give if you are able and to the point at which you are able; no one is keeping track of donors. This is about community, community helping community, and us reaching outside of our closest circle to help to strengthen the wider community.

Hail to the Harvest! 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Upcoming Distelfink Events

Below is a list of Distelfink events for the remainder of 2019. Other Urglaawe Sippschaft and Freibesitze may follow similar ritual schedules.

September 21: Erntfescht

September 26: Montly Heathen Pubmoot / Stammtisch (Newportville)

September 28: York Pagan Pride (actual Zisasege feast day)

Presentation at York Pagan Pride: Urglaawe and the Goddess Zisa

The Heathen tradition of Urglaawe arises from surviving Heathen-era folklore, “superstitions,” herbalism, and customs in the Deitsch (Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania German culture). Some of these elements are clear while others require reconstruction from Germanic lore or “dot connecting between our lore and information from other sources. The goddess Zisa falls into the latter category. Known as a goddess of the Suevi, Her feast day falls on September 28. She is believed to be the consort of Ziu (Tyr), and many Urglaawer and other Heathens honor Her as a central figure in their personal practice. In this workshop, we will discuss Urglaawe basics, share more about Zisa’s expanding lore in the current era, and honor this goddess justice on Her feast day.

October 5: South Jersey Pagan Pride Day - Running main ritual

October 6: 336th anniversary of the official beginning of the Great Deitsch Migration

October 19 AM: Pocono Witch Festival and Ball (Urglaawe/Braucherei presentation in the AM)

October 19 PM: Oak Haven Farm Haunted House

October 24: Monthly Heathen Pubmoot/Stammtisch (note date change to 10/24 due to Halloween)

October 26: Allelieweziel observance at Birch House

October 30 (sunset): Allelieweziel begins.

November 9: Ewicher Yeeger observance at the cemetery

November 11: Allelieweziel ends

November 21: Monthly Heathen Pubmoot / Stammtisch (note date changed to 11/21 due to Thanksgiving)

December 8: Onset of Voryuul

December 13: Lutzelfraaslaaf at Distelfink Gaarde Bristol

December 14: Parade of Spirits, Philadelphia

December 20 (sunset): Yuul begins

December 21: Yuulsege at Oak Haven Farm

December 26: Monthly Heathen Pubmoot / Stammtisch (Newportville)

December 31 (sunset): Berchtaslaaf begins

January 1 (daytime): Luulfescht (Feast of Frey)

January 1 (sunset): Yuul ends and Berchtoldsdaag begin

Sunday, July 28, 2019

To Erda at Hoietfescht


Grandmother Erda,

Show me the way.

Teach me to nourish the soil.

Guide my hand when planting.

Share with me the joys of a bountiful harvest.


Keep me grounded during the frozen winters.


I love the paintings you make on the land in wildflowers,

as well as the songs you write in the forests and the woodlands.


Guide my hands to do your work, so that I may revel in your work.

                                                           -- Rebecca Spille, Hoietfescht 2019


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Today I build an altar...

Today I build an altar...
A simple altar
Built in honor of the Shining Ones.
To those who have seen their shrines destroyed.
And their followers persecuted or killed for their beliefs.
This altar stands for the victory of freedom over terror.
Freedom of religion.
Sovereignty of conscience.
Integrity of personal and communal property.
It is built in defiance of the zealots and the missionaries
Who brazenly trod upon the rights and will of others,
And who attempted to remove the influence, memory, and history of the many deities across the continents.

Today I light a fire in the memory of these deities...

May the light of this small fire drive away the shadows that the prophets of jealousy placed around our gods and goddesses.

May connections, knowledge, and wisdom be restored.

May the names of these hidden deities be spoken by the people again, and may freedom to determine our beliefs be in the hands of the people again.
Today I utter the names of these deities aloud, and my voice shall join a throng of others who are honoring and hailing the hidden deities of their cultures, traditions, and beliefs.

Jecha
Stuffo
Biel
Lohra
Reto

Come today and be our honored guests!

Hail!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Observance of the Desecrated Shrines 2019

Urglaawe "days" begin at sunset of the night before, so tonight (June 4) at sunset marks the beginning of the Observance of the Desecrated Shrines. This observance is in honor of those deities whose shrines were destroyed, damaged, and disrespected through the actions of missionaries and zealots. The lore of many of these deities was lost in the persecution of those who held to the old ways, and there may be many more deities who are now completely unknown to us.

June 5 is the feast day of the Christian missionary Boniface, who destroyed the sacred oak of Dunner and desecrated the shrines of Jecha, Stuffo, and Lohra/Lare. We hold our observance on this day to renew our ties to our deities and to assert our sovereignty of conscience and our right to religious freedom.

This is a pan-Pagan observance, and people of all traditions and backgrounds are invited to take part in the observance, honoring their deities in the manner to which they are accustomed. 

The Urglaawe ritual format is shared for convenience, but, again, adherents of all traditions are welcomed to follow their own formats and to honor their own deities.

For the Urglaawe ritual, some potential altar items:

Jecha: a bow and/or arrow

Lohra: a book of some educational value

Stuffo: image from GardenStone's book (Gods of the Germanic Peoples 2, p. 484). The image is a bit  peculiar to our modern eyes, and the age of the dedication stone is unknown. It is important to keep in mind that deity portrayals in many cultures often appear strange at first blush, particularly when the context is unknown.

Biel: a branch from a tree

Reto: an empty (yet honored) space to be filled as He becomes better known

Hail the gods! Hail the goddesses!


______________

GardenStone. Gods of the Germanic Peoples (two volumes). Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand, 2014.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Ziegdaag Reflection: The Troth's Spring 2019 (#119) Article

The Troth's quarterly journal, Idunna, is one of the oldest and most prestigious Heathen publications available. The Spring 2019 (#119) issue contains an article about Urglaawe's observance of Ziegdaag. Some seminal Urglaawe philosophy is contained in the article.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wonnezeit Begins at Sundown

Tonight is Wonnenacht, more commonly known as Walpurgisnacht. It represents the end of the Wild Hunt, the end of the Dark Half of the year, and the return of Holle to this realm.

With some differences among faiths (Holle vs. Walburga, for example), Braucherei and Urglaawe traditions state that tonight the Hunt passes through the homes with Holle (syncretics and even some Christians identify this with Holle) doing Her inspections for order. As such hallways should be clear of debris. Spring cleaning should be completed. Signs welcoming Holle (or Walburga) are to be placed on the doors and windows of the house, and as many doors and windows are to be left open as is safe overnight (screens are fine). 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

En Wasserdaafiwwergangsgebrauch

Yesterday, Distelfink Sippschaft had the honor of conducting a Wasserdaafiwwergangsgebrauch, which is a particular rite within a Wasserdaaf ritual.

A Wasserdaaf literally translates to an immersion or dipping in water, and it is, therefore, a rite similar to a baptism. There is no original sin to wash away, though, so the word "baptism" is not entirely accurate for our context.



In our context, the ritual and the rites within it serve as a rite of passage (Iwwergangsgebrauch). In this case, the passage is into the acceptance and presence within the community. 

Roone

Runes are intoned to set the scene for the events to follow. The runes chosen yesterday followed the Wheel of Life from the perspective of one just setting out in the life cycle: Fackel (Kenaz), Engel (Ingwaz), Yaahr (Jera), Reit (Raidho), Mann (Mannaz). 

Zweck

The purpose of the ritual is stated, and those who are presenting the child for the rites are asked to identify themselves and to bring the child into the center of the circle.

Sege

Deities, compassionate ancestors of the child, and sympathetic landspirits are invited to witness the ritual.

The community engages in a Sege to the goddesses. Hailed yesterday were Holle, Waahra, and Weisskeppichi. 

The Wasserdaafiwwergangsgebrauch

The libation from the Sege is mixed with the holy water and applied to the forehead of the child, first by the parents as they speak his name, then by the Ziewer.  

The child is given an object (in this case, a Sickle that was crafted by the child's father) that has been immersed in holy water throughout the earlier rites, and that object becomes a "Befeschdicher" ("fastener") for his name. It is an important object that the child should retain throughout life. 

Photo credit: Rebecca Spille
The community members then bless the child and pass on well-wishes for the child's life. Food and drink is provided so that the child may never know thirst or hunger.

The open rites are now closed.

Begriessing

A welcoming statement is made by a member of the community. This statement outlines the community's interest in the child's spiritual progress and in the child's welfare and the responsibilities that the community has to the child.

Sammel

The last rite of the ritual is an open round of Sammel, in which the family and the community may be hailed alongside the child, who is now recognized as part of the community.

After Sammel was closed, the community members gathered for food and fellowship.

Photo credit: Rebecca Spille
It was a joyous day, and we are excited to have a new junior member within our community. 


Monday, April 1, 2019

Der Ziegdaag

Synchronicity happens.

We in Distelfink Sippschaft had recently been talking about observances of the concepts of change, transformation, and even the trickster beings, etc., and had been discussing maybe setting up observances in April toward that idea. April is a good time since the weather is improving but still unpredictable.

At about the same time, someone in a Deitsch online forum recently asked about the "moving day," when Deitsch tenant farmers would move the whole family from one farm to another. The date of this typically was indeed April 1 (not always, though, as if the farmer had any cattle, then cattle driving superstitions would apply and shift the date in certain years, and I am sure many Christian farmers would not move on a Sunday).



This moving day is known as der Ziegdaag (“dah TSEEK-dawg”), and the actual move itself is known, is least in the community I grew up in, as es Geflitze (“ehs k'FLEE-tseh”) or, in English, the Flitting. This was a big deal in the not-too-distant past as many families we doing this move simultaneously. We have first-hand reports of what it was like. There could be scores or even hundreds of families moving along the same roads. Farms changed hands, but it was not even limited to just farmers. Other industries also were involved in the move. Mechanics, hotelkeepers, and other businesses with leases that were not renewed would be flitting at the same time.

Image retrieved from http://explorepahistory.com/displayimage.php?imgId=1-2-108 (Courtesy of the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, Pennsburg, PA)


Indeed, this practice was not limited to the Deitscherei. Similar movements took place in Boston and New York, but at different times of the year. For the Deitsch, April 1 was the standard day, and that is very likely due to planting. While April has unstable weather, it is a bit more reliable than March for having to deal with snow. More importantly, though, farmers needed to complete their move with enough preparation time prior to planting. Some significant crops go into the ground in April, so April 1 is in the narrow window between the harshness of March weather and the time for these crops to be planted. 



It was customary for one wagon, the Offewagge, to carry the oven and to be the first to arrive. That way, the oven could be assembled so that the first meal could be prepared. Neighbors would pitch in to help, so it was a community event, even with the sorrow of ending friendships and the chaos of multiple moves taking place at once. 


So, how does this day fit into Urglaawe practice?

We have an established Deitsch event of change taking place at a time when we are looking to observe the need or the desire for change and out-of-the-box thinking. We are taking this holiday and reframing it from the change of physical location to change around and within ourselves.



Within our context, der Ziegdaag is about change or transformation in all aspects: the need for change, the fear of change, the agents of change, the trickster figures, the sagacious figures, who solve problems, escape from traps, or change the world. 

This observance pairs nicely with April Fool’s Day and the unpredictable weather of this particular time of year. 

In terms of the Lewesraad, or the wheel of the year, this represents the time of transition from childhood into adolescence, when change is difficult and awkward, yet it is a part of life that we must go through. 

I have heard it said that Loki is the only trickster-type of figure in Germanic lore, but local legends from different regions of Germany and/or the Deitscherei have afforded us several such entities whom we acknowledge on Ziegdaag.

CHARACTERS

Unlike the Norse lore with Loki, Urglaawe lore does not have one particularly prominent agent of change. Instead, our folklore is riddled with innumerable characters, some of whom may be rooted in real people, others who have their origins in Heathen lore, and yet others who are entities whose lore we are still picking apart. This year, we will focus mostly on the Mountain Giant known as Riewezaahl, but we will look at a few others as well.


Schadde

Schadde (sometimes appears as Schaade) is a trickster figure in a broken Deitsch story in which he manipulates Schlumm, a deity or giant associated with sleep, into blowing darts that put starcrossed lovers Sunna and/or Muun to sleep, thus allowing for Schadde to place them into the sky so they will never be able to consummate their love. He does this out of jealousy, yet this action sets the tides that allow for life on Earth to thrive. Sunna and Muun meet at eclipses, and they are able to use light and reflection to have children on the Earth in the form of dandelions. There appears to be a reckoning that results in Schadde having to restrict his own movement, but this part is unclear. This story is, unfortunately, missing some other pieces, too, and we have not finished putting what we do have in order as a result. However, Schadde appears in at least two other fragments of tales, both of which appear to involve cunning and/or setting things straight for the betterment of all involved parties.


Till Eileschpiggel



Perhaps based in an actual human, the stories of Till are widely known in the German, Dutch, and Flemish cultures. Till is a true trickster in many ways. He thinks outside the box, engages periodically in buffoonery, and has a knack for overturning conventional wisdom. His name reflects the latter; “Eileschpiggel” translates to “owl mirror,” with the owl representing wisdom, and the mirror symbolizing the reflection or the opposite of that wisdom. In some sense, Till is an anti-hero, but, at this time of year, it is worthy to consider the wit and out-of-the-box thinking that are the inspirations for this character.

Riewezaahl – Der Bariyeharr - Rips



NOTE: Do not address him directly as Riewezaahl, Riebzaahl, Rübezahl, or anything similar. The term of respect is Der Bariyeharr or the Mountain Lord, but he calls himself Rips when in human form.

This Giant, whose nickname means “turnips count,” is known in the lore of both Germanic and Slavic cultures. During an interview with a Hexerei practitioner, the topic of the Frost Giants' Wonnetzeit attack came up, and the elderly women asked me if I knew much of Riewezaahl ("turnips count"). I had not heard of this being prior to this conversation, and she told me she remembered from her youth her mother talking about Riewezaahl. She said that her mother described Riewezaahl as a irritable Mountain Giant who has a strong ability to bring about unstable weather and would occasionally simply cause trouble because "that is what Giants do." Since that time, I have come across a few other references to him, including him causing squalls and sudden windstorms, earthquakes, and more.

Rübezahl appears in many Silesian legends, and there is a strong historical Silesian presence among the Deitsch in the particular area in which I was doing interviews. Although some of the information I am coming across treats him like a woodsprite, gnome, or god, even more information indicates that he is not a pleasant spirit and has more attributes that would place him among the Giants, specifically a Mountain Giant.

The lore emanates mostly from the Germans and Slavs of Silesia and Bohemia. Grimm (Volume II, p. 480) refers to him as a wood-sprite and has some notes regarding him that may link him to Knecht Ruprecht, but there is not an ample description there.

Silesia has a very troubled history and had been a major point of contention among many states and cultures for centuries, ultimately resulting in the expulsion of its German population after WWII. We need to keep this observance focused on the things that relate to our spiritual context, but it is worth noting that Silesian migration did contribute to the Deitsch population, particularly among those who identify as Schwenkfelder. 

The Schwenkfelder faith (Christian) arose in Silesia but experienced persecution, thus resulting in the migration. Some Urglaawer have Schwenkfelder ancestry, and the Schwenkfelders today play a very active role in historical preservation and the sharing of Deitsch lore and tradition. It is also worth noting that Polish and Czech folklore also tell of Rübezahl in that same region, so this is a good time to focus on common human experiences, and, as stanza 6 of the German song, Hohe Tannen, reads:

6. Höre, Rübezahl, laß dir sagen,
Volk und Heimat sind nimmermehr frei.
Schwing die Keule wie in alten Tagen,
Schlage Hader und Zwietracht entzwei.

6. Listen, Rübezahl, let me tell you
People and homeland are nevermore free.
Swing the club like in the old days,
Beat the strife and discord in half.

The region is much more free today than it has been in the past. Perhaps the Mountain Lord has swung his club and found a way to make peace among the people of Silesia. 

In that spirit, we also take Polish and Czech lore into consideration. Rübezahl is known to the Czechs as Krkonoš, and he is said to have given sourdough bread to humankind. He is also credited with being the source of a traditional sour soup called kyselo. Love mushrooms? Check out the recipe: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Kyselo

There are tales in which Riewezaahl is a helpful trickster and a shapeshifter (the theme of transforming turnips into people or vice-versa comes up occasionally in Germanic lore).  Folks may be interested in checking out this article: http://www.heathenhof.com/rubezahl

Further readings into German Silesian lore turn up a very complex Giant who is capable of meting out his own forms of justice. In the book, Silesian Folk Tales (The Book of Rübezahl), by James Lee, M.D., and James T. Carey, A.M., we see the following:



- He is a Mountain Giant with trickster and shapeshifter characteristics.

- His stories frequently involve people in motion, people moving, people in need of change, etc., and he captures the spirit of the Ziegdaag "moving day" features in many ways.

- He appears as many different types of beings, including men, women, etc.

- He aids people who try to improve themselves or to help others.

- He is not to be messed around with, or one will find oneself being beaten to death and hanging from a tree or being rooted firmly into the ground in the middle of a busy marketplace.

- His stories feature a lot of common tasks, including herb collecting, spinning, etc.

- Blue cornflower, already connected to some long life and other magical concepts in Deitsch lore, turns up in at least one of his myths.

- Dreams and dream states turn up in quite a few of these stories, which reminds me more than a bit of the Urglaawe Schlumm, who is either a Giant or a deity who has an association with sleep.

- In the story of Mother Ilse, he plays a prank on an abusive husband that changes the domestic situation in the house (although I think the husband deserved more punishment than he got).

So, in the context of the Ziegdaag observance, focus on this trickster figure’s ability to bring about change through appearing as common folk but performing uncommon tasks. One may also want to consider that he can be capricious; he starts off disliking some people he encounters but a curious aspect to a that person may cause him to give that person a chance. If you irritate him, it is at your own risk.



How He Got His Name



He is also lovelorn. He knows the aching pain of unrequited love all too well. His nickname, Rübezahl, originates in a story about how he had taken the form of a peasant named Rips and had proven himself a fine worker. He worked as a farmer, but the landlord was a spendthrift. He worked as a shepherd, but his master was a miser. Then he worked as a constable under a corrupt judge. He enjoyed enforcing the law properly but refused to be a part of injustice, so he was thrown into jail himself. As a shapeshifter, he was able to escape prison by jumping through the keyhole. He returned to the summit of Riesengebirge (Giants’ Mountain) and wondered why nature was so kind to creatures like humans.



In a nearby kingdom, the king had a daughter named Emma. Rips set eyes upon her and fell in love, so he appeared as a prince from the East and asked the king for the princess’ hand.  Unfortunately, the princess was already engaged to another prince. Here’s where Rips acts poorly: He creates a castle and transports Princess Emma to it. Here he held her prisoner until she agreed to marry him. 



She became lonely, so he gave her a magic wand. With that wand, she would be able to turn turnips into anything she wanted. She used the wand to turn turnips into people, animals, and many other things. She took some comfort in this, but she had it in her mind to escape. 



Rips kept a large field of turnips so that she always had a supply. One day, Emma agreed to marry Rips, so she asked him to count the number of plants that had sprouted so she would know how many people would come to their wedding. She said she needed an accurate number because even a small mistake would cause her to change her mind. Rips counted the number of sprouts twice, but the counts did not match.  So he counted again, and the number was still off. While Rips was busy trying to figure out the number of turnips in the field, Emma used the wand to turn one into a horse, and she rode away. Since that time, Rips has yearned for her. 



Thus, he earned his nickname because he was counting turnips while his unrequited love slipped away, using his own gift as a tool for her escape.



There are multiple lessons in this simple tale. Many of us have experienced unrequited love or have been the objects of love or infatuation that we did not share. Particularly in one’s youth, one may try to find ways to hold onto love that are inappropriate and damaging to both parties. Sometimes, though, even after one learns (hopefully) some lessons and finally accepts that the relationship was not meant to be, the sting of unrequited love remains.  Such is the case with Rübezahl. 

(Image of Rübezahl from Märchenbrunnen im Volkspark Friedrichshain in Berlin, Wikimedia Commons)


He appears at times to have learned the lesson and has let go of Emma, but, every time he is called by his nickname, the memory returns. He manages to overcome some of his pain and helps a human female, whom he initially disliked because of his experiences with Emma, to change the circumstances with her abusive husband. Throughout some of these stories, Rips shows the need for change, the fear of change, and the outcome of painful change. 

Very much akin to the observance of Ziegdaag. 

Elwedritsch

Known by many name variations, including Elwedritsch, this is a trickster figure in Deitsch (and European German) lore, most innocently as the target of snipe hunts. In journeywork, the Elbedritsch can mislead the worker or the client. In these circumstances, the being is considered to be a form of Elf (Elbe and Elwe both are names for elves). The name literally means “elf twitch.” Also, on the Muunraad, should a thirteenth new moon occur after Oschdre (the spring equinox), it is called the Haas (Hare) or the Elbedritsch moon. There are Braucherei and Hexerei practitioners who know the Elwedritsch to be a true entity that can lead one astray during journeywork, but, on the whole, the modern Deitsch culture has a tendency to view the Elwedritsch through the lens of cute old folklore.

In this first year of observing Ziegdaag from a spiritual angle, we Urglaawer are encouraged to spend a few moments in silence meditating on what change means to each of us. We may have experienced trauma that requires a mindshift in order to remove obstacles to our progress. We may be happy as we are and not need any particular change, but we may need to be aware when changes are taking place around us. The shiftier characters in our lore provide lessons and insight into our past and our present circumstances. Change is not always pleasant, nor is it always for the better. Applying our minds and our spirits to our lives, including the process of change, can help to mitigate unpleasantness, and considering the consequences of our actions is crucial.  



Rest assured that, over the next few years, the information we already have on thee characters within Deitsch lore will be organized an interpreted, and we will continue our research. 



Ziegdaag will continue to grow.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Grumbieredaag un Frouwasege

Don't want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

How about the traditional Deitsch holiday of St. Gertrude's Day, known also by the name we use in Urglaawe of Grumbieredaag (Potato Day), which is the day we will honor the Frouwa.

Since the Deitsch population overwhelmingly identifies as Protestant or Anabaptist, the survival of this Catholic observance within the wider culture is interesting in its own right, even if it had been diminishing over time. Even most Christians (including those in the article below) acknowledge the heathen roots of the observance. While there are other connections that come up (particularly to Holle and to Freid/Frigg), Grimm (305) makes a connection between Gertrude and Frowa/Frouwa, and this is generally accepted by the Urglaawe community.



Potatoes have become a staple crop for the Deitsch since arrival, and tradition is that March 17 is the day to put potatoes in the ground. There are rituals to feed the Heinzelmenner or other Kowwold (kobolds) and to bring fertility to the garden. Specific foods include Datsch (a type of almost granola-like potato bread) and spring onions.

One thing I find important in this observance is the completion of the potato cycle. Potato bread from last year's harvest is consumed and offered to the land at the time that this year's crop is being planted.

The traditional Datsch recipe is posted in the Urglaawe Culinary Guild, and the program for the observance is below:

Friday, March 15, 2019

Terror Attacks in Christchurch, NZ

The Troth, Heathens Against Hate, the Alliance for Inclusive Heathenry, and Distelfink Sippschaft condemn the atrocious terror attacks against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

The heinous taking of these innocent lives, particularly in their house of worship, is beyond words. It is an abomination.

The perpetrator had written on 8chan: 

“I will carry out and attack against the invaders, and will even live stream the attack via facebook,” he wrote, with a link to his Facebook page. “If I don’t survive the attack, goodbye, godbless and I will see you all in Valhalla!” 

(Source: https://www.news.com.au/world/pacific/gunman-who-opened-fire-on-christchurch-mosque-addresses-attack-in-manifesto/news-story/70372a39f720697813607a9ec426a734?fbclid=IwAR2MTDqxZSnpMVqVNyCKlzKQoNy7iK2y9ebLxir6SaMDqrjta26ZR5rVisg)

Acts of cowardice and the merciless slaughter of innocents is not how one gets to Valhalla. The perpetrator's actions are a disgrace. Through his thoughts, words, and deeds, he has besmirched the reputations of our gods and goddesses. There is no excuse or rationalization for the evil that he has committed. This is not what Heathenry believes or stands for.

Our hearts go out to the people of Christchurch and to the families and loved ones of the victims. 

Hail to the fallen.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Urglaawe Observances

Below is a brief list of Urglaawe observances. Some of these are wider Deitsch culture celebrations (the berry festivals, for example), but I incorporate them into my personal practice. Remember that Urglaawe "days" begin at sunset on the preceding night. The dates listed below are the actual calendar dates.

January 1 after sunrise: Twelfth Day of Yule, Luulfescht, end of Yule

January 1 after sunset: Berchtoldsdaag

February 1 after sunset: Grundsaudaag, first night of Entschtanning. Entschtanning includes a whole bunch of observances. Entschtanning runs for twelve nights and twelve days. Last night we call Es Lichtfescht (Light-Fest).

Late February-March: Birch water festivals based on locality

March 19-21 (actual start time shifts based on the date of the Spring Equinox): Oschdre... starts as the sunset that most closely precedes the Equinox.

First new moon after Spring Equinox: Lunar calendar resets to Holzhaane.

March 31 after sunset: Begins the Flitzing (name may differ as this is the first year we are doing this as an official observance): Recognition of change; need for shadier, trickster-types of deities, Giants, etc.

March/April: Cherry Blossom festivals based on locality

April 30 after sunset: Wonnenacht (also known as Walpurgisnacht elsewhere), the first night of the twelve-night/twelve-day observance of Wonnezeit.

May 12-14 overnights: The Reifries (Frost Giants) attempt to undo the arrival of spring.

May 15: Official date that all tender plants may go outdoors.

June 4 after sundown): Observance of the Desecrated Shrines... Honoring the lesser-known deities and those whose lore was lost to us

Early to mid-June: Dingsege... tending to community business. Often combined with Midsummer

June 20-22: Midsummer (begins at the sunset that precedes the Summer Solstice

June: Strawberry festivals based on locality

Mid-July to Mid-August: Hoietfescht is observed something during the haymaking period. Some of us also do a s eparate ritual to Weisskeppichi during this time.

Late July: blueberry and huckleberry festivals based on locality

Early September: Elderberry harvest festivals based on locality.

September 20, +/-: Erntfescht begins with the sunset preceding the Fall Equinox. Often combined with Zisasege.

September 27 beginning at sunset: Zisasege

October 5 beginning at sunset: Deitschdaag, the observance of the first settlers

October 30 beginning at sunset: Allelieweziel - Butzemenner must be burned by October 31. Allelieweziel runs for twelve nights and twelve days.

November 10 sunset-November 11 sunset: Ewicher Yeeger, last night and day of Allelieweziel

November 12 sunset-November 15 sunrise: Reifries attack

November 16 - Date of Mountain Mary's death... typically observed on the closest Sunday.

December 5 until Yule: Belsnickeling time... Parade of Spirits in full force.

December 12 sunset: Lutzefraa (observing Heathen aspects that later were incorporated into St. Lucy's Day)

December 20 after sunset: First night of Yuul. Yuul runs for twelve nights and twelve days.

December 31 after sunset: Berchtaslaaf / Zwelfdi Nacht (Twelfth Night (of Yuul)). Required meal of herring, gruel, Zammede.

January 1 at 0:00, crack the whip, bang the pots and pans, or shoot (only if safe!).