The Guilds of Practitioners

This blog is written and maintained by members of the Oley Freindschaft Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.


The Oley Freindschaft recognizes the totality of the practice of Braucherei, which includes the contexts of Christianity and of Urglaawe.

The Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners is dedicated to the advancement of these traditions within the Urglaawe context.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Halliches Erntfescht

(or Erntdankfescht!)

The autumn equinox and surrounding days served as the time of the original Deitsch (and German, for that matter) Thanksgiving. We Urglaawer observe the equinox and celebrate the harvest as a community as close to the equinox as possible. The Schwenkfelders observe the thanksgiving on September 24, other localities hold it on different days, also often based on the equinox.

In Heathen times, communities pitched in to help to finish harvests, to trade different crops, and to tend to kin and neighbor so that everyone had a variety of foods to store for the winter. This is the root of the Harvest Home tradition, which continues in many churches today.

The establishment of a national Thanksgiving holiday was actually met with some resistance in Deitsch communities because we already had a thanksgiving observance that was placed at the time of the completion of the harvest. The end of November seemed to be an odd time to many people. The traditional harvests were well over by then, it was typically very cold, and, prior to the rise of modern transportation and grocery, people would be more likely conserving their food stores, outside of game, to ensure a supply to carry them through if Spring came late.

The Harvest Home church traditions nowadays take place all throughout September, but they are a legacy of the thanksgiving festival. Urglaawe groups hold thanksgiving festivals as close to the equinox as possible. All of these observances focus on spreading the wealth of the harvest around, most typically in the form of canned food donations to food shelters.

Over time, the national holiday in November has meshed well with traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods and has become part of our lives. However, it is good to keep our cultural traditions alive, too.

Most of us who were born after World War II are so accustomed to supermarkets having everything we could want all throughout the year that it is difficult to fathom the reliance on root cellars, springhouses, and cooperative efforts among neighbors. Jump back a few generations, when most food was grown locally, and it becomes easier to see why there would be a formal expression of gratitude for a successful harvest. We can capture a bit of the experience of our forebears by appreciating events like the end of the harvest.

Besides, it never hurts to have another day where we are a little more deliberate in our gratitude for the food that nourishes us. So, sometime this week, you may want to incorporate an extra expression of gratitude in the religious or philosophical context that resonates with you to the plants and the animals that feed us, to the farmers who produce the food, and to the transportation and outlets that make it available to us.

Let's make Erntfescht/Erntdankfescht a thing again in our communities!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hailstones, Haagel Rune

The first hailstorm of the year is first transformational and the protective and definitely associated with Holle. The hailstorm heralds impending changes or shifts (good, bad, even neutral), and the saved hailstones bring Holle's protection and banishment of harm through the changes and through the year. 

Historically, refrigeration would have been problematic, so the stones would melt (also symbolic of the spring thaw in most cases, unless there was no hail until late int he year), and people would either drink the water from the fallen stones or they would save the water to pour to the growing garden or field plants when spring had set in. When refrigeration became more available, people began to save the stone throughout the year. There is no set removal time for saved stones, but I've never kept them past the Yuletide of the same year in which they were taken, and I generally put them out in the spring in the garden.

Aspects of this tradition appear to be echoes of the Haagel rune, which in Deitsch use has meanings akin to Hagalaz and Anglo-Saxan Hagal. The structure of the Deitsch rune looks more like that of the Younger Futhark than of the Elder Futhark; however, it is just as frequently depicted standing on two of its legs as it is on one. 

Haagel on its end
The same circumstance applies to the common six-point rosette symbols on hex signs, and many people believe that the rune and the rosette are related. Indeed, the meaning of the rosette in hex signs is similar to that of the Haagel rune: banishment and protection. 

Haagel as rosette on two legs
Haagel is a rune of proactive elemental Spirit, which places it useful in dealing with issues associated with reactive Spirit (depression, grief, death) and with elemental Earth issues (often digestive disorders), particularly of the reactive type (diarrhea, food poisoning, parasitic infections, etc., but, of course, always see a doctor, too!).

The rune may also be used in the general application of protection and also for transformation of the mind, of understanding, and in interpersonal relationships. It may applied for good or for ill, for terminations to allow new beginnings, for bringing about or confronting radical change, for inciting change in the self or others, for the expulsion unwanted baggage on the mind and the soul, and for dealing with the shadow of the self and the shadow sides of others. There is no rune in Deitsch practice more associated with both the application and the blocking or deflection of hexes, and indeed, skilled practitioners can use Haagel to transform hexes into blessings that draw energy from the sender. It is also the most commonly used rune in Urglaawe house blessings.

Along with Loch (Laguz), Haagel is a rune of mirrors, which brings in aspects associated with Berchta as well. While Loch is the reactive side of the mirror (that which looks back at the view), proactive Haagel is the eye seeking answers in the mirror. It is the seeker of wisdom, insight, and truth, and it is that which causes the active deflection of harm. 

Haagel, in both physical and runic form, has longstanding traditions within the Deitsch culture, and its lore and applications will continue to grow as Urglaawe evolves.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Wurthexe Charm

Here is one of the charms involving the Three Sisters, who appear to be Wurthexe (Norns)... No particularly meter to this one. Of unknown age. The first line is interesting because it is essentially without discernible time while the other lines are clearly past, present, future. 

It is important to note that Deitsch seldom uses the simple past and most verbs do not even have a form for it. Instead, the present perfect, past perfect, and past progressive (which does not exist in standard Hochdeutsch) tenses are the more common. This utilizes the present perfect, most like for synergy among the lines. In normal speech, the past perfect would more likely be used.

Dreie Schweschdere am Laafe
Erschdi hot vun der Vergangeheit die Weh gschtole
Zweddi iss vun der Gegewart die Weh am Weckschtosse
Driddi watt vun der Noochkunft die Weh verschtecke
Die Zeit wie en Raawer
Die Zeit wie en Verweser
Die Zeit wie en Verdecker
Mach’s so!

The Three Sisters walking
The first has stolen the woe from the Past 
The second is pushing the woe from the Present
The third will hide the woe from the Future
Time as a robber
Time as a guardian
Time as a concealer
Make it so!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Regarding Standing Rock...

Today, many Heathens are posting this video to express our solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters, and I would like to share my personal sentiments as well.

The opening of the video makes a reference to the forces of nature, personified in the giant troll women, turning against King Frothi for his unjust leadership, thereby bringing down his kingdom.

We Urglaawer just completed the observance of Allelieweziel. Part of our observance is the recognition that the settlers of Allemaengel had violated a social contract that exists among all living things, thereby causing the plants and animals to abandon them. Had the settlers not recognized their error and been instructed by Hexes and Brauchers to make amends, the colony would have perished.

Standing Rock presents the potential for the same circumstance. I recognize that the matter has some complicating angles. For example, I drive vehicles for my private use as well as for part of my paid job. I recognize that fuel is necessary for our society to continue. However, does the pipeline need to be built through the sacred lands of the Dakota and Lakota? Does their water supply really need to be put in jeopardy?

The history of the relationship between the tribes and the US government is well known: Broken promises, broken treaties, broken arrows, and wounded knees. The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is itself the result of a broken treaty that unilaterally altered the Great Sioux Reservation. A feature of this action was to break up the tribal culture and relationship that existed among the tribes and bands in the region. Something about that undermining of a folk culture sounds familiar to this Deitsch man.

The broken promises and broken treaties are of critical importance to me as a Heathen. The keeping of oaths is central to our religion and our social integrity. The US breaking treaties affects our Wurt as a nation, and our government's actions toward the tribes diminish our honor and imperil our future.

Additionally, the pipeline construction endangers burial grounds of the tribes' ancestors. As a Heathen who owns a cemetery, I recognize the importance to my own soul of honoring my ancestors.

To allow for the disruption or destruction of the tribes' sacred graveyards is beyond reprehensible and places a stain on us that will last from generation to generation. How would the average American feel if his or her ancestors graveyards were overturned for someone else's profit? It is appalling that we are even having to talk about this in the current era. Have we learned nothing since the 19th Century?

Apparently we have not. We are seeing the violation of Standing Rock sovereignty and Dakota/Lakota dignity in order to feed the corporate machine. We are seeing a disrespect for the land, for the land spirits, and for those who have gone before. We are witnessing the violation of promises and treaties. This is unacceptable.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Yuletide Sock Drive

Socks are one of the most requested items at homeless shelters, but they are also one of the least-donated items.

From December 17, 2016 (Krampuslauf Philadelphia: Parade of Spirits) through January 1, 2016, Distelfink Sippschaft will be collecting new, unworn socks for folks in need. We need all sizes, from baby to adult male. Practical socks, fun socks, fuzzy socks, holiday socks, argyle socks are all needed!

Stock up stacks of socks and stockings and help to bring warmth to the feet of those in need this Yuletide!

Contact Robert L. Schreiwer (schreiwer@urglaawe.org) for collection sites. The first location will be at Parade of Spirits/Krampuslauf:

Parade of Spirits
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Liberty Lands Park
Philadelphia, PA

Come in Costume
3:30 PM Gathering Time

Parade starts at Dusk

Donations will be directed to homeless shelters in the Delaware Valley.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Guild Growth

The Urglaawe Guild of Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners is thrilled to announce that Staci Baisch of the Seattle area and Jo Spinks of the Pittsburgh area had the power passed to them this weekend at Trothmoot at Fort Flagler, WA.

They will continue to study and to expand their knowledge, and they may now each be known as a Braucherin by our community.

Hail the Healers!

An Urglaawe Ritual Response to the Pulse Massacre


The question has arisen on the main Urglaawe group about how to honor those murdered in the Pulse Massacre. I am thinking this is a time to make use of our color associations. Perhaps six candles:

Red: Representing the blood spilled, calling to Ziu for justice and to Dunner for courage and strength.

Orange: A request to the deities, to the ancestors (our own and those of the victims), to each other, and to ourselves to attain the energy needed to surmount the polarization and hatred that is consuming this world.

Yellow: Our response needs to be appropriately angered, but our love of humanity must be victorious over these hateful actions.

Green: For the growth and expansion of messaging and ideas that toward putting an end to this sort of terror.

Blue: A call for peace and consolation to those who loved the victims.

Violet: Appeal to the sacred and to the things that connect us because, as much as our humanity is what got us into this world plight, it will be our humanity that gets us out.

Per Urglaawe funerary rites, one may also want to get some seeds or something to represent the victims, then wrap the seeds up in four pieces of paper or cloth of different colors. Say the name of a victim while adding each seed.

The first would be red. Set each seed onto a red sheet. The color and action represents the loss of life and blood and the journey to death. Draw a Raidho rune on the red paper pack with the seeds inside.

Then take the red pack and wrap it in yellow-green. Draw the Yaahr/Jera rune on the now yellow-green pack. This represents the commending of the bodies back to nature.

Then take the pack and wrap it in black. Draw the Kenaz rune on it. This represents the Higher Self's journey through The Mill.

Take the pack and wrap it in white. Draw Ingwaz on the pack. This represents the rebirth of those lost into new soul constructs. 

Respectfully place the pack into a sacred fire, asking for Holle to bless the lost.

After that, perhaps add an uncounted number of seeds to a pack formed from purple cloth or paper. Draw the Mannaz rune on that pack, and add it to the fire along with pleads to Ziu, Zisa, and Dunner to aid the victims' loved ones.

I am going to work this into our Dingsege on Saturday. Perhaps if everyone performed the same -- or a related -- ritual at the same time (say, 2:30 PM EDT locally), we can strengthen our cause. 

Feel free to make this idea viral. Perhaps this virus can combat the virus of hate, destruction, and despair that is becoming an epidemic throughout the world.