Church of the Hearth
The Church of the Hearth is the largest clerical organization in the Reaches with a focus on farming, hunting, harvest and the family. An overwhelming number of peasants and townsfolk have a small token of Geb, the God of the Earth, on their mantle. The most common token is a silver key - which are given to families by the Priests of Geb as a charm when visiting a homestead. In dire times, priests encourage families to see tokens for food, replacing them on their next visit. Geb is thought to bring bounty in farming, hunting and the harvest to the table; and happiness and the birth of many children to the family.
Priests of Geb can be found throughout the Reaches, providing shelter in their chapels and food to those who are down on their luck. The Church of the Hearth never gets involved in politics or other civil matters, but their priests have been known to take up arms against oppressors and monsters who threaten the land and its peoples. Chapels are typically small wooden shelters, although a great stone cathedral in Teufeldorf - called the Open Cathedral - is a focal point of the church's hierarchy in the Reaches. Priests of Geb typically wear plain brown or grey robes with a large silver key hanging from their belt or around their neck. These keys are used in a simple ceremony that creates tokens for their followers throughout the Reaches.
Clerics of the Hearth enjoy a welcoming hospitality in most homes throughout the Reaches. Those interested in joining the Church of the Hearth as a priest should see Rammus Kindheart in Teufeldorf.
The Church of the Hearth created the current calendar used throughout the Realm.
The Bonfire Flock
To some the connection between the Church of the Hearth and the gypsies is a strange one. Fundamentally, both groups believe in a strong connection between the land and family.
The origins of the Bonfire Flock dates to the early days of the Third Age. At that time, the gypsies traveled the roads of the Reaches bringing news from town to town. Information was the lifeblood of the far-flung villages of the Reaches, and the arrival of a gypsy caravan was generally greeted with enthusiasm for news of the outside world. However, some could not reconcile the traveling ways of the gypsies and regarded them with distrust and fear. And, gypsies did trade in hard-to-find and contraband goods. Occasional clashes with town authorities are noted in the Crown records.
By the early eighth century TA, the tradition of a common feast between the Church of the Hearth and the gypsies had been established. Before the fantastical shows by gypsy performers, a meal was shared between the townsfolk and the travelers. Priests of the Hearth began referring to the gypsies as the Bonfire Flock. By the mid-eighth century TA, the Bonfire Flock began practicing Church of the Hearth ceremonies, and, on rare occasions, Priests of the Hearth would travel for a yearly cycle with the gypsies. While not all followers adhere to allowing the more chaotic and free-spirited gypsies into the fold of the Church of the Hearth, the practices of the Bonfire Flock are now considered mainstream throughout much of the Reaches.