Growing up in southern Germany, you will get to know a lot of Folklore, german fairy tales and you might get a glimpse of the scattered remnants of germanic paganism and the pagan beliefs of our Ancestors. At least I did, probably because my german family has always been very into our culture and the roots of our culture. Being born in Bavaria, as a very conservative state, people will react towards anything pagan with a negativ outlook, but no one can deny that most of our fairy tales, historic places in Germany and especially in the Alps, do have germanic pagan names connected to our folklore and old germanic beliefs.
I guess it was only natural that I ended up reading more occult literature on germanic paganism and witchcraft, as well was germanic and northern mythology. It is simply everywhere, hidden in our german language, and even in Bavaria we still have names for so called nature spirits, Bergmand’ln, Feuersalamander, and the german version of witchcraft and shamanism, which was sacred and “a job for women”, we called them Hagazussa, deriving from old High German, the modern word would be “Hexe”, a Sorceress, and practitioner of Witchcraft. Most of these people, of course, have been killed and burnt in the middle Ages and in Germany we have places, where exactly that has happened a long time Ago, such as Magdeburg.
But I feel, as a german with a more natural spirituality myself, that most modern versions of Witchcraft or Paganism, are completely not what they used to be. They have been modernized, of course. But they have also lost touch with the actual messages and content of paganism and folklore. This might be especially the case of germanic paganism. I feel that in order to understand germanic paganism you have to speak and understand german language fluently, otherwise you will simply not understand how spirituality and language is inter - connected. All of our names for days do have pagan origin, from Friday - Freya, to Saturday - Saturnday, to Thursday - Thor, and so on, but this is only the beginning and does not however cover the whole subject of the development of german language, folklore and spirituality.
Of course, we have fairy tales with Frau Holle as a main character, Holda, that is Hel itself. From Imbolc to Julfest or Yule, and I understand that many so called german pagans of today would like to re connect to these old beliefs and its mythology. However, I do think herein lies the problem.
People celebrate the Sun Solstice without any real meaning attached to it, except for a huge party with beer, some pagan symbols and dressing up like some LARP or Hollywood people, but the essence, the message and the meaning is completely gone.
Ostara becomes something that is so far removed from what it should be; the celebration of the Sun and Spring, and it is turned into some big party where people gather that have read 5 books on Witchcraft, and that is enough to call themselves “pagan”.
If they would experience the revival of the elements through, let’s say, the growing of crops on their property, from putting seeds in the soil and watering it, to harvesting the first wild edibles in spring, such as morels or wild leeks, Ostara would become something that is more rooted within every day life. It has become integrated, turned into something that is real, based on what people live, and not on fantasy, thoughts and ideology.
What do I mean with that? Well, Witchcraft has become something that can be “learned” from books and wiccan teachers, Guru’s and people that call themselves Experts, or Priests, on paganism and witchcraft. And people who would like to become pagans, must have read this or that, and believe this or that, in order to fully embrace paganism. This is my number one problem with occult literature. People become self proclaimed teachers. I do not think that anyone can be a teacher, myself included. What my message is that you should become your very own teacher by living with the elements, and living a life that embraces all aspects of nature and the seasons by putting things into practice.
There are so many books on what paganism or modern witchcraft is supposed to be and what not and germanic neo pagans think it has got to do with looking and dressing up like a Viking, but when you take a closer look, their faith is based on; the Edda, Musical Groups and their Lyrics, some Mythology Books and some self proclaimed teachers that tell them “what you have to believe in order to be a true pagan”.
If you have to believe in some made up ideology, taught and given to you by teachers and people, risks are high that you do not get any real pagan content at all, but a modernized way of brainwashing you.
However, if you would step back, and put things into practice, chances are high that you will not need any more people that tell you what to do and what not.
How can this be done?
By taking a look inwards, and a deeper, closer look into nature. By meditation and getting to know your true self. Not someone you have to be, or someone people want you to be. But who you are.
Meditation can be a tool, so can be Art, but the most important thing is your mind and your soul. That is it. As simple as that.
Many wise shamans, Hagazussa, Seidr and so on, were indeed female, and that is also because the divine, the womb of creation, has been viewed as a female force and power, the bringer of life, mother nature…
But what they did is that they had the time and space to explore their own consciousness and to open up their inner as well as outer sense to our environment.
I am NOT talking about substances or drugs. I am talking about the growth of the mind by simply listening to your inner voice.
The old fairy tales and folklore that can be found in any european Country, including my home country Germany, are messages that unveil a hidden message.
The Hagazussa was a women who knew about the healing powers of herbs and plants and could heal with it. She was sitting in-between the worlds, the world of culture and civilization, and the world of the wilderness and the chaos and order of nature.
However, if you truly live with the season, and you see the coming of the winter, the falling of the leafs, the harvest in late Summer, if you harvest what you have planted, if you live with the cycles of nature and the seasons, for example by harvesting your potatoes in August and feeding your family with it, until December… you will see the Sun Solstice, Ostara, Imbolc, Yule, in a totally new way.
It is not based on what you have read anymore. It is based on you living with the seasons, the elements and the cycles of nature. You are literally tuning your body and mind into the frequency of nature.
How does this effect your work with spiritual matters?
Where is the spiritual world? Is it everywhere? Is it filling this entire Universe?
Where are those Otherworlds, parallel realities, that have been travelled by shamans, germanic pagans, european pagans, native americans, siberian shamans, Sami shamans?
They are everywhere, aren’t they? Especially in nature, because nature is “the all and the nothing” at the same time. And what could open up the portals for your shaman experiences better than having an open mind, pure and clean senses, and experiencing the depth of this existence on a daily basis?
No spell book could ever reach that level of profound spirituality. Your paganism will be your way to communicate with the forces of nature, all dimensions, living beings, spiritual beings, included. Rituals are mere tools to get your mind into the right frequency, but what matters the most is that you DO establish that channel between you and beyond.
Then things become something bigger, deeper… you will learn from yourself and your own experiences. This is how the wise Hagazussa achieved their wisdom and knowledge! By jumping into the cold water and opening up all channels to our environment, nature and beyond. Real knowledge about the real beyond, not just some fantasy meditation journey, I am talking about actually exploring it for real.
What you will learn and discover will belong to you, it is your achieved knowledge. However, once you reach this point, maybe you will also discover that the modern way of Folklore and Witchcraft has become so misinterpreted and misunderstood that you hardly can identify with it. Why?
Because, instead of establishing these channels between you and the worlds, people prefer to stick to mere symbols, clothing, partying and reading what others think is “right and true”.
But in order to revive paganism, we have to practice and breathe this spirituality and way of looking at things. Like Odin who sacrificed himself and his Ego, in order to attain knowledge, we might have to jump into the cold water again and look beyond all words, texts, mythology, and symbols. We might have to see and experience the real landscape, instead of just looking at maps.