De Wisseldålder / The Exchange Thaler

Sassisk

Nowdestyds heb ik van leasen (en skryven en undersök doon en lektsionearen en sükswat) myn arbeid måked. Dat is al good, dår ik my in myn kindstyd ouk gaern leasde. Benåm fantasy en science fiction güng ik my hard up. Dow ik noch en jungkearlty was, gav et eyn bokenserien, dee swår popular was: Harry Potter. Dee bökery heb ik my seakers söyven mål uutleasen dowdestyds. As jungke har ik my geyn oug vöär al dee kwålike såken in dee skyre vortellingen. Benåm güng et my üm dee wearld, völ med touvery, magiske bisten, en deype geheimnissen. En villicht is et döär dee bökery, dat ik my now dågs med folklore an de loup bin.

Eyn van de skyrste såken in Harry Potter-bökery is doch et touveren. Dår touveren oft en wat kwåde nåm hev, was et good, dat Harry Potter disse såk wat normalisearde. Nowdestyds höyr ik my neet oft meyr üm lüde, dee alle touvery, en dan benåm moderne touvery lykas Wikka, as wat düvelsk seen. Harry Potter is neet de eynigste, dee dit hülpen hev. Ouk serien lykas Sabrina the Teenage Witch hebben de kyk van en bült junglüde up touvery vorbeaterd dowdestyds.

Mor touvery is seakers wat kwåds, doch? Touvery höyrt by heksen; heksen höyren den Düvel to, sou touvery is wat düvelsk. Doch gån touvery en de kark neet eyd hard teagen mekår. In de middeleywen, en ouk låter, gav et byvübbeld de nekromancy-wikker: eyn dee weyt krigt van geheimnissen döär engelen of dämonen to kommandearen. How eyn dat doon kin? Dårvöär har eyn God syn macht nöydig. As eyn geyn sünd har en püür leavden, dan har eyn God syn seagen öäver sik. Med dee kracht kun eyn engelen kontrollearen, dår disse altyd når höär groute bås lüüsteren. Ouk teagen dämonen gav et macht: eyn sünder sünd kin neet döär dämonen manipuleard würden. En bült wikkers waren düs gangs med en piätisk leaven, med vasten, rituäle pürität, al üm good höär magiske ritualen to doon kinnen (Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages (1989), s. 167-168).

Neavens Kieckhefer givt et drey målen med touvery: eyn kin lüde manipulearen, illusionen måken, en geheime kenntnis vorkrygen (Magic in the Middle Ages (1989), s. 158). Dit kümt dan villicht vurd uut de middeleywen, mor ouk dernå gav et lüde, dee med wikkerske såken gangs waren. Eyn probleam: as et üm sassiske wikkers gåt, dan hebben wy oft geyn idea van wår of wikkers sülv med gangs waren. Meyst oft höyren wy van lüde, dee klågen öäver heksen en sükse såken. Willem de Blécourt skreav dår syn dissertatsioon üm, sünderlik üm drentske wikkers. Når syn analyse givt et veer wysen, wårup lüde touvery kategorisearden. Et gav, eyrstens, betouveren: dat meynt, dat eyn med touvery enander skadet, seek måkt, of uut de tyd bringt (Termen van Toverij: De Veranderende Betekenis van Toverij in Noordoost-Nederland tussen de 16e en 20e Eeuw (1990), s. 129). Dit is et typiske bild dat eyn hev van en heks, dee enander wat to eaten givt, dår disse seek van würdet. Eyn kan dit vorhelpen döär onttouveren, de tweyde wyse. Dit was oft de arbeid van wikkersken of düveluutbanners (s. 130). Dardens givt et touveren, dat et wark van manslüde is, as see vöär eygen gewin wat behålen willen (s. 131). Jüüst dit likt en bült up de touvery uut de middeleywen, en jüüst dit würdet oft seen as düvelswark (s. 127). Veerde is dat eyn en ander uutsköld vöär heks en sükswat, wat sociåle vorholdings under spanning set (s. 132).

Mor dat darde pünkt is swår interessant, dår et et meyst up wårlike touvery uut de middeleywen likt. How güng dat now an in Drenthe? Now, dat kinstu now leasen (et mööt my, dat eyrsten hälvt up et hollandsk geit):

“Hessenboer was altijd arm aan geld. Hij kon niemand op tijd betalen. Het meel voor zijn varkens moest hij altijd zóó lang borgen tot hij de varkens verkocht had … Op de markt kocht hij zelden, omdat dit contant was. Toen kwam er een tijd dat Hessenboer wèl geld had. Zijn knipper was altijd gevuld, hij betaalde den mulder contant en was op de markt de eerste, die het beste vee kreeg en betaalde.

“De menschen begonnen er over te praten en staken de hoofden bij elkaar. Hoe zou Hessenboer aan geld komen? Had hij het geerfd? Had hij het verdiend? Er was niemand in zijn familie gestorven, die hem zooveel kon nalaten. Verdiend had hij het ook niet, want hij leefde net als vroeger zonder werk of handel.

“Een was er, die het wist en die vertelde het aan de anderen … Hessenboer had een wisseldaalder! Hoe kwam hij aan een wisseldaalder? Wat was een wisseldaalder? De zegsman wist het antwoord erop.

“A’j ‘n wisseldaalder hebb’n wilt, dan moe ‘j dat zoo anlekg’n: op ‘n duster naacht as ‘t nije maon is, dan neem ij ‘n zak en daor doe ij ‘n zwaarte kat in. De zak moe ‘j goed dicht bind’n, dat de kat er niet oet kan. Dan gao ‘j teeg’n twaalf uur naor ‘n kruusweg en as ij daor dan bint, dan roep ij: ‘Wel gèf geld veur dizze kat?’ Dan komp er ‘n stem die zegt: ‘Wat vraog ij d’r veur?’ ‘En wisseldaalder’ moe ‘j dan roep’n en as ij dan maor eem waacht, dan komp er ‘n hand, die je de zak ofneem’n wil. Maor ij moet de zak niet löslaot’n. IJ moet je rechter hand opholl’n en vraog’n naor de wisseldaalder. As ij dan vuult dat er ‘n daalder in je hand legt wordt, dan geef ij de zak met de kat over en ij keert je gaauw um en loopt haard vot. IJ moet veural niet umkiek’n, wat of er ok gebeurt, umkiek’n meug ij niet.

“As ij dan ‘n stukkien vot zint, dan heur ij ‘n gereer en gebeul, dat ellendig is. Krek of je vaoder en je moeder en aal je kinner um je roept en in doodsnood reert. IJ moet je nargens an steur’n, nargens en maor stief deurloop’n tot ij in hoes zint. Dan moet ij je hand lösdoen en het geldstuk dat er in zit in je knipper doen. Dat is dan de wisseldaalder. En as ij die daalder oetgeeft, die komt aaltied weerum en ‘t wisselgeld hol ij ok. Zoo is Hessenboer an zien geld komm’n en as ij now ok aait geld hebb’n wilt, moe ‘j krek zoo doen.”

J.H. Bergmans-Beins, Drentsche Volksoverleveringen (1945), s. 37-38

Hessenboer völ hyr precys tosåmen med et model vöär touveren: en kearl, dee vöär syn eygen gewin touvert. Dat der hyr en düvelspakt sloaten wür is neet heyldaal düdlik, mor good in to denken: wel anders sel sou luud böynen?

Mor vansülv is der ouk ünderskyd. En middeleywske wikker sel sik beater vöärberyden med beskütsking. Süksen kearl sel, en dit meyn ik wårlik, en heyle tyd sik good an de kristlike reygels holden. Geyn seks, neet vlöyken, oft ouk vasten, sünden by de pastor upbeechten – al dee såken en meyr. As eyn vry van sünd is, dan hebben düvels ouk geyn macht öäver dy. En dämon kin eyn med allerhande såken vorleiden, as eyn noch altyd sündvöl is: rykdum, wåre leevde, köninkskap. En düvel of dämon vorsöket sou, eyn wikker sülv in de macht to krygen, dat disse wikker en pup vöär düvelswark wurdet.

In disse vortelling sit ouk dat gevår. Wel weyt wat er passearen sol, as eyn ümkyket by al dee råsery? Med disse ard truuks müt eyn vöärsichtig weasen. Villicht vorswindet allennig de wisseldålder as eyn ümkyket, lykas Eurydike düt dår Orpheus torüchkyket når syn wyv as see tosåmen de eyrste sünnestrålen seen, dår see dommit uut de underwearld untsnapped binnen. Mor glyk sou kin et swårder weasen, lykas Lot in en soltpillår andert dår see ümkyket as Sodom en Gomorra al vordüveld wurden. Eyn müt düs stark in eygen skounen stån üm neet üm to kyken, seakers as eyn et skreyen van de eygen olders, sösken, of kinders höyrt.

Now de groute vråg: is dit wårlik en magisk rituaal? Hebben lüde dit lankmanstyden haer dån? Sülv glöyv ik dat neet. Wat ik weyt van eyrere touvery likt dit nargens når. Eyn bringt siksülv in tovölle gevår in dit rituaal. Eyn krigt er en bült vöär torüch (rykdum), mor is dat et wårlik waerd? Normåle wikkers dekken siksülv vöäl beater in, sörgen dervöär, dat et al en bült veiliger is. Ney, et likt my derup, dat eyn sünder eynige ervåring dit rituaal düt. Dit is geyn magisk rituaal vöär wårlike wikkers – dee sellen sik nimmer in souvölle gevår bringen. Mor good, hyr geit et ouk üm vlot gewin – gauw cinten krygen – en how gauwer as et geit, how beater. Geyn tyd vöär en langsåme vöärbereiding of piätiske dåden, sülvs as eyn döär de Düvel sülv mednoamen wurden kin.

English

Nowadays reading (and writing and doing research and giving lectures and the like) has become my job. That is awesome, since I’ve loved reading since my childhood, especially fantasy and science fiction. Since I was a little lad there was a book series that was immensely popular: Harry Potter. I’ve certainly read those books seven times back then. Back then I was unaware of all the problematic aspects in those wonderful stories. I was more concerned with that world filled with spells, magical creatures, and deep secrets. And perhaps, because of those books, I am now daily involved with folklore.

But surely one of the most wonderful things in the Harry Potter book series is the magic. Since magic has something of a bad name most of the time, it was a good thing that Harry Potter came along to normalize it a bit. Nowadays I don’t hear many people who consider all magic, and then especially modern magic like Wicca, as something devilish. Harry Potter isn’t the only one responsible for that. Shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch have also changed the view on magic of a bunch of young people back then for the better.

But magic is surely something evil, right? Magic is associated with witches; witches belong to the Devil, so magic is something demonic. Still, magic and the church are not always that strictly separated. In medieval times and beyond there was the necromancer: someone who gains secret knowledge through commanding angels or demons. How someone can do this? By having the power of God at his side. When someone is free of sin and lives a pure life, they have God’s blessing over them. With that power one can control angels, since they’ll always listen to their big boss. It also gives power against demons: one free of sin cannot be manipulated by demons. A lot of magicians were therefore involved in piety, with fasting, ritual purity, all that in order to perform their magical rituals well (Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages (1989), p. 167-168).

According to Kieckhefer there are three goals with magic: one can manipulate people, create illusions, and acquire secret knowledge (Magic in the Middle Ages (1989), p. 158). While this stems from the Middle Ages, people afterwards were still involved with wizardy stuff. One problem: when it concerns Saxon wizards, then we often have no idea what they were involved with. Most often we hear from people complaining about witches and such things. Willem de Blécourt wrote his dissertation about that, especially about magicians from Drenthe. According to his analysis there are four ways in which people categorized magic. First of all, there is enchantment: that means that one harms someone else by magical means, make them sick, or kill them (Termen van Toverij: De Veranderende Betekenis van Toverij in Noordoost-Nederland tussen de 16e en 20e Eeuw (1990), p. 129). This is the typical image of the witch, who gives something to eat to someone, which makes that someone sick. This can be helped by means of disenchantment, the second way. This was the work of wikkers or devil banishers (p. 130). Thirdly there is conjuration, the domain of men, when they want to accomplish something for their own gain (p. 131). Especially this is a lot like magic from the Middle Ages, and especially this is considered to be the work of the Devil (p. 127). Fourthly is when someone calls another a witch and stuff like that, which puts social relations under strain (p. 132).

But that third point is very interesting, since it looks the most like true medieval magic. How did this go about in Drenthe? Well, you can read that now (sorry for the first part being in Dutch):

“Hessenboer always had a lack of money. He couldn’t pay anyone on time. He had to borrow the flour for the pigs for such a long time until he sold those very same pigs … He hardly bought anything at the market, since he had to pay with cash. Suddenly there was a time during which Hessenboer díd have money. His wallet was always full, he paid the miller cash and was first on the market getting the best cattle and paid up.

“People started gossiping and discussing it among themselves. How would Hessenboer get his money? Dit he earn it? Nobody in this family died that could leave him that much. He didn’t earn it, because he made a living without work or trade, just like in the past.

“There was someone who knew and told the others … Hessenboer had an Exchange Thaler! How did he get an Exchange Thaler? What is an Exchange Thaler? The spokesperson knew the answer.

“When you want an Exchange Thaler, you need to do this: on a dark night, at new moon, take a bag and put a black cat in it. Tie it tightly so that the cat can’t escape. Go to a crossroads at twelve o’clock and, once you’re there, shout: ‘Who will give money for this cat?’ A voice will come asking ‘What do you ask for it?’ You should call out ‘an Exchange Thaler’, and if you wait just a bit, a hand will appear that wants to take the bag. But don’t let go of the bag. Put out your right hand and ask for the Exchange Thaler. When you feel that a thaler is placed into your hand, then you should hand over the bag with the cat and turn around immediately and run away. You definitely should not look back, whatever happens, don’t look back.

“When you’ve advanced a bit on your escape route, you’ll hear horrible shouting and crying. As if your father and mother and all your children cry out in agony. You shouldn’t be disturbed by any of this, and just keep walking until you’re home. Then you open your hand and insert the coin in the palm into your wallet. That will be the Exchange Thaler. When you spend that thaler it will always return to you, and you’ll keep the change too. That is how Hessenboer came to his fortune, and if you want to be rich as well, you just have to follow these steps.”

J.H. Bergmans-Beins, Drentsche Volksoverleveringen (1945), p. 37-38

Hessenboer falls into the exact model for conjuration: a man conjuring up stuff for his own benefit. It is not entirely clear whether a pact with the Devil is made, but is imaginable: who else would create such a ruckus?

But there is certainly difference as well. A medieval magician would prepare way better in terms of protection. Such a guy would, and I’m serious about this, keep strictly to the Christian code. No sex, no cursing, often fasting as well, confessing your sins to the priest – all that and more. When someone is free from sin, then devils have no power over you. A demon can seduce someone by many different means when someone lives sinfully: wealth, true love, kingship. A devil or demon tries through those means to get a magician in their power, so that the magician will do the Devil’s work.

This story has that same danger. Who know what will happen when someone looks back at all that noise? With these kinds of tricks, one should be careful. Perhaps the Exchange Thaler simply disappears when one looks back, like Eurydice when Orpheus looks back at his wife as soon as they see the first beams of sunlight, almost emerging from the underworld. But it could also be more severe, just as Lot turns into a pillar of salt when she looks back as Sodom and Gomorra get destroyed. One has to stand strongly in order to not turn around, especially when one hears the voices of their own parents, siblings, or children crying out in pain.

Now the big question: is this a real magical ritual? Did people in the past perform this? I don’t buy it. What I know from earlier magic is that it looks nothing like that. One puts themselves in too much danger in this ritual. One gains a lot (riches), but is that truly worth it? Normal wizards cover themselves way better, making sure that it is a lot safer. No, it seems like someone without experience is doing this ritual. This is not a magical ritual for true magicians – they would never put themselves in so much danger. But yeah, here it is all about quick gain – quickly earn some bucks – and how quicker it goes, the better. No time for long preparations or pious acts, even when one could be taken by the Devil.

“… op ‘n duster naacht as ‘t nije maon is, dan neem ij ‘n zak en daor doe ij ‘n zwaarte kat in.”/ “… on a dark night, at new moon, take a bag and put a black cat in it.” Model: Lola

Spookplåtkepråt

Üm et måken van de foto

Model Lola is slim beken in uns dörp, see kümt mor wat gaern up het skoulplein vöär de andacht, düs bykant elkeneyn weyt wel wel of see is! Höär groute geyle ougen en eyn eygenwys köpke is net perfekt vöär disse plåt!

Spooky Spectral Speculations

About creating the picture

Model Lola is pretty famous in our village, she enjoys the attention she gets when coming to the school yard, so everybody knows her! Her big yellow eyes and a naughty face were just perfect for this picture!

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