Deep within the heart of Pre-Christian, Indo-Germanic Paganism lurk mysterious tales associated with the winter months of the Year. These tales disclose Humanity’s relationship to the Elemental
Forces of Darkness and Danger reigning supreme within the Domain of
Heathen customs of the Alpine Regions greeted the Darkness of this time with ritual practices intended to appease the
Shadows haunting the hearts of a Society familiar with the ravages of
Cold and Hunger characterizing the Snowy depths of the Waning Year.
These were the “Ember Days”, as they came to be known in later
times, and were characterized by periods of fasting and feasting
between the days of December 25th and January 6th.

Paganism knew its touch earlier as the Winter Solstice - Darkest Night of the Pagan Year with observances that began around the 20th of December. The Spirit of this Time was fraught with the essence of
the Unknown, its Spirits of Evil, and was presided over by the Death
Aspect of the Goddess - aspects that asserted their Power as Entities
and were experienced through the body, mind, and Spirit of early
human memory. Cocooned within the depths of this Icy Darkness,
Humanity felt its place acutely within the cosmic scheme of things
through the senses of its mortal coil; howling winds of Eventide
evoked the cries of disembodied spirits of the Night seeking refuge
with the Living. With the comforting abundance of the Waxing Year’s
warmth now behind them, the icy touch of the Deathtide asserted its
power of Repose upon Humanity. This was the time of incubation and
hibernation, of crackling fires easing the sting of the merciless
North Wind whistling through the ice-bound Realms of the Season.

Amidst this swirling energy of the Human Condition dancing with the Forces of Nature arose the stories of the Great Winter Hag, encoded within the Customs connected to the Winter Solstice. The
reach of these traditions stretched deeply into the Roots of Pagan
history due to the fact that Ancient Customs of the Rural Alpine
regions thrived within remote valleys inaccessible to the influence
of the Christian church. Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria, and Slovenia
are but a few of the many places that gave birth to stories revolving
around the Crone Aspect of “The Brilliant One”, She who
is the Great Blaze, the Flame; Berchta,
or Perchta: Great Wintery Hag who is the Fire of the Darkest Night of
the Year.
Perchta appears when the Earth is at Her turning point between the Old and
New Year to come. As the embodiment of the Threshold itself, Perchta
is both the Terrifying Hag of the Dying Year, and the Enchanting Ice
Maiden of the Promised New Year. Frau
is the Southern counterpart to the Goddess Holle
and is known as the Great White-Robed One, German Bohemia’s
Guardian of Wild Animals, and of the Great Wild Hunt.

A menacing entourage known as “The Perchten” accompanies Her - yet another mesmerizing chapter of Her Mystery - who serve a great role in Perchta’s Rites, as we will
observe. Ultimately, the thing that remains clear within Perchta’s
Archetype is the fact that Her epithets and Rites remain vast and
diverse in character and preserve the memory of a time when human
Reverence for the Primordial Forces of Nature was unquestioned and
known intimately. The mystery of Perchta’s Essence manifests itself
in very enigmatic ways for She can appear as both female and
male as She chooses to appear before Humanity. She is
“Shape-shifter,” possessing one goose or swan foot, betraying Her
status as the Crone Goddess capable of transforming into animal form.
Frau Perchta as Task-Mistress oversaw the Realms of weaving and
spinning within the lives of young girls, ensuring that the required
amount of flax and wool were spun to quota before the year’s

Frau Perchta was understood to be the Great Grandmother Protectress of the People. She is the Wise Crone bestowing Her
Blessings upon those who observed Integrity and Benevolence in word
and deed throughout the Year.

During the Depth of Darkness heralded by Winter Nights, Great Perchta was known to traverse the land in search of those beings that solicited Her Generosity for their kind ways or to
administer Her Wrath upon those whose Life choices merited Her
punishments. Hers was the Role of “the Restorer” - the Keeper of
Balance. Her fearsome presence of Hagdom, together with the fierce
presence of Her “SchiachPerchten” (Her ugly and sinister
male-aspect counterparts) kept the nefarious energies of the season
at bay. The SchiachPerchten performed the Rite of fumigating peoples’
homes and livestock with Auspicious dried plants and woods during the
Winter Solstice - a Rite carried forth during the “Raunächte”
(Smoke Nights) which was intended to drive cursed energies back into
the Abyss. Their fearsome, hairy presence, bedecked with long teeth
and multiple horns, was meant to give life to the horrific aspects
lurking within Humanity’s Deep Imagination that could be summoned
in order to whip demonic Spirits into Submission in the Outer World.
Theirs was the purpose of “exorcising” the haunted Soul of
Humanity. Their role was cathartic in nature. The Schiach
rang huge bells strapped upon their waists, the
clanging, discordant sound ringing into the Night, in order to scare
evil away whilst awakening the Spirits of the coming New Year. In the
meantime, the shiny boot upon the windowsill awaiting Perchta’s
Blessings received sweets and silver coins for the favourable
behaviour of its owner. Conversely, a willow twig, or a tree root, or
straw and gravel, or a lump of coal greeted the owner of the boot who
was not the paragon of human goodness that year. Perchta
was known as “the Belly Slitter” to those who felt the sting of
Her Vengeance as inspired by their ill-favoured deeds, or
when Ritual gifts of fish and gruel were not offered to Her
effectively on Her feast day of January 6th. One custom invoked
to avert the Wrath of the Belly Slitter was to consume oliebollen
(ball-shaped, fried pastries with raisins) so that the slick grease
of this sweet dessert thwarted the blade of the Crone! Hers are the
Ways of Mercy and Severity.

As the star of the coming New Year ascended in the distance, the hearts of Humanity burned brightly for the promise foreshadowed therein. In Her Maiden Aspect as the Flame Bearer, Frau Perchta is
Reborn as a Youthful Ice Maiden, ushering the Fresh New Year into
being through Blessings and Light. Hers is the promise of
Illumination that brings comfort to even the Darkest of Long, Winter


by Rosmarinus Urania


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Replies to This Discussion

Thank you for the post

Sounds a bit like  Santa Clause good list and the bad list very good article I really could see and feel my Ancestors  presence  and what  , they must  have had to go through to surrvive.



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