Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Der Grundsaudaag

Well folks, it’s that time of year again! Time for Punxsutawney Phil to stick his nose out (and hopefully not to get blasted by kinsman Rocky to become part of a Grundsaudaag Schmaus!). Unfortunately, the events in Punxsy are barely even a shadow of the various traditions on this observance, which is one of the largest Urglaawe holidays. Grundsaudaag is far beyond what most folks know Groundhog Day to be. In Urglaawe, there are (at least!) five major themes all coming together on that day.

1). The groundhog is similar to Ratatask, the squirrel that runs up and down Yggdrasil bringing news of the nine worlds. Thus, the groundhog is the otherworldly messenger. Anyone who is familiar with groundhog burrows knows that they are intricately designed with multiple openings. Our ancestors saw an analogy between the burrow and the Nine Worlds. The groundhog brings news and prognostication. For an agricultural people, the short-term weather is naturally something that the people would like to know, which is probably why that particular feature was passed on to the wider American culture.

2). The day of the celebration of feminine creative energies. Braucherei reports the day as being sacred to the “Hearth Goddess,” who naturally would be Frigg. The choice of this time for this observance is that we’re starting to see the first signs of the return of the fertility of the soil.

3). Akin to the second item is the creation of the Butzemann. The Butzemann is a scarecrow who is spiritually activated via a Braucherei ceremony called the Ceremony of the Corn. In Urglaawe, our ceremonies typically consist of Sege (blot), Schmaus (feast), and Sammel (sumble), but for Grundsaudaag, we add the Ceremony of the Corn in as well. Butzemenner are still widely used (beyond the typical scarecrow concept) in the Deitscherei (Pennsylvania Dutch Country). There are numerous superstitions surrounding the Butzemann, particularly that he must be burned by Allelieweziel (Halloween). It is considered the height of bad luck to leave a Butzemann after Allelieweziel. The results of doing so are the things that are used to frighten small children into staying in bed on Christmas Eve lest they be kidnapped by the Butzemann.

4). Also akin to Frigg is the cleaning of the hearth. On this day, we are to clean out our hearths, fireplaces, candleholders, or anything else that fire burns in (most particularly for heat, but since many folks don’t have fireplaces anymore, adjusting with candles keeps with the spirit of the tradition). The fire is to be rekindled with birch (also sacred to Frigg). The rune Berkano is featured in conjunction with the birch.

5). Tradition holds that the first travelers with Holle and Wodan on the Furious Host (Wild Hunt) begin to return to the land at this time, if the groundhog predicts an early end to winter. The belief in Braucherei is that this is the time in which the veil between the physical and spiritual realms is almost as thin as it is on Allelieweziel, so it’s considered an advantageous time to interact with ancestors and to help trapped or lost souls to cross over. Most Urglaawer believe in a life-death-rebirth cycle rather than the Valhalla lore to the north. My sense is that Braucherei, as an Elder tradition, brought forth the rebirth concepts from a time prior to the Valhalla/Folkvang/Ragnarok concepts development to the north (or perhaps the lore did not reach our ancestors in the south or our ancestors did not retain it). Also, as a primarily agricultural people, the life-death-rebirth cycle is so engrained in both the collective conscious and the collective unconscious that it is culturally relevant. While we do believe in the Doom of the Gods, most Urglaawer do not believe that the souls of those who died in battle go to Valhalla to await Ragnarok. Instead, the cosmic day and cosmic night cycles will run and the universe will end with the battle between the deities and their foes. Urglaawe is not centralized, so beliefs do vary from person to person, so your beliefs certainly may vary. Heck, none of us will know till we die anyway... Heh... Though my work using Braucherei’s journeying method (time-cord work) has supported the Urglaawe view, but I guess cultural context does matter and different practitioners using different methods can find results that support their path’s beliefs. There’s room for us all. :)

All this is jam-packed into one day...

Macht’s immer besser!