Vrouwlüü en höär Richtige Stea / Women and their Right Place

Sassisk

Vrouwlüü bekoaren de fantasy van een sood lüü (m/v/a). Oft is afspeiglen hyrvan in folklore swår eyndimensjonål. As vrouwlüü posityv waardeard worden, dan binnen et moders of püre mågden, sünder eynige smet. As et negotyv is, dan binnen et moddwillige lüstobjekten of kwaie heksen. Ho et ouk weasen mag, vrouwlüü binnen in volksvortellingen oft objekten in stea van aktöyren, dår wy allen unse ideålen en bangigheyden up projekteren.

Vöär Huizenga-Onnekes binnen witte wyven of witte jüvvers, dår wy et vandåg um hebben gån, objekten vöär een heyl andre fantasy. Witte wyven binnen by höär vöär-kristelike, germaanske weasens. See skrivt ho of de witte wyven van alles weasen künd in vöär-kristelike tyden: elfen, heidenske preesteressen, natüürgeysten, of meyr percys, boumgeysten. See spoken up steaden dee en ‘prehistoriske beteykenis’ hebben, wat dat ouk mor meynen mag. Dår see oft med höär dreyen verskeynen, glöövt Huizenga-Onnekes dat et een låtere vörm der Nornen weasen kinnen, dee wyrdgudinnen uut old-yslanske teksten (Huizenga-Onnekes, Het Menschelijk Leven In’t Groninger Land (1939), p. 96).

Disse ideaen binnen swår populär, vornåmelik in de sassiske umråden in Nedderland. Elkeneyn dee interesseard is in volksvortellingen, hev hyrum höyrd, en geit er ouk hard up. Disse teorys binnen so oft döärvorteld, dat et neet meyr weg to denken is by elk skryvsel um disse olde möök (kyk byvübbeld ouk eyns hyr). Ik kan sülv disse teorys neet seriös nimmen, dår der eyglyks nimmer geyn bewys vöär is. Witte wyven kummen neet vöär in heyle olde bornen. Wy weyten eyglyks heyldaal niks um dee olde germaanske religy in disse kuntreien, dus of et preesteressen binnen is ouk neet to seggen. Dår der drey Nornen binnen, likt et neet unmöyglik dat drey witte wyven de låtere vörm weasen kinnen. Mor good, der kumt een heyle bült vöär in dreyvood: de hillige Drey-eynheyd uut et Kristendum, de drey Müsketyrs, sülvs de drey nefkes van Donald Duck! Dår Nornen en witte wyven beident in fünktsy niks up enkander lyken, bin ik neet oavertüüged dat see vorwant binnen.

Under disse låg vöär-kristelke fantasyen vinden wy jüüst såken dee een sood aktueler binnen. Kyk byvübbeld når disse vortelling uut Grönn van 1914:

Ze bakten bombuizies

Oh, dij òlle dikke boom ien Van Swinderens’ Bos onder Noorddiek, doar spoukte t verschrikkelk! Doar hòlt Ol Vent tou en doar bakken de widde juffers bombuizies. n Knecht van mien vrouw heur òllers mos op n oavend van Noorddiek noar Stad en dij zag ze dudelk zitten mit paan ien haand. Dou is e weerom goan, dwaarsdiek laans … Hai is nooit weer bie oavend deur van Swinderens Bos goan, mor laip altied om.

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Heksen en Duivelsverhalen in Groningerland (1992), p. 192

Volksvortellingen tounen uns ho of wy denken um allerhande gruppen in unse umråd. In disse vortelling seen wy villicht wel een old idea, mor neet yts dat typisk germaansk is. Disse vrouwlüü binnen an de loup med een typiske vrowelike aktiviteyt: et vöärbereyden van eaten, pankoken in dit val. Mor dat is eyglyks et eynigste dår witte wyven in pacifiseard binnen. Vöär de rest binnen et verkearde wichter. Dee typiske aktiviteyt doon see up en neet-typisk momint: up et nachtmidden. Dår see up en vrömd stea (butenshuus!) tosåmen binnen, moot et ouk wel gevårelk weasen. Tenminnent dee knecht düürt er neet langes, en geit een heyl end um.

Wy kennen de vortelling van de heksensabbat as dat de Düvel sik ergenswår tount, en dår vorsåmmelen sik ouk een bült wichter um med hum to feasten, med drank, orgys en al süks wat. Ik glööv eyglyks dat dit andersumme de wearld in kommen is. Dår wichter höär up een vrömd stea (butenshuus!) up en vrömd tydsstea (up et nachtmidden) vorsåmmelen, binnen dår vrömde vortellingen um untstån. Et gevårlikste dår manlüü an denken kinnen is ho of de seksualiteyt van höär wyven antast werd. Umreaden et is nacht geit dit döär een Düvel of sükswat. En dår hebben wy et: vrouwlüü dee neet bråv to huus blyven, binnen heksen of witte wyven dee med Düvel an de gang gån. Neet allennig skrivt folklore vöár ho of wy denken um vrouwlüü, mor ouk ho of see höär gedrågen moten – neavens de man vansülv. Of et vöär-kristelik is kinnen ju an twyvelen, mor en old idea is et seakers.

English

Many people (m/v/o) have fantastical imaginations about women. These fantasies are often heavily one-dimensional in folklore. Positively-valued women are mothers or pure virgins, without any blemish. Negatively-valued women are willing objects of lust or evil witches. Whatever it may be, women in folklore are often objects instead of actors, on whom we all project our ideals and fears.

In the thinking of Huizenga-Onnekes, White Ladies (witte wyven or witte jüvvers), about whom this post will be, are objects of a quite different fantasy. Witte wyven are in her work pre-Christian Germanic creatures. She writes about all the things that those witte wyven could have been in pre-Christian times: elves, heathen priestesses, nature spirits, or, more precisely, tree spirits. They haunt around places with ‘prehistorical significance’, whatever that may mean. Because they often appear in groups of three, Huizenga-Onnekes believes them to be a later form of the Norns, the goddesses of fate in Old Icelandic literature (Huizenga-Onnekes, Het Menschelijk Leven In’t Groninger Land (1939), p. 96).

These ideas are very popular, at least in the Dutch Saxon area. Everyone interested in folklore has heard about similar theories, and subscribe to them fervently. These theories have been repeated so often that they cannot be ignored in any and all writings about this old stuff (see, for example, this article). I cannot take these theories seriously myself, because, honestly, there ain’t no evidence for it. Witte wyven are not found in ancient sources. We actually do not know anything about any old Germanic religion in these regions of the world, so whether they were priestesses is impossible to say. Since there are three Norns, it may seem plausible that the witte wyven in groups of three are a later form of them. However, there are many things that appear in threefold: the Christian Holy Trinity, the Three Musketeers, even Donald Duck’s three nephews! Since both the Norns and the witte wyven are not functionally similar, I am not convinced that they are related.

Under this layer of pre-Christian fantasies we actually find a lot of more contemporary concerns. Take, for example, this folktale from the Groningen area in 1914:

They were baking small pancakes

Oh, that big old tree in Van Swinderens’ forest under Noorddijk, it was haunted terribly! The Devil stayed there, and the witte wyven bake small pancakes there. A farmhand from my wife’s parents had to walk from Noorddijk to Groningen, and he clearly saw them with a pan in hand. So he turned around, and went along the dyke … He never walked through Van Swinderens’ forest at night ever again, but always took a detour.

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Heksen en Duivelsverhalen in Groningerland (1992), p. 192

Folktales show us how we conceptualize all kinds of different groups in our surroundings. In this story we might be shown an old idea, but not something that is typically Germanic. These women are engaged in a typically female-gendered activity: preparing food, in this case baking pancakes. But that is the only way in which the witte wyven are pacified. In all other features they are bad women. That typical activity is carried out at a not-so-typical time: midnight. And, since they gather in a strange place (outside the household!), they have to be dangerous. At least the farmhand does not dare to pass them, and takes a massive detour.

Most of us know the story of the witches’ Sabbath as follows: the Devil shows himself somewhere, and a lot of women gather there to party with him, in which booze and orgies and more such things are involved. I believe that this story came into the world the other way around. When women gather at a weird place (outside the household!) at a weird time (midnight), strange stories start to circulate. The most dangerous thing than man can imagine is when the sexuality of their wives gets compromised. Because it is nighttime this is accomplished by a Devil or something similar. And that is what we see here: women who do not stay home obediently are witches or witte wyven who associate with the Devil. Not only does folklore prescribe how we think about women, but also how they should behave – according to men, that is. Whether it is pre-Christian is up for debate, but it surely is an old, outdated idea.

Oh, dij òlle dikke boom ien Van Swinderens’ Bos onder Noorddiek, doar spoukte t verschrikkelk! / Oh, that big old tree in Van Swinderens’ forest under Noorddijk, it was haunted terribly!
Models: Margriet and Ellen.

Spookplåtkepråt

Spooky Spectral Speculations

Um et måken van de foto

Vöär disse plåt haar ik myn nåbers vråged. Disse vrouwlüü binnen beident starke onafhanklike vrouwlüü dee sik niks vortellen låten, en dee ouk wel eyns butenshuus binnen, soms ouk somår up et nachtmidden! Wy gingen up fytse når Noorddiek, dår de olde dikke wilgeboum gröyd up et pad når Grönn. Precys wår wy glöven dat knecht witte wyven seen haar!

Dår haren wy wat fotos måket van myn nüvere wichter en wat fotos sünder höär, umreaden dat ik kun höär döärsichtig en beynlous måken in reakener.

Ik kin my vöärrstellen dastu nå et leasen van disse vortelling van Arjan, med syn vorklåren, ju prakkeseyeren wår of dee derde vrouw bleaven is … Et antwoord is maklik, dår up elke foto der eyn mensk unsichtbår is – dee dee kamera vasthold 😉

About creating the picture

For this picture I invited two of my neighbours, both women with a girlpower attitude, who are also sometimes seen outside of their household, even at midnight! We rode our bicycle to Noorddijk, where an old willowtree grows along the pathway to Groningen. This is the exact spot where we think the farmhand saw the witte wyven!

There we took some pictures, with and without my lovely models, so I could make them transparent and legless later, when I edited the photo.

Now, I can imagine, after reading this story and Arjan’s explanation, you are wondering about the third woman … The answer is simple: in every photo there is always one invisible person – the one holding the camera 😉

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