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Altar of Nature?

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Altar of Nature?

Post  AgathonZante on Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:33 pm

I'd like to build a Nature altar in my home, specifically an altar to the nymphs, dryads, and daimons. Is there a specific way to do that?
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Re: Altar of Nature?

Post  Erodius on Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:18 pm

Do you mean an altar or a shrine? They are not quite the same thing.

An altar is the pedestal/block type thing, dedicated by an inscription to a deity, on which offerings are burnt or sacrificed.

A shrine is a place where the cult images are enthroned. Nearly all shrines would have altars (often several, because it was quite common practice to dedicate an altar to a deity as an offering in and of itself), but not vice versa.

With a few exceptions, nymphs and other daemons would usually be worshipped literally at the place in which they were believed to dwell, and usually via the object they were believed to inhabit. For instance, if it was believed that a certain boulder or spring was especially inhabited by daemones, the stone or pool of water itself would be treated as the cult image. Because these powers would be considered unable to leave their 'body' (the thing they inhabit: tree, spring, river, stone, mountain etc.), in the same way that we cannot leave our bodies until the end of our lives (daemones being the souls of things), altars and shrines to them would be put up right in the vicinity of the focal landmark. In terms of nymphs, dryades and oreiades, because they already dwell in the place in which they are being worshipped, all that was necessary for their religious recognition were small altars erected near the focal object.

Altars are consecrated simply by being erected, inscribed/dedicated, purified, and offered/introduced to the deity through a sacrifice upon them.

As an exception, daemones and genii of famous individuals and of one's familial ancestors would often have masks or small statues in the home shrine inside the house.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Altar of Nature?

Post  AgathonZante on Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:48 pm

So you don't think it would be possible for a Dryad, Nymph and Daimon of Nature to hear prayers and receive offerings from a structure erected away from Their dwelling place? I am asking because I don't know and I want to be educated on it.
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Re: Altar of Nature?

Post  Erodius on Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:15 pm

AgathonZante wrote:So you don't think it would be possible for a Dryad, Nymph and Daimon of Nature to hear prayers and receive offerings from a structure erected away from Their dwelling place? I am asking because I don't know and I want to be educated on it.

This is where it becomes more elaborate, and important to have some understanding of the hierarchy of powers and something that I'm sure I've mentioned occasionally around the site called a deity's seira or 'series'. A seira refers to the sum total of things, both physical and abstract, that are under the dominion of a particular deity. The central Twelve Gods of the universe, have enormous seirae that include things like substances, places, times of day, days of the week, months of the year, zodiac constellations, hymns, names, cities, countries, musical notes, letters of the Greek alphabet, numbers, colors etc. Time calculations and articles from a deity's seira are what are used in the consecration of a cult image in order to embody it with the numen, or 'divine presence' of that deity. A very minor deity, like, say, the nymph of a small water spring, has a very small seira — basically, just the spring itself. What's more, traditionally, nymphs and dryads were said to die if their 'bodies' were disturbed or destroyed — which is why there were elaborate rituals of appeasement before a plot of land was cleared for construction.

Ultimately, that is a case-by-case basis. How far away can X-lake nymph or Y-elm dryad hear you if you offer a prayer to them? Well, there is no hard and fast rule. Consider that minor spirits of natural objects are only a small measure separated from us on the cosmic scale, and so are only marginally different in terms of power than you or I are. How far away could you hear if somebody was speaking to you?

The study of daemones ('daemonology' in the traditional sense, not the modern one), was a popular subject for religio-philosophically-inclined people in later Antiquity, and there are a variety of very sophisticated and thorough writings from philosophers and sacrarians about daemones.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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The Orphic Way: www.hellenicgods.org
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Re: Altar of Nature?

Post  AgathonZante on Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:54 pm

That's a very interesting way of looking at it. How far away could you hear someone? I suppose that if one lived close to a forest or a bunch of trees, or a Natural spot for Nymphs and Daimons, it would be much easier to successfully contact them in your home than it would be if you lived in a city with no Nature.
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