Ðie Frankisk Aldsido literally means The Old Frankish Custom in reconstructed Old Low Franconian. It (Aldsido) can be compared to many of the various heathen groups which have formed in the past decades. Though what is attempted to be achieved is the most authentic Frankish expression of the pre-Christian custom(s) which centered upon the honouring of heathen gods, ancestors and other beings as well as interacting within the community in a way that is deemed proper.
The main influences upon Aldsido are the heathen pursuits of Fyrn Sidu and Urglaawe which seek to view the culture of the ancient Germanic peoples through the eyes of the folk, Anglo-Saxons (Fyrn Sidu) and Deitsch (Urglaawe). The modern expression of Aldsido strives to reconstruct and achieve the most authentic Frankish werldenskouwunga (worldview) possible in a modern as opposed to striving to become a modern heathen religion such as Asatru and Odinism.
Who were the Franks? They were a West Germanic personenverbandstaat (state of unified people) composed of a variety of tribes who succeeded in establishing a kingdom on Roman held soil after the collapse of the
Western Empire. During the 4th century, this confederation rose to prominence under the influence of the Salian tribe and their leader Mārwīg. It is this semi-mythical king who lent his name to the dynasty of the Mārwingas. The Franks were composed of many tribes who joined together under differing circumstances, but each of these people founded the makeup of the future nation. These tribes were the Sicambrians, Ubians, Ampisivarians, Batavians, Tencterians, Tungrians, Salians, Chamavians, Chattians, Chattuarians, Bructerians and Usepetes. This eclectic blend of cultures is what led to such a diversity of customs throughout Northern France, , Alsace Flanders, Brabant, Southern Holland, etc. It is from these regions’ surviving heathen traditions and the old sources that we attempt to reconstruct Frankisk Aldsido
The emphasis is put upon the Belgian and Northern French regions as Aldsido recognizes that it is in these regions and in their language that we find the unbroken, yet differing, chain from the Elder Franks to the modern world. The symbol which represents Aldsido is the toad. The reason for this is found in an old legend dating from the 14th century called the legend of Joyenval. In this legend it is told that the original tunic pattern worn by Hludwīg consisted of toads and that when he fought against the Alamanni, the toads on his shield turned into lilies as did his tunic. Obviously this is but a legend, but it was a powerful symbol of the Christian faith. As such Aldsido seeks to reveres the symbolism back to the earthly toad.
The many old sources used for the reconstruction consist of Fredegar, Caesar, Gregory of Tours, Wilibrord, Einhard, etc. This is then supplemented by the works of Hendrik Kern, translator of the Lex Salica and Otto Reinsberg-Dueringfeld who wrote the Calendrier Belge: fêtes religieuse et civiles, usage, croyences et pratiques populaires (The Belgian calendar: religious and civil festivities, customs, beliefs and popular customs), as well as many more.
Ald Sido holds true that the smallest unit of society is that of the hīwiski or household. The main activities that are undertaken are to fulfill the obligations of man towards his forthire, wihte and rachine (ancestors, wights and gods/powers) as well as towards the hīwiski. How we fulfill these obligations is through the observance of the firinga (celebrations), which bind a community together. Some of the activities which are shared at the fīringa are:
Offringa which consists of any offering/sacrifice. This was usually implied as an offering to the church, but it is here implied in the sense of offering to the rachine. There are examples where people would either leave out food for beings or through objects into wells. When speaking of animal sacrifice, fruskinga (animal sacrifice) is performed upon the harug (howe), which finds its cognates in Scandinavian sources. We find in Reinsberg-Dueringleld’s works that the Belgians used to call their month of November Offermanōd, the month of offering/sacrificing/slaughtering. Even to this day in the climate of the old Frankish Empire, November is the month best suited for slaughtering livestock.
Drankinga is the act of drinking. There are many forms that this drinking can take, but the most common to Aldsido is the wesheilinga, which is for the most part the same as the Anglo-Saxon wassailing, however it is under the form of a compulsory drinking. Now in no way does Aldsido condone drinking alcohol excessively, but it is a custom that was shared by the folk. This ‘compulsory’ drinking is performed by one person offering a hanap (or other drinking vessel) and says ‘wes heil’ the receiving party MUST drink and reply ‘drank heil’. At this point the ritual may be repeated amongst the two ‘drinking to their health’ or it may be passed on to another party.
Next we find the minna which in Old Low Franconian meant ‘remembrance’ and the modern Flemish tongue ‘love’. It was customary for travelers to drink to and remember St. Gertrude before they went on their way. Some say this harkens back to an older heathen time, when men would drink to Frīa or possibly to Nehellenia for a safe journey. In this same context, one can lift a toast to the love of a god, ancestor, friend or family member. There is no strict rules as in the American symbel as to which round goes to who. It is open and organic, it may also take place at the same time as the wesheilinga.
There is also the meal or āton, which comes from the same root as ‘eating’. This is essentially a meal which is shared among friends and family, where all of the above firings activities may meld together in an unstructured format.
Another important part of the Old Frankish werldenskouwung comes in the form of inkweðan. What this translates to is ‘acting accordingly’ or in otherwords ‘acting in a way deemed appropriate by hīwiski and that one is conscious of his actions’ impact upon his kin. Every heiðān has a responsibility to bring honour to his fellows as well as receive honour when it is due.
In the upcoming entries, I will go into further detail regarding the many aspects of Ðie Frankisk Aldsido, concerning the rachine, wihte, forthire, activities and so on.