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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ewicher Yeeger

An old Deitsch myth from all across the Blobarrick

By 1732, the Deitsch colonists had entered the area now known as Lynn Township (Lehigh County), Pennsylvania and begun a rapid process of settlement. The settlers cleared huge tracts of land of all trees and brush, and they built farms along the Blobarrick, or the Blue Mountain, and went about their business.

Unfortunately, it did not take long for them to discover that the soil in this particular area was not as fertile as in adjacent areas, and the settlers experienced first a major drought. When the rain did come, it washed away the dry soil, including many of the seeds and the few seedlings that managed to take root. The drought was thus followed by a crop failure. This was a disaster to the folks, who had dubbed the name of their land Allemaengel (also Allemangel or Allemängel), which means "all deficiencies."

The drought and the crop failure were particularly disastrous because much of the wildlife that had lived in the previously forested area had fled to areas still wooded on the other side of the Blobarrick. The situation became more dire as early autumn snowstorms made it impossible to leave the Allemaengel. The colonists became increasingly desperate and began to pray and to set out meager offerings of hay and cloth.

Just as sickness and starvation began to set in, the cold, mid-autumn night's serenity was shattered by a booming voice and an overwhelming sound of barking hounds. The noise seemed to come from nowhere yet from all directions at the same time. The sound appeared intermittently throughout the black of night while the colonists remained in their shelters, frightened by the enormity of the noise.

As dawn approached, the settlers emerged from their homes. They looked out onto the barren fields and saw that the wildlife had been driven back into the Allemaengel. With deer and rabbit suddenly plentiful, the farmers took to hunting and to preserving the meat for the winter.

Throughout that winter, the sound of the hunting pack could be heard across the Blobarrick. The magnitude of the sound never waned, and the folk knew that Ewicher Yeeger (Eternal Hunter) had rescued them from certain starvation. 

To this day in parts of the Blue Mountain from Palmerton to Pine Grove and beyond, when the roaring barks and howls of Ewicher Yeeger's pack are heard, the Deitsch folk know that Ewicher Yeeger continues His errands, keeping the hunting lands of the northwest Deitscherei bountiful.

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Some comments regarding this myth:

Some versions of this tale attribute the importance of scrapple originating in the rabbits being driven over the ridge to save the colonists. The Deitsch word for scrapple is "Pannhaas," which translates to "pan (fried) rabbit."

There are many versions of this tale. In most versions, Ewicher Yeeger is an entity -- or, in Urglaawe, a deity -- of the Earth or the Air. In some other versions, Ewicher Yeeger was originally human but had an unfulfilled oath that kept him at his hunting work.

A well-known depiction of Ewicher Yeeger is J. Allen Pawling's painting, The Eternal Hunter, as seen here in Graeff and Meiser's Echoes of Scholla-Illustrated. Although this depiction does not show antlers or horns, Ewicher Yeeger is often seen as a horned god.

J. Allen Pawling's "The Eternal Hunter"
Despite early attempts to connect Ewicher Yeeger with Wudan via the concept of the Wild Hunt (Fogel 13), most reports of Ewicher Yeeger present an earth-borne feel to this powerful deity. In both Braucherei and Urglaawe, Ewicher Yeeger and Wudan are considered to be two very different gods. In Urglaawe, Ewicher Yeeger is considered to be of the Wane and is believed to be the consort of Holle. Additionally, the Wild Hunt takes place in the skies and in the ethereal space among the realms, and the targets of that hunt are the souls of the departed. Ewicher Yeeger's hunt is bound to the physical world.

Ewicher Yeeger is, though, on errands that exceed our understanding, and it would be easy for one to find oneself beneath the hooves of His horse or captured by His hounds. He is considered in Urglaawe to be a very old deity and is believed to be the god Holler (akin to Norse Ullr (maybe ?) or perhaps is even the Tuisto referred to in Tacitus' Germania) in the context of a regional understanding. Holler traditionally is viewed as a god of death, disease, and destruction, which would seem counterintuitive to the story that such a god would save the colonists from the elements for which He is best known. 

The way to interpret the lessons from this story emerge from Braucherei and Urglaawe philosophy.  The lore on Holler is scant, and much of the negativity associated with Him could be the result of demonization of Teutonic deities, much as Berchta was highly maligned in post-conversion Germanic lore. However, there are clues in most versions of this story that are passed among Braucherei and Hexerei practitioners that can help to explain Holler's role in this myth. 

Allemaengel has a longstanding association with "sorcery" (Smith 2), which is actually a reference to  Braucherei and/or Hexerei, so it is possible that the concept of the Zusaagpflicht was known to some of the people in that area. Many versions of this story make it clear that the settlers did not clear the land responsibly or check the soil prior to building their farms. There are no direct statements regarding to whom the prayers or the offerings were directed. Theories include the self-evident Christian deity, but other theories suggest that the offerings may have been to the land itself or, due to the strong presence of Hexerei practitioners, perhaps even to Teutonic deities. 

The residents of Allemaengel had violated the Zusaagpflicht (Tobin, Sacred Promise, 14, 16) by not caring for the land in which they were settling. The removal of all brush made the land prone to erosion, and the lack of food for the wildlife drove the game away. The resulting death, disease, and destruction were of the colonists' own making. However, the given offerings and uplifted prayers (regardless of to whom they were presented)  showed remorse and a recognition for the settlers' misdeeds. The offering of hay, in particular, can be viewed as a Schild payment to the land for the abuse thereof.

Thus, from the Urglaawe perspective, the colonists had made amends for their misdeeds and appealed for help from the divine. In this case, Holler, a god of wild game, came to their aid. The lesson of the Zusaagpflicht and the interdependence of all living things on Earth is a core Braucherei philosophy that has been in place much longer than the current era's "green movement." Stewardship is a core Urglaawe virtue that ties into the Zusaagpflicht. 

Regarding the sound of Ewicher Yeeger's pack: much like Heathens do not see Dunner (Thor) as the personification of thunder, we also do not see the reverberating sound that is associated with Ewicher Yeeger as being the Eternal Hunter Himself. Instead, we perceive His power in the sound and in the memory of the successful settlement of the region. Thus, much like the natural phenomenon of thunder is explainable by science, so may Ewicher Yeeger's sound be attributed scientifically to a wind of warm air on the cold mountains or to flocks of migrating geese (Gehman 52). However, because the deity does not emanate from the phenomenon and vice versa, there is no conflict between the sensation of the deity's presence and the scientific understanding of the world around us.

Although some similarities have been drawn between Herne the Hunter and Ewicher Yeeger, I have only found one other reference to Ewicher Yeeger in European lore, and it was an obscure Swiss German reference that I have not been able to find again (perhaps our cousins and friends in Europe can direct us to additional sources). The large number of stories in Pennsylvania related to Him, though, indicate that He has been well known in much of the Deitscherei well into present times.

The myth of Ewicher Yeeger brings to mind sections from a particular passage in Dennis Boyer's Once Upon a Hex (23-25) relating to the comments of a retired history professor in Mannheim, Germany:
"You Pennsilfaawnisch Deitsch took something with you. Something that both haunts and protects you. And you left us poorer for it. This has been a troubled land. When our German tribes displaced the Celts, the celtic spirits rested uneasily at first. But the celtic widows and orphans were absorbed into our tribes and brought some of the ancient magic into our midst.'
'When the Romans came, the bloodshed stirred up the old spirits and added fresh souls to the porridge. Confrontation, then absorption into the mercenary machine, and the end of our tribal identity.'

'Next, Christianity with God's message of peace and man's brutal distortions. A time of forced conversions and mass executions. Still, the old spirits stirred and welcomed the new energy into the mournful pool.'

'Then the push and pull of the so-called Dark Ages. There were tranquil periods when new gods of progress faded from the backwaters and left the people to the old rhythms of the land. So in between the temper tantrums of bishops and the greedy predations of feudal lords, the old spirits dwelt among the peasants. Those spirits infused the old wise ones with healing energy and food for the soul.'

'But the growing institutions of church and state needed to feed their appetites for control. So we came out of the Dark Ages and into the darkness. The endless wars, the plagues, the religious hysteria, and "witch" killings, and the peasant revolts and the slaughter at Münster, the quests for territorial dominion under the cover of Catholic-Protestant strife, and the persecution of the anabaptists.'

'It was the time when the old rhythms started to unravel. It was the time when the old spirits cried out at the murder of the old wise ones. It was the time when the stage was set for your people's departure.'
'In pockets along he Rhine, in Alsace, and in Switzerland, some of the old ways and old spirits hung on, biding their time. When the New World was opened to the people of the Rhineland, the impulse of these spirits made it inevitable that the humans in touch with them would burst out of their confinement.'

'I believe there is a spirit essence within a people. It is forged out of their diverse predecessors and out of their common suffering. It is not a ghost that haunts them. It is their way of haunting others.'

'It was that protective capacity the emigrants took with them. They took our best spirits, our ghosts of laughter, and our healing presences. And the last century makes it obvious that we were left more vulnerable when we lost these things.'

'We had stone quarry spirits and woodsmen spirits, spirits of the rye and barley fields, ghosts of grist mills and blacksmith forges, and even a turnip spirit. They all went to Pennsylvania...'

'But we are getting close to a new time. Many of the old German things seem to want to come back to us. Maybe you can help us find these old ghosts. If you want to find them, go back to the beginning of the Pennsylvania experience. They traveled with the emigrants in tool boxes, dowry chests, crocks, and seed packets."
Perhaps Ewicher Yeeger is one of these old "ghosts" - a deity whose new time is nigh. Current Urglaawe theory draws connections to the god Holler (perhaps also the Scandinavian Ullr), and that relationship will be explored in later posts.

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REFERENCES

Adams, Charles J., III. Haunted Berks County. Reading, PA: Exeter House Books, 2005.

Boyer, Dennis. Once Upon a Hex. Oregon, Wisconsin: Badger Books, 2004.

Fogel, Edwin Miller, Ph.D. Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans. Millersville, PA: Center for Pennsylvania German Studies, 1995.

Gehman, Henry S. "Ghost Stories and Old Superstitions of Lancaster County." Pennsylvania Folklife vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 48-53. Lancaster, PA: Pennsylvania Folklife Society, Summer 1970.

Graeff, Arthur D. and George M. Meiser, IX. Echoes of Scholla—Illustrated. Kutztown, PA: The Berksiana Foundation, 1976.

Polley, Jane, ed. "Homely and Earthy Talk: Pennsylvanians from Germany." American Folklore and Legend, pp. 28-29. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Association, 1978.

Smith, Norman A. "Der Alt Hexa Zehner." The Pennsylvania Dutchman, vol. 1, no. 17, p. 2. Lancaster, PA: The Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center, August 25, 1949.

Tacitus, Pubilius Cornelius, translated by Herbert W. Benario. "Germany." Agricola, Germany, and Dialogue on Orators, pp. 63-88. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 2006.

Tobin, Jesse. Der Braucherei Weg [CD; 12-month course]. Kempton, PA: The Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, 2008.

Tobin, Jesse. "The Sacred Promise at Erntedankfescht." Hollerbeier Haven: Newsletter for Herbal and Healing Arts, v. 1 no. 2, pp. 14, 16. Kempton, PA: Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, August 2007.

Wentz, Richard E. Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Spirituality, pp. 300-302. New York: Paulist Press, 1993.

Yoder, Don, ed. "A Legend of Alle-Maengel." The Pennsylvania Dutchman, vol. 1, no. 12, p. 5. Lancaster, PA: Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center, July 21, 1949.

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Please use the following information when citing this article:

Schreiwer, Robert Lusch. Ewicher Yeeger. deitschmythology.blogspot.com, November 24, 2013. Bristol, PA: Deitscherei.com, 2013.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Legend of Delbel the Butzemann

A retelling of a Deitsch folk tale
by Robert L. Schreiwer

Harr Meyer was a pleasant man and a diligent farmer. Unfortunately, he had experienced a farm injury as a young man, and, now as an old man, he walked with a pronounced limp on his right leg. With each passing year, Harr Meyer encountered more and more trouble keeping up with his crops and felt less and less confident in his ability to care for them.

One year, as the snows of winter roared, Harr Meyer finally decided he needed help with the protection of his crops. His bones were aching, and his old injury was throbbing from the icy humidity. In order to seek some relief from his pains, Harr Meyer visited his village Braucherin1, who was renowned for her herbal wisdom, healing touch, and keen insights.

The Braucherin greeted Harr Meyer as usual, and, throughout the course of their conversation, Harr Meyer asked for the Braucherin's advice regarding his plight with his crops. The Braucherin immediately replied that Harr Meyer should construct a Lumbemann2 from crop remnants in the fields and bring him to her for activation on Grundsaudaag3

Harr Meyer did not understand what activation was, but, upon leaving the Braucherin's cottage, he did as she had instructed and built his scarecrow. Thinking that he and the scarecrow together made a whole unit, he constructed the scarecrow with weaker materials in his left leg. "His left limp will match mine," thought Harr Meyer.

On February 2, he returned to the Braucherin, bringing his scarecrow with him. The Braucherin took the  Lumbemann and whispered some incantations over his head. When the Braucherin asked Harr Meyer what he'd like to name this scarecrow, he thought of the limp, and answered, "Delbel4." She continued her incantations, this time also drawing symbols over the scarecrows head. She then took a deep breath and exhaled it over the mouth of the scarecrow.

"Daer do iss dei Butzemann, Delbel der Nei5," she announced, holding the newly activated scarecrow up to a bewildered Harr Meyer. She then provided Harr Meyer with additional instructions for his scarecrow, stating that, if he followed them carefully, this "Butzemann"6 would patrol his land and help to protect his crops.

"Most important, though," said she, "is that you set him afire no later than Allelieweziel7, when Holle8 calls for him. Otherwise, trouble will beset everyone and everything around you." Harr Meyer shrugged and returned home.

Harr Meyer observed the Braucherin's instructions faithfully throughout the spring. He showed Delbel his turf, provided him with clothes and a perch, and he lavished offerings of molasses and milk upon the Butzemann. In turn, Delbel grew stronger. The plant spirit within him grew bolder. At night, Delbel would emerge as a spirt from the scarecrow shell. Despite his limp, he learned to fight the Frost Giants and to keep troublesome land spirits at bay.

By Midsummer9, Harr Meyer's land was bursting with bounty. Delbel was very happy on his perch by day and in the fields by night. Harr Meyer continued to reap the richness of the land and to share his wealth with Delbel throughout the Hoiet10.

One day, Delbel noticed that Harr Meyer was not out working in the fields. He continued his own work in the fields, scaring away birds and dangerous spirits alike. Two more days passed, and Harr Meyer had not returned to the fields.

Delbel became concerned when he noticed a large group of people, dressed mostly in black, carrying a large wooden box down the lane from the house. As the group came closer, Delbel could see his master, stretched out inside of the box. Although Delbel was not highly experienced with the world of humans, he knew that what he was seeing was not pleasant.

Delbel resumed his work. Week after week passed, and the crops became overgrown and began to wither. Then the day temperatures turned cooler, and the Frost Giants began to attack at night. Delbel watched the leaves on the trees change color. When he noticed that the crops were beginning to fade, Delbel also began to feel an unexplained pull towards the ground. 

This sensation grew stronger with each passing day, and the source of this pull felt closer and closer to the surface of the ground beneath him. He felt more and more drawn to it. He wanted to be with it, even though he was unsure what it was. 

One day, Delbel noticed an odd little man loafing around the edge of his turf. His back appeared to be buckled and crooked, and Delbel felt very uneasy about his presence. At night, the little man suddenly shifted in his shape. He maintained his crooked back, but Delbel now sensed that this was a dangerous spirit.

Each day, Buckliches Mannli11, as Delbel called him would approach the edge of Delbel's turf, but he would not cross the line. He did not seem interested in the crops, though; instead, he seemed most interested in observing Delbel's actions.

And, each day, the pull became stronger, until the source was almost within Delbel's reach. He felt a dazzling energy coming from the land below him. Delbel now realized that it was time for him to leave his turf. Delbel yearned to be with the source of this energy, but he was disturbed by Buckliches Mannli's persistent interest.

Finally, one crisp autumn night, Delbel felt the energy arise from beneath him. A beautiful White Lady emerged from the ground, enveloping him and pulling his spirit upward from the shell of the scarecrow.  She arose above him, filling all of the night sky with ethereal light and warmth. Delbel felt himself beginning to depart from his body, and he was elated by the glory of all he was witnessing.

At that moment, however, Delbel felt a tremor in his physical shell. "Buckliches Mannli!" he exclaimed, "He's taking my body!" Delbel fought to keep the strange spirit from overtaking his shell. The scarecrow fell to the ground, breaking the plant stems that made up Delbel's weak left leg. The impact of the fall pushed Delbel's spirit from the shell. Delbel was saddened to have lost his body to Buckliches Mannli, but he was now free to join the White Lady Holle on her journey through the skies.

As Delbel joined a parade of souls behind the goddess, his joy was suddenly interrupted by the realization that part of his soul was missing. Although he was loath to leave the parade, he decided to search for the part of him that was missing.

Upon returning to his turf, he observed his limping shell, which Buckliches Mannli had stolen creating all sorts of mayhem. The fields were aflame. The neighboring cattle had been let loose, and the neighborhood children were quaking with fear. 

Delbel panicked. He had lost his turf, and the whole community was in chaos. He sought help from the neighbors, but, without his shell, no one noticed he was there.

Delbel began to move about the land, following in reverese the path that Harr Meyer had walked when he brought Delbel home from the Braucherin. Delbel eventually came upon the cottage in which he was born. He peered through a window, and he saw the Braucherin sitting and meditating at her altar.

Delbel walked through the walls, and immediately the Braucherin stirred. "Delbel der Nei," she whispered. "What brings you here?"

Delbel had never spoken a word aloud before, so he was not sure that the Braucherin would hear him. "I am in need of help."

The Braucherin replied, "I hear you. Tell me what is amiss."

Delbel narrated the story to the Braucherin, who quickly arose from her seat. She uttered some incantations and drew some symbols over Delbel's soul. She then grabbed a bag, emptied its contents, which were some branches, into a large pot, and set them ablaze.

She returned to her seat and continued her incantations in a whispered voice, and all Delbel could make out were the names of Hasselheck12 and Hollerbeier13

The Braucherin stood up. "The leg of your soul calls out to the smoke in the bowl," she said. "Let us take the pot and follow the smoke of the burning branches."

The Braucherin and Delbel hastily trailed the smoke into the dark night. The smoke led them to a neighboring farm's chicken coop, where Delbel saw his limping shell breaking the eggs beneath sitting hens. When Buckliches Mannli saw Delbel, he attempted to run, but his left leg gave out under him.

The Braucherin grabbed the shell, drew symbols upon its head, and uttered some incantations. She then pushed the shell into the pot with the burning branches, setting it on fire. Buckliches Mannli jumped out along with the left leg of Delbel's spirit. Although the two parts were not connected, Delbel was still able to use his left leg to kick Buckliches Mannli down to ground, and the Braucherin banished the troublesome spirit from the physical realm.

Delbel absorbed his leg back into his soul. He was pleased to be intact, but he was saddened that he was no longer in the parade of souls. 

"Fret not," said the Braucherin. "The burning branches can lead you to your destination, too." She blew the smoke from the pot onto Delbel, and Delbel felt the energy once again around him. 

He fell into what seemed like a deep sleep, and, when he awakened, he was in a blooming meadow that surrounded a large mill. Delbel's last words were a request to the goddess for blessings to be bestowed on the Braucherin, who helped him to save the community.

The Braucherin returned to her cottage and went to sleep. She awoke the next morning to the sound of knocking on her door. She opened to door and was handed a message that informed her that she was the heir of the late Harr Meyer's farm. 

Each year since then, the Braucherin has remained in her cottage but tended to Harr Meyer's land. For the remainder of her life, she continued the tradition of building a Butzemann of Delbel's lineage each year. 

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Braucherin: A wise woman trained in the Deitsch healing tradition of Braucherei.

Lumbemann: A scarecrow.

Grundsaudaag: Groundhog Day, February 2

Delbel: Awkward person

"Daer do iss dei Butzemann, Delbel der Nei": "This here is your activated scarecrow, Delbel the New." The naming of scarecrows follows the old Deitsch convention. For more information on that convention, please see http://urglaawe.blogspot.com/2012/02/butzemann-naming-convention.html. 

Butzemann: A spiritually activated scarecrow.

Allelieweziel: October 31

Holle: Goddess of land fertility who leads the Wild Hunt of souls through the realms starting on Allelieweziel

Midsummer: Summer Solstice

10 Hoiet: Haymaking time; month of July on the Urglaawe calendar

11 Buckliches Mannli: Also known as 'S Bucklich Mannli or Butz. Bogeyman. A mischievous and dangerous field- or house-spirit. Akin to a puck or a pucca. 

12 Hasselheck: Hazel bush

13 Hollerbeer: Elder, only parts of which can be burned in matters relating to Holle.

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When citing this article, please use the following information:

Schreiwer, Robert Lusch. The Legend of Delbel the Butzemann. deitschmythology.blogspot.com October 29, 2013. Bristol, PA: Deitscherei.com, 2013.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Holle's Mill

This post is spurred on by an article in Denali Institute of Northern Traditions' May 2013 issue of True North. The article, The Magical Mill, referred to the presence and role of mills in various European mythologies, including Norse and Finnish.

As is the case with so many European folk religions and traditions, Urglaawe retains lore and knowledge of a major mill from Braucherei oral tradition. “Die Miehl” is by the hall of Holle, and it is in this mill that Holle takes the souls of the departed for processing between lives. 

The mill is said to separate the different pieces of the soul in order to release the returning components. In Urglaawe understanding, the portions of the soul that are released are the Urleeg (Ørlög) and the eternal Hoch (Higher Self; the divine spark). The Glick (Luck/Hamingja) is sometimes also passed from construct to construct. Additionally, the Folyer (Fetch/Fylgia), which, in Urglaawe, is seen as an independent entity that attaches itself to a new soul constructs, is freed to find another symbiotic host. The Urleeg, Glick, and Hoch may remain together or be separated into new soul constructs.  

The purpose for the milling is, in Urglaawe belief, to prepare the Hoch quickly for a continuing upward spiral of advancing consciousness. In the deities’ effort to thwart the forces of chaos (which in Urglaawe feature ignorance, apathy, rootlessness, and unenlightened self-interest along with the physical threats described in the story of Ragnarök), the advancement of human consciousness is one of their biggest investments. 

With each lifetime and variation in the interaction of the soul components, the Hoch is to increase its ability to understand existence and to assert its will into improving the existence. In short, the deities want us to be, at the end of this cosmic cycle, where they were at the beginning of it. It is, therefore, in the deities’ interests to keep the Lewesraad (the cycle of life, death, decay, and rebirth) moving along expeditiously.  

In fact, the Urglaawe view of the Wild Hunt pertains directly to this battle with chaos. In our oral lore, it is Holle who leads the Wild Hunt (though Wudan and She are often together, too). Her purpose is to find any souls that have fallen out of the Lewesraad cycle and to bring them back into it. She is followed through the skies by the souls that She has found or that have sought Her out. It is for this reason that the Deitsch culture associates Allelieweziel (Halloween) with the departure of Holle from this plane.  

In Braucherei, there are intervals in the spiritual year that the veil between the physical and spiritual planes (or among the worlds of the multiverse). Allelieweziel and Grundsaudaag (Groundhog Day), in particular, are times at which many Braucherei practitioners engage in soul work to direct lost or distressed souls towards the Miehl. It is also noteworthy that the same processes and cycles pertain to animal and plant spirit constructs, though they differ from those of humans.  

Holle’s Miehl plays a central, critical role in the purpose of human existence, purpose, and advancement. Many of us believe humanity is currently backsliding due to the dereliction of responsibility for one’s own advancement (another article unto itself), and it up to us to aid our deities’ efforts by striving to live our lives more deliberately, being conscious of the impact of our thoughts, words, and actions.

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Please use the following information when citing this entry:

Schreiwer, Robert Lusch. Holle's mill. deitschmythology.blogspot.com, October 7, 2013. Bristol, PA: Deitscherei.com, 2013.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Legendary Hexenwolf


For those who are unfamiliar with the Hexenwolf videos that appeared at the Virginville Film Festival in 2006, they are available on YouTube.

Those who are familiar with these parody videos, however, may not be aware that the Hexenwolf is indeed a character in some little-known Pennsylvania German folktales. Much like the Jersey Devils wreak havoc across the Pine Barrens, the Hexenwelf (plural form) inhabit tracts of land across much of eastern Pennsylvania. Some folks say they are generally invisible, but they can manifest themselves in a visible form at will. Others say that they are not actually invisible, but, like a cuttlefish, are able to blend into their environment in an extremely effective way. Although those who claim to have seen it describe an animal similar to a Jersey Devil, the Hexenwolf has never been said to have wings. 

Dwayyo/Hexenwolf
It is more likely that the Hexenwolf is identical to the Dwayyo, which is a mythic creature mentioned in the Deitsch regions of Maryland. The Dwayyo is said to be the predator of another mythic creature, the Schneller Geischt or the Snallygaster.

They are nocturnal creatures, perhaps baneful wights or spirits, that have little use for humans, particularly humans' streetlights, headlights and flashlights. Thus, the Hexenwelf tend to hunt at night and sleep during the day. However, crossing their path while they are hunting could be deadly... Even if you are not physically harmed, these creatures are said to be able to exert a dark force upon you, which leaves a blemish and plagues you with bad luck.

Many tales of the Lenape did not survive the Colonial era, so we will never know whether these are native creatures or whether they came over with our ancestors, hidden among their possessions.

They have been said to dwell in woods or meadows near Oley, on the ridges by Cushion Peak, Eagle's Peak, The Pinnacle, and in the Welsh Mountains. Some say they inhabit the woods atop Mount Penn at the far end from the Pagoda, and on some nights hunt in packs, on two legs or on four. The wooded areas not far Angelica Lake seem to be a favorite home. In the north, they are said to avoid the Blue Mountain Ridge, perhaps due to the presence there of Der Ewich Yeeger, the Eternal Hunter, but on the other side of the ridge, the stories re-emerge in the wooded areas just north of Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe.

Stories indicate that they occasionally let out howls like wolves; other stories say they have the ability to project their thoughts into the minds of those whose gaze they catch, and that is one way they stop their prey.

They have been rumored to have ransacked root cellars and garbage cans. They have also allegedly attacked livestock, chickens, but for some reason they do not attack dogs and cats. In fact, cats have been reported among their numbers on occasion, traveling comfortably with the pack.

So make what you will of these almost-forgotten tales, and if you are hiking along the back roads of Deitscherei, be wary of the night hunters, and keep your flashlight on!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How the Deitsch Nation Was Born...

There are the historical facts of the Great Migration of the German settlers from Europe to the British Colonies in America. Then there are the folk tales that relate to the unseen mechanisms behind this Migration.

Every good Deitsch person, regardless of religious identity, should recognize Francis Daniel Pastorius as the foremost leader of the Deitsch nation. There were plenty of others who operated throughout the Colonial and Early Republic eras to bring about the creation of Germantown, PA, and the spread of the Deitsch nation down the Appalachian Mountains and into the Midwest.

Pastorius Monument, Vernon Park, Philadelphia


There's a backdrop story to this Migration, though, and it falls into the misty folk memory of the old Teutonic gods and goddesses. This is not a new story. Although Holle is sometimes conflated with the Gnostic Sophia in different versoins of this tale, Her role in the creation of the Deitsch nation is a longstanding myth in Braucherei and Hexerei.

How the Deitsch Nation Was Born

The gods and goddesses were saddened by the compulsory conversion to Christianity and all of the strife that the folk had suffered as a result of the persecution by the Church and the subsequent religious wars. The deities had sent tribes out from the north to settle distant lands, such as Iceland, and to try to keep the believers isolated. However, the deities guide but do not force humans to make the right decisions, and the ruling classes continued to embrace the power that the Church power structure imbued in them.

Thus, the folk continued to lose its way due to leadership by greed- and power-driven rulers.

The Thirty Years' War served as the breaking point in the deities' patience. They watched as interdenominational war plagued the lands of the Germans, wiping out huge portions of the population of the German states, with Württemburg losing 75% of its population! The economy of Central Europe was destroyed, and the political importance of the Palatinate was thoroughly obliterated

The goddess Holle was horrified by the destruction that took place all around Her lands. She recognized that the folk were stuck in a cycle of religious confusion and war, with blame to be laid primarily at the feet of the leadership that cared more about power and control than about the folk's success. She, therefore, subtly guided the most peaceful of the folk, regardless of religious identity,  to lead the Migration.

Holle's hand became a moving force in the Migration through the manipulation of the leadership to bring about an emigration for any reason. The targeted lands were the relatively peaceful colonies of the Americas. The most desired people were the peasants, serfs, and farmers, who remained a step closer to the Old Ways than did the ruling classes. Among these folks would be the healers of Braucherei and the practitioners of Hexerei; these groups would carry the Old Ways with them to the New World. The agricultural folk had no desire to destroy; instead, they looked to nurture an independent life in a peaceful land. 

The deities aided the Migration at every step, even if credit were improperly being attributed to the power structure of another religion. Upon arrival, though, the conflicts of Europe quickly eroded; religious bodies that were at each other's throats in Europe found themselves sharing resources in America. The Deitsch moved into the hinterland of the Colonies, kept peaceful relations with the Lenape, sympathized with the slaves in the South, and used their skills to build the countryside. 

As the peace spread over this land, now called Deitscherei in the regional vernacular, Holle took a seat upon the mountain pillar known as Hexekopp (Hexenkopf), from which She would watch the progression of Her new nation, the Pennsylvania Germans, now called the Deitsch, as they embraced the old deities and recognized the rightful place of humanity on the Tree of Life (Lewesbaam).

This is how Holle came to be the Mother of the Deitsch Nation.

Old and New Deitsch and Urglaawe Mythology

The Deitsch culture is full of old stories. It is full of old references that are missing their full stories. It is full of recent tales and stories of mythical creatures, deities, and spiritual elements. The Deitscherei is a vibrant region with a resurging cultural identity. That identity needs its old and new mythology placed into an accessible and convenient format.

This site presents such a repository.