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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Germanic
Liquid Glow: A Brief History and Myths Surrounding Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is a staple beverage throughout Europe during the winter season. I remember Christmas shopping in Wϋrzburg as a kid and passing by vendors selling the beverage, the blend of cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and other spices wafting through the crisp, cold air.

Mulled wine has a long history, dating back to at least as far as the 2nd or 3rd century BCE, when the Greeks and Romans would boil wine, then add honey and spices to the concentrated beverage. They called it by a variety of names, including mulsum, rapa, carenum, and defrutum (Fosbroke).

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Birch: The Tree of Midsummer

 

 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Kobolds: Household Tricksters

Household spirits fascinate me. Not too surprising, given the subject of this blog. Modern popular paganism tends to focus so much on the greater deities and the wild spirits of the forests, bodies of water, mountains, etc., that spirits of the home tend to be overlooked or shrugged off. Perhaps house spirits seem less interesting because they occupy the same spaces we live in day after day; perhaps they seem too domestic, too banal. Or perhaps, like many, many other spirits known to our ancestors, we have just forgotten about them. Whatever the reason, I can say that household spirits are just as mysterious, rich with character and personality, and even dangerous as other types of spirits. They offer just as much spiritual value and the potential for material reward. They are just as vital to our lives as they were to those who came before us.

One of these spirits is the kobold, a German spirit of the home as well as mines and ships. It is a helpful trickster, one that can come into a family in a number of ways – including choosing the family itself – and promises a fruitful (if complicated) relationship that can last a lifetime.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Lollus, Löhl, and Ursul din Lăloaia

Genealogical research led me to a god of which I'd never heard. My family name, Lale, was originally spelled Löhl. Lale is a phonetic spelling in English of the way Löhl would have been pronounced.

Back in the 90s when I became an initiate of the modern version of the Bersarkrgangr tradition (see my paper Bersarkrgangr: The Viking Martial Art) they told me my name was a Chatti name, and that the Chatti tribe were cat-type bersarkrs who followed Freya, just like me. The Chatti came from the area in Europe that was briefly Alsace-Lorraine, an area of mixed French and German influence. That meant I was from one of the right families, which was one of the two prerequisites to be eligible to join their group.

The internet era has enabled genealogical research with records from all over the world that have been scanned and are now available through this marvelous device right from home, without having to travel to every town and country and examine the records in person or pay someone else to do so. Family legend said the original Lale ancestor in America was kicked out of France for lycanthropy. That would have been in the 1700s, before the American Revolution. Recent genealogical research my brother did on the net turned up a kernel of truth. We did have an ancestor who was banished from a country, but it was Bavaria, not France, it was the late 1500s, and the charge was not being a werewolf but being a Protestant. That's a sobering example of how much oral transmission of information can change the story over time.

That's as far back as an unbroken line of records go, so with anything earlier than that, I'm just speculating about whether it has any connection to my family, but what I found is interesting nonetheless.

There is a river Löhle in today's Germany, near the town of Böblingen in the region of Württemberg. Württemberg is where the Lale ancestor who came to America was actually from (not France as the family legend said.) The river may have been named for Lollus, or the other way around.

Lollus was known as a god of the Franks, a Germanic tribe. There was a Saint Lollus in the 700s. Offerings of grapes and grain were given to Lullus or Lollus at the place called Löhle or Lölle. Whether these gifts were to the god Lollus or to Saint Lollus, or whether the people making the offerings drew any distinction between the two, is unclear. Did the god Lollus walk among the people in the 700s in the form of a human, Christian Saint?

Not much is written about Lollus in English. The book Barbarian Rites: The Spiritual World of the Vikings and the Germanic Tribes by Hans-Peter Hasenfratz, translated by Michael Moynihan, says Lollus was depicted as a naked young man holding his tongue. It suggests he may have been paired with Frija, a combined form of Frigga and Freya.

A name dictionary I consulted as a teenager told me the name Lale meant nothing in French, but meant "one who speaks" in German. This article on entheology.org connects Lollus to speaking in tongues, and states that the opium poppy was sacred to him: http://entheology.org/edoto/anmviewer.asp?a=259

So, are people with the name Lale or Löhl descended from the people who worshipped Lollus, the people from the area bearing his name? I don't know, but I wonder.

The earliest reference my brother uncovered to a name that could be a Lale variant is a Roman soldier named Laleianus. The name is on Trajan's Column in Rome. Supposedly Laleianus helped conquer the Pannonians, a people that lived in what is today Romania and the Danube region. This did not seem to connect with Lollus the 8th century god or saint. There was however another Roman, named Marcus Lollius, a prominent political figure who was the patron of the city of Sagalassos in Turkey.

The story of Laleianus and the Romanians did not seem to connect with bersarkrs, either, until I ran across this video of a Romanian folk dance labeled Urs Laloaia:

Romanian Bear Dance Urs Laloaia:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNm4JaCbSIg

With thanks to translator James Hoscyns: ursul din
Lăloaia means the bear from Lăloaia. Lăloaia is the name of a mountain and a village at its base in Bacău in Romania.

The music has this drum song:

Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
(pause then repeat)

The dancers step on the dums. 

This dance has been preserved as a festival dance in parts of Romania and Moldova. Here are a couple of videos where the camera was closer to the dancers:

Parade through town: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y_gEfV6hYs

March through a snowy street and then dancing at a house:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTuoQ84b8Jk

More videos of this dance are found by searching the keywords Tot Ursi or Ursul de la Dărmăneşti.

The bear dancers in each of these videos make a strange trilling sound. It is not really a bear-like sound. It is unlikely to be a direct imitation of the sounds that bears make. This trill has some other origin. Could it be connected to the lalling of Lollus?

So far there does not appear to be any evidence beyond similarity of names and the strange trilling sound of the dancers connecting Lollus with bears, or with the bear dance, or bersarkrs, but this is an interesting avenue for further research. Eventually I hope to turn this quest for knowledge about my ancestors into a formal paper on Lollus. I would very much appreciate being directed to more information on Lollus, or the Lale name in any of its variations, or the bear dance.

Image caption:
Ursul de la Dărmăneşti dancer, photo credit Dan Duta via Mediafax Foto.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
O God

For all its recent history, the English word “god” is a fine old pagan word with a long, long pedigree.

Cognates occur in all Germanic languages (German Gott, Icelandic guð, etc.), and in all Germanic languages, interestingly, it was this word that was chosen by early missionaries to denote the Christian god. How and why this came to be is in itself an interesting question which would well merit further study, but that's not my intent here.

For historical reasons—largely because of its Christian associations—we've come to think of “god” as (connotatively, if not grammatically) masculine. I suspect that among English-speaking pagans this masculinization has been emphasized by the word's implied pairing with “goddess.” English lost its grammatical genders after the Norman invasion, but the other Germanic languages have kept all three of them (masculine, feminine, and neuter), and in all of them (again, for Christian reasons) the word god has become a grammatically masculine noun.

But that's not how the ancestors saw it.

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PaganNewsBeagle Faithful Friday Nov 21

Today's Faithful Friday edition celebrates the many religions of our world. This week, we've got legendary women of Germanic Yuletide; "pagan" traveler portraits; ancient religions of the MidEast; is religion inherently violent; faith-free ritual.

Germanic female figures of the Yuletide holidays are featured in this post. How many are you familiar with? Do your holiday traditions include any of these customs?

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