= Shadowplay T = Truthseeker R = Ravenhawk
Just how similar are the German and American Pagan Communities?
In Germany there are as many personalities and prejudices as
we have here in America.
The same kind of prejudices? For instance, here there's a distinct
gulf between most Wiccans and most Ceremonialists.
In Germany, it's more the Trad people and the eclectic people
who make a gulf. But it's not that hard - they write each other
letters and write to each other's newsletters.
But they don't mix socially as a community?
I don't think connections in Germany can be called a Community.
There's groups you've heard of, like the Chaos coven, very free
and eclectic, who use parts of Traditional ritual, but reject
real Traditional stuff. They're very open; they do a newsletter
called the Hexenzeit Shrift. The connection is through
newsletters and networking, unless there is a Traditional link,
say towards England and a group there. The Pan European Wiccan
Conference is more Traditionally oriented, with people from
England, Norway, Germany. The people I know who go to that are
One of the sad things I found was that very often as an American
I would get unfavourable responses, because "American Craft
But that's more because of England. People from there will develop
an attitude towards American upstarts.
So, how do people usually, from your experience, get into Paganism?
There are no books. Only Starhawk and Z Budapest in the women's
sections of bookshops and a lot of German books on Witchcraft
which are like Hollywood and cheap Victorian material translated
into German. So the only thing most people get inspired with
are novels like Mists of Avalon and try to get in touch
through New Age shops.
How about Esoteric Fairs?
A few years ago the New Age Fairs were full of everything, but
lately it's getting really small. And it's mostly Tarot and
pendulums and New Age Christians - universal life - dressing
in white and drinking sacred water ... an old lady as trance
medium for Jesus ...
Like Elizabeth K Prophet? Did you make much contact this way?
I left my address at a New Age store and wrote to magazines.
It took some time but I finally got in touch with people who
lived close by, some of whom were part of a German/American
military contact group run by people who were originally from
the U.S., and basically Gardnerian in orientation, with some
eclectic leanings. I joined them during a period of retreat.
The coven I contacted was Waxing Oak, and two of their people
and I formed the nucleus of another coven with myself as a trainee.
Over a period of time other people joined and we got together
with others from Waxing Oak for festivals and celebrations.
two people who trained me have now been initiated Alexandrian
by Vivienne Crowley, and she seems to do most contact between
German and English groups.
Do many people come into Paganism through feminism or alternative
I wouldn't say you come to it from there; it's just that through
living that way you meet other people and may find a Tradition.
Lots of times people in the Craft are also in those kind of
The only people who I know who are very activist are contacts
for Pagans for Peace.
The Fellowship of Isis has a lot of members in Germany too.
Do you have contact with Ceremonial groups?
The only contacts I have are through Hexenzeit Schrift.
I read their articles but it's not really my thing.
They have their own magazines - Baphomet for example.
The Ceremonial things you did read - what are they like?
I get goosebumps about them.
Is there an element of Nazi magic there?
Only by rumour. And it's just a rumour, no evidence. And I don't
like gossip. It's a way of calling people names and giving them
a bad reputation.
People use sites because of their power and sometimes neo-Nazi
types show up, especially for public midsummer celebrations.
But they're not part of the magical groups and are a nuisance.
I'm hearing that it would be hard to go back to Pre-Christian
Paganism because of the Nazi appropriations of mythology. Is
this a problem in German Craft?
I don't think people relate old German things to Nazi things.
I got lots of films in school so as to make sure this generation
didn't get taken in by that kind of thing. The people in the
Nazi movement were just using magical runes, etc, as a way of
trying to claim power. In general, people don't relate the Nazi
thing to religion. So, people won't call you a Nazi because
you are researching with runes. That would be different.
Ravenhawk, the military played a part in your involvement with
My way into the path was through army groups and covens. The
people I trained with were in the army. And then I met more
Americans from Augsburg in an army coven with Germans. I'm not
in the military myself but got in contact with them and worked
with them. There were people in the army (advertising in Stars
and Stripes), lots of people into the Society for Creative
Anachronism (SCA) as well. There were a lot of Pagans in the
Did they have any problems becuase of their religion?
They used to have problems, but once the army chaplains' manual
came out with reference to Wiccans and Pagans, there weren't
such a lot of problems.
What were some of the fun things you got up to over there -
festivals and things?
Public rituals have mostly happened in Berlin; we're not that
public. I think the P.E.W.C. people are planning to do a public
Beltaine some time in the future.
So things are mainly by invitation?
Yes, you can bring a friend if you're responsible for them,
and you know you are responsible. Only advertising in a magazine,
with a contact number for people to call if they want to come.
The only gathering where lots of people gather is at midsummer
at the Externsteine. Not organised or advertised, like Stonehenge
in Britain. Lots of groups, not all of them people I'd want
Sounds very familiar somehow. Finally, you mentioned magazines
before - what's the most popular equivalent to the U.S. and
Hexenzeit Schrift - it's not as big as Circle,
but is a place to swap information. It's changed over a period
of time - started off handwritten and now is a professional
returned to Germany only a week after this interview where he continues
to live, work and walk his own particular Way.
- Pagan Ramblings by Truthseeker
in the Hartz mountains. The May fires are burning in the villages,
and people are dancing on mountain paths, in the meadows and on
at the Externsteine in the Teutoburg Forest. A coven of German Witches
go to greet the rising sun, walking up to the "gravestone"
where one sits to be blessed by the sun@#146;s rays, a blessing
that can only occur at Midsummer. They consider themselves the guardians
of the stones.
a German carnival. Men dressed as Witches, fools, and harlequins
chase the demon winter spirits away. In the Black Forest and Schwabian
hills, the Pagan element in town festivals is still very strong.
town of the original Niebelungen legend. A group of Witches meet
on the shores of the Rhine. They create a spiral dance, chanting
songs learned from a translated copy of The Spiral Dance.
They raise energy to clean Father Rhine of pollutants.
a Frankfurt suburb, people are meditating on runic sounds and syllables.
Their workshop is being sponsored by Yggdrasil E.V., a Nordic/Celtic
are everywhere. You can find them as part of the feminist political
movement, the Green movement, or at psychic fairs selling crystals
and reading Tarot. They are at medieval festivals, hawking drinking
horns and amulets, they walk down the street as Celtic warriors,
or work at BASF as engineers. Young, old, radical, conservative,
open or secretive, there is indeed a Pagan renaissance in Germany.
had the unique opportunity of being an Army wife living in Germany
who spoke the language like a native. The people I worked with were
both American soldiers and German locals.
grew up on Wagner and the Ring Cycle. Imagine how thrilling it was
to be walking up the steps of the Bascilica, where Brunhilde and
Krenhilde fought for Siegfried@#146;s heart, touching walls where
Gothic stonemasons had carved runes to protect the structure of
the church. It seems that every German town has its own Roman road,
Celtic column or sacred well to one of the local deities.
was here in Worms that I met Peter and his family. Peter is a high
priest of the Light of Pentacle Coven, Thane of the Warriors of
Caitilin ni Houlihan, a Celtic warrior band, and an initiate of
Alex Sanders himself.
is proud to be an anarchist. In the early 80s, Peter and some friends
published Mephisto, a Pagan magazine. Tragically, it has
since folded. The warriors put on live steel fighter demos, a good
show where the evil cleric ends up being thrown into the fire. Lions
1, Christians 0. Peter@#146;s house was a safe haven (a large one
at that @#151; four kids, two iguanas, a cat, a ferret, and a very
active house spirit). Occasionally, we would do ritual outside at
an old Roman quarry.
Darkstar, a friend of mine, and student of my spouse, married a
German and moved to Frankfurt, they started having an open house
once a month, and these eventually turned into a loose-knit coven
consisting mostly of young Germans. It was interesting to watch
a rather generic traditionalist coven evolve into a living, breathing
entity. The coven opened avenues of discussion and dialogue between
the imported American traditionalism and the German passion for
individualism. These people became my family and though at that
time I was living two hours away in Schwabia, the connections remained
close. We networked with other Heathens across the country, until
my circle stretched from Augsberg to Berlin. These were the people
I did most of my rituals with. Our friend@#146;s wife was a friend
of the editor of the German Pagan magazine called The Hain.
of our rituals was done in Augsburg by a Military coven, where some
German and American military Pagans gathered together for Beltaine.
Brother Bob, the high priest, talked to one of the local farmers
who owned some forest land, and the farmer thought that fertilizing
the fields was a great idea. We gathered together and romped and
ran through the woods, evoking the God energy. We climbed trees,
rolled in leaves, shouted, and yodelled until we were ready for
the ritual. Ravenhawk and I went into our tents to prepare for our
deity contact. I was attended by the women at the camp, as he was
by the men. We were led into circle as deity. Ravenhawk was skyclad,
with antlered mask and a brown silk cloak. Once in circle, we were
Other. Language was transcended. I felt a very deep connection to
was cold in May so I did my Goddess work in pink Reeboks. I may
have been skyclad, but I didn@#146;t want my feet to get cold. Doing
a fivefold kiss in pink Reeboks is... a spiritual experience.
the Darkstar Coven dissolved, Ravenhawk and I started looking for
German Pagans. We found the Chaos Coven at a psychic fair. These
people are responsible for another German language Pagan magazine,
the Hexenzeit Schrift. This is a marvellous, irreverant Pagan
magazine. They truly believe in spontaneous ritual, with no hierarchy.
These are also the first German Pagans I met who spoke only German.
Reinventing Pagan language, a la Mary Daly, started to get interesting.
One of the odd things is that most German Pagans I met are more
comfortable claiming to be a Witch than a Hexe.
I started using German to talk about ritual and magick, my personal
magickal vocabulary changed. My emotions turned toward the local
land and the German country and I began to relate to the German
mindset. Ravenhawk and I found a place close to my house, where
the wood spirits talked and the faeries danced. It was on a cliff,
and we threw offerings into the brier patch.
to Stuttgart, I have friends who are members of the Green Party
and the Fellowship of Isis, as well as being the German contacts
for Pagans for Peace. Ulrich inherited some land and is building
a sacred Grove and stone circle, something he is quite qualified
for as he is a landscape technician. The ley lines are strong, and
they also have a gate to faerie close by, into which one can walk
and lose many, many hours. He is also a dancer in the Schaeferlauf
(Shepherd@#146;s Run), a tradition that has Pagan fertility roots.
One dances for the possession of a drunken rooster, symbol of the
Sun God. When Ulli finally won, he dedicated the rooster to the
God and it now lives very happily on a biofarm. No chicken soup
culmination of the Pagan renaissance is seen in the Pan-Pagan conference,
a week long festival, only for Europeans created by PEWC (the Pan-European
Wiccan Council). It started out with about 40 people in Berlin some
three years ago, with folks sleeping on living room floors, and
has blossomed into an event with approximately 200 attendants. People
come from as far away as Norway. English elders dance with Norwegian
drummers, there is chanting and firewalking, and a good time is
had by all. Paganism is definitely blooming in Germany.
Truthseeker in Seattle for a referral through Shadowplay.