Oh by gosh, Karen, you are taking me back to my childhood. "Ruebezahl" is not
the only spirit in our mountains, but he is the only one who stayed behind when his people
were expelled, and he is still guarding their ancestral homeland in the Riesengebirge. We
still sing about it!
I did not really know how to explain the kobold "Nippel" ... he was always
more if a Czech kobold than a German one. In fact the Nippel and the Tyllenberger were
"two of a kind" Both are quite similar to the Egerlander "Stilzel".
I am trying to explain them all - they were either funny spirits or taking judgment into
their own hands, they were certainly no trolls.....All of these spirits are VERY old, and
the stories are going back to witchcraft and even more ancient times. Maybe some are from
tribal times, even, as told around the campfires. So here is what I dug up for
The "Nippel" is a guardian spirit of the Czech part of Ceský les/Bayerische
Wald forest range. He either rewards or punishes. According to the stories of the German
villagers, the Czech Nippel guards the forest and kills poachers, but also helps poor
people, either by giving them some treasures or a warning to head them off a dangerous
situation. He lives on the Niklasberg, a hill between Bela nad Radbuzou and Tremesna and
usually looks like a noble count (when helping) or a little cruel dwarf (when punishing).
There is a similar spirit on the Bavarian part of the hills, who is named
"Tyllenberger," but in all characteristics he is equal to Nippel. Maybe some of
the stories are even the same and there is a story about the time when they first met one
another and how they celebrated it.
Then we have a rather funny spirit in around the Arber area of the Boehmerwald. His
name is "Stilzel" and those are hilarious stories that all children liked.
There is a fight over Stilzel, some say he is from the Boehmerwald, the others say he is
from the Erzgebirge. So what? One story is for instance about when Stilzel had to take a
herd of horses back to the farm and the farmer told him to be sure to count them, as he
was to bring home 29 of them. As Stilzel swung on a horse and rounded up the other horses
he started to count, but could never come up with 29, he saw only 28 of them.....he kept
counting and counting.....and it was always 28!! Because........he forgot to count the
horse he was riding on. We also learned to "count with Stilzel".
Then the Czechs had an imp called Kooliraschek (phonetic) which we kids just loved!
He got into a lot of trouble all the time and was a bit like the German "Till
Eulenspiegel"... Actually there is such a richness to share and it is such a pity
that political interests have destroyed so much of our heritage, and were hurting most of
us who were children at these times. I still hear in my mind the wonderfully rich sound
of a Czech speaking Egerländerisch...ahhh, but then, there is still Karel Gott singing in
German about his babicka!
Each area had their spirits from which all children learned. Usually the stories were
told in the evening at twilight, when the sun went down and the work was done. This was a
time of the day where everybody experienced a lull in the day's activity until it was
time to light the lamps. Have we really lost all this?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 10:01 AM
Subject: Re: [GERMAN-BOHEMIAN] Birth Certificates from Austria-Hungary
In a message dated 11/29/2006 11:52:43 P.M. Mountain Standard Time,
the largest mountain range of the Sudeten
Mountains called the the Riesengebirge
These are the Giant Mountains where the legendary spirit, Rubezahl, reigns.
There are many legends about Rubezahl.
Rubezahl lives in an underground domain where dwarves mine precious metals
and precious stones for his treasury. One day he decided to go out and to
see the world of humans. He learned quickly that humans are deceitful and
dishonest. He went back underground and did not come out again for a long time.
He has a garden in the mountains and there are many magical plants that grow
there. He is very jealous of his plants and if a human should try to take
any of them without his permission his anger -- and the consequences for the
theif -- can be terrible.
He is known by the Silesians, the Czechs and the Sudetens. All three
know tales of Rubezahl as a "bogeyman" that children fear (he threatens to
eat children) and as a spirit who gives deserving folk whatever they might
need to change their lives for the better.. The old tales of Rubazahl and
humans always have a moral to them and some are very scarey even for adults.
Today German children have games based on Rubezahl and the tales of Rubezahl
are favorite children's books. There is also a musical production in several
acts based on Rubezahl.
There is also a spirit of the Bohemian Forest who is named Nippel. I saw
some tales of Nippel a long time ago and I recall that he was associated with
thunder and lightning.
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