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.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hollerbeer Haven - Fall 2012

Here it is, already, the beginning of December!

Allelieweziel is passed, and we are well into the the Dunkelheft, or the Dark Half, of the year.

The Autumn 2012 edition of Hollerbeer Haven is now available for free download in .PDF format. In this issue, we begin a series of articles and discussions on the practice of Braucherei in the Urglaawe context. This issue sets the backdrop of Braucherei. It does not go into a thorough historical detail, however, because such endeavors have already been published in other works.

If one wishes to pursue a detailed study of the history of Braucherei that includes all of the influences from its pre-Christian roots to the present, The Three Sisters Center offers a course on the subject.

Future issues of Hollebeer Haven will include descriptions of the Urglaawer practice of Braucherei. We will also discuss Urglaawe spirituality, the use of runes and symbols, the interaction with deity or divinity, the use of herbs, sympathetic healing, journeywork, ancestor and descendant interaction, element balance, and other relevant topics.

Thank you for your interest!

X  X  X

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hollerbeer Haven, Summer 2012

The .PDF version of the Summer 2012 edition of Hollerbeer Haven is now available for free download. This is a fairly large file, so please be patient during the download.

This issue covers topics such as our folks' experiences at Trothmoot 2012 and our Hoietfescht and Freyfaxi event/ The plant of the quarter is Monarda Punctata/ 

Mach's immer besser!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology

The first widely accessible Urglaawe book is now available on

This book is a repository of the terms, concepts, symbols and mythological references used in the Heathen path of Urglaawe. The entries include the cultural values, spiritual awareness, and wisdom carried through the centuries in the oral lore of the Elder healing practice of Braucherei, which is also known as Pow Wow. Included in the entries are traditions and customs that are part of the living Deitsch, -- Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch -- folk culture. Adherents to Heathen paths, including Ásatrú, Irminenschaft, Theodism, Forn Sidr, Odinism, and other traditions, will find these entries useful as they provide another voice to the totality of the Teutonic folk experience.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hollerbeer Haven

Hollerbeer Haven, formerly Hollerbeier Haven, the journal of the Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, is now a quarterly publication of Distelfink Sippschaft! 

We are making Hollerbeer Haven 14 - Volume 5, Issue 1 - Spring 2012 available in .PDF format at no cost. Former active subscribers to the Three Sisters Center guild will receive printed copies of the first three issues.

We hope you find it enjoyable!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Underscoring the Suppression

Last month, our fellow Freindschaft member and Braucherei practitioner, Patrick Donmoyer, was approached by the Reading Eagle as research for an article regarding some documents that had been found in the Historical Society of Berks County. The documents had been at the Society since June 1946.

Included with the documents was a note describing that the documents had been found nailed to a barn wall in New Jerusalem, PA, which is in Berks County's Rockland Township. The documents were not the only charms found at the barn. Over the course of time, some charred bones and other protective charms or amulets had been discovered there.

Patrick confirmed that the four charms among the documents were written around the year 1900 by Braucher Joseph Hagemen of Reading. Although Hagemen was a well known and widely trusted Braucher among the Deitsch, he was also a target of what later became a systematic effort to undermine all aspects of the Deitsch culture, including the language, the folk unity, and, especially Braucherei. This effort, known as die Unnerdricking ("the Suppression") consisted of an alliance, though perhaps not a conscious one, between the state government, scholastic institutions, medical associations, and non-Deitsch church establishments. What common threads might bring these disparate groups together?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for starters, had always had to contend with the huge tract of land in which the Deitsch were in the majority. Some Deitsch anecdotes imply that, as late as 1920, one could drive from Germantown to the outskirts of Pittsburgh without ever needing to speak English. Now, while such an anecdote may require a rather circuitous route in order to be true, the underlying fact is that a huge chunk of Pennsylvania remained "unassimilated."

Around the year 1900, the European political stage was becoming tense with the rise of one Germanic power in Prussia and the slow decay of another Germanic power in Austria. Anti-German sentiment was on the rise in the United States long before our entry into World War I. This sentiment, enhanced by the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and American entry into the war in 1917, brought about a widespread fear of the German-speaking "foreigners" within our own homeland.

Despite the fact that the Deitsch remained loyal (Fries' Rebellion notwithstanding) and fought in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and in any number of more localized conflicts, our ancestors were still viewed as foreigners, and, at the onset of the war, a fifth column for the Kaiser. The state perceived the Deitsch as a threat, and, therefore, had reasons to assert itself into the folk evolution. Series of harassments and work camp check-ins (a topic for another blog posting) continued throughout the war.

One might think that World War I served as a lesson of the loyalty of the Deitsch, but the same, perhaps more aggravated, anti-German sentiment lived on between the wars and became more pronounced during World War II. Even after World War II, many Deitsch felt stigmatized and victimized by anti-German sentiment. Language suppression continued well into the 1960's, and, in some places, into the 1970's, even while other languages were asserting their right to be spoken everywhere.

What of the medical associations? The rise of modern medicine is, on the one hand, an good thing. Most Brauchers will not tell anyone not to see a certified medical doctor. Antibiotics are, when used responsibly, a good thing, too. However, with the rise in modern medicine came a rise in power, money, and influence. Where there is money, there is corruption. Not all aspects of modern medicine are so good. We take all sorts of toxic medications, many of which have natural -- and safer -- alternatives. Those alternatives, though, are often much cheaper than the toxins that pollute our environment now.

Medical practitioners often arrogantly disparage any form of traditional healing. In many ways, this behavior is absurd. After all, whence come the earliest medicines but from the herbs and plants around us? One need not look much further than willow bark or meadowsweet to see the origins of aspirin. It is also interesting how post-modern scientific review is now lending credence to some of the practices once held in disdain by science.

The state, of course, found ways to utilize the rising medical establishment as a tool for the suppression. Sometimes, outright persecution of a practice results in a defiant adherence to it. It is much more effective to mock it and make it look stupid and backward, which is exactly what the medical establishment did. This same tactic, by the way, was employed by the Soviet Union to undermine the folk doctors and shamans of the Siberian tribes, thus bringing their people in line with Moscow's vision of the New Soviet Man. Of course, the New Soviet Man did not speak a Mordvin language or have the appearance of a Chukchi. Likewise, the New American Man did not speak Deitsch or have the appearance of a Lenape.

What of scholastic institutions? What role did they play? Initially, the Deitsch were in the process of creating their own higher education establishments, which is where institutions like Kutztown University originate. Otherwise, particularly as it applies to primary and secondary education, the schools form the apparatus of the state, which used them to perpetuate the stereotype of the Dumb Dutchman and to belittle and to weaken our heritage and cultural identity. The 1911 ban on the instruction of German in schools formed the basis for a program of the dissolution of the Deitsch culture, so much so that by the time I was in school in the late 1960's, we were told that the Deitsch language, accent, and other cultural indicators were a detriment to our success in life. Imagine educators expressing such opinions today!

Then there are the non-Deitsch religious institutions. Granted, not all "Deitsch" religious groups embrace Braucherei. However, while many sects will not accept the totality of Braucherei due to its Heathen core, most will recognize facets of it, such as the "laying on of the hands," that are consistent with their particular denomination's beliefs.

The larger churches, particularly the Lutherans, Reformed, and Catholics, viewed Braucherei as part of the folk culture and folk religion. Thus, they generally did not view the practice as a problem. It was an innate part of their heritage, just as it was for Heathen practitioners as well as for many smaller religious denominations. While that is not to say that there were never any issues with the established churches in the Deitscherei, there were not, on the whole, a great number of problems. The troubles began primarily with the exposure of the Deitsch folkways to the evangelical churches of other ethnicities. These troubles began prior to 1830 with the Anglo-American evangelical attempts to order American social life and to keep it in line with the church (see Foreigners in Their Own Land, by Steven M. Nolt, chapter 5).

As time went on, some of the churches, particularly those that were obsessed with legislating morality and who feared a demon behind every elm tree, began to denounce Braucherei as sorcery, Satanism, evil, etc. These fearful individuals have a tendency, even now, to spread hysteria and concern about everyone (usually, of course, neglecting to notice the holes in their own lives). Thus, the state and they became each other's tools. In their minds, they were saving the souls of everyone touched by the millennia-old practice. In the state's mind, it was saving the Commonwealth from the threat of the unassimilated Deitsch.

Such nonsense.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevail these days in the Deitscherei, and we are witnessing a resurgence in the practice and knowledge of Braucherei in all contexts. With a bit more of a struggle, we are also seeing an increase in the number of Deitsch speakers. However, the literacy rate and the mastery of grammar among those speakers is questionable, so we must work harder at standardizing the language.

While strides with the language are being taken in the Urglaawe community with its summer language Vorschul, the wider community is still sitting mostly idle, waiting for someone else to take action.

It is only with effort and the sharing of resources and goals that we will be able to render the Suppression a total failure.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Die Weisskeppich Fraa

Die Weisskeppich Fraa, known in English as the White-Haired Woman, is the very personification of healing in Braucherei. She appears very frequently during healing sessions. When we are engaged in the healing of a living person with a personal issue, She often appears alone. When we are healing the souls of those who have passed on, or when we are dealing with a living person who has an an issue with one who has passed, She often appears with Holle, Wodan, or other entities.

The Urglaawe faith regards Her as a deity; more specifically, She is seen as one of the White Ladies, whom Jacob Grimm describes in Teutonic Mythology (vol. 1, 279-280; vol. 2, 962-968). There is some conjecture that She may be akin to the Norse Eir.

My first introduction to Weisskeppichi was during my first experience with time-cord journeying. I was contacted by a sibling of a direct ancestor. This sibling was being held to the physical plane by an overwhelming sense of guilt.

Throughout the course of the work, Holle and Weisskeppichi appeared and gave the soul of the sibling a choice: she could either be healed by Weisskeppichi and continue to watch over her clan line, or she could proceed immediately with Holle to her figurative mill. She chose the latter.

Since that incident, I have found a tremendous sense of spiritual calm. The White-Haired Woman can be difficult to describe. She appears as a young, beautiful woman with pure, white hair. Her entire countenance glows, and you feel a tremendous sense of love.

I was at the home of Susan Hess, a colleague in Braucherei from the Three Sisters Center and member of the Oley Freindschaft guild. Susan and I have a lot in common, including the fact that we are both of the sign of the Baer on the Deitsch lunar zodiac. We are also both born under the sign of Libra.

Libra by Mia Bosna
Susan showed me a picture that she had on the wall. It was a representation of Libra by artist Mia Bosna. I looked at it, and it was clear that the reason Susan had shown it to me was because it looked just like Die Weisskeppich Fraa!

Also interesting is the presence of the mills in the picture. Clearly their presence is due to Libra being an Air sign. However, in my journeywork, Holle's mill was present in the background, and that makes this image all that much more spiritually awesome to me.

Well, I purchased a copy of that same image, and it now is on my altar.

Mia Bosna does some amazing work. Check out

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ceremony of the Corn

The Ceremony of the Corn, called the Kannsege in Deitsch, is the Braucherei ritual in which a Butzemann is spiritually activated. This ceremony is also practiced in Urglaawe, which has also expanded its interpretation through ancillary lore and folk custom.

Hearth Goddess in Berks County. Photo by P. Donmoyer
There is no doubt that the core of the ceremony is of Heathen origin. Depending on the Braucherei lineage, there are variations in interpretation. Perhaps the most prominent of the variations is the identification of the "Haerdgedderin," or the Hearth Goddess. The clearest and most common association with this figure is the Teutonic Frigg. However, other interpretations assign this role to the Gnostic Sophia, specifically due to the eaves of at least one hearth structure including a votive image that resembles other depictions of Sophia. 

It is interesting to note, though, that both Frigg and Sophia are strongly associated with a cosmic wisdom, and it is possible that this is where the two became fused. However, one key difference is that Sophia is considered to be a virgin, while Frigg is the personification of motherhood, home, and hearth.

The juxtaposing of the Kannsege with Grundsaudaag (Groundhog Day) places feminine creative energies and motherhood in a central role of the creation of the Butzemann. Conventional wisdom would indicate Holle in the center of a Braucherei observance of this magnitude. However, Holle is still on errands involving the Wild Hunt at this stage of the spiritual calendar. Additionally, while Holle is associated with an orderly life and an orderly home, She is not typically seen in the role of a deity of the Hearth. 

Braucherei oral tradition from the Parryville-Harrity lineage states that the Hearth Goddess is the mother of the Butzemann. This concept is reflected in other oral lore, too, although the references are vague. Even the ambiguous references, though, provide support for the Butzemann being a product of the hearth as much as of the field. This arrangement is, in fact, a metaphor for human relations as well as for the interaction between wights and humans.

Although Deitsch culture has traditionally borne a stronger sense of gender parity than many neighboring cultures, gender roles have traditionally been distinct. This is evident today in Plain, Semi-Plain, and even many traditional Fancy Deitsch families. Women run the home; men run the fields. The woman is the keeper of the keys, which to many people would be a familiar reference to Frigg.

If nurturing the home (thence: hearth) represents feminine energies, and the working the fields represents the male energies, then one may see how the Butzemann is a product of both. The fertile field without shelter cannot sustain life. A home without food equally will not provide sustenance. 

When the Butzemann is created, he carries a portion of the soul of the corn (or any crop) forth with him. In a manner that is consistent with Urglaawe belief, this portion of the soul is the eternal Self and is reincarnated, or reborn, into successive generations of related kin. 

After the Butzemann is created, powwow chants and incantations are said over him. He receives the breath of life (a reference to Frigg's husband, Wodan (Odin)), and he is either given a name or reveals his name to his host. He is now prepared to become the "father" of this year's crops. He is given a series of instructions and is walked around the perimeter of his turf. The Butzemann will be the center of numerous rites, offerings, and rituals during his tenure as warder of the field.
Small but powerful: Urglaawe Butzemenner

The Kannsege ends with the Butzemann taking his post and beginning his watch. He will spiritually and energetically patrol the territory, and he will help to watch out for the home as well. Thus, like a dutiful child, he protects the totality of his family.

This concept is akin to the establishment of a respectful and harmonious relationship with the spirits of one's land. Appropriate offerings and diligent stewardship can lead to the wights having a vested interest in the stability of the human home.

 A longstanding Urglaawe belief is that a lack of roots leads to social disorder and to the ultimate collapse of society. This notion is visible in Braucherei traditions as well. All of the aspects of the Ceremony of the Corn relate to family, home, security, and the establishment of roots.

Robert Lusch
Oley Freindschaft

Ammerili Eckhart
Parryville-Harrity Freindschaft

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Der Grundsaudaag

In der Braucherei (un aa im Urglaawe) iss der Grundsaudaag en vielgsichtiches Fescht. Es Fescht watt vun sich in der weitere Deitsche Gesellschaft in de Feierlichkeede im Punxsutawney gschpiggelt; dese Feierlichkeede schtehne doch wie en Schadde vun der gedreiliche Bedeitung vum Grundsaudaag.

Die Braucherei verzehlt zu uns, as der 2. Hanning uns darrich en dinnerer Schleier zwische de neine Reich (koerperliche un geischtliche) bschenkt. Die erschde Landwichde (en Wicht = en Wese) erfasse die Gelegeheit, fer vun der Wilde Yacht zerickzukumme. Die Grundsau verdredet sich wie der "yenseitlicher" adder annerweltlicher Iwwerbringer, der (in me Aagschtalt aehnlich wie der Ratatosk uff em Lewesbaam in de Skandinaawische Saage) darrich sei Tunnel rennt. Daer Tunnel hot en Effning in yedem vun de neine Reich. Die Grundsau bringt darum die Bericht vun de annere Reich haer.

Zu eem landwattschaftliche Volk watt es uffkummend Wedder abaddich wichtich; sell gebt, vielleicht, die Ursach, as die Grundsau un ihre Weddervorhersaage noch driwwekumme sinn. Es Wedder iss doch ee gleenes Deel vun seinre Bottschaft. Ennichebber, der bei eem Grundsau-Lodsch am 2. Hanning mol gewest iss, weescht, as die Grundsau zaahlreiche Vorhersaage iwwerliefert. 'S iss vorausgsetzt, as dese Wadde im Schaerz rausgebrocht sinn, awwer etliche Saage zeige aa, darrich es Zeitschnurwaerrick in der Braucherei un in annerem esoterische Gschaff, as die Grundsau aa anschtliche Bottschafte haerbringt.

Es gebt aa am 2. Hanning en Feierlichkeet zu der "Haerdgedderin" (adder "Haerdziebin" im Urglaawe), die iss weiter in Teitonischer Gschicht wie Frigg bekannt. Am 2. Hanning sette mer aa die Schaffekraft vun de Midder un de Weibsleit. Alle Vorgengerinne watt aa geehrt; sell iss iwwereischtimmlich mit de Disir-Sege (en Dis = Idis = en Owwemudder vun re Familye adder Sippe un iss, wuher die "Fee-Geedel" adder in Englisch fairy godmother entschteht), die mer in Skandinaawische un Anglo-Saxische Breich finne kann.

Darrich die Braucherei weess mer, as mer am Grundsaudaag der Feierhard (Feierplatz, Feiereck, Lichterschtock, usw) uffbutze muss. Wann der Feierhard uffgebutzt warre iss, schteckt mer en neies Feier mit re Baerkezweig aa. Wann's en Haapthaerd waehrend der Gemeeschafts-Feierlichkeet gebt, kammer Zinderkaschde benutze, um die Flamm vum Haapthaerd nooch de Heemhaerd vun de Mitmacher zu draage. Yetz denn fangt die Friehlingbutzerei aa, un mer hot vum Grundsaudaag bis die Walpurgisnacht (30. Oschdret/Abrill), fer es Haus in die Ordning zu bringe.

As en Erfolk vun de Weibsleits-Schaffekrafte iss der Butzemann gebore; graad recht iss es besser "widdergebore" zu saage, weil der Butzemann schpringt vun de Iwwerescht vum vergangene Yaahr sei Ern. Es gebt weitleftiche Weihe, wu der Urglaawe hot vun der Braucherei geerbt, in welle der Butzemann wie der Landschirmer ausgschriwwe watt. Er bekummt der Vadder vun de kummende Feldfruchte.

Er bleibt in de Felder bis en Zeit zwische em Erntfescht (21. Scheiding/September) un em Allelieweziel (31. Gehling/Oktower), wann er muss darrichverbrennt warre. Es gebt deel erschtaunliche Gschpichte iwwer Butzemenner, die es Allelieweziel iwwerlewe, awwer dese warre bis en annerer Daag waarde.