Tale from the Lowlands

The Lowlands I call my home, land of swamps and rivers roll towards the sea of North.

Through lands of magic roam, lands of Nether, lands of Holle,

fields flat where wraiths of mist move forth,

to where the black earth turns to sand,

to heather and gentle hills, where giants formed the land. 

Land of forests rich of lore and tale

and many voice of old be hailed

From this soil my people came and in this soil remain  

I’m a simple man with a simple name in a land that many tried to tame

I live in the wooded hills and heath of Vale Ouwe, Veluwe to some

Amongst the sacred mounds of life and the dead

It’s where my ancestors rest and lay their head

It’s where my heart belongs and where my soul is from.

Hi, my name is Martijn de Vos. I am from the Netherlands and I’m the owner and founder of Aardschappij. One of my main goals or missions is to promote and bring forth our nordic/Germanic heritage from the Lowlands and foremost, to let people experience and use the old ways of our ancestors in these new times for our own benefit and for the benefit of the land, here in Northwestern-Europe. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by Northwest-European nature and history, especially pre-christian and early medieval times.

As a child I thought and felt that there had to be much more to learn and know about Northwest-eUROPEAN NATURE AND HISTORY than we were taught in school or saw on tv.

For example, I could not understand why they only broadcasted documentaries on tv about exotic animals from Africa and other distant parts of the world. As for history, they only showed items about ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome and almost never about ancient Northern Europe and if they did, they portrayed our ancestors as savages or primitive in a kind of dumb way. I’ve always felt that to be wrong. Luckily cartoons of Asterix and Obelix offered a little solace though, for they showed the Celts as strong and smart. Because christianity, quite successfully, has tried vigorously and thoroughly to wipe out the old ways and its wealth and wisdom, therefore, that wealth and wisdom sometimes is really hard to find if you don’t know where to look or even don’t know that there is anything to be looked at all, other than our christian heritage. The wealth and wisdom of the old ways is actually not of the old ways anymore because for some people like me they have become our new ways, very useful for everyone in these new times, adjusted to- and integrated in today’s daily life. That is one of the reasons why I would like to see that children nowadays grow up with the richness and usefulness of this heritage as a normal part of daily life and continue to pass it on and create further. That would not only benefit themselves and other people, but it will also benefit Mother Earth and every creature that lives on and in Her because the basis of these ‘New Ways’ is to live from and with the natural world with the greatest respect, care and love and with sustainability. 

The old sagas and the history (or herstory), mythology and tales of the land carry within them great wisdom and symbolism that we can use to help us live our lives and thrive and really help us grow as human beings and as a human race.

Therefore I think it is important to let your voice be heard if you work or live with the ways of our ancestors. 

For now I will give you an example of a beautiful folk tale or saga about the area where I live: The Origin of the Uddelermeer (Uddel lake or Uttiloch) and the Bleekemeer (Pale lake, White lake or lake of the Gods)

The Uddelermeer was formed during the last ice age, about 15- to 20.000 years ago. It’s quite an extraordinary lake because it lies at the center of the higher sand grounds of the Veluwe, far above the actual groundwater level. The lake lies 24 meters above sealevel and that’s really high for a natural lake in The Netherlands. One would expect the water to sink into the sandy ground immediately but apparently that doesn’t happen. That’s because according to geologists it’s a collapsed icehill, or a so called ‘pingo ruin’ and one of the largest in its kind in The Netherlands.
Already for the prehistoric people of the stone age it seemed a highly attractive place to live because around the lake archeologists have found many traces of the ‘Trechterbeker-culture’ (the same culture that also built the famous dolmens or hunebedden in the northeast of Holland). The farmers back then cultivated small fields around their houses to grow a few of the earliest species of grain to be cultivated, known as ‘onecorn’ or ‘onegrain’ and ‘bucketwheat’. Right next to the lake is still an earthen reinforcement to be seen, a ringwall stronghold called the ‘Hunneschans’. Within that earthen reinforcement also lies a burial mound. This ‘Hunneschans’ was located strategically on a crossing of important roads. The canals around the stronghold were fed with water from the lake, the Uddelermeer.

Donar (also known as Thor), God of thunder, plays an important role in how the lake and the earthen reinforcement came to be. According to the saga, the Uddelermeer and the Bleekemeer were created when Donar, God of thunder, bashed the head of a giant snake and lost his famous hammer Mjölnir while doing that. The snake and the hammer fell to the ground and struck a hole in the ground of no less than seven miles deep. However, Donar became intoxicated by the snake’s poisonous breath and the God of thunder fell out of his chariot and hit the earth close near the snake, that is how a second hole was created. After a period in which an enormous winter giant reigned supreme, two lakes remained. The lake where the snake and the hammer had fallen was called the Uttiloch (Uddelermeer) and the other lake, where Donar fell, was called the lake of the Gods or the White lake (Bleekemeer).

The saga about the origin of the earthen reinforcement (Hunneschans) goes back to the time when giants still lived in these lands.

The giant of Uddel woke up one night from a violent thunder followed by a terrible crackling. Donar, the thunder god and worst enemy of the giants, drove past with a deafening noise and he shattered the giant’s bread oven with one hammer blow. What remained was the edge of the oven that we can still see today as the Hunneschans.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story! For more, follow me on Instagram @aardschappij.