Rübezahl - The Divine Witch: Goddesses and Gods

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

The Divine Witch: Goddesses and Gods

Rübezahl, a male dwarf, is the most famous of the German mountain spirits. He dwells in Riesengebirge, between Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and Silesia and in the caves of The Brocken, where he allegedly enjoys leading travelers astray although he welcomes respectful witches.

Rübezahl wraps himself in a large cloak to mask his face, reminiscent of Odin. He has the power to manipulate weather. He is the Lord of Magical and Medicinal Plants and Patron of Root-workers.

As late as 1814, inhabitants of the Silesian mountains still made pilgrimages to a mountain summit near the source of the Elbe River, where they sacrificed black hens and roosters to Rübezahl to keep him pacified and prevent flood waters from rising, even though a chapel built at this spot in 1681 was dedicated to Mary in an attempt to divert worshippers. Rübezahl’s devotees returned home with water, herbs, and roots, which were used in cleansing and protective rituals.

Rübezahl carries a trident. His bird is the raven. The Church identified him as a demon or even as Satan himself.

According to a German fairy tale, Rübezahl kidnapped a princess and, to please her, planted a huge field of turnips (rüben). She asked him to count (zahlen) them. While he was doing so, she escaped. This tale is featured in Andrew Lang’s Brown Fairy Book, as well as in a German silent movie Rübezahl’s Wedding starring Paul Wegener and Lydia Salmonova.

See also ANIMALS: Corvids; BOTANICALS: Roots; DICTIONARY: Root Doctor; FAIRIES: Nature-spirit Fairies: Elf; PLACES: The Brocken.