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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Reifries (Frost Giants) Attack


This piece of lore is very similar to the story related in 2017 about King Frost and His Armies., which described the Frost Giants' attack that we observe in May. This version is about the attack we observe in November and provides information from the perspective of the Reifries themselves. This is still a draft because some information is incomplete, but there is information in the text that is important to current Urglaawe community work.

King Frost learned that Holle had departed from Mannheem (where we live and keep our stuff) onto the Wild Hunt, thereby leaving the Hatzholz (the whole of the physical realm) vulnerable. He called to Dreizehdax (13 Badger) and ordered him to take his troops from the Northern Leaves to Mannheem, being sure to avoid Hohegegend and Himmelgegend. Once there, he was to seize control of the land.

Dreizehdax readied his troops and began the journey. He chose to trek from the Naddbledder (Northern Leaves of the World Tree) into the Weschtbledder (Western Leaves). He would then ride the Weschtbledder as they swept across the Hatzholz, and, once inside the Hatzholz, the army would make its way to Mannheem.

The next day, King Frost considered the strength of the deities in Mannheim, and he decided to send a second army. He called to Vatzehvedder (14 Quill (very, very dialectic/semantic reference to a porcupine) and ordered her to go to Mannheem to support Dreizehdax. Vatzehvedder chose to follow the same route that Dreizehdax had used.

[Note: The details of the next section were inconsistently reported, and I did not include them in this draft for clarity's sake]

As Dreizehdax wended his way through the Weschtbledder, the inhabitants noticed them. Word quickly spread of the destructive army's invasion of the realm. In the Weschtbledder dwell many types of beings, and each type formed its own army of warriors. By this time, news of Vatzehvedder's invasion was also spreading. The Weschtbledder warriors decided to split up, with half going toward Dreizehdax and the other half confronting Vatzehvedder.

Dreizehdax was well ahead of the first half of the warriors. However, his army had cut a swath of ice through the realm, which made it easier for the warriors to make some gains. Vatzehvedder was following Dreizehdax's ice trail, but the second half of the warriors was now in her route. She halted her army, and sent the fastest courier back to the Naddbledder to inform King Frost that she needed assistance.

King Frost was furious when he heard the news. He called to Fuffzehfux (15 Fox) to take a larger army into the Weschtbledder to assist Vatzehvedder in destroying the realm's warriors. "They have earned their place among the Verfrore [the Verfrore ("Frozen") are the souls that have been removed from the life, death, rebirth cycle; they are kept in a section of the Naddbledder, where the Frost Giants sap energy from them].

Fuffzehfux decided to use a different route. He would go from the Naddbledder just deep enough into the Weschtbledder to be able to circumvent Hohegegend, but then he would cross to the trunk near the Himmelgegend. On the trunk he could move faster than on the branches, but he would jump back into the Weschtbledder before the Elwe (Elves) would know his army was near their realm.

That night was the fourth since Dreizehdax had left the Naddbledder. He continued forth unchallenged, but the first half of the Weschtbledder warriors was in pursuit.

Vatzehvedder was awaiting word that Fufzehfux had entered the Weschtbledder. She was expecting the second half of the Weschtbledder warriors to attack on the fifth day.

Fuffzehfux's journey through the Naddbledder was long, so he kept his troops moving night and day. Finally he entered the Weschtbledder and quickly made his way to the trunk of the tree.

As he drew nearer to the Himmelgegend, he sensed danger from the Elves, and he ordered his army to cross back into the Weschtbledder. Sure enough, the Elves' arrows pierced the backs of several of his soldiers. Giants are hard to kill, though, and no one was lost.

Fuffzehfux progressed deeper into the Weschtbledder, taking its inhabitants by surprise. His army destroyed anything within reach: homes, temples, and the very structure of the branches themselves. His soldiers set unfortunate captives into an icy sleep and took them along on their rampage.

When the Weschtbledder warriors became aware of the new army creating mayhem in the heartland of their realm, they became unsure of what to do. The second half of warriors decided to defend their homes, so they ended their blockade of Vatzehvedder's army. The first half, though, continued in pursuit of Dreizehdax.

For the next three days, Dreizehdax continued forward. Vatzehvedder was able to move unimpeded in the trail left by Dreizehdax, and Fuffzehfux continued to wreak havoc on the inhabitants of the Weschtbledder. The warriors who had returned home were no challenge, and they were frozen and taken by couriers back to the Naddbledder.

For the next three days, Dreizehdax continued forward. Vatzehvedder was able to move unimpeded in the trail left by Dreizehdax, and Fuffzehfux continued to wreak havoc on the inhabitants of the Weschtbledder. The warriors who had returned home were no challenge, and they were frozen and taken by couriers back to the Naddbledder.

On the eight day after Dreizehdax had left the Naddbledder, an Elf named Schlenkschwingern ("Sling-swinger" or "Sling-wielder") arrived in Mannheem with news of the impending invasion. Of the gods, she found only Ewicher Yeeger at home on his mountain, taking practice shots with his bow and arrow. Ewicher Yeeger was concerned. He instructed his loyal humans to harvest whatever plants they could from the fields and to prepare their homes for ice. He extended his power so far that he grew to over ten times his normal size. He then walked out of Mannheem and into the Hatzholz. He collected dust, rock, sand, and other materials and built a three giant barriers on the tree trunk by the Hatzholz threshold. He placed seven stars along the border, which heated the rock and turned it to a reflective glass. the light passed through the three glassy barriers, it became magnified and caused a bright streak that was visible throughout all of the Hatzholz.

On the eleventh day after Dreizehdax had left the Naddbledder, Ewicher Yeeger assumed his normal appearance. He ordered the humans to go into their homes. He then told the remaining plants that they were in danger of being taken as captives of the Frost Giants, but he had a solution. He got onto his horse, Blokgaul ("Plague Horse") and enlarged it along with himself. He rode it in a large oval along the Blobarrick ("Blue Mountain") until a strong, yet stable whirlwind formed. He then called to the spirits of the creeks and ponds on the mountain to send their water into the whirlwind. As they did so, he breathed his cold breath into the whirlwind.

As the water converged with Ewicher Yeeger's breath inside the whirlwind, a mist began to form that covered the mountain and began to expand for many miles into the countryside. Ewicher Yeeger continued to breath on the mist, causing it to freeze.

The frost settled onto the remaining tender plants, killing their physical forms and setting their spirits free. He then instructed his humans to make noises with whatever tools they had. As the noise arose from their barns and their homes, Ewicher Yeeger waved his mighty hands, causing a cosmic wind to carry the din throughout the tree. The noise caught the attention of some on the Parade of Spirits, and they came to Mannheem to bring the plant spirits onto the Hunt.

On the twelfth day, Dreizehdax had arrived on the branches of the Weschtbledder that touch the Hatzholz. When he ordered his army forth, They were suddenly met with the magnified light from the seven stars. Most of his army fell dead. Dreizehdax ordered the rest back to the branches. He needed to destroy that wall or to circumvent it. The light was so strong and the temperature so high that no Frost Giant could withstand it. Thus, he needed to enlist the aid of the inhabitants of the Weschtbledder. He went to their settlements nearby and stated his need. "Why would we help you when you are destroying our homes?" came the response. Dreizehdax thought for a moment. "If you render that barrier harmless, then we will return all of our captives to you."

The inhabitants of the Weschtbledder discussed the matter among themselves. Many refused to help the enemies of the deities, but others, who were not particularly fond of those who dwell in Mannheem, were willing to help. It was decided that the race of the Finschderkowwold [a type of kobold that can steal or absorb light] would assist Dreizehdax in exchange for the release of all of the captives.

The kobolds went into the Hatzholz and were not affected by the magnified light. They approached each of the seven stars and surrounded them all, taking the light into themselves. This blocked the light from the barrier, and Dreizehdax was able to lead his army into the Hatzholz. On the thirteenth day, he set foot in Mannheem on the north side of the Blobarrick. He found the most vulnerable plants were already dead and their spirits gone. His soldiers tried to kill the remaining plants but found them to be hardier than expected. Still, though, the air was so cold that it could cause frostbite, so the humans remained indoors.

Presently, Ewicher Yeeger called out to Dreizehdax and requested a meeting. Dreizehdax agreed, and the two met away from the army. "I do not have the means to destroy your whole army by myself, but you must know that the other deities are on their way here from Hohegegend. I offer you a deal that you would be wise to take."

Ewicher Yeeger went on to state that he would be willing to allow the Giants to stay in small numbers since they had won the battle, but they must stay within an agreed-upon area. Dreizehdax said he would think it over, fully expecting to be able to enforce his own will on the gods once Vatzehvedder arrived the next day. However, during the night, many of the warriors from Hohegegend had arrived. Dreizehdax asked for one more day before giving a final answer, with the same hope that Fuffzehfux's arrival would force the deities to surrender.

[Details in this next section are inconsistent from informant to informant, so I left them out until they can be inspected again.]

The next day, Fuffzehfux crossed into Mannheem with the largest the Giants' armies. Dreizehdax was fully prepared to demand a surrender from the gods when he noticed that the gods' numbers had increased overnight. He agreed to Ewicher Yeeger's proposal, and he, Vatzehvedder, and Fuffzehfux departed for the Naddbledder, leaving a colony of Frost Giants in Mannheem.

When they arrived at King Frost's castle, they related the events and their results to him. King Frost was irate. "How can you win a war yet lose the peace? The colony will perish when Holle returns. You will need to go back there when she does."

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.