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.