Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hundsholz - Dogwood

In full bloom right now are the beautiful Dogwood trees (Deitsch: es Hundsholz or die Kornelkasch; tax: Cornus spp.). The most commonly encountered dogwood species in the Deitscherei is Cornus florida. Most people think that the four large yellowish bracts (Deitsch: Draagbledder) are the flowers, but the true Dogwood flowers (Deitsch: Hundsblumme) are the small yellow-green clusters in the center of the bracts. 



Dogwood is one of the Nine Sacred Herbs of Braucherei. It is one of the Three of Wood, though its medicinal and spiritual uses are not limited to the woody parts of the tree.

Medicinally, the primary uses have been to use the bark of the tree as a remedy for fever (Deitsch: Fiewer, Hitz), malaria (es Kaltfiewer), scarlet fever (Schallach) and typhus and typhoid fever. Brendle & Unger (89) describe that,
"No distinction was made between typhoid and typhus. Two forms of this type of fever were, however, recognized: typhoid of the head and typhoid of the body. The former was sometimes referred to as Haernfiewer,  which is to be distinguished from cerebral meningitis and mastoiditis which are haernentzinding" (Haernentzinding is "brain fever").
They continue:
Beesfiewer, apparently, is quite definitely restricted to typhoid types. Naervefiewer... means neurosis, nervous fever. The term, however, was more generally used for typhoid fever. 
Other terms that cover typhus or typhoid are Hitzichgrankheet ("hot sickness") and Schleichfiewer ("sneaking fever" or walking typhoid).

Each of these fevers is believed, even today, to have a "breaking day," and they are days with uneven numbers, particularly three, five, seven, and nine.

Regarding the use of Dogwood decoctions, Brendle & Unger write (91):
"Among the English it is customary in case of fever to receive from the doctor powdered china, or, in English, Jesuits' bark, and it proves beneficial in many cases.

'This powder they, likewise, recommend to their German neighbors and its benefits many, but it is very expensive because it is brought from China. In Pennsylvania, it can be gotten gratis for it is the bark of the root of the tree called ironwood or dogwood, the English name Dackwood. It is good for use the whole year through, but in spring with the sap ascends it is most easily peeled off and is most powerful.'"
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.

Decoctions of the bark (Hundsrinn) are said to aid with hemorrhoids. Tinctures of leaf or bark applied to the skin can reduce eczema and other skin conditions. Decoctions of Dogwood leaves are said to kill ringworm, and the fruit added into teas can aid with diarrhea. Poultice of the bark can aid with external ulcers or sores. Hundsbeere (dogberries) also have some antimicrobial, and liver-protecting properties, and the herb can be used as a natural emetic.

Spiritually speaking, shavings or cuttings of the bark may be worn in any form or carried as amulets, and the bark, bracts, or the flowers may be burned to break hexes.

Note: There is a Verbot or taboo on the cutting of Dogwood for decorative purposes. The sacredness of this plant requires that it be available to those in need in as much quantity as is needed. Dogwood may be cut as offerings to deity but not to ancestor or land spirit; it is better to leave the tree intact in the latter cases.

Resource

Brendle, Thomas R. and Claude W. Unger. Folk Medicine of the Pennsylvania GermansProceedings of the Pennsylvania German Society 45. Norristown, PA, 1935.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bettseecher - Dandelion

You know who I am, but do you really know me? I am Dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale.


Chemical companies reap profits hand over fist by telling you I am an enemy. Even some of the many names for me elicit giggles from their literal meanings. In Deitsch, I am known by several names: Bettseecher ("bed-pisser"), Pissebett ("piss-the-bed"), and the less onerous Biddre-Selaat ("bitters-salad"), Hinkelselaat ("chicken salad"), and Kiehlblumm ("cool flower"). 

These names belie my nature. Folklore reveals my noble roots. I am the child of Sunna and Muun. The rays of my mother and the reflected beams from my father tell me where to grow. When I am young, I look like my mother, beaming in radiant yellow. When I age, I take on my father's features, appearing as a grayish globe until I set my seeds to the wind. My spirit is said to aid in calming anxiety and in attracting the attention of land spirits.

I am of the tribe called Cichorieae, where my extended family includes Chicory/Succory (Deitsch: Andivdi or Ungaarischer Selaat; tax: Chicorium intybus), with whom I share many herbal properties. In fact, Deitsch herbalist Christopher Sauer (310-313) lists me under the header of Succory in his botanical because our properties were considered to be so similar. I am cool and dry in my nature, and Sauer cites these aspects as being helpful in remedying inflammation of the liver, a function for which my root is best known. 

As I appear in the spring, it is tradition in many parts of the Deitscherei to gather my leaves and flowers for a traditional salad that is prepared with a hot bacon dressing. Christians consume this salad on Griener Dunnerschdaag (Maundy Thursday) or Easter, and Urglaawer at Oschdre... and many Deitsch eat it throughout the season. This salad is a Spring Tonic, helping to remove toxins by stimulating the gallbladder, the liver, and the kidneys. 

Speaking of the kidneys, my most common Deitsch name does reveal the fact that I am a diuretic, which can help to reduce blood pressure by reducing the volume of fluid within the body.

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.

Among my other uses are treatments for constipation, gallstones (Galleschtee), acne, psoriasis (Schuppeflocke), eczema, edema/swollen ankles, insomnia, and other ailments. Wine made from me has long been used as a cure for colds (Folklore Fragments 118).

My root has been worn as an amulet to protect against cataracts (Brendle & Unger 124), and tea from my root is said to help one's nerves (Lick & Brendle 73).

Despite my astonishing array of medicinal and self-maintenance, though, humans continue to treat me like I am harming them with my very presence in their yards. Take some time to get to know me, and you may find I have a lot to offer you!

Resources

Brendle, Thomas R. and Claude W. Unger. Folk Medicine of the Pennsylvania Germans. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania German Society 45. Norristown, PA, 1935.

Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, p. 141 New York: Dorling and Kindersley, 2000.

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

Folklore Fragments. Keystone Folklore Quarterly 9, 1964.

Lick, David E. and Thomas R. Brendle. Plant Names and Plant Lore among he Pennsylvania Germans. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania German Society 33. Norristown, PA, 1922.

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Der Daabnessel

Do not sell me short!




I am Purple Deadnettle, also known as Archangel, known in Deitsch as Daabnessel (which in modern Deitsch literally means "deaf nettle" but "daab" carries a second meaning of "barren" or "dead"; therefore, dead nettle, with the reference being to the lack of the sting), and by the taxonomic name of Lamium purpureum.

Although my name says "nettle," I am not related to the amazing plant, Urtica dioica or other "true" nettles. Instead, my squarish stem will serve as a clue about which family I am truly in. I am a mint. I may not smell as pleasant as Spearmint or Peppermint, but I have some of the same medicinal properties as they do.



I am an astringent, a diuretic, and a purgative. I carry within me antioxidants, Vitamin C, and flavonoids such as quercetin. I have been shown to have some effectiveness against e. coli (see your doctor if you suspect this!), and my essential oil contains Germacrene D, which gives me antimicrobial properties.

I may be a little tough to eat in a salad, though people do make use of my generous self. More commonly, though, I am consumed as a tea, often alongside other early spring greens.

I flower early in the year, thus providing a food source for mammals and insects. Despite the fact that Germacrene D also has insecticidal properties, other aspects of my being attract some insects as well. I am one of those plants whose seeds have elaiosomes, which ants love to eat. They take my seeds and help to scatter them, thus reminding us of the Zusaagpflicht or sacred duty that exists among plants, animals, and humans.

I have some traditional (and not necessarily happy!) lore associated with me among the Deitsch (Pennsylvania Germans or Pennsylvania Dutch).

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.

In this day and age, chemical companies tell you that I am nothing but a blight on your lawns and encourage you to poison me. By doing so, you are also poisoning the insects and animals that feed off me and dumping the poison into your soil and your water supply. I know I am persistent and I go to seed before most people even start to mow their grass, but turning the soil will usually cause me to look elsewhere for a home. If the lawn is something that you enjoy, thick turf will often discourage me from moving in to begin with.

-------

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. As always, your health is your responsibility. Consult with a doctor before using any herbal remedy or preventative.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Frith Forge and Germany Sacred Sites Tour



Frith Forge is the space and time on an international level to build alliances, understanding, and friendships among us instead of compartmentalizing further in an industrialized world. Lets learn from each other with respect for one another, and in frith instead of in isolation. Together we can enjoy this opportunity to discuss inclusion in religion and to promote cultural, religious, and educational exchange.

Frith Forge
October 6-8, 2017
KiEZ Inselparadies Petzow
Zum Inselparadies 9-12
14542 Werder/Petzow
Germany

Each organization that will be represented at this conference will have featured presentation time. All attendees are invited to submit paper summaries of presentations they would like to give to IREP@thetroth.org. We encourage vendors/organizations to set up a table. There will be time for lectures, group discussion, workshops, ritual, and more!

There will be a strong Urglaawe presence at Frith Forge, and the Sacred Sites tour will visit locations  in Germany that are very much of interest to the Urglaawe communities.

Early arrivals may join us for unstructured meet and greet time starting October 5th.

The conference is immediately followed by the Sacred Sites of Germany tour, which runs from October 8-14, 2017. Pre-registration is underway between now and March 31 for the tour. The conference and the tour are separate (but related) events, so you may participate in one, the other, or both!


Information on each event is available on the Frith Forge website:

http://events.thetroth.org/frith-forge/2017

Hope to see you in Germany!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Der Luul, the Defender of the Tender Greens

Drawing on some information previously posted here on this blog, Deitsch Mythology presents the fractured story of der Luul. Der Luul is a mysterious and little-known figure, who may have roots in the Frankish lore of the god Lollus. Lollus was honored with grapes, ears of corn, and wreaths of poppies (Deitsch: Flatterros, Maach, Mohn; tax: Papaver).

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.