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Friday, August 18, 2017

Deitsch Eclipse Lore

Since solar eclipses are so rare, this is getting posted before the research is completed. It will be updated as it progresses.

There are two types of stories related to eclipses. One is sort of "pro" eclipse and the other is rather "con" eclipse. 

An eclipse is called a "Finschderniss" (grammatically feminine, so it takes the article "die"), and an eclipse specifically of the sun is called "Sunnefinschderniss." "Finschderniss" is related to "finschder," means "murky" or "dark." The "pro" story is that Sunna and Muun were lovers (some say married) but that the jealous trickster Schadde had gotten between them (this is where the versions of the stories get confusing, which is why they still have not been published), but he somehow manages to persuade the god associated with sleep, Schlumm, to cast sleep spells on each of them. While they are asleep, Schadde sets them into the sky so that he is between them. 

Sunna and Muun do a dance through the skies, trying to be together, and , when a solar eclipse happens, it means they have achieved that goal, with Muun tossing Schadde behind him. An echo of the noise-making appears in this context with some respondents saying that they tap drinking glasses at this time, which is reminiscent of what people do at weddings when they want the bride and groom to kiss. The reason this is only "sort of" pro is that the way Schadde persuades Schlumm to set them to sleep has something to do with imbalance in Mannheem, and Sunna and Muun being together too long would have catastrophic results. Someday I will get that story's versions harmonized.

The other stories are akin to the Norse and other cultural stories: an animal (usually a fox or a wolf) is chasing the sun and catching it, and banging of pots and pans is performed to scare the animal away.

The first story reminds me a bit of this song...



Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
daß sie am Himmel sich niemals trafen,
denn wenn er aufsteht, dann geht sie schlafen.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie.

Da sind wir beide besser dran, viel besser dran,
weil mich dein Mund so oft ich will am Tage küssen kann.
Hier unten ist das Leben schön für dich und mich,
dein Mund sagt mir so oft ich will: 'Mein Schatz, ich liebe dich!'

Doch Lady, Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
würden gern was dagegen tun,
dass sie so einsam dort oben wandern,
dass sie noch träumen, verliebt vom Andern.

Lady Sunshine und Mister Moon
können gar nichts dagegen tun,
wenn sie auch träumen von einem Märchen,
ein Pärchen werden sie nie. Nie! Nie!

Friday, May 12, 2017

And Here They Come...

Although it does not appear that we'll be dealing with freezing temperatures in the Deitscherei over the next three nights, we still observe the end of the Wonnezeit and keep an eye out for the first attack of the Reifries (Frost Giants).

There are at least two full variants of this story exist along with several additional tidbits and remnants turning up in other areas. The versions of the story that make a complete tale are those of the  Oley Freindschaft and the Harrity-Palmerton Freindschaft guilds of Braucherei, and their versions complement each other, with the Harrity-Palmerton version containing many details that the Oley version lacked. There are some clashing points between the versions, such as one stating that each Butzemann defends only his own property and the other referring to the Butzemann army taking the battle with the Frost Giants into the north.

This is the first, raw, harmonized version, which includes features of both principal complete versions as well as aspects of the remnants of others. The final version will be published in the near future.

---------------------------

Der Reifkeenich (King Frost) heard that the Wild Hunt had returned to Mannheem (the home of humanity) and that his armies were in retreat from Hexefeld as the Wonnedanz revitalized the land. He first ordered Dreizehdax ("Thirteen-Badger") to go to Mannheem to reclaim his lost holdings. The next day, he dispatched Vatzehvedder (or Vatzehfedder, which may be a dialectic reference to "Fourteen-Porcupine"), and on the third day, he sent Fuffzehfux ("Fifteen-Fox"). Each took with him an army of Giants and allies.

Dreizehdax and his soldiers journeyed twelve nights from the Naddbledder ("Northern Leaves" of the World Tree). As they arrived in Mannheem, they brought the temperature down so much tender plants that could not withstand the cold. Dreizehdax and his soldiers feasted upon the spirits of the dying plants. Dreizehdax led his army down from the north, eventually arriving in the farmlands. 

Suddenly, he caught the gaze of a large, powerful, reddish-haired man, and he immediately recognized Him as Dunner. Dunner stood between Dreizehdax and the farmland, which Dreizehdax greedily wished to devour.

The Butzemann (spiritually activated scarecrow) on each farm prepared to fight to protect their children, though they were young and were not sure that they could defeat Dreizehdax and his powerful soldiers. As the Frost Giants stepped forward, Dunner lifted his mighty Hammer and slew one soldier after another, leaving only Dreizehdax, who fled in terror back to the north.

Dunner spoke to the Butzemenner (plural), telling them that He would teach them how to fight the Frost Giants. 

The next night, Vatzehvedder and his armies arrived in Mannheem. His army drenched the mountains in freezing rain, which stung the tenders, and the soldiers devoured the spirits of the dying plants. As the army approached the farmlands, Dunner raised His Hammer and commanded the rain to stop. He told all of the Butzemenner to come out of their shells to fight alongside Him. 

The spirit of each Butzemann stepped forth. Dunner fought the soldiers of Vatzehvedder with His hands, using His breath to warm the air and exerting His Megge (main, megin, life force energy) upon them, which caused them to melt. The Butzemenner followed suit, using the power of their Megge to surround the army so Dunner could destroy it. Vatzehvedder realized that his army was doomed, and he retreated to the north, joining Dreizehdax.

On the third night, Fuffzehfux and his army arrived in Mannheem. He and his soldiers froze the mist in the air, which dropped deadly dew onto the leaves and stems of the tender plants. The dew tortured the tender plants and harmed even many hardier plants. The Frost Giants began to eat the spirits of the damaged plants. 

Suddenly, the Butzemenner emerged from their shells and rose up from the farmlands, coming into the north and destroying the soldiers while they feasted. As the Butzemenner stepped forward the frozen dew turned to a warm mist, and the plants rejoiced.

Fuffzehfux soon found himself standing alone facing the Butzemann army, and he retreated to the north, joining Dreizehdax and Vatzehvedder. The three returned to the Naddbledder to bring the unhappy news of their defeat to King Frost.

As each Butzemann returned home to defend his own land, Dunner appeared before them to congratulate them on their victory. "Your children may now safely take root in the soil of Mannheem."

This is why the tender plants may be brought out after sunrise on May 15.

---------------------------

Contributing work:

Tobin, Jesse. Der Braucherei Weg (course). Kempton, PA: Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, 2007.

Robert L. Schreiwer and Ammerili Eckhart, original research, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013..

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Synchronicity...

Today I was driving up to the Urglaawe cemetery on back roads. It was a nice day to drive after several days of heavy rain. I noticed that the Hollenbach (the Deitsch name for Jordan Creek in Lehigh County, PA) was flowing particularly strongly (and it normally is pretty fast to begin with), so I pulled onto a side road, got out of my truck, and walked onto a bridge that looks over the creek.

While I was standing there, an old man walked up from the side road carrying fishing gear. He greeted me, and we struck up a conversation. Through the course of the chat, I mentioned the Urglaawe Folklore Research Project, which interested him immensely. This part of Lehigh County is Blobarrick (Blue Mountain) country and is thus Ewicher Yeeger's stomping grounds.

I asked him if he knew any folk stories from the region, and he replied that he did. When I mentioned Ewicher Yeeger, his face lit up, and he said that he knew a few stories. One that he told was very similar to the Ewicher Yeeger story of Allemaengel, but then he told me an anecdote that I found interesting.

He said that when he was a boy, his brother, some friends, and he used to fish in the Hollenbach, and there was an old man, whose name he could not recollect, who used to fish in the creek as well. He said the old man was very mysterious and he was not sure of much about him other than that he was from Werleseck (Werleys Corner) and that people considered him to be a hermit. The old man would talk to the boys and would tell them stories about the area (some of which he related to me).

He said that what he recalled vividly was that he thought some of the man's actions were peculiar. He would throw beans, corn, worms, flowers or plants, cheese, or other items into the creek before and/or after he fished, whether he caught something or not. He said that when the old man would catch a fish, he would utter a word of thanks to the Eternal Hunter for giving him a meal that night. He would then throw some food into the creek for the fish.

When I remarked on only having heard of Ewicher Yeeger in the context of the hunt, he replied, "Fishing is a bit like hunting, gell?"

He then remarked that he thinks of the mysterious old man occasionally when he is fishing or when he walks past the area where the old man used to fish. We continued to to talk as we walked along the creek so he could show me where the man used to fish, and he admitted that he on occasion whispers a thanks to Ewicher Yeeger when he catches a fish or has a successful hunt.

The description given to me about the mysterious man was that he was a Braucher or a Hex and that the man relating this story to me was witnessing the hermit's rituals. The man with whom I was speaking was born "during the time that the people were depressed" so he is likely at least in his 80s, and he said the hermit was very old when he was about age 11-15 or 16. This would put the hermit as being born sometime, perhaps during the 1850s-1870s.

The man said he would ask his brother if he remembered any other stories that the old man or anyone else told when they were boys and he'd contact me if he learned anything.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Der Luul

'Siss Midwinder. Viele vun de Blanzegeischder sinn uff der Wilde Yacht mit der Holle gange. 'Em Reifkeenich sei Griegsmenner sinn iwwer 'm Land am Haerrsche. 

Wie waer's doch mit de annere Blanzegeischder? Sie sinn immer am Schiddle im reifiche Bodde. Wann en Eisgrieger die sehnt wett, er deet die in die Unnergegend schicke.

Wie duhne die driwwerkumme?

Der grie Harr Luul hiedt die.  Sei Ochdem erbaeht die. Sei Hand beschitzt die. Die yingere Geischder  buhle um sei Gunscht vun Ihm. Er iss die Waerming im Kalt. Er iss em Daagslicht sei Suh. Er iss der Lenzing im Winder.

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It is midwinter. Many of the plant spirits are on the Wild Hunt with Holle. The warriors of King Frost rule over the land. 

What of the other plant spirits? They are always shivering in the frosty soil. If an ice warrior would see them, he would send them to the Unnergegend. 

How do they survive?

The green Lord Luul watches over them. His breath warms them. His hand protects them. The younger spirits court his favor. He is the warmth in the cold. He is the son of the dawn's light. He is the spring in winter.

----------------- 

One of the more mysterious beings in the Hexerei lore related from Central Pennsylvania by a small handful of respondents, the Luul is the defender of the winter greens and the early spring greens. 

The respondents related to Him as a helpful entity, which is not uncommon among many practitioners of Deitsch folk healing and magic even with known deities such as Wudan, Dunner, and Holle. The text above is an amalgamation of several respondents' statements, but among the more curious comments was from a Sadie M. (not her real name) of Juniata County, who made the specific reference to Luul being the son of dawn's light and the "Lenzing" in winter.

Lenzing can mean "springtime," but it is also an alternate name for the month of March (and is of the same root as "Lent" and is of Germanic origin). March is also the time of the Spring Equinox, or the Oschdre, which is associated in other tales with a goddess of the dawn who brought color to the world. Could Luul be the son of this goddess? 

During discussions on this topic among the Urglaawe community, we learned of the Frankish god known by varying names, including Lollus, Lullus, and Loll. We have looked into a possible link between Luul and Lollus. Lollus is depicted as holding His tongue, presumably because He is youthful (maybe even “Baby New Year” youthful?). Indeed, His name is linguisticlally related to “lollipop” and “lullabye,” so the tongue and the mouth appear to be important features.

 

Some scholars link Luul to Frey in terms of fertility. Grapes and earns of grain were given to Lollus, and He wore a wreath of poppy flowers around His neck. 


Image Source:
https://www.schweinfurtfuehrer.de/sagen-und-geschichten/schweinfurter-sagen/die-sage-vom-lollus/
Could an echo of the awareness of Lollus have been carried through into Deitsch lore in the form of Luul? Such a link cannot be proven, unfortunately. Nevertheless, Urglaawer honor Luul at New Year's Day, but it would be just as appropriate to honor Him during the month of Lenzing at the time when the weather is particularly capricious. 

While native plants are acclimated to the fickle weather of late winter and early spring, many naturalized plants, particularly annuals, are at risk of germinating during extended warm spells and then being damaged by a cold snap. 

If one accepts the connection between Luul and Lollus as likely, then grapes, grains, and poppies are appropriate offerings.

Some of the greens that Luul may be protecting include the following:

Among the greens that I'd place into this category, at least in this general area, would be Dead Nettles (Daabnessel, Lamium purpureum), Ground Ivy (Grundelrewe, Glechoma hederacea), Chickweed (Hinkeldarrem, Stellaria media), Cuckooflower (Schtruwwlichi Nans in Deitsch; in English, also called Pennsylvania Bittercress or Lady's Smock; Cardamine pensylvanica and related species). There are, of course, others.

There are medicinal uses for all of these, but among the more esoteric uses are the following:

Purple Deadnettle: A strong stand of Purple Deadnettle appearing in the Fall is said to divine a mild winter. Also, if someone is very ill, then the urine of that person is to be collected at night and poured onto Purple Deadnettles. If the Deadnettles were yellow or dying the next morning, then the ailing person should be expected to die from the current ailment. If the Purple Deadnettles were still green, then the person would be expected to overcome the ailment.

Ground Ivy: Sewn into the seams of skirts, this plant is said to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Also, wreaths of Ground Ivy worn by elderly women around the waist while dancing on Walpurgisnacht/Wonnenacht are said to ward off old age. Similar stories apply to elderly men and women wearing wreaths on the head while dancing around the Midsummer fire. Also, this is one of the Nine Sacred Herbs of Braucherei.

Chickweed: Said via various methods to divine one's love or to attract love. I am not familiar with most of the methods, but one is similar to picking the leaves off of daisies. If you know chickweed, I am sure you can imagine the challenge presented in picking the petals off of the flowers. Perhaps more "Old World," though, is an odd practice that involves feeding a food chicken chickweed three days before it is to be cleaned and dressed, and then divining things from the entrails. The Deitsch name for the plant, Hinkeldarrem, does indeed mean "chicken guts," but most folks ascribe that to the often messy appearance of the plant.

Cuckooflower: Said to be sacred to any number of faeries and land spirits, likely because of the plant's quick, widespread appearance and the volume of seeds.

All of these can also be used alone or in combination with other herbs to detect witches, remove/block curses, and a couple of them can be used in actually casting curses.

Our understanding of Luul will continue to evolve over time.

----------------- 


GardenStone. Gods of the Germanic Peoples 2, pp. 345-347.

Hasenfratz, Hans-Peter and Michael Moynihan. Barbarian Rites: The Spiritual World of the Vikings and the Germanic Tribes, pp. 113-114.

Mein Schweinfurt. Die Sage vom Lollus.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wonnenacht and the Wonnezeit

This myth is a product of the Folklore Research Project and represents tales and fragments of tales related principally by folks who identified themselves as practitioners of Hexerei and Braucherei. Some segments of the story were also known to individuals outside of the practices. The term Wonnenacht ("Night of Joy") has been seldom used historically, but it has become the principal term for Walpurgisnacht in Urglaawe. The term Wonnedanz ("Dance of Joy") was related by a Hex from Montour County, PA, and is a replacement for Hexedanz (Witches' Dance), and Wonnezeit ("Time of Joy") describes the twelve-day observance.

Wonnenacht represents the transition from the Dunkelheft (Dark Half of the Year) to the Brechtheft (Bright Half), and the observance welcomes Holle upon Her return from the Wild Hunt.

WONNENACHT AND THE WONNEDANZ


As Sunna's kiss brought increasing warmth and light to the Hatzholz (Heartwood; the physical realm), Holle sent for her ever-loyal servant, Gedreier Eckhart, whose job it was to walk ahead of the Parade of Spirits to warn the living of the fury behind him. Eckhart's love for Holle is as great in death as it was in life, so he flew into the midst of the Host, finding the goddess dressed in white and seated in a wagon being pulled by the souls of nine bulls. The wagon rolled on three great spinning wheels. From each wheel spun a multicolored thread that wove with the the thread from the others, forming a sack of infinite size named Immerraum ("always-room"). The thunderous voices of many found spirits within the sack resounded across the realms.

"I have filled the sack that cannot be filled, and it is time to bring them home," Holle said. "Go forth to Mannheem (the home of humanity within the Hatzholz) and tell the living that they may welcome the Host and that they should be prepared for the visit. Those who remembered and honored my word will be rewarded. After the visit, they are to light two fires and to pass between them. Through that action, they will be renewed. Then you are to go to the Mannheem field, where you will find a lone linden tree under which you may rest until I arrive.”

As Eckhart began his journey into the Hatzholz, announcing the return of the Great Lady, Holle took her mighty Sichel (Sickle) and cut the three threads each, using the end of the strands to tie the sack shut.

The Host crossed from the Oschtbledder (Eastern Leaves) into the Hatzholz. Throngs of people, though scared at first, came out to welcome the parade, honoring the arrival of the wondrous Lady. The clamor of spirits filled the high skies as Holle entered Mannheem. The bulls pulled Her wagon through open windows and doors, seeking those who welcomed Her. The orderly homes served as a sign that Her command was obeyed. She filled the homes with bright light that brought such joy to the residents that they broke out in song and dance.

Presently the wagon approached the Mannheem field called Hexefeld, where Holle found Eckhart sleeping within the bark of a linden tree. She sent the southwest wind, Riffel,1 to awaken him. She instructed Eckhart to lead the Host to Hexefeld and, upon arrival, to cut loose the spirits in the sack. "It is time to meet my sister," she stated.

Eckhart did as he was told. As the Host of the cosmic spirits approached the field, Eckhart saw another parade descending from the clouds, emerging from the forests, and coming from the soil. Ahead of this parade was a brilliant gray light radiating from a beautiful elderly woman who was also dressed in white. Eckhart approached the woman, recognizing Her as Berchta, and he bowed before Her. He then took the lead through the countryside as the two parades merged together and drew closer to the linden tree where Holle awaited them.

A hush fell upon the Host as the two sisters greeted one another. They embraced, and they began to spin in a dance. The dance spun gentle whirlwinds that touched the Host, bringing warmth and joy to the spirits of the Host, and they, too, began to dance. Some gathered strands and dust from the sack, streaming the strands around trees and scattering the dust on the ground.

The Sisters continued to dance with the Host dancing behind them, moving from the field and over the rivers and lakes. Every being in the water began to dance for joy. The whirlwinds spawned gentle rains that awakened the spirits in the sleeping plants, and they, too, began to dance for joy.

The Dance moved to the foothills, where the Frost Giants had taken refuge from Sunna's breath. As the Host approached, the winter vanished, forcing the Frost Giants to retreat.

On the twelfth day, Holle instructed Eckhart to sleep in a rock at the base of a mountain pillar while the dance continued up a ridge called Hexenkopf. The entourage eventually stopped by a marshy wellspring near the top. The two sisters took rest by the wellspring, and the spirits began to feel drawn to its depths.2

Holle and Berchta commanded the Host to continue their journey to its end by Holle's home.

Holle led one half of the parade to an elder bush, the roots of which reached beyond the Hatzholz and into the dark realms, taking nourishment from three creeks named Schprudlendi, Gwellendi, and Fliessendi.3 Berchta led the other half to the depths of the wellspring, which emptied into the same creeks.

THE MILL

The spirits followed the goddesses into these creeks and surfaced in the Holle's meadow, named Bollwies (Flax Meadow), in the Dunkelgegend.4 The spirits followed the goddesses through some woods, passing Holle's home, Es Heisli. They soon entered an open field called Weiwerfeld and soon approached Her Mill.

Holle unhitched the bulls from Her wagon and yoked them to a giant millstone named Seelbrecher ("Soul Crusher"). Behind Berchta, the spirits lined up and entered the Mill, where they would be split apart, never to return in their present form. Holle returned to the joyous Mannheem, taking Her seat upon the Hexenkopf pillar while Eckhart sleeps in a rock.5

BERCHTA LEADS FORTHCOMING SOULS TO UNNERGEGEND

On the other end of the mill, the kernel of the selves of each soul emerged behind Berchta, who then led them up the world tree to the Unnergegend. There they take full form and await their return to the living realms.6

Thus, the Bright Half of the Year began and order was restored to Mannheem. King Frost, fearful of losing his grip on the valuable realm, sent his armies to attack.7

1 In this story, the wind is coming from the southwest; in another myth, the wind directions are known by their destination rather than their origin. Thus, it is possible that the southwest wind in this myth is known by the name of the northeast wind in the other myth.

2 Magnetite was/is common at Hexenkopf and was eventually mined. The most familiar ponds at Hexenkopf currently are ore holes resulting from the mines, but there are also marshy water holes naturally on the mountain that may serve as the reference to the wellspring.

3 The names of the wells translate to Brimming, Bubbling, and Flowing.

4 The Dark Realm

5 There are reports of a White Lady approaching walkers, carriages, and cars along the top of the pillar, particularly around Walpurgisnacht.

6 There is more to this segment to appear in the next version.

7 This is a connection to the Butzemann traditions and the myth of Dunner and the three Frost Giants, Dreizehdax, Vatzehvedder, and Fuffzehfux. At least two versions story have been described frequently under separate cover but will be harmonized either in the next version of this myth or in a separate myth.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Berchtaslaaf

For folks who identify with Urglaawe, there is a meal requirement on Twelfth Night (December 31, the Feast Night of Berchta), of herring, gruel, and Zammede (pancake or dumpling). More Heathens in different traditions are also beginning to adhere to that requirement. See Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology," volume 1, p. 273 (among other references in the work):

Berchta, like Holda, has the oversight of spinners; whatever spinning she finds unfinished the last day of the year, she spoils. Her festival has to be kept with a certain traditional food, gruel and fish. Thor says he has had sildr ok hafra (herring and oats) for supper...; our white lady has prescribed the country folk a dish of fish and oat-grits for evermore, and is angry whenever it is omitted (Deutsche sage, no. 267). The Thuringians in the Saalfeld country wind up the last day of the year with dumplings and herrings.

This meal on Twelfth Night stands in stark contrast to the meal of Twelfth Day (New Year's Day), which is the ornate pork and sauerkraut of old Pennsylvania German traditions. Juxtaposing the end of Yule's darkest times with the beginning of the New Year reminds us of our hopes and dreams for the future.

Also, the need to complete all spinning tasks before December 31 appears as a "superstition" in various regions. 

Blessed end of Yule to all, and best of luck in 2016!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Der Schlangkeenich - The Snake King

Features:

The general word for "snake" in Deitsch is "die Schlang," thus, a snake is grammatically feminine.

One reference to the "Schlangekeenich" is translated as "snake queen" rather than "snake king," perhaps due to the use of the term "Keenich" rather than "Keenichen" (or "Keenichin") for "queen bee" in most variants of Deitsch. This reference appears in Richard Wentz's "Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Spirituality" (p. 199). Despite the gender difference between Wentz's reference and the clear reference to a King in this version, other features are identical. For example, the "snake queen's" whistle will rally all snakes "to waylay and fight the wayfarer." This whistle is reflected in the folk tale.

Additionally, there is also a tale called "The Snake King" in the diaspora in Ontario in W. J. Wintemberg's "German Folk Tales Collected in Canada" (Journal of American Folk-Lore, p. 243, 1906).

Phares Hertzog has a article titled "Snakelore in Pennsylvania German Folk Medicine" in "Pennsylvania Folklife" vol. 17 no. 2 (Winter 1967) pp. 24-26. I have this issue and will dig it out. I do not remember his viewpoints on it.

In addition to dragon-types of creatures like the Snallygaster, here are two cryptozoological snakes in oral lore (Wentz refers to them on p. 199): the Reefschlang (Hoop Snake) and the Hannschlang (Horn Snake). The hoop snake appears in wider American lore.

As is the case with much of the rest of "Teutondom," dragons and serpents guard treasure (see also Henry S. Gehman's "Ghost Stories and Old Superstitions of Lancaster County" in "Pennsylvania Folklife," vol. 19, no. 4 (Summer 1970), pp. 48-53). In the case of the Schlangkeenich, the variants seem to reflect local lore regarding real or legendary resources. Gold appears in one variant. Silver, diamonds, and gems (particularly garnet) appear more frequently.

Braucherei is almost schizophrenic when it comes to snakes. Despite many references to "thou, snake, alone are cursed," there are many incantations that call to snake spirits for the removal of poisons, charming, even fertility. As reflected in the story, snakes are simultaneously independent yet fiercely loyal to their King and their den. Another common perspective is that a snake is a snake: not inherently evil or cursed, but it must eat and defend itself as a snake must.

There are several additional folk tales that relate to snakes guarding treasure, though these do not refer to Snake King. They carry some similar themes, though.

DER SCHLANGKEENICH

(Variant B Harmonized - all nine informants from the area of Palm and Zieglerville, PA - seven of the nine were of Schwenkfelder descent).

Harr and Fraa Keller (name randomly chosen) owned a farm in Franconia (PA). Unfortunately, having been caught placing damaged apples at the bottom of market baskets while placing shiny ones on the top, they had developed a reputation for being untrustworthy and greedy.

One day, Fraa Keller was collecting apples in her field when she spied a small horn-tailed snake (Hannschlang) slithering alongside a rock. Fraa Keller saw what she thought was a mouse in the snake's mouth, so she drew closer to get a better look. As she approached the snake, she could see it was not a mouse but a large garnet crystal in the snake's mouth.

Fraa Keller asked the snake where the garnet came from, and the snake replied that she had been given the garnet as a reward for good service to the Snake King. Fraa Keller grew excited by the idea that the Snake King might have more gems, so she asked where she might seek an audience with the Snake King. The snake responded that she was not permitted to share the location of the den.

Fraa Keller replied that she understood, but she was not about to give up the quest. She asked whether the snake would be willing to trade the garnet for something else. The snake replied that she was thirsty and would welcome a drink, and the hospitality would be rewarded with the garnet.

Fraa Keller ran into her kitchen where she concocted a drink to charm the snake into telling the truth, placing it into a bowl for the snake to drink.1 She then returned to the thirsty snake. The snake dropped the garnet and heartily drank the concoction.

Shortly after finishing, the snake began to feel dizzy, and her vision became blurry. She began to slither back toward the rock, but Fraa Keller stood before her and uttered an incantation.2 The snake panicked but felt a loss of control.

Fraa Keller, having charmed the snake, again asked her where the Snake King could be found. Against her own will, the snake replied with the location. She also added a warning, "Anyone who enters the den and tries to harm the King or to steal his hoard will be buried alive."3

Satisfied with the answer, Fraa Keller released the charm, but the potion had poisoned the snake, and she died.

Fraa Keller took the garnet and ran to her husband. She informed him of the Snake King's hoard, which excited the greed within him, too. Fraa Keller urged Harr Keller to go after the hoard, but, remembering the snake's warning, she advised him to take along a large bag, a beam of wood and a shovel. "After all," thought she, "we would not want the treasure to get buried without tools to release it."

The Kellers went to the location and found a hole wide enough to step into. Fraa Keller did not give it a moment of thought to wonder why the hole was so large when the snake she killed was so tiny. As Harr Keller stepped into the hole, Fraa Keller said, "I will wait for you here to help you out."

Harr Keller stepped into the entrance of the hole. He took one more step and fell into a large pit that was lit only from the sunlight coming in from the hole. However, the sunlight was reflected by garnet crystals that adorned the walls and covered the floor in piles.

Harr Keller began to shovel the garnet from the piles into the bag, but then he heard a loud hiss. A large horn-tailed snake seemed to appear from the wall. Upon his head he wore a gold crown adorned in large, polished garnet.

"You must be the Snake King," Harr Keller said.

The Snake King looked fixedly at Harr Keller and replied, "Yes, and who are you who is stealing my treasure?"

Harr Keller replied with a lie, "Does a snake need treasure? One of your own traded this treasure to my wife for a drink. She has part of the payment in her possession."

The Snake King, being much shrewder than Harr Keller had expected, responded, "Whether a snake needs treasure or not, it is not yours to take, and your claim is a lie."

Harr Keller, recognizing that he was in trouble, took the shovel and attempted to strike the Snake King on the head. However, he hit only the crown, and the garnet deflected the strike. Harr Keller dropped the shovel, and the Snake King slid upon it.

The Snake King let out a powerful hiss that turned into a whistling sound, and all the snakes in his realm heard his call and headed toward the hole. Fraa Keller, hearing the rustling in the grass, sensed danger. She clutched her garnet and abandoned her post, returning to her kitchen.

Meanwhile, Harr Keller tried to hide from the Snake King among the garnet piles. Using his mighty horned tail, the Snake King smashed the piles, causing the crystals to fly through the air, pelting Harr Keller in the face.

The commotion caused the roof of the pit to weaken, and dirt began to fall upon Harr Keller's head. Hiding behind a pile of treasure, he reached for the beam of wood, hoping that it would brace the ceiling.

The Snake King approached the beam, and Harr Keller called out, "If the pit caves in, you will be buried, too."

The Snake King responded, "Does a snake need a pit? My kin and I can dig our own way underground." He then used his tail to smash the beam. The ceiling caved in, burying Harr Keller.

The Snake King dug his way to the surface, where his army of loyal kin awaited him. He told them of Fraa Keller's treachery. He ordered them to seek out the woman with garnet. His army made its way toward the Keller's house, passing in horror the body of their deceased sister.

The Snake King slammed through the kitchen door with his horned tail, which allowed his army to enter. Fraa Keller attempted to utter the incantations against the Snake King, but, before the words could leave her lips, the army set upon her, biting, stinging, and twisting around her.

The Snake King found the traded garnet and, taking it in his mouth, returned to the spot where the first snake had been poisoned. He used the garnet to scratch into the soil, beginning a new den where he and his kin could live in peace.

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1 There are a few of these hypnotic "truth serum" types of concoctions reported, and they would fall under Verbot because of the removal of another's free will normally violates many tenets of Braucherei. I can say a few of the known ingredients often include hemp dogbane, violets and passionflower, but some of the other reported ingredients are potentially toxic to humans.

2 There are quite a few charms for snakes. An example:

Schlangel, Schlangel
Beiss mich net
Hald dei Saft
Bischt du yetz
Unn'r meinre Graft
Schlangel, Schlangel
Saag die Waahret
Zu meinre Frooget

Little Snake, Little Snake
Bite me not
Hold thy juice (venom)
Thou art now
Under my power
Little Snake, Little Snake
Say the truth
to my question

3 Caving in of ceilings, walls, or vaults is not an uncommon theme in Deitsch folk tales that relate to theft.

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Informants (year 2010):

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 Schwenkfelders requesting no identity
4. K. Freed, Montgomery County
8. E. Renninger, Montgomery County