parade of spirits

•January 24, 2016 • Comments Off on parade of spirits

event in review, 2015.


i’ve not been able to gather up ALL the photos yet, although you must, must, MUST see the large-format portraits that neil kohl was taking at krampuslauf philadelphia: parade of spirits in december of 2015.


large-format polaroid of claudia and béla taken at KP:POS 2015 by neil kohl.

large-format polaroid of claudia and béla taken at KP:POS 2015 by neil kohl.


and this is my absolute favorite of the year — by steve schultz.


photo courtesy of steve schultz,

photo courtesy of steve schultz,


oh — and this was DEFINITELY the year of one of our finest posters ever. and very limited in quantity.

so this was our FIFTH procession. and the second in a row where we were pitted directly against the “running of the santas” event, at least in terms of time and space. while last year was a nightmare of traffic and parking for many people 2015 was not. not sure how we managed to dodge that bullet but we did and i am grateful. we had UNSEASONABLY warm weather this year, and many people were hotter in their costumes than they expected to be — i think that manning das mädchen was particularly hard for chris, who, the most tireless and uncomplaining person i know, literally said, “i’m tired and i want to be done.”

i have never, and i think i’ve always been emphatic in my postings here, wanted KP:POS to be the biggest and the best of ANYTHING. that’s certainly not how janet plays, either. so i have to set my own goals for each year’s festivities, outside of just the obvious ones that everyone who attends has fun, and that everyone is safe.

this year, i had four goals:

— to have a new costume that reflected some personal experience/transformation

— to give janet a special present

— to give a special present to adam teterus, who was the guy who asked me to speak at ignite! philly in april of 2015, and who was the person who suggested the KRAMPUSLAUF PHILADELPHIA: VOICES series

— to have the kids’ mini-flow showcase (which last year was a freestyle, less-than-three-minutes in which the kids insisted they had done everything they knew halfway through it, and had to be encouraged to start all over again just to get through the song) level up with some choreography and faux fire props. (this beautiful tale began at our workshop at laurel hill cemetery in november…)

all my wishes came true… and more!! before i describe all the specific ways in which they did, let me mention some of the icing on the cake that we got as well!

— our friends stamatis, amy and xenia came from pittsburgh to lauf with us (and wow was stamatis’ mask amazing)

— the night BEFORE lauf, my friend juls, whom i had not seen since before claudia was born, suddenly declared she was driving to philly — from ATHENS, GEORGIA. i refused to believe she meant it, but she then kept updating her location from rest stops further and further north on facebook… which was thrilling and unbelievable. like being stalked, but in a cool and loving way.

(juls did get my favorite picture of tuck though — which is funny, because he’s right outside standard tap, holding hands with béla, which is exactly where and how my favorite picture of him was last year.)


photo courtesy of juls knapp photography

photo courtesy of juls knapp photography


so anyway — back to it —

— one of the FIRST people we saw upon entering the park that evening was… ODERUS URUNGUS, back from the dead, and i WISH YOU COULD HAVE SEEN BELA’S FACE

but oderus looked like this.




so those were just some of the many extras. just some of them!

let me SPECIFICALLY elucidate the ways in which my SPECIFIC dreams were fulfilled:


i DID have an entirely different costume this year. i was still frau perchta, but i was NOT perchta the crone.

i believed — initially, that i was going to be perchta the white. did i believe that i had become, or was going to become, beautiful and good in 2015? that i had had enough of embracing my inner crone? — no. i knew i was going to go back to the crone. but i needed to be different. sometimes, we just need something different.

i needed to not wear a mask. i felt — at least earlier in the year! — the VERY strong need to be unmasked. and so, while keeping my devotion to frau perchta — even to perchta the belly-splitter — i embarked upon a journey for discovering my inner perchta the white.

(it was decided early in the year that claudia, too — in her first year as something other than an angel — would accompany me as a smaller perchta the white.)

the idea for tall, illuminated frustums came very early in the process. (as a matter of fact, giant frustums — although much heavier then — were in play, at least on my head, in 2011.)


trying out headgear for frau perchta in 2011. there was nothing practical about this, although i do still have it.

trying out headgear for frau perchta in 2011. there was nothing practical about this, although i do still have it.


things stalled out, hard, when i studied — and lost my nerve at — working with makeup. i discovered that, when it comes to the body of a costume, a really cheap convocation or graduation gown is a great start. i found that couch throws from ikea are also really good tools to fill out a costume. but makeup — i am just not good at it, or not interested enough to GET good at it.

and in august, we’d had our workshop with larry hunt… and lo and behold, i came away from it with a giant crone face. made by tucker, yes, but there it was — i asked for it, and while it wasn’t going to be ON my face, i quite obviously had no intention of separating myself from the crone at all. i just didn’t know it then.

when i started to know it, i knew that the crone face would be used more as a shield — it seemed made for just that purpose.




okay, so maybe i was going to be perchta the white with a nod to perchta the belly-slitter emanating directly FROM my belly. i had an amazing illuminated frustum for my head, and claudia had a matching one (thanks, tucker, as always.) but i was still terrified to use makeup. and still very uncomfortable putting myself out there as perchta the white.

using a curtain liner from ikea, i attached several layers of net veil to the front of my crown.

this way, i had no face at all, other than the one on my body. i realized i had instinctually  done what i needed to do to represent my own changes; i was NOT, this year, perchta the belly-slitter… nor was i perchta the white. i was some crysalis version in-between, not ready to show itself, not matured.


no face at all. great image of ben's knitted mask though; after five krampuslaufs, he is hanging it up for good, and will have something new in 2016. photo by neil kohl.

no face at all. great image of ben’s knitted mask though; after five krampuslaufs, he is hanging it up for good, and will have something new in 2016. photo by neil kohl.


(note that this year ben set aside his black fur costume for a snow ghilie suit we got in kingston — the big morning-after-sinterklaas-rhinebeck shopping spree in kingston. happens every time.)

i will not, in 2016, be moving closer to perchta the white. i will be moving back to the belly-slitter, and possibly further, and deeper, into her than my expressionless green mohair mask had ever allowed. we shall see.

but in 2015, i was very different. i also found out before making it halfway across the park that i could not see through my veils. i stuffed them inside my crown, so i was as bare-faced as i had not wanted to be —  i powder-pale and literally, unprepared to be viewed. it was fine. and claudia, of course, was gorgeous.

we had little baby krampus konstantin with us, in a sumptuously decorated infant carrier; as expected, claudia abandoned him almost immediately. “too heavy”.


there were very few photos of konstantin at lauf but here he is with his maker, asia eriksen -- and with marian, who was "creeped out" by him. he is just a baby krampus!!

there were very few photos of konstantin at lauf but here he is with his maker, asia eriksen — and with marian, who was “creeped out” by him. he is just a baby krampus!!


i carried konstantin, and the felted wool head on a staff — covered with claudia’s cut-off dreadlocks from earlier this year — i don’t know how many photos that staff made it into, but it certainly didn’t go on procession with us. i had a lot of stuff to keep track of.





to be honest i started knitting this right after lauf in 2013. and then i set it aside for a long time. my m.o. was “i will knit the parts i can figure out myself and then have tucker figure out the parts i can’t.” and i have to say — i did more of it on my own than i thought i would. not to say that i COULD have done it without tuck at all. particularly the feet and the hair. and, the idea for what should go on the scroll in the mouth of the golem (tuck stained paper with coffee grounds to make a proper scroll):




the afternoon of lauf, we were at the community center. jeffrey magut (who always comes with his son michael, from connecticut!) had stopped by the community center on his way to the park from the rec center before lauf, with the message for janet that i had something i needed to give her.

she texted me back, reasonably irritated that i wanted her to come to me to do anything. i rationalized that if she would not let me give her “something” in the privacy of the rec center, i would have to give her “something” in front of hundreds of people.

she came to the community center.

we ALL come away from parade of spirits with some pretty funky photos of ourselves — and you can find the ones of janet actually realizing she’s getting a giant knitted golem in the 2015 set on flickr. (which still, as of this writing, grows.) i think she is perhaps ok with me reposting this one though, which came from jeffrey magut’s camera:


ruby seems so mournful. but janet really likes her golem.

ruby seems so mournful. but janet really likes her golem.


i am glad janet got a big golem because she did LOSE a very nice bear skin this year — are we REALLY going to have to be more careful with the share box, people? — but, continuing on with positive things…


in the making!

in the making!


TUCKER AND I MADE ADAM A “MANTERN-THING”, AS TUCKER CALLS IT. because adam really loves man-thing.




another personal goal! accomplished with affection and gratitude. i was having the best krampuslauf ever and we had not even left the park!

we did eventually leave the park. after rob did his yearly invocation. it is time to buy a megaphone for rob’s invocation. i did not hear a word of it. again, all photos are not in at this time but my favorite photo from procession itself so far is also from steve schultz. it shows no costumes at all, and in fact shows some people who seem to have wondered off the set of whit stillman’s “metropolitain” and are trying to politely tell us we can’t come in.


such a refreshing break from delighting people. i swear, none of us were trying to get in at all. photo courtesy of steve schultz,

such a refreshing break from delighting people. i swear, none of us were trying to get in at all. photo courtesy of steve schultz,


so how many other things did i need to experience to meet all my goals? ah! THE KIDS’ MINI FLOW SHOWCASE, which had no mutiny and no injury, and therefore was… PERFECT!!



i am so grateful to lux arati for giving the kids all the special attention to make this happen, and i want to particularly thank izzy dickstein, who memorized all the kids’ choreography and was there to cue them on the side when they needed her.


izzy and claudia post-performance. photo "courtesy" of garth herrick, in that i lifted it from his facebook. it was during this discussion that izzy suggested that claudia learn to sing "hong kong garden" by siouxie and the banshees, a comment that would change our family forever.

izzy and claudia post-performance. photo “courtesy” of garth herrick, in that i lifted it from his facebook. it was during this discussion that izzy suggested that claudia learn to sing “hong kong garden” by siouxie and the banshees, a comment that would change our family forever.


(plans for 2016, at least in our household — moving up to actual fire! yes, it can be done and is done! with kids! safely!)


after talking to those i would not consider making such a decision without, i came home from this krampuslauf philadelphia knowing there would not be another.

there was a reason that we added rob’s beautiful phrase “parade of spirits” to our name in 2013. we entered that park as krampuslauf philadelphia, but thanks to rob’s invocation, we left as krampuslauf philadelphia: parade of spirits. and as much as we love krampusse — and expect to continue to have many of them — there are krampus events everywhere now, and for heaven’s sake, trademarking

(that movie… i did not hear a good thing about that movie, nor did i see it, our family’s theatergoing budget timewise only allowed for “creed” and for the 60% of us who cared to go see the new star wars movie, of which i do not even know the title, so you know where that puts me in the percentages)

with gryla and the yule lads and the yule cat and the WORLD of winter folklore — some of it, frankly, becoming entirely new in and of itself — we needed a name that held us ALL in its arms. it is funny to me that as we now plan our 2016 costumes at our house, MORE of us will be krampusse than ever have before at one time. we love krampus. but there is so much more room to grow this way. and so much more to learn. and to invent.


grylla and her yule lads. costume by linda, yule lads by tucker collins, photo courtesy of kyle chelius.

grylla and her yule lads. costume by linda, yule lads by tucker collins, photo courtesy of kyle chelius.


we did, however, just renew the URL, so i would not expect the name-change to take place here — or on the soundcloud account where we store our VOICES pieces — anytime soon. it is not a big deal. it is getting to be too much of a job for one person to archive everything there is to archive about our event — so many photos…. we really don’t pay that much attention to press or articles, and we only made clip videos in 2012 and 2013, i think… but i do need to do some updating on our FAQ and bibliography/videography pages. we are also adding a glossary.

i will try to stay on top of all of this, but this thing has enough of a life of its own that i can’t worry too much about documenting its every step. looking forward is more fun (even though i DO love the yearbooks and will keep making those… 2015’s should include some of the best of the VOICES pieces.)

another change we are implementing is using the platform slack to communicate about specific costume builds, plans, et cetera. slack is much better for team building and sharing information than facebook, and people can sign up to get notifications only from the “channels” they are interested in. (for example, there is currently a channel for ben and bela’s reticulated foam builds.) so maybe you want to learn about a new material — OR maybe you want to be surprised by certain costumes and DON’T want to follow — with slack, this is possible. there can also be private channels where you can have private conversations for SUPER secret surprise projects! and we do enjoy surprising each other. that is something i have noted about us.

we are trying to keep slack more community-minded and keep communication flowing — and are asking anyone who wish to join the parade of spirits slack, let us know, and when you are sent an invite, please post a hello to the community. feel free to e mail me directly at if you need more information. we DO have some “big builds” in mind this coming year, as well as plans for more workshops as well.

so, that was our fifth go at it, and now we are reborn with a new name… and as we often do, the next morning we got up and headed out to cut down our christmas tree, first having breakfast at the oregon diner, but this year, having our pittsburgh friends with us, which was super fun. (they are our fun diner friends in EITHER home city… remember dios de los muertos in pittsburgh in 2013?)




the VOICES series will re-appear here shortly (the kids need to re-record the intro and outro segments!) and again, i want to thank everyone, everyone, everyone — there are so many faces flashing through my mind right now — for continuing to be part of our tribe.


i will have to poach one more photo from garth herrick. no mask, and not perchta the white by any stretch, but i do love this!

i will have to poach one more photo from garth herrick. no mask, and not perchta the white by any stretch, but i do love this!



•November 30, 2015 • Comments Off on KRAMPUSLAUF PHILADELPHIA VOICES: LINDA SOFFER (talking to ilse stone smith)

i have been thinking, ever since this interview was planned, how exactly i would word what linda means to me. it is still not working as deftly as i would like.

i think that linda understands, and takes KP:POS, as personally as i do. and gets as much out of it. i think that is the best i can say. i think she would do it in the rain, if there were only five of us. and i think that it would be a great time.

in part, i think that we understand each other because linda takes on her own event — spooky garden — every year, and has been doing so for much longer than we’ve been doing krampuslauf philadelphia. she knows the “seasons” one goes through internally with such an event. if she had never shared with me those similar ups and downs, i am pretty certain i would have given up on KP:POS by year two. i simply would not have known how to hold on through the fallow parts.

it has always been very funny to me that i knew from the first moment i “met” linda — at the first KP, with her mask and drum, never saying a word to me — that she was my ally. she has helped me believe in the power of making things, and what it can do for you emotionally, and she can get as possessed over the idea of how to use a stem or an LED as i can, even more so, i think.

linda — like many of the core krampuslauf mamas — know that making beautiful things to create beautiful moments is not all fun and games, and is at times dreary and repetitive and unsuccessful and lonely. and she does it anyway, because she is hardcore.

also, she is so willing to open her house to our visiting artists that i now think it is half of the draw in getting them to come at all.

it seemed only right that linda would like being interviewed by a young person, and someone she had known a long time, so i am happy that ilse was so interested, and did such a great job!

listen to the conversation as it is embedded below, or on soundcloud.

(transcription below)


ilse and linda talking, november 2015.

ilse and linda talking, november 2015.


ISS: Hi. My name is Ilse Stone Smith. And I am talking to Linda Soffer: artist, teacher, and mom to my best friend, Ruby. We’re talking about Krampuslauf.

How did you get involved with Krampuslauf? And why?

LS: Well, I got a phone call from Janet Finegar – who I know from the neighborhood, and Liberty Lands – and she said “Hey, this woman Amber contacted me, and wants to do this festival for Krampus, in Liberty Lands.” And because I do this thing called Spooky Garden, she thought I might be interested in doing the Krampuslauf too. And it just so happened that I had recently learned about the Krampus from my neighbor Dutch Barb. She had told me about the Krampus. So I had a new curiousity about the Krampus. And it was like some universe synchronicity, when Janet contacted me about being involved in it.

ISS: How long have you and Ruby been in Krampuslauf?

LS: Since the beginning, since the first one.

ISS: What is your favorite part of Krampuslauf?

LS: Well, I love the costumes, and I love the lanterns. But I think my favorite thing about it is the way that it connects people together.

ISS: What is your favorite costume? Is it yours or someone else’s?

LS: Well the costumes are really fantastic. And I usually do put some time and energy into my costume, but I really do love seeing other people’s.

ISS: Has Spooky Garden – your garden – been involved in Krampuslauf?

LS: Well, they’re definitely crossover events, ‘cause I’m involved in both of them. Spooky Garden benefits from some Krampuslauf props, like lanterns, and giant illuminated Krampus heads, we use those in Spooky Garden events – so in that regard, I guess in my involvement, it’s involved.


our family does love to help with linda's spooky garden in any way we can. ben is an expert at carving turnips now! and this year béla drilled a pumpkin. photo by neil kohl.

our family does love to help with linda’s spooky garden in any way we can. ben is an expert at carving turnips now! and this year béla drilled a pumpkin. photo by neil kohl.


ISS: Advice for anyone who wants to come to Krampuslauf?

LS: I guess I would say, to make something, or bring something, or wear something, or be something. That you wouldn’t normally do. And be open to meeting new people. And having fun.

ISS: Have you ever thought of retiring for Krampuslauf?

LS: No, but if I could think in the future, would there be a time when I wouldn’t do it, maybe if I didn’t live in Philadelphia, or close enough to Philadelphia to do it. But of course, a piece of my heart will always be with the Krampuslauf. (laughing) What about for you? Can I ask you a question?

ISS: Sure!

LS: What about for you, what’s your favorite part of the Krampuslauf?

ISS: I like how you get to be dressed up, and everything, and watch – and look at everybody else’s costumes, and how much they put effort into it just by looking at it sometimes, and I like watching the fire dancers, and that kind of stuff.

LS: It is really great to see people’s costumes, and the creativity they put into it. I love that part too. I also like the workshops. We get together and do things at other times. And we did this really cool (EverNever) Night Market, this past summer. And we’ve had some great workshops and met some great people – like Larry Hunt, and Jen, his wife.

ISS: When was your first Krampuslauf meeting?

LS: (laughing)… You know, I don’t know if we’ve ever really had a Krampuslauf meeting. There was a meeting in a coffee shop, with Amber and Chris Carson and I. That was pretty early on, that was talking about the Habergeiß (Das Mädchen), and the idea of building the Habergeiß. So this was pretty early on, and that was really the first kind of like Krampuslauf meeting we had, and to think about it now is really funny, and it definitely tickles my memory (laughs) to think about it. But, a lot of our communication is by social media, and then at these workshops, and like, random texts from Amber, to me.


the most superhero image of linda ever, putting up signs she has made in our maskmaking truck at the evernever night market, august 2015.

the most superhero image of linda ever, putting up signs she has made in our maskmaking truck at the evernever night market, august 2015.


ISS: What was your favorite costume that you made in your long time in Krampus?

LS: Wow. That’s a good question. Well, my favorite’s kind of always the one I’m working on right now. (Laughs) So, I would say the one I’m working on right now for this year. Which is Gryla, who is an ogress, from Iceland, who loves to eat children. And she has thirteen sons known as the Yule Lads, and they are interesting characters, like the Spoon-Licker and the Candle-Swiper.

ISS: Where did you make your first costume?

LS: Sitting in my living room, I did the foil and tape mask method. I think I read or saw a tutorial, like from Arun (founder of the Portland Lauf) that Amber probably posted; and I was like, “Yeah, I can do a foil and tape mask,” and I made my first mask. And I wanted to use these antlers, these real little antlers that I had…

ISS: What was your first costume?

LS: I made a mask, that’s the Krampus… he’s kinda, he has little antlers, which are these real antlers, his big tongue sticking out, and I love his teeth, and he’s got some fur on the back of his head. And I wore it, actually, the first two years. One of the funny stories about Krampuslauf, about the first Krampuslauf, is that I actually came and went to the first Krampuslauf keeping my mask on the whole time, and never actually speaking to Amber. And I came, and I played the drum, and I had my mask on the whole time, and she didn’t know who I was. And I didn’t realize that I wasn’t consciously doing that, it just happened that way, and we talked about it later. It was funny, and we laughed about it.

ISS: Have you ever made a costume with Amber?

LS: No! No. I’ve collaborated with her, like for this Night Market truck, we collaborated on that. And Tucker is making the Yule Lads. So that’s kind of a collaboration. But not with Amber, personally. But I’d love to do that.

ISS: What was your first costume that you’ve done with Ruby?

LS: I guess it was the year where we were the deerfolk? We were inspired by these photographs of people wearing costumes of other characters from Nordic and Alpine folklore. And we were intrigued by these deer characters, and she and I were these deerfolk. I had antlers; she was more of a fawn.

What are you going to be this year? This year Ruby is gonna be on her stilts for part of it, and she’s gonna be wearing her pelt, and be ferocious. She’s gonna be a demon.

ISS: Do you have any good stories about the parade?

LS: (Laughing) I tend to miss a lot of things along the parade. Things happen, I find out later, and I’m like “Wow, where was I when that happened along the parade?” I always miss the toast at Standard Tap. I’ve never been able to quite get in on that. I do remember meeting Bryan Demory on the parade a few years ago, when he was wearing his yak fur suit, and that was when I first became acquainted with his tremendous rump bell. Which I have a great admiration for. This huge rump bell that he wears on the back of his suit.

ISS: I think I remember that! … Have you ever had a costume that you didn’t like?

LS: I guess, sometimes, if I have a costume where I can’t really see very well? I don’t really like that. If I need to have a “handler” (someone to help you navigate in your costume due to poor mobility/visibility), I haven’t really liked that. Or if I’ve been cold. I’ve learned to make my costumes really warm. I line them with polar fleece, and I plan to wear lots of layers… it’s kind of turned masks into, like, entire helmets. Because I end up building up the back. So actually I’ve enhanced my costumes knowing that I’m covering and warming myself with them.

ISS: Have you ever had thoughts that the costume you are going to make isn’t the best costume?

LS: (Laughing) (A lot) Are you asking if I’ve been plagued by artistic doubt? Of course. All the time. But I’ve gotten to a place in my creative life where I just kind of go with the flow, and I just try to connect with whatever costume is ready to emerge from my madness of the time, and I just try to follow it. And do it. And I don’t try to judge it anymore. I’ve let go of that. But I did used to, yeah. And now I’m just like – it is what it is. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. It’s not really about even being good or bad, it’s just about being. You know? And creating it. And then being there and wearing it and being there and seeing everybody else’s… that’s the great part.

ISS: Have you ever had a costume that you think to yourself, “Wow, I wish I made that costume!”

LS: Oh, yeah! Yeah, yeah yeah! … pretty much like almost everybody’s costume that I see there – which is one of the great things about the event, there’s so much fantastic stuff. And I love when even somebody like your mom (Sue White) who is a good friend of mine but sometimes I have no idea what she’s working on… and she comes out with some fantastic, amazing headpiece or creation… I love seeing that. I often admire many of the costumes very much.

ISS: Have you ever had a costume where you say “I’m gonna do something like that next year”?

LS: Yeah, I am inspired by what people do from year to year. Amber was inspired – she sought out the woman who wore this amazing burlap mask (Deb Glassburg) and connected, and that’s how we connected with Larry Hunt, and had the workshop with him, about the burlap mask technique which – my mask and Amber’s mask and probably many other people’s masks this year will be created in that technique. And so that was a direct line of inspiration. Yeah, the energy and enthusiasm that people bring to the event definitely inspires me. Every year. It just kind of gives me the freedom to do even more.

ISS: Thank you for having me over and doing this interview with you.

LS: You’re very welcome. It was a pleasure.

while i might have met her at the maker workshop previous to our first lauf, to the best of my memory, this was "meeting" linda. i thought, wow. you are into this. and yeah, we didn't actually talk at all.

while i might have met her at the maker workshop previous to our first lauf, to the best of my memory, this was “meeting” linda in 2011. i thought, wow. you are into this. and yeah, we didn’t actually talk at all.


the yule lads

•November 29, 2015 • Comments Off on the yule lads

we’ve been talking about adding iceland’s yule lads to KP:POS for years now. but you know, thirteen is a lot of anything.

tucker had some different interpretations going through his head at various times. he had thought of portraying them all as corvids. we had looked into some rather complicated puppetry. and then we just kind of sat on it for awhile. but then when linda wanted to be gryla this year, and we had a number of burgeoning yule cats, it seemed clear that some yule lads would be necessary.

tucker also recognized, after some research, that the yule lads visit, one after the other, beginning on december 12th — so we were right on time!

while we have yet to see how the yule lads conform to their ogress mother, tucker has made all thirteen of their heads, in felted wool with styrofoam bases.

since they are so small, and since all artifacts of krampuslauf philadelphia are exposed to the elements and possible trampling the minute they become part of the event itself, we decided it was a good idea to show them all off now, up close.

i will say though that felted wool is very difficult to photograph! and with just an iPhone, the big difference in depth with these enormous noses makes it very hard to get great detail. i have hopes that grylla and her sons will maybe get a portrait session after lauf, so that all this beautiful work may be adequately captured.

linda is a good friend to us. our family is excited about her having these and i’m very excited to see how she uses them.

here they are, in the order of their appearance!

well, first, here they all are in a box.

well, first, here they all are in a box.


and NOW, in the order of their appearance!




(see, he harasses sheep, so he is dressed as a wolf.)

(see, he harasses sheep, so he is dressed as a wolf.)

the “sheep-cote clod”, he harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg legs. (of which he has none currently.)



“gully gawk” — he hides in gullies waiting for opportunities to get into the cowshed and steal milk. (note the bandit mask.)





STUFUR (back detail)

STUFUR (back detail)


“stubby” is very short and steals pans to eat the crust left in them. (i find this to be better than dinner myself sometimes.)




here’s where we start getting into alphabet letters that i do not necessarily have the hang of. this “spoon-licker” is very thin and malnourished due to the fact that all he does is steal spoons to lick. is it easier to steal spoons than, say, crackers? why doesn’t he change it up a bit?





this one is a “pot-scraper” who steals leftovers from pots… really. they’ve got this so divvied up that there is a difference between “leftovers in pots” and “crust in pots” and the spoons go to an entirely different lad. it’s the icelandic cosa nostra.





a lot of licking going on, i see. this one is a “bowl-licker” who is specifically after the remnants of askur, which are lidded bowls.





i don’t think this one ALWAYS looks like donald trump, but OUR hurdaskellir does. he is a “door-slammer” and especially likes to slam them during the night. this is better than licking them in my opinion.





if there is one thing i have learned since watching tucker make stuff, it’s that he loves a big nose and flared nostrils. this “skyr-gobbler” loves skyr, which is a kind of yogurt.





this “sausage-swiper” hides in the rafters where sausages are being smoked. hopefully to take them entirely, not just to lick them.





a “window-peeper” who looks in windows for things he might steal.





a “doorway-sniffer” who uses his acute sense of smell to locate the yule bread made in iceland (laufabrauo).





ew. as if i did not have to give enough people around here hints about their nose. “meat-hook” uses a hook to steal meat.





this is my favorite. i love the gin blossoms. this “candle-stealer” follows kids around to steal their tallow candles (which he can then eat; that’s actually quite paleo.)

as usual, tucker has done an amazing job. i’m so glad that KP:POS has given him an opportunity to be creative. and again, we know that anything can happen to such small, light creatures so we thought it was a good idea to memorialize them early! it’s a big post, but if he can make thirteen completely distinct characters out of styrofoam balls and some bags of wool remnants, i can certainly blog about them.

if anybody wants to correct any spelling, i suggest you go felt a head.

(no, really, i’ll go back and fix things at some point if i get the hang of that alphabet on my keyboard.)

workshop at laurel hill cemetery!! (AND busking for LUX ARATI!)

•November 18, 2015 • Comments Off on workshop at laurel hill cemetery!! (AND busking for LUX ARATI!)

we were very excited when the historic laurel hill cemetery offered us space for our workshop this year! laurel hill is a special place, “leading the way in redefining cemeteries in American culture at large, proving daily that places of rest for the dead can also be sites of recreation, education and entertainment for the living.” well, we’d already seen an amazing ghostly circus there a few years ago, and had attended their halloween celebration this year — so we KNEW they did a great job.

we decided to run this year’s workshop as an “independent together” work day — no guest artist, no planned tutorial, just others helping others, or working on their own projects. that proved to be more exciting — and have more special guest stars — than expected! more on that later.

our other big focus was the continued construction of faux fire dance props — hoops, fans, and fire pots for kids. members of our FAVORITE fire and bellydance troupe, lux arati, came to workshop to help make props AND to choreograph some simple movies for the kids mini flow showcase for krampuslauf!

you will remember that we did a mini flow showcase for the first time at krampuslauf philadelphia last year. we gave the kids poi, spinning plates and hoops, played an of Montréal xmas track, and let them loose for a little over two minutes. this year we decided to get a LITTLE more organized. achievable… but also, a little something to reach for.

this year’s track? well, this is the year to honor him, so it is sir christopher lee’s “jingle hell”.

now, by no means would i consider giving away the surprise of all the choreography before the actual event! but this video of tara teaching béla his fire pot routine… well it’s just too wonderful to miss.

our whole photo album from the event is here. you will see that we had two cozy rooms PLUS a kitchen, which lent a lovely homey feel to the workshop. every year, the workshops are so different! i really think this was one of my favorites though.

so while we had many of our usual crowd there, some of them were doing unusual things. neil had brought a large-format camera, and film (film!) currently being handmade in new england. he got some interesting pictures.

we also had visitors whose work we had admired — and interacted with — for some time, but we had never met the artists in person! it was amazing to have asia eriksen of werepups and her whole family come to the workshop! asia’s daughter ember rehearsed for the flow showcase, and, as many here know, asia doesn’t just make werewolf babies anymore…

actual first response: "... is it a lamb?"

actual first response: “… is it a lamb?”


asia is the creator of our very own baby krampus, konstantin! an important member of the family, although we learned quickly, a krampus baby does NOT interact like a human baby when it comes to the rest of the family.

he has some dolls to help him learn how to put bad children in a bag.

he has some dolls to help him learn how to put bad children in a bag.


asia was working on another krampus baby at workshop, and her husband anders brought some latex krampus masks he had made. these are artists working in a really different medium than we are used to, and they were right there along with us!


thank you for the mask, anders.

thank you for the mask, anders.


we also met, for the first time, artist jeffro kilpatrick! jeffro had contacted krampuslauf philadelphia last year offering to do our poster — which had already been designed by lachlan herrick.

midyear, i was able to get in touch with jeffro he created, gratis, the poster for the amazing ASPERGER’S ARE US show that tucker and i helped organize at drexel university! and to our delight, he checked in again this krampuslauf season and said he’d just come to workshop to draw (even though we do have a poster in the works) — and that we could use his design as a procession route marker. super cool! and great to meet him — another huge fan of lance henriksen is always worth meeting!

it was a lovely, busy workshop and the very next day, we got a chance to give back to our lovely luxie ladies, who were having a fund raising event at our own liberty lands. we went to see the show — but our kids also wanted to give EXTRA support, with the power of BUSKING. on STILTS.

having walked with the hungry ghost busking troup during all souls in tuscon, the kids GOT busking. and they were ready.

having walked with the hungry ghost busking troup during all souls in tuscon, the kids GOT busking. and they were ready.


who is going to say no to kids on stilts carrying popcorn containers, asking for a dollar to support their favorite fire dancers? well — fewer people than if they WEREN’T kids on stilts! that is for sure.



handing the cash they’d made over to the dancers at the end of the night really made the kids feel empowered. whooo! nicole has devil eyes!


WOW. this entire account was of the weekend FOLLOWING the one where we went to tucson for all souls, and in between these weekends we went to a GWAR concert! we are trying to slow it down a bit this week. we are grateful as anything to LAUREL HILL CEMETERY, LUX ARATI, and all our krampuslauf family for making it another workshop weekend to remember in 2015!



within the last hour or so before leaving our house for the first krampsulauf philadelphia in 2011 — really, the moment in my life when i was least sure of what i was getting into ever — i received a message of goodwill and congratulations from a man named jhon. he was a stranger to me, from an organization called many mouths one stomach.

MMOS is a non-profit which promotes “festal culture”. i had never heard those words used together until jhon had approached me on facebook. i discovered he was also very involved with the all souls procession weekend in tucson, arizona, and his own more intimate processional winter project, LumiNight.

over the years, as krampuslauf philadelphia grew, and became sometimes scary, or lackluster, or irritating, or any of the things it can be in my mind the other 364 days of the year, jhon was there for me. he has always been there for me.

in 2014, tuscon artist mykl wells flew to philly, and we showed him a good time. and he showed us a good time. mykl was also deeply involved with all souls procession weekend, and running its workshops, and we learned a lot from him.

tuscon had, frankly, been very good to krampuslauf philadelphia. and it was time to return the favor.

krampuslauf philly kids at the airport, tuscon-bound!

krampuslauf philly kids at the airport, tuscon-bound!


early in november of 2015, we — me, ben, tucker, béla and claude, and also linda and ruby — few to tuscon to see how they do it there. it was the right year to go. the theme of the procession’s finale this year was “unmournable bodies”. this was meaningful to both tucker and to me, who have difficult deaths and impending deaths, of difficult people, to process in our lives. tucker chose to make a lantern and burn it in the urn at the end of the procession — i had a hard time choosing how to express my desire for closure, and claudia helped me, by wearing my mother’s wedding dress as part of her costume for the procession.



it was wonderful to meet jhon for the first time and take part in his portion of the weekend, the procession of little angels. this is a children’s procession for which the kids made wings beforehand, and processed through a park lined with altars — many of them honoring lost children.


jhon's a person!

jhon’s a person!


AFTER the procession of little angels — yes, the same night — we went to a music festival where the headlining band was of Montréal. if you know ANYTHING about our family you know how we feel about of Montréal! it was the first time our kids got to see them live, and this amazing bouncer got us front and center so the kids could be RIGHT up in kevin barnes’ eyeglitter. it was fabulous!


the amazing man!!

the amazing man!!

we had personal reasons  for attending this event this year. but always, where krampuslauf philadelphia is concerned, we take participation in the events that drive others’ hearts and creativity very seriously. we take giving back very seriously — even if it is only with our presence. we try to be the people we want to SEE at krampuslauf philadelphia. WE want to be responsible for our own fun, and some of someone else’s. we want to help make it happen. we want to connect. NOT just for our own little event under our own little name. to meet face to face with people we’ve only known as “facebook friends”. to see landscapes that are new to us. (claudia, walking to procession: “those are NOT MOUNTAINS. THAT’S JUST A BACKDROP.” sorry honey, those are actual mountains.)

this is what i love about festal culture and processional arts. you throw yourself in, and then it disbands almost before you know what has happened. you have connected so deeply and experienced so much and placed so much trust in the people who surround you… many of whom would be unrecognizable out of that context, without their makeup or masks. and yet, it creates relationships that last.

no one wanted to give up their wings, so on the morning we left tuscon, jhon had breakfast with us and accompanied us to the post office, where we mailed the wings to ourselves. they have arrived home to us in philadelphia safe and sound.

check out our whole round-trip album on flickr.


•November 16, 2015 • Comments Off on KRAMPUSLAUF PHILADELPHIA VOICES: ROB SCHREIWER (talking to tucker collins)

why does krampuslauf philadelphia have “parade of spirits” as part of it’s official event title? (a detail important enough to me that i shut down our original page, and created a new page with the new title just for this purpose? you could have made that easier, facebook.)

the reason is rob schreiwer, who offered, in our blizzard year of 2013, to give in invocation as we began the procession, and used these words. his invocation was so moving that it has become an integral part of our ritual in philadelphia.

rob is a leader in the PA dutch heathen community (Urglaawe).

he is a teacher, a mentor, and brings a wonderful sense of community and connection to krampuslauf — as well as making his own community’s events available to us.

it was always my sense that tucker and rob have never gotten as much time to chat as they would like and they still probably haven’t! but this is a good start. our longest interview to date!

listen to the conversation as it is embedded below, or on soundcloud.

(transcription below)

TC: Hi, I’m Tucker Collins, this is Krampuslauf Philadelphia: Voices, and I’m here speaking with Rob Schreiwer today. He’s leader of the Urglaawe group of Pennsylvania Dutch Heathens.

RS: And the Heathen Contingent for Krampuslauf Philadelphia.

TC: Yes. Thank you for being here.

RS: You’re welcome.

TC: I guess I just wanna start by asking, how you heard about Krampuslauf, and what the draw was – what year was that?

RS: I actually heard about Krampuslauf for the first time… the first year was 2012 or 2011?

TC: I think it was 2011.

RS: I actually heard about it between 2011 and 2012, when others in the heathen community mentioned it to me. And as soon as I heard about it I was all excited because it was something I would have loved to have thought up myself! And so I turned out with the Heathen community then in 2012, and loved it to death, loved Amber, loved all you guys, and became more involved.

TC: And you – was that your first year, did you come as the Belsnickel?

RS: I came as Belsnickel the first year, yeah.

TC: Okay. Now – the Krampus is something which, coming from the Alps, I guess technically is a Christian tradition, but is there anything that’s like that for you guys?

RS: We have Belsnickel, obviously, but now the thing is – I can’t say that, I would not say that they’re a Christian tradition, I would not say that they’re strictly Heathen or Pagan traditions, I would say it’s kind of a fusing of the two. Perhaps, either Christian overlay, or perhaps just like fusing in Pagan things into a Christian idea. For our perspective we pretty much brought a Heathen mindset to everything but then again, that’s our religious structure. However, the good thing about this sort of thing is there’s room for all sorts of interpretations. And that’s the way that it should be. I think the world would be a lot happier place if people would let other people follow their ideas and explore their creativity and their own spirituality without trying to put them into a pigeonhole. Belsnickel’s a very complicated figure, as is Santa Claus. I personally do think that both figures have elements of the Germanic god, we name him Wudan but the Norse call him Odin, inside of it, fused of course with St. Nikolus and other characters from historical lore, and from centuries of experience and interaction with different regions of the world. But we tend to see him more – we see Belsnickel as the Wudan in his role of “seeker” – he is seeking out wisdom, seeking out people who rise to his challenges, which usually involve either answering riddles or an act of physical prowess if they fail at the riddle… a lot of this is based in Pennsylvania Dutch lore. And then for those who have actually succeeded in that, in meeting his requirements, they get rewarded when he comes in his Santa Clause phase. Again, I’m gonna stress again that Santa Clause is not just Odin or Wudan; it’s a fusing of different traditions, I believe, personally. But from our perspective, this is how we see it.

our first-ever view of rob in 2012! he was a stranger to us then, but not for long! (because of this costume he is still in my phone as "belsnickel".)

our first-ever view of rob in 2012! he was a stranger to us then, but not for long! (because of this costume he is still in my phone as “belsnickel”.)

TC: You mentioned Odin; we’ve got Belsnickel, we’ve got Krampusse, we’ve got St. Niklaus, all kinds of other things that people have brought to Krampuslauf; we also have the Habergeiß, Frau Perchta, and I come as the Cailleach, which is this ancient Celtic diety; all of these things, coming from all different areas, and they all have their own mythologies and stories – how does that make you feel as a religious leader, that we have all of these things coming together?

RS: I think it’s wonderful. No spiritual system, prior to the rise of organized dogmatic monotheistic systems has ever been monolithic. There’s always been variations by tribe, by region, by climate, and all those things are wonderful, because they’re all expressions of something unique that has taken place over the centuries. Just like all life is valuable, all culture is valuable. There’s something inherently, for me, just amazing about things that are able to live on over thousands of years just getting passed down with each generation adding something new or taking something out that is no longer relevant; and you see that when you’re at Krampuslauf. And it’s also interesting to see the similar themes that run through them sometimes. Especially within European culture, you’re seeing a lot of this “dark half of the year” kind of reflection, which is certainly present in Pennsylvania Dutch culture, and that is an important aspect, and then having the goddess Perchta or Berchta as we call her, in there, is also a reflection of that, and for us, Krampuslauf, much like many other – like Halloween, or as we call it Allelieweziel – and other celebrations are depictions of the Wild Hunt. That is certainly an old tradition that is certainly present in the Celtic and Germanic cultures. I think it’s a great thing. And I encourage more of it, I encourage more diversity of people, celebrating their roots and expressions of wherever they come from, or whatever calls to them.

TC: You brought up something having to do with climates and regions, and how you get variation even within what would still be considered one religion. The thing that that brings to mind for me is the idea of Greek mythology; where you were, and who you were, had a lot to do with which gods and goddesses you were praying to. We know those stories now, even today, because there’s value in the Hero’s Journey.

RS: And the same applies, again – talking also about regions, and even within Pennsylvania, there’s different ways of observing the same Belsnickling, which was originally – the time in December was the time of tricks or treats for the Pennsylvania Germans. Like I’d shown you a little bit ago, a little picture, from a Virginia newspaper, showing people Belsnickling back in 1910, and that just shows how widespread it was, for starters, wherever the Pennsylvania Germans settled —

TC: Even over a hundred years ago.

RS: Yes, and some of this stuff still continues in West Virginia and central Pennsylvania even now. Every now and again even I learn something that’s kind of new: back in January I had done a radio interview on a Lebanon (PA) radio station, and somebody had called in and she was talking about the guy we know as … Ewicher Yeager, or the Eternal Hunter, and in her particular area they kind of fused Ewicher Yeager with Krampus. She was talking about how in their area, how in their part of the Blue Mountain, the Eternal Hunter – whom, today, by the way, is his feast day in Urglaawe – that he would do similar things to Krampus. He would take the naughty children, and pack them up and throw them in a sack, or – but in our area, we never had that particular lore. I think there’s a little conflation, but it shows that some sort of Krampus mentality and understanding did live on in at least part of Pennsylvania Dutch culture. While Belsnickel dominates that whole darker being kind of aspect, at least something did live on. And I think that that’s fascinating too, ‘cause it just shows that even within an area relatively small, like Eastern Pennsylvania, you can have multiple traditions going on, at the same time, sometimes conflating with one another.

TC: You still get this sort of evolution and cross-mixing of the stories, even right in what is still essentially a locality.

RS: Yes. And I think identity – I mean, she identifies herself as Deitsch as much as I do, which is sort of funny when I heard that, and it makes sense to me, because knowing what I know of Ewicher Yeager, from our lore, I can see how they might make that conflation. We don’t have that, and I actually see the two as very disparate. Because I see, we tend to see Krampus as more of an animal spirit, while Ewicher Yeager is a deity.

TC: Can you expound on that? Like what those sorts of similarities are.


belsnickels in the richmond, virginia area, circa 1910. photo courtesy of rob schreiwer.

belsnickels in virginia, circa 1910. photo courtesy of rob schreiwer.

RS: Many people depict the Eternal Hunter as having horns. Being a horned god, and also is likely related to another deity that we have very scant oral lore on, but we know just enough about it to be able to make a connection between the two named Holler. And Holler would be the male counterpart of the goddess Holla, but he is associated with death. He’s the god of death, and we’re in November when everything is beginning to die off, so that’s one reason that he is honored, plus, there’s a story that rises out of the Blue Mountain, up there, and if you’re going East-West towards Pittsburgh you go through a series of tunnels, out beyond Harrisburg, you’re going through the same mountain at another part. Back during the Colonial Era in the 1700s, people had engaged in irresponsible farming, and the irresponsible farming in this case was they cleared too much land, they didn’t leave enough trees, and there was a – they had a drought, the soil eroded and blew away, and then when it rained everything flooded out… the Eternal Hunter was this god of death, that was essentially punishing them for not taking care of the land until they put out offerings of what they had left, which were cloth and hay – and that’s what we’re going to be doing on Saturday, that’s why I can’t be at the (Krampuslauf Philadelphia) building workshop, but then, he drove game over the mountain. So, he’s associated with the driving of animals and animal spirits. The primary relationship between him and Krampus is: people were terrified of him. Even when I was a kid – there’s a phenomenon that very rarely happens in the Blue Mountains where you suddenly feel that there’s a pack of wild dogs all around you. It’s an audible phenomenon… there’s a couple of explanations for it, one is that it could be the warm air bouncing off the side of the cold mountain, that’s actually making like a little pinging sound, but, the far more likely one is that it’s a flock of geese honking and – if you come to the Lehigh Tunnel, it’s wide open, and that sound is echoing. Either way it’s still kinda weird when it happens.

TC: It’s unsettling.

RS: It’s unsettling, and I remember being a kid, I was four years old, and we heard the noise, my great aunt said – “Ewicher Yeager is coming, get into the house!” and it wasn’t because they were afraid of him per se, but just that he is so big, and so large, that he could easily run over you and have no idea that he even did it.


So that’s the differences, but the main similarity is this element of just raw, like, hunter – he’s focused on his tasks. And the horns bring forward this animalistic kind of idea, like Krampus. Where we tend to differ really is Krampus you really always tend to see like a really truly wild animal spirit. Which brings us closer to another creature that I’m hoping you’ll see at Krampuslauf this year if I can get somebody to play it – which is Eizehanze. Which is an Iron John. Iron John is supposed to represent a tribe of humans who have lost their socialization.

TC: (patented Tucker laugh)

RS: Okay? And they live in the mountains, they’re supposed to live in the mountains, and – there are folk tales of this over in Germany too but they survive on here, and that these are essentially, like – they’re humans, who are very close to animalistic in their functions. Animals of the same pack don’t tend to treat each other as horribly as humans treat each other. Which is, by the way, one of the lessons of this character: how humans can be so advanced on the one hand, yet so beneath animals on another hand, which is, by the way, another lesson of Krampus, from our perspective: is that, you know, for as evolved as we are, we have to recognize that we’re part of the world, not separate from it, and we are therefore integrated with it and we have our own set of foibles that are unique, and the dark half of the year focuses on dealing with those.

TC: That my experience has been more of a transformation. That I become that character, for that time. And it is something that, to me, feels like sort of stepping beyond myself. Do you think that there is a benefit, or risks associated with this idea of stepping out of our normal human roles, and, if you want to say “pretending”, or trying to take on these roles of what would be considered a powerful being?

RS: In a sense what you’re talking about is kind of related to shamanistic practices. In a way – that you’re stepping out, or you’re bringing something in, but to answer your question – it’s not that easy to ask, because of course there are benefits and of course there are risks. A lot of it has to do with the person who’s doing it. I’m not particularly worried about you. Because I know you well enough to know why you’re taking on that sort of thing, and it’s not for – you know, your own power trip or to harm anybody else or to cause problems, it’s more for trying to bring forth an experience for yourself and the people around you, and to try to make it more real, try to make it – try to like be able to experience something that we all too often ignore in our world around us, which is the fact while we’re part of the physical world the other world is everywhere around us. And so in your particular case, I’m not so worried about it. I myself… I’m a little more reluctant for instance when I’m playing a deity, to try to take on the roles of that deity, because for me, I have to be very careful with that. Because I have to make sure I’m respecting the deity. So with Belsnickel I’m a little more – try to focus on the folk aspect of it. But now with Gedreier Eckhart, who I’m gonna be this year, who is Loyal Eckhart, the Loyal Servant of Holle, there I don’t mind taking that on, and becoming, you know… and the funny thing is that, the year that I (first) did that, which was the second year (2013) – the first year was Belsnickel, the second year was Gedreier Eckhart, the third year was Belsnickel again – but when I did Gedreier Eckhart, that was the year that Amber said to me, “Why don’t you lead the parade. I want you to lead the parade.” Which is kind of funny because that’s what Gedreier Eckhart does with the Wild Hunt. He leads the Wild Hunt announcing the coming of Holle or Berchta, so it’s just kind of funny because Amber and I seem to be falling into this strange set of roles that actually reflect the historic understanding of the Wild Hunt from certain Germanic tribes. And so in some senses, even if you’re not purposely going out of your way to try to take on certain aspects of whatever it is that you’re costuming as, it seems to happen anyway. Whether they’re acting it or whether they’re truly feeling it, it almost doesn’t matter. Either way, it kind of builds up the energy and brings the energy up which is one of the reasons that Krampuslauf in Philadelphia is particularly special. First off, Krampuslauf itself, the concept of it comes obviously from Europe, but we have traditions here within Pennsylvania which have always been here, like Belsnickel. So we’re tapping into things that are in this region and rose in this region organically when our people migrated here, and I would really love to see folks of Lenape descent, or something, bring some of the traditions from their – because I’m sure that they had some sorts of traditions that related to the dark sides or shadow sides or dealing with that. I would love to see that participation also, because that also is native to this region. So that’s why I’m saying it’s great to see all these different diversities and people expressing whatever calls them, whether it’s their own ancestry or something they’ve experienced in their life from where they live, or whatever, and just bringing it all out and let’s all just explore this side of ourselves, in a safe environment, obviously, and recognize that we are humans, we are all complex, you know, we can try to pretend that we’re all goody two-shoes, we can try to pretend that we don’t make mistakes or sin or have bad thoughts, but it’s far more realistic to say, “You know what? This is the shadow side of me. But I can learn to be in control of it.”


rob as gedreier eckhart, giving what is now the official parade of spirits invocation. drawing by artist len peralta (

rob as gedreier eckhart, giving what is now the official parade of spirits invocation. drawing by artist len peralta (

TC: The Cailleach, coming from Scotland, and being the deity which is not exactly common now – to me as someone who’s trying to relate back to the Scottish ancestry that I’ve got, I don’t feel like I’m disrespecting the Cailleach by envoking it. But that’s the way that I can honor it. In a world that to me feels like it’s on the verge of forgetting so many valuable things, by envoking it I’m keeping it alive a little longer.

RS: And that right there’s an excellent point. Because I spend so much of my life doing so many things with Germanic deities, including some of these far lesser-known deities that we may only have one or two references to anywhere, I think that that’s an important thing. And when I say, by the way, that – when it comes to deities – that’s more my own skittishness, mostly because if I believe that Belsnickel is Wudan, Wudan and I don’t have… you know, I’m far closer to Holle… and as time goes on I’m actually developing a much better relationship with Wudan. Particularly because I need to through Braucherai, and other things that I take part in, which is the healing practice of the Pennsylvania Dutch. So I think that there’s also a very good likelihood that we’re doing many of the same things; our terminologies, our understandings, are different. Does that make sense? Like for instance, I may be actually doing what you’re doing, but from my mind I’m not. But I may actually be doing it anyway. ‘Cause I gotta tell you, last year, I gotta tell you, there was nothing stopping me from hitting that boompah (see first photo for Rob’s boompah – a standing percussion instrument – Ed.) as I’m goin’ along, and I’m usually not quite that … loud. But I really brought it. And, like, two years ago, three years ago, I actually BROKE my boompah from getting into the Belsnickel role. Again, making the noise is a part of the whole thing. I just love that parade. I really do. I think it’s a wonderful expression, and it’s sorta funny when you had the Running of the Santas and you’re driving into the city to get ready for Krampuslauf and you get Santa Clauses all over the place, and then all of the sudden you have all these… wholly different kinds of creatures.

TC: We are not the Running of the Santas.

RS: No, we are definitely not the Running of the Santas. I mean I actually personally think the Running of the Santas is funny. It’s purposes are very different from ours. Ours is a combination of fun, spirituality, and true development of community. Look how many of us have become fast friends as a result of this.

TC: Just from this!

RS: Just from Krampuslauf. I mean, you know, the fact that we formed a Heathen Contingent where we have so many people who are excited about it, some of whom live far away and might not even be able to make it but they still are part of it. And then the “Heathen Traditions” banner that we sewed last year which actually we started sewing at the making workshop of Krampuslauf (2014).

TC: I remember that, I remember seeing you guys there. But at no point, when either you guys have been at the workshops, or we’ve been at Pagan Pride or anything else, I’ve never felt like – “You’re the Heathens, and we’re the people… who aren’t Heathens.” Or anything like that. There’s no – it doesn’t feel like there’s a separation. And there shouldn’t be.

RS: There shouldn’t be. You know, there are reasons to separate from some people. For instance, the thing I was talking about earlier, where people are committing acts of violence – I don’t want to be associated with them. But why wouldn’t I want to be associated with people regardless of what their spiritual belief is who have community welfare and friendship and camaraderie as the driving force behind them? It’s actually a beautiful thing. And it’s something that is all too uncommon in our society. But yet there’s people everywhere who are searching for this. It’s just nice when you actually come across it, and when you come across it in an authentic and organic way, which comes back to Amber and Janet and a few other people, who really go out of their ways to create something where people can thrive and share of themselves without having to worry about not fitting in.

TC: Thank you very much Rob. It’s been great talking to you.

RS: You’re welcome. See you all at Krampuslauf!



•November 4, 2015 • Comments Off on KRAMPUSLAUF PHILADELPHIA VOICES: BRYAN EDWARD DEMORY (talking with tom coombe, aka ow tow)

bryan demory is certainly the biggest, baddest-looking krampus i think we’ve ever had at krampuslauf philadelphia. he has been coming since 2012, all the way from virginia (and yes! even in the blizzard of ’13)! he handcrafts his costumes and incorporates authentic components from europe as well (like the thirty-pound hairy krampus suit that is now out of rotation, but which i hope to see again someday).

bryan talks in this installment with tom coombe (aka “ow tow” to béla and claudia, ie “uncle tom”). they THOUGHT they were recording their conversation a few days ago but technology got the better of them, so they did it again! (that’s why you will hear tom refer to “the last time” they talked at the beginning of the interview.)

a virginia accent and laugh are a marvelous thing, i have come to learn.

listen to the conversation as it is embedded below, or on soundcloud.

(transcript below)


oh sure, he does not look that scary HERE.

oh sure, he does not look that scary HERE.


TC: This is Tom Coombe. And, I thought we’d get started. I think the first question I asked last time (when it didn’t record – ed.) was how you had heard about Krampus in the first place?

BD: Okay. Yeah, I had a friend who had actually been to a Krampus parade in Bertchesgarten, in Germany. And he had bought a suit, and mask, from Austria. And it wouldn’t fit him, so he basically he handed it to me. And that was about the beginning of it. That was about to six to eight years ago, I think?

TC: When did you start actually wearing that suit out in public?

BD: Oh, right after he gave it to me.

TC: But that’s not the suit you wear now when you go to events, right?

BD: No, this was the big white furry one, that was real mountain goat, and after a couple years of wearing it I guess the salt in my sweat has eaten up some of the leather inside. So, I repaired it once, and then I kinda retired it. So what I wear now is something that I built.


bryan demory in the blizzard of 2013 at krampuslauf philadelphia. photo by neil kohl. 12/14/13

bryan demory in the blizzard of 2013 at krampuslauf philadelphia. photo by neil kohl.


TC: Talk a little bit more about that, if you don’t mind.

BD: Basically I take synthetic and real hair, that you can buy in hair stylist’s places, and I sew them in strands on a vest. This way it avoids the leather and having to treat the leather, and the problems leather can cause, which, body heat and sweat – I wanted to avoid that, and I basically made – I took an under-armor shirt, and applied this stuff called Dragon Skin, that is like a silicone base, and that looks like skin once it solidifies; and it’s kind of a rubbery thing. So my arms look bare, but they’re actually under the shirt. And I made leather cuffs, I wear leather pants, I made these big leggings to cover my legs, and I have little curly-toed, they look like elf-boots, but they’re quite sinister – and I have, you know, the belt with many bells, and children’s shoes, and things like that hanging from it.

TC: How long does it take to put the whole thing together?

BD: It’s kinda hard to say because I keep adding and taking away. The mask itself – that takes about three months to put those together. From just getting the supplies and the horns to the – my mask also has real boar tusks in it, and horse hair, so you gotta get all the stuff in, and then you gotta do all the digging. And carving. And since I’ve had it I’ve carved different designs on the forehead, I’ve added a very long goatee to it, so it’s something that’s always changing as well. You constantly add and take away. So… years? (laughs)

TC: Is making costumes for events, this kind of event, is that something that you had been doing before?

BD: No, and it’s kind of a great way to get into creativity in other things. I come from a long line of artists, and it’s not just drawing and painting, it’s – if I’m not building something with my hands – I told someone the other day, if I’m not working with my hands, I’m dangerous. (laughs) For about a week I’ve been working on a suit of leather armor, that I’ve made for myself, and it’s really served no general purpose other than to keep from being bored.

TC: Do you ever anticipate wearing it out anywhere?

BD: Yeah, maybe… you never know. If I take the Krampus mask off, I look like a barbarian, ‘cause I have this big beard now. So I thought, well, why not build this big barbarian outfit, and that’s what got me into building this chest armor piece out of, like, twenty pieces of leather. It’s been fun.

TC: Did you know about Krampus before your friend had given you the suit?

BD: I had no idea! My mother’s from the Alps, and she never mentioned it, but she suffered under it! And after I told her about it, she: “Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” And I think she’s like, some things, you know, I guess the beatings she got, she wanted to leave in the past! (laughs) I don’t know.

TC: When you say, “She suffered under it,” do you mean that she was threatened with Krampus as a child?

BD: Yeah. Most people around her age, and I’ve known several Austrians that say the same thing, that they all – if they’re from that mountainous area, they all know what Krampus is, and you know, he has different names in different regions, I talked to a guy from Serbia the other day, and he even called it Krampus, so that was interesting. Yeah, I’ve talked to many, more, older Austrian people, and they’ll definitely tell you they know what Krampus is.

TC: Knowing that about Krampus, do you feel like there’s a burden on you to portray the character with some sort of respect?

BD: Yeah, I guess. To me it’s – I like the traditional stuff, I like the wooden masks, I like the use of that, and to study it a little bit, you know, because you get some interpretations, you don’t know, okay, this guy says this, that group says this, you know, it gets confusing, so – you grab what you like the best, and you run with it, and I’m not a leading authority on it, by any means! It’s just about dressing up. But it’s just a lot of fun. I’m one of the guys who likes to dress up. I don’t cosplay, but I do Krampus.


demory's tattoo, also in the blizzard of 2013. photo by sam moon rafferty.

demory’s tattoo, also in the blizzard of 2013. photo by sam moon rafferty.


TC: You said that you had been to the Philadelphia Krampuslauf, and the one in Richmond as well. What is it about Philadelphia that’s kept you coming back?

BD: It’s good people, it’s fun people, you know – I only see them on Facebook here and there, so I get to see them in person, and see each year the new creativity and new things that people come up with – it’s just a good atmosphere. You have the nice walk, and then you have the fire dancers and stuff like that, so it’s just a fun thing to be involved in, and there are cookies, there’s a fire, there’s just friendly faces – you know, it’s real brief, but you know, it’s a good time. And it’s dark, so you don’t really get to see everybody, every time. So each time, you might see somebody different.

TC: I kinda feel like the briefness of it, and the fact that it’s not a huge “event”, even though a lot of people have come to it, is part of it’s charm.

BD: Yeah, I agree as well, I mean – you don’t want something to get too big. Same reason that I like to go see bands in small clubs. You know, it’s more intimate. The bigger it is, the less you see the people you wanna see… it’s small enough, it’s good enough, and, you know, more people come every year, but I like it the way it is. It’s perfect.

TC: I’ve never gotten the sense that this is something that’s gotten “too big” or gotten out of control, or has been commodified —

BD: Right right. Yeah, I agree totally. It gets frustrating because when you realize the true whole thing about him (Krampus) is – he’s not a cool dude you wanna hang out with, you know. He has one purpose, and one purpose only. So – I laugh when they make guitar effects and beers about him – you know, that’s a bad way for him to get famous, is on beer, or guitar effects… he’s gaining popularity, I watched the History Channel the other day and they had this… horrible… rendition of him, but at least they mentioned him and stuff. You know there’s people partnering him with Santa Claus, and that upsets me, because they’re totally disregarding St. Nicholas, and, you know, the American way, let’s take something and bastardize it and mess it up a little bit… yeah, it’s frustrating, but you know, there’s nothing you can do about it.

TC: It’s upsetting to see him partnerered with St. Nicholas, or to see him separated?

BD: I see him partnered with Santa Claus. The Americans are always partnering – all, the “anti-Santa”… he has nothing to do with Santa Claus. The only thing I can tell people is “Hey, stop putting Santa Claus and Krampus in the same sentence.”

TC: With that in mind, I was wondering if you’ve seen the trailer for the… I guess there’s gonna be two Krampus movies.

BD: Yeah, and, you know, I got mixed feelings about it, you know, it looks fun, and like I said, you just wonder, how they’re gonna make it… I’ll go see it before I see other movies. It’s just gonna be interesting to see, and it’s gonna open the door for more people to figure out what he is… at least they’re using him like a bad guy, like he’s supposed to be.

TC: I think if Krampus was solving crimes or things like that, it would probably take away from the character.

BD: I’ve even seen him as a bad guy on “Scooby-Doo”, so, there you go. He’s gaining popularity.

TC: I think he’s definitely arrived, yeah. Bryan, thank you again.

BD: No problem!

TC: And again, I look forward to meeting you in person someday. (How did you MISS him? – ed.)

BD: Yeah, well, just look for the glowing eyes, there’ll be two of us this year, so come up and say hi.

TC: I will. Thank you again.

BD: Thank you!!


demory during the procession at krampuslauf philadelphia 2014. if we ever have weather like we did in '13 again, we will, indeed, just bowl. photo by neil kohl.

demory during the procession at krampuslauf philadelphia 2014. if we ever have weather like we did in ’13 again, we will, indeed, just bowl. photo by neil kohl.





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