Sunday, November 30, 2014

Southernwood/Alder Mann

Last month I had posted about rooting some herbs in water. The Southernwood is now in its own pot and growing very nicely. Thus, today I'd like to honor this little plant by writing something about its place in Deitsch folklore.

Southernwood (Deitsch: Alder Mann or Aldermannschtock; tax: Artemisia abrotanum) has several traditional uses. Among them is as a tea for the treatment of overall debility or weakness (Deitsch: Schweche (Lick & Brendle 38-39)). According to an old "superstition" of the Deitsch (Fogel 173 #1428), "Epper as mit Gramp behafft iss, soll maryets uffschteh, nix schwetze, un nausgeh un en Aldermannschtock blanze." The translation: One who is beset by cramps should get up in the morning, say nothing, and go and bland southernwood."

Sauer (Weaver 299) states that Southernwood has the capacity "to dissolve remarkably, to oppose all poison and corruption, to heal the poison bites of scorpions (Skorpionbiss) and spiders (Schpellebiss), to kill worms, and to open blockages of the liver (die Lewwer), spleen (die Milz), and matrix (die Zelle)."

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. The aerial parts of Solomon's Seal can  be toxic when consumed internally. Please consult with a licensed medical professional.

Typically, it is the aerial parts that are used, but Sauer (Weaver 299) states that the pulverized root when occasionally drunk in half a quint of white wine will kill all types of stomach worms (Warem; Mitesser). Regarding the term Mitesser, Brendle and Unger (179) state that they were (and still are to some degree) regarded as devouring elves (Elben or Elwe) or goblins, or they were considered to be bewitched worms, small worms, or maggots. There is also a belief that the Mitesser is (or causes) sebaceous material in the pores of the skin or the material within black-head pimples. Currently, the term refers more specifically to the intestinal tapeworm, which also carries some of the same lore regarding the appearance of pimples or poor skin.

Sauer also recommends a quint of white wine infused with Southernwood leaves and a little saltpeter to aid in kidney stones (Niereschtee). Sauer (Weaver 300) also says that the distilled water of Southernwood will help to "heal sores in the privates" if a cloth is dipped into it and laid upon the hurt. If distilled Southernwood water is combed with some grated nutmeg, it will "get rid of the cold evil (strangury; Deitsch: Niereweh) and promote a forceful piss."

Another use for Southernwood is as an insect and vermin repellent. Lick and Brendle (38) state that the leaves strewn in the cupboard will repel ants. Sauer (Weaver 300) states that planting Southernwood will keep away snakes. Where snakes currently are found, the dried leaves of Southernwood can be laid on hot coals to make a fumigant.

There is some association in Hexerei between Wudan and Southernwood. This association may be a reflection of the plant's Deitsch name (Alder Mann = Old Man), or it could be the other way around. Another possibility is that the link was created to Wudan because of Mugwort's (Adli Fraa = Old Woman) connection to Holle. In the Urglaawe context, Southernwood is masculine and carries qualities of the Air element. It makes an appropriate herb for honoring Wudan.


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

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

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. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Some Late Growing-Season Chores

One of the saddest times of the year for me personally is the end of the growing season. The waning strength of the plants and the gradual disappearance of the bees and butterflies is a little depressing. However, there are still quite a few plants that are still growing, and some, such as fall Chrysanthemums, are just beginning to burst with color. Others, such as Maypop Passionflower, are now bearing ripe, tasty fruit.

Many folks are in the process of putting up preserves and canning. Unfortunately, those are not areas in which I am well versed. For me, this time just before the killing frost is when I collect cuttings to set new plants. I begin with the tender plants that are not likely to survive the winter. Among them are Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Gotu Kola, and Holy Basil. 

I also take cuttings from herbs that I use frequently, whether medicinally, ceremonially or in Braucherei. Among those are Marjoram, Elder, Horehound, Dotted Mint, Hyssop, Lemon Balm, and Southernwood. I will be adding more until the Frost Giants overtake the gardens.

Some of these cuttings are to produce plants to go in the spring to the Lüsch-Müsselman Graabhof, where I plan to put down larger herb gardens in honor of the ancestors. Others may be dispersed to family, friends, or kinfolk to help to bolster their gardens.

Many sites, such as Mother Earth Living, have articles advising how to root cuttings in water or in soil. I generally use rain water, but I have successfully rooted quite a few plants in the soil, particularly when using a tea made of Willow or Meadowsweet to aid in the root growth. The water, though, is easier for me at this time of year. I do have a greenhouse window with a grow light, but the space is small for the number of plants I am planning to grow. When their roots get large enough, I will transplant them into pots.

I encourage folks to try expanding their access to plants or to their gardens by using cuttings. Spiritually speaking, it is a rewarding and meaningful way of honoring your plants. Practically speaking, it can save you money on purchasing year after year the plants that are tender in your hardiness zone.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Clary Sage / Ludersalwei for Lipoma / Fettichgschwulscht

Ludersalwei- Source: Wikimedia Commons
This remedy is one that I am currently experimenting with for myself. Now that I have seen some success with it, I decided to write about it.

Unfortunately, I have a genetic predisposition toward the development of lipomas, also called fatty tumors in English. The Deitsch term for "fatty tumor" is der Fettichgschwulscht.

Although lipomas are not, in most instances, dangerous, they can be uncomfortable and unsightly. In the past, I have had a number of these removed surgically. These days, I have been experimenting with different combinations of herbs. The current combination has been working well, and I am attributing much of this success to the new player in the regimen. 

The earlier players in the regimen are Milk Thistle Phytosome, Bio-Curcumin Phytosome (Turmeric Root Extract), and Apple Cider Vinegar. 

Milk Thistle: Deitsch - der Millichdistel, der Millichdischdel; Tax: Silybum marianum
Turmeric: Deitsch - die Blutwatzel; Tax: Curcuma longa

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. The aerial parts of Solomon's Seal can  be toxic when consumed internally. Please consult with a licensed medical professional.

These are all very powerful and effective herbs or natural products for numerous reasons. However, I had not really noticed a reduction in the size of a couple of lipomas that were of particular concern to me. 

Last week, I strained a tincture of Clary Sage (tax: Salvia sclarea). This herb has several names in Deitsch, none of which seems to have a prominence over the others. Among the names are Glaarersalwei (clear sage), Muschgatelsalwei (muscatel sage), Glaaresaag (clear eye), and the one that I prefer: Ludersalwei (carrion sage). 

The reason I prefer that name is because, quite honestly, the plant reeks when cut or even when mussed up. When harvested, it also can leave a resin on the skin that carries the odor with it. Some people really like the plant's scent, but I am not crazy about it. However, I am very fond of this plant's power.

This plant is in the Lamiaceae, or mint family. It is the largest mint that I have ever grown in my garden. It takes up a lot of space. It can grow to three feet tall, and the main stems of the plant can be 3/4" thick.    Here in PA, the plant is biennial, and its aerial parts are harvested in the second year.

A young Ludersalwei
Because of the large space requirements of the plant, I did not plan on growing it this year. However, I have found that a few plants have self-seeded in pots on my deck, and I am happy to let them grow there. I wish I had pictures of the plants that grew here before. The flowers were stunning, and the size was incredible. However, for now I will have to share a picture sourced from Wikimedia Commons and for a picture of one of the small plants I found in a pot outside. 

So, here is how I am currently using the tincture of this herb. I have added the tincture to a light cream base that serves as a carrier into the skin. This is not a very scientific way of doing it at this stage, but it is still experimental. I take the cream mixture with me to work or wherever I go, and I apply it liberally to the affected sites as many times a day as I am able to. When I am home, I also follow the application of the cream up with a direct application of the tincture to the affected site. Please note the disclaimer below.

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. The aerial parts of Solomon's Seal can  be toxic when consumed internally. Please consult with a licensed medical professional. CLARY SAGE SHOULD BE AVOIDED WHILE PREGNANT, AND THE ESSENTIAL OIL SHOULD NEVER BE TAKEN INTERNALLY.

I have been using it consistently for a week on four sites. The lipomas have become softer and smaller, with one almost disappearing. The largest one is half of its original size. Since I am now noting success personally with this herb, I plan to create salves and creams that contain it. I should mention that the tincture and the cream do not smell as bad as, in my opinion, the plant does.

I frequently will utilize Braucherei incantations with the application of the herb. A link to the relevant charms will be added here when a respective article is posted on

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy Walpurgisnacht!

The time for cleaning up the garden is in full swing!

For more views on the local Heathen flavor of this holiday via the Urglaawe perspective, please see the post on titled Hallichi Walpurgisnacht... adder Hallichi Wonnenacht!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Nine Sacred Herbs of Braucherei and Urglaawe

The Lacnunga describes the nine herbs sacred to the Anglo-Saxons, but what is not as well known is that the Deitsch have their own sacred nine, Neine Heiliche Gegreider.

Three come from wood (Dogwood, Elder, Wintergreen). Three come from the fields (Fimffingergraut or Cinquefoil, Catnip, Ground Ivy), and three from the garden (Horehound, Sage, and Thyme). In Urglaawe, these herbs are gathered after 15. Wonnet (May 15).

Those that come from wood can include many parts of the plant.


Dogwood (Deitsch: Hundsholz): Cornus florida

Elder (Deitsch: Hollerbeer): Sambucus nigra but also Sambucus canadensis

Wintergreen (Deitsch: Bruschttee): Gaultheria procumbens but also the distantly related Chimaphila umbellata (Pipsissewa; Deitsch: Gehlwassergraut)


Cinquefoil (Deitsch: Fimffingergraut): Potentilla reptans or Potentilla canadensis

Catnip: (Deitsch: Katzegraut): Nepeta cataria

Ground Ivy (Deitsch: Grundelreewe): Glechoma hederacea


Horehound (Deitsch: Edann): Marrubium vulgare; other species

Sage (Deitsch: Groddebalsem; Salwetee): Salvia officinalis and many other varieties

Thyme (Deitsch: Gwendel): Many varieties, but especially Thymus pulegioides ("Pennsylvania Dutch Tea"; Deitsch: Deitscher Tee)

The Fimffingergraut is already taking off rapidly in the garden, and the Ground Ivy and Catnip are beginning to raise their leaves above the ground. Some of my sage and thyme never went away.

One thing that is interesting to note is that Mugwort (Aldi Fraa; Artemisia vulgaris and other species) is mentioned in The Lacnunga but is omitted from the Deitsch sacred herbs list... yet in Braucherei and Urglaawe, Mugwort is probably the most commonly used sacred herb. It has a standing of its own. Holle is represented in the Nine Sacred Herbs by Elder.

Fimffingergraut was featured in an article here in April of 2013. The other herbs will be featured in upcoming Blanzeheilkunscht articles.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Schtruwwlichi Nans - Lady's Smock

Cardamine pratensis (Cuckooflower) 
Cardamine pensylvanica (Pennsylvania Bittercress) 

These two closely related plants appear very early in the spring. Both are commonly called Lady's Smock in the local vernacular; however, the more common of the two is actually Pennsylvania Bittercress. The most noticeable difference is that pratensis has pink flowers whereas pensylvanica's flowers are white. 

A typical problem with folk names of plants is that the same names are often used for very different plants. For example, the term "Cuckooflower" is used as a name for Cardamine pratensis and for the unrelated Lychnis flos-cucli. Even without knowledge of Latin, one can see that the latter's Latin name contains a reference to the cuckoo. To top it off, the name used in Deitsch for both plants is Schtruwwlichi Nans, or Disheveled Nancy.

Lady's Smock, whether of the pratensis or pensylvanica variety, is an edible green in the mustard family. The leaves, flowers, and seedpods produce a slightly peppery flavor that is a good addition to salads. Early insects find the plants as a source of pollen. The plant is rich in Vitamin C and mustard oil compounds, which stimulate the liver and the kidneys. Topically, the herb can promote blood flow to the skin, thus aiding against skin irritations and in alleviating the pain of arthritis and rheumatism. 
Lady's Smock is used in bitter tonics and contains iron, magnesium, and potassium. The plant may be used fresh or dried. The dried plant may be used in teas or powders. The fresh plant may be used in teas, compresses or salads. It may also be crushed and about 4-5 tablespoons taken as a juice. Lady's Smock is also considered to be sacred to a variety of wights, including fairies and sprites. 

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. The aerial parts of Solomon's Seal can  be toxic when consumed internally. Please consult with a licensed medical professional.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2012 issue of Hollerbeer Haven.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Bit of Blanzeschwetzerei...

Blanzeschwetzerei (also known as Blanzegschwetz or Blanzeschwetze, all of which roughly mean "plant talking") is an esoteric practice within Blanzeheilkunscht.  Through this practice, one can communicate with the spirits of the plants, thus allowing for one to glean information about how a plant might help to heal, etc.

While many posts about individual herbs on this site make references about the general nature of the herbs as perceived through Blanzeschwetze, the upcoming Grundsaudaag holiday avails itself to the description of Blanzeschwetze in the context of journeywork.

Grundsaudaag is the time when many Braucherei practitioners, regardless of their religious identity, create a Butzemann. The word "Butzemann" literally means "scarecrow," but in Braucherei (and Urglaawe), there is a semantic meaning of spiritual activation of the scarecrow. The more generic term for a scarecrow is "Lumbemann," which does not imply activation.

All living organisms have some sort of soul construct, and plants are certainly no exception. Upon death, the soul's elements break apart or break down at different rates (much like bone decomposes much more slowly than flesh). The plants have eternal elements within their souls that depart to other realms in a manner similar to that of humans. Other portions of the plant spirit will remain "static" or in a slow state of decomposition within the decaying physical form of the plant.

The construction and activation of the Butzemann make use of the static plant spirit elements. The activation involves communication with the departed spirits of deceased plants. The interaction takes place in two Urglaawe rites called the Kannsege (Ceremony of the Corn) and the Butzemannsege (Ceremony of the Butzemann).

The Butzemann,when he is activated, serves as the "father" of this year's crops. The "mother" is the land itself, which is why there is no "Butzefraa" in traditional Braucherei practice. The Butzemann watches out for his children throughout the growing season. He is given a name. clothes, and offerings, and he remains in his perch, conducting spiritual patrols and security actions on behalf of the growing crops. 

At any point between the autumn equinox and Allelieweziel (Halloween), the Butzemann must be released from his duties and be respectfully burned. To get an idea of what happens to a Butzemann who is not burned in a timely manner, read The Legend of Delbel der Butzemann

Full Braucherei activation rites in any religious context for a Butzemann include some Verbots (elements that cannot be written), but it is possible to accomplish the mission without those elements. Thus, below is an adapted Urglaawe Kannsege and Butzemannsege ritual. 

Der Kannsege 

(Adapted for use outside of Braucherei guilds; there is no Verbot on any section of this rite.)

The Butzemann should already be constructed out of plant remnants from the prior season. If you use only one type of plant for the construction (e.g., corn), you may edit the calls to relate only to that specific plant. In my case, I use many different plant remnants, so the calls refer to "plants."

Before the Butzemann is completed (or sewn up, if applicable), I insert a heart (cut from paper or cardboard) and various prayer slips (with my own expressions of goodwill and prosperity) and rune slips (with any combination (or all) of Ingwaz, Jera, Othala, Fehu, Ansuz, Berkano, and Laguz).

A knowledge of runes is most helpful. Appropriate runes can be intoned or envisioned at any time throughout the rite. However, for the purposes of this adapted rite, I only am mentioning the runes that are central to the function of an Urglaawe Kannsege.

There is an element of otherworldly travel involved in this adapted rite.

---------- Incantation ----------

Daer Bau, Desi Luft
(This Earth, This Air)
Daer Bau, Desi Luft
Daer Bau, Desi Luft

Ich bitt vun de Ziewe die Erlaawing, fer die hallich Scheid neizuschteige. 
(I request of the deities the permission to step into the heavenly partition).

Ich schteh mit eem Fuus uff em Hatzholz un schteig mit zwettem in die Weschtbledder nei. 
(I stand with one foot in Hatzholz (Midgard) and step, with the second, into the West Leaves).

Ich ruf zu de mitleidiche Blanzeseele reizukumme, fer ihre Nochkummer auszuhelfe. 
(I call to the compassionate plant spirits [change if using only one plant, e.g., corn spirits] to come to the aid of their descendants).

Ich bin die Brick. 
(I am the bridge).
Ich bin die Brick.
Ich bin die Brick
[Repeat in multiples of three as often as you feel is needed]


At this point, you do not want to close out your connection to the West Leaves, but you can speak freely in Deitsch or English.

Here is where you can state in more detail to the spirits what your purpose is (for them to meld with the static spirits in order to awaken them within the plant material of the Butzemann, to give the breath of life to the Butzemann, etc).

Your promise is to name and to take care of the Butzemann, to honor his purpose, to make offerings to the spirits within him, to aid him in the care of his "children," etc.  This is an oath and you must abide by your words.

Most important: you must promise to relieve him of his duties at an appropriate time and to help the melded spirit within him to return to the otherworld. This is an oath. It must be kept. He must be burned between the autumn equinox (Erntfescht) and Allelieweziel (Halloween).

----------- Butzemannsege -----------

Ich geb zu dir der Ochdem. Loss dei Megge aufaerweckt sei.

(Breathe onto the "mouth" of the Butzemann).

Intone the "Ansuz" rune (known also as "Antwatt" in Deitsch) and draw the rune with your right thumb over where the mind's eye would be on the Butzemann. If skilled in otherworldly experience or in runes, do this repeatedly until you sense that you have received the rune back in response from the now-activated spirit.

Alternate: Intone the Ansuz, Berkano, and Laguz runes while drawing the runes upon the Butzemann. 

Now give a name to the Butzemann. There is a traditional naming convention. Please see for more information. The only thing I would add is that a first-generation Butzemann would have the appellation of "der Nei" follow his name (if his name is Arnold, he'd be 'Arnold der Nei').

Be sure to keep a record of his name. You will need it when he is burned. In fact, consider calling him by his full name frequently. The naming serves as recognition of, and respect for, the plant spirits as beings.

Der Butzemannsege watt gschlosse.
The Butzemannsege is closed.

----------- Closing -----------

After the activation rite is completed, it is important to serve as a bridge back.

Ich bedank mich zu de Ziewe un de mitleidiche Blanzeseele. Ich schteh noch zwische em Hatzholz un de Weschtbledder, fer die zerickzuschteige. (I thank the deities and the compassionate plant spirits. I stand still between Midgard and the West Leaves for them to go back).

Ich bin die Brick. 
(I am the bridge)
Ich bin die Brick.
Ich bin die Brick.

Der Kannsege watt gschlosse.
The Ceremony of the Corn is closed.

Copyright 2014
Robert L. Schreiwer
Published by
Bristol, PA