Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Lenzbutzerei and Preparation for Wonnenacht

Although the cosmos are not beholden to our calendar, observances are important, and calendars help us to keep attuned to the cycles of the world we live in. The Lenzbutzerei, or Spring Cleaning, begins with Entschtanning on February 2, runs through Oschdret, and ends on Wonnenacht, which starts at sunset on April 30.

Lenzbutzerei begins at Entschtanning on February 2
and ends on Wonnenacht, April 30

Wonnenacht is the observance of Holle's return to this realm, of the end of the Wild Hunt, and the beginning of the Bright Half of the year. As Wonnenacht draws nearer, this question was posted to the main Urglaawe Facebook group:

So, we are cleaning and organizing, for Holle’s return; my question is; is here specifications she looks for, or is “cleaner that it was” acceptable to her?The items listed below are not exhaustive (other buildings on the property, including barns, would be included) but were drawn from many responses in interviews with Braucherei and Hexerei practitioners. Having had a jam-packed house myself for many years, the matter of Spring Cleaning was always somewhat stressful for me. The issue is that our folklore states that the Wild Hunt passes through the homes on the final leg of its journey, and there must be unimpeded passage from one end of the house to the other. Cleanliness is of particular note. Clutter to be set aside to make room for the parade of spirits to come through, but the presence of the clutter is secondary to the effort to put clutter in order.

Rule of thumb: If you think you have a clutter problem, then you probably do. It does not need to be resolved all at once or even in one season, but any problem that one has that is known yet not addressed can become a burden over time. It took me a few years to resolve the clutter issues in my home to the point where I am comfortable having people come in, and that effort was initiated as part of Lenzbutzerei. Much of this process is about intention and effort.

So, here's what our list consists of:

- Floors are to be swept free of dirt and debris.

- Paths through the house are to be free of obstacles. The path could have books and magazines stacked, narrowing the walkway, but, as long as none of those books or magazines is actually in the walking area, it meets the letter of the law.

- Items that can easily fall or be knocked over should be moved to a safer space.

- Items need to be donated or removed that you have known for three years (some say six, which I support, because six has some “sacred disposal aspects to it) are no longer useful yet you hold into thinking, but I might need this someday.”

- All dishes, pots, pans, etc., cleaned and put away.

- Oven cleaned. This would include microwaves, toasters, toaster ovens, etc.

- Clean other appliances, including refrigerators; check dishwasher, washer and dryer. This would also include the outside of the appliances

- Windows cleaned (safety is a factor to consider) and opened with signs welcoming Holle.

- Clean the bathroom. 

- Dust furniture. Urglaawer should dust their altars.

- Porches swept. This is tied to April 29 on solar calendar but for us would be by sunset on April 30.

- You do not need to do everything in the house, but try to do a bit more than you think you can.

Align disposal with the Lenzbutzerei season that begins at Entschtanning and ends at Wonnenacht.  This means almost three months to work on getting things into minimum order. This time is principally about cleaning up the physical environment, but the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual are all related.


At the opposite end of the calendar in October is Allelieweziel, where there is another major observance related to disposal, thought that tends to focus on the final removal of poor habits and items or events that weigh us down.


As each season approaches, make the cleaning an expression of your spirituality. It may take a few years to finish it, but, as you see the changes, you might find yourself feeling empowered.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Der Ziegdaag

ZIEGDAAG VIDEOCONFERENCE INFO:



Because we are unable to gather in  in person, we hold this event as a videoconference on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 18:00 (6:00 PM), and we'll change the time to 6:00 PM so that remote workers might be off the clock by that time. We will be videoconferencing again.

In fact, the significance of -- and the lessons learned from -- Ziegdaag are exactly the sort of thing we need to work through as we go through this unprecedented time of change and uncertainty.

Videoconferencing will provide folks an opportunity to engage with the community during this while physically distancing ourselves. One Ziewer (Rob) will be running the ritual, and the other Ziewers (Larry, Victoria, Michelle) may moderate the videoconference (who speaks in what order, etc.).

The program for this event will be posted to this site prior to the event's start.

Please join us at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, by clicking this link:

BE SURE TO HAVE A LIBATION ON HAND TO HAIL WITH!

----------------------------

Ziegdaag is an Urglaawe observance derived from the old Deitsch Moving Day, which typically fell on April 1. 

We are currently in an unprecedented transition time on a global level. Everyone is impacted, and some of the adjustments are difficult to make, and, as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, things might continue to get more difficult to cope with.

Enter Ziegdaag. Ziegdaag was (and in some places still is) the “moving day” when tenant farmers and other business operators who rented their shops packed up to move to a new location. It was a very big deal as many families would be moving at the same time, leading to crowded roads, families helping each other, and a genera; fast pace to get things accomplished before sunset. The traditional date is April 1, so Ziegdaag for Urglaawe begins at sunset on March 31.

Der Ziegdaag is about change or transformation in all aspects: the need for change, the fear of change, the agents of change, those who think outside of the box, the trickster figures, the sagacious figures who solve problems, escape from traps, or change the world. This its about change in all forms, from the weather to the way in which one views oneself. This year, I would like to strongly advise participants to consider the changes that are emerging with the shutdowns, quarantines, and curfews. What will life be like on the other side of this crisis? Thinking about it actually makes me a little frightened, to be honest, but there are realities that we as individuals, as part of communities, as nations, and as inhabitants of Earth will have to go through as part of the recovery from this disruption in our daily lives.

Now is the time to use emerging information and to attempt to plan for the worst while striving for the best. All of this, of course, sounds great on paper; it’s not. For many of us, this time is going to really suck.It is important that we all prepare ourselves as much as possible for the trauma. It is normal and ok to feel scared, angry, lost, and depressed. Give yourself the time to recognize the harm that this disruption is doing to you as an individual. Some might find themselves having to grieve the life that they used to know. Go through the process; let it out. Then, over a few days, begin to remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal but that those emotions must begin to take a back seat to recovery efforts. The coping mechanisms will be different for different people, but, perhaps readers can share ideas about how they are coping with the crisis.

Otherwise, 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.

Another adjustment is that this observance and ritual will need to be done via videoconference due to the realities of this time.

CHARACTERS


Unlike the Norse lore with Loki, Germanic 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 isba 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.

DER BARIYEHARR - RIPS (KNOWN ALSO HISTORICALLY AS RIEWEZAAHL)


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”; using this name because she used it to ask the question.). 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.

Rips 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 god, but 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.

There are tales in which Rips 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:


Further readings into 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 Schlumm.


- 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.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Frouwasege un Grumbieredaag

Ebbes Griene, Ebbes Schwatze

Ebbes Weisse fer Ihre Katze.

Backt mer Datsch am Frouwesdaag,
*
Strae die Grimmle wu Sie mag,

Vum Eck zum Eck am Gaarderanft,

So wachse die Greider uff ‘s Land


Something Green, Something Black

Something white for Her cats,

One bakes Datsch on Frouwe’s Day,*

Scatter the crumbs where She wishes.

From corner to corner along the garden’s edge,

So the plants grow on the land.

Frouwasege/Grumbierdaag altar with Datsch bread
__________________________________________

Hallicher Grumbieredaag!
Happy Potato Day!

Hallicher Frouwasege! 
Happy Frouwa/Freya Sege/Blót!

Aspects of the goddess Frouwa (cognate of Freya) are believed to have been retained (accidentally) in the lore of the Church in the form of St. Gertrude of Nivelles and "Fraa Trudi," who shares some similar attributes of Frouwa. 

Ironically, it was Protestant and Plain sectarian churches that kept the lore most active upon arrival here in Pennsylvania. Today opens the planting season for hardy items, such as potatoes, cabbage, and spring onions. 

Urglaawe observes this day in the context of Frouwa rather than St. Gertrude. In either case, though, this is a distinctly Deitsch/Pennsylvania Dutch observance in form and function.

Frouwasege is also an observance of the sacredness of cats. Give your cats treats (tradition is something white in color, but any will do) and to leave some for Frouwa's cats and strays. Indeed, the barn cat plays a significant role in the success of the farm by controlling the population of the vermin that can destroy or consume the crops.

We also have rituals associated with specific land spirits today. The ritual program is available here on www.urglaawe.net.

If you plant today, be sure to honor the soil before using the shovel. Next year, we will put this rite into the program in a more pronounced way.

Heele zu der Frouwa!

___________
* In the original poem by Amanda Baer Stoudt, the spelling of some words was different. For the Urglaawe context, we have replaced references to Trudisdaag and St. Gertrude with references to Frouwa.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Grumbieredaag un Frouwasege 2020

The program for Grumbieredaag un Frouwasege has been posted!

ABOUT GRUMBIEREDAAG (POTATO DAY)

This is 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. This is one tradition that the Christians have inadvertently kept alive, and we benefit from it. The Christian expression has been edited to reflect the needs of the Urglaawe tradition and to return aspects this observance to their older roots.

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 many Christians 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.

Der Waldmops and some of the spirit entities were carried in the popular lore. Der Waldmops is an interesting character. He is described as a Zwarich (Dwarf) by many, and, indeed, the word Mops does mean Dwarf in Deitsch, so Waldmops would be the “Woods Dwarf.” However, others describe him as an Erdgeischt (Gnome), and still others see him as a Dwarf with Green Man characteristics. I fall into this last camp. As the Lord of Beasts, he awakens the animal kingdom from its winter slumber. He stirs the trees of the forest to shoot forth their greens, and he and his people cultivate the fertility of the land. We are most definitely in a symbiotic relationship with our land spirits, and they should be honored often.

ABOUT THE ACTUAL 2020 OBSERVANCE

Due to the Coronavirus, we are encouraging folks who can to do this ritual at home in their own gardens. However, I will be doing this ritual for a small group in Bristol with safety precautions in place. The Datsch that I bake will not be consumed by the participants; only commercially-baked potato rolls will be present, and we will take food-handling precautions with those. The libation (will only be non-alcoholic for this ritual) will not be consumed directly from the stein. Everyone may bring their own vessel or use a cup from here.

PLEASE: If anyone has a cough, fever, or other signs of any sickness, we ask you to tend to your health needs so you are feeling fit for when the pandemic's shutdown is over.

Please note: THERE IS NO MEAL AT THIS RITUAL. This is our simplest ritual (outside of the baking of the Datsch), and most people would be doing this in their own gardens. The recipes for the Antler Cookies and the Datsch have been posted to the Urglaawe Culinary Guild on Facebook. If you are not a member of it, please feel free to submit to join.  :)

IF YOU CANNOT BAKE A DATSCH OR ANTLER COOKIES THIS YEAR, feel free to replace them with potato bread and sugar cookies - for this year. The Datsch is an important devotional aspect of this observance and its baking should be part of the process in the future. The same applies, with less intensity, to the Antler Cookies.

We encourage folks to get hold of a copy of William Woys Weaver's Dutch Treats, wherein both of these recipes appear. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Next Observance: Grumbieredaag (17 Lenzing / March 17)

This is one of those instances of reconstruction in which the Catholic Church likely retained information about a goddess and imprinted it on one of their saints. In this case, we believe the goddess to be Frouwa and the saint is St. Gertrude of Nivelles.

Ironically, Gertrudsdaag (also Trudisdaag, St. Gertrude's Day, Potato Day, Grumbieredaag, March 17) has always been a thing among the Deitsch even though the Catholic population is small compared to the much larger Lutheran and Reformed bodies. The rise of commercial St. Patrick's Day impacted the breadth of the St. Gertrude observance, but, over the last few years, we've been seeing an increase in discussion about the Deitsch traditions associated with it. Much of the growth in interest seems to be coming from the Protestants, which may surprise some people; however, this is not the only feast day of a saint that is observed in some way by Protestants or even Anabaptists. The Amish shut down on October 11 for St. Michael's Day, even though they would never pray to the saint himself.

As is the case with many observances, many Christians will acknowledge the likely Heathen roots of this observance, which we in Urglaawe call by the Grumbieredaag (Potato Day) name. 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. This is first official planting of the season. 

Echoing Heathen roots even more are rituals to feed the Heinzelmenner or other Kowwold (kobolds) and to bring fertility to the garden. The Waldmops, the Lord of the Beasts, is also honored with offerings on this day. 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.

While there are other connections that come up to other goddesses (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. 

Frouwa's name did not come up often in our interviews, but one of my earliest interviews was with a Hexerei practitioner who identified as a devotee of Frouwa. Presented were some of the attributes that our Norse-oriented siblings would recognize in Freya: sex, beauty, fertility, fecundity... and, of course, the cats. Like Frouwa and Freya, St. Gertrude is the guardian of cats. 

The ritual is simple, and I will post the program I follow as the time draws nearer. However, you may want to begin to gather items now, particularly if you are interested in William Woys Weaver's "Dutch Treats."

Most of us do this observance in our own yards, but it is also fine to gather a group together.

Items Needed

Potatoes, spring onions (scallions), and/or cabbage seeds, if planting

Bread (Datsch is preferred but not required; see Dutch Treats by William Woys Weaver, pp. 103-105 for traditional recipe; also posted in the Urglaawe Culinary Guild group on Facebook)

Beans (at least three but more is better)

Offerings to Butzemann (if applicable)

Treats to be set out for Frouwa's cats and strays (if applicable; preferably something white, such as fish, white meat chicken, or dried catnip flowers)

Frouwa statuary (optional; Freya statuary is also appropriate)

Decorations (optional; flowers, etc.)

Ritual

This is a simple fertility ritual that serves in Urglaawe as a devotional to Frouwa. Set up your devotional area (outdoors preferred) however works for you.

First, sow or plant potatoes, cabbage, or spring onions.

I usually intone runes at the beginning of rituals, and, if there is a group, we state our purpose for gathering, and then call to Frouwa to join us as an honored guest. 

at the rear door of your house. If you do not have a rear door, the front door is fine. While standing by the door, say the following chant:

Ebbes Griene, Ebbes Schwatze
Ebbes Weisse fer Ihre Katze.
Backt mer Datsch am Frouwasdaag,
Schtrae die Grimmle wu Sie mag,
Vum Eck zum Eck am Gaarderanft,
So wachse die Greider uff ‘s Land

Something Green, Something Black
Something white for her cats,
One bakes Datsch on Frouwa’s Day,
Scatter the crumbs where She wishes.
From corner to corner along the garden’s edge,
So the plants grow on the land.

Walk to the corner of your garden (if no garden, then to the corner of your property) closest to the door where you began. walk in a clockwise manner the perimeter of the garden or property, and, at the first corner or hard turn, scatter a few large crumbs of bread. While scattering, say the following blessing:

Es fiehrt die Frouwa die Kieh zum Graut,
die Biene zum Fluck,
un die Pferd zum Zuck.

The Frouwa leads the cows to fodder,
the bees to flight,
and the horses to pull.

Then take three beans and cast them into the interior of the yard (note, if you only have three beans, reserve them for the final corner or turn instead of casting them now). 

Proceed to continue to walk the perimeter, stopping at each corner or hard turn and repeating the scattering and the blessing. The beans are an offering to the land and to the land spirits, including the Waldmops (and you should say his name aloud), and you may hail them as you scatter the beans. I will provide more information about the Waldmops when the program is completed.

Once you have returned to your starting point, say your personal thanks to Frouwa, and drop any outdoor offerings to Her cats. Then close the rite.

If you have a Butzemann, make an offering to him as well.

This ritual creates the bridge between the end of the Entschtanning season and the beginning of the Oschdret. 

I encourage Urglaawer to take part in this rite. If you have the ability to bake, I'd also suggest baking the Datsch a day or two before as part of the ritual process. 

------------
Grimm, Jacob, James Stallybrass, trans. Teutonic Mythology (4 vols).  New York: Dover Publications, 1966.

Weaver, William Woys. Dutch Treats: Heirloom Recipes from Farmhouse Kitchens. Pittsburgh: St. Lynn's Press, 2016.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Entschtanning 12: Es Lichderfescht

Tonight at sunset we begin the closing of the Entschtanning observance, although the Entschtanning “season” actually runs up until the Spring Equinox observance next month. 

Tonight is what we Urglaawer call “es Lichtfescht” or, more correctly in Deitsch, "es Lichderfescht," which is our festival of lights. On Night 3, we discussed the cleaning of the hearth and of other fire-bearing vessels, including candleholders. This echoes pre-Christian customs that ended up featured as part of Christian Candlemas practice (Yoder 49-50). 


As the interviews and collecting of stories from across the Deitscherei progressed, some interesting interpretations of the use of light during this time emerged. Some of these were “superstitions” and involved sympathetic magic; others were more philosophical.

The superstition that turned up most frequently was an idea that we sometimes hear of at Yule: adding light to the night will help to strengthen the Sun. One elderly man likened the ritual practice of lighting candles from Groundhog Day onward to a parent pushing and guiding a learning child’s bike and then releasing hold when the child had acquired ample balance to move alone. 

The philosophical interpretations are more far-reaching. The whole of this observance is about enlightenment, conscious and conscientious living. At this time, we strive to finish the preparations for the ideas that we developed for the New Year at Yule. We are to be ready to put those ideas into effect by Oschdre in March. 

This brings us to the mind shift (Umdenk) that we often speak about when one converts from monotheism (particularly Christianity) to Heathenry. Within the Urglaawe community, this shift was first expressed by my kinsman, Daniel Riegel, prior to his passing in 2011. He described the mind shift in the context of embracing the dark half of the year, which was consistent with many others’ experiences of recognizing the totality of the self, shadow and all. This recognition of our whole being is not the same as accepting ourselves “as is” and not striving to be better. Instead, it is using the totality of ourselves in order to become the best we can be.

There is a tendency in our society to pretend the shadowy sides of ourselves do not exist. We bury them deeply, and we are ashamed of them. This attitude is pervasive in some Plain sectarian communities, and it is rooted in Christian orthodoxy. Shadow sides are generally viewed as being “evil” or profane. Orthodoxy, meaning that one is required to believe a certain way, trumps orthopraxy, meaning that one is required only to practice the same way within a group. Orthodoxy leads to dogma, and dogma leads to suppression of variant ideas. 

One of the more common beliefs within Urglaawe is that the deities want for us to be at the end of this cosmic cycle where they were at the beginning of it. To achieve this, we have to grow as a race of beings. Such growth, particularly an evolution of consciousness, is very difficult when the largest religions in the world actively attempt to limit questioning and independent thought. 

Maintaining perspectives from Christianity while practicing Heathenry can result in confusion. Our relationships to the deities and to our ancestors differ from that of the Christian understanding. Our relationship to the world around us differs (see Night 6). It is difficult to wrap one’s head around the idea that there may be multiple “truths” or that our deities have individual personalities that may lead them even into conflict with each other. 

And, at the risk of offending some readers of this post, the “lore” is not Gospel, and to treat the myths as such can lead one to become, for want of a better phrase, a “Christian dry drunk.” The baggage of orthodoxy remains even though the trappings of the religion have changed. Germanic Heathenry has never (at least within the period in which history has been written down) been monolithic. Different tribes knew different deities in different ways… and that is wonderful!

Ditching the mindset of Christianity is critical. We are not “fallen.” We do not need an intercessor to remove the stain of sin. We have the ability and responsibility to improve ourselves, yes, but we do so to create a better future for ourselves and for our descendants, not because we have a bill to pay from the past. 

During Lichderfescht, we embrace this ability and this duty to bring enlightenment into ourselves, our communities, and our world. 

This ends the musings of the Entschtanning season. The next Urglaawe observance is Grumbieredaag (“Potato Day”) on March 17, which is the first planting of the season.

Hail to those who have gone before and the wisdom they left us!

Hail to those yet to come. May we be worthy of their honor!
___________
Yoder, Don. Groundhog Day. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003. ISBN: 0-8117-0029-1.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Entschtanning 11: Fettkuche, Embers, Greasing of the Tools

If you live in the Deitscherei or in any Deitsch colony, there's a very good chance that you have come across the Fastnachtskuche (usually called just Fastnacht) on Shrove (Fat) Tuesday. This is a widespread tradition that continues vibrantly into the current era.


If you ask the average consumers what the purpose of these deep-fried, lard and potato doughnuts is, they will likely tell you that they are made to consume the fat in the house before Lent begins. However, there are elements of the Fastnachtskuche story that reveal connections to older practices.

In Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans, Deitsch historian Edwin Miller Fogel, Ph.D., cites quite a few living Deitsch traditions and links them to pre-Christian practices or to the old German deities. Many of these include traditional cattle-driving and wedding days (Tuesday (Ziu) and Thursday (Dunner) still observed among many Plain sectarians, ironically, although the sectarians almost certainly are unaware of the origin of the custom (11)), and also sacrificial practices. 

Fogel cites (15) the tradition of taking embers from a central fire to which everyone in a community has contributed something. This is connected to the Haerdbutzerei that we discussed on Night 3. Embers from the fire are taken out to the orchards and made to smoke in order to bless the trees. Herds were driven through the cooled embers of the main fire, and charcoal from the fire was fed to the pigs. Some of what Fogel cites are actually practiced at Wonnenacht (Walpurgisnacht), namely people walking among embers, too. However, despite some discrepancies found between Fogel's text and the reports of practitioners from our ongoing interviews, Fogel's information is valuable.

Fogel describes Shrove Tuesday as taking over some of the festivals that honor Dunner and refers specifically (12-13) to "Easter cakes" in honor of Ostara (whom we know as Oschdra). This presents a discrepancy in terms of the timing and the significance of the Fettkuche, but the premise of the cakes being of pre-Christian origin fits with the beliefs of numerous Hexerei and Braucherei practitioners. Most tied the Fettkuche more to Groundhog Day and Fasching than to the Spring Equinox or Easter. The Hearth Lady or Hearth Goddess (Freid) was the "helpful entity" with whom the Fettkuche were associated, and they were said to represent pregnancy and the emergence or manifestation of new life. This is the context in which Urglaawe utilizes these cakes. Typically, but not restrictively, we consume them on the last Friday of Entschtanning.

Fettkuche are typically dipped and eaten nowadays in molasses or Turkey Syrup, but trees that run sap in February also have traditionally provided some flavor to the doughnut.

There is one additional aspect to the Fettkuche that shows a possible link to Charming of the Plow traditions elsewhere in Europe. Even today in the Deitscherei, the grease from the preparation of Fettkuche is collected and used on tools in a ritual we call the Waerkzeichfettung (Greasing of the Tools). Any tools may be ritually greased to ensure prosperity, but it is specifically gardening and plowing tools that are featured in our folklore. For Urglaawer, this once again brings Freid to mind. 

There are many recipes under search terms Fettkuche and Fastnacht. Some folks within our community make the doughnuts as part of their offerings to Freid prior to our group Entschtanning ritual. Many supermarkets throughout the Deitscherei and even well into the Philadelphia suburbs have the doughnuts available beginning early in February. 


Hail to Freid!
May the coming Spring bring prosperity!

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Fogel, Edwin Miller, Ph.D. Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans. Millersville, PA: Center for Pennsylvania German Studies, 1995.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Entschtanning 10: Gemietlichkeet and the Sense of Belonging

Some of this was written way back in 2010, but it is actually a tough topic. On the surface, it is a fairly simple concept, but the execution and attainment of it is very complicated.

Virtually every language has words that are difficult, if not impossible, to translate into a different language, which is why words are often adopted from one language into another. 

Some words reflect concrete items, such as insects that are native to a particular area or a legal process that is unique to a given country. Other words reflect concepts that are new or are unique to a given culture, such as the Polynesian system of tapu or kapu becoming (with some revision) known as “taboo” in English.

One Deitsch word that does not translate exactly into English is Gemietlichkeet (or Gemietlichkeit, depending on one’s local variant of the language). This word is frequently translated as coziness, and that translation is certainly valid. However, there is a deeper aspect to the word that warrants more explanation.



Gemietlichkeet is also a state of belonging to everything and having everything belong to us. It is also a soul-satisfying joy or happiness that simultaneously emanates from and includes that state of belonging. Urglaawe philosophy holds that Gemietlichkeet is a primary goal for personal and community achievement.

A lack of a sense of belonging permeates much of our society in the current era. Very real circumstances force our attention to be focused on paying bills, finishing school projects, ensuring that our jobs skills are current (if we are lucky enough even to have a job!), worrying about the wars or politics, or any number of other issues that constantly bombard us. Many of us barely know our neighbors or are unable to spend a significant amount of time with loved ones. This disconnection from home, family, and community has led to numerous social problems about which all of us are most certainly already painfully aware.

There are many agents of chaos. Some of them we see in the Giants. Others we see in other entities from among the Nine Realms. Some of the worst agents of chaos, though, emanate from ourselves and create social ills. There are many among them, but some of the most commonly seen are Rootlessness, Apathy, Ignorance, and Unenlightened Self-Interest.

Outside of taking prescription medications, what can be done about this situation? One seemingly simple answer comes to Urglaawe via Braucherei: attune your mindset with the time of year. 

On Night 4 of this Entschtanning, we looked at how Spring Cleaning is as much about the preparation for new projects as it is about bringing order to the home. We called this “nesting” because it is similar to the way humans and animals prepare their environment for the arrival of a new birth. Typically (though certainly not always), this new life is met with unconditional care, love, and a belonging that transcends the difficulties and challenges encountered in birth. An instilled sense of belonging and investment in family and/or community can also help to increase one’s investment in oneself.

Unfortunately, achieving Gemietlichkeet is very difficult in this world. It is an ideal. However, the aspiration remains in place as part of the process of living deliberately and consciously. It does not mean that there will not be disagreements or arguments; instead, it means that those moments are handled in a measured manner as charitably as possible in order to retain the integrity of the belonging. 

Heathenry is about connection: connection to oneself, connection to community, to the world around us, to the forebears, to the deities, etc. At this time, we invite others to consider what they have to be grateful for in their lives. What ideals are worth working for, and who is involved in that same pursuit? How can we work best to decrease the impact of rootlessness in our communities and in our country?

Hail to connections!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Entschtanning 9: Matronae

The Matronae (Deitsch: Midder or Hausmitter) are deities who were honored Northwestern Europe. Numerous (over 1,100 throughout Europe) votives dating from the 1st to the 5th century are found in that region. Their depictions almost always show three Matronae together, usually within a context of bounty. There is significant crossover among Gallic, Germanic, and Roman cultures when it comes to the shrines. The names of the Matronae show influence from all three cultures, and sometimes the names appear to be partly Germanic, partly Gallic. 

Some scholars connect the Matronae to the Idise (Disir), Valkyries, and Wurthexe (Norns). This is certainly possible. Some of the shrines also reflect that they may be goddesses associated with a particular place. I can see a link to the Idise fairly readily in many cases.

Rendition of the Matronae Aufaniae
Triple goddesses appear as a motif in many European cultures, so it is possible that the placement of three Matrone together is a reflection of that motif. 

Many of the votives indicate that they were erected in exchange for gifts provided by the Matronae. 

Modern Pagans have started to actively use the shrines in their worship. Unfortunately, some worshipers have been irresponsible in their treatment of these sacred shrines. There are reports of charcoal being burned on the shrines (I mean, really?) and items left behind that others needed to clean up. 

The idea of these shrines resonates strongly with me. I would like to see more such shrines erected. Time, talent, and money are always issues, but I have pondered placing such a shrine to some of the deities or entities associated with the land by my cemetery. Future consideration. 

I am not as well versed in the archaeology and lore of the Matronae as I would like to be. We incorporate Them into the Entschtanning ritual partially because of that association with the Idise and other feminine energies. We honor Them and hope to expand our understanding of Their role in our lives today.

For more information on the Matronae, I would recommend GardenStone's "Gods of the Germanic Peoples," both volumes. Also, River Devora has expended a lot of time and energy on the study of the Matronae. River has contributed a chapter in the slowly-forthcoming Urglaawe 101 book, and there's a lot of great information there.

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GardenStone. Gods of the Germanic Peoples (2 volumes). Norderstedt, Germany: BoD - Books on Demand, 2014.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Entschtanning 8: Butzemann, Butzemannsege, Kannsege

The Butzemann, the related honoring Butzemannsege (honoring of the plant spirits within the scarecrow), and the Kannsege (Ceremony of the Corn, which is when those plant spirits are awakened) are among the most "woo" traditions within Urglaawe. It stems directly from Braucherei practice, and it appears to be connected to other scarecrow traditions in neighboring European cultures.

This is, of course, the construction and activation of the Butzemann (note: the plural is Butzemenner).
In Deitsch, a scarecrow is called a "Lumbemann" or a "Butzemann." Within Braucherei and Hexerei, though, there are connotations to those terms that carry into Urglaawe. A "Lumbemann" is a simple scarecrow; a Butzemann is a scarecrow in which the dormant plant spirits have been ritually activated and awakened. You may sometimes hear us saying, with a bit of levity, that a Butzemann is essentially a "zombie plant spirit."

Some 2020 Butzemenner
In a sense, though, there is some truth to this. Remnants of old Germanic lore cite a particularly close connection between humans and plants because we are constructed from plant parts and rely on plants to feed ourselves. Plant spirits are said to be able to be broken into parts and to stay dormant within dead physical plant material until reactivated. These spirits are what gives a Butzemann "life."

The Butzemann is symbolically (and often literally) the father of the coming year's crops. He is traditionally constructed from the remnants of last year's crops (sometimes still containing seed). Do NOT use Elder in the construction of a Butzemann. The mother is the soil, signified at this time by the honoring of the goddess Freid.

The activation rite is called "der Kannsege," or the Ceremony of the Corn. Some of the traditional ritual is under Verbot, but it can be effectively done in an altered format. I have gone over this ritual with numerous informants, and quite a few of them instructed me that the key to the process is to seek the "Anwadde" (the "answer"). Although I had learned of this process during my Braucherei training, it was from other practitioners that I had learned the actual process. The first was a Braucherin who was activating her own Butzemann. She drew a symbol with her thumb over where his pineal gland would be until she received the answer. I asked her to draw the symbol with a pen, and it looked somewhat akin to an Ansuz rune. How old that function or that symbol is unknown, but she was not the only one to use it. Others used the heel of their palm. The Braucher (or adept layperson) "steps out" of this realm and into the Weschtbledder (Western Leaves of the World Tree), which is sort of like Grand Central Station for evolved spirits. The Braucher becomes a bridge for the plant spirits in the Weschtbledder to carry reviving energy through the Braucher and into the Butzemann. The dormant spirits wake up and "answer" the calls of the transitory spirits. The Braucher then closes the bridge, and the Butzemann is awake and active.

Since we discussed the Idise on Night/Day 7, I should mention that these plant spirits are comparable to our evolved ancestors. They are, essentially, the Idise of the plants.

The activated Butzemann must be given a name and I'll be posting some articles below in Comments related to all of this. The named Butzemann often starts a lineage that has a naming convention. Oaths are often taken to the Butzemann and to the plant spirits, often relating to ways they will be honored. The most critical oath, though, is that the Butzemann will be released from his duties by being burned no later than Allelieweziel (starts at sundown on October 30) so that he may join the Parade of Spirits/Wild Hunt.

The Butzemann is shown the turf he is expected to patrol. He is then perched and will stay there through the growing season. Anything that is given to a Butzemann MUST be burned with him; to take it back is considered an act of inhospitality. There are stories about Rumlaefer (wanderering laborers, hobos) from the Colonial Era became hexed because they stole the clothing off a Butzemann.

A Butzemann is most typically burned sometime between the Autumn Equinox and Allelieweziel. They often take with them things we intentionally discard from our lives, but they also take well wishes with them.

Deitsch folklore is riddled with stories about a Butzemann who was not burned by the designated time. It is common in many Deitsch households even today to scare children into staying in bed on Christmas Eve by saying, "The Butzemann will get you!"

At its root, the word "Butz" is akin to a puck or a pucca. A Butz is also the "it" in games like tag, but a Butzemann is not a puck. Instead, pucks are the creatures who are most commonly said to take over the shell of an unburned Butzemann. These pucks are given specific names in Deitsch lore, all of which refer to the "buckled man" (Buckliches Mannli, with numerous spelling variations).

There is no requirement in Urglaawe to build a Butzemann, and not everyone takes the lore behind the Butzemann so literally. However, even those for whom the shamanistic elements do not resonate, it is easy to see the importance of our relationship to plants and our need to respect the Plant kingdom.

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Naming Convention:
https://urglaawe.blogspot.com/2012/02/butzemann-naming-convention.html

Friday, February 7, 2020

Entschtanning 7: Idise and Feminine Energies

die Idis; plural: die Idise: An Idis is a matriarchal spirit who watches over the progression of her clan (which is not necessarily defined by bloodlines; this will be covered in the write-up for Night 11). Many of those interviewed were aware of the fairy godmothers actually being ancestral spirits, but the term had been lost within Deitsch culture, so "Idis" is a backformation. 

We do find remnants of concepts regarding deceased ancestors serving as guardians. Stories, legends, and folk tales of "guardian angels" and "fairy godmothers" bear some traits in common with both the Idis and the Walkyrie. There is a belief in Braucherei that spiritually-evolved forebears go to the Weschtbledder (Western Leaves of the Lewesbaam/World Tree). Whether this evolution removes them from the rebirth cycle is unclear, though most practitioners believed that an Idis is typically not reborn into a new soul construct.

Many of the understandings of these entities are most clearly described and presented in Scandinavian lore, yet it is quite possible that they became culturally encoded and were carried into some of the most famous "fairy tales." 

Theory: The Three Good Fairies in Sleeping Beauty remind me a little of the Wurthexe, or Norns. 

From right to left: Flora, Fauna, Merryweather
Image: WikiMedia Commons
Although the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty was authored by Charles Perraut and is thus French (the Grimm Brothers’ Dornröschen version was based on Perrault’s), the oldest known version of the story is from the 14th century. The gifts that the Three Good Fairies each intend to give to Aurora could be interpreted as Urleeg. Flora gives her beauty, Fauna gives her song, and Merryweather is unable to give her gift (which I believe was to be happiness), Maleficent appears and changes the expected future by cursing Aurora to die if she touches a spinning wheel's spindle before sunset on her sixteenth birthday. The future flow was changed by Maleficent. Merryweather cannot undo the action that was done, but she is able to mitigate the damage (and to alter the expected course of the future again) by weakening the curse. Instead of dying, Aurora will fall into a deep sleep until awakened with a kiss. 

It is interesting that the the plot is consistent with the Germanic understanding that the future is not written. It is also interesting that Flora is said to be the oldest of the three, Fauna the middle, and Merryweather the youngest. 

The number of Wise Women is also unclear. While we tend to see the Wurthexe as a trio operating in the past, present, and future, there may well be myriad Wurthexe. One Hex asked me a question on this topic, “Why would the time be limited to the past, present, and future? We have other verb tenses in Deitsch and in English, and the nuances of each tense are very important. Could a Wurthex govern each tense?”

I am actually not sure that the Wurthexe operate by our grammatical rules and time concepts, but her question did make me think. Time is a baffling concept, especially when one believes that time is more of a spiral or helix than a line. And, to hearken back to Sleeping Beauty (Grimm 411): “…in the German kindermärchen (Dornröschen) it is twelve wise women, the thirteenth as been overlooked.” In this case, it appears the Wise Women have been reduced only to fairy godmothers. With all of the named Valkyries and all the evolved Idise, I am reasonably sure there are more than twelve.

Granted, this Sleeping Beauty part is all theory. 

One thing that Idise, Fairy Godmothers, Wurthexe, and Valkyries all have in common is feminine energy. Historically they were called Wise Women (die Kluuche Weiwer). Trying to pore through Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology on some of these topics can be a little bewildering. The Wise Women chapter (XVI) runs from pages 396-437, contains comparisons and contrasts to numerous European cultures’ folklore, and tosses in all sorts of linguistic references. It’s actually fascinating stuff, but it is not something that is easily consumed for a small article such as this. Throughout that chapter, though, I can see a relationship between what Grimm describes and some of the lore on the Kluuche Weiwer that got passed down through Braucherei and Hexerei.

At Entschtanning, we honor all feminine energies. This is due, in part, to this time being the “baby bump” phase of the Lewesraad. We hail and honor the Idise, even if we do not know their names. We recognize and celebrate the feminine energies within each of us. We honor the women in our lives and recognize the sacrifices they make and the power they command. 

Hail to the Wise Women!
Heelt zu de Kluuche Weiter

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Grimm, Jacob, James Stallybrass, trans. Teutonic Mythology (4 vols). New York: Dover Publications, 1966.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Entschtanning 6: die Zusaagpflicht

Die Zusaagpflicht, also called die Zusaagfassing: The closest loose translation would be that of a “Sacred Duty” or a "Sacred Promise" as it relates to an an unwritten (though guidelines are in process) moral and ethical “contract” among the plant, animal, human, mineral, and spirit realms (Tobin, The Sacred Promise 14, 16). This concept of symbioses comes straight from Braucherei and relates to the Urglaawe virtue of Verwalting (Stewardship) and conscious living in the world around us. While it is not certain that the terminologies or the organized concepts behind them are of Heathen-era origin, they are almost certainly evolved from a Heathen worldview of personal responsibility and self-discipline.



Even though no one really knows how old this concept is, it is certainly consistent with Heathen worldviews. As part of a living culture, though, it has evolved within Deitsch culture (and, presumably. Palatinate, Swabian, Westphalian, Hessian, Silesian, Alsatian, and Swiss cultures prior to emigration) over the centuries. Each domain (humanity, plants, animals, and, yes, minerals) has had, since time immemorial, roles to perform in the cycle of life (Lewesraad). The roles evolved over the course of time and developed into an unwritten or spiritual social contract (to use Hobbesian terminology).

Our modern society separates us not only from the reality of the seasons but also from the plant and animal kingdoms. Although we are fortunate enough to live close to the land here in this area, much of our food is still processed and appears as convenient little meals. An understanding of the Sacred Duty includes recognizing and respecting the loss of life, whether animal or vegetable, that resulted in those meals.

For the last several years, there have been efforts here in parts of Pennsylvania to reduce sludge farming (the disposal of wastewater on farmlands), to put an end to the inhumane treatment of puppy mills, and to end some of the more destructive practices of Big Agro that have resulted in a great volume of food but, very likely, in less actual nutrition. These efforts are all aiming to put an end to violations of the Sacred Promise.

As almost any good, effective manager knows, being at the top of an organization does not mean that power can be used indiscriminately. Eventually, morale breaks down among the staff. Rancor develops, and the health of the organization grows sour. The same arrangement exists throughout the physical world. The fact that mankind can do something does not mean he should do it. Morale is breaking down throughout the physical world as a result of the abuses therein. In a manner of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening (which was filmed not far from me in Pennsylvania), the land may someday rebel or simply to die off.

 Living consciously and deliberately within the parameters of the Zusaagpflicht can also help to diminish the impact on our Wurt (Wyrd) that we draw simply from the need to eat in order to survive. The Zusaagpflicht is not a call to perfection or austerity. It is, however, a matter of maximizing respect for, and harmony with, the creation and life around us.

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Tobin, Jesse. "The Sacred Promise at Erntedankfescht." Hollerbeier Haven: Newsletter for Herbal
and Healing Arts, v. 1 no. 2, pp. 14, 16. Kempton, PA: Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, August 2007.

Entschtanning 5: Eede / Oaths

The importance of oaths within Heathenry is pretty well known, so I will not, due to time constraints for this brief article, reinvent the wheel; instead, I will add links to a few relevant articles at the end of this post. The long and the short of ti is that one’s word is paramount. A good reputation leads to smoother relationships, better luck, and, quite possibly better Urleeg for the next life. 

Coming from an Anabaptist background, the change from avoiding oaths (in favor of affirmations) to depending on them required a mind shift on my part. I still use affirmations sometimes instead of oaths, particularly if a component of what is required for an Urglaawe oath is missing.

Oaths in Urglaawe are not all that different from those of most other Heathen denominations. We stipulate, though, that the oath must have a beginning and an ending, must be well defined, must be realistic, must be measurable, and must contain a description and timeline of what happens (Schuld) if the oath cannot or is not completed. Oaths may be adjusted if both parties (and witnesses, in most cases) agree to new terms.

Unfortunately, modern American society does not generally reinforce the importance of oaths. Take, for instance, the complex and sometimes controversial topic of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge is, in effect, an oath. Students historically have been (and, in many places, teachers still are) compelled to say the Pledge every morning in school. Do they really understand what they are saying, though? I remember having cursory instruction in school (4th grade, maybe?) on what the literal meaning of each line of the Pledge meant, but no real instruction on just how serious the intention behind the words are. The addition of the prepositional phrase, “under God” in 1954 makes the nature of the Pledge particularly toxic to anyone outside of the most dominant religions, and, as a Heathen, I will not utter those words. However, every day, millions of students are taking an oath while not recognizing the gravity of what they are saying.

Then we have New Year’s Resolutions, which are also oaths, even if they are only to the self. Every year during Yule, we remind folks that New Year’s Resolutions can be wonderful planning tools, but they must be clear, measurable, and realistic. For instance, if someone is not already going reliably to the gym twice each week , it is not likely that they will suddenly start going to the gym five days a week throughout the entire year. Instead of that open, unrealistic oath, we would advise the oath-taker to take a smaller oath over a shorter period. If they are not going to the gym twice weekly now, we might advise them to oath to go twice a week for two weeks, then take a new oath once they have successfully completed those two weeks. Completed oaths help to build stronger luck an better Wurt. I’d rather hear twenty-six successful biweekly oaths than one annual failure. 

Then we have the Butzemann. Creating and activating a Butzemann typically takes place during the Kannsege (Ceremony of the Corn) at Entschtanning and requires that some things be put into place. The Butzemann benefits us, so we are to make offerings or to share parts of our bounty with the Butzemann. Most of us oath to giving something monthly while actually giving things to him more frequently. We also are to give him clothes, and any items we give to him are his, and to take them from him is considered to be an act of inhospitality. In fact, there is a Verbot in Braucherei on wearing any item of clothes that has been on a Butzemann. 


The most important oath to the Butzemann, though, is that he will be burned at the onset of Allelieweziel, which begins at sunset on October 30. Deitsch folklore is full of tales of what happens when a Butzemann is not burned. The plant spirits within him depart onto the Wild Hunt, leaving behind a shell that is occupied by Butz (puck, pucca). The Butz then wreaks havoc throughout the countryside. Many Deitsch people remember their parents scaring them into staying into bed on Christmas Eve by saying the “Butzemann” will get them. This is, effectively, the bogeyman.

The Butzemann ties into tomorrow’s topic, the Zusaagpflicht, which is an unwritten contract among plants, animals, humans, and minerals and relates to hospitality and stewardship.

Breaking oaths can have dire consequences in general. I have heard rationalizations and justifications, some of which may have had merit, but the fact is that an oath was still broken. For instance, I have counseled people who were prohibited from completing an oath because the person to whom they took the oath would not allow them onto their property after a falling out. There is really not much that can be done, but Hexerei practice advises offering three times to be allowed to complete the oath. If the requests are denied, then the oath is considered completed because the oath-taker had no other option. 

If someone fails to complete an oath and lives up to the Schuld terms, the oath is considered nullified, not completed. If they fail to live up to the Schuld, then the weight of the oath could result in damaged relationships or even outright shunning. This is why oaths must be taken carefully with due consideration to whether it is even necessary to stake one’s reputation on a verbal contract. 

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Some Links:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Entschtanning 4: Lenzbutzerei - Spring Cleaning

Of the whole of the components of Entschtanning, Lenzbutzerei, or Spring Cleaning, is probably the easiest one to explain. It seems readily evident that we are to get our affairs into order, to clear out (repurpose, recycle, donate, or discard) unneeded items, and to make way for new life or new projects to begin.



This cleaning is said in Braucherei (and alluded to in the Wonnezeit myth) to be ordained by Holle. By the time the Wild Hunt returns to this realm on Wonnenacht (Walpurgisnacht, April 30), our homes are to be ready for Holle's inspection as the host passes through. 

Another perspective, though, places this cleaning right into the concept of the "baby bump" arc of the Lewesraad. One elderly practitioner of Hexerei described Spring Cleaning as "nesting" ("am Nischde" or "nischtend zu sei"). This simple use of words brings about an expansion of the significance of this time.

Our ideas, resolutions, and plans are, in a sense, our children. While some ideas are put into action immediately, many projects require planning and preparation and need go to through a figurative pregnancy phase before they are executed or committed to physical form. Thus, Entschtanning's Spring Cleaning is as much about those new projects as it is about order in the home. 

The nesting idea also relates to another concept that we will discuss later in Entschtanning: Gemietlichkeet. In humans and animals, nesting is preparation for the arrival of a new life. Typically, this new life is met with unconditional care, love, and a belonging that transcends the difficulties and challenges encountered in birth. This sense of belonging is what we call Gemietlichkeit or Gemietlichkeet in Deitsch. It translates literally to "coziness," but it is much more than that. It is also very much an area of concern for our deities because a sense of belonging can thwart the chaotic force of rootlessness. We will discuss this more on Night 10 of Entschtanning.

Spring Cleaning can be challenging. I admit that, for many years, I did what I could, but I relied on putting out a lot of offerings because my energies were being spent on building our communities. Since the house was cleaned and fixed up in 2019, though, I am intent on keeping the place clean. I sweep daily and dust weekly, etc., but Spring Cleaning will be a lot more intentional. I will ritually mop, wipe down, purge, and and replace items as warranted. With some of these chores, I can find myself going into a meditative state. When sweeping, I strive to symbolically sweep away unwanted energies from my home. I make it a spiritual experience. (Mopping, on the other hand, is just a mess for me).

So, as you undertake your Spring Cleaning, think about what you are removing and what, if anything, you are making room for. As you clear away old items or remove dirt, feel the energy flow better around you in your home. 

Tomorrow we will have a brief discussion on the importance of oaths, specifically in the context of the Butzemann.

Hail!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Entschtanning 3.5: First Urglaawe Podcast!

Victoria Young, Ziewern of Distelfink Sippschaft, has published the first-ever Urglaawe podcast. The topic is Entschtanning! Come find out more about our current observance!

Entschtanning 3: Baerk un Haerdbutzerei - Birch and Cleaning of the Hearth

Yesterday we discussed the goddess Freid and Her role in the home and hearth. Tonight we will expound upon the role of the hearth in Entschtanning and how birch fits into that role.


Birch by itself plays a major role in the Deitsch culture. On a mundane level, it is the source of birch water and of our most well-known beverage, birch beer. On a more spiritual level, though, birch tea serves as the means to remove the stain of death from a decedent's loved ones, and the tree itself represents renewal, rebirth, healing, motherhood, and mystical knowledge.

Several deities bear an association in Urglaawe with birch. Most prominent among them, and in no particularly order, are Freid, Holle, and Berchta. Holle and Berchta seem to be connected to birch mostly through healing and the process of rebirth and renewal. Freid's connections are mostly in the form of motherhood and mystical knowledge. 

Within the oral lore of the Deitsch culture there is a belief that birch's association with renewal and rebirth comes from birch being one of the first trees to grow back after a forest fire, and the trees grow rapidly. Also, the "eyes" of the tree are viewed as the eyes of Berchta or of Freid. In the case of Freid, the eyes are everywhere, and that is one means for Freid to maintain Her knowledge of what is going on here in Mannheem. In the case of Berchta, it is more personal; She is watching "you." Indeed, walking through a stand of birch can sometimes be unnerving if one senses the eyes watching every step!

Another interesting item that I only recently learned is that some types of pitch can are made from the dry distillation of birch bark. This fact lends a new perspective to the story of Frau Holle, in which Holle rewards the industrious protagonist by covering her in gold while the lazy antagonist is covered in pitch. A Deitsch word for "bad luck" is "Bech," which  literally means "pitch." From the Urglaawe perspective, the story can be read on multiple levels, one of which is the establishment of Urleeg and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The symbolism of birch runs deep in Urglaawe, particularly during Entschtanning. Another component of the observance is the cleaning of the hearth.

At Entschtanning, we are to let hearth fires go out and to extinguish candles, oil lamps, and any other fire-bearing apparatus, including the oven and furnace (as safety allows, of course). We are then to clean out the apparatus, removing all old coals, candles, wicks, etc. They are to be replaced with new material. New fires are then begun using birch wood in the hearth or fireplace and birch twigs on candles or lamps. This represents the manifestation of new life, whether birth or rebirth, as part of the Entschtanning emergence. 

Tradition holds that embers from the home's hearth are then to be taken to any furnaces or fireplaces in other rooms or buildings on the property. Some Brauchers and Hexes report that they gather at this time of year at the home of their mentor, where the main fireplace or hearth is lit up with birch. Embers from that fire are then taken in ember boxes to the homes of the apprentices to serve as the starter for their new fires. 

By the end of Entschtanning, birch water and birch beer stores from last year are likely depleted, but the birch sap season begins in March, so they will soon be refilled.

So, tonight we honor the spirit of the birch. We also encourage folks to clean their fire areas and to begin a new flame with birch. Bear in mind while doing so that we are at a time of renewal, rebirth, and promise. Take a few moments to meditate to the dancing flames on new opportunities and how to bring into being the things that will help to improve your life and your community. 

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Entschtanning 2: Freidsege

Freidsege

A major component of the Entschtanning season is the concept of bringing things into being, making things manifest, and the emergence of existence from ideas. This ties in with the idea that Entschtanning is the "baby bump" phase of the Lewesraad, and brings in the honoring of motherhood and feminine energies in the context of the goddess Freid. The Freidsege is the ritual component of honoring the goddess. 

Who is Freid?

Freid is known by several names within the Deitsch community. For example, Braucherei reports this time of year as being sacred to the Hearth Goddess (Haerdgeddin, Haerdgeddern, or Haerdziebin) or Hearth Lady (Haerdfraa). Some Hexerei practitioners report the names Frigg and Freid, the latter of which shares the same etymology as the Deitsch name for Friday, Freidaag. The name Frigg was originally more prevalent within Urglaawe until late in 2015, when more interviews reinforced the use of the name Freid. Additionally, the availability of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's Woud and Freid (The Turnip Princess, pp. 171-172. New York: Penguin Books, 2015) presented us with a story that is remarkably similar to the Norse story of Freya, Odur, and the tears of amber. In the case of Freid, though, the tears are of pearl, which, in turn, has a  link in oral tradition to the Hearth Goddess. 

Fertility and Motherhood

The choice of this time for the Freidsege observance stems from the fact that we are usually starting to see the first signs of the return of the fertility of the soil at this time of year, which ties into other components of the observance that will be discussed on later nights. 

Freid is seen as a goddess who is particularly concerned with motherhood, the hearth, the home, and the garden. Over the years, many have noted that Freid and Her Norse cognate, Frigg, have developed an increasingly strong presence within the Heathn community. Anyone who relegates Freid to being at home washing dishes while Wudan or Odin is out changing the universe misses the true power of this benevolent goddess. The home is, perhaps, the most important aspect of one's life. We may be successful in our work endeavors or in our hobbies, but if, at the end of the day, we do not have a safe and secure place to rest our heads, our lives are challenging, at best, and miserable and in jeopardy, at worst. Thus, one cannot underestimate the importance of Freid and Her concerns in our lives.

Family and Personal Effects

Freid Herself is viewed as the consort of the god Wudan, the mother of Balder, and the sister of the twin deities Volla and Voll. Oral reports on the lineage and the familial relationships are relatively scant and sometimes conflicting, so they are under continuing research.

Keys are seen in the lore of most Heathen groups as being a symbol of Freid. These keys represent not only the doors and locks to the home but also the keys to unlock portals to greater understanding of the functions of the universe.

The distaff is the tool of Freid, and spindles are used in Urglaawe rites to hallow the spaced in which a Freidsege would be held. 

Weddings

Some Deitsch historians, such as Dr. Edwin Miller Fogel (Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans. Millersville, PA: Center for Pennsylvania German Studies, 1995.) report on traits associated with Freid, but they are conflated with traits ascribed elsewhere to Holle and Frouwa. However, some of what he describes is supported by oral and practical tradition within the living Deitsch communities. For example, on page 17, Fogel describes a difference in the understanding of Friday. Heathen aspects that remain see Friday as a lucky day because of its association with Freid (Fogel uses the name Frigg). He cites it being a popular traditional wedding day due to that association. However, he notes that, when Christian perspectives dominate, Friday is seen as unlucky, presumably due to Good Friday. 

Amish wedding dress swatches held in a charm box and 
pinned to keep couples together.
The wedding day idea actually turns up quite a bit of lore in Deitsch culture because, until relatively recently, the three popular days for weddings were Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The associations with Ziu, Dunner, and Freid play a role in these choices historically. Plain sectarian wedding days are still mostly commonly held on Tuesdays an Thursdays, though the origin of that practice is likely lost to those communities. Some Braucherei and Hexerei practitioners firmly state that blue as a wedding color, particularly on Friday, has its roots in the lore of Freid. Indeed, Amish wedding dresses even now are traditionally blue, and the groom often wears a blue bowtie on the wedding day. 

Spinning and Wurt (Wyrd)

As is the case with much of Heathenry, several of the goddesses of Urglaawe are associated with spinning. This is spinning from the most mundane of functions to the most esoteric and cosmic senses.

Freid is seen as spinning the very material from which the Wurthexe (Norns) weave our Wurt. This to us places Freid so high in the Cosmic scheme that She is essentially a goddess beyond linear time, energy, and matter as well. Many believe that She may not be subject to Wurt Herself, though the matter is up for debate and research. 

It is, though, widely believed that Freid's placement in the cosmic scheme provides Her with clarity and understanding that exceeds that of many (yet, in our lore, not all) other deities. Some Heathens say that Frigg knows all but does not speak; Deitsch lore indicates that She will proactively guide those who follow Her and that She will provide clues regarding that which is to come.

In Conclusion

Freid touches the whole of the Entschtanning season, so you will see references to Her role in subsequent posts about other components of the observance. This short write-up is far from being able to cover the complexity of his powerful, wondrous goddess.

All hail Freid, the Cosmic Seamstress, the Keeper of the Keys, and the Beloved Protectoress!