The Parade of Spirits (Pennsylvania Dutch: der Geischderschtrutz) is a grassroots, family-friendly event that recognizes the need for darkness in the days leading up to Yule.
The event began in 2011 as Krampuslauf Philadelphia, and over the course of the last decade, it has expanded to include other aspects of Germanic lore and to embrace similar lore from cultures around the world.
This is a participatory event, so those in attendance should be in some form of costume; the costumes may be as simple as ghoulish makeup on the face to represent a collected soul, or it may be as dramatic as a full-on Krampus costume. This is an observance of the shadow side of the self, of the murky times in shortest days of the year, and of shady entities and liminal deities.
The terms Parade of Spirits and Geischderschtrutz refer to the Wild Hunt, which, from the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, is the movement of the goddess Holle throughout the multiverse, collecting the lost souls of the recently departed and placing them back into the cycle of life, death, and rebirth so as to advance human evolution with each lifetime.
Other cultures have similar lore, often with a different deity at the helm. Often there are horrific, treacherous, or disciplinary creatures within the retinue of these deities, and all such beings are appropriate to depict at the event. Please, though, do not strive to scare anyone who doesn’t want to be scared.
Although this event features many old Germanic and Germanic Heathen aspects, it is a secular event that is open to all.
Gathering time on Saturday, December 11, 2021, will start at 16:00 / 4:00 PM. Sunset is at 16:36, at which time the Parade steps off.
The Parade is led by Gedreier Eckhart, psychopomp and hero of Germanic legends, who is the loyal servant of Holle in death as he was in life. His job is to walk ahead of the Schtrutz in order to warn the living of the impending fury. Behind Eckhart is the clamorous cavalcade of the dead (bring noisemakers with you!).
The Parade wends through the streets of Northern Liberties and returns to Liberty Lands Park, where Eckhart symbolically (though if we were to the actual object, it would be so cool!) guides the souls into Holle’s Mill, where they are crushed apart, never to be the same again, but the spark of the divine goes on toward the next life. The evening customarily concludes with entertainment and a bonfire for fellowship with other participants.
In 2020, we had to reduce the Parade to being officially only four people; and unofficial parade came along, and it worked out nicely. We marched through the first half of the Parade silent recognition of those who lost their lives or their livelihood in the covid outbreak. Then, we began a life-affirming din that could only be achieved by the dead, and we symbolically cast away the fears of 2020 and marched our way forward toward a better 2021.
In 2021, we hope to be able to return to our normal format, so keep your eyes on our Facebook page!
“‘Hail to Life,’ say the Dead.”
— Gedreier Eckhart