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.
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 (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.
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.