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.