The last school research project Earc Hendric wanted was an ancestry assignment. “It sucks!” Earc complained, but no one listened to him. His dad had said to him without a grain of compassion, "Everything sucks for you, Earc; just do it and quit your whining and grow up.”
His mother had said to him, “You may enjoy it, Earc; we have told you that your name is an authentic Celtic spelling of Earc, not Eric. Your roots on your father’s and my side are Celtic. You may find some interesting family history in your research that will surprise you.”
"Sure, mom," Earc said mockingly, "like how Earc means speckled. Which explains a billion freckles that permanently tattoo me from my ancestry.”
“Earc, you’ll find in your research that Celtic women were respected warriors and known for their extreme ferocity and cruel sacrificial practices. It may be wise for you to adjust your attitude because the genetic roots in women run deep. In these times of Covid lockdowns, we mothers are all ready to snap. Be warned, Earc!”
"If you need to make a cruel sacrifice start with Meg or Dad," Earc had said as he left for the security of his bedroom.
Earc stretched out on his bed in his bedroom, ready and willing to pity himself. Everything in his life sucked! First, his at-home high school classes sucked as he missed being with his friends at school. His cell phone was in the custody of his father for the next two weeks, which more than sucked, as it was nothing but a communist punishment for a minor infraction of rules concerning his use of the car. Worst of all, he had to turn in this stupid ancestry research assignment because he had failed to complete too many other papers, and the teacher was threatening to notify his parents if it wasn't finished and submitted by email in four days.
Earc got off the bed, stretched his lanky body as he saw himself in the mirror, and noted his blond hair and pale skin. In gym class, he was called whitey, seen as the tall white one except for his freckles. He was athletic and muscular and was accorded respect at sports. Otherwise, he was just one of the high school herd. Generally, he was quiet except when he was with his friends.
He had only a few friends as he could be extreme in his opinions which he shared too freely. It was his absolute opinion that the covid pandemic had turned the world back to the dark ages and to the return of the plagues of the black death. Earc loved to exaggerate and go on the morbid side about the present and the future. He liked to tell his friends that the grim reaper would rule the world by 2035 with only a handful of people left alive on planet earth.
Earc sat down at his computer and printed out the requirements for the research assignment. It was a history assignment in which a student must present historical information from their family's ancestry. The data could be about any time period but must be specified. The report needed to indicate family ancestry regarding territory or homeland, society, dress, government, religion, etc. So Earc was to research and report this information about his Celtic people. Why couldn't his family's roots be in the Greeks or Romans? They were pretty famous.
Any research was an area of study Earc thrived on but capturing his investigation into a written report was his problem. He noted the exciting stuff and quickly forgot what did not interest him. Earc scoffed at the information that the Celts were an iron age people. Did they lift iron?
A dude named Polybius and another called Livy said that the Celts fought naked. They described it as a terrifying spectacle to see the naked warriors as the men were of splendid physique and in the prime of life. Maybe they did lift iron? Earc wondered again.
Thinking of how he hated to be seen naked, Earc decided he might have to be a druid rather than a warrior as a Celt. Earc read that druids organized and ran religious ceremonies, acted as judges, and conducted sacrifices of animals. That was a step up from being a naked warrior.
Earc also had a troubling thought as one report said that the Celts had women as warriors. It didn’t bother Earc that women might participate in battles and even lead the fighting or that they were noted for extreme ferocity and cruel sacrificial practices. He wasn’t upset if they were known for strength and courage, but what if they too were naked in battle. I was too mind-boggling for him to consider.
What got Earc downright startled was that the Celts had a reputation as head hunters. Just when Earc thought his ancestry was totally embarrassing as fighting nudists, his relatives hit bottom on all levels with this head-hunting crap. Some guy with a last name too long to mention claimed that the human head was venerated among the Celts above all else. They considered the head, the soul and center of life itself, a symbol of divinity, and the powers of another world.
His mother had claimed that she and his dad came from Celtic ancestry. Surely his parents had never looked into the terrible head hunting obsession of the Celts. In a first-century History by the guy named Siculus, the Celts cut off the heads of their enemies slain in battle and attached them to the necks of their horses, and in a victory, song nailed them to their houses. The heads of the most distinguished enemies were embalmed in cedar oil and preserved in a chest. They displayed them with pride to strangers. They would refuse to sell their pickled head for the weight of it in gold. Earc vowed that in the morning, he would talk to his parents. After that, no one in the family should ever talk about being Celtic again.
Earc went to bed stricken by the conduct of his ancestors. It was like being related to Jeffery Dahmer. He had always put on an indifferent attitude that nothing bothered him in the accounts of history, but that crumbled into dust at the behavior of the Celts, his distant relatives. Fighting naked and cutting off heads was barbaric. History had become personal for Earc, and it really sucked! Big time!