Kårtspöälen med Düüvel / Playing Cards with the Devil

Sassisk

Wårvöär binnen wy in et westen van Europa teagensworig bang? Vöär en heyle bült: killer clowns, de Momo uutdågen, vrümde kültüren. Mor teminnent meynstyds neet mear vöär geysten, witte wyven, of deamonen. Wearld dee us bangig måkt is verskoven: et is neet langer et süpernatüúrlike dee us primär de boksem vüllen düt, mor moderne bedreigingen: teknology, muslims (ik bin my bang det bangigheyd vöär andern sit ter altyd in), vrümd eaten, nööm mor up. Disse bangigheid seyn wy toruch in use folklore. Moderne legendes bepråten sükse såken as vervlöökte smartfoons (de Momo uutdågen) of angst vöär muslims en höär eten (külpråt um sperma in witlouksaus). Vrogger was disse bangigheid süms wat aans: geystbisten (meskeens en bangigheid vöär nütsloos vea? Immers, kinst höär neet melken of slachten), vreye vrauwlü (dat is, neet-bunden an en man, süks as witte wyven en en soad mear weasens), en ales wat neet kristelk is.

De sage dee ik no med ju bepråten wil, is der vannys eyn uut Grönn, vannys upteykend döär E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes in et jår 1919 in Garmerwolde (up et Grönnegsk: Gaarmwol):

Joaren leden zat ter op zeker oavend n gezelschop om de ronde toavel van t Klaphoes te Gaarmwòl te koartspeulen en t was wonderliek, mor ze wonnen allemoal. Dou lait ain n koart valen. Hai bukte zich en wol hom weer oppakken, mor dou zigt e onner toavel n peerdepoot. Ze wazzen mit Duvel aan t koartspeulen west. Haals over kop bennen ze deur oet komen en ze wizzen loater nait hou ze thoes komen wazzen. Zo bennen ze ook ais op Kòkhaim aan t koartspelen west en dou wazzen t allemoal gruine oazen west. Ze wazzen mit de Òlle aan t koartspeulen. Dou t licht wer, was e vot west en dou duzen ze ook eerst weer noar hoes!

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Groninger Volksverhalen (1981), p. 253

Dit binnen eyglyks twey sagen in eynen, umreaden der binnen twey steaden wår of Düüvel kårtspöält: eynmål up et Klaphuus, en olde kroog in Garmerwolde, en andermål up Kokheim, en harbarg in Ten Boer. Kokheim was in vrogerjåren ouk en nåm vöär de stea van de kök, et gericht of richtspråk. Huizenga-Onnekes hev ouk nog en ander mål en sage um kårtspöälende Düüvel upteykend in Garmerwolde, mor ditmål in et Draaihoes, en old draihuus (en gebauw det et stegen en dålen van brük reagelt) det ouk deende as kroog (E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Groninger Volksverhalen (1981), p. 253).

Huizenga-Onnekes haar in höär boken neet noteard wel of de spreakers van disse sagen binnen. Wy weyten neet ho old of sy binnen, watvöär arbeid sy doon, of et man- of vrauwlü binnen, en so wyder. By sümmige sagen in Huizenga-Onnekes höär kollektsys hebben wy anwysens, dat de geskydnis older is as dåtum van upteykning. De anwysen in disse sage is et kårtenspel, wårmed spöäld wer. In de tweyde sage vinden wy de setse ‘doo wassen et alemål gröne åsen west’. Et meast populäre kårtenspel te wearld oaver is et Franske spel. In dit Franske spel binnen de åsen van skoppen swart. Gröne åsen kommen uut et noord-Düütske kårtenspel: in stea van Franse swarte skoppen hev dit spel gröne blådern. Et is geyn eyn-up-eyn oaversetting, umreaden dit noord-Düütske kårtenspel is lüddeker as et Franske, en is perfekt um et spel Skat med to spöälen, en spel uut vrog 19e-eyws Düütskland. Winnen by dit spel geit med åsen en tynen. Et brüken van dit kårtenspel givt en tyd an, dårin lü in Garmerwolde (en meskeen ouk breader in et Grönnegerland) nog en noord-Düütsk spel brüükten in stea van et Franske spel.

As ju vöärgaande post nog herinnern kin, den weyten ju dat vöäl süpernatüürlike weasens süpernatüürlik weasen döär et breaken med Boyer’s natüürlike kategourys. In Düüvel syn val is dat tüsken mensk en bist. Hey likt up en mensk van boaven, wat wy weyten umreaden geynent vült et up dat Düüvel by dem is töt eyn under tåvel kikt, en dikke paerdebeynen sigt. Der binnen en heyle bült weasens mear dee en misken tüsken paerd en mensk binnen, süks as de Gryske kentauroi of de Orkney Nuckelavee. Disse bisten hebben veer paerdebeynen. Meskeen hev Düüvel in de sagen der ouk veer, det wor neet düdelk in vortelling sülv. Mor as Düüvel mear mensk as paerd is, den hev e der vast mor twey. In dat val likt Düüvel en soad up Gryske satyroi. Meynstyds meanen lü dat en satyr en lüddik mensk med bokkenpoten is, mor det binnen de pan uut Rome. In vrogste bornen haren de satyroi paerdebeynen, lykas use Düüvel hyr. Vroge Kristenen, lykas Hiëronymos, löyvden dat de satyroi deamonen weasen. In elk val binnen paerdebeynen hyr deamonisk: neet allenig umreaden dee binnen van Düüvel, mor lü kårtspöälen ouk – Düüvel syn spel.

As wy stellen kinnen dat Düüvel afkumt van disse satyroi, den is der eyn wichtig kenmark verswunden. Satyroi waren simboulen van skandelke seksualityt, en wel eys en Gryske vås med höär afbealdens derup seyn hev, weyt wat of der maank beynen hengt. Dat beteykent, dat as ju under tåvel kyken sil, lykas dee kearl in de sage, den sillen ju neet up paerdebeynen letten, umreaden Ol Peet syn peethån kükelt haarderuut. Et is mor net, dat kearl us der neet um kükelt hev.

English

What are we afraid of nowadays in Western Europe? For a lot of things: killer clowns, de Momo challenge, strange cultures. Not for ghosts, witte wyven, or demons, however, at least most of the time. That which terrified us has shifted focus: the supernatural no longer the major that makes us shit our pants, but rather modern threats: technology, Muslims (fear for others will always be a thing, I’m afraid), weird food, you name it. This fear is reflected in our folklore. Modern legends deal with topics such as cursed smartphones (as in the Momo challenge) or fear for Muslims and their food (nonsense stories about sperm in garlic sauce). This fear had a different object in the past: ghost animals (perhaps a fear for useless cattle? You can’t milk or slay them), free women (meaning women not bound by a husband, like witte wyven and others), and everything that is not Christian.

The story I want to discuss now with you is again from the Groningen area, again collected by E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes in the year 1919 in Garmerwolde:

On a certain night, many years ago, a group sat around the round table of the Klaphoes in Garmerwolde, playing cards. And it was a miracle, but every single one of them won. Then one of them dropped a card. He bent down to pick it up again, but then he saw a horse leg under the table. They were playing cards with the Devil. They scurried out of the building, and afterwards could not remember how they arrived back home. In the same manner they also once played cards at Kokheim, and in that case all cards were green aces. They were playing cards with the Old One. When it became light, he (the Devil) was gone, and only then they dared to go back home!

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Groninger Volksverhalen (1981), p. 253

Actually, we have two stories here, because there are two places where the Devil plays cards: first in the Klaphoes, an old pub in Garmerwolde, and then in Kòkhaim, an inn in Ten Boer. Kòkhaim used to be a name for the place of the kók, or speaking law. Huizenga-Onnekes also has another variant of the Devil playing cards from Garmerwolde. This time it happens in the Draaihoes, which is a building that functioned as a bridge guard while also serving as another pub (E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Groninger Volksverhalen (1981), p. 253).

Huizenga-Onnekes has not jotted down in her books whom she got the stories from. We don’t know how old her informants were, nor their profession, nor their gender, and so on. For some stories in Huizenga-Onnekes’ collections we have clues that demonstrate that the story is older than the date of collection. In this story the clue is hidden in the card deck used. In the second story we find the line ‘in that case all cards were green aces’. The most popular card deck in the world is the French one. In this French deck the ace of spades is black. Green aces stem from the north-German card deck: instead of French black spades, this game has green leaves. These card decks are not one-to-one interchangeable either, because this north-German card deck has fewer cards than the French one, and is perfectly suited to play a game of Skat, a game from the early 19th-century Germany. The aces and tens give the highest points in this game. That this card deck is used shows us a time in which people from Garmerwolde (and perhaps also in the rest of the Groningen area) used a north-German card deck instead of the French deck.

If you can remember the previous post, then you know that many supernatural beings are supernatural because they break with Boyer’s natural categories. In the case of the Devil this is the breaking of the categories human and animal. He looks like a human from the waist up, which we know because it didn’t struck anyone that they were playing cards with the Devil until one of them looked under the table, and saw massive horse legs. There are a ton of other creatures that are a mix between horse and human, like the Greek kentauroi or the Nuckelavee from the Orkney islands. These creatures have four horse legs. Perhaps the Devil in these tales has four as well, but the narrative is not clear about that. But if the Devil is supposed to be more human than animal, then he would only have two. In that case the Devil looks like a Greek satyroi. People often think that this is a small human with ram’s legs, but those are the Roman pan. In the earliest sources, the satyroi have horse legs, like our Devil here. Early Christian like Jerome believed that the satyroi were demons. In any case, horse legs are demonic here: not only because they belong to the Devil, but also because the people in the story are playing cards – the Devil’s game.

If we want to claim that this Devil originates from these satyroi, then an important detail has been neglected. Satyroi were symbols of outrageous sexuality, and anyone who has ever seen a Greek vase with their depictions knows what hangs between their legs. That means that, if you look under the table, like the guy in the story, then you won’t pay attention to the horse legs, because Old Pete’s peter shouts for it. Rather polite of that bloke that he did not shout it out to us.

” … mor dou zigt e onner toavel n peerdepoot. Ze wazzen mit Duvel aan t koartspeulen west”
” … but then he saw a horse leg under the table. They were playing cards with the Devil”
(Models: Arjan & King)

Spookplåtkepråt

Um et måken van de foto

Vöär disse foto bün ik by de Vortellingenkearl sülv thuus west. An syn tåvel (med kleyd) sat Arjan med klompen an. Stool nåst hom was leag. By et måken van de foto bleav ik kyken når et locht en de ruumte nåst hom, umreaden ik wist dat Düüvel der nog nåst sitten mos. En dag of sükswat låter bun ik by en dörpsgenout thuus west dee en lüddek paerd had. Dee beynen haar ik up foto set. Låter, up de komputer, heb ik de twey fotos såmen brocht en skaar der by teakend. Dat was en höäle toor um et krekt so to krygen dat et ter wårelk uut sag.

Spooky spectral speculations

About creating the picture

For this picture I went to the house of mister Folktale himself. At his table (with carpet) Arjan sat with his wooden shoes on. While I was taking the picture I kept looking at the light and space next to him, because of the fact that I knew I had to add the devil. Some days later I went to an inhabitant of our village who owns a small horse. I took a picture of the horse’s legs. Later I combined both pictures in my computer and added the shade. It was not easy to make it look realistic.

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