The Funkenfeuer and its pagan origins

The Funkenfeuer is an old ancient tradition from the swabian-germanic-allemanic tribes, reaching from Switzerland to the Black Forest of Germany, to the Allgäu (where I grew up), and even to Tyrol and northern Italy. Towers made out of straw or wood are built high into the sky, which are burned down later on after sunset. Scientific research states that this is definitely one of a few pagan traditions still alive, with a possible germanic-allemanic origin. The Funkenfeuer takes place on Sunday in lent. By burning the tower, the fire symbolizes a holy union between the soil, earth and power of the sun. The sun as a life-giver, and also as a banishing, cleansing ritual of saying farewell to the spirits and forces of darkness and winter.

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The German historian Josef Thaler said in 1798, that this tradition is pagan, pre christian in origin and was most likely dedicated to the Mother Goddess of Holda (Berchta in Bavaria), an ancient Goddess whose origins reach back to the early Stone Age, and the Sungod of BalduR. It’s about the reunion of the soil, the earth, and the Sun creating new fertility and giving new life back to nature.

Franz Josef Fischer said 1921 in his book “Der Funken und Küachlesonntag in Vorarlberg”, that this tradition has also celtic origins, reaching back to celtic tribes such as the Rhätier, which are also Etruscan in origin. Celtic tribes have, as all Indo-Europeans, worshipped the forces of the earth, the sun and the light as their beliefs are rooted deeply in animism and shamanism. Other historians and scientists state, that the Funkenfeuer is definitely pagan, but most likely roman in origin. But nonetheless, there is a lot of common ground no matter what origin. The Indo-Europeans have recognized the powers of nature, the cycles of nature and tried to live within these cycles. The Sun and the light is essential to all life. Without, nothing would exist.

picture allgaeueralpen.com

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