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.
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.