If you’ve been reading my column a while (welcome, and thank you!), then you know what this thing called Urglaawe is. But like any branch of Heathenry, it can come off as a bit intimidating. There’s so much to learn, so many avenues to research. What if you want to actually start practicing?
Eventually, our Heathenry has to leave our heads and go to our hands and hearts. In other words, it has to become something we do, not just something we think about. Whether you’re new to Urglaawe and looking for an entry-point, or just looking to bring your practice to life, here are some ideas that might help you get started.
Spend more time outside: Urglaawe is about living your life in accordance with the natural cycles: night-to- day (night is the beginning of the calendar date in Urglaawe), the changing seasons, the examples of the plants and animals that surround us. The first step to living with those cycles is simply to observe them. Even if you’re just taking a walk around the block or sitting on your porch, you can start to take more notice of the natural world than before. It will have an impact on you that simply can’t come from your studies.
Grow something: Let’s face it, all the Deitsch settlers (and their contemporaries) were farmers. For centuries. To understand the mindset of a farmer, it helps to understand something about how crops are grown. No matter who you are, someone, somewhere, is raising your food. The life cycles of plants and animals are feeding you, and in Urglaawe this is a profound spiritual mystery. Whether it’s a tiny kitchen herb on your windowsill, a container garden on your porch, or a full on vegetable plot in your backyard, get your hands in some soil and grow something. Watch your plant, let it talk to you, see for yourself all the silent wisdom of the plant world that us noisy, hurried humans ignore.
Invite the Gods in: Urglaawe has some of the deities Who are familiar, from other branches of Heathenry, such as Dunner (Thor) and Wudan (Odin), although we sometimes experience Them in different ways. But we also have deities that are unknown or lesser-known in other denominations, such as Zisa, Ewicher Yeeger, die Oschdre (Oschdra, Helling, and Nacht), and die Weisskepiich Fraa (literally “the White Haired Lady”). It can be challenging to learn about these deities because the scholarly materials on Them are scant, and much of the tradition on Them is oral, and thus, in Deitsch (not English) and originating from face-to-face interviews. But you don’t have to wait until you’ve completed your research to start inviting these deities into your life. Open the door with a simple offering and prayer of welcome. Make some quiet space in your mind and heart and see what comes to you. What impressions do you get? How do you feel? This can be the beginning of a relationship between you and the Gods.
Try a Deitsch craft: The “fancy Dutch”–the branch of Deitsch culture that preserved the traditions that eventually became
Urglaawe–were known for beautifying and decorating everything in their daily lives. On one level, sure, this was just about having pretty things to look at in an era before mass manufactured clothing and home goods. But on another level, this was about bringing spiritual symbolism into everything in your life. Deitsch crafts depicted important symbols like the Distlefink, a staple of our mythology, plants, and animals, the seasons and weather, and even spirit beings like unicorns and water sprites. The colors and layouts used had spiritual intents as well. Some crafts that can teach you more about this rich symbolism and Deitsch modes of thought include painting Hex signs, drawing Fraktur, Scherenschnitte (a paper cutting craft), creating redware pottery, woodworking (painted, naturally!), and quilting.
Help a neighbor: In Urglaawe, there is an emphasis on community, and in particular helping to improve our communities so that humanity as a whole is taken to the next level. What is something small that you can do to help someone you know, physically, face-to-face? It doesn’t have to be another Heathen. Can you help with a chore, share some food, or just offer a friendly conversation? Building community is a part of the fight against rootlessness, one of the forces of chaos that tears down the Lewesbaam (life tree) in Urglaawe traditions. By creating strong roots for ourselves and those around us, we strengthen the Lewesbaam and help humanity to grow.
These are some very simple ways that you can start living like an Urglaawer today. I hope these ideas bring more life and heart to your practice, and if you’re finding Urglaawe for the first time, please allow me to be the first to say “Wilkum!”
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