24 December 2017

The Founding of Berlin


The Founding of Berlin

Where formerly the Petrikirche stood in Berlin, a Wendish temple once stood on a sand hill, dedicated to the three-headed god Triglav. Around the sanctuary stood a few poor fishermen's lodges on an island formed by two arms of the Spree

Albert the Bear, the first Margrave of Brandenburg, had lost his way on a hunt in the marshes of the Spree. He had become separated from his huntsmen, and was already aware that he would be spending the night in the forest when he saw a light flickering across the Spree. He followed the light and soon came to a stilt house erected in the water, which could only be reached by crossing a narrow bridge. He pounded at the gate and a servant let him in. 

The servant led him into a pine room where the master of the house sat on a bear skin. He greeted Albert in the Wendish manner, asking what his desire was. Albert replied that he had lost his companions and asked for shelter for the night, neglecting to mention that he was the Margrave of Brandenburg. The Wend replied, "You are a Christian, but Rudolf of Stralow knows how to show hospitality, even to his enemies. Here you have some fish, and here is a place to rest."

Albert, who knew the customs of the Wends, demanded they eat salt and bread together; for only in this way would he truly become a guest and secure his life. Rudolf of Stralow was not happy, but did as Albert requested; and so Albert could settle down for the night.

But he did not rest. There was a lot of commotion in the house. Servants came and went, until finally Rudolf of Stralow announced: "It is all ready!" Thereupon Rudolf stood up and prepared to leave. But Albert was on his feet and asked, "Where are you going?" The Wend would not tell him until the margrave drew his attention to the fact that he was his guest. So Rudolf told him that he was going to Triglav's temple. 

Albert demanded: "Take me with you!" The Wend could not refuse him so they left the house and got into a boat. They journeyed down river and on the way more barges joined them. Where the Spree splits they got off to climb up to the Triglav Temple on the sandy heights. The temple was full of Wends. 

Albert looked around: in the background he saw a large curtain from which a strange groaning could be heard. Then a white-clad priestess came in and began the invocation of the three-headed god. Her shrill prayer grew louder and louder. When her wild shouts had reached their climax, the curtain was torn open, and Albert saw how they had erected a likeness of their god out of willow plait. The whole interior of the wicker god was filled with captive Christians who were to be offered as sacrifice. The chief priest went up to the wicker god and set the fire. Albert drew his sword, intent on freeing his fellow believers. But Rudolf quickly took his guest out into the dark night to save him from certain death. 

Silently, they journeyed back to the stilt house. But when they got there, hard words came from Albert's mouth: "I will put a little bear (Bärlein) in the marsh to kill the pagans, that no Christian need burn." The Wend looked at his guest: "You speak proud words with the voice of a master, who are you?"

"Do you not know me? I am Albert, whom they call the Bear. My little bear will rule all Wendish lands, and his paws will rest on marsh and sand." 

Thus - according to the saga - German Berlin (Berlin > Bärlein, "little bear") arose next to Wendish Cölln.

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