One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 was to make the changes in my religious practice that I’ve been telling myself I’d like to do “someday.” I’ve decided someday is now.
The first of these things I plan to incorporate into my practice are a trio of household observances undertaken at the time of the new moon, when one month changes to the next. On the last day of the month is Hecate’s Deipnon, a day of purification when offerings are made to Hecate and the home is rid of anything one does not want to take into the next month. On the first day of the new month is the Noumenia, a day of blessings. Offerings are made to Selene, Apollon, Hestia and the household Gods, and the family makes for the coming month. The third and last day of this triad is when the Agathos Daimon is honored. While our family will be doing all of these, it is this last practice that I want to talk about today.
“Agathos Daimon” simply means “good spirit.” He is an entity that watches over the household and the family that resides in it, possibly an aspect of Zeus, as the Father of the Gods often bears this epithet, or Dionysos who shares the epithet. A serving of unmixed wine was often drunk in his name at the closing of feasts or symposia. It seems more likely to me that this is a lesser spirit, somewhere between Gods and humanity and possibly a little alien to both.
The Agathos Daimon is often represent as a young man hold a cornucopia, or as a snake. When the family is on good terms with their Daimon He can provide them with luck, protection, and some kinds of assistance.
My family could certainly do with some luck, protection, and assistance right now. But that actually is beside the point.
When our family first moved in to this new house early last year, we discovered that a beautiful little garter snake was living under our laundry room. We see him very rarely and I, as I have learned more about this particular household practice, my thoughts keep going back to him. I have come to think of him as a manifestation of the Daimon of the house. Starting this month, when we begin making offerings, we will be doing so in the part of the yard where the snake has most often been seen.
Many thanks to the people at Hellenion for their very useful version of the Athenian calendar and explanations of the festivals.