Glücksschwein & The New Year: The German “Lucky Pig” Tradition.

 

**** But first a quick blurb on where I have been and what I have been up to**** 😉 

As it usually is! This time of year for me has been well…. Busy! Of course it’s a type of “busy” that I am grateful for.  However, this Jultide/ Weihnachten I have found myself with a mix of emotions.  You see, in this past year in late June a major yet inevitable event took place for me.  At the age of 94 yrs my Oma (one of the most influential people in my life. As well as one person that I can genuinely say was one of the most beautiful and pure souls that I had the hounour of not only knowing but being raised by) passed away.

With this a certain holiday season seems to change. Although, not necessarily in only a “mournful” way.  I have now found myself proudly beginning to assume certain roles that she would have. Versus seeing the holiday as a thing “that will never be the same, with loss of an elder loved one.” I find myself driven to create the environment and bring comfort to my family and kin the same way she did. Even down to the little things like assuring the “kinder” in the family have plenty of “Schokolade.” ( In other-words: this involves me spoiling my nieces and nephews with plenty of goodies. 😉 )

On the note of being driven to uphold customs and nurturing environments. This brings me to another thought.  The idea behind this very blog in-fact! With this event recently taking place I am reminded again of how passionite I am about and how important it is to me preserve the memory and customs of my folk.

So with this being said! I figured with the Neujahr now approaching that it would be most appropriate to discuss or rather just simply share that of one of the most prominent “lucky” motifs associated with Germam culture. A custom that also of course has it’s roots in origins in the practices and beliefs of the most ancient ethno-culture of the Germanic peoples.  The custom I speak of today is that of the “lucky pig.”

Now, I am sure any of who are of a German or Scandinavian background are already quite familiar with the   Glücksschwein custom and motif.  Or at the very least and ecspecially of it at the Jul and New Year.  But as for those of you who are not? You’re probably sitting there thinking? “What? What the heck is a lucky pig? What do pigs have to do with luck and New Years?”

Well you see, in Nordic /Germanic cultures and countries pigs are associated with what is referred to (in Deutsch) as Glücksbringer.

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Glücksbringer or rather a  Glücksbringer (Good-Luck Bringer) is what would be referred to among purely English speaking countries as a “Lucky Charm.” I have also noted that such a custom is in-fact to a degree also popular in such countries. Usually in the form of the idea of “Four-leaf clovers”, horseshoes and things like a “lucky rabbit’s foot.”

Pig ornaments are popular among German and Scandivian peoples for a very similar concept as such.

 

 

 

~By the way, you can read more about the lucky pig and other European lucky charm customs in a previous blogpost here:

https://blutundhexenkunst.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/an-introduction-to-glucksbringer-part-1/

A common Jul / New Year custom that is popular among peoples of Germany and much of Scandinavia is that of the marzipan pig confection. In Germany marzipan pigs are given out to be consumed on New Year to assure good luck in the coming year. A Norwegian Jul custom involves eating rice pudding and giving out marzipan pigs as a prize.

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Now to answer the question: “what do pigs have to do with luck, anyway?”  Or rather how did they gain such a connotation and association with such in Nordic/Germanic cultures?

Well, like most Germanic customs the origin stems from (of course) historical practices of their ethno-culture. That yes! Is very ancient and predates pretty much of and all forms of popular religion which currently permeate the western world.

Historically in Germanic world-view the pig or boar (unlike certain other cultures) had a very positive connotation.  This animal was associated with livestock, farming, wealth and thus prosperity!  To many traditional Germanic peoples who lived an agricultural lifestyle the pig was an emblem of livelihood and abundance.

Related to this is the fact that the swine or boar was a scared animal of the God associated with prosperity, harvest, joyous times, and fertility (of the land animals and man alike) the ancient  Vanir god Frej (Fro Ing, Freyr Ingvy.)

With this coupled with the fact that throughout history this particular animal whether it be as a “wild beast” the “mighty boar” who would be a fearsome but admirable catch for the hunter. Or the more “domesticated” and even “gentler” common farm pig. Kept in abundance seen as a sign of success and wealth of the Germanic farmer.  We can clearly see how the pig has gained such a special connotation in Nordic/Germanuc culture.

Along with, of course the Jultide/Weihnachten being a most important, sacred and time of “feast and celebration” since ancient times. We can clearly see how the “giving of” (whether it be to family as a confection gift or as something in Blot) a pig would be a very “meaningful” and “special” kind of custom.

The custom of the “lucky pig” whether it be marzipan confections or charmingly adorable little ornaments of whimsical little “piglets.” Adorned with other such emblems of whimsy and luck like the clover, horsehoe, or lady-bug. We are reminded of just how “not so distant” our ancient ancestors and departed loved ones are from us and our daily lives.  Wishing us all of “the best” through the customs they passed down to us.

 

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On Winter Nights and Herbs for Working with The Dead

At the time now as I write this it has well entered the “Winternachten” (Winter Nights) tide.  Which ushers in Mid through late October. This marks the more official beginning of the winter or “dark time” of the year.  It  proceeded what the Anglo-Saxons referred to as the “Blotmonath” (which is what is now called November in Modern English.) Literally meaning “Blood Month” it was the time that in  conjunction with the preparation of what came from the crops and plant-life livestock and animals were slaughtered and prepared to assure food during the coming coldest and darkest depths of the winter-tide.  Hence referring to the blood or Blot that will be shed in this process. Since our ancestors practical and spirtual life existed symbiotically this was a time of “sacrifice” a time of being mindful of death cycles and the dead.

For the Celtic people this was the time of Samhain. The ancient Celtic festival of “Summer’s End” and the dead. This along with the festival on the opposite end of the Celtic wheel of the year (Beltane) were the two most important festivals for the Ancient Celts. The Samhain tide being somewhat of the Celtic “new year” (as opposed to in Norse/Germanic traditions the New Year happening in Yuletide. Which has been adapted and continued today in the Western World.)

For the Celts Samhain was seen as the time that when the veil between this realm and the realm of spirit “thinned.” It was believed to be an optimal time to communicate with those beings and entities of other realms.

Relating to what is mentioned above regarding the Blotmonath and the time of slaughter and harvest and how our ancestors practical lives and spirtual practices existed symbiotically we can easily see how such a view formed.

Of course one must note that any seasonal tide shift or transition was seen as “viel thin” between worlds. We can see how a certain view has permeated throughout much of the European consciousness and it’s various peoples of applying a certain connotation with the end of fall/ beginning of winters nights/ eve of the blood month with the dead and death!

In contemporary Western Society  this celebration continues most akin to those customs of the Ancient Celtic and Irish people in the form of “All Hallow’s Eve” or as it is better known as today Halloween.

Halloween or “All Hallow’s Eve” refers to the eve of what was known as “All Saint’s Day” in Catholic tradition. Of course we can see here that this is yet another example of how the ancient indigenous  customs of the given European people were emalgamated with the newer religious institution of Christianity.

However, when we take a deeper look it is more than obvious that such customs were merely just the same heathen or pagan customs merely just re-branded with a new name.

In today’s world (particularly and ecspecially in North America and Western European countries) Halloween has become one holiday most beloved by children and young people. As the custom of giving offerings to wandering spirits has now become “trick or treating.”  In a way I personally somewhat find this adaption intriguing and somewhat having a beautiful symbolism that many of us may not consciously realize. The idea that a custom that had the intial purpose or reason of “feeding” or appeasing the dead and other such entities has now became doing such to appease our children. It seems that we very much continue to “feed’ those old spirits as they live on very well through our own children.

 

 

Of course with this? Some part of the possible “downside” is that often such customs become so “watered down” with the usual that “water things down” in this day and age. Halloween of course often becoming more associated with marketing and often many folk completely forgetting any sort of aspects of such traditions foundation or origins. Many merely associating it as a “day to get candy” or “dress up.”

However even with this, we can still observe a rather interesting phenomoneon that seems to show that even among such “watering down” and loss of mindfulness the meanings and purposes of such still persist whether we consciously realize it or not. The month of October and “Halloween” is often a time where people are free to entertain and express ideas that maybe deemed inappropriate or “taboo” in a contemprary western society that often doesn’t deal well with death or even such thoughts and experiences that go against the so called rational norm.  Very much so in today’s world where we very rarely interact with or even discuss such topics like mortality. These are subjects that all too often in the world of a “daily grind” we spend little time acknowledging our emotions and certain experiences like those related to death and mourning often get labelled as “morbid” or “macabre.” We can even note other themes that have become popluar subjects pertaining to deep experiences we may encounter that go against what we deem as genuine parts of our reality.  In today’s world all things that are considered “real” are that which is described as having a “rational explanation.” A certain phenomoneon has happened where many have expressed a strong intrigue in that which is dubbed the “supernatural” or the “paranormal.”  Subjects that in recent times have fuelled countless inspiration for many forms of entertainment such as movies and television shows.  It’s interesting to asses these terms “supernatrual”  and how we associate certain things like for example what we describe as our own “spirtual experiences” as such.   We assume that such things happen outside of the “natural world.” Although, realistically some would  argue (myself included) that no such experience (regardless of what the actual explanation maybe)  happens “outside of the natural world.” Rather such are all a part of nature just simply they belong to an aspect that we may not yet fully understand. This of course is often a huge blow to the psyche or ego of contemporary man. As we have created a perception where we believe ourselves to understand all things that are, and that all such things can carefully be catorgized and explained in a so called rational manner.  However, still in such a world we are still “all too human” and may have experiences and emotions that defy such a simplistic and even (feeling at times) mechanical and rigid view of the world.

In such a world where certain emotions and experiences in the daily are often brushed off as “strange” or even “morbid” a holiday like Halloween seems to serve a vital role in many western countries. It’s a time when expressing such thoughts and feelings is deemed acceptable.  Even in regards to topics such as what frightens us. All too often in the contemprary world we are taught to avoid and ignore any such topic or theme. Though it seems that on this certain time of year we are permitted to not only discuss and express such fears but also integrate them as a part of ourselves.  We see examples of this in simple things like the trend of “dressing up” as even fictional characters from  popluar horror films. A character that very likely invoked fear in the person admiring such.  Such a thing allows us express and further explore ourselves and the world around us along with how it makes us feel. As well coming to terms with and even integrating such things as a part of ourselves. So it seems that even in a modern world where we often perceive such certain ancient practices and concepts that we dubb “shamanic” are still very alive and well in our collective unconsciousness.

For our ancestors, the coming of winter was a time of accepting the “darkness” to come. A time to prepare for it, yet at the same time; embrace it! It was a time when they tied up loose ends, finished the harvest preparations, and slaughtered what needed to be so. With all of such it reminded them of course of the finality of all things (even themselves) it was a time when they were left time to confront even their own fears. Making peace with all of such and even integrating all such in to themselves.  A process or experience that they would probably describe and percieve as something that strengthened them spiritually or in-terms of “wyrd” or “Hamingja.”

With this one can observe or even conclude that possibly the only thing truly dividing us from our most ancient ancestors is possibly era, cultural context and the external world which we exist in. However, on a deeper psychological and spirtual level we still innately and instinctually react the same way. Even though this whole process maybe happening on an entirley unconscious or subconscious level.  I have mentioned and written about in previous entries the question of “What would our ancestors be like if they lived in and were raised in today’s world?” The answer: we only need to look at ourselves. We are the answer to that question.

 

So, with this being said? This takes us to the subject of those of us occultists, folk-practioners, as well as pagans/heathens in general  and how we utilize and perceive such a tide.   We observe that such energy, association and connotation applied to the time from most ancient to recent makes this  often a ripe time to deal with such workings pertaining to dealing and becoming in-tune with “the dead.” As well ecspecially  working with such forces that are chthonic in nature. As I have discussed before and made obvious in previous entries; ancestral veneration is a central part of my own and most folk practioners daily lives. Though, for those of us who maybe living in North America or Western European countries it seems that the month of October is a time that permits us to express and discuss these things more openly among the general public. Or rather it’s time when the general public may allow themselves to be more open to inquiring about or discussing such. Thus it seems, the “veil” thins as possibly this maybe the only time many comfortably permit themselves to “pay attention” to some of the more complex parts of their psyche. The way that often certain forces and chthonic forces would communicate with us.

As a practioner it’s a time we can often easily utilize such forces or intiate connection with a certain nature. In other-words: it’s a time that many find most preferable for things we would refer to as  “Necromancy” and “Shamanic” in nature. It’s a ripe time to honour/ and facilitate communication with the dead and certain spirtual forces.

Here I will give some examples of such things from the plant-world that are often associated with such works. These are examples from my own personal experiences and studies and are just to name a few.

 

~Dandelion: Dandelion is an often under-appreciated member of the flora world. In an esoteric and folkloric perspective it is an extremley magical spirit of the plant world!  Dandelion (ecspecially dandelion root) is excellent in aiding with facilitating spiritual connection and communication.  In-fact in traditional crafting of the Alraune fetiche dandelion root was often utilized just as often as the “Alraun” or Mandrake plant itself.  Dandelion works well in conjunction with other herbs in blends to use in facilitating spirit communication. In incense herbal blend if the work is more pertaining to energies or forces of the “upper-branches of the tree” most specfically the leaves and petals could be used. If the work pertains to specfically working with that or those of the “roots below” using specfically the root is helpful. If uncertain or for general works? One may use a combination of such. One method I have personally utilized is using a root itself and saining/ dedicating it as such to be used as an object or tool for communication. This can be done by means of obtaining a good and well developed dandelion root. One that seems to instinctually appeal to you. After it has been dried, one method is to tie it with red thread. Sain/dedicate it in honour of your ancestral spirits.  You may present it to them at your ancestral altar (if you have one) or any such place you honor them. Explain your intentions. That you wish to use this as a medium to commune with them. With this you can use this root in the manner of a “pendulum” using it to commune with your ancestral forces/ the spirits you work  with. Remember to also show gratituide and honour to the spirit of the dandelion root as well. Treat this as a most sacred object and fetiche.

~Elder/Elderberry: Elder is one tree that is held in sacred regard to the Germanic peoples. It often is better known or more famously utilized in works of warding and healing. However, the elder is strongly associated with Frau Holle, witches, and the “underworld” Disir and Norns. Thus it is good as a protection charm and as well good to utilize in rites that regard honouring and communing with Holle or Hel. Which is helpful before opening up the gates our initiating communing with the spirits of the dead or lower realms.

~Mugwort: An excellent herb that is sacred and very commonly found throughout much of European plant-lore. It is said to be one of those substances and energies which is profound with assisting and facility spirtual connection, communication, trance like visions and divination.   It’s favourable to burn mugwort as an incense (often along with other such herbs like wormwood.)  While doing works of honouring and communicating with spirits, as well as any sort of trance or divinatory work.  Mugwort was often brewed into magical teas and consumed previous to scrying works. As well mugwort tea was often used as a wash for certain scrying tools like crystal balls, mirrors or any sort of mirror that maybe used for spirit communication.

~Marshmallow root: Marshmallow root is one that I have observed become increasingly popular among many modern folk-practioners of various cultures and traditions. Marshmallow works excellent added in conjunction with other herbs used as burned offertory incense/smoke type blend.  It also works well adding it to the dressing of candles and other such objects used in honouring spirits. It can be used in itself as an offertory item. This can be handy for those who want to set up something for facilitating communication with their own ancestral spirits but are not exactly sure what to use or who to call to. Preparing a white candle in honour of such along with some Marshmallow root, and maybe some other sort of offering (like a drink) and dedicating such in honour of your ancestral spirits is quite useful.

~Rose:  Rose may not be a common one that comes to mind when thinking of such works. However, because of it’s (and certain other flowers) association in recent eras as a funerary flower; roses can often make an ideal gift or offering for spirits of the dead or graveyard spirits/ wights. The rose also carries the symbolism of “rebirth” and the ongoing cycle of life  from death.  Thus giving such a flower as an offering is very honouring to many spirtual forces. As well, the Wild Rose has a strong association with Holda and the Hidden Folk. Hollow/Holda having a strong connection to the underworld spirits and as well the Hidden Alfar had strong associations with the certain ancestral spirits.

~Wormwood: wormwood is an excellent plant for spirit works and divination.  Works well when used along-side mugwort in mixtures. A good general and simple blend to be burned as an incense during any sort of spirit-work or divination consists of mugwort and wormwood. Also, along with mugwort the two combined together can be brewed in a tea or wash for divinatory and scrying tools. Wormwood is one I often use as a foundation herb for any such blend pertaining to working with the dead or spirits in any manner.

~Yarrow: yarrow is an herb with a rich lore. Used in many sorts of magical works. From matters concerning, love, romance and marriage to divination. Another such property of yarrow is it’s association with the Frau of the “underworld.” Yarrow can be used in such works to commune and honour her and those such forces of her realms. I would recommend using it in conjunction and mixture with other such herbs. Like mugwort and/or wormwood and elderberry.

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Bavarian Folk Remedy: Schwarzer Radi Hustensaft

Growing up I was always intrigued by and passionate about folk remedies and superstions.  Information I often held near and dear to my heart was when elders in my family would tell me bits of folk-wisdom that they knew growing up.

I believe my attraction and fascination to such truly was a major element in nurturing and cultivating my spiritual path and practice.

Another aspect of this is that I find many nowadays seem to see all such tales or information of nothing with any real-world merit. However, we’re forgetting one simple fact: much of our modern knowledge, understanding and advancements in modern medicine often have a foundation in  old folk remedies. Such examples include: the cherished benefits of honey. We now know in a modern scientific world why that is.  Along with certain plants and herbs being associated with healing and protection. Often such plants actually contain anti-bacterial or anti-fungal properties.

With observing such trends  this further fueled my fascination with studying such things often referred to as “old folk-remedies” and “wives tales.” I found a deep connection and sense of pride connecting with my German/Northern European heritage by studying the folk beliefs, customs, and even superstitions of my ancestors.  As well learning comparative customs from the cultures of surrounding peoples. And of course as anyone of a German or Scandivian background will know that even within one respective general group there is much variation. One example is that my own family background is that more so of Scandinavian and North-German or rather my family is predominantly of a Plattdeutsch background.

Many are often intrigued to notice that there is some actual major variation of my specific background and that of my significant other’s who is Bayerische   (Bavarian.)   In-fact even in-terms of dialect and language I can honestly say that I have a hard (nearly impossible) time trying to understand a conversation between my fiancé and in-laws.  The type of Deutsch they speak sounds much different than that of the Platt or Pommern dialect Hochdeutsch and the accents I heard my own grandparents speak.  Just as how I believed my fiancé must have had the most terrific childhood ever cause you know….. They have Krampus!

When meeting my now soon to be husband we immediately bounded over our love and passion of lore, history and our culture. And of course for me it allowed me to discover a whole new world of German customs and lore that I was previously not entirely familiar with.  The fascinating thing about the Bavarian and Alpine people is that they have so wonderfully kept their traditions and customs in-tact.

One instance I recall last fall I was preparing my usual tinctures and remedies I always keep on hand for the fall and winter season ecspecially.  A lot of garlic infusions along with elberberry and echinacea blends. Mixtures I create both for their handy medicinal uses ecspecially for assisting the immune system in the cold season along with uses in Hexerei workings to do with such works in a magical manner.  As I was doing so my fiancé was watching “Bayersiche YouTube” he came across a video and said “Here this! You will find of interest. This is a popular remedy back home. I know it from growing up.”  He then explained to me  the subject matter something called  “Schwarzer Radi Hustensaft” roughly translated to English it would be “Black Radish Cough syrup.”  He explained to me that this remedy has been popular with and prepared by the Alpine people for centuries.

The ingredients for the preparation of such would be as follows:

~Schwarzer Radi (Black Radish)  or sometimes it is often called “Black Spanish Radish.”

~Brown sugar or raw cane sugar

~Honey

Preperation method involves first cutting the top off of the black radish. Then from here you want cut into some of the inner-flesh hollowing some of it out as to make a funnel  with the radish.

Like so:

As you can see you want your radish to sit on top of a glass/ container as a funnel would. From here place your brown sugar into the radish, then pour in your honey.

What happens now is your ingredients will slowly sift into the glass. The process should take a couple hours. Thus the honey and sugar is slowly being infused with the juices and properties of the black radish.

This is the most common and traditional “Bavarian method” that I was informed of. However, off hand I know that some may find it easier to make a similar such concoction by means similar to how I make my own garlic infused honey/syrup.

This can be done by dicing the radish into pieces or cubes. Letting it steep in honey for sometime. An additional step (if desired) one can also add chopped garlic cloves to add the added benefits of garlic.

~So what is it about the black radish?

Of course I am sure many are familiar with why honey and it’s benefits are so popular ecspecially in such remedies.

But one some may not be entirley familiar with is that of the black radish! Well it’s basically one of those roots that has a long history of being prized in lore and remedies by many peoples and for good reason! The black radish is rich in Vitamin C (for one.) Also, having antimicrobial and antibacterial properties along with being rich in antioxidants the black radish is without a doubt a boon for many reasons.

Along with being useful in such cold and flu remedies (as one can guess) it’s also a food with many nutritious benefits. As well even has benefits  for topical uses such as for hair and skin care.

Since the black radish is antimicrobial and antibacterial  it can be very useful for helping to treat blemish prone skin. Along with being rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C which is nourishing and beneficial for all skin-types.

Plus it has been used in many tonics to help the liver as well. In-fact it has a long history of this.

The vegetable was orginally thought to be native to South Asia. However, there is still much speculation about this and it’s origins. However, none the less this root vegetable has been used throughout history and in various cultures for both medicine and food. Everywhere from Asia, the Mediterranean, and  even Egypt where it is depicted in tomb illustrations  from 2000 B.C.

And of course in the past centuries it made it’s way into Europe where it then became a popular and most prized food and medicine among many. And still is to this very day with the Alpine people!

 

So so next time you recall an old tale, remedy or even story that you heard? Remember! Look into it! Study it! Maybe after all…. There really was something to it. Remember your ancestors were no more or less capable than you. The only thing that really sets you a part from them is modern advancement.

Other than that? Not only are you “no different” but some (including myself) may argue:  “You ARE them.”

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For The Midsummer High-Tide

As of late, I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel, getting to observe and become familiar with various different landscapes. So of course such adventures keeps one occupied but none the less gives one the chance to experience and become familiar with new forms of wisdom and lore to share. (Wherever I travel or reside I make it a point to become familiar with the local plants and superstitions of the people.)

Coupled with the fact that as the tides turn from spring to summer I find myself spending more time in the natural environment and taking up such tasks and participating in hobbies that pertain to such. Gardening, going out observing, as well as foraging what the local wild-life and woods has to offer in the current season of it’s full peak of activity. Where as during other tides or tide transitions such as the fall I find myself harvesting and enjoying the “fruits of labor”  (literally and metaphorically.) Going from this and into winter I find myself more focused on in-door activities, crafting,  entertaining and celebrating with family and immediate folk.

*A theme that can be observed with even our most ancient ancestors as it was known that the normally hospitable Germanic tribes and Nordfolk became more reserved with their practices and customs as Winter Nights began to usher in.  A time when they prepared for the all-important Jul-tide and kept their affairs to their priority obligations. That being: kin and closest communal folk. *

As the cold tide lets up, and starts to make way for spring bringing re-birth to the land the first signs of “movement” begin to show again. I find myself preparing for the sowing of seeds. Spending the last bits of cold and sleep that the landscape has, preparing for awakening I often begin to embark on or rather prepare for new endeavours. Discussing, sharing, and presenting that which I have reflected upon and studied during   the “rest time” of the land. Ready to open up again to those outside of immediate kin. Or rather like the mother-bear awakening from her long winter hibernation.  The ancient Nordfolk Barbarian woman stepping out and able to be hospitable to the world abroad once again. There is a reason why I decided that this year at the beginning of spring that I would start this blog.  Starting off rather having it’s introduction with such posts pertaining to Easter Witches of the Scandinavian people. A custom and tradition of Germanic people that alludes to their most ancient ethno-cultural celebrations and rites that far pre-date their interaction with any modern concept of “religion.” And even then we know that such customs never disappeared but merely forced the customs of the new institution from outside peoples to assimilate to it.       Another post of introduction was that regarding mutterbirke. The lore of the birch tree. Known as the “mother tree” to almost all peoples of the European continent. As this was the first tree to take root after the ice-age receded.  Thus the birch has always and will always have a certain strong symbolism of such regarding such attributes of renewal, rebirth and “purification.”

With all of this said: for me Heidentum or “Heathenism” (whatever the term one must use to best to describe it in a modern world where we need to identify ourselves as such.) Is for me not just what I call myself or what I could best respond with if  an unfamiliar person asked me “what religion?” Rather it is also my way of life. It’s a spirituality that does not separate parts of my life into “mundane versus scared matters.”   Such things for me live symbiotically or as one. There is little separation there in regards to this. Which in my personal opinion? (If I maybe so bold to say.)  Any path that is merely words or practices that cannot be somehow reconciled with or reflect (to at least some degree) one’s daily practical life? Is (in my opinion) a path that has become “spiritually dead” (so to speak.)  Or rather if one finds that what they identify with (in theory) does not reconcile with them in actual practical matter or in “practice”? It is always my impression that such a person usually needs to do more searching and find who they “really are.”  *These are just my personal views.*

Thus the reason why I identify as heidnisch (aside from the fact that yes! I was raised as such!) Is because it is genuine to my personal views. It reflects my way of life. And thus: honors the value of my ancestors (both ancient and recent) of integrity. Defining myself as anything else would be disingenuous.

*But I digress.

With the mention and reflection of other seasonal tides: here we are now again at the tide of Midsummer. The peak or prime of the “warm season.”  When hearing such terms like “Mid” in regards to the solstices? I know that many who are only more familiar with more modern terms are often perplexed by this. As typically the Solstices are often referred to as the “First Day” of the respective season. However traditionally, the solstices were seen as the mid or climax of the season. Which makes sense if we look at it in the context of judging it by the solar phases.  As a  moon cycle is approximately a month (actually where the English word for month comes from a “Moonth.”)  In this monthly cycle we see the full moon, and the opposite which is the dark moon. Which oddly enough most modern calendars note the dark moon as the “new moon” when in-fact technically and traditionally the “new moon” would be the night proceeding when the moon begins to show / wax again.

A solar cycle goes through the same process, however it’s cycle being a year span. Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year) being the climax point, and Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year) being the opposite side of the cycle the “dark phase” before the days begin to “wax” again.  Hence the festivity of Jultide being the most sacred for Germanic peoples. As originally by their calendar system this was the point of the year that was betwixt the end and beginning.

With this there is the other high-tide of great importance representing the opposite forces that are observed at Jultide. That being Midsummer. In-fact those of you who maybe of a Swedish background will know that the Swedish folk to this day have preserved the communal observance of  “midsommar.” Through-out Sweden one of the most well-known and important yearly celebrations is that of this tide.  Even today it is very common to see ladies and young children crafting and wearing the traditional krans.  The krans being the lovely headband or crown made from the local wild flowers or blooms from the garden that are in abundance this time of year.  As well one will also notice the iconic “Midsummer Tree” among Swedish festivities. This is actually a custom to as well as serves the same function as the “Maypole” or Maibaum erected and ecorated on Walpurgis more particularly with the Deutsch. Although we can see here the Germanic tradition of adorning sacred trees on special tides and festivities.  Much as how we see this with the Weihnachtenbaum or “Christmas Tree.”

So as anyone who was raised within the context of any Germanic cultural world-view one will be very well aware that are traditions with roots stemming back to our most ancient ancestors are alive and well.  Religions, eras, and what rules over us has come and gone throughout the ages (and will continue to.)  But our traditions and values in themselves always have been and always will be as long as we are a people.

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Also of course, Midsummer like any certain important tide of observance is ripe with lore and superstition pertaining to it.  One will stumble across many old-wives tales and folk beliefs or “divination methods” used by young maidens and suitors to divine who will be their future love.  One example of this: is the belief that if a young lady was to pick fresh flowers on Midsummer day and place them under her pillow, she would then that night dream of her future husband.  Another such method for beckoning one’s husband was for the young maiden to walk backwards into the garden on midsummer’s eve, pick a rose, sew it up into a pouch. Where it is then kept secretly in a drawer of her’s until Christmas day, she is then to wear it on her person. In some versions of the charm it is said that the first man to approach her or rather show admiration will be her future spouse.

It was also said the Midsummer was another time when fairies, elves, and nature spirits were active.  Thus we see many superstitions pertaining to contacting or seeing them on this day.  Like looking through a holed or “hag stone” on Midsummer midnight to peer into elphame. Or rubbing one’s body down with an ointment made of fern for this effect. Also gathering certain flowers and herbs like: fern, rowan blossom, thyme (to name a few) for creating charms to make pacts with such beings.

 

Another common practice or custom associated with Midsummer is that of harvesting or collecting herbs or flowers that will be used in crafting or charm weaving. It  is said that flora and herbs gathered at this time have a certain potency. Much as how it is also believed that gathering such on the full moon serves a similar function and belief. (As the Midsummer is the solar peak.)

 

With all of this said, I would like folk to keep in mind:  As a practioner or rather if you work from a Heidentum tradition you do not necessarily need some archaic ritual to celebrate such tides. In-fact if it is outside of your means or would take you out of what is practical or keeps you in-tune with your environment?  That would entirely defeat the purpose of any such things significance.  My advice? Take the day to go out into nature. Of course honor your gods and spirits as appropriate. But this can also be done be sharing with them this day.  Or be mindful of it’s beauty enjoy the woods, or whatever natural habitat of your geographic location is.  Spend time in your garden, tend to it, collect the flowers and herbs that are ready.  And of course give gratitude for such, and show admiration for the beauty of this season and the land that is around you. Also, one may even keep the memory of their people alive by observing the customs and superstitions that your elders may have had pertaining to or celebrated on this day.

 

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In Granny’s Attic and Among Antiques

One thing I have noticed with many young and contemporary folks who show interest in any area of esoteric study, occult or paganism is that in the recent decades there seems to be this trend of needing or searching out expensive goods. As well it seems to be common that many nowadays often have this notion that the most profound and potent occult wisdom will be found by pursuing some far-off foreign idea.

Many folks seem to be surprised when I tell them that some of the best compilation and  information regarding Germanic folk tradition and paganism/heathenism is found in the works of Brothers Grimm!

I have also noticed that many that are intrigued with and study such things like the history of Scandinavian folk magic will often be familiar with (and of course seek for) copies of a most valuable and old Cyprianus  or “Spabog” (Spabok/book.)

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And all too often even if you do find such tomes? Well you will need to be able to  read in one of the respective Scandinavian languages it was written or published in.

However, if there is one thing I have learned or rather noticed: being of a Dansk/Deutsch background but myself being raised in and spending much of my life in North America. Having the opportunity to hold the traditions of my elders but also observe the customs and superstionss of many people throughout the western world. Whether it be the German-Canadian and Ukranian immigrants of western Canada to the Hillfolk culture of the Appalachian peoples, to the root-workers of Louisiana,  Mississippi, and the rest of the southern United States.

All such regions and peoples not just of the “Old World” but the “New World” as well have their own thriving and rich folklore!

After all: What is a Spabog? A book of “fortune telling.”

What is an “old tradition” Wort-Cunning Crafter. Or rather what does the term “Wort Crafter” mean in modern North American English terms?  Well “Wort” is an Old English term for “root.” And surely those versed in New World Southern folk culture have heard the term “root worker” (or maybe even known a few.)

It was also interesting for me to note that when a Swedish friend of mine explained that in their language the term “troll” is synonymous with “spellcraft” as well noting that the term for a certain Nordic folk magic known as “Trolldom.” The Swedish word equivalent for the English word “conjure” would be “Trolla.” So I found it quite intriguing when first becoming aquaitanced with the conjure-lore of the Americans.

With all of this being said. I think many of my dear “New World” readers would be intrigued to hear about how I once found something along  the lines of a “Cyprianus type grimoire” in a lovely antique mall in western Canada.  But of course it was not called a “Cyprianus” and of course it was entirely written in English.  In-fact much as how some of the most valuable  old “folk wisdom ” of Germanic people is not found in over-priced modernized tomes or behind fancy veils. But rather among the pages of an old Almanac and the old superstitions taught to you by your Oma or Mormor. The same can be said for those in the New World and the wisdom of their Grannies and “Granny Ladies.”  Much as how simple old vintage paper books often disregarded  as the junk in “Grandma’s attic” that end up on a shelf in a flea-market  for 99 cents. Modern folks only seeing it’s value in face-value terms.  But! A rare gem for the Hexe that stumbles across such a thing!

Which was the case when my husband and I visited an antique mall in Canada. The same trip I also found an antique witch-ball. My husband stumbled across a less than a dollar, very worn and somewhat faded paperback booklet titled:   “The Great Book of Wonders Secrets And Mysteries.”

When skimming through the first introductory pages one can find intriguing little tricks and favours for amusement. Like a recipe for “Powder that Catches Fire When Exposed To Air.” As well as techniques for making “Artficial Illumination.” Then reading further in one can also find:   -A table of fortunate and unfortunate days. -Table for finding Lucky Numbers.

~I can’t help but think of all those who are fascinated and overcomplicate the study of divination. When in reality? There could be some really great examples of it found among their elders “junk.”  As seen with the above mentioned. ^

Further reading into the book we find such curious and lovely charms such as follows:

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I am sure that if you’re one familiar with the concepts, history and/or study of folk magick in any discipline you have noticed that this simple little booklet gives one techniques and even ideas into certain methods and variations of formulas many seek for digging through (at times) even most obscure sources.

Such things also give us a glimpse and insight into the mindset of “traditional” practioners. They worked with what was at hand.  The found the formulas of magick and “Witchery” even among the items of their daily lives.  Much as how the sacred instruments and places of worship of our most ancient ancestors were places and objects that were also of their practical mundane use.

So if there is one thing I wish for you the reader to take away?

When looking to study and find wisdom of esoteric nature? Never undermine what maybe right under your nose, below your feet, or above your very head. In the place that you stand at this very moment.  Also, never overlook what might be boxed away in “Granny’s Attic.”

After all: You may find something quite priceless in so called “esoteric”value.

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A Quick Post Regarding Rune Sets

Traditionally a set of runes is crafted by the practioner themself.

Using such woods like Ash or Rowan, they’re risted/carved, and then reddened with blood. (Or maybe red paint/ink with a bit of blood added.)

Although I am aware that nowadays run stones  or rune sets are available for purchase.  This maybe a good option for those who maybe do not live in a geographic region where they have access to such trees or wood. Or may not have the means to craft their own.

The key here of course is to assure that regardless you have properly sained and connected to your runes.  Even if the set did not come  about to you in a traditional manner or traditional materials it is important that ones is still mindful of the symbolism and reasoning of the traditional methods.

Earlier this year I actually decided to purchase a set of runes that were crafted from black obsidian.

I of course charged and sained the set in accordance: by honouring and making sacrifice/offering to Odin, and “reddened” them with the “sacrifice” substance which had my own sacred  Blut added to it.

The idea here is that the blood/red gives the runes “life hue” your blood is the substance that symbolically and spiritually represent gives them connection or rather binds them to you. Those of who are familiar with working with Galdr stav or bindrunes will know that most often the work is coloured with red.   The red being the blood the component which activates/charges the work.

The idea is that you’re bringing them into being spiritually you as one of Alfather’s children who was given the gift of the runes when he “sacrificed himself unto himself.”

So regarding as mentioned above using purchased or otherwise runes that are crafted out of non-traditional means and/or materials?

Although, I find that there is something sacred and special in the process of working and crafting with the traditional woods and means I have found that the otherwise set works and can be used fine.  And as mentioned maybe a good means for those who may not have access to the materials or means to do a traditional crafting.

The key here being keeping in mind the significance and the symbolism used in the traditional crafting method of risting, reddening, and saining.  As long as the charging ritual is done in accordance to this concept.  Just as how in some Galdr work if the stav is reddened with red paint/ink or colouring as opposed to actual blood, it is important to keep in mind why the red colour is used. To represent the blood the “scared life hue.”

Keeping this in mind and working in accordance wih such will allow you to still bring them to be spiritually.  Utilizing them as such working and strengthening your bound  with the sacred runic forces.

Walpurgisnacht “The Night of The Witches” and The Lore of The Harz

Walpurgis or rather Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night) the eve of May day.  A seasonal high or holy tide that has been present in the customs in traditions of many European cultures from ancient times to even today.

In the Celtic world April 30-May 1 this was known as Beltane. For the ancient Celts this was one of the most sacred tides of the year.  For their two main tides were: “The end summer and the coming of winter.” Samhain which is now more commonly known as “Halloween” or “Hallow’s Eve.”   Along with the high-tide at the opposite end of the year  “The end of winter and the coming of summer.” Which was Beltane.  So as we can see Walpurgis or May Day is at the opposite end of the yearly wheel from Samhain or Winternachten as Midwinter and Midsummer solstices are to each other, the equinoxes, etc…

In the Nordic and Deutsch world May eve is known as Walpurgisnacht.  It’s interesting to note that in  modern Deutschland the holiday known as Halloween is not as a popular or widely celebrated as it is in maybe Western Europe or North America.                                   However, Walpurgisnacht and May Day seem to be virtually unknown (or not really communally observed on a large scale) in places like North America. However, it is without a doubt celebrated in Deutschland and in nearby regions.    In-fact throughout much of Europe the day holds much significance.   For example:  in modern Finland the day is known as Vappu. Vappu is one of the largest annual festivities in the nation.  Modern day Vappu celebrations in Finland mostly stem from the 1800’s more in theme of a “Labor day”  a holiday for university students and workers. Being one of those where typically everyone gets the day off work to enjoy carnival like celebrations.

Vappu (May Day) picnic in FinlandKaivopuisto_Vappu_picnic_2008

Although aside from the aspects of the contemporary Finish holiday which as a “Labor day” it’s roots only seem to go back to the 1800’s. Keep in mind this is only regarding the more contemporary aspects of it.   One thing to note is that “Vappu” essentially means or rather is the Finish word for Walpurgisnacht!

Getting it’s name from a Saint Walburga we can see how this is one of those examples of holidays that originated in heathen times but persisted throughout history.  The role and titles of ancient heathen deities taking on “Saint” titles.  It becomes rather obvious that this is a re-branding of a very old Germanic rite as such lore around Walburga and Walpurgisnacht carries heavy pre-Christian symbolism and overtones. Such as: Walburga being “chased” by The Wild Hunt.

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The wild hunt: Asgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo       *The Wild Hunt is a belief from pre-Christian Germanic era. Said to be lead by Wotan himself. As well in other versions the Germanic Goddess Frau Hold.*

Another major traditional and historic custom of this time is that of the Maypole. A large decorated wooden pole, decorated according to the seasonal tide a theme akin to what we see such things like the Weihnachtenbaum or Osterbaum. The tradition going back to ancient heathen times.  One that is very much still upheld in the present day in places like Bayern (Bavaria.)  In the there annual holiday literally known as “Maypole Day”  As I have observed myself having Bayerische in-laws the “Maibaum” is an old Germanic custom that is very well perserved in Bavarian culture.   Maypole day is considered a very important annual occasion.  You will not find a Bavarian village without this spring festivity. The Maibaum is typically made from a large tall pine tree.

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More about the customs and traditions surrounding the Maibaum in Bavaria here: http://www.bavaria.by/maypole-day-in-bavaria-germany

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Common Walpurgis and Mayday rituals and superstitions: 

Walpurgis like many other such seasonal tides is steeped in superstition and rituals pertaining to this day.  Some examples of such are:

~Washing one’s face in the morning dew on the first of May assured beauty.

~It was believed that if one wished to make contact with any sort of mystical spirit or being (like elves, trolls, ghosts, or even witches.) Walpurgis was one of those times to do it.  One such very practical method involved putting one’s clothes on inside out, walking to a crossroads backwards on midnight of Walpurgisnacht.

~As this was a time that was believed that spirits and spectres would be most active it was common custom to light bonfires on hill tops and various prominent points on the land to protect the area.

~The German tradition of the  Ankenschnitt is an offering of bread covered in butter and honey left out on Walpurgisnacht as a offering to the “Wind Hounds” as an offering of appeasement to assure the “howling hounds” of the winds would not damage one’s homestead or place throughout the year.

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~An Ankenschnitt offering of my own from a couple of years past. Left out on the balcony of the third-floor apartment I was residing in at the time. (Which was often subject to very intense winds during summer storms and seasonal changes.) Along with the Ankenschnitt offering is a glass enclosed candle that I crafted used as a luminary. The candle featured a depiction of  Frau Holle riding a goose (an animal sacred to her) through the skies.~

*As shown here:

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Mount Brocken or “The Blocksberg” and the Hexentanzplatz

And of course what article about Walpurgisnacht would be complete without the mention of the famed legendary Mt Brocken!

The Brocken is the highest peak of the Harz mountain range, as well as the highest peak in all of Northern Germany.

The Harz mountain range most specfically The Blocksberg (Brocken) is a place of many great legends of heathen-time themes and superstitions  ecspecially those regarding witchcraft and ecspecially pertaining to the tide of Walpurgisnacht or as it is also known as:  “Hexennacht”

According to legend Mt Brocken was said to be the place that witches flew to and congregated at annually on Walpurgisnacht.  As those of you who recall my blogpost about Easter Witches probably notice the similarity between this and the Swedish legend of witches flying to a mystical place known as Blåkulla.

However, where as the Blåkulla (a place that according to Swedish legend witches congregated at on “Maundy Thursday” ) is said to be a “mystical valley that can only be reached be magical flight.” The Blocksberg where the German legend of the Walpurgis congregation is a very literal and tangible place.

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Among the lore  regarding the Harz mountain range and Walpurgisnacht is as well a plateau in the range which is called the “Hexentanzplatz.”

Hexentanzplatz literally means “Witches Dance Floor.” According to German legends and folktales the coming of the warm season was marked “Frau Holda and her witches dancing away the snow.”  As well on the night of Walpurgis this witches congregated, danced, and had all manner of festivities in the Harz mountain range to celebrate the changing of the seasonal tide.

When further studying the history of the Hexentanzplatz we learn that this plateau was said to be an Old Saxon cult site.  At which on or around the night of May 1 the Saxon heathens gathered to celebrate and as well honour  a forest and mountain goddess known as the Hagedisen.

So essentially the night and tide known as Walpurgis!  So know we see and begin to understand: When observing and noticing the festivities of Deutsch people today, the Sachsen people who dress up as “witches” celebrating the Hexennacht which is now  known as The Night of Walpurgis we see that this is really a modern remnant of something much deeper and ancient that has been a part of their folk culture since always.  The pagan/heathen rites of their people have certainly not gone anywhere! Maybe changed names through the ages as well as themes. But the roots remain.

Where does this idea of witches “dancing away the snow” on Walpurgisnacht come from? Or rather who were the witches?  This idea comes from the seasonal rites of the ancient Saxon ancestors honouring the mountain forest goddess (Hagedisen) at the changing of tides into the warm spring and summer season. The witches? One could say:  These are the “spirits” of or rather how their most ancient ancestors are remembered and continue to be honoured.

 

~~~”We know that our forefathers very generally kept the beginning of May as a great festival, and it is still regarded as the trysting time of witches, i.e. once of wise-women and fays; who can doubt that heathen sacrifices blazed that day?” (Grimm v. II, p. 614)~~~

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