“The legend of Thyth, the Giant” or “What lays underneath the þit”

In ancient times, when the Haard1 woods were still untouched, an old lady there lived with her pet owl in a simple stone hut hidden by a fence of spiky bushes.

Many generations later, in these same woods, there was a young Förster2 who loved the Waldeinsamkeit3 feeling. One day after a long meditation on the Hochsitz4 he heard a very loud sound coming from the Teufelstein5 direction. He ran there as fast as he could, and for some reason the dirt was all up in the air as if the stone had moved! Through the dirt cloud he could spot something shining on the ground. It was an old shiny box, made of the most beautiful stone. In it, he found some hand written notes on old thin paper. Most parts were rotten, but he could read some excerpts. He looked around to be sure he was all alone. With trembling fingers he untangled the delicate pieces. Carefully, he drew the first one, which read:

“Thunder storm. Clouds roll around the black sky, scary winds twirl trees away. Lightning bolts explode in different colors. They are his thorn. Every now and then he releases his power of chaos. Geneviève is here inside, peacefully and graciously tearing a mouse apart. I never fear storms either. I never fear thunders or lightening. I have my Donnerbarts6 on my rooftop and a Schlehe fence, that’s how the giant recognizes me as his friend, so he will never smash us down in a stormy night.”

The young Förster knew of these plants. The Donnerbarte are the sempervivum and the Schlehe is that spiky little tree, known for that old time liquor. But he’d never heard that one day these plants were known for having special protection powers, or that they were found in many roofs. Superstition, so these texts must be really old, he thought. A second fragment:

“(…) and so, on this day I celebrate having found my new roof. For here I shall be distant of the eyes of men, of the eyes of power. Here I shall be free to live as I please, and carry on with my practice. The villa I lived in for the last fifty years is not safe anymore. I am already a very old woman so nobody minds me much, but now that that poor Anna Spiekermann7 has met her tragic death, I cannot risk being hunted too. Not long ago, men like these left corpses of rebels rotting in Münster’s cages8, way up high, at everyone’s sight. No, I shall not be hunted! I see a curtain of inhumanity, bigger than the seas, which have fallen upon the entire world. Happy place now is only here where I shall now live, alone, with the plants that protect and heal me and my good friend, Geneviève.”

“Oh giant, giant in the woods, giant in the winds, giant in the sky and stars. Oh, giant in the mouse, giant in the cat, giant in the groundhog, giant in the bull, giant in the bear and giant in the owl! Every eye shall light your sight and every bone will raise your body. Every heart and every soul twirling and lifting huge rocks as if they were a handful of sand. Once again you shall raise from underground, strengthened by these chants and by this flesh I offer thee , (…)”

The young Förster felt a freezing shiver along his spine. Not because of the giant, or the old woman who seemed to be a witch, for he knew them to be characters of old times tales. But as for Geneviève, well, he shivered since he knew that the owls are not what they seem. Even though, as brave as he was, he took a deep breath and resumed reading, still sitting by the Teufelstein at the feeble light of the autumn sunset.The next fragment seemed to describe a ferocious fight:

(…) screams, heads and despair. Such a huge beast with the strength of a thousand men and a bottomless hunger. With a long and wet tail, entangled with seaweed, his body covered with smaller hungry creatures. Its monstrous hands, each one larger than a grown man, tossing trees and huge stones away so it could reach Thyth, the giant. And so it moved, leaving behind big holes in the ground, as enormous as mountains in reverse. People ran in panic, screaming and praying for their lives. Meanwhile, the two creatures continue throwing rocks, as big as churches, on one another. From across the hills, their blows – this part he cannot read – the newborn monster persecuted Thyth across many lands, from the sunny to the snowy, eager for his blood. Its footprints were so deep that rainwater collected in them, shaping fresh boundaries. Thyth was hurt and weak, sick of his wounds and of his heart. He could not live under a master; he would never be a slave. So Thyth, the giant of a thousand spirits, would fight to the very end. Two nights later, under a moonless sky, the two colossal creatures met in the Haard and clanged into each other, striking one another with all their might. Thyth roared in anger, and smashed the other giant’s jaw with his last lightening. But that last blow could not defeat his opponent. He was already too weak; his thousand spirits had already started to disengage from his formation. The mighty powers of the giant evaporated in a centripetal movement, turned him into a pebble and put him to sleep in the depths of the underground.”

So Thyth, the giant of chaos, the holder of tearful thorns and lightning bolts had been defeated. The young Förster could still not picture what kind of creature had defeated such a giant. Who, or what could be strong and powerful enough to defeat Thyth? Curious and excited, he went on reading:

I remember as if it had happened yesterday. Who could ever forget such a dreadful event? After the fight, the ground and stones were moved around, the trees torn apart. The clouds were heavy in grief, and nobody could hear a sound. Not a bird, not even the sound of leaves on the wind. Nature seemed to be in dreadful astonishment, whereas people were celebrating. People have always seen Thyth as a high maintenance being to live with. This new ruler was way easier to deal with, or so they seemed to believe. But nature knows better. They shall learn, some day.”

As much as the giant tried to fight back, it was difficult to escape the tentacles of that colossal, pyramid shaped sea creature, with a crowned head sustained by uncountable souls stepping over each other. This creature had been evoked, formed and fed by weak souls. It is the capturer of dreams. I see it will walk the earth for many centuries to come.”

It has all the power now. Wherever there is man, there will be its power. It now decides and rules everything. It appears to be good, it promises to end with the war of all against all. It even convinces nature to go against nature, justifying it as human evolution. It has raised above all living creatures. Such poor souls, I see fathers and daughters, workers and beggars, young and old, all abdicate their freedom because they fear chaos. In all lands, and even in the furthest lands, all people have surrendered to this cruel monster.”

What monster would that be, the young Förster wondered. Could it be real? Would it still be living and ruling today? Another piece:

In the beginning of times, in the beginning of nature, Thyth was born. He was a giant force composed by a multitude of individual forces living in harmony. One day, a little grain of sand forgot that it was only a part of the giant, stretched its neck up and looked down at everything around it, declaring itself to be a giant. From that day on, an endless war began, all fighting against all. That’s when the giant was put to sleep for the first time. Quite a great ignorant was the first who served another. Dear Thyth, the giant of thorns! Kings, princes, and priests have always been afraid of thee. They have always feared the power of the thousand free spirits within thee. In their tyranny, they protect the powerful and the rich from the unsatisfying hunger of the giant. Thyth, giant of diversity, giant by nature, so many seek your destruction!”

The last piece now was laying in his hand. His heart filled with confusion and mixed feelings. His soul had a soft feeling of uncertainty. Daylight was almost gone. He could barely see, but had a flashlight next to Hochsitz, and so he went back, he couldn’t wait to read it. Once he reached the top of the hill, he lit on the flashlight. It was the only beam of light visible from a distance. It was also a moonless night. As he started reading, he could sense: it was some sort of prophecy.

The bear will grab the bull by the long tail.
The base so weak will collapse the pyramid.
No more metal sovereignty, a new era of lightning Strom shall begin.
Millions of groundhogs reveal an early spring in a block chain that will wake the giant up.”

Legend recovered and translated by
Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão
With the collaboration of Kadija de Paula
and Bettina Lehnert – City Archive of Oer-Erkenschwick.
First public reading by Nadine Molatta and Ralf Rieder at the
opening celebration of the park the þit in the center of Oer-Erkenschwick, Germany, 2014.

1 Woods of Oer-Erkenschwick, the city where the þit took place.

2 Ranger.

3 Solitude of the forest.

4 Hunter’s perch.

5 Rock of the devil.

6 Thunder beards.

7 The last witch killed by Inquisition in the region of Recklinghausen, in 1706.

8 Germany’s northwestern city where in 1533 there was the Anabaptists rebellion, who lived in communal regime for over a year until their leaders were tortured and murdered in public, and their bodies were exposed and left to rot in cages on the top of Münster Cathedral as a warning to other potential rebels. The cages remain today in the same place.