The Pagan Experience: “J” is for “Journey”

This post was inspired by a prompt atThe Pagan Experience suggesting writing for the letters “I” or “J”.

journeyA journey is such an apt metaphor for so many different areas of our lives, and even for life itself. We travel through the world, through our childhoods, through schooling, and through many other life passages. We are exposed to new information, situations, and people. We grow and change as a result.

The journey I want to discuss today, though, is my journey through the calendar, Urglaawe style. One of my goals when I started this blog was to take a tour through the full year of Urglaawe holy days and the thoughts and actions we attune ourselves with through each season. I haven’t managed to fit all of them together yet–that will likely take several years of work until it comes naturally–but I’ve learned a lot more about how the year works.

Much as in other Pagan faiths, Urglaawe takes inspiration from nature and the agricultural year. By aligning ourselves with these tides of nature, instead of fighting against them, we can take advantage of energies that will help push us towards our goals. The chief difference that I’ve found between Urglaawe and other Heathen or Pagan faiths, in terms of the calendar, is the focus on self-improvement. Each year, which begins with the dark part of the year, just as each day begins with sunset rather than sunrise, starts a new cycle of creating, planning, and executing personal goals that are intended to further your spiritual progress. It is each person’s job to do this work as well as possible in order to bring all of us, together, to a better place spiritually.

 

My Journey Through the Urglaawe Calendar: 2015
Autumn in LigonierThe new year begins at Allelieweziel, on October 31, when Holle and Wudan depart on the Wild Hunt. At this time, we reflect on what we want to banish from our lives, and send these traits into the flames with the Butzemann who is sacrificed by this date. We begin a time of introspection that lasts until the 12 nights of celebration at Yuul. In between we have the holy day dedicated to Ewicher Yeeger, and the railing against King Frost, so that His hold on us in the Winter months will be less severe.

My Journey: As this is the time of year we are in now, many of my thoughts are revolving around it. Banishing some things to the flames, such as messiness in my home, anxiety, and financial insecurity, have already led to dramatic changes in my personal life. Things are unsettled and challenging now, but promise to be much better for me in even as soon as a month from now, provided that I continue to work hard.

Yuul arrives at the Winter Solstice, and there are 12 days of rejoicing, feasting, and closeness with loved ones, including Muddernacht, a celebration of female and motherly energies and the Idise. Particularly relevant for me is Holle’s Verbot against spinning during Yuul. You are to clear your distaff of any old material and during Yuul itself place new material on the distaff to receive blessings. This is related to the introspection at this time of year, banishing the old so that you can welcome the new. Next comes Berchtaslauuf, Berchta’s feast day, on December 31st, followed by Neiyaahrsdaag on January 1st, where we set our resolutions on a wreath and burn them, to set our intentions to the Gods for the coming year. The specific goals can then become concrete with planning, building structures to make your goals work, and acquiring any tools or materials you might need to make them successful.

My Journey: I started my journey through the Urglaawe year with Berchta’s feast, which is herring and gruel or oatmeal. I was so nervous about getting everything right! I felt like I didn’t know anything about Urglaawe and I was in way over my head. The goals I planned for myself at this time were to go through the Urglaawe calendar, to get to know the Gods better, particularly the ones that are unique to Urglaawe, to learn to speak Deitsch, to change my diet to the New Nordic Diet, to be exercising 1 hour daily by the end of the year, and to achieve financial independence through a new business I had just started. All of those goals have changed in some way or another, sometimes undergoing multiple transformations! The most important lesson I have learned is that my goals were far too numerous and ambitious, and that I have to face the fact that I have human limitations, whether I like it or not.

Grundsaudaag arrives on February 2, and so does the Grundsau, who is a messenger spirit in Deitsch tradition. grundsauflowerThis is the time of honoring feminine energies, just as male energies are honored at Allelieweziel, and the Goddess Frigg is closely associated with this holiday. The souls of the Wild Hunt pass over to the realms of the dead for healing. A new Butzemann is created to protect the crops of the coming year, and our hearths are cleaned to start a new flame. This begins a time of putting our plans into action and preparing for planting crops, and it also signals the start of Spring cleaning, which puts your home in order for Holle’s return from the Wild Hunt.

My Journey: This has always been my favorite holiday, even before I discovered Urglaawe. I love the hope and new beginnings. On a personal level, this holiday signals to me an excellent time to begin creative projects, such as fiber art and written works. As you might have guessed from the title of this blog, I also feel a special closeness to the Grundsau, which, over this past year, I feel has started to become a stronger relationship.  I really enjoyed creating my Butzemann, starting the Schaeffer (meaning shepherd) lineage that will name all my future Butzemenner. When I did, I started to feel like I was getting “hands on” in my Urglaawe practice, which was really exciting. Even though I don’t plant crops, I do indoor gardening of tropical plants, and I also have beloved animals for my Butzemann to guard over. In the future (perhaps even the near future!) I am expecting to have some outdoor space as well, so the planting part might become more applicable to me. My Spring cleaning goals were overly ambitious (notice a theme?) and didn’t come to fruition in the way that I hoped, owing in part to some illnesses that set in around this time. I am working on minimizing and decluttering my belongings, keeping my home in better order, and improving my cleaning efforts so that I can have more peace and harmony in my home and so that I can do a better job of Spring cleaning in the future.

distlefinkroadsideOschdre takes place on the Vernal Equinox, and the myth behind this holiday is my absolute favorite in all of Deitsch tradition. It’s absolutely beautiful. Seriously, go read it. The Goddess Oschdra, the Distlefink (goldfinch), and the Hass (hare) are all honored at this time. If you’ve ever wondered what on earth a bunny and colored eggs have to do with this time of year, those Germanic traditions are why we celebrate that way!

My Journey: You won’t find a post for Oschdre 2015 on this blog. I was sick and observed the holiday quietly with some simple offerings. The eggs and bird symbolism of this holiday have a lot of importance here for me personally because as a spirit worker (something I am/do in addition to my Urglaawe practice), my tribe that I serve is the spirits of extinct birds. There are many important birds in Deitsch and Germanic mythology, including the Distlefink, goose, swan, stork, eagle, and others. So in my personal practice, this is a time to pay special attention to this spirit tribe, with offerings, meditation, and just a general mindfulness of them. I have also really come to love the joy of egg hunts, and try to find friends or little ones to share this with when I can.

From Walpurgisnacht, on April 30th, we begin a time of the celebration of joy upon Holle and Wudan’s retun from the Wild Hunt, which continues until Midsummer. Holidays at this time include Moifescht, on May 1st, a celebration of male creative energies, Dingsege in June which is the Thing or the gathering of the Folk, and sacred to Ziu, and Midsummer, the Summer Solstice. Our work at this time, believe it or not, is to have a good time! Spending time with loved ones and on the things we most enjoy doing is the order of the day. 

My Journey: During this time, I was bogged down in real life problems that were unfortunately only to get worse BobRossPaintedByATreeas Summer turned into Autumn. So, on the To Do list next year? HAVE MORE FUN! (Like this Happy Little Tree is doing.)

Hoietfescht, or Haymaking, takes place on August 1st, and much as its name suggests, is the time where we officially begin to bring in the crops and prepare them for Winter storage. In our lives, this is a time to review our goals and to see if we’re on track with them or not, to prepare for the hard work ahead of bringing in our personal harvest. Betweeen Hoietfescht and Erntfescht, on the Autumn Equinox, we enjoy the rewards of our hard work, celebrating what the Gods and Spirits have given to us. Also at this time is the observance of Teutoburgschlacht from September 9th through 12th, commemorating the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. 

My Journey: As Erntfescht approached, I realized that the chaos in my cluttered home was not helping my life improve. So I started learning about minimalism, a philosophy that means to remove from our lives that which isn’t working in order to focus on that which matters most. Sounds a lot like Urglaawe philosophy, doesn’t it? I started donating, giving to friends, and throwing out all that no longer served me. In so doing, I was able to cultivate a greater appreciation for what I did have, and to gift loved ones with things they valued.

zisaZisasege takes place on September 28, the historically attested feast day of the Goddess Zisa. Zisa is the wife of Ziu (Tyr) and is known as the Undoer of Knots, preserved in Christian tradition as Mary Undoer of Knots. As with many Goddesses, Zisa was so well loved that the church could not stamp out Her worship, and was forced instead to adopt it. When Zisa undoes knots for us, She takes the troubles in our lives and untangles them, smoothing them out to make things better. One of Her symbols is the pinecone, representing Her protection of the people as the delicate seeds inside the tough shell. 

After Zisasege, we have another cultural observance, Deitschdaag, or Pennsylvania Dutch Day, on October 6th. For me this is a time to honor my heritage and ancestors, and be proud of where I came from. It’s also coincidentally the final holiday before Allelieweziel, where we especially honor our Ancestors and departed loved ones, so for me this is a step up to the high gear of Ancestral honoring time. 

My Journey: I was really bummed to miss a formal celebration of Zisasege this year, but this was a time in my life where my troubles really kicked into high gear, and I could have used a lot more knot undoing! I collected some pine cones to honor Her and placed them on my altar. I also had a pinecone statue in place from earlier in the year. I’m not going to wait all the way until next Zisasege to reach out to Her and get to know Her better! And, in case you were wondering, She will get an entry of Her very own once I reach “Z” in the alphabet prompts!

So that’s my journey through the Urglaawe holidays in 2015. I tried a lot, I learned a lot, I grew closer to the Gods and Spirits, and I bonded more closely with my Deitsch culture and Ancestors. I met some goals, fell short on others, and decided that others weren’t right for me and needed a change. Looking back makes me really excited about what the coming year will bring, and is also an important part of my personal work of introspection at this time. I hope that by following along with this (very very long) post that you too have learned something about Urglaawe and its rich traditions, and that it will inspire you in your own spiritual journeys. Macht’s immer besser! (Make it always better!)

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