Sunday, January 7, 2018

Gedreier Eckhart - Germanic Psychopomp?

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Der Belsnickel

Tonight der Belsnickel visits many homes in the Deitscherei, and he keeps wandering through Yule.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

PARADE OF SPIRITS! (Krampuslauf Philadelphia)

This is the annual grassroots Parade of Spirits through the streets of Northern Liberties. Participants are highly encouraged to dress in appropriate "Dark Half of the Year" costumes.

This is a participatory event more than a spectator event. Interested folks are encouraged to come in costumes that reflect the Dark Half of the year, the scary characters of traditional lore of various cultures, or the shadow side of the self.

Gathering time starts at around 3:30 PM. Some folks put their costumes on in in the park; others arrive in costume. Parade kicks off at dusk.

The Heathen Contingent has a Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/729157620446604/

YULETIDE SOCK DRIVE

Socks are one of the most requested items at homeless shelters, but they are also one of the least-donated items.

From December 9, 2017 (Parade of Spirits) through January 1, 2017, Distelfink Sippschaft will be collecting new, unworn socks for folks in need.

We need all sizes, from baby to adult male. Practical socks, fun socks, fuzzy socks, holiday socks, argyle socks are all needed!

Stock up stacks of socks and stockings and help to bring warmth to the feet of those in need this Yuletide!

Contact Robert L. Schreiwer (schreiwer@urglaawe.org) for collection sites.

The first location will be at Parade of Spirits/Krampuslauf in Liberty Lands Park.

Donations will be directed to homeless shelters in the Delaware Valley.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Halliches Erntfescht

(or Erntdankfescht!)

The autumn equinox and surrounding days served as the time of the original Deitsch (and German, for that matter) Thanksgiving. We Urglaawer observe the equinox and celebrate the harvest as a community as close to the equinox as possible. The Schwenkfelders observe the thanksgiving on September 24, other localities hold it on different days, also often based on the equinox.

In Heathen times, communities pitched in to help to finish harvests, to trade different crops, and to tend to kin and neighbor so that everyone had a variety of foods to store for the winter. This is the root of the Harvest Home tradition, which continues in many churches today.

The establishment of a national Thanksgiving holiday was actually met with some resistance in Deitsch communities because we already had a thanksgiving observance that was placed at the time of the completion of the harvest. The end of November seemed to be an odd time to many people. The traditional harvests were well over by then, it was typically very cold, and, prior to the rise of modern transportation and grocery, people would be more likely conserving their food stores, outside of game, to ensure a supply to carry them through if Spring came late.

The Harvest Home church traditions nowadays take place all throughout September, but they are a legacy of the thanksgiving festival. Urglaawe groups hold thanksgiving festivals as close to the equinox as possible. All of these observances focus on spreading the wealth of the harvest around, most typically in the form of canned food donations to food shelters.

Over time, the national holiday in November has meshed well with traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods and has become part of our lives. However, it is good to keep our cultural traditions alive, too.

Most of us who were born after World War II are so accustomed to supermarkets having everything we could want all throughout the year that it is difficult to fathom the reliance on root cellars, springhouses, and cooperative efforts among neighbors. Jump back a few generations, when most food was grown locally, and it becomes easier to see why there would be a formal expression of gratitude for a successful harvest. We can capture a bit of the experience of our forebears by appreciating events like the end of the harvest.

Besides, it never hurts to have another day where we are a little more deliberate in our gratitude for the food that nourishes us. So, sometime this week, you may want to incorporate an extra expression of gratitude in the religious or philosophical context that resonates with you to the plants and the animals that feed us, to the farmers who produce the food, and to the transportation and outlets that make it available to us.

Let's make Erntfescht/Erntdankfescht a thing again in our communities!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day Note

OPENING RITUAL AND HARVEY DONATIONS:

Tomorrow's opening at 10:00 will be led by the Heathen community. We will call to a few deities in thanks for the bounty received this year. We will also call to Dunner/Thor and Holle to ask for their aid to the victims of Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

To that end, we will set up a cash container at the Welcome Tent to collect donations that we will send to a worthy charity, shelter, or response team in that region.

Looking forward to tomorrow! Hail!

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day
Clark Park
S. 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Saturday, September 2, 2017
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Rain or Shine