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Heathen Literature Discussion of modern literary works from various Heathen authors and scholars relating to integral Germanic Heathen culture, spirituality, mythology, and history; discussion of published Heathen thought, history, and opinion.

Five Hundred New Fairytales Discovered in Regensburg

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Old Tuesday, March 6th, 2012   #1
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Five Hundred New Fairytales Discovered in Regensburg

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Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years


Spinning a yarn … King Golden Hair, one of the newly-discovered fairytales.

A whole new world of magic animals, brave young princes and evil witches has come to light with the discovery of 500 new fairytales, which were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for over 150 years. The tales are part of a collection of myths, legends and fairytales, gathered by the local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810–1886) in the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz at about the same time as the Grimm brothers were collecting the fairytales that have since charmed adults and children around the world.

Last year, the Oberpfalz cultural curator Erika Eichenseer published a selection of fairytales from Von Schönwerth's collection, calling the book Prinz Roßzwifl. This is local dialect for "scarab beetle". The scarab, also known as the "dung beetle", buries its most valuable possession, its eggs, in dung, which it then rolls into a ball using its back legs. Eichenseer sees this as symbolic for fairytales, which she says hold the most valuable treasure known to man: ancient knowledge and wisdom to do with human development, testing our limits and salvation.

Von Schönwerth spent decades asking country folk, labourers and servants about local habits, traditions, customs and history, and putting down on paper what had only been passed on by word of mouth. In 1885, Jacob Grimm said this about him: "Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly and with such a sensitive ear." Grimm went so far as to tell King Maximilian II of Bavaria that the only person who could replace him in his and his brother's work was Von Schönwerth.

Von Schönwerth compiled his research into a book called Aus der Oberpfalz – Sitten und Sagen, which came out in three volumes in 1857, 1858 and 1859. The book never gained prominence and faded into obscurity.

While sifting through Von Schönwerth's work, Eichenseer found 500 fairytales, many of which do not appear in other European fairytale collections. For example, there is the tale of a maiden who escapes a witch by transforming herself into a pond. The witch then lies on her stomach and drinks all the water, swallowing the young girl, who uses a knife to cut her way out of the witch. However, the collection also includes local versions of the tales children all over the world have grown up with including Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin, and which appear in many different versions across Europe.

Von Schönwerth was a historian and recorded what he heard faithfully, making no attempt to put a literary gloss on it, which is where he differs from the Grimm brothers. However, says Eichenseer, this factual recording adds to the charm and authenticity of the material. What delights her most about the tales is that they are unpolished. "There is no romanticising or attempt by Schönwerth to interpret or develop his own style," she says.

Eichenseer says the fairytales are not for children alone. "Their main purpose was to help young adults on their path to adulthood, showing them that dangers and challenges can be overcome through virtue, prudence and courage."

In 2008, Eichenseer helped to found the Franz Xaver von Schönwerth Society, an interdisciplinary committee devoted to analysing his work and publicising it. She is keen to see the tales available in English, and a Munich-based English translator, Dan Szabo, has already begun work on stories ranging from a miserly farmer and a money-mill to a turnip princess.

"Schönwerth's legacy counts as the most significant collection in the German-speaking world in the 19th century," says Daniel Drascek, a member of the society and a professor in the faculty of language, literature and cultural sciences at the University of Regensburg.

Source http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012...overed-germany
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Old Tuesday, March 6th, 2012   #2
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This is absolutely fascinating. I anxiously await the publishing of his work.
Thanks for posting, Hersir.
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Old Tuesday, March 6th, 2012   #3
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Agreed, for someone like myself this is really significant and I too look forward to publication. Any gems of Germanic heritage that are unearthed such as this should be celebrated and relished!
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Old Tuesday, March 6th, 2012   #4
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"Brothers Grimm were against using edda and the saga litterature as sources to German culture history, as this would place the Germans in a dependant relationship to nordic culture. They chose instead to look for surviving folklore in rural German areas, which they meant would be almost untouched by historical shifts.

Wilhem Mannhardt (1831-1880) chose to look way from the "high" gods of Indian, Greek, Roman and Germanic mythology and focus soley on "lower mythology" or folklore. There were no gods on this level, only spirits and demons. This mythology was perfect with "low" phenomenon like superstition, folkish celebrations and primitive rites.

This original fertility cult had been the indogermanics original religion, according to Mannhardt. Only later had the worship of gods and the connected rituals came into existence. This lower mythology had no olympian gods, but wood spirits, fauns, ghosts and banshees.

Till the end of the 1800's there was a lot of research on the norse "apollonian" gods, Tor and Balder, and the view spread from historians such as Bernhard Kummer and racial scientists like Hans F. K. Günther became widespread: The cult of the dark, one eyed and seid practicing Odin was a sympton of foreign influence from the orient, Mediterranean Sea or celtic areas and was signs of cultural decadence. Odinworship and all daimon cult and all magical rituals were barbaric and totally foreign for what Günther called "Germanic fatherworshipping odalfarmers".

These writers agreed on trying to reconstruct the "lower, folkish mythology", which were suppoused to be older than Rigveda and the Illiad. "
-Stefan Arvidsson (I only translated a very small part of it)
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Old Thursday, March 8th, 2012   #5
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Naglfari shows some promise.

I wonder how long it would take for an English version to come out. My German is a bit rusty.
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Old Friday, March 9th, 2012   #6
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Culturally very important

"There is no romanticising or attempt by Schönwerth to interpret or develop his own style,"

This fact is very important and adds value to the discovery, because even just 150 years ago, German was spoken a bit differently than today. This makes the discovery interesting not only to fairy tale and lore collectors, but just as well to historians and students of timeframe-linguistic traditions.

I have collected and studied much material from the 19th century and I love the old country style these folklore pieces are written in.
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Oh this is just wonderful, I am literally pages away from finishing Grimm's Fairytales. I am really interested in reading the over lapping tales like Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin in their original text, but more so the un-tainted tales we currently don't know in English.
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A marvelous discovery. There's undoubtedly pieces of Germanic wisdom hidden in some of these "new" (re-discovered) tales.


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Originally Posted by Hersir View Post
"Brothers Grimm were against using edda and the saga litterature as sources to German culture history, as this would place the Germans in a dependant relationship to nordic culture. They chose instead to look for surviving folklore in rural German areas, which they meant would be almost untouched by historical shifts.

Wilhem Mannhardt (1831-1880) chose to look way from the "high" gods of Indian, Greek, Roman and Germanic mythology and focus soley on "lower mythology" or folklore. There were no gods on this level, only spirits and demons. This mythology was perfect with "low" phenomenon like superstition, folkish celebrations and primitive rites.

This original fertility cult had been the indogermanics original religion, according to Mannhardt. Only later had the worship of gods and the connected rituals came into existence. This lower mythology had no olympian gods, but wood spirits, fauns, ghosts and banshees.
This theory must be pretty much debunked today. Many of the Germanic high-gods can be traced all the way back to the early Indo-European tradition (so these gods can't be said to be a late, aristocratic or poetic "invention" without real importance to the Folkish tradition as a whole). Various fertility-oriented aspects of the Germanic tradition did indeed survive for a longer time among the rural dwellers and farmers, but they do not represent the purest form of Germanic (or Indo-European) religion.


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Till the end of the 1800's there was a lot of research on the norse "apollonian" gods, Tor and Balder, and the view spread from historians such as Bernhard Kummer and racial scientists like Hans F. K. Günther became widespread: The cult of the dark, one eyed and seid practicing Odin was a sympton of foreign influence from the orient, Mediterranean Sea or celtic areas and was signs of cultural decadence. Odinworship and all daimon cult and all magical rituals were barbaric and totally foreign for what Günther called "Germanic fatherworshipping odalfarmers".
This seems to me as a quite ridiculous statement. I wonder what arguments he had to support this theory in any credible way...
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Old Sunday, March 11th, 2012   #9
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It has been up in modern age too, Thor Heyerdahl argued that Åsgard was a Asian fortress and that Odin was a chieftain who brought new techonology to the north. But it is, as you say, controversial and little supported.

He did not claim that the high gods were non-Germanic, he chose to look away from them.
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That are some really fantastic news and I´m pondering over writing an email to Erika Eichenseer and ask her for a copy of the fairytales. But of course, I guess I will have to wait until public release.

It seems that most of the fairytales are based on our old Bavarian myths, rural stories and legends, and that they are directly related to our local dialect! The city where the old fairytales were found, Regensburg, is just around 40 kilometers away from me and the center of the whole region. Some months ago, Regensburg was elected to be the place where the Museum of Bavarian History will be erected, and these fairytales would be an ideal exhibition piece.
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