Resolutions, Goal Setting, and Chronic Illness

I really hate making resolutions or goals for the new year, yet I seem to do it anyway, and in fact, it’s even a pretty big part of Pennsylvania Dutch culture and something we Urglaawers have incorporated into our practices between Allelieweziel (Samhain/Halloween) and Yuul (Yule). I think my hatred stems from my inability, for a number of reasons, to follow through with any resolution I make. In the last few years, I’ve made my resolutions very broad and quite vague. This year is no different. But what is different, is the way I’m going to attempt to approach them.

So let’s get the resolutions themselves out of the way:

  1. Buy Handmade, Small Business, direct from the artist, local, second hand, vintage wherever possible.
  2. Go to the gym on a fairly regular basis
  3. Do more spiritual work and learning

That’s it. Just three. Broad, Generalized, Vague. Just the way I like ‘em.

Let me explain about my resolutions:

  • The first is directly in response to learning this last year about the incredible waste generated by the fast fashion industry (see here and here). The despicable trend of disposable fashion has led me to do more mending of the clothes I have, to make my own clothes if I can, and to buy second hand when I can’t. This of course, has led me to a general boycott of capitalism by vowing to buy directly from the artist or small businesses in my local area. I may not be able to do this in all aspects of my life, but I will do what I can where I can and when I can.
  • Go to the gym. Ah, no list of resolutions is complete without a little self-hating. So here’s the thing. I’m big, fat, fluffy, obease, whatever; but I’m healthy. I get a yearly cold and that’s about it. No high blood pressure, no diabetes, nada. My only problem is, aside from some sports injuries, a genetic deformation in my lumbar which gives me chronic sciatica. The best way to manage this genetic condition is working and strengthening my core. After a really bad injury to my sciatica in fall of last year and the physical therapy that followed, I’m finally at a place where I feel physically able to go to the gym. So, in order to not be in extreme amounts of pain for the rest of my life, I have to do this, this gym thing. Blech.
  • Do more spiritual work and learning: I think this is on every pagan/polytheist/heathen/spiritualist’s list. Every year. Because meditation is hard to do on a regular basis, or, like ever. So, I know I’m bad at meditation, so that’s not even going to be one of the things I’m doing. Reading, I like reading, so of the 30-50 books I’m going to read this year for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I want around a third of them to be in my field, ie) witchcraft, herbalism, heathenry, Urglaawe, etc. I also really love my runes, so I’m going to continue a project I started last year compiling information on them from various sources into a document for me to pull from and to add my own personal take to. I might be trying a few other things, but really, what’s the point of generalized resolutions if I’m just going to box myself in like this?

Why do I generalize? Why are my resolutions so broad, vague, even? Because I have depression. It’s not a crutch. It’s a fact of life. Because I have ADD. It’s not a crutch it’s a fact of life. Because I have chronic pain. It’s not a crutch. It’s a fact of life.

These are things I have to deal with on a daily basis. My depression is going to give me bad brain days where all I do is avoid reality. Even doing everything I can, they’re still going to happen. Because my depression can’t be cured, it can only be managed. My ADD means I have problems focusing on a task, or, I get so hyper focused on a task, nothing else exists. This will happen. It may be productive, but likely, it won’t. My chronic pain means I have days where I take my pain meds and crawl right back in bed. Full stop. Nothing else is happening that day. This is my life. This suck that I must embrace, is why I have problems staying focused on goals, especially long term ones. I feel like I get so far behind by having a no spoon day, that there’s no point in trying to catch up. Right now, I am perilously behind on laundry because after returning to the gym for the first time this year, I had a really bad pain day. It’s one thing to abandon a resolution, it’s quite another to stop doing laundry altogether. This is why I do my laundry in small batches nearly every day.

So let’s take my approach to laundry, and apply it to my resolutions. Break down each resolution into small chunks and accomplish them one by one. Let’s use my desire to do more spiritual work and learning as an example.

Already above, I’ve started to break down what that goal looks like to me. Read more: I’ve decided that I’m going to read at least 10 books in my field. So I started a list. What books to I want to tackle this year? Staubs and Ditchwater by Byron Ballard. Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans by Edwin Miller Fogel. Devotional Polytheism by Galina Krassakova. Great. Start with one. Just one. Finish that then maybe read something for fun (like a book from the Wiitcher series) then do another book from this list. If you’re really just hating it, find a different book. There’s no use slogging through something that’s not doing anything for you. Live and Learn, then go buy or borrow yourself another book. Runes; this is a continuation of a project I started last year. The information in my culture about runes is incomplete, so I decided to do a survey of several sources to fill in the gaps, as it were. This is a multi year project, so any progress I make on it will be counted as a win.

What else can I do? Well, I got a pretty big hint from my New Year’s Prognostication. Apparently, I need to figure out how to carry my motivation and my inspiration forward, to sustain the spark throughout the year and to protect it from my inevitable bad days. This will be my toughest challenge. Stay inspired? Stay Motivated? You might as well ask me how we’re going to sustain human life on Mars for more than six to nine months at a time. I have no frakking clue. But, I am really good at research. I think I can find the answers, and maybe even find ones that work for me. Because that will be another challenge. Not giving up when everything falls apart. Because it will. I know myself, I will want to give up. I will want to sleep in instead of going to the gym. I will want to binge the Mandalorian instead of reading Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic by Amy Blackthorn. I will want to buy those fuzzy socks rather than making my own. Being better is hard. But being better is worth it.

This is where we check in with ourselves. Three months down the line, when January is Spring’s fever dream, where are we with our resolutions? Nowhere? Well, then. What we were doing before clearly isn’t working. Is one of those resolutions just really not feasible? Drop it. Is one of them a much bigger task than you thought? Break it down even farther, or make your original resolution more specific. Yes, more specific. Instead of read ten books in my field, change it to: read the Goddess Holle by GardenStone. Then read the everloving out of that book. Boom. Mission accomplished. Now, could you do more? Maybe, but you met your goal, that’s what matters. Give yourself the win. You deserve it.

Three more months down the road: It’s high summer and you’re seriously contemplating moving into the pool permanently. What progress have you made? Did you get a resolution finished? Want to be a masochist and add another? Keep timing in mind. In Urglaawe, we ideally want to be finishing up our resolutions by the time Allelieweziel (Samhain/Halloween) comes around. Yes. Finishing them by the end of October. Yes, only nine months to complete resolutions, not twelve. That’s because we spend October through December in introspection, part of which involves examining our resolutions and thinking of new ones. So, with three months left to wrap things up, what’s left to do? Do we need to seriously think about editing down or abandoning resolutions? Have we been so on the ball that we can get more done before the Wild Hunt begins to ride? Hey. Don’t laugh. It could happen. Maybe. In some other universe.

Three more months have passed and the Hunt is riding. Introspection and the Dark half of the year begins. What worked? What didn’t? Did you underestimate yourself? Did you overestimate yourself? Did you enjoy getting your resolutions done, why and why not? These are all great questions to ask ourselves, and they are so helpful in informing us as to how we should tackle the next set of resolutions. Yes. More. Never Ending. A wheel within a wheel. A Circle within a spiral. The the song that doesn’t end. And it shouldn’t. Resolutions are about self-improvement. Without change, we stagnate. Stagnation leads to self-hate, hate leads to suffering, and suffering leads to the dark side. Wait. Wrong universe. But you get my point. Resolutions can be toxic. I know. But I still think it’s worthwhile to set goals of self-improvement for ourselves, and what better time to start that at the beginning of a new year, ya know, besides right now?

Best of luck in your New Year’s endeavors! ~Sophia

Runes for 2020

I always hesitate to pull runes for long term prognostication, but when I came across a tarot spread on Facebook, I felt compelled to use this spread in conjunction with my runes to prognosticate for the year ahead. 

I sat down with my runes and explained to them what I’d be doing, explaining that there would be thirteen runes pulled and what each would be for, then began pulling runes, reiterating with each rune what I was asking of it.

Keep in mind, this is a deeply personal spread, and most probably will not mean anything for you unless you are very close to me. So, here it goes:

  1. Summary of the Year Gone By – Peil/Perthro¹
    • Don’t look back, time is a spiral, all that has happened will happen again.
    • Generally, I, as a historian, have a problem with blanket statements about not looking back at the past. I totally support statements like “Don’t live in the past,” but we absolutely must learn from the past and the only way to do that is to examine it, study it, sometimes in depth. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I’ve made before, I want to make all new ones.  Time is a strange thing, nostalgia is dangerous, but so is only living for the future. The Present is most important , but we can only be present if we can balance the past and the future.
  2. Career Outlook – Loch/Laguz
    • Go with the flow
    • Right now, the plan is for me to work for the next five years to pay off our credit card debt so that we can focus completely on our student loans. I haven’t even started looking for a job yet, but it’s high on my priority list. And what if we have to move again, sooner rather than later? Go with the flow, I guess.
  3. Finances Outlook – Baerke/Berkana
    • New Beginnings
    • Last year, I was getting “Financial Crash Is Coming” signals from my runes practically every time I picked them up. Does this mean something has changed? Is a widespread financial crash no longer on the horizon? Perhaps not diverted, but at least postponed? Or maybe the crash will be so bad that we, or even everyone, will have to start over.
  4. Love Outlook – Odem/Othala
    • Family (blood and chosen), community, inheritance
    • Well, that’s pretty clear, focus on my family. Could also hint at inheritance, which would mean somebody’s going to die. Not really a surprise with my grandma in decline and my husband’s grandpa in the same boat.
  5. Family/Friends Outlook – Eiwe/Ehiwaz
    • Be flexible, don’t over think it.
    • Hmmm. This says make friends easily, but also be ready to write them off. Which is a little concerning for family, although, with my cousin’s bigotry on full display at Christmas dinner last year, I guess I kind of have written her off. Much like I did with one of my aunts. She’s still family, but I have lost all respect and compassion for her.
  6. Spirituality  Outlook – Sunne/Sowilo
    • Hope, Renewal
    • Well, since one of my resolutions/goals for this year is to do more personal spiritual development, this is a good sign.
  7. Jan-Mar  Outlook – Fakel/Kanaz
    • Inspiration, spark of creation, mastery of tools, exerting oneself forward
    • Inspiration is always available in vast quantities at the start of a new endeavor, but finding a way to capture that flame and carry it forward throughout the life of the project is tricky. Find or make the tools necessary and exert your power to carry this inspiration with you for the long term.
  8. Apr-Jun Outlook – Haagel/Hagalaz
    • Transformation, Impending change/shifts
    • Are we moving again? This could also be part of the results of the inspiration and forward progress from the previous quarter. Change is never easy, but it is the only constant in the universe.
  9. Jul-Sept Outlook – Eisch/Isa
    • Slow your roll, delay, stasis
    • This to me almost says that the first part of the year is going to be so hectic that I’m going to need a breather going into the second half. It’s not about stopping, it’s about maintaining, even without progress, about staying the course when it seems like you’re not covering any ground.
  10. Oct-Dec Outlook – Gewwe/Gebo
    • Gift, exchange, symbiotic relationship between Human and Folyer.
    • The introspection of the Dark half of the year begins. Give yourself credit where it’s due, look at what worked and what didn’t moving forward. A gift calls for a gift. This is also the most socially hectic part of the year.
  11. Biggest Obstacle – Engel/Ingwaz
    • State of mundane life, abundance, Seed of Potential
    • Making the abundance of inspiration, of potential, last the whole year, to sustain the spark inside us in long term scales.
  12. How to Tackle That Obstacle – Anwatt/Ansuz
    • Wisdom, time of study, communication, learning
    • Do what you’re good at; research. Lean about ways to sustain inspiration and creativity then implement them. If they aren’t doing the trick, find more ways and implement those. Just because your first attempt failed, doesn’t mean you should give up.
      1. Be motivated by others by listening to podcasts, watching volgs (is that still a thing, or did I just age myself?) or TED Talks..
      2. Read blogs from other writers in your field of study and on topics that you are interested in.
      3. Give yourself time where you disconnect. Adios, Facebook! Give me some of that good old time nemophily!
  13. Overview of Year Head – Dorn/Thurisaz
    • Directed Force, Deterrence, Protection
    • Keep moving forward and hunker down when you can’t. Protect the fire within you, do what you can to deter bad brain days (Yay, Depression!)  that rob you of your forward momentum. Find a way to get back to it when a bad day derails you.

A pretty interesting spread and it seems to have a theme: Inspiration, finding it, hoarding it and carrying it with you for when you need it most. This has always been really rough for me. I have shittons of inspiration and creativity at the beginning of a project, but it withers and falters out after a while. This is one of the reasons why I always hesitate to make resolutions at the beginning of the secular year. How do you keep your flame of inspiration and motivation burning? Let me know in the comments. ~Sophia

  1. I have the rune names in Deitsch (Pennsylvania German)  and Proto-Germanic

Frau Holle

Frau Holle_edited

Frau Holle is the patroness of Urglaawe. She is also the protectress of agriculture and women’s crafts such as spinning. Various spellings of Her name exist, including Holda, Holle, Huld, and Hulda. She is heavily associated with flax and linen, the Elder and Elderberries, the distaff  

She features in the 24th story of the first volume of  Wilhem and Jakob Grimm’s Kinder und Hausmärchen (1812) [1]. The tale passed to the Brothers Grimm from the area of Hessen in Germany. It was told to them by Henriette Dorothea Grimm née Wild with more details added in the second edition (1819). It is still common expression in Hessen and beyond to say “Hulda is making her bed” when it is snowing, that is, she shakes her bed and out comes snow from heaven. In the second edition of the book in 1819 they added some details, most prominently the rooster’s greetings, provided by a correspondent Georg August Friedrich Goldmann from Hannover. Like many other tales collected by the brothers Grimm the story of Frau Holle was told to teach a moral. In this case, it is that hard work is rewarded and laziness is punished.

As Christianity slowly replaced Germanic and Scandinavian paganism during the Early Middle Ages, many of the old customs were gradually lost or assimilated into Christian tradition. By the end of the High Middle Ages, Germanic paganism had been completely assimilated and Scandinavian paganism was almost completely marginalized and blended into rural folklore, in which the character of Frau Hulda eventually survived.

In Germanic Pre-Christian folklore, Hulda, Holda, Holle and Holla were all names to denote a single being. According to Erika Timm, Perchta emerged from an amalgamation of Germanic and pre-Germanic, probably Celtic, traditions of the Alpine regions after the Migration Period in the Early Middle Ages[2]. Hulda is also related to the Germanic figure of Perchta, alternately spelled ad Berchta. She dwells at the bottom of a well, rides a wagon, and first taught the craft of making linen from flax. Holle is the goddess to whom children who died as infants go, and alternatively known as both the Dunkle Großmutter (Dark Grandmother) and the Weisse Frau (White Lady), elements which are more typically associated with the Grimm’s fairy tale as well. Her connection to the spirit world through the magic of spinning and weaving has associated her with witchcraft in Catholic German folklore. In Urglaawe, Frau Holle and Berchta are sisters.  Each represents a separate part of the spiritual year.  Holle represents the light half and Berchta the dark half of the year.

Frau Holle is associated heavily with the Wild Hunt in Urglaawe. The observance of Allelieweziel represents the transition from the light half of the spiritual year to the dark half. Holle’s departure on the Furious Host (Wild Hunt) is reflected in the death of the fertility of the soil. Allelieweziel is the death phase of the life-death-rebirth cycle. As Holle sets off upon the Furious Host, She is followed by an entourage of the lands spirits and the souls of the recently departed. Throughout the dark half of the year, Holle hunts for stray souls. As She finds them, they join the Furious Host until She brings them to her figurative mill to “grind” them into their next life. As a principally agricultural people for centuries before migrating to North America, the ancestors of the Deitsch transmitted no information about going to the hall of any deity upon death; instead, human souls follow cycles similar to that of the crops that dictated their livelihood. As such, most Urglaawer belief in a rebirth of the soul within the family stream as opposed to Valhalla, etc.

There are also some Verbots (Taboos) associated with Frau Holle. There is a Verbot in Braucherei and Hexerei (Urglaawe healing and magical practices, respectively) on the burning of Elder, with some very few exceptions. The essential reason for the Verbot is that it is an insult to Holle and is treated as though one were burning Her. The exceptions are the following: the burning of the ripe berries is acceptable; the burning of the leaves, unripe berries, and flowers in funerary rites is acceptable; the burning of the flowers in rituals to Holle is acceptable.

There is also a Verbot against spinning during Yuul. The distaff is to be cleared by the completion of old projects and set and prepared with a fresh project consisting of flax (or relevant material) specifically to be placed out during Yuul. The flax is both an offering and a means of receiving blessings. The completion or total abandonment of old projects seems to be important. After the crack of the whip or the start of the new year, every portion of thread that comes from what was on the distaff is particularly blessed. Any old projects that were left on and continue to be used are considered to be stained by the lack of respect to the custom. It’s a sentiment that also appears when one ignores Berchta’s demanded meal of gruel and herring on her sacred feast day December 31.

The onset of Yule starts a time where interaction within the home and introspection into oneself are virtues to be pursued, particularly as a lead-in to the setting of goals and resolutions to be put into place in the coming year. Incomplete projects are often seen as holdovers from the prior year and as burdens on change and progress, particularly if they have been sitting idle for a long time. However, there is an important understanding about Berchta that comes from Hexerei sources that indicates that the introspective function is necessary to have order in one’s own head on Her feast day, thus allowing for one to be of sound mind when making oaths of resolution. The incomplete projects are seen as a complication of that pursuit. New year, new beginnings, starting out with blessed thread. Dragging the old and incomplete into the new year represents being tied to the past (in a bad way) and will require the unthreading of anything produced in that circumstance.

As with some other Verbots, though, there are some exceptions to the use of the distaff during Yule. One is if the thread being spun is consecrated to Holle (or Berchta or to the other names by which She is known) and the thread never used. Another is if the items spun are used for sacred purposes (altar cloths, etc.). A third is if the item is one to be given charitably.

Frau Holle is one of Germany’s most durable female legendary figures and represents a pre-Christian deity who survived in popular belief and in the memory of common people well into the nineteenth century, including the German migrants to the American colonies and later the United States who would come to be known as the Pennsylvania Germans, the Pennsylvania Dutch or the Deitsch.

  1. Grimm Jakob und Wilhelm, “Kinder und Haus Marchen” 1812, 1819
  2. Timm, Erika. “Frau Holle, Frau Percht und verwandte Gestalten: 160 Jahre nach Grimm aus germanistischer Sicht betrachtet.” 2003

Special thanks to Robert L. Schreiwer, the Urglaawe Facebook Group, Die Urglaawich Sippschaft vum Distelfink and the Urglaawe Customs Guild

Link Round-Up

Urglaawe Links:


Urglaawe on Facebook

Urglaawe Resources

Sippschafts (Kindreds) & Freibesitze (Freeholds)

Die Urglaawisch Sippschaft vum Distelfink

Die Urglaawisch Sippschaft vum Distelfink on Facebook

Ewwerrick Freibesitz (MA)

Bloroiger Freibesitz (WA)

Urglaawe Guilds on Facebook:

Urglaawe Guild for the Runes                        Urglaawe Fiber Arts Guild

Urglaawe Herbalism Guild                             Urglaawe Musicians Guild

Urglaawe Customs Guild                                 Urglaawe Artisans Guild

Urglaawe Culinary Guild                                Deitsch Language Guild


The First Book of Urglaawe Myths

A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology

A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology (eBook)

Other Links:

In-Reach Heathen Prison Services

Heathens Against Hate