Erikhêm has existed in the shade of Rúnatýr’s banner since its first inception, in part being led by the efforts of the Lacharity family, and is currently physically situated on the outskirts of Vars, Ontario. The sido of the household is predominantly one modeled upon the customs of the Frankish people (Thia Frankisk Aldsido) as well as being informed by the cultures of all the ancestors who are honoured by the family. These cultures are in part French-Canadian, Irish, Algonquin and Arabic. What at first may seem as an interesting admixture of influences is expressed through the sharing of stories from our ancestors and offering them what they desired most in life. The home cult itself follows heathen mores, but what is given is relevant to the old ways of the receiver.
Our familial practices follow a series of logical steps. We work with what we are presented with in our environment. Just as in the age of the arch-heathen, the folk were concerned with the welfare of their kinship, this meant meeting the various challenges of life head-on. Thus, we make offerings to four significant areas (realms) of our land. From the most “inner” or “closest to home”, to the most distant from us we have the realms of: The Hûswiht (house wight), The Bômgard (tree-yard), The Alisnakoning (Alderking) and the Goda (Gods). The first is offered a number of things, most often mead/wine, herbs, spices, tobacco and grain. The second, which is where our children’s placentas are buried, the tree offering our family support, is given mead/wassail/wine and at times coins and baked goods. To the third group, those we often call the “fées” (fairies… no not the fairytale kind) and ruled by the Alderking, we give offerings from the garden and household foodstuffs as well as the offerings which have accumulated year round in the Hûswiht bowl. The fées receive their offerings more as appeasement then worship, as they live in the alder-waste at the limit of the yard. It is hoped that they will stave off any malevolent “borderwights” on our behalf. The fourth group, the Gods, receive theirs when we hold Rúnatýr group worship, as although the Vé is “at Erikhêm” it is not “the Vé of Erikhêm”. When I do go into the Vé outside of group worship, I do so sparingly and as any other denizen of Rúnatýr.
Considering ancestor worship, the family believes that we should visit our “grateful dead” (stop laughing…) often. As such, we often make family trips to various cemeteries where our ancestors are known to be buried. While there we tend to their grave markers, bring them offerings of what they loved in life and engage them in conversation. We also ask them for help in various matters pertinent to the family. In the home, there is a cabinet (heirloom of the Allaries) where many other heirlooms from our constituting lines are kept. These may be old hand tools (from the Shavers), a coffe cup (from the Chaussés), a tea cup and platters (from the Bullis), farm tools (from the Lacharitys) and many other such precious things from aunts, uncles and “family of the heart”. At various times these items may be used in part of household rituals, such as the tea cup and platters for Môdranaht.
It is our thinking that it is best to lead your children by example. We teach them through our actions and in the process we demonstrate to our girls that the ways of the family are wholesome. We encourage them to explore the world and to see the magic in what they will, make offerings in the manner of their parents and listen to the wights and their ancestors as best they can. Oftentimes, the girls demonstrate spontaneity in their actions, which show glimmers of profound and innocent wisdom. Such as when our eldest sang “O Canada” at the remembrance symbel, because she learned it at school and she instinctively knew that it would be pleasing to the battle dead. Our youngest has been known to be quite the maintainer of grave markers and leaves many offerings to various wights throughout the yard and on walks.
When we named our children, we did not elect to name them fanciful names chosen for some “heathen character” out of a Scandinavian baby name book. Rather, we chose names reflective of the make-up of our family. Their middle names being chosen from specific grandparents from each side of the family, recalling the worth and might deeds of their namesake. At the naming ceremony for each, we took the time to honour customs from the arch-heathen, the Arabic and the Algonquin, as the earliest lines which had come together in these two new special people.
There are a number of seasonal observations which we undertake. In the spring, we erect an Epouvantail (scarecrow, Butzemann) who is to ward over our garden. He is constructed using vegetative material from the previous year as well as clothing which is donated by the family and specific rites are performed. The first in the line of Epouvantail were Armand, Bertrand fils d’Armand and last years was Charles fils de Bertrand. The line will continue after him and so on. The Epouvantail maintains good order in the garden and sees that beneficial “weeds” are allowed to grow.
In the Summer at St-Jean (St-John’s Day, June 24th), Erik goes out between midnight and pre-dawn to collect “les herbes de St-Jean” (St-John’s herbs), which are most often various plants used in traditional French folk remedies and customs. These herbs are often picked on the property of Erikhêm, either from the garden under the watchful gaze of the Epouvantail, from around the Vé (where many of the plants get transplanted) or other areas of the land as well as external locations need be. These herbs, as per the custom, only keep their potency for one year and so must be used in that same 12 month period. The uses at Erikhêm are ointments, incense, foodstuff, bundles and offerings. In the fall the land is put to sleep for the winter and the Epouvantail is burned, before Halloween.
During the winter season, the household performs Môdranaht (Mothers’ Night) on the evening of the December New Moon. There is also the particular custom of buying salt on the 2nd of February, for wealth and prosperity, a custom inherited from Erik’s mother. A number of old Farm tools from the now since gone “Lacharity farmstead” in Danford Lake Qc, are used in the performance of land rituals as are many other tools from the Allarie family, throughout the year . As you can see, our home cult is rather diverse: a reflection of our essence and our public Kindred cult is a reflection of our shared heathen ways, those links binding the Hearths.
As a family, we love the stories are histories of our family lines as well as our local region. We feel that through the stories, tall tales, recipes and folk wisdom of our ancestors as well as that of the historic people of our homeland (New France, Ottawa Valley, etc.) we can grow and prosper. You have to know where you come from to know where you are going and in this way our ancestors are always present and active in our lives. I will leave you with this, which is a poem that was read to our children at the time of their naming. It is meant to convey the runes of the Lacharity family, those things which can be summed up as their orlog and guiding them forward.
From whence they Fare and the Make of the Clan:
“Long has it been since Christdom marked their brow,
Though Heathen custom lives strongest among their Frankish Clan.
Born of troll-skin and bitter-blood where they made,
Those clad in Lacharity namesake.
Dirt of the Earth miles-thick beneath their nails,
Bones of ironwood do make up their frames.
Chests as thick as ten ale casks,
And a scowl upon their mugs,
Of which none can escape.
Woodsmen, Wood-folk, they fall timber with axe-wit and saw-pride.
Roots of the World-tree do foster their step,
As stumps of elder-men do mark their graves.
Farmers, Farm-folk, they till the fields and tend flock.
Culling the boar for a feast and telling seasons by its spleen.
The Moon guides their blades steel-sharp,
As they make peace with beasts,
For which they give thanks.
Huntsmen, Hunter-folk, they track their prey as wolves in famine.
Though taking only what they need.
The deer give themselves to their stalkers,
While bears tremble in their wake.
Charmers, Charm-folk, they heal the wound and clot the blood,
Cool the burn and sooth the tooth.
Knowing the mysteries of a dream,
A gift for a gift though it seems.
Ironmen, Iron-folk, they smithy and smelter.
They weld and hone all forms of ore,
Fashioning it into shapes.
The cold-iron works itself at the sight of their will,
And from all corners of the land
They’ve built iron-steads.
Their blood runs thick with the cold of winter,
Though warms with spring-mist.
Budding as do mayflowers with love of their wares,
Their land, and most of all, their clan.
A Lacharity may seem terrible at first sight,
Though others may fear their might.
With a mind as strong as ten bulls and a will of granite-stone.
Their wisdom is known by the time they have spent,
Pondering the goodness of the Earth.
Their hands are marred by the toil of life,
Though they are grateful to have lived at all.
Kindness is giving to those who show kindness,
Love is poured over those who love life,
And vengeance is harvested,
By those who sow misdeeds.
They only get half out of life, of which they put in.
So they put in twice as much, to get their full life.
They know the grass is greener on the other side,
Though cross it not for the cows may have eaten it all before they arrive.
And as the runt of the litter knows all too well,
Every Lacharity must:
‘Root, Hog or Die!’”