Sunday, February 19, 2017

Beans for Offerings; Bee Stings (Iemschtachel)

One of Braucherei's most traditional offerings to the land spirits (or to the land itself) consists simply of three beans. The beans can be of any type, though Amish Nuttle (pdc: Gnoddelbuhn or Gnuddelbuhn), Great Northern and Kidney are among those commonly used historically.

The beans may be offered anytime, but there are instances in Braucherei when you have an obligation to present an offering. These instances typically occur when you cause any sort of disruption or disturbance to the land. These disturbances include digging, planting, harvesting, weeding, clearing brush from hiking trails, mowing the grass, pruning bushes, and more. The offering shows respect for the land spirits (plus we now know that there is the added benefit of nitrogen fixation!), so most Brauchers always have beans on hand as a traditional offering.

However, Braucherei does allow for alternates in circumstances in which the beans may take root and cause disturbance to the plants' natural habitat. In these cases, the offerer should lick his or her thumb and leave an imprint on the plant leaves, on the ground, or on a rock near the plant to which the offering is going. Hair may also be offered, but some there is a Verbot against the offering of fingernails or toenails in these situations, and many practitioners include hair in the Verbot. 

Many practitioners have a dedicated "bean jar" that they keep with their gardening or farm equipment. Many also have a small bag or pouch that they take with them wherever they go. This comes in handy when one needs to give an offering, though one may also need to consider safety, too.

For example, one of my students and I were each stung by something tiny that swarmed when another teacher brought down a cracked branch from a tree. None of us was sure what had stung us, but sweat bees (pdc: Schwitzieme) had been seen in the area earlier. 

Since I am allergic to the sting, removed the stinger (which was almost invisible) and I headed toward the school's nurse's office. Along the way, I scooped up some nearby plantain (in this case, it was Broadleaf Plantain; pdc:  Wegdredde or Seiohre; tax: Plantago major, but Narrowleaf Plantain (pdc: Wegerich; tax: Plantago lanceolata) would work just as well). I took two leaves of the plantain, put them in my mouth, and chewed on them until the flavor of the plant's juices became strong. Then I slapped the macerated leaves directly onto the sting site to help to draw the venom out. 

After I had received proper medical attention, my thoughts turned to the disturbed tree branch and the plantain that may have helped me to avoid a bigger problem. The plantain was far enough away from the site of the incident so I was able to express my gratitude and to drop three beans easily enough. However, I was not about to get too close to the tree and potentially invite another sting. Thus, I stood as close as I comfortably could, expressed regret to the tree for the disturbance, and tossed the beans into the grass not too far from the tree.

Thus, in an emergency, do what you have to do to provide treatment to yourself or others, seek out medical treatment, and then return to address offerings later. If a plant has provided you with a healing remedy, though, every effort should be undertaken to return to the plant to give the offering. The healing medium was a gift from the plants, and a return gift is the proper response in Braucherei, Urglaawe, and Heathenry in general. If you are unable to return safely to the site, the offering may be given to a different plant of the same species or added to a fire with an expression of gratitude.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Double Elderberry!

The double elderberry is the Deitsch equivalent to the four-leafed clover.

Finding it in a harvest is said to bring about eighteen times the luck that comes from the normal careful harvesting of elderberries, and consuming it brings about eighteen times the luck of a normal elderberry. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An Urglaawe Response to the Pulse Massacre

The question has arisen on the main Urglaawe group about how to honor those murdered in the Pulse Massacre. I am thinking this is a time to make use of our color associations. Perhaps six candles:

Red: Representing the blood spilled, calling to Ziu for justice and to Dunner for courage and strength.

Orange: A request to the deities, to the ancestors (our own and those of the victims), to each other, and to ourselves to attain the energy needed to surmount the polarization and hatred that is consuming this world.

Yellow: Our response needs to be appropriately angered, but our love of humanity must be victorious over these hateful actions.

Green: For the growth and expansion of messaging and ideas that toward putting an end to this sort of terror.

Blue: A call for peace and consolation to those who loved the victims.

Violet: Appeal to the sacred and to the things that connect us because, as much as our humanity is what got us into this world plight, it will be our humanity that gets us out.

Per Urglaawe funerary rites, one may also want to get some seeds or something to represent the victims, then wrap the seeds up in four pieces of paper or cloth of different colors. Say the name of a victim while adding each seed.

The first would be red. Set each seed onto a red sheet. The color and action represents the loss of life and blood and the journey to death. Draw a Raidho rune on the red paper pack with the seeds inside.

Then take the red pack and wrap it in yellow-green. Draw the Yaahr/Jera rune on the now yellow-green pack. This represents the commending of the bodies back to nature.

Then take the pack and wrap it in black. Draw the Kenaz rune on it. This represents the Higher Self's journey through The Mill.

Take the pack and wrap it in white. Draw Ingwaz on the pack. This represents the rebirth of those lost into new soul constructs. 

Respectfully place the pack into a sacred fire, asking for Holle to bless the lost.

After that, perhaps add an uncounted number of seeds to a pack formed from purple cloth or paper. Draw the Mannaz rune on that pack, and add it to the fire along with pleads to Ziu, Zisa, and Dunner to aid the victims' loved ones.

I am going to work this into our Dingsege on Saturday. Perhaps if everyone performed the same -- or a related -- ritual at the same time (say, 2:30 PM EDT locally), we can strengthen our cause. 

Feel free to make this idea viral. Perhaps this virus can combat the virus of hate, destruction, and despair that is becoming an epidemic throughout the world.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Es Meliesegraut

One of the "biggies" is now starting to come up. Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm, known in Deitsch as Meliesegraut, is a great antiviral in the mint family. It also makes a delicious tea that is uplifting to the mind, body, and spirit. The plant is very prolific and will spread rapidly, but it yields a surprisingly small amount of essential oil if put through a still.

I have mentioned Lemon Balm in a few articles in the past, but this lovely little plant is due for its own article at some point, soon. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Observing the Early Greens

Various observances surrounding the appearances of new life, planting, and harvesting were/are common among the Deitsch folks, and these are becoming more popular within the Urglaawe community.

We've really only begun to get some of these described. One that would be about this time would be an observance of the early greens. This is the observance in which the "entity" Luul is said to protect the young greens and seedlings. The information on this is scant historically, but there are some dots that can be connected to Lullus/Lollus, about whom we had a larger discussion in the past.

Among the greens that I'd place into this category, at least in this general area, would be Dead Nettles  (Deitsch: Daabnessel; tax: Lamium purpureum), Ground Ivy (Deitsch: die Grundelrewe; tax: Glechoma hederacea), Chickweed (Deitsch: Hinkeldarrem; tax: Stellaria media), Cuckooflower (also called Pennsylvania Bittercress or Lady's Smock;  Deitsch: Schtruwwlichi Nans; tax: Cardamine pensylvanica and related species). There are, of course, others.

There are medicinal uses for all of these, but among the more esoteric uses are the following:

Purple Deadnettle: A strong stand of Purple Deadnettle appearing in the Fall is said to divine a mild winter. Also, if someone is very ill, then the urine of that person is to be collected at night and poured onto Purple Deadnettles. If the Deadnettles were yellow or dying the next morning, then the ailing person should be expected to die from the current ailment. If the Purple Deadnettles were still green, then the person would be expected to overcome the ailment.

Ground Ivy: Sewn into the seams of skirts, this plant is said to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Also, wreaths of Ground Ivy worn by elderly women around the waist while dancing on Walpurgisnacht/Wonnenacht are said to ward off old age. Similar stories apply to elderly men and women wearing wreaths on the head while dancing around the Midsummer fire. Also, this is one of the Nine Sacred Herbs of Braucherei.

Chickweed: Said via various methods to divine one's love or to attract love. I am not familiar with most of the methods, but one is similar to picking the leaves off of daisies. If you know chickweed, I am sure you can imagine the challenge presented in picking the petals off of the flowers. Perhaps more "Old World," though, is an odd practice that involves feeding a food chicken chickweed three days before it is to be cleaned and dressed, and then divining things from the entrails. The Deitsch name for the plant, Hinkeldarrem, does indeed mean "chicken guts," but most folks ascribe that to the often messy appearance of the plant.

Cuckooflower: Said to be sacred to any number of faeries and land spirits, likely because of the plant's quick, widespread appearance and the volume of seeds.

All of these can also be used alone or in combination with other herbs to detect witches, remove/block curses, and a couple of them can be used in actually casting curses...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Requirements for Butzemann Construction

From the Urglaawe Customs Guild. Note that there will be a follow-up post in the next few days with some advisories on plants (do not put Elder in a Butzemann).

Context: A Butzemann is a scarecrow that is spiritually activated in a Braucherei ritual called the Kannsege (Ceremony of the Corn). Typically this happens on or around Groundhog Day. The Butzemann is ideally created from the remnants of the prior years crops or plants, and he then becomes the figurative father and defender of the coming year's crops. The Kannsege is a sacred, shamanic rite that has been practiced since time immemorial.

Even many people who do not know Braucherei or the contents of the Kannsege will erect a scarecrow to fill this role, putting their intentions into this special scarecrow to help to ensure success for both the landowner and the evolutionary course of the plants themselves.

This ritual and the entire context of the way one interacts with the Butzemann represents an old understanding that we are part of this physical world. We do not have dominion over it but are instead   in an interdependent relationship with the plants and animals around us. As such, there are requirements that must be fulfilled in the making of a Butzemann as well as afterwards, including the swearing of an oath to release him from his obligations no later than Allelieweziel (sundown October 30 through sundown October 31).


Folks who are planning to build a Butzemann may want to start the planning and preparation now.

It occurred to me that I probably never described the typical requirements of the physical Butzemann, so I am going to do this now.

Since he is a scarecrow until his spiritual activation in the Kannsege (Ceremony of the Corn), you can use any scarecrow pattern, size, etc. in the construction. Because I am artistically-challenged, I usually get hold of a muslin doll shell (AC Moore and Michael's have them). This year, though, I am again going to aspire to a larger Butzemann.

He can be as simple or as ornate as you wish him to be. The minimal requirements are the following:
  • He must be given clothes, and they are to belong to him and must be burned along with him later in the year. At a minimum, he should have a shirt, pants, and something to cover his head (typically a straw hat or similar).

  • He should have some sort of representation of eyes, ears, nose and mouth. The features can be drawn on or fashioned into the structure (holes, embedded items, etc.).

  • He must be given a heart (this always makes me think of a character mis-assignment from the Wizard of Oz). The heart may be a paper cut-out. Some folks use an acorn or other seeds or nuts to represent the heart. Most folks I know also put in Zauberzettel (charm tickets) that are blessings written on paper and built into him. They can be one word (the intention is imbued into the paper when you are writing the word or words) or a small prayer. Common themes are love, security, bounty, gratitude, etc.

  • He must have some representation of the plant life on the turf that he will be responsible for. While most of us try to construct him completely from remnants of the last growing season, even a simple blade of grass will meet the requirement. If you don't have a garden or a lawn, get an indoor plant and put a leaf or two into him while you construct him. The leaf of a nearby tree will suffice; just be sure to remember to include that tree when walking the perimeter with the Butzemann after he is activated. The rest of the body may then be filled with materials procured elsewhere (just be sure it will be safe to burn).

  • He must be given a name. Some of us have names in mind during creation; others wait to see what comes up during the Kannsege. One or two of us had a name in mind but had to change it at the Kannsege.

  • He must have a designated spot where he will be posted. It can be a perch, a chair, or, if you are going to have an indoor Butzemann, even a spot on a shelf (think "Elf on a Shelf" with shamanic tendencies. :)

  • This is not required, but I usually draw runes on his hands and his feet and insert them on charm tickets. Typical runes are Jera, Ingwaz, Othala, Ansuz, Berkano, and Laguz. After some consideration, I am also going to include Mannaz. While it is a rune that reflects humanity, human awareness, and human evolution, plants and animals are also on their own evolutionary courses, and our successes are all tied one to another.

  • There is no set requirement for the date of construction or for the Kannsege to take place. Most folks aim to do it at Groundhog Day (anytime during Entschtanning (sundown Feb 1 through sundown Feb 12) is fine. Even later if need be. I personally would usually advise that the Braucherei guild that retained the most detail (Palmerton-Harrity in Carbon County, PA), and their tradition holds that it would be best if the Butzemann were activated prior to sundown on May 12 so that the Butzemann can witness Dunner battling the giant Dreizehdax. This way, they say, the Butzemann will be able to train to fight threats spiritually and to join the Butzemann army of plant spirits (these stories and the insights about plant spirits can get pretty mind-blowing).

  • Once the shell is constructed, he is just a scarecrow (Lumbemann). The Kannsege is the last step to awaken the plant spirits within the shell, and he then becomes a Butzemann.

  • The rest of the process is described in a file called "Kannsege adapted 1.01.pdf" in the Files section of the Urglaawe Customs Guild group. We'll be looking at that file to make any updates.
This whole process is very much about connection and interdependence among plants, humans, and animals. It is also about the connection to the land wights (Landwichde) and the synergy that arises from understanding ourselves as belonging to physical and spiritual existence rather than trying to set ourselves above the world around us.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Angelica - Engelwatzel

Angelica (pdc: die Engelwatzel, die Engelwarzel, die Angelige; tax: Angelica archangelica) is a very pretty herb. It has a history among the Deitsch as a culinary herb, used frequently as candied stems or jellies in pastries and other confections. The seeds were used to flavor cordials and gin. It can also be used as a seasoning much like ground fennel. It has an association with breaking hexes and is an ingredient in an old Deitsch remedy for hysterics. Historically it is used to combat colic (pdc: der Kollick), indigestion, gas, poor circulation, and respiratory conditions. 

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. Feverfew may thin the blood, so people on blood thinners should be careful with its use. Also, as the herb is used in inducing menstruation, pregnant women should avoid using this herb. As always, your health is your responsibility. Consult with a doctor before using any herbal remedy or preventative.

One of Sauer's (pp. 41-42) recipes from America's first book of botanic healing:

"Take a loth each of anglica root, avens root, root of butter burr, holy thistle, the leaves of betony, and juniper berries, and half a loth of wormwood, and chop it all up very fine. Put this in a large vessel and pour double-rectified brandy over it until it covers the mass by the breadth of a finger. Stop it up carefully and let it infuse fourteen days. Then pour off the brandy and wring out the herb mixture in a cloth to extract all the remaining juices. Keep this infusion for future use in a well-sealed glass container. Take one-half or a full teaspoonful in the morning before breakfast. This is excellent for all manner of cold disorders of the stomach, and for gripes brought on by chills. It also drives for worms and protects against contagion and pestilential fevers."

Avens: es Flaxneggeli,es Hechelgraut, Geum urbanum
Butterbur:  Peschtwatzel, Petasites vulgaris
Holy Thistle: Gaardedistel, Gsegendi Dischdel, der Gaardebenedikt, Cnicus benedictus
Wood Betony: Lewesgraut, Betonie, Stachys officinalis
Juniper Berry: die Wachhollerbeer, Juniperus communis
Wormwood: der Warmet, Artemisia absinthium

Loth.... There is one of those old measurements... Known as "Lood" (said similarly to "load") in Deitsch, it is roughly equivalent to 16 grams.


There is plenty of lore around Angelica's ability to break hexes. The most common method is adding the herb, fresh or dried, to one's bath. Sprinkling the herb along the perimeter of one's property is said to eject unwanted energies. Appealing to the spirit of the plant can result not only in the removal of curses but in protection against the future words of the one casting the curse.

Interestingly, Sauer (41) also provides a recipe for breaking injuries caused by witchcraft:

"It has been discovered through everyday use that angelica provides a particularly good remedy for injuries brought about by witchcraft. When a person is a victim of such unnatural afflictions, the following potion has proved especially effective. Take half a handful each of the leaves of angelica, devil's bit, the topmost sprigs of Saint-John's-wort, periwinkle, Venus's goldilocks, and mugwort. These herbs should be chopped fine and put into a large pewter flask with two quarts of fresh springwater and a quart of white wine. Bring this to a boil in a kettle of hot water. Once the infusion has boiled up, let it cool. When cold, open the flask, but not before, lest the properties of the herbs disperse into the air. Strain this through a cloth and administer it warm to the victim, six loths per dose, morning and evening."

Devil's Bit (en): pdc: die Schpellekisseblumm, der Deiwelbiss, tax: Scabiosa succisa
St. John's Wort: pdc: es Hexegraut, es Geesgraut, es Hannesgraut, tax: Hypericum perforatum
Periwinkle: pdc: die Sinnebledder, tax: Vinca minor
Venus's Goldilocks: pdc: es Goldlockichmoos, tax: Polytrichum juniperum
Mugwort: pdc: Aldi Fraa, tax: Artemisia vulgaris

Weaver, William Woys. "Sauer's Herbal Cures: America's First Book of Botanic Healing." New York: Routledge, 2001.