Et wyv in de karn vinden / Dining with Miss Humphrey

Sassisk

Et borenleaven kent höär sou en bült gevåren. Et vea kin upvreaten würden döär en wulv of sükswat, düs de bisten mutten good beskütsked würden. Et müt neet to völle reagenen, noch to min, anders feilt de ougst en hebben dee bisten geyn höy, of de lüde up et loog geyn tövvels. En de buer geyn cinten vansülv. Mor de natüür is neet eynigste veend – ouk andre lüde kinnen höär de bodel good in enkander valen låten. En wel krigt dårvan sküld? Jüüstem – de wichter.

En mål eyrer har ik my al beklåged oaver how as vrouwlüde in folklore oft stereotypiseard würden. Elken mål, dår en vrouw neet döär en man under de duum holded würdet, is see en gevår vöär de såmenleving. Dat geit sou vöär witte wyven, mor vansülv ouk vöär heksen, doch up en andre wyse. Ik har my vordeidiged, dat witte wyven en reflektsioon binnen van wichter dee sik good in såmenleving redden künd, ouk sünder man. Dat is en gevår vöär manlüde, dee sünt Viktoriaanske tyd seen wurden as family-underholders, dee cinten by enkander vordeynen.

Vöär heksen is dat doch anders. Silvia Federici het argumenteard, dat heksen höär as teagenstanders van et nye kapitalistiske systeam in de låte middeleywen vorvulged würdeden. Et waren vrouwlüde, dee höär neet medgån wilden med de nye waerden. Elk lyv in et kapitalistiske systeam is allennig dår, um to arbeiden: manlüde vöär de lyvlike arbeid, en vrouwlüde um meyr arbeiders to producearen. Wichter wülden neet altyd medgån in did systeam, dår see autonomy oaver höär eygen lyv en höär reproduktyve rechten vorlören. Dår see neet medgån in dit systeam en düs med waerden breaken, würden see seen as heydens – see geit med Düvel an de loup. Umreaden dat würden see vorvulged as heksen (Caliban and the Witch (2004), s. 14-16).

Now is Federici lykas Foucault: filosofisk interessant, historisk wårllik söpel. Et givt en bült historiske teagenargumenten up höär book. Dat is sou. Mor kinnen wy villicht noch wat doon med höär ideaen? Dat wil ik my ditmål eyns bekyken. En dat geit al good astu kykst når heksenvortellingen uut de 20. eyw in de sassiske umråden. Ditmål kyken wy når vortellingen, dårin de heks höär de ekonomiske produktsioon disrüpteard up et Grönnegerland. Heksen leaven höär oft up et platteland, en dår haren en bült boren höär bedryv. Heksen disrüptearen düs de produktsioon up disse buerderyen, en dan vornåmlik de produktsioon van butter:

“’Staait de kaarn nait stil

En t schift en t nait bottern wil,

Den hemmen de heksen de haand in t spul’

“Op de Munnekenwier, vot bie t Bolwaark in n Daam, doar het vrouger joaren n botterheks woond. Ant Por zeden ze altied tegen heur …

“t Slimste was dat ze aaltied kaarns behekste. Net geliek wat men ook pebaierde, as Ant weer aan gaang west haar, den wol t kaarn nait. Al deden de lu ook nog zo heur best, ze kregen gain botter …

“Mor woar bleef aal dei botter? Nou, ze smeet ter hail roar mit om. Dan vonnen ze loater aan schutten en vringen en damspoalen, joa sums zó mor tegen bomen aan … t Was haile roare botter, zo flokkerg en rötterg, en t stonk ook! Gain mìns har der wat aan. Ant zulf ook nait, mor ze kon t nait loaten. Omdat ze nou ainmoal n heks was, moakte ze heksenbotter.”

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Heksen en Duivelsverhalen in Groningerland (1992), s. 113

Vöär düdlikheyd: heksenbutter is ouk en nåm vöär en ard fungus, de fuligo septica, en helgeylen skimmel. Upe et engelsk kent men dissen as roorei-slym of hundenkuts-slymskimmel. Disse vortelling geit düs neet allennig um heksen, mor ouk oaver wår of disse swam now vurd kumt.

Disse heks stöylt höär neet allennig butter, see måket höär neet eatbår, ouk neet vöär höärsülv. Hyrmed is en heks en wårlik swåre bedreiging vöär et ekonomiske systeam: see stöylt neet vöär konsumptsioon, mor see stöylt et allennig … tja, wårvöär precys? Dat is neet düdlik, dår wy et vorhål annellig höyren van bueren höär kant. Har Ant Por en readen, disse bueren et wark stur to måken? Haren see höär villicht bedröygen in lankmansjåren haer? Wy weyten et neet, en wy höyren et ouk nimmer. Vortelling is upteykend vanuut eyn perspektyv, en kant van heks höyren wy nimmer.

Federici stelt dat oft arme lüde döär ryke landsbesitters as heksen andöyded wurden. Dernåst binnen et ouk oft wedes dee in dit nye kapitalistiske ideal neet arbeiden dürven – düs mutten see höär leavensunderhold by enkander skontjen (s. 171). Sou geit et ouk oft in volksvortellingen, lykas in dissen:

“Rebeccoa kon heksen en toch har ze t aarm. As ze niks meer te eten har, den kwam ze bie ons om houk van kaarnhoesdeur om wat bonen en aarten. En as ze niks kreeg, den wol t kaarn nait.

“’O wee,’ zee mien moeke, ‘t òl wief het hom weer behekst.’ Wie hemmen kaarn oetbraand mt n glèn peeriezer.”

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Heksen en Duivelsverhalen in Groningerland (1992), s. 115

Wat wy hyr seen, is dat et en arme heks givt, dee sülv geyn stabyl leavensunderhold krygen kin, dår see en wyv is, en neavens de dow populäre Viktoriaanske idealen sol see neet arbeiden. Vöär bueren (up et Grönnegerland oft ryke lüde) waren see mor en last: see kwammen altyd um eaten vrågen. Dårby völen bueren sik beswård: see krygen en minne nåm, as see höär geyn eaten geaven. Disse stress wurdet up disse wichter plakked. En elk mål, dår bueren sik beswård völen döär et neet geaven van eaten, en der geit wat mis med et karnen, dan krygen disse wichter an de marge van samenleving höär de skuld dårvan. Dit binnen wichter up en swakke positsioon – geyn cinten of ståtus, geynent dee höär serious nimt. En dat måket höär et perfekte swarte skåp.

Villicht is der noch genug interessants uut Federici höär bökery to hålen. Wat wy doon munnen, is kyken welke ideaen höär good warken, umreaden see wurden understütsked döär empiriske vöärbealden. As wy dat doon, dan is Federici wat by angåt heyl good to bruken.

As leste pünt noch – wat is dat med et paerdysder, dee in karn doon wurded? Et idea is, dat heks höär umtjuund en in karn sitten geit. Dår der en glöynend paerdysder in to doon, vorbrandet heks sik en geit de karn uut. Heks kan höär identificeard wurden, umreaden see het brandmarkens (Sinninghe, Overijsselsch Sagenboek (1936), s. 92). Etsülve idea is neet allennig up de nedderlandske kant van de grüp to vinden, mor ouk tominst in Sleswik-Holsteyn (Hubrich-Messow, Sagen und Märchen aus Nordfriesland (1988), s. 11), en ik glööv ouk seakers in meyr umråden, mor dår har ik my noch geyn konfirmatsioon in. Tja, beident Nedderland en Düütskland hebben höär kapitalistiske systeams, en dårby ouk et figuur van de heks. Mor is der dårum ouk by beident et idea van et glöynend paerdysder dee heksen vurdjagen kin? Dee link is my seakers to swak – en wat um en ander mål uut to söken.

English

The farming live is filled with danger. Cattle can be eaten by a wolf or something alike, so the animals need to be protected well. Rainfall shouldn’t be too heavy, nor too light, otherwise the crops will wither and the animals are deprived of their hay, or the people in the village of their potatoes. And the farmers of their money. But nature isn’t the only enemy – other people can also disrupt everything. And who is to blame? You’ve guessed it – women.

At another time I complained about how women are depicted in folklore. Every time a woman is not controlled by a man she is a danger to society. This is the case with witte wyven, but also with witches, of course, although differently. I have argued for the position that witte wyven are a reflection of women that thrive in society, even without a husband. That is a danger to men who are seen since Victorian times as the maintainers of the family, those who earn the necessary money.

It is a different story with witches, however. Silvia Federici has argued that women were prosecuted as witches in late Medieval times because they resisted the new capitalist system. They were women who didn’t want to follow the new values. Every body in the capitalist system is only there to provide labour: men for manual labour, and women for producing more workers. Women did not always want to participate in this system, since they would lose their autonomy over their own bodies and their reproductive rights. Since they did not participate in this system and thus broke with its values they were seen as heathens – cooperating with the Devil. And that is why they were prosecuted as witches (Caliban and the Witch (2004), pp. 14-16).

Now, Federici is kinda like Foucault: philosophically interesting, historically bullshit. A lot of historical counterarguments can be brought to criticize her book. That is true. But is there still any value in her ideas? That is what I want to explore today. And indeed, there is value in applying them to 20th-century tales about witches in the Saxon territories. This time we will examine stories in which witches disrupt economic production in the Groningen area. Witches often live on the countryside, where farmers have their farms. Witches disrupt the production on these farms, and then especially the production of butter:

“’It the churning pot in use

and it does not turn into butter,

then the witches have a hand in that’

“On the Munnekenwier, close to Bolwerk in Appingedam, lived a witch for many years. They called her Ant Por …

“The worst thing was that she would always curse the churning pots. Whatever they would do, if Ant had had her ways, then the churning would not be successful. They wouldn’t get butter, no matter how hard they tried …

“But what happened to the butter? Well, she hurled it around without any apparent purpose. They would later find it stuck to a fence and swing gate and a pole at the dam, yes, even stuck to trees … it was such strange butter too, all lumpy and off, and it would stink too! Nobody could use it for anything. Not even Ant, but she just couldn’t help herself. Since she was a witch, she had to make witches’ butter.”

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Heksen en Duivelsverhalen in Groningerland (1992), p. 113

Just to be clear: witches’ butter is also the name of a certain fungus, de figulo septica, a brightly yellow fungi. In English it is also known as scrambled egg slime or dog vomit slime mold. This story is not only about witches, but also recounts the origin of this fungus.

This witch does not only steal butter, but she also makes it inedible, not even for herself. With this she becomes a true threat to the economic system: she doesn’t steal in order to consume, but she just steals … yeah, why actually? That is not clear, since we only hear the story from the point of view of the farmers. Did Ant Por have a reason to meddle with these farmers? Did they deceive her many years ago? We don’t know, and we will never hear. The story is told from one perspective only, and we will never hear the witches’ side.

Federici claims that poor people are often accused by rich land owners as witches. Next to that are they often widows, who were not allowed to work in this new capitalist ideal – so they had to beg for everything in order to stay alive (s. 171). This can also be found in folktales like this one:

“Rebecca had witching powers, but she still was poor. If she didn’t have anything to eat, she would come to our churning shed and ask for some beans and peas. And if she wouldn’t get any, then the churning would not lead to any result.

“’Oh no,’ my mother would say, ‘the old shrew has cursed it again.’ We burned out the churning pot with a glowing-hot horseshoe.”

E.J. Huizenga-Onnekes, Heksen en Duivelsverhalen in Groningerland (1992), p. 115

What we see here is a poor witch, who cannot provide for herself on a regular basis since she is a woman, and according to the ten popular Victorian ideals she wasn’t allowed to work. For farmers (in the Groningen area often rich people) they were a nuisance: they always came begging for food. The farmers would feel obligated to do so: if they wouldn’t give them food, their reputation would suffer. This stress is placed upon these women. And each time that the farmers feel guilty when they do not give food, and something goes wrong with the churning, then these women at the margins of society are blamed. These women have a weak position – neither money nor status, nobody who takes them seriously. And that makes them the perfect scapegoat.

Perhaps we can still gain some valuable insights from the writings of Federici. What we need to do is to examine which ideas are workable, if they are supported by empirical examples. When we do that, then Federici could be used properly.

As a final point – what is the deal with the horseshoe that is thrown into the churning pot? The idea is that the witch transforms herself and gets into the churning pot. When a glowing-hot horseshoe is thrown into it, the witch gets burned and exits the churning pot. The witch can then often be identified since she has burn marks (Sinninghe, Overijsselsch Sagenboek (1936), p. 92). This same idea is not only found on the Dutch side of the border, but also at least in Schleswig-Holstein (Hubrich-Messow, Sagen und Märchen aus Nordfriesland (1988), p. 11), and I believe also in more areas, but I would need more confirmation on that. Well, both the Netherlands and Germany bear capitalist systems, and with that the figure of the witch. But is that also the reason that both know the idea of the glowing-hot horseshoe that can chase away the witch? That link is way too weak for my taste – and something to examine another time in more detail.

As ze niks meer te eten har, den kwam ze bie ons om houk van kaarnhoesdeur om wat bonen en aarten. / If she didn’t have anything to eat, she would come to our churning shed and ask for some beans and peas. Model: Marieke

Spookplåtkepråt

Um et måken van de foto

Vöär dit plåtke güng ik my når en vründ, en wyvlike mölenår. Schane, mor see har lest höär hår ofknipped. Glüklik was höär dochter ouk dår, en wul see doch model weasen. Sou ditmål is mölendochter myn model (klingt doch skyr ;-)). Vöär disse foto har ik desülvde technyk bruuked as vöär de foto van “De Roggemoder“: swart en wit med eyn detai in glye klöyren. Myn inspiratsioon vöär up disse wysen fotos to manipulearen kümt van de promoatsioonposter van de film ‘Schindler’s List“, dår wy en wichtke in en roud jaske see mank en swart-witte skene uut de 2. Wearldkrig. Ditmål heb ik ouk vorsöked, neet allennig en vortelling to vortellen, mor ouk um de skene skyr to framen.

Spooky Spectral Speculation

About making the picture

For this picture I turned to a friend of mine, a female (girl power) miller, but she recently cut her hair. Fortunatly her daughter was also present and she agreed to model. So this time my model is the miller’s daughter (That has a nice ring to it ;-)). For this picture I used the same technique as the picture I made for “Lady of the Rye“. Black and white with only one detail in sparkling colour. My inspiration for this way of manipulating the picture came from the promotion poster of the movie “Schindler’s List” where we see a girl in a red jacket in the middle of a black and white World War II scene. This time I also tried to focus not only on telling the story, but also on a nice framing of the scene.

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