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An army with a country

In this material we will describe some of the most important aspects of German culture and try to explain the spiritual development of this nation involved in many events which shaped the course of the world.

Germania was the Roman term for the historical region in north-central Europe initially inhabited mainly by Germanic tribes. Unlike Spain, France, and England, the Roman Empire was never able to conquer Germany… or Germania as the Romans called it. Rome came very close, but something very strange stopped Rome in its tracks.

You have to consider that Germania at this time was essentially one huge forest, which was very, well empty. No cities to conquer, the first German cities were actually founded by the Romans, like  Aachen, Cologne or Trier. The Germans were primitive tribesmen and had little to offer to the Roman Empire. Yet they were warlike and fought many hard battles against them. Although the Roman armies were generally much more advanced with regard to arms technology and tactics.

East of the Rhine it stretched on and on, dark, solid, and terrifying. Caesar talked to Germans who had journeyed through it for two months without a glimpse of sunlight. Tacitus was appalled by its vastness, its impenetrable marshes, its brutal winters and its cloaking, soaking fog. In Gaul there were roads down which his legions could march, conquering what would later become France and giving it political cohesion. In the trackless wild-wood to the east this was impossible, and so we see the beginning of an unhappy chain of events.

Another fact that should be taken into account is that the Roman invasion actually created a dangerous enemy for the Roman Empire, as the German tribes of that time were rather small groups that were hostile towards each other.  Only the threat of Roman aggression allowed leaders like Arminius or Marbod to unite them into larger groups that presented a real threat at the Roman borders.

The Germanic king originally had three main functions:

  • To serve as judge during the popular assemblies.
  • To serve as a priest during the sacrifices.
  • To serve as a military leader during wars.

According to the testimony of Tacitus (Germania), some early Germanic peoples had an elective monarchy already in the 1st century.

They choose their kings by birth, their generals for merit. These kings have not unlimited or arbitrary power, and the generals do more by example than by authority.

Germanic paganism refers to the ethnic religion practiced by the Germanic peoples from the Iron Age until Christianisation during the Middle Ages.  The worship of nature and war  was an essential element of early Germanic culture.

Another practice was the Germanic pagan custom of offering up weapons to their gods. In southern Scandinavia, there are about 50 sites where weapons have been thrown into a lake and sacrificed after the weapons were partially destroyed or rendered useless.

Germany, remaining formless, failed to develop into a national state during the Middle Ages; it was, not a nation but a name, an utopic dream.

But politics is only a symptom. The primeval forest had a profound effect on the people themselves, and it may be the most important single key to the mystery of why the Germans have behaved as they have.

As a constant note throughout the German centuries; give a German an afternoon off and he will pack a lunch, assemble his family, and vanish into the trees. Certainly the first primitive Teutons were capable of emigrating had they so wished. Even Tacitus was impressed by them. To him they were noble savages, hardy warriors. All accounts of that time agree that they were supple and powerfully built, with fair complexions and reddish-brown hair.

English historian Edward Gibbon observed that  Germany is  filled with a hardy race of men who “delighted in war,” who “spread terror and destruction from the Rhine to the Pyrenees,” and who, “through their poverty, bravery, obsession with honor, and primitive virtues and vices,  were a constant source of anxiety.” He concluded:

The Germans despised an enemy who appeared destitute either of power or of inclination to offend them.

 Virile, sentimental, insecure, melancholic and  distrustful of outsiders, the ancient German evolved into a tribal creature, happy only with his own Volk.

During the Middle Ages, Germanic peoples were successively converted to Christianity. The study of Germanic mythology has remained an important element of Germanic philology since the development of the field and the topic is an integral component of Heathenry, the modern revival of Germanic paganism. Elements of Germanic mythology has survived into modern Germanic folklore.

In time his outlook was complicated by a new religion, and particularly by the Protestant work ethic. But he continued to carry with him ancestral memories of tribal rituals: of the Germans of Moravia lighting bonfires atop hills on Midsummer Eve, say, or of a dying Teuton chieftain who would deliver a farewell sermon to his people and then ceremoniously bum himself to death in front of the sacred oak tree.

Always there was the interplay of light and darkness. Around the flickering fire, all was familiar.

There lovers dallied, and boys learned to fight pitilessly, and the strongest man ruled by right of club law, das Faustrecht,  which means Government by clubs or violence; the use of arms or force in place of law.

Each tribe had its own version of the superstition, and since it was hardy, with roots older than recorded history, it was unthreatened by the rise of Christianity. The murder of unwanted baby girls at birth persisted into the eleventh century. During the seventeenth century some hindered thousand Germans were executed for witchcraft. And there was nothing chivalrous about Teutonic tournaments. The object was mayhem. A knight entered the lists determined to hack to death as many fellow knights as he could; in one medieval tourney near Cologne, over sixty men were slain. Conversion to Rome had been deceptive. The old and the new were simply fused together. In time the Germans adorned the feast of the Nativity with colorful pagan symbols, notably the Christmas tree , and in some communities they transformed the local pagan legend into a Christian tale.

 Old Prussians were the indigenous peoples from a cluster of Baltic tribes that inhabited the region of Prussia. During the 13th century, the Old Prussians were conquered by the Teutonic Order. The former German state of Prussia took its name from the Baltic Prussians, although it was led by Germans. The Teutonic Knights and their troops transferred the Baltic Prussians from southern Prussia to northern Prussia. Many Old Prussians were also killed in crusades requested by Poland and the popes, while others were assimilated and formally accept Christianity as an official religion, but their Germanic spirit remains untouched. The Duchy of Prussia was created through partial secularization of the State of the Teutonic Order.  It was a vassal of the Kingdom of Poland and was governed by Duke Albert of Prussia, a member of a cadet branch of the House of Hohenzollern.

Due to his wartime experiences, Frederick William was convinced that Brandenburg-Prussia would only prevail with a standing army. Traditionally, raising and financing army reserves was a privilege of the estates, yet Frederick William envisioned a standing army financed independently of the estates. He succeeded in getting the consent and necessary financial contributions of the estates.

Frederick William,  the “Soldier-King” obsessed with the army and achieving self-sufficiency for his country. The new king dismissed most of the artisans from his father’s court and granted military officers precedence over court officials. Punishments were draconian nature, such as running the gauntlet,  and despite the threat of hanging, many peasant conscripts deserted when they could. Uniforms and weaponry were standardized. Pigtails and, in those regiments which wore it, facial hair were to be of uniform length within a regiment; soldiers who could not adequately grow beards or moustaches were expected to paint an outline on their faces. Frederick William reduced the size of his father  gaudy royal guard to a single regiment, a troop of taller-than-average soldiers known as the Potsdam Giants.

The first garrison began construction in Berlin in 1764. While Frederick William I wanted to have a mostly native-born army, Frederick II wanted to have a mostly foreign-born army, preferring to have native Prussians be taxpayers and producers. The Prussian Army consisted of 187,000 soldiers in 1776, 90,000 of whom were Prussian subjects in central and eastern Prussia. By the end of Frederick’s reign, the army had become an integral part of Prussian society and numbered 200,000 soldiers, making it the third largest in Europe after the armies of Russia and Austria. The social classes were all expected to serve the state and its army — the nobility led the army, the middle class supplied the army, and the peasants composed the army. Minister Friedrich von Schrötter remarked that,

“Prussia was not a country with an army, but an army with a country”

 In the 19th century the Prussian Army fought successful wars against Denmark, Austria and France, allowing Prussia to unify Germany, aside from Austria, establishing the German Empire in 1871.

Prussian virtues refers to the virtues associated with the historical Kingdom of Prussia, especially its militarism and the ethical code of the Prussian army, It has also significantly influenced wider German culture, such as the contemporary German stereotypes of efficiency, austerity and discipline.

The Prussian virtues may be summarized by the opening lines of the poem “Der alte Landmann an seinen Sohn” (“The Old Farmer to His Son”) by Ludwig Christoph Heinrich Hölty. The text reads as follows: “Practice always fidelity and honesty / Until your cool grave; / And stray not the width of one finger/ From the ways of the Lord.” The poem was set to music by Mozart it was played daily by the carillon of the Potsdam Garrison Church where Frederick the Great was initially buried.

Since the defeat in World War II and the denazification campaign, historical German militarism has become anathema in German culture, focused on collective responsibility and atonement. At the same time, the related non-military, bourgeois virtues of efficiency, discipline and work morals remain in high standing. This has led to the concept of “Prussian virtues” being regarded with mixed feelings in modern-day Germany and these was the major factor that helped at re-unification of Germany and developing from a destroyed country after the war to a great power.

Information sources:

The Arms of Krupp – William Manchester

https://www.history.com

https://www.khanacademy.org

https://en.wikipedia.org

https://www.ancient.eu

 

News

Spiritual reply to worst pandemics in history (today COVID 19)

In times of hardship, it’s not an unnecessary exercise to fortify our spirit with philosophical ideas and some great example of how people manage to handle great pandemics like Plague of Justinian, Black Death, New World smallpox or Spanish flu. So in the context of COVID 19 we don’t slip into the trap of panic and we are preparing to reply with a video that will change your attitude towards this historical cycling mechanism that put us in this situation.

According to contemporary sources, the outbreak of Justinian’ Plague in Constantinople was thought to have been carried to the city by infected rats on grain ships arriving from Egypt. To feed its citizens, the city and outlying communities imported large amounts of grain, mostly from Egypt. The rat and flea population in Egypt thrived on feeding from the large granaries maintained by the government.

The Byzantine historian Procopius first reported the epidemic in 541 from the port of Pelusium, near Suez in Egypt. Two other firsthand reports of the plague’s ravages were by the Syriac church historian John of Ephesus and Evagrius Scholasticus, who was a child in Antioch at the time and later became a church historian. Evagrius was afflicted with the buboes associated with the disease but survived. During the disease’s four returns in his lifetime, he lost his wife, a daughter and her child, other children, most of his servants and people from his country estate.

Byzantine scholar Procopius, in a passage closely modeled on Thucydides, recorded that at its peak the plague was killing 10,000 people in Constantinople daily, but the accuracy of the figure is in question, and the true number will probably never be known. He noted that because there was no room to bury the dead, bodies were left stacked in the open. Funeral rites were often left unattended to, and the entire city smelled like the dead. In his Secret History, he records the devastation in the countryside and reports the ruthless response by the hard-pressed Justinian:

As a result of the plague in the countryside, farmers could not take care of crops and the price of grain rose in Constantinople. Justinian had expended huge amounts of money for wars against the Vandals in the region of Carthage and the Ostrogoths’ kingdom in Italy, but he also had dedicated significant funds to the re-construction of great churches, such as Hagia Sophia, a mega-structure burned down in 532.
The Hagia Sophia anchors the Old City of Istanbul and has served for centuries as a landmark for both Orthodox Christians and Muslims, as its significance has shifted with that of the dominant culture in the Turkish city.
Justinian chose geometer and engineer Isidore of Miletus and mathematician Anthemius of Tralles as architects; Anthemius, however, died within the first year of the endeavor. The construction is described in the Byzantine historian Procopius’ writings: Columns and other marbles were brought from all over the empire, throughout the Mediterranean. The idea of these columns being spoils from cities such as Rome and Ephesus is a later invention. Even though they were made specifically for Hagia Sophia, the columns show variations in size. More than ten thousand people were employed. This new church was contemporaneously recognized as a major work of architecture. The theories of Heron of Alexandria may have been utilized to address the challenges presented by building such an expansive dome over so large a space.
Rebuilt by the orders of Emperor Justinian, for 900 years Hagia Sophia had been the center of Orthodox Christianity until 1453 when the city was concurred by Ottomans. 500 years following the conquest of Muslims, it became a jewel for the Muslim world and as the grand mosque of the sultans.
In 1935, Hagia Sophia had been converted into a museum of Turkish Republic and in 1985 was choosen a world heritage site by UNESCO, and became one of the most significant monuments not only in Turkey but on earth with its architecture and its historical richness. The Hagia Sophia’s role in politics and religion remains a contentious one, even today—some 1500 years after the Plague of Justinian.

The Black Death was a plague pandemic which devastated Europe from 1347 to 1352 CE, killing an estimated 25-30 million people. The disease, caused by a bacillus bacteria and carried by fleas on rodents, originated in central Asia and was taken from there to the Crimea by Mongol warriors and traders. With up to two-thirds of sufferers dying from the disease, it is estimated that between 30% and 50% of the population of those places affected died from the Black Death. In 1362, 1368, and 1381, it struck again—as it would periodically well into the 18th century.
Social effects of the plague were felt immediately after the worst outbreaks petered out. Those who survived benefited from an extreme labor shortage, so serfs once tied to the land now had a choice of whom to work for. Lords had to make conditions better and more attractive or risk leaving their land untended, leading to wage increases across the board.
The taste of better living conditions for the poor would not be forgotten. A few decades later, when lords tried to revert back to the old ways, there were peasant revolts throughout Europe and the lower classes maintained their new freedoms and better pay.
Women during and after the Black Death also benefited from the growing importance of vernacular literature because a broader cultural forum became available to them which had previously been restricted to men by the Latin church. And so, they began writing and fostering through patronage the writings and translations of others. For example, in France, Christine de Pizan became the first woman in Europe to support herself by writing. She is best remembered for defending women in The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies. Venetian by birth, Christine was a prominent moralist and political thinker in medieval France. Christine’s patrons included dukes Louis I of Orleans, Philip the Bold, and John the Fearless. Her books of advice to princesses, princes, and knights remained in print until the 16th century. She wrote in many different literary forms, such as an autobiography and books of moral advice for men and women, as well as poetry on a wide range of topics. In her treatise The Letter to the God of Love, she responded to Jean de Meun’s anti-feminist writings found in his conclusion of Romance of the Rose. Her treatise marked the first instance in European history where a woman was able to respond to such diatribes in writing.
With so much land readily available to survivors, the rigid hierarchical structure that marked pre-plague society became more fluid. The Medici family, important patrons of Italian Renaissance culture, originated in the rural area of Mugello in Tuscany and moved to Florence soon after the plague. They initially established their fortune in the wool trade and then branched out into banking. As the family achieved wealth and power, they promoted such artists as Filippo Lippi, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo—not to mention producing four popes and two regent queens of France.
Would such mobility have been possible without the social and economic upheaval caused by the Black Death or other pandemics , Historians will likely debate this question for many years but we certainly know that humanity is capable to recover from this kind of situation with a progressive spiritual reply.

Activities

Most unusual Rituals and Traditions for Winter Solstice

In this material we will describe some of the most interesting and unusual traditions related to the winter solstice. We must remember that every year on December 22, the winter solstice is celebrated in the northern hemisphere, marking the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year, while in the southern hemisphere of the globe the summer solstice is celebrated with effects. conversely, the moment marking the beginning of astronomical summer.

One of the oldest sources mentioning a holiday related to this day was found in ancient times, in Mesopotamia. This event lasted 12 days and was meant to help the god Marduk to balance and control the monsters of chaos for the next year.

Also during this time of year, the day of Mithras was identified, a Persian god who was later adopted by some communities in the Roman Empire. The veneration of this god is over 4000 years old and its existence was found in both the pantheon of India and the Medo-Persian. Considering the evolution of the two peoples, the cult of Mithras departed from the religion of India, but in Persia the followers of his holy book, Avesta, multiplied even more. This god is considered as a protector and benefactor of people, a mediator between Ahura-Mazda, the god of good and paradise, and Ahriman, the god of darkness and hell. On the day of the solstice the initiates of the Mithraic cult had to recite and answer a series of symbolic questions, a tradition that has been preserved even today in the territory of Iran. Shab-e Yalda is the festival that marks the end of the short days and the defeat of darkness by the illuminated side. The translation of the word Yalda is birth, and during this ceremony the families gather, read poems and light the candles to help them wait for the end of the longest night.

Also in Europe there are some very interesting and unusual traditions related to the passage of the longest dark period of the year. One of the most famous events takes place at Stonehenge, a monument that was specially positioned to mark this date. Thousands of visitors gather at this sacred place to sing, dance, contemplate the ancient ritual of over 4000 years and wait for the sunrise that will fill them with energy. A similar holiday also takes place in Ireland at Newgrange, an ancient place over 5000 years old that has an underground passage leading to a secret room perfectly aligned with the place and time of sunrise during this period. Over 30 000 people register annually to participate in this event, but only 60 are chosen through an organized lottery.

The indigenous Hopi people of present-day northern Arizona celebrate the winter solstice as part of their religious tradition of kachina (or katsina), which are spirits representing the natural world. In the Soyal solstice ceremony, led by a tribal chief, the sun is welcomed back to its summer path with ritual dances. Gift-giving to children, prayers for the coming year, singing, and storytelling are also part of the festivities. Prayer sticks and kachina dolls are often made in preparation for the celebration.

In Central Europe there is another way to spend this night, a festival more frightening and not so fun for children. Krampus is a pre-Christian character, half demon half tap, and is the main figure in a ritual that takes place in Central Europe during the winter solstice. The purpose of Krampus is to scare people, and especially children, so that they become aware of the bad deeds done that year. His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel. During the 12th century, the Catholic Church attempted to banish Krampus celebrations because of his resemblance to the devil. Many traditions have associated this character as an opposite of Saint Nicholas because they reward those good and obedient children, but we must not forget that the tradition of this ritual is older than the spread of Christianity in Europe and ancient practices have been adapted to our times.

Activities

Habits from our ancestors | Autumn in Dacia/Thracia

With the change of season the activities of the Dacians changed radically, and in this material we will try to discover what was the way of life of our ancestors during the autumn.

Răpciune, Brumărel and Brumar  are the traditional names of September, October and November, and these names tell us about the changes in nature, essential elements of Dacian life. First of all, we must remember that the population in the Carpathian area was concerned with animal husbandry, agriculture and trade, the three tasks of the Thracian nations occupying most of the attention and time. The breeding of animals was considered the main food source of the Dacians, and during the autumn there were countless specific activities, some of them kept by the shepherds of today.

We can see that in the mountainous areas there was still the object of moving the sheep before the beginning of winter because the temperatures begin to fall, and the sheep and goats do not have so much food in the high areas of the mountains. The changes in nature also affected the feeding of cattle or pigs, these being the most widespread animals in Dacian farms, according to archaeological evidence. Men if they were experts in hunting and gathering fruits and plants from forests, but with the fall of the haze, in October – Brumărel, the food from the Dacians’ kitchen will come mostly from their own farms, sheep and cattle providing milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt, very important dairy products in the culture of our ancestors. The need for calories and protein will be met by pork and beef, which is much more nutritionally rich, but there are some sources that claim that some Thracian tribes also consumed horse meat.

Also during this period of the year, the organization of cereal deposits takes place, after a rich summer if the Dacians stored in different cereals vessels, so that later they would be buried or stored in underground rooms. Also in the vessels was stored and the most important liquid for the Dacians, the numerous cultures of vines offered to our ancestors must and wine, two foods that were recognized and appreciated throughout the ancient world. During the Roman administration, vineyards increased even more, because the wine produced in the Dacian provinces was sought in every corner of the Roman Empire. The wine production was only diminished during the reign of King Burebista, who, at the advice of the Deceneu priest, tried to limit the consumption of wine, but with the exception of this period the population from the territory of Dacia was recognized for the special attention paid to the cultivation of vines and wine production.

The harvesting and fermentation of apples or plums is another seasonal activity because from these fruits which were found in the wild in their natural form or cultivated in orchards, another alcoholic beverage is intended for consumption during the cold season, especially of the class of ordinary people, named as “comatus” by the Latin documents.

During this period the Dacians were also very concerned about the annual tasks for preparing the bees for the cold of winter, beekeeping was another predominant activity of the Dacians, and in the autumn months our ancestors were caring for the bee families for the cold winter and the vagaries of the weather. Very obvious evidence of how to prepare bee families was not found because our ancestors had a wood culture and the remaining indices are very few and unclear, but written testimonies about the tragic civilization lifestyle and appreciation for honey products are evidence of the fact that the bees were part of the special relationship of the Geto-Dacians with nature.

We will also remember that with the decreasing of the illuminated period of the day  activities were reduced, withdrawing more and more from the work on fields or from the forests, during this period the number of social gatherings multiplied, many ceremonies and political meetings take place below guidance of priests or leaders. Also, it should be mentioned that as winter approaches, the frequency of attacks by wild animals increases, a topic which we will provide more details in a future material.

In conclusion, we can say that the change of the season had a major influence on the lifestyle of the Dacian population, as evidenced today by those people who still maintain the customs and crafts of the ancient Dacians, a people whose existence was closely related to nature, the main source of  food, shelter materials, clothes and other resources needed to make tools or weapons.

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Others

We and the street people

In today’s article we will test your imagination to help you understand how the world is viewed from the perspective of a street man, a drug addict living in social shelters, or an orphan child who has moved away from God.

The story we are going to tell is a real case that was made known in the last year by the American press and is about the gesture of Salt Lake City Mayor, Ben McAdams, who spent 3 days and 2 nights among homeless people sleeping on city ​​streets and social shelters. Mayor McAdams wanted to find out exactly the social situation of these distressed people and joined the needy without knowing the press, this mayor’s decision was made public a few months later when the mayor prepared some reforms.

Ben McAdams’ experience these days was shocking, he witnessed a brawl between two people in the street where one of them was hit with a concrete head, he witnessed when one of the roommates in the social shelter was injecting with drugs and discovered the miserable conditions in which these unhappy people live.

Also, the mayor of Salt Lake City found out that the social shelter’s toilet was a pretty dangerous place where street people could be sexually assaulted, and the staff at the shelter tolerated drug use in the rooms where the needy were housed.

These have deeply moved the American mayor, and the fact that homeless people prefer to sleep on the streets rather than in social shelters indicates the failures of this social assistance system that does not provide the necessary security.

We must also remember that this type of experience represents the daily life of a large number of people, including children, far too young to be able to resist drugs and other pitfalls of modern life, and these children remain with traumas that will affect their entire lives.

Even if we are not the mayor of a city or the leaders of a social community, we all have to take attitude in such problems and try to help the disadvantaged who have no friends or close relatives, who feed on the trash or who often have to sleep on the streets.

 

Activities

Resistance for the sacred mountain

One of the stories that have circulated today in the most popular daily newspapers is that of the Karangahake Gorge in New Zealand, which is very close to entering a gold mine exploitation process. This scenario is not new to our readers, this case includes a large company that managed to obtain all the legal approvals for the start of the operation, even those from the Department of Conservation in New Zealand.

Those who benefit from this action are very few, but the most important thing is that the mountain Karangahake Gorge is considered sacred, being in an area very loved by the locals but also by tourists.

Often it is inexplicable the decision of certain politicians or civil servants who provide support for such projects that lead to the degradation of the natural environment, pollution and do not offer many benefits to the citizens of that area. We must remember that New Zealand is a country with a very high standard of living in which the landscapes and wild nature have provided inspiration for several film directors.

Even Mount Karangahake Gorge is just 90 km from Hobbiton, an attraction for tourists around the world.

Several local activists have so far managed to stop the work or at least slow down the operation. They claim that the authorities have made the wrong decision and will try all kinds of actions to prevent the destruction of their environment.

Until now, they have blocked the access roads through spontaneous protests or discouraged the advance of the machines by circulating at low speed on the main roads leading to the mountain. The effort of the locals is a model to be followed and for the other citizens who are in similar situations, the mining companies are no longer satisfied with the extractions from the isolated areas, but they want to increase their profits by destroying the environment and affecting the condition of nature and the people living in harmony with what surrounds them.