Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Neubuerg Myth

From 'Es Spukt in Franken' by Michael Prottel:

Neubürg was once known as the Home of Wotan. The nordic Allfather used to hold a council of the Gods every year between the twelve holy nights between Christmas and Epithany. There, all the Gods of the Germans would come together on Neubürg. They would sit on the mountain in golden thrones and were adorned with stars that they had brought down from the heavens. If the Gods had need of entertainment, then they would go hunting in Wotan's woods. As serving-folk, Wotan had twelve dwarves that lived inside the mountain. Aside from those dwarves, there were also twelve fiery men and twelve flower spirits that would stand at the side of his throne.

Every year at the Summer solstice, the Germans would make a pilgrimage there and would camp all the way round the base of the mountain. Only the priestess of Wotan alone lived upon the mountain. During the cultic festivals she would stand above them all upon the plateau and pray with raised hands to the father of the Gods. The Germans would then make a long procession in silence past the priestess. She would wander around the Neubürg seven times and invoke the blessing of the God. When they heard the roar of a storm, then it was believed that Wotan was approaching and everyone would throw themselves to the ground. They used to also believe that Wotan had buried his treasure inside the mountain however not one of the German Heathens would put touch spade to holy earth in search of those riches.

The last priestess of Wotan at Neuburg was called Wonnefried and she was a very devout woman. In her youth she had taken a vow of chastity in spite of being a very attractive woman. Every day at sunrise, she would pray to the heavens and at night she was the last person to make a circuit of Neuburg.

One year at the solstice festival, a man called Edron arrived at Wotan's mountain and almost as soon as the proud warrior saw Wonnefried, he fell in love with the priestess. After the festival, instead of moving off with the other tribespeople, he set up camp in a forest at the foot of the mountain. Each day the suitor would try and win the favour of Wonnefried. Wonnefried prayed to Wotan who wanted to give her the the strength to overcome this temptation. However she also came to be moved by Edron and so eventually allowed him to stay at her side if he also made a pledge of abstinence. Edron did so willingly and so the former warrior became priest at the side of the priestess. Often would they sit hand in hand at Wotan's altar worshipping the Allfather together.

Unfortunately this was not to last.

One day the first Christians came from the West trying through either words or other means of coercion to force the Germans to renounce their Gods. When the priestess heard that a tribe had sworn loyalty to the opponent of Wotan, she wanted to crush them at their heart and so convinced her friend Edron to lead an army of faithful against the Christians. Because of the circumstances, Wotan allowed them to give up their vows of chastity.

Edron strapped on his sword and hastily gathered the devotees of the old religion. However the Christians were already more numerous and the battle was already lost. Wonnefried and Edron mourned the many fallen, most of whom were followers of the old ways.

Then a rumour reached the priests of the old ways that the Christians would be coming in the following days to destroy the great altar of Wotan. In response, Wonnefried carried out the holy rites for the last time before embracing Edron and going with him to the highest stone on the highest side of the mountain. There the lovers kissed for the final time, entrusted their souls to Wotan and threw themselves off the mountain. The next morning, the Christians came and found their opponents lying dead on a rock, crowned with flowers placed there covertly during the night by followers of the old ways. Unmoved, the Christian priests destroyed Wotan's altar in the bright sunshine, throwing down the stones of the mountain.

Neubuerg: Autumn and Ostara

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


On Sunday, my husband and I packed the dog into the car and took off to Neubuerg, partly to celebrate Ostara but mostly to just go back to the place and make offerings there because it's become a very spiritual place for J and I.

Neubuerg is a hill, a rather large 'tabletop' hill that overlooks villages, farmland and forests. Dotted throughout the landscape are the type of rock formations that seem to epitomise Franconian Switzerland. Naturally, as with all these hills, Neubuerg is steeped in folklore and its stories speak of a time when the tribes used to come from miles around to worship at what was then, a place of council for the Gods. There upon the mighty Neubuerg would the high priestess of Woden make her devotions to the God on behalf of the tribes and according to the local myths, it was like this year and and year out until the Christians came.

Neubuerg is a place where I feel such belonging and connection, there is such peace to be had there, such a sense of life and vibrancy. Admittedly not something normally connected with Woden but through Neubuerg I'm learning new aspects of a God that has inspired me for years.

On Sunday it was raining up there, but we didn't care because we had come prepared for it and it meant that the Christians were more likely to stay at home. You see, this is the interesting thing about Neubuerg - one of the ways the high priestess used to worship Woden was by making a circuit of the top of the hill. Nowadays there is art up there that is suspiciously Odin/Woden oriented and it's a popular walking spot. Christians come to Neubuerg and walk the circuit around the top without knowing that they're following the tradition of those Pagan priestesses many years ago.

We were alone on Neubuerg, gloriously alone, only us and the dog and so we went to the place where we make offerings to the Allfather - a wonderfully atmospheric apple tree. J and I made offerings and then I tied a ribbon on the tree to honour the spirit, offered amber and then wove a spell upon the tree. While I was weaving the threads and singing, the wind rose. It was primal, it was wild and it was like being listened to. After I finished the wind calmed and we went to the second place to make offerings before heading back down the hill and home.