Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Die Mechdich Lechaa

All hail the Mighty Lehigh!
Low tide on the Lehigh by Jim Thorpe, PA
Great western river of Lenapehoking!
At low tide even does your spirit reach

From the rocks to the sky and beyond.

Great nourisher and benefactor
Your calm waters cede to rapids.
Your serene nature becomes fury.

Well known to us as die Lechaa,
You took us into your bosom.
You blessed the fields of the Deitsch,
And quenched our thirst for freedom.

The canal crews feared your swells,
Even while depending on you
For sustenance and livelihood.
Dumping soot and ash
Into your holy stream.
Yet you forgave us.

Your beauty never faded,
And You have regained power.
Oh, Mighty Lehigh!
Mechdichi Lechaa!
May we be worthy of your gifts.

                             - Robert L. Schreiwer, 2019

These Hills, These Mountains

These hills... These mountains...
Blobarrick from Mt. Pisgah, Carbon County, PA
Worn yet timeless
The oldest of the old
The spirits disturbed
By the plundering of coal

And the stripping of the hardwood

Slumber again 

Among the rocks
And the Mountain Laurel.

The restless spirits
Of the Lenape ancients
Roam these mountains
With the younger spirits.
Their imprint is forever
On the Mauch Chunk -
The Sleeping Bear.

The voices of the ancestors
Echo through the Gorge
From the Deitscherei in the south
To the coal towns to the north.
All of us are part of this Great Walk;
Generation after generation
Here on these hills... These mountains...

                                          - Robert L. Schreiwer, 2019

Monday, December 31, 2018

Coins on the Windowsill

A common Deitsch tradition tonight is to put a coin (or coins) outside on your windowsill overnight tonight. 

Some variations specify that the coin/s should be silver. Others specify three denominations (nickel, dime, quarter, etc.) of coin. Some Christian interpretations are that these are for the Magi on their way to Bethlehem (PA? lol), while other interpretations definitely have this related to magic that easily fits in with Berchta making the rounds as a beggar. 

If the coin/s are still there in the morning, bring them back in and "Was hawwich yetz wa ich ganzes Yaahr haawe." ("What I have now I will have all year.") 

If the coins are gone, then the need was greater elsewhere, and you will receive good luck for aiding another.

Tonight is Berchta’s feast night, and Urglaawer are preparing for Her requires meal of herring and gruel or Zammede (pancakes made only of flour and water).

Halliches Nei-Yaahr!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Shaking the World

This week, minor earthquakes with epicenters in Berks County rattled the heart of the Deitscherei, so it is time to revisit some scant references that had grown cold over the years. Although the names were usually unknown to folks with whom I had spoken, more people knew of an "Earthquake Giant" ("Erdbewung-Ries") as a concept.

There are at least three named "earthquake Giants" from different regions: 
  • Der Bollerfuus ("rumble foot") was said to live within the Montour Ridge near Mausdale, PA, in Montour County.
  • In a similar manner, Der Gerumpelfuus (also translating to "rumble foot") was said to live in Raccoon Mountain near Williamsport in Lycoming County, PA.
  • The third, der Zidderfuus ("tremble foot") has no designated home but was actually the name reported around the Lancaster Seismic Zone, which is the region with the most seismic activity in Pennsylvania. 

In the case of their more recent activity, they were said to have been asleep but were re-awakened by human actions, particularly, whether accurately or not, by fracking or by wastewater disposal. In an angry state, they were said "to shake the world around" ("die Welt rumzuschiddle").

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Tale of der Muunkall (The Man in the Moon)

A man once went hunting in the woods of Yellow Mountain (Berks County) during the last quarter of the moon. When he loaded his gun to shoot at a deer he saw, he hung his powder horn on a horn of the moon, not thinking it odd to be able to do so. 

After he shot the deer, the moon had risen so high that he could not reach his horn anymore. He piled wood to stand on, but the moon kept rising out of his reach until his horn was gone. 

As he came home, he told his neighbors and family about what happened, and they told him that his horn had been stolen by the Man in the Moon and suggested he talk to an elderly woman who lived in the woods. 

The next day, he visited the old woman, who was adept in the magic of Hexerei. She advised him to return to that same spot on the night the new moon. He did so, and he found his powder horn next to the pile of wood he had stood on.


Note: Several variants of this story have emerged from oral reports (numbering a total of 27) in Berks County (where Yellow Mountain was the most common setting) and Lehigh County (where most reports did not give a specific setting and two gave Allemengel as the location). 

In a few reports, the moon was in the last waxing quarter and the horn dropped when the moon was full.

The Man in the Moon was named in most of the reports. In a few others, it was merely the action of the moon rising that caused the hunter not to be able to reach his powder horn. In one report, it was the placement of a horn (powder) onto a horn (moon) that caused the moon to get angry with the hunter and to keep the horn.

In seven of the reports, the hunter was not an honorable man, and the loss of the powder horn could be seen as a punishment.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Gedreier Eckhart: Germanic Psychopomp?

Gedreier Eckhart is one of the more interesting characters in our folklore. For me personally, this is partially because Eckhart is a family surname and also because, somehow, much of my family was aware of the connection between Eckhart and Holle while I somehow did not make the connection until I fully identified as Urglaawer. Weird.

Eckhart [Source: WikiMedia Commons]

There is not a huge volume of oral lore on him from Deitsch lore, but what we do have makes him an important player in the Urglaawe view of the Wild Hunt. Our lore is consistent with much of the lore of other German lands as well.

Eckhart’s roots run deep in Germanic lore. He is of the war band of Dietrich of Bern. He appears as Eckewart the Margrave in the Nibelungenlied, and in a Heldenbuch appendix, he is said to stand before the entrance to Holle’s realm to warn or to frighten away anyone who wished to enter. He also appears in the Middle Ages tale of the Tannhãuser, and Grimm (936) postulates that he was perhaps functioning as a Heathen priest. In our lore, he may have been an incarnation of die Weisskeppich Fraa  (but that sense appears to be an outlier).

Eckhart is a loyal character throughout the heroic legends, but, in Deitsch lore anyway, his title of Gedreier (“Loyal”) comes from his dedication and service to Holle. He appears with a white beard and a white staff. He is deceased, yet he continues to serve the goddess in death just as he did in life. Our lore places him as sleeping in a linden tree or in a rock until Holle has need of him. In Germanic lore, including that of the Deitsch, he precedes the Geischderschtrutz, or the Parade of Spirits (read: the Wild Hunt), warning the living to get out of the way of the impending fury and also advising the living to be prepared for Holle’s inspection.

As the Parade continues and, as Deitsch lore says, meets up with Berchta and the souls of those who have passed since the Hunt began, Eckhart guides the souls of the Parade to Holle’s Mill, where they are crushed into separate parts and reconstituted into new soul constructs. 

In this sense, it appears that Eckhart is very much functioning as a psychopomp, guiding the souls of the deceased to the end of their journey. 

I have been playing the role of Eckhart in Philadelphia’s Parade of Spirits for several years, and I have been reflecting that psychopomp role without giving it due consideration. This year, I intend to make that role more pronounced.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Deitsch Eclipse Lore

Since solar eclipses are so rare, this is getting posted before the research is completed. It will be updated as it progresses.

There are two types of stories related to eclipses. One is sort of "pro" eclipse and the other is rather "con" eclipse. 

An eclipse is called a "Finschderniss" (grammatically feminine, so it takes the article "die"), and an eclipse specifically of the sun is called "Sunnefinschderniss." "Finschderniss" is related to "finschder," means "murky" or "dark." The "pro" story is that Sunna and Muun were lovers (some say married) but that the jealous trickster Schadde had gotten between them (this is where the versions of the stories get confusing, which is why they still have not been published), but he somehow manages to persuade the god associated with sleep, Schlumm, to cast sleep spells on each of them. While they are asleep, Schadde sets them into the sky so that he is between them. 

Sunna and Muun do a dance through the skies, trying to be together, and , when a solar eclipse happens, it means they have achieved that goal, with Muun tossing Schadde behind him. An echo of the noise-making appears in this context with some respondents saying that they tap drinking glasses at this time, which is reminiscent of what people do at weddings when they want the bride and groom to kiss. The reason this is only "sort of" pro is that the way Schadde persuades Schlumm to set them to sleep has something to do with imbalance in Mannheem, and Sunna and Muun being together too long would have catastrophic results. Someday I will get that story's versions harmonized.

The other stories are akin to the Norse and other cultural stories: an animal (usually a fox or a wolf) is chasing the sun and catching it, and banging of pots and pans is performed to scare the animal away.

The first story reminds me a bit of this song...

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
daß sie am Himmel sich niemals trafen,
denn wenn er aufsteht, dann geht sie schlafen.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie.

Da sind wir beide besser dran, viel besser dran,
weil mich dein Mund so oft ich will am Tage küssen kann.
Hier unten ist das Leben schön für dich und mich,
dein Mund sagt mir so oft ich will: 'Mein Schatz, ich liebe dich!'

Doch Lady, Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
würden gern was dagegen tun,
dass sie so einsam dort oben wandern,
dass sie noch träumen, verliebt vom Andern.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie. Nie! Nie!