Monday, March 26, 2012

Some ABC's

A.    Obesity is a problem.  But is obesity just a dietary issue?  The media would like you to think so but it is not.  The focus of the media and our social scientists is on fast food/junk food consumption while ignoring a major contributor:  the lack of physical exercise for children and adults.  This has nothing to do with some daily bending and lifting associated with a person's job, or the walking to the water cooler ten times a day.  We all need physical exercise outside of the workplace.

Once upon a time kids in grade school enjoyed something known then as "recess."  After lunch, the kids were left outside to run their little asses off and that burned built up emotional and physical energy.  And, some individual teachers developed some in-class exercises that proved their effectiveness in garnering classroom attention and participation.  After school, many kids were involved with various "pick-up" games in their neighborhoods.  Today, do the elementary schools have recess?  If so, is there some structured activity?  Our kids today need some form of structure now more than ever.

In the mid to senior grades there were scheduled gym periods, intramural and varsity sports.  If a youngster did not play a varsity sport, he or she was encouraged to get involved with intramural activity.  It seems that today all that exists are the varsity sports.  The rest appears to be non-existent (Sorry - having kids walk around a basketball court a few times is not enough exercise for them).  So what the hell has happened?

In our race to make things better, cheaper, and faster, we introduced computers and cell phones.  When men walked on the moon for the first time, many talking heads were beating the same drum that by the twenty-first century, we would have little to do, except to enjoy our massive amount of leisure time.  Well, so much for that fairy-tale.  Computers and cell-phones in and by themselves are not bad things; they are after all, machines.  But, we have let these machines into our world and have become almost enslaved by them.  This is most evident with our young people.

Today's kids cannot wait to get "on-line."  It is their world, but it is a virtual world without substance.  There is no fresh air and trees, rocks and skinned knees.  They do not have the real feeling of exhilaration when they score that touch down playing neighborhood football or hit that home run into the neighbor's yard.  And how many kids today play skins and shirts in after school basketball?  Kid would rather be on-line.  Not only are they lacking exercise, but today's kids, many of them, lack basic  social skills, like coping with a problem and dealing with their peers.  The machines that we were told so many years ago would free us have enslaved our kids (and many of us - don't forget the smart phones!).  Constantly being on-line has made many kids over weight, lazy, and even suicidal; they lack confidence.  My ABC opinion - take away the computers and cell phones.  Put physical exercise back into their lives.  Force them to go to a library and READ BOOKS.  There are more suggestions, but the more I list, the more adults revolt and say it's impossible.  That attitude is defeatist and pure bullocks.  Parents!!! Rein in your kids!!!  Starting within the home and continue into the schools, it can be accomplished.  Do not tell me it cannot happen.  Now the question - how many over weight, confidence lacking, pro-suicidal kids do you want?  And, I am not talking about people who have a legitimate health issue (like thyroid problems).  This is a situation that can be turned around.  The next time you are reaching for that super-sized whatever, put it down, turn off the computer and TV, put your cell phone in the toilet, and start doing some push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and running in place.  You will thank me in the morning.

B.    Years ago, it was called, "Keeping up with the Joneses."  Today we have, "Get the fuck out of my way!  I want all of mine now!"  Our multicultural information service society is geared towards results, the bottom line, and not a person's efforts.  Those who get there first, gather up the most toys win, regardless of who they stepped on or buried.  This is today's world.  The days of fair play and respect in the work place are gone.  Profit is the major mover and shaker and how it is obtained appears to be a non-issue.  Those who bring in the big bucks on a Friday are the heroes; on Monday, they are thrown back with the rest of the goats.  Years ago, companies had "the Employment Office."  Now it is known as "Human Resources."  Workers are looked at and treated as if they were interchangeable parts for a machine.  In many cases, the older, "less productive" workers are replaced by the younger (gee....we usually don't repair cell phones or computers do we? We just toss them and get a new one) at less pay and are enticed to do what it takes to get to the top.  Human Resources is the office that will hook you up to the company's EAP Program if you go to them with a problem in your head.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a way for the HR people to get inside your personal life.  It is supposed to help you cope with your problems. Like it or not, believe it or not, the "counselor" that HR sets you up with tells HR some of your dirty little secrets.  If those things do not fit well with the company's public image, you could find yourself in the unemployment line.  And you will never know the real reason why you lost your job.  After all, HR guards personnel files, religiously; it's the law.  Recently, these same people want to know your (if you have one) Facebook user name and password.  The invasion of privacy here is huge.  The infighting in the workplace is huge.  It does not take genius to see how a social media site can ruin you personally and professionally.  What's next?  A chip implanted into your brain that records your thoughts?  Why the need to know your personal life?  Well, why do you think they want it?  Employers?  The need for change is obvious.  If you cannot see it, you are either brain-dead and on life support or just not paying attention; online time will do that.

C.    Apathy is rising at an alarming rate (a definite tie-in with A and B).  Nobody gives a shit.  What matters - getting by from one paycheck to the next (because you have to pay the bills).  Regardless of what you have heard or read, personal debt is still a big deal for many people.  That urge, the habit of want, is still rabid.  The promise of a better tomorrow only fuels the habit of want.  Tomorrow we will have the cash (from the imagined sources/reasons promised by a better tomorrow) so we can buy today.  But when that tomorrow comes, it is often cash poor, but that new debt rolls on, added to the rest.  Some drastic steps are required to end the habit of want.  There are a few methods, but they will not be mentioned in this post with the exception of one:  living within your means.  It is really a simple affair.  You bring in so many $$$ and that is what's available to spend and save.  And if you do not save some of your money you are an idiot.  I don't care if you put it in a sock and stuff it in a mattress.  However, how you get to that point is up to you.  It will take time, focus, determination, and sacrifice.  And be prepared for a fight.  Your opponent is a tough guy; it's you.  I am not going to write a paragraph or two tying all of the above together, with some grand solution.  That's up to you to figure out.  Just like exercising, tossing the cell-phone, and living within your means.

                                                    Copyright 2012 Terry Unger

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

UPG, Joan of Arc, Joseph Smith, and Cults of Personality

Personal revelations of a mystical/spiritual nature, often called Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG) in our current vernacular, do happen.  The term, Unverified Personal Gnosis appears to have originated during the 1970's and 1980's within the Germanic/Norse/Teutonic re-constructionist movement of that period.  UPG is one's personal revelation or enlightenment, as opposed to what a person can glean from a written text.  It can happen in a few ways, two of which are deep meditation and dreams.  But the point is that UPGs are personal.  My research and experiences have led me to that conclusion; it is not meant for a group, other than  the voluntary sharing of experiences.  When the UPG experience occurs, that personal gnosis passes through the filter of who you are.  That filter includes not just your body and mind, but your entire soul-multiverse, coupled with your accumulative knowledge, understanding, experience, and wisdom; it is interpreted at your level of understanding.  A UPG has meaning only for it's recipient.  But, they should be pursued and expanded for the sake of even greater personal gnosis.  Sometimes that pursuit takes various paths.

In her young mind, Joan of Arc truly believed that her god had spoken to her; I believe that she believed that.  She acted on what she interpreted as instructions (for her) from her god.  She believed it was up to her to carry out the "mission," not her and a bunch of other people; it was her sole responsibility.  It was HER job.  Her military victories paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII as the rightful heir to the French throne.  Those events were all a part of Joan's UPG.  However, that courageous girl and her UPG did a lot more than create a few ripples in the Hundred Year's War; her actions put an end to some of England's best laid plans.  Joan's demise was political, not one of religion.  It was a complicated web of political intrigue that took her life; that mess will not be discussed in this post but a few points deserve mention.

Joan was captured on the battlefield, but in a position of honor.  She had ordered a retreat and decided that she would be in charge of the rear guard.  The girl held her ground to allow as many of her troops to escape capture as possible.  Joan stood tall in her armor and was willing to die for France and her young king, Charles VII (remember, god told her; it was HER UPG).  When her adversaries, the Burgundians  (allies of England), realized who they had captured, they quickly SOLD Joan to the English.  Now, entire politics.  Joan was a captured soldier, a warrior turned into a political prisoner.  The crafty English had a plan:  paint Joan as a heretic/witch and that would be put in serious doubt (or so they believed) Charles VII legitimacy to the French throne (This is where religion enters the story.  When Joan first approached Charles and his people, she was seriously vetted before given any authority.  Really vetted.  She was given a clean "bill of health." ).  Before proceeding further, this fact must be stated.

It was common practice for a captured champion's home base to offer a ransom for that champion's safe return.  Charles never lifted a finger to help Joan, even though she was the one responsible for his coronation (politics aside, maybe the title of douche bag should be added to this guy's name - but this is really my opinion).  This is/was not a lesson in greatness - it is a lesson in thankless malignancy.

Joan's trial was a sham from the start.  The bishop in charge was an English stooge who did not have episcopal jurisdiction.  But that did not stop the trial.  Even though Joan was denied counsel (she defended herself quite well), the prosecution (priests) could find nothing wrong.  However, English threats forced them to come up with something.

At that time, there was a tenant in place, based on Judeo-Christian scripture, that forbade women to wear men's clothing.  Yes!!!!  God forbid that women should have short hair and wear pants!!!  Of course the charge is absurd but that is what got Joan of Arc, political prisoner and pawn, executed as a heretic/witch.  But understand this fact:  to be executed as a heretic, the person had to be a repeat offender; Joan was not.  Her execution, murder, by being burned at the stake, happened on 5/30/1431.  Joan of Arc was only 19 years old.  But this is not the end of Joan's UPG journey.

An investigation was launched into Joan's demise in 1452 (another UPG or a guilty conscience?).  There was enough damning evidence (like how many times the trial transcripts were altered) that a formal appeal was entered in Joan's behalf in 1455.  Joan of Arc was declared innocent ( a secular woman caught up and used as a political pawn - not for any religious fault) on 7/7/1456, over 25 years after her murder.  Later, she was declared a martyr of the Church and elevated to sainthood on 5/16/1920.  Joan was a gutsy young woman who believed strongly enough in her UPG that she made history and gave up her life in the process.  Another person who followed his UPG was Joseph Smith Jr.

Smith had a few UPGs purportedly with an angel.  His UPGs and his actions that followed were the basis for the religion and people that we know today as the Mormons.  It also began a cult of personality with strange results that have carried over to this day.  (To his followers, Smith could do no wrong.  He is the 'Prophet."  I have to wonder, was polygamy one of his UPGs?)  Smith was murdered in 1844 and that created a power vacuum within the new religion.  Several schisms occurred that still can be felt.  Schisms create splinter groups, or cults.  Enter Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs took over the helm of one of these fundamentalist Mormon cult/sects from his father Rulon.  When his father passed, Jeffs took on his father's wives, with the exception of his mother and another woman.  Just thought I'd throw that one in.  Jeff's actions and those of his cult/sect begs the question:  Did Warren Jeffs have any real UPGs?  UPGs that instructed him to give young girls in marriage to men not just old enough to be their fathers but their grandfathers?  Did Jeffs have UPGs that made him expand the doctrine of Celestial Marriage?  This doctrine deals with how MEN get to heaven.  Basically, the more wives a man has, the closer he gets to the pearly gates; the starting qualifier is three.  And the more wives, the better the chances for a man to become like a "god" in the after-life.  The young girls do not have a choice; it's a done deal for them.  And if a man runs afoul of Jeffs, he loses personal property, children and wives; Jeffs gives them to another man.  The cult of personality around Jeffs still runs strong.  He currently is incarcerated, serving a life sentence plus twenty years for diddling little girls.  Is it possible that Jeffs still is running his show, from "the inside?"  Maybe.  His cult followers worship him - they find no fault with Warren Jeffs.  One has to wonder - if he ordered them to drink the "cool-aid," would they?  The answer is....probably yes.  That is the strength of the cult of personality.  It sure as hell would not be the first time. Did Charlie Manson have a UPG?  Was it called "Helter Skelter?"  Manson, too, is still in jail; his cult of personality still lives on.

UPG experiences are meant to be personal; they are supposed to bring enlightenment to the individual.  They are not meant to be applied to groups that can start a cult that one day could go main line.  Never include Joan of Arc in the same category with Smith or Jeffs; Joan was a class act.  In my opinion, if you had UPGs, keep them to yourself but be thankful for the personal enlightenment.  We have enough cults and religions that want to enslave us.  We don't need anymore.

Authors Note:  I do have my detractors and nitpickers.  This blog post is still an opinion piece.  But I did use documented information.  To satisfy the "propers," I garnered all the info from one source..... the Internet.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Ramblings of an Insane Man

I have a beautiful mind.  The closer I get to insanity, the brighter things become.  But who can grasp the light while still stumbling in the dark?  Ah, beautiful darkness......ah, divine madness!

If a child ignores the parent, is that paradise lost....or found?  Is the lifeboat one size fits all?

It has been said that death is just a gateway to the womb.  If that is true, birth must be an entrance to hell.

The outcome of any game is never assured, unless it's your ball.

The bark of a tree is thick and can withstand much, unlike human skin that quickly yields; even more so a fragile ego.

Loss of things does not matter; loss of love does.

The heart of a man will beat strong and true as long as his spirit endures.

One day I rescued a dog.  Overtime, I realized that he rescued me.

When I was a young man, I thought I'd never die.  When I look back, I see wasted time.  I plod on.

Victory is death, death is life; the plot thickens.

There were times in my life when I rushed to fill myself with varied experiences.  One day I realized that was like putting ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag.  My bag runneth over.

I used to believe that time heals all wounds.  I was wrong.

Death comes to all of us.  Sitting in a corner waiting for it is a waste of time.

In these times it's tough being an individual; so many people carping on you to "get with it and join the modern world."  It's hard being a renegade.

A "sound bite" is when spoken verbiage is used and a word bite is the usage of selected written words.  Both bites contain the right selections of words to confuse or inebriate the brain dead.  Never confuse the bites with full quotes.

Tolerance is a wonderful thing.  But, if you want me to be tolerant of you, you better damned well be tolerant of me.  That is not just the fair thing but the right thing to do.

If mental illness is characterized by a person's quirky individuality, does that mean sanity is a person's brain dead nothingness?

It's a hard job getting out of the way of the stampeding lemmings.  There are so many of them headed in the same direction.

If you don't like my breath, you are standing too close to me.  If you can't stand my brilliance, you forgot your sunglasses.  If you don't like what I say, your earplugs fell out.

Like Timothy Leary, who experimented with LSD, I experimented with beer and mead.  My mind did not expand.

It is said that Odin is thousands of times more demanding on himself than He is on us.  I am more demanding on myself than Odin.  The pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, and their dissemination must be relentless.  Keep digging.

Ragnarok must be coming.  I've run out of finger and toenails to clip!!!

                                        Copyright @2012  Terry Unger

Friday, March 2, 2012

The German Braucherei of Pennsylvania

This essay originally appeared in my book, Beneath Valhalla - Opinions of an Iconoclast.  Copyright @2009 Terry Unger.  A little more to show that a part of our culture and heritage survived through the Age of Dual Faith and the Christian persecution.  This is part of the original draft.  The body of the text needs some editing.  Sorry, I got lazy.  But I think you will enjoy it.

                                      The German Braucherei of Pennsylvania
As a boy still in short pants, I had the privilege of experiencing some of the “finer things” in life with my Oma and Opa (grandparents). Like outhouses. Running through twelve inches of snow and putting your cheeks on that cold board was a real “eye opener.” Another thing was those porcelain beauties known as “chamber pots” in the upstairs bedrooms. The “pots” saved you the inconvenience of running to the outhouse in the dead of night. You emptied them the next day. You see, my grandparents did not have inside plumbing until I was fifteen save for the cold water spigot in the kitchen. Hot water was provided when heated on the stove. When I was older, one of my chores was to bring coal upstairs from the coal cellar for the stoves. This job did not take long but I was constantly covered with coal dust. Hours later my nasal mucous was still black. Another thing that was discussed but never in detail were the Brauchers.
William Penn, a Quaker, founded his Penn’s Sylvania (Penn’s Woods) in 1681 based on the ideal of complete religious freedom. At that time in Europe, not adhering to the official creed (varied where you lived) was cause for you to be branded a heretic and even a traitor. So the Germanic peoples, the Brauchers among them, came to Penn’s colony to escape religious persecution (Brauchers, i.e. cunning men and women).
The official German term, “Braucherei,” is a form of faith healing that involves prayer, incantations, herbal remedies, lying on of hands, amulets, and talismans. Although based in Christianity, these healers strive to channel spirit energy into their patients so the person becomes more in “balance” with the Divine and the resultant creative, sustaining life force.
At this time in this essay I must point out sometimes the term Brauchers and Hexenmeister can be interchangeable among many of the people and the practitioners thereof. Hexenmeisters appear to do more of what we term magic than Brauchers. The confusion comes when Hexenmeisters are sometimes labeled as practitioners of the black arts. This is a perfect example of the knowledge being neutral and intent being negative. (Well, some of the Brauchers and Hexenmeisters did do some strange stuff. I’ll get into one particular instance later in this essay.)  A practitioner of these arts does not charge for healing, but will accept a form of “free will offering.” There may be charges involved for amulets and/or talismans. (Let me add that sometimes these folks are referred to as “Pow-Wow doctors.” This term is derived from the Native American Algonquin Lenne Lenapes with whom the early Brauchers had some social intercourse with.)
The Germanic Goddess Holle or Frau Holle, guardian of the underworld, plays a part in Braucherei. She is represented in the Hollerbier, the Pennsylvania German name for the Elder. The Celtic, Germanic, and Norse cultures considered the Elder sacred. It is said her spirit resides in the Elder. Tradition has it if you stand beneath an Elder on Mid-Summers’ Eve, you just might see the Faery King with his minions. The Church could not get the various peoples to give up their beloved Frau Holle so they made her into a Witch Queen. In the practice of Braucherei Frau Holle is used in her physical attributes (the berries, bark) for sore throats, and upper and lower respiratory ailments.
The driving thrust of Braucherei is balance; keeping the physical, mental, and emotional bodies in attunement with the creative and life sustaining energies for positive health (gee, sounds almost like Reiki-well, kind of ). Often in the practice are mentioned “The Three Sisters.” They can be seen as the Wiccan Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Brauchers and Hexenmeisters that are practicing their craft today are not Wiccans/Witches and might be highly offended if called such. However, a Wiccan/Witch could become a Braucher/Hexenmeister in similar fashion as I and others became a Reiki Master (naturally, the same would apply for Brauchers and Hexenmeisters if so desired). As in Europe, these “cunning folk” competed with each other to the point the local police were afraid of them. Thus, superstition fanned fear in the countryside. When a series of things went wrong, you just had to be “hexed.” Let me discuss the terms “hex,”hexe,”and “hexen.”
When traveling through beautiful south-eastern Pennsylvania, particularly Lancaster, York, Bucks, and Berks Counties, you will see many “Hex Signs” adorning barns and houses; you can also find them for sale. The “Hex Sign” was and still is used as a talisman for love, good luck, good health, prosperity, and protection from evil. Many have a six pointed star as the basic motif. There may be a link between this Germanic art and the Star of David. The Seal of Solomon has the star and some claim the sixth and seventh Books of Moses were Magical books written by German Magic practitioners. Some people claim the word “hex” is derived from the German word “sechs” (the English number six). I think not. Hex, Hexe, and Hexen are all Germanic words that imply spells, incantations, and Witches. Tradition tells us Brauchers/Hexenmeisters would advise people on what kind of Hex Sign to buy and where to place it on their property. On many of the signs appears a strange looking bird called a “Distelfink.” It is considered a good luck charm in the same vein as a four leaf clover or a unicorn is for other folks. Centuries ago Hex signs were hand painted one of a kind original where color played a major role. White represented purity while blue and black were for protection. Red was for passion while orange was meant to bring success in business. Green was thought to bring about fertility and growth while violet stood for all things sacred Yellow was for mind, body, and emotional wellness. Any Pagan who has studied color magic can readily see these colors being correct. With the advent of the silk screening process, Hex Signs are available to the world. Another interesting thing you will see is the Pentagram – everywhere. OK, how do these folks practice their craft? In the following paragraphs are some examples:
Broken bones, colds, sore throats, various infections, snake bites, and fertility problems were and are just a few things the Braucher and/or Hexenmeister are asked to help with. Make no mistake, the practitioners will tell you they are not healers; God is. They are just conduits for the energy (Holy Spirit) to flow. The patient must also want the help. The healing enchantments below are from Braucherei practice and supposedly similar to ones used by the cunning folk of Germanic Europe:
For sprains/broken bones----
                                        “Then charmed Wodan/Christ
                                          As well He knew how,
                                          For bone sprain
                                          For blood sprain,
                                          Bone to Bone
                                         Blood to Blood,
                                         Limb to Limb,
                                         As though they were glued.
This enchantment is repeated three times accompanied with lying on of hands. Herbs can then be administered for pain and to speed healing.
To Stop Bleeding---
                                        Apply a clean cloth to the wound with pressure and say three times,
                                        “I walked through a green forest,
                                          There I found three wells, cool and cold.
                                          The first is called Kind,
                                          The second is called Good,
                                          And the third is called Stop the Blood!”
It appears the practitioners are skilled in advanced visualization techniques. To visualize the cure complete is part of the practice. Now from John George Holman’s’ book, “Pow-Wows or Long Lost Friend” we have-------
Words to be spoken while making Divinatory Wands (page 23)………
    “In making Divinatory Wands, they must be broken as before directed, and while breaking and before using them, the following words must be spoken:
                          “Divining rod, do thou keep that power,
                             Which God gave unto thee at the very first hour.”                             
     “For Dysentery and Diarrhea (page 30)……………..
                            “Take the moss off of trees and boil it in red wine, and those who are affected with those diseases drink it.”
      “How to Fasten or Spell – Bind Anything (page 41)………
                        Say, “Christ’s Cross and Christ’s’ Crown, Christ Jesus’
                             Colored Blood, be thou every hour good.  God the Father
                             Is before me; God the Son is beside me; God the Holy Ghost is
                             Behind me. Whoever now is stronger than these three persons may come
                             By day or night to attack me.”  This is said three times. Then recite the
                             Lord’s Prayer three times.”
These are just three of the many potions/spells contained in Holman’s book. Even with the Judeo- Christian texting, in my opinion, Braucherei is the practice of Old World Magic. It would seem to fit, when the origins of Solomon’s seal are taken into consideration.
Another book worthy of mention is “Hex and Spell work – The Magical Practices of the Pennsylvania Dutch”, by Karl Herr, a self-proclaimed Hexenmeister. (The term “Dutch” has nothing to do with people from the Netherlands. It originated as a misspelling of the German word “Deutsche”). Herr lists and describes many verbal enchantments and folk remedies. He also explains the differences between Hexcraft and Witchcraft, (as viewed through his filter) how Braucherei is passed on and something called “Himmelbriefs.” 
Directly translated, “Himmelbrief” means “heaven letter.”  They were written as magical charms for love, safe passage, protection, and a variety of other needs (they can be looked upon as a spell or talisman).According to Herr, during the Thirty Years’ War (Europe: 1618-1648) both Protestant and Catholic combatants carried Himmelbriefs to bring them safely home. In a good portion of his book, Herr discusses in detail the possible origins of the written word and how writing was used to control the masses for political and religious hierarchies. The thing that he mentions that really grabbed me appears on pages 21 and 22 of his book… “However, the most valuable book of all is the one that the Hexenmeister makes up from his own experiences. This is a book that contains the charms and spells he learned from those who instructed him in his art. It also contains those additional charms and spells he has learned from other Hexenmeisters, usually over a long period of time. It is upon this book of experience that the Hexenmeister must place his greatest reliance when he works with his clients.” (Karl Herr- “Hex and Spellwork ………..”). If this “book” the author refers to is not a Book of Shadows, I do not know what is! To think these practices have been going on since the 1660s’ in what is literally my “backyard” just blows me away. And not to mention this wonderful heritage that comes to me from my mothers’ side of the family. This is really great! However, in 1929 the world unraveled for the Brauchers/Hexenmeisters (Now I get to the strange stuff I mentioned before).
In York County an historic murder and trial took place involving Witchcraft and spell casting. John Blymire, a Braucher, confessed to and was sentenced for the murder of Nelson Rehmeyer, another Braucher (as an aside, Rehmeyer was a relative of Blymire and he cured him of a problem when Blymire was a young boy).  As an adult, Blymire suffered from poor health and a string of really bad luck; he was convinced he was hexed. After some investigation involving other Brauchers, he found (or at least he thought he found) his tormenter in the person of Nelson Rehmeyer. In theory, all Blymire had to do was get the Book and a locket of Reymeyer’s hair, burn them, then bury the ashes six to eight feet underground ( the “Book” was Rehmeyer’s copy of Hohman’s “Pow-Wows…….” ). Blymire visited his nemesis twice; the first time trying to use Magic to obtain the Book and hair but failed. The second time Blymire was accompanied by two associates. The trio attacked and killed Rehmeyer. To cover their trail, the three tried to burn down the house but failed. As of this writing, I can find no evidence they found the Book. Not long after the murder, Blymire and his associates were arrested. During his confession, Blymire admitted to being at peace now that he killed the “Witch.”  In 1934 his associates were paroled and moved back to the York area. Blymire was paroled in 1953 and worked as a janitor in York. Truth is stranger than fiction. The resultant effects of this cruel deed were just as bad with lasting repercussions.
The news services of the time picked up the story and created a feeding frenzy. The public was informed a practicing Witch was murdered. Reporter from all over the world jammed into south eastern Pennsylvania to get the latest line. Even the renowned attorney, Clarence Darrow was interested. The stories printed by the media were lurid. They talked constantly of the murder, Witchcraft, and Voodoo two hundred years after the Salem Witch trials. All of this negative attention pushed the practice of the Brauchers and Hexenmeisters underground; or so it appeared.
Jesse Tobin, an Herbalist with a shop in nearby Kutztown PA., wants to bring the practices back into the open. Tobin feels the practices got a “bad rap” with the murder and the subsequent world pouring into the area. This global attention made the Pennsylvania Germans look obtuse, backward, and superstitious. The Brauchers stopped practicing for fear of persecution. Tobin has studied with a few Brauchers. However, fear is still primal in this part of the world. The folks do not speak freely for fear of being declared heretics. Even now in the twenty first century the label of heresy still raises its’ ugly head. When spoken about it is usually done quietly, sometimes in the Pennsylvania German dialect. At one time according to Tobin, there were as many Brauchers as one room school houses (we have many of these still in operation – mainly by the Amish).
As Jesse Tobin is reviving the Braucherei tradition, she uncovered some interesting things. Braucherei not only involved herbs, enchantments, amulets, talismans, and laying on of hands but also “sweat lodge” practices for a type of vision quest, agricultural techniques, and many ideas on medicine and magic. This knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation, mostly in an oral tradition. Only within the last two hundred years (Hohman’s book; circa 1820) do we have any written public knowledge of the practice.
Braucherei has undergone vicious assaults since the Empire days of Rome. Isaac Bonewits has made note the Roman Empire did not fall; it just “changed management.” Any knowledge that challenges what is doled out by the governing authority always will be
considered a threat. So it is and was dealt with in various manners – many bloody.  The Church is no different from the Empire. I mentioned how Frau Holle was dear to our Ancestors. By demonizing her as a Queen of Witches, the Church did to Frau Holle what they did to Diana. However, history has vindicated both. When I recently spoke to Tobin she said many of the older Pennsylvania German Brauchers feel it is time for the practice to come out of the shadows; the tradition must survive. I could not agree more.
Another young Braucherei practitioner, Matthew Sicher, has put out a call for male Brauchers. Braucherei is passed from one gender to the other; that means females teach males and the males teach the females. The purpose of this is to balance the energy between the sexes. As in all things pertaining to Braucherei practice, balance is key. As of this writing, there are more female to male practitioners by a margin of three to one. Sicher has found men unwilling to take up the cause for fear of being vulnerable emotionally. Like the Marines, Sicher is looking for a few good men.
Growing up within your ancestral culture you tend to take things for granted. So many rich tapestries of life in front of you yet go unknown. The “Big Picture” provided by technology and modern life can blind one to what was and can be today. My ancestral heritage, deeply rooted by the Pennsylvania Germans and the Germanic peoples of Europe is one of balance, renewal, and sustainability. In today’s’ world of waste and fraud, the poor state of the environment, and how poorly people are treated, we can learn many lessons from the Old Ways. It may be as simple as standing beneath an Elder on Mid-Summer’s Eve, to see clearly, what was there all along.

Unity of a Forgotten Kind

The world and all it contains, both seen and unseen stands with mankind in a state of consubstantiation.  Our ancestors understood this as...