12 October 2011
In a quick synopsis from the following german text by Hermann Würth (1936), "the name of the village, Questenberg, seems to arise from this midsummer tradition of this pole and its "queste", that is, its wreath and the tassels. Würth talks about it as a symbol for an old midsummer festivity, which is a pagan festival, but he also talks of the tree as the 'year tree of the God' (?!) The oak-stem is about 8 to 10 meters high and had earlier been mentioned by Jacob Grimm in his German Mythology (1844). The ritual happened every year around Whitsun (late May). Würth describes the ritual as still having been practiced in 1924." Quoting from Jacob Grimm's "German Mythology" (Actually quoting the Stallybrass 1883 English translation re-titled "Teutonic Mythology" which is free from Google Books) "From later times and surviving folk-tales I can bring forward a few things. At the village of Questenberg. in the Harz, on the third day in Whitsuntide, the lads carry an oak up the castle-hill which overlooks the whole district, and, when they have set it upright, fasten to it a large garland of branches of trees plaited together, and as big as a cartwheel. They all shout 'the queste (i.e. garland) hangs,' and then they dance round the tree on the hill top; both tree and garland are renewed every year." 2008 photo (above) from German Wiki Similar Wiki in English. Other Maypoles on this blog. Jacob Grimm's four volume opus on CD, Grimm's Teutonic Mythology and Folklore, part of the ongoing english translation process of Northverg's Northern European Studies Project.
Why does the commentary of Jacob Grimm or, years later, that of Hermann Würth, inventor of the Nazi swastika, with regard to this tiny south Harz mountain village's maypole ritual have import now?
There appears a vast amount of forgotten, deeply DNA embedded source of human comfort - a calm and solace - in watching or taking part in ritualized "stems and tassels". Not in the actual sex act itself - too messy and frightening - but a comfort from a ersatz participation in one of the immeasureble multiplications of ritualized iterations of the act which have been curiously and clinically tidied and buoyed up over countless millennia. Why? This seems the obsession of this inquiry, apologies to Jung.
Examples: the Catholic Church uses "red wine" for the tassel and a white "wafer" for the stem. Same ritual. Same comforts against angst. And the Church cleverly get endless monies by providing the actual body and blood of their god to their customers - really! - and the symbols are not terribly different from the "stem and tassels" of Questenburg. Speaking of money. . . what else can explain paying multimillions of USD to two competing groups of men to go out into a large bowl filled with watchers and attempt to move a seed-like object through / over / under a hoop / gate / net. Please! Unfortunately, some of the "stem/tassel" games seem to involve the pain and death requirement by the "victor" on whatever passing lamb, goat, chicken or (see earlier posts ) Mexican, if handy.
Passage from Wirth regarding Questenburg (below) is from pages 429-431 of the first of the two volume opus, "Die Heilige Urschrift der Menschheit (rough trans: "Sacred Original Writings of Mankind"), published in Leipzig, 1936. Tis in Deutsche, tis not your eyes.