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Entschtanning 6: die Zusaagpflicht

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Die Zusaagpflicht, also called die Zusaagfassing: The closest loose translation
would be that of a “Sacred Duty” or a “Sacred Promise” as it relates to an an unwritten (though guidelines are in process) moral and ethical “contract” among the plant, animal, human, mineral, and spirit realms (Tobin, The Sacred Promise 14, 16). This concept of symbioses comes straight from Braucherei and relates to the Urglaawe virtue of Verwalting (Stewardship) and conscious living in the world around us. While it is not certain that the terminologies or the organized concepts behind them are of Heathen-era origin, they are almost certainly evolved from a Heathen worldview of personal responsibility and self-discipline.

Even though no one really knows how old this concept is, it is certainly consistent with Heathen worldviews. As part of a living culture, though, it has evolved within Deitsch culture (and, presumably. Palatinate, Swabian, Westphalian, Hessian, Silesian, Alsatian, and Swiss cultures prior to emigration) over the centuries. Each domain (humanity, plants, animals, and, yes, minerals) has had, since time immemorial, roles to perform in the cycle of life (Lewesraad). The roles evolved over the course of time and developed into an unwritten or spiritual social contract (to use Hobbesian terminology).

Our modern society separates us not only from the reality of the seasons but also from the plant and animal kingdoms. Although we are fortunate enough to live close to the land here in this area, much of our food is still processed and appears as convenient little meals. An understanding of the Sacred Duty includes recognizing and respecting the loss of life, whether animal or vegetable, that resulted in those meals.

For the last several years, there have been efforts here in parts of Pennsylvania to reduce sludge farming (the disposal of wastewater on farmlands), to put an end to the inhumane treatment of puppy mills, and to end some of the more destructive practices of Big Agro that have resulted in a great volume of food but, very likely, in less actual nutrition. These efforts are all aiming to put an end to violations of the Sacred Promise.

As almost any good, effective manager knows, being at the top of an organization does not mean that power can be used indiscriminately. Eventually, morale breaks down among the staff. Rancor develops, and the health of the organization grows sour. The same arrangement exists throughout the physical world. The fact that mankind can do something does not mean he should do it. Morale is breaking down throughout the physical world as a result of the abuses therein. In a manner of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (which was filmed not far from me in Pennsylvania), the land may someday rebel or simply to die off.

Living consciously and deliberately within the parameters of the Zusaagpflicht can also help to diminish the impact on our Wurt (Wyrd) that we draw simply from the need to eat in order to survive. The Zusaagpflicht is not a call to perfection or austerity. It is, however, a matter of maximizing respect for, and harmony with, the creation and life around us.

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Tobin, Jesse. “The Sacred Promise at Erntedankfescht.” Hollerbeier Haven: Newsletter for Herbal and Healing Arts, v. 1 no. 2, pp. 14, 16. Kempton, PA: Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts, August 2007.

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