Friday, November 11, 2016

Ewicher Yeeger: Why Honor Death?

Tonight starts the final day of the Urglaawe observance of Allelieweziel. Now we honor Holler, who is also known as Ewicher Yeeger. His association with death is reflected in the translation of His byname into English: the Eternal Hunter. Indeed, He is seen by many as Death personified, and imagery and versions of folk tales over the centuries have presented Him as a bringer of disruption, disease, destruction, and, well, death. So, this begs the question: Why honor Him?

There are many possible answers to this question. Ironically, the most significant tale about Holler shows a merciful side to Him that is not typically associated with death. While death appeared imminent to the settlers of Lynn Township, the fact that they recognized the error of their ways and gave up offerings caused Holler to save the colony. Driving game over the Blobarrick ridge provided the settlers with food to survive through the winter months. 

While this story is one version of the best known tale of Ewicher Yeeger, there are bits of knowledge and remnants of other tales that reflect a complex character to this god. One of the more curious remnants reflects the push and pull among the various forces in existence as viewed within our physical world. After Holle’s departure and the burning of the Butzemenner, King Frost’s armies are on the move into our realm. The Frost Giants seize the spirits of the plants and animals (and humans, for that matter?) that they kill, thereby removing them from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In this tale remnant, Holler brings death and/or dormancy to the weaker plants and animals. Those who die are released to the Wild Hunt, which ensures their continuity in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The Frost Giants pass by the dormant spirits, who sleep safely until Spring under the care of an entity named Schlumm. 

In this case, we see Holler playing a role in tandem with Holle. He aids in the ongoing cycle of life even while bringing death. This reinforces the idea that death is a part of life and also of rebirth.

Another tidbit is a little more confusing because it conflates Ewicher Yeeger with aspects of Krampus. In this instance, Ewicher Yeeger is a punisher and a wild, primal beast. This tidbit is an outlier from most understandings of Ewicher Yeeger, but it is not the only one. Other versions reflect lore related to the Wild Hunt found in other Germanic lands. Some say Ewicher Yeeger is actually a cursed nobleman (much like Count Hackelberg in Germany) who is doomed to hunt as payback for his misdeeds in life. 

These stories are worth mentioning, though, because they reflect the convolution of tales over many centuries and across many lands, including the Deitsch lands in Pennsylvania. However, the most intact story from the Deitsch cultural context places Ewicher Yeeger as an entity (or in the Urglaawe context, a god) strongly associated with death yet not to be pigeonholed.

The understanding conveyed to me about Ewicher Yeeger throughout my lifetime has been one of an entity who is much larger than our understanding. He has His own agenda and purposes for actions that we cannot always fathom. In Braucherei, He is appealed to for brute strength, terminations, and transformations. 

The transformation aspect plays a major role in our understanding of death. Death is scary. Death is unwanted. Yet Death comes to all of us at some point. One theme of Allelieweziel is that we live in a society that, on the one hand, likes to pretend that death does not exist. Yet, on the other hand, we are obsessed with it. We depict is so cavalierly in movies and on television, yet we don’t want to plan for the end of the lives of our loved ones or of ourselves. 

Most Urglaawer believe in some form of rebirth. The most common belief is that at least one part of the soul is reborn into a new, unique construct, thus giving us opportunities to grow and to expand our consciousness from lifetime to lifetime. We hope that, at the end of this cosmic cycle, we will be where the deities were at the beginning of it. Our corporeal forms have limits to our lifetimes, but each experience in this physical realm affords us the opportunity to increase the human life wave. 

Thus, death is not to be feared per se; instead, it is part of the continuity of life and the evolution of existence. While we are to embrace our lives and to make the most of them, the eventuality of death is something with which we all must reconcile ourselves. 

Therefore, we take a moment at this time of Ewicher Yeeger to understand our mortality, to consider how to make the most of the current life we have, and to ponder the prospects for a better future for humanity. We honor the god who helps us to prepare for and to confront the reality of death even while celebrating the life we have. 

Thus, at this time of the observance of Ewicher Yeeger, let us hail Holler.

Hail!

This information has been posted for educational purposes and may or may not represent the beliefs and practices of many members of The Troth.

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