Since I am on a kick writing about household worship, here is a topic that I have briefly talked of indirectly here and there for some time, and that is the importance of the worship of all 12 Olympians plus Dionysos in the household worship (I am sorry you folks who believe Dionysos replaced Hestia as an Olympian… I don’t buy it. Dionysos’ role is more specific in relation between us and the gods but that is another topic altogether).
When you read a summary about worship practices that are particular to the household cult, and what gods (or specific aspects of certain gods) made up the domestic worship, it usually tends to be a fairly short list. There is Zeus (erkios and ktesios specifically), Hekate, Hermes, Apollon (Agyieus and Noumenios), and of course Hestia. The religious calendar goes on to include the Erinyes and the Moreia as part of the regular household worship. Apparently also included according to the calendar would be the birthdays of Athena, Hermes, Artemis and Apollon. But still we are left with a general feeling that a large part of the worship of most of the Olympians occurred outside of the household as part of public festivals which we regretfully often are not able to experience in this day for the many who are not fortunate to live near other worshipers, and therefore we find ourselves put into a position to privately celebrate these annual festivals the best that we can that we are interested in and to set up shrines for those gods that we have personal connections to. But again it seems uncommon for all the Olympians to be honored within the household outside of what has been mentioned above. It seems that we feel that whatever we do in addition to the “typical” household rituals is dependent upon our own interests.
However that may be, it seems that we are ignoring something very important when we fail to give worship to all the Olympians, for these gods are intimately and intricately connected to each other’s domains and altogether are impacting us and our world in very personal ways. There seems to be something amiss in saying “well I don’t have a relationship with such and such god and so I don’t honor him or her” or that “I only honor him or her on such yearly holiday” and yet we are presented with myths and situations which stresses that none of the Olympians be forgotten…shall we forget the Calydonian Boar sent by Artemis because she was forgotten?
It seems to be that it would behoove us to forget to give worship to any of the Olympians at all. And while it is nice to have monthly rituals lain out traditionally for certain gods in celebration of their birthday, it seems to me that it would be of even greater benefit to our households and our religious lives in our regular offerings to remember to give prayers and offerings to all the Olympians together in addition to whatever other gods we may wish to give to. It also seems reasonable when we consider that in the Agora in Athens there was the great altar to all the Olympians collectively. If we consider a city to be macronism of home, then it seems logical that the household altar (in aside from specific shrines and seats of particular household gods) be used in our religious lives between us and the Olympians and gods. Certainly in ancient households you had Hermes and Apollon Agyieus by the household gates, Hekate by the doorway, Zeus Ktesios where the food was stored, and Zeus Erkios in the center of the house and Hestia at the hearth, but the altar itself was in the courtyard and not particular to any of these deities as far as I can tell. It seems logical then that this, like the altar in the heart of the Agora, would have been a place of collective worship.
In my own religious worship I do give daily libations to the Olympians collectively at my altar, starting with Hestia and giving prayers to each of the gods in turn, and libations. I also do this every evening before bed. And I have found that this has given me a greater sense of wellbeing that I had before doing this. So in short I would like to say in closing that the Olympians altogether are an important of your religious life, regardless of whether it is done inside the home or in public, and none should be forgotten or dismissed out of inconvenience or because you are not attracted to them.
May the Gods of Olympos bring blessings and prosperity upon you and yours.