En Hallicher Yuul zu eich alle!
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Voryuul Timeline, Eastern Deitscherei, Nights 1-5
Regional Timeline of Voryuul Events for the Eastern Deitscherei
Note: If you find yourself struggling with the realities of answers dredged up by some of the shadow-side work, please discontinue the exploration and reach out to me, to a trusted friend, or to any of the clergy of Distelfink Sippschaft.
NIGHT 1: Wednesday, December 8, 2021; Sunset Local Time
Night 1 of Voryuul begins. Start with twelve candles burning, consider the meditation of the day. Snuff or blow out one candle in the middle of your meditation and contemplate the change in the lighting, ambience, and atmosphere of the room. When meditation is completed, be sure to extinguish all candles!
Suggested Meditation 1
Nacht 1 - Night 1
Es 2020 waar ’n zaehes Yaahr gwest. Es 2021 (doch im Gang) iss en besseres Yaahr gwest. Bischt du noch gedreir de Lehre vun 2020, adder bischt du widder zimmlich desselwert es Mensch, as du im 2019 waarscht?
2020 was a tough year. Did you retain the lessons learned in 2020, or are you again pretty much the same person who you were in 2019?
NIGHT 2: Thursday, December 9, 2021; Sunset Local Time
Night 2 begins with eleven candles burning, and the number of lit candles will be reduced to ten by the end of the meditation.
Suggested Meditation 2
Wer bischt du heitich? Bischt du froh? Bischt vergniechlich?
Meditation Prompt 2
Who are you these days? Are you happy? Are you contented?
NIGHT 3: Friday, December 10, 2021; Sunset Local Time
Night 3 begins with ten candles lit and the number is reduced to nine.
Suggested Meditation 3
Kannst du net mehr aus me Trott haerauskumme? Wann du yuscht eeni Sach in deim Lewe umwandle kennt, was watt es sei? Weswegge? Wuzu? Zu wellem End?
Meditation Prompt 3
Are you stuck in a rut? If you could transform just one thing in your life, what would it be? Due to what? Why? To what end?
LUTZELFRAASLAAF: Distelfink Sippschaft will observe Lutzelfraaslaaf beginning at 6:00 PM EST at Rob Schreiwer's house in Bristol, PA.
BRISTOL BUGGY PULL will take place during Night 3 (approximately 7:30/8:00 PM EST behind Bristol Borough Junior-Senior High School, Bristol, PA
YULETIDE SOCK DRIVE begins at the Buggy Pull.
NIGHT 4: Saturday, December 11, 2021; Sunset Local Time
PARADE OF SPIRITS: Sunset on December 11 begins the Parade of Spirits though the streets of Northern Liberties in Philadelphia.
Night 4 also plunges us into the shadowy sides of ourselves. We begin with nine candles lit and end with eight.
Suggested Meditation 4
Be prepared to go a little bit meta and to think about the past few nights' meditations, particularly the aspects of confronting the shadow side of yourself and developing a better understanding of the totality of yourself.
Then ask yourself some of the tough questions.
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!
Note Again: If you find yourself struggling with the realities of answers dredged up by some of the shadow-side work, please discontinue the exploration and reach out to me, to a trusted friend, or to any of the clergy of Distelfink Sippschaft. Night 4's meditation an open up some old wounds, which presents all the more reason to come out to spend time in the community having fun embracing the dark and facing your fears.
NIGHT 5: Sunday, December 12, 2021; Sunset, Local Time
Night 5 begins with eight candles lit and ends with seven.
Suggested Meditation 5
Night 5's meditation starts 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. How do you cope with loss of this type? What actions soothe you, and what impact does your self-soothing have on. yourself and on others? Do you give up on lost causes gracefully? Less than gracefully? Or do you plod forth hoping that tomorrow will be a brighter day?
Note: If you find yourself struggling with the realities of answers dredged up by some of the shadow-side work, please discontinue the exploration and reach out to me, to a trusted friend, or to any of the clergy of Distelfink Sippschaft. Night 5's meditation is meant to shake us out of our comfort zone. Being truthful with oneself on this meditation can stir up guilt and regret. Those feelings must be extinguished along with Candle 8 is blown out. If there amends that need to be made with other people, extinguish the guilt and work to correct the actions of the past. If no reconciliation is possible, then, when blowing out the rest of the candles for tonight, commit the guilt and the regret to the past while learning any lessons that the incidents in question are presenting to you.
----- Nights 6-12 will be presented in a later post -----
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Voryuul/Parade of Spirits: Why The Buggy?
Trenton Avenue, Bristol, PA
Behind Bristol Borough Jr.-Sr. High School
Monday, November 22, 2021
What is the Parade of Spirits?
Traditionally, the time in mid-December prior to the winter solstice (Yule) was when the Pennsylvania Dutch held spooky parades and when children donned costumes and went "belsnickeling," or trick-or-treating. The Parade of Spirits is a modern expression of that old tradition.
The Parade serves as a depiction of the Wild Hunt from Germanic mythology, and features liminal and shadow-side entities, such as Belsnickel, Krampus, and the souls of the recently departed.
At the fore of the "Schtrutz" is the Germanic psychopomp, Gedreier Eckhart, who is a hero in German folklore and who serves the goddess Holle in death just as he did in life. Pennsylvania Dutch myth places him ahead of the Wild Hunt, warning the living of the impending fury as Holle travels the realms of the multiverse, seeking out the lost souls of the recently departed and capturing them to bring them back into the human evolutionary process.
Although the basic functions of the Parade are based in German and Pennsylvania Dutch myth and folklore, this is a secular event. All shadowy-side, shady-side, and dark-side traditions from all cultural backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged (please just keep in mind this is a family-friendly event, and please be careful not to engage in cultural appropriation from historically oppressed or marginalized cultures). This is an inclusive event and welcomes participants of all backgrounds; no bigotry tolerated.
While some costumes may be commercially produced (particularly Krampus, Perchten, or other traditional Alpine costumes), most are handmade, from the simple to the complex. Simply putting green or gray makeup on your face and participating as a ghoul on the Wild Hunt is fantastic!
BRING NOISEMAKERS! THIS IS A NOISY, FUN EVENT!
Arrive at Liberty Lands Park (913 N 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123) at around 4:00 to enjoy the costumes and to talk with old friends and to make new ones.
Just prior to sunset (16:36/4:36 PM EST), the Parade will begin with opening remarks, and then the organizers will step off from the park onto the streets. Follow Gedreier Eckhart's "Boomba" (a Pennsylvania Dutch percussion instrument that is played primarily through bouncing) and enjoy yourself as we strut the streets of Northern Liberties.
In 2021, we will debut the Buggy in some form. We need to assess the speed at which it can be moved to see if we can have it on the street, but the Parade marchers will stay on the sidewalks.
After the Parade returns to Liberty Lands Park, please tarry around the bonfire for some fellowship (please have a face mask on hand and follow Philadelphia's covid-19 guidelines on outdoor interaction) until the performance begins.
In 2021, we are delighted to present a fire performance by bellydancer, Lorenda, and her partner, Aly Louise!
There is no cost for this event, but it is PARTICIPATORY, so... make yourself look dead and come out to the 'Schtrutz!
Sunday, October 24, 2021
DEITSCHE RAANE: How We Got Here
DEITSCHE RAANE: How We Got Here
Focusing on the process of how the Urglaawe rune system came to be only in this post.
The Deitsch runes presented us with some significant challenges for several reasons:
- While some runes have definitely been in the Deitsch culture since migration (some being at the root of some hex signs, barn stars, or other symbols), the full alphabet is certainly not of antiquity; I suspect someone within the last 100 years tried to incorporate more symbols or knowledge, but, with the suppression happening after WWI, what we had in 2008 was badly broken or incomplete. Thus, what we are presenting now is inspired by older symbols, information, and/or lore, but it, of itself, is a new product.
- Very few respondents. A total of 31 contributed some input to the specific topic. Of those, 17 self-identified with Hexerei. Eight self-identified with Braucherei, and the rest did not claim an affiliation.
- Of those 31, 27 contributed a something significant. Of those, 9 were the primary contributors of the forms.
- None knew the names of all symbols.
- Of the 31, only three had a full complement of symbols, some resembling Elder Futhark symbols while others were very similar to Zodiac symbols.
- Only two had a nearly-complete alphabet devoid of Zodiac symbols, and some of their symbols conflicted with each other.
- Everyone thought there should be a symbol for "p" or "bb," but no one knew the name or the symbol.
- Confusion over the same name ("Geil"; "horses") being applied to two symbols (now "Hengscht"; "stallion"; and "Eiwe"; "yew").
- The runes tended to be drawn with more rounding than with sharper points, partially because they were usually written with the thumb of the person being interviewed.
- The inclusion of twelve elements, each having two runes associated with it, arose from a cluster of 11 self-identified Hexerei practitioners in Northumberland, Columbia, and Montour Counties, with five outliers in other states, plus one in Ontario. The elemental system was inconsistent; quite a few cited knowing that there were twelve, but the twelve that one listed would have differences with the twelve listed by the next.
- Of those who used any twelve elements, all but the one in Ontario ascribed a proactive (typically referred to as "positive") and a reactive (typically referred to as "negative") aspect to each, thereby (at least in theory since the whole system was kind of a mess) linking one rune as a proactive rune and another rune as a reactive rune to each of the twelve elements. In most cases, the proactive corresponded to the pushing of the dominant hand of the practitioner while the reactive corresponded to the shooing or non-dominant hand.
- Three elderly Hexerei practitioners, all from Northumberland County, associated the digits on their four fingers on their pushing hand with twelve runes (or other symbols to fill in the gaps) and the digits on their four fingers of their shooing hand with twelve runes (or other symbols to fill in the gaps). The thumbs were reserved for opening, utilitarian tasks, neutral energy manipulation, and sealing.
- I used their unique Hexerei methods of using the runes/symbols to sweep over the body from the beginning of a healing session to find imbalances of elements within the client. Concentrating on the digits, particularly those of my shooing hand, to be difficult, resulting in a depletion of energy. It was initially much easier to use broad Braucherei sweeps to seek energy blockages and then to use the individual runes to aid in the identification of elemental problems.
- As the work on the system continued, I revisited the rune/digit associations, and I am finding value in aligning the proactive rune of a particular element on one hand with the reactive rune of the same element on the opposing hand provides a bit of mnemonic aid, and I am becoming more skilled with the use of individual digits.
- The inconsistencies in the elements identified was a challenge, but coming across Ulf Asgardson's "YYggssbok" (YYggssbok, pp. 81-82. Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2007) in 2011 helped to frame the references. I know nothing about this author other than what I found in the mysticism within that book, and there was enough correspondence to the broken Hexerei lore that the author's elements were all to help to fill in the gaps.
- The system works!
Note: All runes have a Rechtdaub, or "upright" meaning and a "Driebdaub," or merkstave meaning; these interpretations are of current-era origin.
Starting with the rune (looks like Fehu with a missing arm) at 0:00/12:00 above the Distelfink's head in the logo, I am going to identify each rune and will include important points, as warranted.
Vieh: One of the better attested too in the group. The form is also described in the work of a Heathen rune author as having turned up in Germany. Whether the form was being used for the same runic concepts is unknown. Deity association: Fro (new)
Ur: No consistent name, but primordial power is an association. The form similar to the upside down U was known by a few respondents, but it was provided in the mirror image from the Uruz rune. Deity association: Holler (new)
Dunner (also: Dorn): The lack of either "th" sound in Deitsch gives this rune the same focal sound as Daag, but this was one of the better known runes among the informants. Deity association: Dunner
Antwatt: Perhaps the rune that started this entire quest. It was the first rune that turned up in an esoteric setting that had not also turned up in a mundane or physical-world setting. It was being used by a Braucherin to awaken the dormant plant spirits within her Butzemann in what is known as a Kannsege, or the Ceremony of the Corn. Deity association: Wudan
Reit: A few names for the form were given, but Reit was the most common. Deity association: Schlumm (new)
Kerze: Another problematic rune. The earliest informants identified this with a torch, or Fackel, but the consonant sound in the middle of the name complicated matters. The form was initially given to look somewhat like a K, but later informants proposed it being set onto its back, whereupon it more resembled a candleholder, and, thus, the Deitsch term for "candle," or "Kerze," became the preferred term, while still bearing the "harnessed fire" concepts of the earlier "Fackel" name. Deity association: Zisa (new)
Gewwe: Commonly used in Hexerei and in some Braucherei practitioners' uses for exchanges and in soul work. Entity association: Folyer/n; deity association: Weisskeppichi
Winsch: The earlier form (looked like a capital W with a line over the top) of this rune was cumbersome, even if more widely used than the current form. The current form, which mirrors Wunjo, was presented by two informants. Deity associations: Wudan, Holler, Fro (new), Frouwa (new)
Haagel: This rune turns up in esoteric and mundane contexts, including a potential link to the rosette hex sign that bears many of the rune's attributes. Deity association: Holle
Not: Widely used in Hexerei sealing and healing. Many associations with deities.
Eisich: Perhaps among the clumsiest names remaining, this rune's name focuses not on the "i" in the "Ei" diphthong but instead on the "i" in the -ich adjectival ending.
Yaahr: Multiple forms were given for this rune, with the current form being in the plurality. The other prominent form was akin to a spiral.
Eiwe: Troublesome at the beginning because the earliest informant gave the same name to this rune and to what became Hengscht. The determination of the name Eiwe ("yew") came after the emergence of the rune form that looks like a bit like a yew berry.
Peil: No name, no symbol was known to the informants. However, they all believed there had been a symbol to meet the Deitsch sounds of "p" and "bb." A few even had insights how to use the energy behind it, which is how the name Peil eventually became a
Schild: Reported in multiple forms.
Sunne: Not uncommon even outside of esoteric practice. The possible root of several other Deitsch symbols. Deity association: Sunna
Tuisko: Originally named Ziu, Schmitz, and Tarm by informants. The Tuisko was a later emergence from a minority (three in the same community) of those interviewed, and it was ultimately the element that helped to sway our team toward choosing Tuisko as part of our practice. As the rune of proactive Earth, the earth-sprung god (believed by some Hexes to be the child of the Sky Father (Ziu) and the Earth Mother (Erda) Tuisto or Tuisco, it led, over the course of a decade, to the use of this name. The debate is not closed, however. Deity associations: Tuisto, Ziu, Zisa
Baerke: Diety association: Strongest with Berchta and Freid; lesser with Holle.
Hengscht: Naming issue cited with Eiwe above. Deity association: Alcis (new). Form supposedly arose from the rider's head being higher than the horse's head.
Mann/Mensch: Several forms were given, including a human stick figure form, which reminded me a bit too much of the Blockheads from Gumby, and, since Blockhead is an old racist term for Germans and Pennsylvania Dutch people, well, the current form was the dominant on. Deity association: Mannaz
Loch: Rune was strongly attested to in form, but the name was hard to pin down. Loch ("hole") was provided as a name in later interviews. Deity association: Schlumm (new)
Engel: Despite the fact that English "angel" and Deitsch "Engel" look a lot alike, they are not derived from the same root. English "angel" has its roots in Greek "angelos" ("messenger"). Deitsch "Engel" is ultimately derived from the name of the Germanic god, Ing. Over the centuries, they have developed the same general meaning due to the religious hegemony of Christianity, but our use of the Engel name for the rune hearkens back to Ing. Form turned up etched into granary walls in Berks County. Deity associations: Ing, Fro
Daag: Several forms provided, but none as functional as the one we're using. Used as a concept in Hexerei (and some Braucherei) dissolution workings, this rune was actually among the most commonly known among the informants. Deity associations: Helling (new)
Ochdem: Several rune forms given. Deity association: Wudan
ELEMENTS AND THEIR RUNE PAIRS (Modern):
Spirit: proactively associated with the rune Haagel and reactively associated with the rune Schild.
Fire: proactively associated with the rune Vieh and reactively associated with the rune Daag.
Time: proactively associated with the rune Yaahr and reactively associated with the rune Peil.
Air: proactively associated with the rune Anwatt and reactively associated with the rune Gewwe.
Water: proactively associated with the rune Hengscht and reactively associated with the rune Loch.
Light: proactively associated with the rune Reit and reactively associated with the rune Sunne.
Yeast: proactively associated with the rune Winsch and reactively associated with the rune Engel.
Metal: proactively associated with the rune Kerze and reactively associated with the rune Mann.
Venom: proactively associated with the rune Eiwe and reactively associated with the rune Dunner.
Salt: proactively associated with the rune Ur and reactively associated with the rune Ochdem.
Ice: proactively associated with Eisich/Is and reactively associated with Not.
Earth: proactively associated with the rune Tuisko and reactively associated with the rune Baerke.
Element color associations are emerging mostly (but not solely) form my personal practice, so, this is new:
Air: light blue
Venom: light green
Following the method used by the three Northumberland Hexe mentioned in the main article, I am showing the rune-to-digit correspondence but adding the element colors in that are of my own practice.
Spirit is at the top of the index finger. Its opposite, Earth, is at the bottom of the pinky. The pattern takes the fiery (Fire, Time, Air, Water, Light) runes across the first digits of each finger, then moves down to the second digit of the pinky and moving to the ring finger); the icy runes (Yeast, Metal, Venom, Salt, Ice) move across the bottom digits from the ring finger to the index finger, then move up to the middle digit of the index finger and finish out in the middle digit of the middle finger.
Friday, October 1, 2021
Ewicher Yeeger - South Jersey Pagan Pride 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Hollerbeer Hof 51 - Summer 2021
Hollerbeer Hof 51 is now available for download. This issue covers the Summer 2020 events, including the debut of "The Buggy" at Hoietfescht!
If you have ideas for future issues, please contact Stacey Steward, Public Relations Director, at email@example.com!
Sunday, August 1, 2021
Es Hoietfescht 2021
These pics are from the Urglaawe observance of Hoietfescht (Haymaking Festival); "die Hoiet" is a widely used Pennsylvania Dutch term for the "hay time," which generally falls between mid-July and mid-August. It is also an old/alternate name for the month of July.
|The Buggy's Debut|
Hoietfescht is a celebration of the first [grain] harvest, so bread is a common offering. While there is a debate among Urglaawer as to whether there is any separation of tribes (Wane and Ase) among the gods, this is considered by most Urglaawer to be a festival of the Wane. The Wane are generally credited with being the originators of the concept of Fruchsfriede or frith.
|India Hogan tending to Erda's image.|
Featured this year was a representation of the goddess Erda, whom most Urglaawer believe is our "living culture" cognate of Nerthus. Despite Tacitus' description, though, we didn't bog anyone this year (there’s always next year!).
|So Erda's image came out looking a bit like |
Cher, circa 1970, but the presence was powerful.
|Pimp My Buggy!|
|India Hogan and Michelle Jones review the work.|
This is a celebration, hence the gold hat and gold suspenders!
|Mark Speeney, Robert L. Schreiwer, India Hogan|
|Beck Spille's rebuilt Wane cart.|
The smaller wagon is full of flowers and offerings from our gardens. This was the cart before we acquired the buggy, and it still carried the images of some of the other Wane. The cart had been damaged over the years and was, as a result, rebuilt by Beck Spille in 2020 for presentation at Hoietfescht this year. Fun Fact: Beck used coffee to stain the cart!
|The Hoietfescht Altar, 2021|
Hoietfescht is the first of Urglaawe's two major harvest observances. The second is Erntfescht, which falls around the Fall Equinox in September. There are smaller crop observances throughout the growing season.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Hollerbeer Hof 50 - Spring 2021
A new issue of Hollerbeer Hof is available here. You can also find it on the side bar on the right of this page.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Frouwasege, Grumbieredaag, Katzenacht
FROUWASEGE/GRUMBIEREDAAG; also called KATZENACHT
17. Lenzing, 2021
Honoring: die Frouwa
Features: Sacred nature of cats, Datsch flatbread, planting of potatoes, planting of spring onions and some beans, garden ritual.
Ritual is open via videoconference at 17:00/5:00 PM EDT on Wednesday March 17, 2021.
Event Page: https://fb.me/e/d1bYNhvIO
By Urglaawe lunar reckoning, the feast day of the goddess Frouwa begins at sunset on March 16 (which begins the date of 17. Lenzing) and ends at sunset on March 18.
Who is the Frouwa?
The Frouwa (“the Lady”) is widely known among the Germanic peoples. The Netherlands Dutch know Her as Vrouwa; in English, She is called Freya, and in Norse, She is called Freyja. Each culture perceives Her differently, but there are some common elements throughout Her lore. What is cited below is the lore from the Pennsylvania Dutch/Urglaawe perspective, which, due to the ins and outs of the forced conversion to Christianity brings some unique perspectives to the understanding of one of the most vibrant and readily accessible deities in the Germanic pantheon.
die Frouwa vun de Wane:
She is a goddess of the Wane/Vanir tribe, though her understood lineage from Norse lore does not fully match ours, it is quite possible that the Norse lore clarifies a few points that just might make Her lineage clearer.
It is fairly widely accepted in Norse lore that the parents of Freya and Her twin brother Frey (known to us as Fro or Froh) are Njörðr (commonly called Njord) and His unnamed sister, who many believe to be the earlier-attested Nerthus. Now, here come some dot-connecting and unproven theories, but there are some similarities of folklore that should be researched more.
Although most Urglaawer and other German Heathens perceive Nerthus and the goddesses Holle and Erda as different deities, there are similarities that can lead to some theories. Linguistically, the connections are closer between Nerthus and Erda.
Nerthus and Erda (and some also say Holle) are each said to be offended by the presences of iron forged in any form, but especially iron forged as tools that cut the ground. I can readily understand the possibility that Nerthus and Erda are the same goddess known from different perspectives.
The Norse identify Jörð in their lore as the mother of Dunner. Jörð is neither of the Ase or the Wane, but Dunner is counted among the Ase due to Odin being His father.
Deitsch lore reflects this. Wudan is Dunner's father, and his mother is Erda. However, Erda is said to be of the Wane in our lore, which would make Dunner half-Wane and half-Ase. There is a lack of clarity here.
There is a potential connection, albeit slight, between Njord and our Holler (Ewicher Yeeger) in the form of connections to fishing, the wealth of rivers and streams However, the connections between Holler and Ullr are stronger. It is also possible that Njord, Holler, and Ullr are discrete, unique deities whose lore should not be taken automatically as being more than matters of circumstances.
One can see why more research is needed.
But let's look at what we currently have anyway (and hope for more information to emerge hence):
Njord + Nerthus = parents of Freya and Frey (generally accepted)
If Njord and Holler are the same deity:
Holler + z = parents of Frouwa and Fro
Let's try Erda first:
Holler + Erda = fully Wane Frouwa and Fro who would be half-siblings to Dunner
How about Holle?
Holler + Holle = fully Wane Frouwa and Fro. Holler and Holle are widely believed to be consorts, whether sibling or marriage.
The latter makes more sense to me, yet it still leaves a lot of open questions. And the research goes on.
Other Attributes of Frouwa:
She is the Matron of all cats. She is associated with love, lust, beauty, sex, fecundity, sowing and reaping the bounty of the land. She is also shrewd, wise, and, so oral tradition has indicated, has a business acumen like no other.
Many of Her attributes (except for the carnal ones and business acumen) were grafted by the Catholic Church onto St. Gertrude of Nivelles, who was sainted for her work in the German lands. Gertrude was born in Landen, which would indicate Flemish ancestry, circa the year 628. She died on March 17, 659, hence the timing of her feast day. The Church was busily engaging in forced conversion and was eliminating adversaries during this time (for contrast, St. Funnyface... err... Boniface was born in 675), so this is happening right in the middle of the Catholic terrorism of the adherents of the Heathen religions.
In order for stability to take hold in conquered areas, the Church often resorted to taking the attributes of locally known deities and adding them to the lore of saints. For a good (I'd almost say "authoritative" description of the the Catholic Church had to do to get the conversion to succeed, see The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation by James C. Russell; beware that it is not an easy read).
So attributes of the Frouwa were spun into an acceptable Christian context that became attached to St. Gertrude, and the lore of St. Gertrude was applied to the date of her death, March 17. It is interesting that St. Gertrude’s Day observances were retained by the overwhelmingly Protestant and Anabaptist Pennsylvania Dutch — not so much as a religious icon but as a cultural market and tradition.
Urglaawer generally accept that the retention of this lore is relevant to our worship of the Frouwa, again calling to the Lady of the Wane. Although it is virtually certain that the Church did not intend to keep parts of the story of the Frouwa alive, we Urglaawe still tip the hat to St. Gertrude for serving as the vehicle that has provided us with a method to rebuild the severed relationship with the Frouwa. As such, we keep the feast day of March 17 (but set it to the lunar calendar as 17. Lenzing, and the feast day begins on the solar calendar date of March 16 at sunset and ends on March 17 at sunset.
Because St. Gertrude of Nivelles was created by appropriating many traits of the Frouwa, one could argue that a syncretic honoring of the Frouwa has (wittingly or unwittingly) been going on since the 7th century. We Urglaawer will watch as our use of the ritual, absent its Christian overlay, evolves to meet Frouwa's needs.
Oh, did I mention that the lore of St. Gertrude's Day features other entities and practices that come straight out of Heathen cosmology and are certainly not Church approved? One such creature is der Waldmops, whose name literally means "forest goblin," who is considered to be the Lord of the Beasts and is said to be he who colors the southeast wind green to ensure bounty.
Der Waldmops is said to wear a coat woven of willow leaves, spleenwort, and moss. He wears a magical hat fashioned from ivy, wintergreen, and yew twigs or mistletoe. He is said to be the father of Ringelros (Calendulis officinalis), which is the official flower of the Deitsch people. The spirit of calendula can be invited into the kitchen to protect the storage of processing and food storage (See Dutch Treats by William Woys Weaver, page xix).
One feature of the observance is the baking of a flatbread called a "Datsch." There is a specific type used in the Frouwasege and for St. Gertrude's Day. The first year that I made one, I eyeballed everything, and the Datsch came out pretty good. Last year I measured everything, and it came out too wet.
Pieces of Datsch are also to be scattered about for die gleene Leit (the wee folk). Please see Dutch Treats by William Woys Weaver, pp. 103-105.
My guess is that tubers were replaced by potatoes after settlement in Pennsylvania, but that is just a hypothesis.
Also, please be sure to have something white to present to Her cats. Many of us use white albacore tuna. Oh, and while this is shared UPG and there is no long history behind it, I have heard a few folks in interviews recently come up with similar ideas on what the cats' names might be. If the Frouwa were on Her chariot that is being pulled by two large cats, the one on the left has been given the moniker of "der Meisfeind" (mice-foe) and the one on the right has been called "die Rosefreindn" (roses-friend).
(Syllables and stress: ALL CAPS represents primary stress on the syllable. A syllable that has only the Initial Letter capitalized bears secondary stress, and a syllable with no capital letters is unstressed. For example, take the English word "secondary": SEC-un-Dair-ee)
der Meisfeind: dah MICE-find
(Pronounce those two words as you would in English except make the "c" sound in "Meis" sound like hard, sharp s and the "d" in "find" is more like a soft t.
die Rosefreindn: dee ROSE-eh-Freind'n
(This one can be a pistol. The ROSE is actually pronounced more like ROWSS, but the initial R in this particular case has two possible pronunciations. The more common by far is a couple of flaps of the tongue before heading into the vowel. The other is extremely rare in Deitsch but does show up for this word in some variants: the uvular R, which is when you are almost gargling when you say it.)
These names, both of current vintage, do reflect why many people keep cats around their gardens. They keep the mouse population in check, which leads to the destruction of fewer plants, such as roses. If you use this information anywhere, please be sure to attach to it that these names are unverifiable communal gnosis (UCG) coming from the current era.
Note the final "n" on Rosefreindn. That is an ending that changes a grammatically masculine noun into a grammatically feminine noun. In this case, I am sure that the people who related this idea to me (who are members of one of the Plain Anabaptist sects) were setting this up so that one cat would be female and the other male.
Otherwise, we'd have a near-rhyme. In Deitsch, the word for friend (der Freind - dah FRYND) and foe (der FEIND - dah FYND (I spelled it as English "find" earlier because it is easier to read) rhyme...
Freind adder Feind?
(Friend or Foe)... although I think Friend or Fiend would serve the narrative better.
Distelfink Sippschaft's Frouwasege will be at 17:00/5:00 PM EDT on Wednesday, March 17. The event is open to anyone via videoconference. Event Page: https://fb.me/e/d1bYNhvIO
Oh, we're also toying with the idea of "Frouwa's Kubb," which would feature cats being involved in the play. Stay tuned on that.
Russell, James C. The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation
Weaver, William Woys. Dutch Treats: Heirloom Recipes form Farmhouse Kitchens. Pittsburgh: St. Lynn's Press, 2016.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
Monday, February 1, 2021
Entschtanning 1: Nature's Predictors and Groundhog Day
This was originally (last night... lol) as part of a Pennsylvania Dutch History lesson for student study as the Entschtanning begins at sunset tonight (1. Hanning, 2021), but it is a good introduction to the origins or Groundhog Day and this most complicated of Urglaawe observances gets underway.
Entschtanning: The Emergence from Winter's Grasp
Entschtanning is a Pennsylvania Dutch word that means "emergence." It is also the name of a major Urglaawe observance that brings together several Pennsylvania Dutch (Deitsch) cultural events and practices over a twelve-night/day period. The observance begins at sunset on February 1 with Grundsaudaag, better known in wider American culture as Groundhog Day.
Today's lesson consists of a bit of history about Groundhog Day, which today many people view as silly, but, 1,000 years ago, the technology of analyzing weather patterns did not exist, and cultures around the world relied on the natural world around them to provide clues about the future weather.
Many Predictors in Nature
Among the Germanic tribes, weather was often predicted based on when trees would bud in the spring, when they would yellow in the fall, and quite a few other aspects of plants' color and health.
They did not limit their weather forecasting to just plants, though. Animal behavior or appearance, including that of insects, was also considered to be a way of finding clues about the near future's conditions. Some of these traditions with insects are still commonly found in Pennsylvania, particularly with the woolly bear caterpillar (which eventually becomes the Isabella tiger moth) actually has a pretty good track record (over 80% accuracy, according to one scientific study) of weather prediction that comes from the stripe in the middle of its body.
Woolly bears have thirteen segments on their bodies. Each section can appear in either a rusty color or in black. Often it is black at both ends and rusty in the middle. The more rusty a woolly bear appears, the milder the winter will be, or so the saying goes. The more black on a woolly bear, the harsher the winter will be. The winter of 2020-2021 was predicted in the fall by many people to be mild in the beginning and harsh in the middle. So far, that is playing out.
And then along comes the Groundhog
The groundhog holds a special place in American folklore that actually stems from serious practices of the Pennsylvania Dutch. These "superstitions" are rooted in ancient Heathen belief from the time before Christianity took over as the dominant faith of Europe. Ironically, though, in Europe, the animal that was being tracked for this specific weather-predicting function was not a groundhog. It was a European badger (and prior to that, it was a bear).
The German belief was that, if a badger were to awaken on February 2 and were to see its shadow, it would return to its den, thus meaning six more weeks of winter. This is the same lore that came along with the settlers from Germany who became the Pennsylvania Dutch. However, when the settlers arrived here, they found no badgers. Instead, they quickly observed that around this time of year, groundhogs do begin to emerge from their dens. Therefore, it was easy to transfer the folklore from the badger to the groundhog.
That all sounds sort of simple, correct? Well, yes and no. There is a major missing piece of the puzzle of how this holiday survived the move from Germany to Pennsylvania, and that is the piece that is deeply rooted in the ancient Germanic religion.
Many cultures around the world use a "World Tree" as a metaphor for the universe or for all of existence. In Norse/Viking lore (which is also Germanic),their metaphor included a squirrel named Ratatoskr, who would run up and down the tree, delivering news from one realm to the next.
While we have a Tree of Life (Lewesbaam) in the Pennsylvania Dutch culture and in Urglaawe, our forebears saw similar imagery in other contexts as well, including the very land which they farmed. Our rodent's story is not about running up and down the tree. Instead, the imagery relates to the ground.
Groundhog burrows are often complex, with different rooms and multiple openings, all of which are used as allegories to the other realms of existence. The forebears thus set an analogy between the burrow and the Nine Worlds.
Thus, the Groundhog is the otherworldly messenger. The Groundhog brings news and predictions from all of the visited realms. For an agricultural people, the short-term weather is naturally something that the people would like to know. The big question for ancient Germanic farmers was, "When can we plant?" which is probably why that particular feature was passed on to the wider American culture.
Cultural Importance to the Pennsylvania Dutch: Traditionalism vs. Commercialism
Within the Deitsch culture, Groundhog Day is still a big deal. There are 23 "Groundhog Lodges" that hold a dinner on February 2 every year. The use of the Pennsylvania Dutch language is a feature of that night, and use of English costs one dime for each English word used (this is actually not taken seriously; it is a way to raise money to keep the lodges going. Many predictions other than weather are also discussed, some are done in humor. Many songs, plays, and stories that are in Pennsylvania Dutch make their debut at these Groundhog Lodge dinners. Thus, Groundhog Day is also a day of the celebration of the Pennsylvania Dutch culture.
There is also a huge event on February 2 every year at a place called Gobbler's Knob in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. This event is what most people think of when they think of Groundhog Day. A poor, captive (though well treated) groundhog named "Punxsutawney Phil" is put before cameras and flashing lights and becomes the "official" Groundhog Day event. While this big, commercial event is indeed featuring some of the Groundhog Day features, it is also losing some of the most important features of the day: the relationship between humans and animals and the close daily interaction with nature.
Some farmers and many people who hold to the old ways continue to observe the behavior of groundhogs and other animals at this time to make other determinations as well.
One traditional practitioner of the old ways told me that the depth of --and the slope to-- the first room in a groundhog burrow can serve as an indicator of wet or dry weather. If the first room is fairly close to the surface or is of a fairly steep slope, then the weather will be mostly dry. If the slope is not steep or if the room is higher than its entrance from the burrow, then one should expect wet weather. There are other behaviors that are examined as well.
Most historians will grant that Groundhog Day has its roots in Heathen-era German practices, but the origins stretch back likely even further. Predicting weather or other things that can impact crops is a practice that transcends cultures, and observing the behavior of animals is an important tool in the forebears’ kit. It was certainly not the only tool; lunar phases, historic weather patterns, river depths, etc., all were (and are) considered as well.
Again, All Superstition?
Actually, no, it is not all superstition, particularly when it comes to the behavior of the groundhogs when they first emerge from hibernation.
Remember that the events in Punxsutawney are not organic. We’re not watching the behavior of a groundhog in the wild. Thus, what may seem to be a silly observance with frequent inaccuracies is not the whole of the story. The annual events in Punxsutawney (and other places) certainly helped to keep the essence of the lore alive, but the true significance of Groundhog Day is masked by the commercial pomp and circumstance of the day. My personal experience is anecdotal, but it matches the experiences of many other people who observe groundhogs in the wild: the accuracy rate in the wild is far, far higher than in the staged media spectacle in Punxsutawney.
Groundhog Day is actually a visceral observance. It comes from a time when people had few reliable means of knowing when they could plant, and they relied upon their relationship with nature and with the animals to make determinations about the consumption of remaining food stores and to plan for the planting.
Thus, this week we Pennsylvania Dutch shall honor the Groundhog and remember our interdependence with the animal kingdom around us.
Saturday, January 2, 2021
Berchtold, Berchtoldsdaag, Birth, and Rebirth
Friday, January 1, 2021
New Issue! Hollerbeer Hof 49 - Winter 2021 is available
The latest issue of Hollerbeer Hof is available here! You can also find links to the current issue and past issues in the side bar. In this issue we discuss star lore associated with Zisa and Ziu, The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, and Introspection and the Core Values at Yuulzeit. Happy Reading!