Urglaawe – An Introduction
One may often hear about pre-Christian practices and beliefs remaining part of a culture long after much of the lore and such associated with the practices had vanished. Maybe through stories a grandmother told her descendants about the reason the weather changes or through charms an old farmer still places around the entrance to his land. Habits many don’t realize have a long history beyond something a relative did once when they were a child or some sort of similar story. With the rise in popularity of folk practices and the increasingly available literature on such has led to many people realizing there is sometimes more to customs they hold or at least know of. Observances they never associated with anything bigger than just “a thing someone did” or a tradition from “that quirky grandma”.
American folk practices have always interested me. Especially, when regional practices formerly unheard of by those outside of a specific community or at least not popular in other areas are now being written and openly spoken about respectfully. From Hoodoo, a blend of European, African and Native American practices to Appalachian folk magic that is still in use from the immigrants who settled there. Though of course it is often not connected with terms like magic or anything “unChristian-like” and often the charms or whatever they may be created were often against witches and ungodly forces. Urglaawe is something like the aforementioned practices in a way. It stems from traditions brought mostly by German (and other) immigrants to Pennsylvania. You may recognize these people as the Pennsylvania Dutch or Deitsch.
The origin of what was is now known as Urglaawe or “primal faith” was brought about by the folk medicine (Braucherei) and magical practices (Hexerei) of the long ago immigrants arriving in various areas of Pennsylvania from Germany, Switzerland, et cetera. Those who were well aquatinted with these habits eventually were the same to preserve the lore of the people. These traditions are at their heart pre-Christian in origin but have been influenced somewhat over time by the Christian overculture and also the native Lenape people near where the Diestch nation took root.
There are many similarities between Urglaawe and other more well known Heathen practices. It features many similar gods and also a similar cosmology. The most obvious difference one can see immediately is the difference in names and terminology. They are in the language of the Diestch people. For instance, Odin is called Wudan and Thor is named Dunner. Very similar to other Germanic and Anglo-Saxon names used. Urglaawe also has a greater focus on deities such as the Germanic Holle (also know as Frau Holda outside of Urglaawe) and their own higher beings such as Weisskeppichi Fraa. Or with goddesses such as Zisa that although not much is known about her her origins can be traced back to still standing German cities. You might also notice the inclusion of 18 (yes EIGHTEEN) virtues compared to the sometimes incorporated (though much debated) 9 Noble Virtues.
For those who are curious the incorporation of runes (Elder Futhark by the looks of it) are still used. Often by their more common names instead of a Diestch version (or so I have thus seen). They are featured in artwork (like the familiar Hex sign), intoned during a “sege” (rite of worship), etc. Their rituals are similar in structure to many blots and other Heathen rites but often include some changes to the working place. Such as a stein or “seidel” instead of a horn and the inclusion at times of a sickle. The altars are often more colorful and contain more imagery and flora than many designated areas of worship I have found as well.
There are currently two great texts recommended for further self study on Urglaawe. “A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology” by Robert L. Schreiwer and Ammerili Eckhart and “The First Book of Urglaawe Myths: Old Deitsch Tales for the Current Era” by Robert L. Schreiwer. To read and join in on discussions and to find recommended reading and links I recommend joining up with Robert Schreiwer’s Urglaawe Facebook group!