Veneration in the Heathen tradition is heavily involved with the respectful giving of gifts. In mythic time, human beings were created, and our civilization was given form by the gods. In this time “long ago” the first gifts were given to human beings – our will, our health, our sacral natures. The land was made safe for us by Thor’s struggles and labours. Our ancestors gave us shape and repute by their deeds and gave us breath by their bodies. The battle dead, whose Memorial Chamber literally lies at the axis mundi of the Parliament Buildings, provide with their bones and blood the foundation of the Folk of Canada. These first gifts form the basis of civilization, gifts which demand response. By venerating the gods, the wights of the land, and the dead, we reciprocate their gifts – primordial and ongoing.
My hall is primarily concerned with the veneration of certain gods important to my life and work, and the life and work of the Folk and of Canada. When venerating the gods and making offerings to them in my home, I tend to focus for the most part on Thor, the Friend of Man, and Tiwaz/Tyr, to whom I offer for the “Peace, Order and good Government of Canada.” I also pray every evening to the Celtic gods Lugus and Ogmios, to Ing, and to Freja.
Most frequently, I venerate and make offerings to the wights and to my ancestors. I am currently working through my great-grandfather’s journals from when he fought in the Great War, both to satisfy my curiosity about the deeds of my ancestors and as an act, albeit a small one, of veneration. I offer tobacco and alcohol to both the gods and to the dead, and kinnikinnick to the wights (I do not practice any form of Indigenous spirituality, however, it is my belief that offering the gods of the land something which they were accustomed to receiving is best). I also go downtown to make offerings at the War Memorial to the Canadian battle dead.
The spiritual center of my apartment is at the altar, the “hearth.” On the top level there are stone axes and a stone awl, tools from the Stone Age and gifts from the mythic time. With such gifts, humans were able to provide for themselves in an inhospitable world. These stone tools represent, for me, the primal gifts from the gods and dead – the ability to give shape to the world. In the center of these is an oil heater where I pour and heat oils, so that their scent will please the dead when I offer to them, and an incense burner to please the gods when I offer and venerate them. There is an acorn dropped from an oak in Toronto in response to offerings made to a wight there, and an oak leaf from an enormous tree across the fields, where I sometimes offer to the wights.
Below these, on the second level, is the skull of an animal (a canid) collected from the fields behind the house where I was raised, a small way outside of Renfrew, and a piece of railway iron from inside the town. There is an antler from my father’s house that he gifted to me after finding it in the woods, and two bowls containing offerings for the wights, gods, and ancestors – and a certificate given to me when I became a soldier in the Reserves. I keep this on my hearth because my service as a soldier goes to the heart of my religious practice, where my deeds go to the service of the Folk – a gift for a gift. These items from my hometown, the place where I first made offerings to the gods, connect my deeds then to my deeds now, and form the link to the wights of the land I live in.