I thought I would take a minute and speak briefly about statues, or rather the statues of the gods that we have in our homes, on shrines and altars. There is something so special and unique about these sacred images, and a quality in our worship practices that could be extended to reliefs and painted images that we use to represent the gods. But the inherent value of these images is not so much that they are artistic renderings of the gods, bringing the gods more directly into our imagination. It is because they are part of our worship that makes them sacred and special, and more so that because they are part of our activities of worship they are not things that are mere possessions, but are things that we have gifted to the gods and have become property of the gods.
Because they have becomes as property of the gods that they serve as intermediatories between us and them, as symbols and representations of communication between us and them. It may be said that is due in some part upon artistic inspiration on the part of the original creator of the images, the original artist. By these means that have initialized the thread of connection in our worship, but this doesn’t really manifest until we imbue these images as gifts to the gods, as representations of them that we hold in honor and esteem, that which serve as our focus in our communication with them.
So it really isn’t a surprise that statues, and sacred images in general, have played an important part in religious history. Even so far that the grand primary image of a local cult was often secured within the temple where most would not see it. In some cases specific statues were imbued with particular properties, such as the statue of the Tauric Artemis that was said to have, when found in Sparta, to have driven those who glanced upon it mad. But most other statues were gifted to the gods as representations of the power and excellence of the god, and attributed to specific powers or manifestations. That these were gifted can be rather well known by commentaries about statues that were commissioned as gifts to the temple, and were dedicated to the temple after great acheivements or events.
So how does this relate to our worship? By seeing that the statues and images we have not casual possessions, but are sacred items that belongs to the gods. And that means properly taking care of them (cleaning them, preventing damage etc) and treating the statues and handling with respect. And when a statue becomes broken this may also mean dealing with the remains in a respectful manner (ie not just throwing them in the trash can). When statues break beyond reasonable repair I prefer to bury them as I would bury a dead relative and they are given up to the earth, who is the nurse and mother of all gods and men. I believe that understanding what part religious art/statues play within our worship and relationship with the gods, gives us a better appreciation of these media that express our devotion, understanding, and love for the gods….and that love which they hold for humanity.