Thursday, 14 July 2011


What is meant by the word inkweđan and why is this concept so important to Aldsido? As I have described in What is Đie Frankisk Aldsido it translates to ‘act accordingly’. It should be obvious why it is important to act accordingly or in a manner which is deemed the norm by one’s folk. Without a set guideline as to what is appropriate behaviour and what is deemed offensive, there would be no social order.
So let’s look at the root of inkweđan to break down its meaning. First and foremost we have kweđen. According to Koebler, what is meant by this root is ‘speak’, ‘bless’ or ‘rede’. Therefore at its very core the concept of inkweđan denotes words, what one says. The suffix in- has the same meaning as the English in, on, to or with. So when combined the word means ‘(to be) in speech’. Yet, kweđen does not simple mean ‘speech’ in the lay sense of the word. It does not refer to words in general. This is due to the added denotation of ‘bless’ which was used as an equivalent to the Latin benedicere. In related Germanic languages, the word referred to forms of speech which related to functions within society. A good example of this would be in the OS words gikwethan ‘to announce’, bringing knowledge to a group of people; andkwethan ‘to object’, going against suggestion or orders; withkwethan ‘to renounce’, to protest against. In short, kweđen is speech with social implications (Keobler).
We do have a version of this word which has survived in our modern English vocabulary but harkens back to the days of Old English. What I am referring to here is bequeath, which as you may be aware, is now used solely in the context of a will ‘I bequeath... to you’. The OED gives the definition as leave by will. In older days, to bequeath something was to proclaim aloud that you would do or give something to another which as you can imagine had social implications.
I have also introduced the term *unkweđanlīk which although has no known counterpart in the elder language, the formation of the word falls within acceptable guidelines. For if we break it down we get un- ‘no’ and –līk ‘like, -ly’. This coupled with kweđen gives the sense ‘to be misspoken like’. I admit that this opposing term to inkweđan is more to do with easing the modern heathen into a state of Frankish werldenskouwunga than being 100% authentic to the language, a necessity in my opinion.
Therefore you can see why it is that this terminology, this concept, is important to Aldsido. Everything that we say does have an effect on our kin and as such we cause change in our society especially the hīwiski. It is for this reason that emphasis must be put upon the power of our words to cause such change to society within the framework of Aldsido.

Erik Lacharity  

Thursday, 21 April 2011


In this entry I would like to take the time to get into detail concerning some of my theories on the cosmology of the early Franks. Firstly it is important to pin down what the modern definition of ‘cosmology’ is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, cosmology may be defined as:

‘A theory or doctrine describing the natural order of the universe’

To put this in terms that better reflects the Frankish werldenskouwunga, we could say that their cosmology reflected the accepted traditions regarding the makeup and social order of their tribal lands. Where we can find clues to the order of their world is within the Pactus Legis Salicae of the 6th century which is held to have been the collected laws of the Franks under Hludwīg I.
The preamble to the law code reads as such (Drew):

‘I. With the aid of God, it was decided and agreed among the Franks and their notables in order that peace be established among themselves, that all increase of litigation be curtailed so that just as the Franks stand out from other peoples living around them by the strength of their arms so also will they excel them in the authority of their laws. Thus they [Franks] will provide an end to criminal actions according to the nature of the cause.
II. Therefore from among the men four were chosen who were named as follows: Wisogast, Arogast (Bodogast), Salegast and Widogast from places beyond the Rhine named Bodeheim, Saleheim, and Widoheim. These men meeting together in three different courts and discussing the cause of all disputes, gave judgement in each case in the following fashion.

Before I go on and dissect this preamble, I would like to note that based upon my observations, the cosmology as provided by Snorri Sturlason does not reflect an accurate view of the world of the Frank nor do I think it does the world of the Norsemen. So as such, the worlds of Helheim, Alfheim, Svartsalfheim, Asgard, Vanaheim, Jotunheim, Midgard, Muspelheim and Niflheim (as well as many more) do not sit well with the werldenskouwunga of the early Frank.
What we have here as laid out by the scribes is a world that has been ordered by four men (beings) of three realms. They are demonstrated as being the wisest of all men and hail from across the Rhine. The Franks are known to have crossed the Rhine in the 3rd and 4th centuries and may well have gone back and forth as well as absorbing newer tribes who may have crossed latter. So the explicit mention of these men having lived across the Rhine demonstrates to me that the Salic law may have originated at least three hundred years before Hludwīg I. It is mot unusual for peoples to try and ascribe their laws to an earlier time, but unlike some of the tribes that codified their laws after the Franks,
They wanted to explicitly demonstrate that their laws were from a Germanic past.
The names of these men reveal the very social structure of the Frankish confederacy and with the added –gast final, these men are made out to be the ‘spirit’ or ‘embodiment’ of these social strata. Kern in his Lex Salica makes the observation that linguistically these four men mark a specific ‘realm’ of man and his affairs. He gives the translations as such: Wisogast ‘Feeder of cows’ as wiso can be read as meadow; Bodogast ‘Cottager, Peasant’ as bodo can denote a sty; Arogast, an alternative form of Bodogast in some of the manuscripts means ‘Tiller of the land’ as per the definition of aro being to plough; Salegast ‘Noble or hall-dweller’ as sale may be taken for hall and finally we have Widugast ‘woodsman’ for wido means wood.
One interpretation according to Kern is that each of these men represents a social class as the similarity of their names all given together does not point to a historicity of the men. So we may see each of them as the representative or ‘embodiment’ of the Farmer (animal husbandry), the Harvester (as per Arogast), the Noble and the Woodsman. He may not have been too far off as the titles of the Lex Salica seem to fit quite well into each of these categories.
Now what of their homelands? As you can see there is but three homes for four men. This is something that Kern found quite odd, yet in each manuscript only for are shown. My own interpretation of this phenomenon is that Wisogast and Bodogast/Arogast, i.e. the Framer and the Harvester both fit within the same social strata as both must be tenants within the þurp. In turn they pay their rents to the nobles of the hall who fit into the highest order, headed by the king. The woodsman may be the frontiersman as he must live within the wilds of an un-ordered land rife with dangerous animals, men and other wihte.
Given this description I find it quite fitting that the world of the Frank, his cosmology would be composed of three well attested ‘heims’ or ‘realms’, the higher noble order, the þiuw (slave) and litus (half-free) and other non-nobles of the lower order and then the wild frontier. It is important to note that what I am saying here isn’t that the common Frank saw the world as divided into three mythological places, Salihaim (Koebler spelling), Bodohaim and Widuhaim rather that they recognized a three tier social fabric that may have been entrenched in oral tradition which featured legends treating the subject.
Concerning the so called Salihaim, we can see that this ‘place’ constituted not only the nobility itself but possibly even the hall where society’s wheels do turn. It is also not too much of a stretch to see the famous Salian contained within the title of this place and may even be their namesake. It is in Salihaim that men are made heroes, are gifted arms and elevated to a higher station maybe even rising from the trappings of Bodohaim. This may well have been the ‘place’ that the cult of Christ first passed through the nobility down to the lower class, for it may have been in Salihaim that the old heiðān priests did once gift the gods.
In Bodohaim we find the farmer, the peasant, the everyday man. He cultivates the lands of his þurp (farm) and paid his taxes. He depended upon that which was provided to him by the druht such as protection from outsiders. There is also that curious place known as the alah. Kern and Grimm have each defined it as either a farm or a temple. But is it not possible that the alah was both a farm and a temple or a parcel of land set apart from the rest of the þurp as a place of sacrifice? We know from the Lex Salica that Franks raised pigs for dedication or offering. Therefore it could be that Bodohaim was the place where the sacrifices were raised and at the alah, the realms of Salihaim and Bodohaim came together, i.e. farm and temple. This could be the place where providence bestowed from the rachine flowed through the king/druht and upon his subjects of the lower class. It is also in this place, peasant-home, that particular wihte caused strife for the farmer such as the nuton.
In Widohaim, the rule of law would have been looser as any man who leaves the confines of the community faces trouble from thieves and murderers in the thick forests. This does not mean though that all woods were outside the community, but even within it the threats were greater. Within the wood-home, a man could hunt to provide for his kin though this was usually relegated to the nobles and as such when the hunting party roamed Widohaim, a little piece of Salihaim moved about as the company of the king or druht. It is also in these forests that malicious wihte are found. In later ages these could be elves, fairies, dracs, werewolves, white women, witches, etc. For it is in the forests that the order of outsiders can flourish at the expense of the order of man.
This is but one interpretation of the three homes of the four traditional arrangers of the Lex Salica. Others may see things differently. It may even be that the preamble was nothing more than a halfassed attempt to justify the Salian rule of law by creating these embodiments of the classes. It could also be that it was pure invention and nothing more or nothing less. Whatever the true nature of these places and men something tells me that there are indeed some kernels of truth found within their legend and that if we wish to better understand the werldenskouwunga and Aldsido of the Franks, we best be taking a closer look and probing deeper into the subject.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Midsummer’s day or Midsommerdag is that time of year that is eclipsed in sacredness only by Yule (Joul) itself. It is when the whole community comes out to celebrate the summer solstice with the sunwandafūir and many more activities which were considered inkweðan ‘as how one should act’. Some of these activities included a procession, offerings, memory drinks, flower picking, the building of a nōdfūir ‘needfire’ and many more. There is a growing belief among reconstructionist heiðāni that the germans did not focus all their time and reverence upon the Sun. That the summer and winter solstices are but a natural break in the work year. This may be true of more strictly Germanic folks, but what we must remember when we look at the case of the Franks is that they were a confederacy of Germans, Celts (the differences between the two were/are largely exaggerated) and Romanised peoples. As such they were a culture that developed out of what we could term a Belgio-Germanic or Gallo (-Roman)-Germanic sub strata and the traditions that came to be were a blend of three close contact ethno-cultural groups. As such it is my and ORD’s belief that the traditions surrounding Midsummer (St. Jean) on the 24th of June harken back to a time when the ancient Belgians honoured the Sun at her peak as may have been influenced by their Celtic roots.

On the day before the celebrations of Midsommerdag, in Aerschot, there would be a procession led by the priest of St. Pierre church who was seated on a cart. They would then end at the heiligen eik which was called in French Notre-Dame au Chesne-Sacré which translated means ‘Our Lady of the Sacred-Oak’. Now this event just screams heathen and brings up images of kingly processions and processions of the rachine as well as Đonarseik, the sacred Oak of Thor honoured by the Chattians who later joined the Franks. This Oak honoured by the Church in Belgium was mounted with a picture of the Virgin Mary and an open-air mass was held. This same motif can be found all throughout Belgium, France, Switzerland and Germany where trees are venerated in the name of Mary which seems to indicate an older heathen goddess or god tree cult.

In Grammont, in the 19th century, was where we drank the minna to St. Gertrude, they did so to St. Jean on his day. This practice goes back to a time when we still drank to the health of the rachine as even Christ himself was drank to as was tolerated by the Church. This was also a time of year when it was believed that plants would be at their most powerful to be used in wurtifolgānōn ‘herbal mixes of magical properties’ thus people went out to collect the herbes de St. Jean ‘St. John’s herbs’ at daybreak on the 24th of June, such as mugwort, verbena and marguerites. All manner of wihte was thought to run wild and a great fear of the folk was that dragons would fly over their wells and poison them with their semen (ORD, Croon). To protect themselves against this attack, they would burn bones in the nōdfūir to send the smoke up high and cause them to fly off. The Church claimed that it was in memory of the fiery death of St. Sebastian and his bones, though I don’t buy it.

The nōdfūir ritual is a very primitive one where a fire was built by means of friction. St. Elias had railed against such practices yet they persisted until very recently. It was customary to either use flint stones to light the fire or they would fall an oak, make a hole in it and with friction from a stick the blaze was lit for this fīringa. This fire had many healing properties, such as against hoof-rot in beasts, worms, warding lightning and more. The folk would offer herbs, flowers, cats and roosters into the fire as an offringa and would then jump over the blaze or dance around it. Men were thought to be kept from sickness and woman would have ease during childbirth. Animals were then processed through the ashes the next day and the coals were carried still hot around the fields. There is no end to the various rituals that were practiced around the nōdfūir and the ashes it gave the people.

Garlands made of eggshells, flowers and glass were fashioned to be strung over the streets as people danced the night away under them. Songs and plays also played a prominent role in the days entertainment from morning throughout the meal and all through the night until the next daybreak. According to ORD, this fīringa lasted up to a month in the distant past, much like the spring ‘carnival’ season or Joul. At sundown, in Cologne, it was a custom to was one’s self in the waters of the Rhine as it was thought that it gained a healing property and would wash away their miseries of the year to come. In other regions of Belgium it was the Meuse that had gained power and children would be bathed in it at . In regions that produced flax young girls would dance around the fields to ‘please the flax’.

What can be gathered from all these customs is that Midsummer was a very important time of the year. If we compare the Lady of the Sacred Oak to Frīa, it could be a good time to honour her as well Sunna who is exemplified by the primitive, yet necessary, ritual of the nōdfūir to either thank her or to ensure that the season unfolds in the best way possible. By burning flesh, herbs, flowers and bones, we can protect ourselves from diseases and harmful wihte by consuming the ashes of the fire and jumping through it. Waterways seem to gain more power to affect our lives and as such it may be recommended to give an offering to the water.

These are all ways in which we as keepers of the Aldsido can practice the customs of our ancient Frankish forefathers.


Toufrere... the Magician

Toufer is the reconstructed Old Frankish word for magic. It finds its cognates in other Germanic languages such as zoubar in OHG, taufr in ON, tâverie in OFris., tovenarij Mdu. and zauber in Mgr. which may all stem from the Pgr. *tawjan ‘to make’, ‘prepare’ or ‘have power’.

What is important to grasp when speaking of magic in a germanic sense is that in no way is it something which can be considered ‘ethereal’ or ‘otherworldly’. It is a craft that is wielded by some who have been deemed by their community or have effectively proven themselves to have such a craft. It is a rather practical skill that was used in everyday life to make man’s life easier. This is no different than someone skilled at using a plow or brewing beer. In other words it can be deemed a technology and as such it abides by Clarke’s third law that ‘all technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic’. An example I use for our modern world is that of the computer. I can use my computer, but I know nothing of the technology to repair it. When I need any repairs I trust someone who has demonstrable skills in doing so. In older times, this was the toufrere.

So what proof do we have of the Franks having used this toufer? Because they made laws against it. Kern had identified in his translation of the Lex Salica (LS) the word toufer in the Pactus XIX where a law is present concerning the poisoning and subsequent death of someone by way of herbal potion or magic spell. This was known as touerbus where Kern isolated the two roots words being, toufer ‘magic’ and (gi)busgifo or gift’, literally ‘something magical given to another’ which in this case was a ‘potion’. The fine for killing a man by touferōn was 200 solidi while the fine for causing a man to bleed and never heal by way more physical means was liable to pay 71 solidi total (fine plus medical expenses). This goes to show how frightened the Christians were of such ungodly magics.

Part of the same law was the word for this administered ‘poison’ which was called urtifugiam. It contained the two elements of urtwurt or wort’ meaning a plant and the second fu(l)gium which he took for folgān meaning to ‘emulate’ or ‘inflict upon’ depending upon context. In short it meant ‘herbs to make one do (as)…’ and when coupled with the toufer we get ‘administering an herbal potion to cause one to…’ in this case it was to die. Form my own readings it seems to me that the problem with the toufrere (magician) wasn’t that he was giving potions but that if he cause one to die he had to face the consequences just as anyone else who kills another by more determinable means. The high penalty does seem to infer that this was a greatly feared method of dying.

If we look at modern Dutch, Flemish or even French-Canadian (many of whom emigrated from the North of France which was highly influenced by Germanic culture) views on magic we can see a discerning thread which comes down to us from this earlier heathen time when Aldsido was still observed. Many charms are employed in healings that have a striking similarity to the Mersberg Charm, they ascribe magical properties to objects and are inclined to use folk medicine (herbs) as well as reading cards. Now some of these practices such as reading cards were greatly influenced by 16th century occultist practices but the attitude of the people, namely the rural folk, towards this toufer is one of acceptance in daily life. Even my own family who for some hold no religious beliefs, folk remedies such as herbs, charms and card reading are tangible and practical tools for living. They don’t bat an eye when one calls such things ridicules or unscientific because they most likely will respond ‘well it always work for my mother and my old man, so it works for me’. It is this acceptance of the folk custom, the Aldsido, which proves the link to a Frankish time when laws against ‘touerbus urtifugium’ were enacted.

Regular playing cards were (are) read

Drawing lots was a common practice for the rural Belgian folks of the last two centuries who considered certain days of the year to be fit for auguries (ORD, Cormans). These days they called in their dialect lotdagen ‘lot days’ where they would, presumably the head of the household, draw lots to determine the prospects of the harvest, fates of beasts and even fates of men. This is no way should be taken as meaning that they ‘cast runes’ as, such as with Tacitus, these lots were notæ ‘markings’ and in now way definitively point to runes.  This practice could also be reflected in the New Year’s Eve ritual of tirer les planètes ‘pulling (reading) your stars (planets)’ which was performed by young talented women who went door to door and offered their services. Old women would also read cards on this day which was considered one of the most ‘magical’ of the year. I would not be surprised if in the old Frankish days the druhtin would pull lots for the good of his folk and then make the appropriate sacrifices and that old kwena would read men’s fates.

There is still more to discover…


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The wihte

Many modern heiðāni honour the wihte, though many are confused about the nature of these creatures. It is easy to mistake the wihte for ‘spirits’, though this does not represent what they truly are, in other words it’s a misleading term. At the very core of the word wihte or as many call them today wights lies the designation of ‘creature’. This means that they are corporal beings and not an otherworldly or ethereal being.

Every living being around us, seen or unseen are wihte. This goes for men, rachine and dogs. What separates the various categories of wihte is their dominion of rule. As such, the rachine are rachine because they hold sway over all men’s dooms, they are supraregional. The hūswihte are housewights because they hold sway over the hīwiski. Men are men as they hold sway over smaller, less powerful creatures (and less powerful people, i.e. the social hierarchy of mankind). Animals are animals because they are ruled by greater wihte.

It is a duty to mankind, in accordance with Aldsido, that they participate in the gifting cycle between all greater wihte. This cycle is characterised by the giving of offringas. Therefore the head of the hīwiski, the druhtin sacrifices to the rachine on the behalf of his folk as did the kuning (king) in older days. Similarly sacrifice should be offered to the household powers, the hūswihte, by the druhtin. This should not be mistaken as trying to build a bond of close friendship as it is more like paying dues to one's lord so as to keep in his favor. Offerings were also made to animals in the form of special food for added protection or healing to farm animals. This however seems to have been the role of the toufrere or charmer as part of his touferkraft. The main difference between rachine and wihte is that all rachine are wihte, but not all wihte are rachine. In plain English that means all holy powers are creatures, but not all creatures are holy powers. This gifting cycle among the Frankish people was of a nature that one must always gift greater than what they received (Curta). This however caused issues for some as if they were gifted land by their kuning and could not gift back something of greater worth, they were reduced to servitude. What is ‘greater’ depends on the perception of the receiver. Furthermore the gift may be returned over a long period of time, but in that time the debt is owed. The debt is also transferable onto the next of kin if the original receiver dies before re-gifting. What this means for man and rachine is that if one year the rachine saw it fit to give you a cow, eventually you will have to offer either a bigger one or two of the same worth. Such is the nature of the Frankish gift cycle.

What about giants? Did you have to ask… Well as was pointed out above is that all creatures are wihte. As such the giants or rise or þurse are wihte, but they are not to be considered rachine. Now this gets complicated because in the old Frankish regions we now have many processions of ‘giants’ who are seen as being protectors of the folk. Some examples are Reuze Papa & Reuze Mama (Cassel), Martin & Martine (Cambrai), Reuze Allowyn (Dunkerque). It must be said though that these reuzen are not the rise of the past. The modern version seems to stem from an older heathen time when communities would process their idols through their lands for prosperity. They were in fact rachine. As such the reuzen of today may be regarded as modern incantations of old rachine, making them wihte worthy of honouring. In my local community we have such a giant, who was once a famous lumberjack, Joseph Montferand, who attained such a stature that there were communal rituals that evolved around him making him into a veritable reuze.

Reuze Papa

Here are some other wihte which lean more towards the rachine spectrum:

The Greef: His name means ‘the count’ and harkens back to an earlier Frankish time where this function was held by the grāvio, the king’s right hand man. Various modern traditions surrounding this character place his ridding at mid-lent or halvfasten (halfvasten). This is and always was even prior to Christianity a very festive season. It was the point in time when winter was truly loosing its grip and spring was in for sure. In Ypres he was a man who travelled on a donkey in whiteface swinging a switch from side to side. On his day all children were to run inside when they could see him approaching. In Holstein he was called Blumengraf (flower count). His name is also found in the May celebrations as the Maigraf and Maygravin, the count and countess of May. Some speculate that this person represented an ‘Old Man Winter’ ridding away and ushering in the spring.

Old Babbling Woman: Or in the native dialect she is known as Oude Quene Babelboone. On the third Sunday of lent or the ‘quene-sondagh’ (kwenasundag), children used to make tiny dollies which represented the Kwena and would carry them in a basket while going door to door singing (English trans.)

‘Old Babbling Woman,
she may be old and
she may well be ugly,
though give her an egg,
and she’ll be on her way’

This seems to represent yet another ‘winter expulsion’ ritual, where young girls collect eggs (fertility or springtime symbol) and when this was done the effigy of the Old Woman was cast away. This was one way in which the people of Ypres ‘made the season’ or forced spring to arrive as was the case with the Greef. In each case there is a clear trend which can be discerned. Lent, here referring to the Christian festival though in reality it means spring, must be forced to manifest based upon the ceremony of expulsing winter. This also happened in either processional form, as with the reuzen or a precession of Nerthus/Nehalennia, which was a staple of the lententīd, whether under a Christian veneer or in the older times.

In conclusion, we must derive from these examples that the Aldsido necessitates a gifting relationship between man and man, man and rachine, man and wihte. This is to ensure that prosperity may be had, if the rachine see fit do allow so. Also we see that seasons were to be ‘made’ by way of procession, offerings of fertility symbols and all manner of festivity or fīringa. We may not be able to pin point exactly where the old Frankish customs begin and where later formations arise, but we can say for sure that these customs are authentic to the region once occupied by the Frankish tribes and that vestiges must have found there way to us through their descendants who are firmly inkweðan.


Introduction to the rachine

Who are the rachine and what does this term mean? Quite simply put they are what we have come to call the ‘gods’, however the meaning of the word is closer to ‘power’ or ‘ruling’ as is the case with the Germanic regin. Through the translations made by Hendrik Kern, we have received the definition of rachinburgi as ‘tax collector’ or ‘juror’, which falls within the same general description of the rachine, a reconstructed Old Low Franconian form of ‘ruling power’.

But who were the Frankish rachine? Who were the gods that this confederation honoured. To answer this is no easy task as all we have left is half comprehensible comparative linguistics, educated guesses and tidbits of possibly related modern folk beliefs. This at first doesn’t look promising, however the advancements which have been made are worthy of note and worthy of the attention of Aldsido.

In future posts I will go into further detail of the very nature of each of the rachine as well as can be presented. But now I wish to focus on naming a few of these ruling powers and go into small detail about each one. Think of it as a ‘wetting of the appetite’ until the more dedicated posts are made.

Firstly, we have to look at the days of the week as a way of unravelling the interpretato romana of earlier centuries. As in the case with the English days of the week, the Dutch days follow a similar pattern of naming with but slight differences. The days are known as Maandag, Dinsdag, Woensdag, Donderdag, Vrijdag, Zaterday, Zondag. These correspond to the English Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The only exception to the rule seems to be with the Dutch Tuesday, which is named after the ‘thing’ or ‘lawful assembly’. This might very well point to the nature of the rachin Tiu who was seen as an overseer of the thing and may well have decided the outcomes of such assemblies.

So very clearly we can tell that the ruling powers that were important to the Dutch and may well have been the same held special to the earlier Frankish tribes were the Moon, Tyr, Odin, Thor, Freya (Frigg), Saturn? and the Sun. To get their reconstructed Old Low Franconian forms we have too look to Köbler’s OLF reconstructions as well as using OHG as a reference to build off of. In doing so we get Māndag, T(h)in(g)sdag, Wuo(d)ansdag, Đonarsdag, Frīdag, Saterdag?, Sundag. This then gives us the names of the rachine as Māno, Tiu (unshifted form of Ziu), Wuodan, Đonar (though Donar would seem equally proper), Frīa, Saturn? (much remains to uncovering who this Saturn was though all signs point to a fertility god(dess) as Ingo or Nerthus (Njord)) and Sunna.

Why the Moon and Sun where counted in the mix could come from either a calque  of the Latin Luna and Sol or in my opinion as evinced by the Icelandic tales, the Moon and Sun were just as much rulers of men. This may be reflected in the nōdfūir ritual (need fire, feu de calamité) where in 18th century Haute-Bavière it was customary to light a needfire in thanks of the many benefits of the Sun and fire as bestowed upon man. They would offer roosters and cats into the blaze as offringas. As well in many Wallonian towns and other Germanic counties, it was tradition to light festive fires on Sundays. Conserning the Moon, we find much supporting evidence as well.

Other rachine that we find in the extent literature and archaeological sources concerning the descendants of the Franks are:

Berhta: (Bert(h)e among the French), meaning ‘bright’. She has long been associated with the household, women, children and spinning. Her name is well known throughout the modern locals of the old Frankish empire. In Burgundy, there is a saying ‘in the years that Bertha spun’, which alludes to her having a connection to time as well. This may put her in an equal position to the Icelandic Frigg (they may be descendant from the same source) as a goddess of the home or hīwiski. She looks over the running of the home and all the occupants within it, usually woman and their domestic work.

Heva: This relatively unknown Batavian and possibly Ubian goddess is known only by an inscription on an alter stone where she is depicted as the wife of Herculus Magusanus. This Hercules is suspected of being an interpretato romana of Đonar, however there is also good evidence that if this was the case, the Batavians modeled much of his cult upon Roman tales. Heva or Hæva means ‘to lift’ or ‘exhalted’. All we can assume is that she was a very local rachina who played but a supporting role to her husband.

Nehalennian: It is not known what her name means exactly though there is speculation that it means something related to ‘compassion’. There have been many alter stones discovered where the messages inscribed upon them are of thanks for safe voyages and protected cargo. She is also depicted on stone accompanied by a dog and a basket of fruit or wheat. This may point to a fertility role as associated with the waterways as many inscriptions mentioned seafaring. It was customary in old Belgium to process ships through towns, which may be linked to her cult. This could be the source of the word ‘carnival’ from ‘carrus navalis’ meaning ‘sea-chariot’. She was clearly honoured by the old Batavian people, which may very well have spilled into Frankish customs on a local scale.

More to come…


Monday, 28 March 2011


I have mentioned in the previous article, the drinking tradition known amongst the Franks as wesheilinga, here I would like to highlight some examples which have survived into the written record. Each of these have been pulled from Origine et formation de la langue Francaise by Joseph Balt. Some of the exerpts, such as the lai du cor date from as far back as the 12th century, which by no means puts us in the period of the pagan Franks, but it does show the survival of a tradition which may well stem from those days.

In the Lay of the Horn, a mysterious page has been sent to King Arthur with a drinking horn. He said that whoever could drink the entire horn would win the lead of a faithful host to the end of his days. King Arthur then grabbed the horn and furiously began to drink it down. But he had underestimated the feat and became soaked in wine, from his feet to his head. Guenevere then pleaded with the king to give up, but instead he forced the entire host to drink as he did. None was successful, which showed that each and every one of them was unfaithful to the other. Only the knight Caradoc and his wife could finish the horn and for their efforts they were offered a fiefdom and the magical horn itself.

This story highlights a few points. For one, when the king drank, all drank as well. The phrase which is used to describe the process is:

"When the king said wessail ,
the horn went to his lips"

This demonstrates the point very well and inculcates the necessity in fulfilling one’s role in the custom. Another example here is drawn from ‘A song to celebrate Christmas’:

"My lord, I say to you and your host this Christmas,
For you are one who drinks well;
I will drink mine,
then you will drink yours;
If I call out to you: Wesseyl (Wes heil)
Reply to me: Drinkeyl (Drank heil)"

Once again we see the obligatory nature of the custom, which must be fulfilled by the King as well or face a similar charge unkweðanlīk.

From the ‘Rom. de Brut’:

"The custom, my lord, in his lands,
is that when friend drinks, the other does as well,
for if he says wes hel;
A drink hel he must be replied,
until they have each drunk their half,
for joy and amusement,
when he receives his hanap (drinking vessel)
it is customary to embrace (as in hug)"

This hug demonstrates the close and intimate nature of the wesheilinga. Even if the hall was filled to the rafters and the sound would be deafening, this would still be an intimate moment among kin. 

 Another source from ‘Rom. de Renart’:

"If I hand you the hanap and say "take",
then my friend, I am telling you guersai (Wes Heil)"   

In summary, what we can say about this custom is that it is a close and intimate ritual which may take place among two men (women) or more. It is compulsory for the participant to drink once he has been told to ‘take the hanap’ and to ‘be hale’. This could also happen spontaneously and without warning. But even though, the rules must be abided. It is also incumbent upon the host or offering party to not force his guest into an uncomfortable position for once the deed will have been done, he may never come back. It is also interesting to note that the wesheilinga custom was forbidden by Charlemagne as he claimed it was too ungodly. The truth is however that he did not want his troops coming to the frontline hung over due to a heathen custom.

Have fun and Wes Heil!