29.3.20

Der Ziegdaag

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.


12.2.20

Entschtanning 12: Es Lichderfescht

(Note: Entschtanning 2-11 are posted on www.urglaawe.net).

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.

28.1.20

Entschtanning 1: What's the Deal with the Groundhog?

The Groundhog (Deitsch: Grundsau, actually a "ground sow") bears some similarities to Ratatosk, the squirrel that runs up and down the World Tree, Yggdrasil, bringing news of the nine worlds. 

While we have a Tree of Life (Lewesbaam) in Deitsch culture and in Urglaawe, our forebears saw similar imagery in other contexts as well, including the very land which they farmed. 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 prognostication from all of the visited realms. For an agricultural people, the short-term weather is naturally something that the people would like to know, which is probably why that particular feature was passed on to the wider American culture.

Within the Deitsch culture, the Groundhog Lodges often present other prognostications, sometimes presented in humorous contexts. Some farmers and some Hexerei practitioners observe the behavior of groundhogs and other animals at this time to make other determinations as well. 

I am not so well versed in some of those, but one practitioner 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.

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.

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 weekend we shall honor the Groundhog and remember our interdependence on the animal kingdom around us.

16.1.20

es Iwwermariyeland

Deitsch word of the day: Iwwermariyeland

Components: Iwwermariye ("day after tomorrow") + Land ("land")
Grammatical gender: neuter (es Iwwermariyeland)

Positive (and most common) meaning: Literally, "day after tomorrow land." Figuratively, "Tomorrowland," wherein dreams come true or "Utopia," wherein humanity lives in peace and everyone's needs or met.

Negative meaning: "Lalaland," wherein someone is spaced out or "Twilight Zone," wherein things do not make sense or someone is stuck between reality and fantasy. 

Contextual use:

go into: gehe in Iwwermariyeland
(located) in: im Iwwermariyeland
from: vum Iwwermariyeland
to: zum Iwwermariyeland
yearning for: Sehnsucht nooch 'em Iwwermariyleand

es Iwwermariyeland
(Granted, my own concept would look more like Pennsylvania in the late Spring)
(Image credit: Liberty.eu)