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Thread: Der Urglaawe ("Ancient Belief")

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    Senior Member Soten's Avatar
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    Der Urglaawe ("Ancient Belief")

    I accidentally stumbled upon this and it really caught my attention and surprised me. "Der Urglaawe" means "the ancient belief" in Pennsylvania Dutch. Apparently, there are some PA Dutch that not only want to protect and advance their language (something I thought was pretty rare to begin with) but also practice a Pennsylvania Dutch version of Asatru. The thought is still mind-boggling to me...my conception of today's PA Dutch just went from "wiggers" to "maybe there's hope" in six seconds flat. But I shouldn't get carried away, there's probably only two of these folk or something.

    To the point, what do you think of this? Read through the quote from their site, go to their site(s) (they seem to have a few places where they post things), and tell me what you think of the whole thing. They are trying to get an official site together, but it hasn't gotten off the ground and I wonder how long it has been sitting inactive.

    What do you make of the "Braucherei and Hexerei" stuff? I was under the impression that this was mostly a form of witchcraft more in line with Wicca and Christian Magic than Asatru?

    I'm assuming only one person (Ulf!) will really be interested, but anyone should comment if they have something to say. For German speakers, the Pennsilfaani Deitsch dialect is not that hard to understand if you just take you time with it. The sites have just about everything in English and Deitsch though.

    Der Urglaawe
    Urglaawe . The word is difficult for non-speakers of Pennsylvania German.

    The "Ur" component sounds like and "oor" or like the "our" in the word "tour." The primary stress falls on this syllable.

    The "aa" sound does not exist in English, but is pronounced almost like the word "awe" (or like the "aw" in "paw").

    The "we" is sounds like "veh." and there is a secondary stress on this syllable.

    So what we have is: OOR-gl(awe)-veh.

    So what does this convoluted word mean?

    The prefix "ur" carries the connotation of "primal." In fact, it is related to the "or" in "original," and Asatruar will immediately see the relation to the prefix "ør" in ørlög ("Urleeg" in Pennsylvania German).

    "Glaawe" is the Pennsylvania German word for "faith" or "religion."

    Therefore, the two components together form "Urglaawe," the "original faith."

    The religion of the Teutons (or the Norse/Germanic people) is known by a variety of names, each with some differences based usually on the particular region or tribal focus of that group.

    While the Pennsylvania Germans did not exist as a distinct people prior to the Christian conversion in Europe, we descend from those who did practice the original faith. As with our kin in other regions, some traditions continued on after the conversion, and many traditions were brought by our elders to the Americas during the diaspora.

    Once in the Americas and out from under the more oppressive arms of certain church bodies, many of the Heathen undertones of our culture were allowed to flourish, to the point that many people do not even think twice about the pre-Christian origins of some of the practices.

    Our task is to identify the practices that have been handed down to us by our forebears, to recognize them, to understand their meaning, and to share them with the wider Heathen community.

    In addition, the goal of the Pennsylvania German Heathen Alliance for the Urglaawe is to use what we learn from our own culture and glean what we learn from Heathens with different cultural roots to produce lore and bodies of knowledge in our own language and cultural contexts.

    One certainly need not speak Pennsylvania German in order to be a part of achieving these goals. English is an equally-used medium, but the survival (advancement!) of our unique language heritage is extremely important to us.

    Please make no mistake about it. We do not consider ourselves to be a faith separate from Asatru; we consider ourselves to be weaving our own particular threads into the larger Asatru tapestry, much as those who are focused more on Anglo-Saxon or Continental Germanic religious practices are doing.

    We are geared towards esoteric aspects (Braucherei, Hexerei, runes, meditation, etc.), but anyone who has a knowledge or an interest in exploring Heathenry in the Pennsylvania German context is invited to work with us.
    Deitsch: http://heidbindnis.blogspot.com/
    English: http://www.urglaawe.org/ - And no, the picture with the Black people is not their own, it's a stock image that they haven't changed yet...

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    Senior Member Soten's Avatar
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    I found a little extra just for consideration.

    Urglaawer face the same challenges as other Heathen groups when it comes to reconstructing the past. Fortunately, however, Braucherei and Hexerei are living traditions that have been passed down through the ages. Even with borrowings and influences from other religions and traditions, the Heathen roots show through in the form of the chants, superstitions, and symbols.

    Braucherei was on the decline in recent decades with the advances of modern medicine. However, thanks to institutions such as the Three Sisters Center, a concerted effort is underway to educate interested people on the historical evolution of the tradition and to pass it on to future apprentices. Resources such as this are of incalculable value to Urglaawer as they give us the opportunity to connect with current practitioners and to access records of many who have passed on.

    Hexerei, while generally practiced in small groups or individually, seems also to be experiencing resurgence in recent years. Although Wicca has influenced the development of Hexerei in some circumstances, many Urglaawer practitioners have been striving to research and restore, if possible, the spells and chants to a pre-Christian context. There is certainly some controversy regarding these efforts, as it is difficult to verify the results. However, there is value in their research, such as the sharing of old remedies and spells from older German texts.

    While a great many Americans are familiar with hex signs, they may not recognize some of the ancient symbols (the Rain Hex sign features a swastika, for example) that give these symbols power. This is a very visible Heathen remnant that is widely spread within Pennsylvania German culture.

    We are told, as the story often goes, that hex signs are chust for nice, yet, in my experience, even many Christians are choosy about which symbols they put on their barns or homes. Some Urglaawer are very actively engaged in studying symbols described in works by earlier Hexologists like Lee Gandee. Their dedication to expanding the awareness and use of symbols in daily and shamanic practices is generating a new respect for the old symbols in the practice of Urglaawe.

    Urglaawer are also fortunate to have access to several herbal experts who either count themselves as Urglaawer or who are helping us to connect with Pennsylvania German plant lore. Indeed, herbs are already incorporated into Braucherei and Hexerei, and many families, including Christian Plain Folk (Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, etc.), regularly use natural remedies alongside of more modern cures. Herbal use is thus another living tradition, and it has incorporated information from other cultures, including Amerindian knowledge. This evolution is to be expected as we encounter new plant species from around the world.

    These living traditions are relatively easy for Urglaawer to tap into. What is more difficult is locating older information and processing it properly. We are currently in the early stages of what we expect to be a very long process. We can learn from the same sources as our German Heathen cousins up until approximately 1683, when Pennsylvania German settlement began and our distinct tribal experiences commenced. Thus, we can learn much of our heritage from works like Grimms Teutonic Mythology. What happened after emigration from the German lands is a bit more difficult.

    One challenge has been access to old lore outside of the usual Braucherei and Hexerei materials. Documents from the Colonial and Early Republic periods in Deitsch or in German are frequently hard to find or are in fragile condition. Also, since the bulk of the Pennsylvania Germans were of ardent Christian faith, references to Heathen activity often are scorned or denounced as Satanic, etc., so the Urglaawer still have much work ahead of us as we investigate our lore heritage.

    A prime example of the importance of perspective in lore is Hexenkopf in Northampton County, PA. Much of the oral and written materials view this mountain pillar as being haunted or bewitched. Furthermore, the folklore from the region included references to activity being particularly strong on Walpurgisnacht (see Hexenkopf: History, Healing & Hexerei by Ned Heindel).

    A group of Urglaawer got permission from the landowners to visit Hexenkopf during the winter, and the consensus among us was that it is a spiritual place sacred to Haerrin Freya und Haerrin Holle. Thus, a place that is associated with witchcraft in a negative connotation in Christianity becomes a splendid and positive location in which to honor our Gods and Goddesses. This sensation carried through to our Sege (blot) at the site to the two Goddesses on Walpurgisnacht.

    Urglaawer have grown to hold Hexenkopf as sacred, and we will continue to hold ceremonies there and to seek curative water pools that are cited in the lore surrounding the mountain pillar.

    Hexenkopf is but one example of several references in our lore that we need to research and explore. Hopefully we will find many more bits of information in other texts that will lead us down new paths. We have a huge task ahead of us and we are just at the beginning. We are very eager to learn more about our hidden heritage, and we welcome others who are interested us to join us in our pursuits!
    Anyone know where Hexenkopf is located within Northampton?

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    Schimmelreiter
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    Let's have a look at your contributions to the gallery:



    I meant to comment on this at the time, but it seemed like I was stating the obvious. Folk religion continued for a very long time after formal conversion and it proved very difficult to supplant what the populace considered as "Christian" with official doctrine. This was also a source of conflict in the 15th/16th century and throughout the Reformation.

    What was labeled and persecuted as "witchcraft", in cases where allegations were not made up entirely, was also in no small part inspired by Germanic and other native beliefs, although we can safely assume that it was eclectically combined with a host of other sources, including Christianity, and does not represent an unchanged version of early Germanic belief. It is a system of organic faith, though.

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    Reminds me of hexerei, a bit, and I know two people near me who practice Braucherei.

    I would hesitate to say it's a Deitsch version of Asatru. Many of the German myths were still passed down, even to the Deitsch. Asatru, despite its Germanicness, I feel is too different from what are now the Deitsch traditions.
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=100717

    It seems there's a good deal of pre-christian beliefs just below the surface, we Deitsch can become quite set in our ways.

    I've been trying for quite a while now to find ways to reconcile my Deitsch ancestry with a beliefs in the old god and ways. It's good to see that some others are also trying as well, even if there are only a few of them.

    I've felt too far removed from Europe to actually have any desire to truly adopt the beliefs of the ancients and feel closer to my Deitsch ancestors' beliefs.

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    Senior Member Soten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulf View Post
    Reminds me of hexerei, a bit, and I know two people near me who practice Braucherei.

    I would hesitate to say it's a Deitsch version of Asatru. Many of the German myths were still passed down, even to the Deitsch. Asatru, despite its Germanicness, I feel is too different from what are now the Deitsch traditions.
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=100717

    It seems there's a good deal of pre-christian beliefs just below the surface, we Deitsch can become quite set in our ways.

    I've been trying for quite a while now to find ways to reconcile my Deitsch ancestry with a beliefs in the old god and ways. It's good to see that some others are also trying as well, even if there are only a few of them.

    I've felt too far removed from Europe to actually have any desire to truly adopt the beliefs of the ancients and feel closer to my Deitsch ancestors' beliefs.
    From what I gathered, these Urglaawer are taking knowledge from what Asatru can teach about pre-Christian practices amongst the Germanic peoples (those from Southwestern Germany included) and using it to understand the beliefs of the Pennsylvania Dutch, many of which are in fact pre-Christian themselves. As you said, there are plenty of Heathen aspects just beneath the surface of Deitsch beliefs. The Wild Hunt is a dead give away, but I am sure there are more.

    One of my problems with Asatru, that I have thought of just with my own very basic knowledge of the thing, is that although its not "universal" in the normally used sense it does seem to press a certain set of beliefs on all of Germanendom. This is not how the beliefs of our ancestors were. There were innumerable local variants. And from I what I see, I think that these Urglaawer folk understand that to some degree.

    I wonder why you feel you need to "reconcile" your Deitsch ancestry with belief in the old gods and ways and I wonder why you feel too far removed from Europe "to adopt the beliefs of the ancients". You feel closer to your Deitsch ancestors' beliefs, which is understandable certainly. But unless you mean Christianity by "Deitsch ancestors' beliefs" then you have to remember that your Deitsch ancestors' ancestors were "the ancients" and clearly even the Pennsylvania Dutch have retained some of the old ways and beliefs and lore.

    As I said, the beliefs of our ancestors would have evolved naturally as they moved about and populated new areas, for instance. I've been thinking about it, and I like the idea of viewing the early colonization of North America by Germanic peoples as something of a Second Völkerwanderung. As you obviously know, whole new peoples can come about from these migrations. The Pennsylania Dutch were essentially created from this movement out of the Rheinland, Elsass-Lothringen, and Switzerland, bringing their beliefs (with the strong Heathen undertones) and stories with them.

    PA Deitsch of today wouldn't need to honor Odinn and Thor (with these specific names) or have much actual involvement in the Icelandic sagas. I'm sure people know the names of what Odinn and Thor would have been referred to as in the Rheinland, in fact I think one of the pages within the Urglaawer website has a small list of what the Deitsch versions would be. Many of the Eddas and Sagas, although certainly helpful to understand the whole picture, seem a bit too Scandinavian for someone from Switzerland for instance. Unfortunately, I think the more southern reaches of Germanic-kind will be far harder to find actual documents and so on referring to the old beliefs.

    Hauke Haien
    inspired by Germanic and other native beliefs, although we can safely assume that it was eclectically combined with a host of other sources, including Christianity, and does not represent an unchanged version of early Germanic belief.
    What "other native beliefs"? I would assume a Germanic people's native beliefs would be Germanic. And what of this "host of other sources"? Christianity certainly, but what else? Unchanged, certainly not, but still probably Germanic...nothing is just going to stagnate.

    There is also the Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts - http://www.threesisterscenter.com/

    I was kind of disappointed when I saw the list of things they teach as influences on the PA Dutch.

    Pre-Christian history and contributions to the tradition from the Roman, Celtic, and Germanic peoples
    Jewish and early Christian influence on the tradition
    German Mysticism of the middle ages
    Greek influence upon the tradition
    History and mystical traditions of the reformation
    Early Pennsylvania Braucherei
    Native American influence
    Celtic and Germanic pre-Christian influence would have been pretty much indistinguishable if there was any in the Rheinland area. I'd like to see what they mean by Roman.
    Jewish? Again, I wonder what that is about...even Greek?
    I think they are trying to assign as many different cultures as they can to the beliefs of the PA Dutch. The fact of the matter is that the most die-hard of pre-Christian beliefs are going to probably be held in common amongst many pre-Christian Europeans...doesn't make it necessarily Celtic, Roman, or Greek though. And I'm sure they are combing the "Jewish" and Christian influences together for a reason. Unfortunately, what I get from this group and website is more of a polyglot Wicca feel than anything serious about the old beliefs of the Rheinlanders.

    I've heard a lot about this supposed Native American influence. I wonder if there is much to it or if it is basically like the Christians in Europe who were apt to call any of the old beliefs "pagan" and "satanic". I could imagine many of the more hardline PA Dutch and the English seeing rituals of this sort and assuming they were "heathen" (in the pejorative sense) and thus "savage" and thus probably learned from the Indians. As far as I am aware, it is not as if the PA Dutch were hanging out swapping good recipes and discussing religious matters. From my own PA Dutch heritage I know that the Iroquois burnt down their church and then the Deitsch drove them off the land. "Pow-wowing" is an Indian term used by PA Dutch but
    The practice has been present on this continent since the first German-speaking settlements were established in Pennsylvania in the early eighteenth century, although it has its roots in much older German esoteric traditions (Yoder 1976).
    I think other people gave the Indian term to it and it stuck.

    The Three Sisters Center looks good at first but they seem to like to harp on things like this:
    En Deitsches Medizinraad April 25th, 2009 - The medicine wheel of the Deitsch people is a unique combination of many cultural influences: Greek, Jewish, Germanic, and Native American as well as many others.
    And now a bit of a rant -
    I think the PA Deitsch desperately need to reconnect with their roots - heathen or not. There has been a strong growth of "wiggerism" amongst younger PA Deitsch. I just did some preliminary genealogical research the other day for my PA Dutch step-father. His family has been in the York and Lancaster area (just two counties) for nearly 300 years. I know most PA Dutch in the area must have similar backgrounds, but these kids are some of the trashiest wiggers I have ever seen. There are hardly any Black people around even and they still act like they live in the Ghetto, it's pathetic. Surrounded by cornfields and there's some PA Dutch dude wearing his pants around his knees and listening to cheaply produced ghetto thug music. The worst part is that Lancaster, and I'm sure this goes for most parts of PA, is seeing an increasing amount of Hispanics come to the area. Mostly they are Puerto Rican from what I can tell, but also Mexicans. What we have here is a bunch of essentially white trash kids who lost their culture somewhere along the line and now feel that they don't have a culture. Which makes them susceptible to other people who do have strong cultures, ie Black ghetto culture and Hispanic culture. So these kids eat it right up and next thing you know they are wearing sideways baseball caps and listening to reggaeton. I often think that a good deal of these people would have been better off and more respectable staying as farmers like their ancestors.

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    Senior Member Arundel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soten View Post
    I accidentally stumbled upon this and it really caught my attention and surprised me. "Der Urglaawe" means "the ancient belief" in Pennsylvania Dutch. Apparently, there are some PA Dutch that not only want to protect and advance their language (something I thought was pretty rare to begin with) but also practice a Pennsylvania Dutch version of Asatru. The thought is still mind-boggling to me...my conception of today's PA Dutch just went from "wiggers" to "maybe there's hope" in six seconds flat. But I shouldn't get carried away, there's probably only two of these folk or something.

    To the point, what do you think of this? Read through the quote from their site, go to their site(s) (they seem to have a few places where they post things), and tell me what you think of the whole thing. They are trying to get an official site together, but it hasn't gotten off the ground and I wonder how long it has been sitting inactive.

    What do you make of the "Braucherei and Hexerei" stuff? I was under the impression that this was mostly a form of witchcraft more in line with Wicca and Christian Magic than Asatru?

    I'm assuming only one person (Ulf!) will really be interested, but anyone should comment if they have something to say. For German speakers, the Pennsilfaani Deitsch dialect is not that hard to understand if you just take you time with it. The sites have just about everything in English and Deitsch though.



    Deitsch: http://heidbindnis.blogspot.com/
    English: http://www.urglaawe.org/ - And no, the picture with the Black people is not their own, it's a stock image that they haven't changed yet...

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    Senior Member Arundel's Avatar
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    What is asatra, I've never heard the word before. You would have thought that there would have been some Pa. Dutch words passed down from my great grandmother. My father knew her well. As to religion she apparently was a methodist. She was married in the methodist church before she came to Mo. Her husband's funeral was held in a methodist church. Her descendants, including my family were methodists.
    Margaret Moyer Sisson was a very petite little lady. My father caller her "his little grandmother." He remembered her smoking a pipe, as many of the ladies did then. My mother said her grandmother smoked one too. I'm sure they were only small ones.
    It is sad to say, but sometime in Margaret's old age, maybe after her husband died, she became addicted to laudanum. Dad said his parents would tell him and his siblings not to go to the drugstore and get any medicine for their grandmother. At that time you could buy any medicine you asked for over the counter. Laudanum, which was an opium derivative, was freely given to women by their doctors, before they fully realized how addictive it was. Think how pitiful that must have been for her.
    My Dad miraculously discovered a willow rocker of hers shortly before he died, and gave it to me. It had been missing since the very early 1900's. It is amazing but it still has the original old blue paint and stencilling on it. At one time someone had padded it all over with a quilt, so no one ever painted it.
    What I find interesting is that the stencilling looks just like the Pa. dutch stencilling I saw when I was in Pa. I wonder if it had belonged to her family.
    One day one of the little nails fell out, and it was a (square) nail. Only very old furniture have square nails in them.

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    Senior Member Soten's Avatar
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    Asatru is a much older belief system, not to be identified with the PA Dutch exclusively. It is the older pre-Christian ancient belief system of all Germanic peoples.

    I don't think that so-called "Asatru" should be considered the "pure" religion of all Germanic people, because there were great differences in people within the Germanic world, but here is the Wikipedia page to explain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81satr%C3%BA

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    Hi there! Actually, Braucherei and Hexerei, among other elements of Pennsylvania German culture, do indeed carry heathen undertones, and that is what we are pursuing. We have found quite a few wonderful things beneath the Christian veneer of our folklore, language, customs, etc.

    Of course, this should be no surprise... Merely because we are located in the Americas does not mean our ancestors were any less attuned to the call of the gods and goddesses than would be any members of any other Germanic tribe.

    I agree with original post's references to the need to reconnect with the folk culture. This is why we are working so hard on including our beloved Deitsch language in all facets of the Urglaawe. At least one Urglaawer is an instructor of Pennsylvania German. There are others who are experts in symbolism (hex signs), herbalism, Braucherei, Hexerei, and folk traditions with heathen origins. Many of these folk traditions became the foundations for many common American secular holiday traditions, such as Christmas and Easter... I can certainly provide some good references on our Volk's contribution to these traditions.

    Heel zu de Gedder un de Gedderinne!

    Rob
    Gedderman
    Die Urglaawisch Sippschaft vum Distelfink
    Asatru and Urglaawe Meetup of Eastern Pennsylvania and NJ

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    Senior Member Soten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urglaawer View Post
    I can certainly provide some good references on our Volk's contribution to these traditions.
    By all means, please do. I'd be interested in anything you have to offer.

    How are the Urglaawer going about with their study of Braucherei and Hexerei and drawing out the pre-Christian aspects? Could you give any examples of things with pre-Christian Germanic influences in this tradition? Do other scholars of the PA Dutch support the Urglaawe movement or do they frown upon it?

    I'm sure I'll think of something else to ask.

    How did you find Skadi Forum, by the way? I see you're involved somehow with the creators of the website that I was quoting from. Next thing I know, we have an Urglaawer here!

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