Chimney Sweep - The Horned One and The Devil

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

Chimney Sweep
The Horned One and The Devil

Throughout Europe but especially in Germany and Central Europe, chimney sweeps are considered auspicious harbingers of good luck, associated with New Year’s festivities, the Yule season, and fertility.

It’s considered incredibly lucky for a chimney sweep to be the first person one sees or the first person to cross one’s threshold on New Year’s morning. Chimney sweeps were once paid to make brief appearances immediately after midnight on New Year’s Eve. However, to see a chimney sweep any time was considered lucky. Many would rush over and touch them for good luck. If a chimney sweep kissed a bride immediately after her marriage, she was believed blessed with luck, love, and fertility.

What the chimney sweep symbolizes and represents however, doesn’t necessarily correspond to the chimney sweep’s literal every day existence. As horned spirits like Krampus (see page 570) were suppressed and shamanism was forbidden, traditions associated with them were transferred to chimney sweeps. The Lucky Chimney Sweep thus is more than just a menial worker. He is a shaman in disguise; Krampus without his horns and hoofs.

This Lucky Chimney Sweep was a popular motif on early twentieth-century Central European Christmas and New Year’s postcards, where his magical attributes are often on display. In these images, the Lucky Chimney Sweep brandishes Krampus’ birch twig broom. Dressed in black and red, similar to Krampus, the Lucky Chimney Sweep distributes moneybags, gold coins, and Amanita muscaria mushrooms. He brandishes lucky charms like four-leafed clovers and horseshoes. Horseshoes often symbolize the vulva: like Krampus, Lucky Chimney Sweeps are frequently depicted enjoying romantic encounters with beautiful ladies.

Lucky Chimney Sweeps are intrinsically identified with coal, the gift (or punishment) that Santa and his horned helpers give disobedient children. Coal is the gift of warmth and life, similar to Prometheus’ gift of fire. Another figure identified with this in Europe, and thus with good luck, was the professional charcoal burner.

The Lucky Chimney Sweep is almost always depicted as a very sweet, clean, rosy-cheeked child and so his image is far less overtly sexual and threatening than that of Krampus, whose phallus and lustful nature are often emphasized. Like Krampus, chimney sweeps are associated with coal, source of flame and heat.

Lucky Chimney Sweeps are associated with pigs: they ride them, herd them, carry them or train them to do circus tricks like jumping through hoops or horseshoes. Sometimes pigs pull the chimney sweep in a chariot, toboggan or sleigh similar to that of Santa Claus.

Chimney sweeps’ natural associations with chimneys link them to Santa Claus, Easter witches, and shamans whose soul-journeys are sometimes described as “trips up and down chimneys.” Chimney sweeps are often depicted wearing black backless slippers; in mythic imagery, they frequently fall out of their shoes or seem to be missing one.

See Krampus, Santa Claus; ANIMALS: Pigs; BOTANICALS:Amanita muscaria, Birch; CALENDAR: Easter, Yule; CREATIVE ARTS: Dance: Step of Yu, Visual Arts: Halloween Postcards; DICTIONARY: Soul-journey.