“B” is for Butzemann: The Pagan Experience

This post is inspired by the writing prompt from The Pagan Experience for week 4 of January, which reads: “Wk 4- Jan. 26 –  Any writing for the letters A or I am keeping this familiar format on week 4 for those who have joined me from the Pagan Blog Project.”

A Butzemann is a scarecrow that has been spiritually activated in a ritual to embody the spirit of the crops growing in the land. You create one on Grundsaudaag, or Groundhog Day, gifting him with a name and clothing. Then you guide him around the property so that he can see the land he is to protect in the coming season. As the goddess Frigg provides feminine energies to protect and nurture the crops as the spirit of the land, the Butzemann represents the spirit of the plants that is their “father”, providing masculine energies to also protect and nurture the crops.

You can learn more about how a Butzemann is created, how he protects the land, and what may happen if he is not respectfully burned by Allelieweziel (October 31st) in this great story from the Deitsch Mythology blog.

This year, I’ll be creating my very first Butzemann. I don’t have a farm or even outdoor land of any kind. But I do have an indoor garden which primarily takes the form of orchids: Phalenopsis orchids, Cattleya orchids, Oncidium orchids, and Paphiopedilum orchids. I also have some spider plants, some African violets, an arrowhead plant, a jade plant, and a lovely “Pink Princess” Philodendron. (That’s actually the name of the variety!) My Butzemann will be a miniature version that will stand on a stake in one of my largest pots, and watch over these indoor plants and our home.

Over the past year, I saved and dried flowers from my orchids to serve as part of the “stuffing” of the Butzemann. This conveys the spirit of the “crops” into the Butzemann during the ceremony in which he is activated. While the examples I have seen are sewn from fabric, I’m going to try creating a knit one this year. I found a pattern for a basic knit doll that I am going to create from all-wool yarn, with an embroidered face.

I couldn’t find any doll clothes of an appropriate size for my miniature Butzemann, and I don’t have quite enough butzemann clothesknitting skills to create clothes that way, so I found some baby clothes at a Target that don’t look babyish. I love that I was able to find pants with blue cuffs at the bottom, which match the blue shirt. While they are most likely still too big for the doll I will be knitting, I think I can pin and tie them creatively for a better fit. These clothes are the Butzemann’s only possessions, so they must be given to him alone, and respectfully burned with him when the proper time comes. To steal a Butzemann’s clothing is bad luck–though admittedly theft is more of a risk for the full sized versions!

Butzemenner are also gifted with names, and it’s a really interesting process. You can learn the details of it in this article from the Urglaawe blog. I’m going to be reviewing lists of German names to find one that seems suitable. Since this is my first ever Butzemann, and the first one on my “property”, his name will be followed with “der Nei” meaning “the New”. The name I choose for this first Butzemann is particularly special, because it will be the clan name of each Butzemann I create afterwards, or potentially even of those created by my family after me.

As you saw in the story, a Butzemann must also receive offerings throughout the year. This is only fitting, as the offerings are given in thanks for the work he does in protecting the land and plants. But on a magical level, it also strengthens his spirit for the work to be done, and reinforces the identity that you’re creating when you use his name and empower him during the Grundsaudaag ritual. Milk and molasses are both examples of appropriate offerings from the story. Other offerings that might be suitable are the sorts of things you would gift to other land-related spirits, such as bread, honey, eggs, or just a bit of whatever the family is having for dinner. My personal belief is that the energy and intent behind your offering, and giving offerings regularly, both matter more than the exact physical form the offering takes.

More details, including pictures of the finished Butzemann, when I make my Grundsaudaag post later this week!


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