Common Worship, Domestic Worship

I have spoken many times regarding domestic worship, extolling the values  and importance of it. More than anything else, when you set aside special festivals, the presence (or lack) of shrines and temples, the most common denominator between all worshipers is the gods that preside over and protect the house structure and the household. It is something with which all of us in one way or another depends, and the benevolent providence of the gods dwelling there that benefit us and give us a comfortable, healthy and prosperous (however you may measure that) life. However it is so easy to overlook or undervalue, as it lacks the frills..the pomp and ceremony…of great festivals of the gods. There is rarely some great mythic event to celebrate and laud. Rather it is a procession of deities throughout the month who are given praise on their given days by simple offerings and gestures by the members of the household. It is simple by design, often not requiring more than the regular supplies of the household that sustain it, rather than the greater cost of time and supplies for the annual festivals.

Yet because of that, despite the intense beauty and glory of the festivals, the domestic worship of the household is perhaps the most charming and intimate part of spiritual life. It is the laborious focus and  murmurs in the night of the Deipnon to Hekate. It is the happy mood of the Noumeia, with all the scents, and dusting of spices and flour, of the family feast (and for those of us with children, breaking up methodic cooking in good cheer to chase children out of the kitchen who are liable to help themselves to freshly baked treats). There is familial honor for the Agathos Daimon who guards the household and all generations within. It is the simple offerings on the birthdays of Hermes, Artemis, Apollon etc whose nativity days are so honored on the holy day of the month, as simple bouquets of flowers and sweet incense is offered. Most favorite of mine is the quiet lamplight in the evenings before my door way shrine as I make prayers for the new day that evil be turned away and good fortune be imparted.  A coin dropped occasionally for Hermes. Sweet fragrant leaves offered upon the stone of Apollon (laurel is typical but I consider rosemary a good substitute for those who do not have access to it…but really any fragrant leaf of pure nature is lovely). It is simple mode of worship offered with the affection of the household. What simple offerings that may be given of the pantry: sweet honey, chewy fresh bread, wine, milk, fruits and so on.

For all that I love my special festival days that I give honor to the gods I am most devoted to and serve (particularly in the case of Apollon who has the most number of festivals I observe), I adore these simple comforts that are part of my daily spiritual life and that are specifically and intimately tied to my home and family. The slower pace, and earthy substance of it as I put wash my hands and face and give praise and thanks in all my human humbleness of existence. The house of the gods dwelling within the common walls of one’s household in which the gods are ever present and ever residing. It is the comfort of the gods and spirits that love one’s family and care for it, as they do in each and every household that so honors them. For one who serves a given deity it is a reminder that in truth we are all laity (devotion and service to the gods starting from there and piled up with more work) and have nearly the same basic needs of the domestic worship of the gods. That whatever we may have in relationship with a particular deity, this is what roots us all, and what is common to us all. For domestic worship is about honoring the gods as the exist and dwell in your particular environment, that which is most intimate and personal to you without need of fuss, but as a comforting blessedness. It is that comforting state that prompt so many to share the first libation of the morning’s coffee with the gods of their household, and to honor the gods in family feasting. It is also that which provokes one to solemnly honor the Erinyes and Horkos who strictly ensure the well being of the household by their harsh measures.

In many ways the domestic worship is not only the heart and soul of the religion, but it is the perhaps the most beautiful and heart moving and soul nourishing part of it. While the festivals do much to allow us to revel and really break out the niceties to honor the most special movements of the gods in our world, it is the domestic worship that is what most significantly establishes Kharis between both individual and community. In such respect laity giving their regular simple offerings is of greater spiritual value to the individual and community than the services of devotees and priests etc who enhance these foundations and build upon them but are unable to replace them. Anytime one speaks of the virtues of the worship of laity, this here is perhaps the most important part of any such dialogue is this stable foundation and basis of Kharis between the people and the gods, whereas the devotees and specialists provide services to aid worshipers and facilitate worship, as well as bring principle focus of worship and service to a given deity which plays further upon the bonds established.

 

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