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The Household religion

Post  J_Agathokles on Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:00 am

Hello there, I am posting this because the question was asked what could be salvaged from the old Hellenismos.us-forum. I have two posts from the old Hellenismos.us-blog in my Evernote, and one post from a discussion thread which I will share here. Underneath this introduction I will copy a blogpost written by Timothy J. Alexander himself on the topic of the Household cult. The original URL was http://hellenismos.us/b/2009/04/back-to-the-basics-ii-the-household-religion/, but I do not have the exact date of publishing anymore. The URL suggest april of 2004 though. In any case here it is:


"…sacrifice to the deathless gods purely and cleanly, and burn rich meats also, and at other times propitiate them with libations and incense, both when you go to bed and when the holy light has come back, that they may be gracious to you in heart and spirit…” ~ Hesiod, Works and Days

While this “Back to Basics” guide is intended to provide essentials information for those interested and new to Hellenismos, more is needed. I provide basic information to get a person started with a working practice while continuing to learn. For those interested, please review our recommended reading list, read through our other articles and essays, and post your questions to our forum. Hellenismos.us is here to provide you with valid, well reasoned, and well documented information for practicing Hellenismos. We provide the information you can trust.
Household worship can be divided into three types: (1) devotions that are performed daily; (2) devotions performed on specific occasions; and (3) devotions performed voluntarily according to personal desire. The major ritual elements include sacrifices (involving the consumption of items), votive offerings (gifts), prayers and hymns, with the possible addition of contemplation (meditation).
Sacrifices can be separated into two classifications: major and minor. “Minor sacrifices” are used within daily devotions and include small plates of foodstuff and the burning of small quantities of incense or aromatic herbs. “Major Sacrifices” are performed on major occasions, such as marriages and births, when sacred substances are offered into a sacrificial fire.

Simple Indoor Shrine/Altar
While many will opt for individual indoor and outdoor shrines, altars, and statues, a Hellenic Polytheist should have at least one central shrine in their home where they can worship daily. An indoor shrine can be anything from a room, a small altar, or simply pictures or statues. Family members should worship together, making offerings to the Gods, but worship can be done individually or performed by the head of the household.
The most common items needed for an indoor altar include:


  • Sacred Icon or Cult Image (statuary or other image)
  • Incense Holder & Incense
  • Lamp or Decorative Candle Holder & Candle
  • Water Bowl & Carafe
  • Cup & Decanter for Wine (or other libation as appropriate)
  • Offering Bowl/Plate
  • Decorative Box (used as a Vault)
  • Wood Lighting Sticks


Daily Devotions
According to Hesiod, libations and sacrifices are to be performed every morning and evening. This is in addition to libations and sacrifices at each meal, and minor acts of generosity (aka random acts of kindness) throughout the day. Daily acts of devotion include:


  • Bathing and purification.
  • Personal worship of the Gods at home shrine(s) (includes lighting a sacred flame, offering incense and/or foodstuffs before cult images, and the saying prayers and/or singing/chanting/recitation of hymns).
  • Primary devotions included are to the Household Gods (Zeus, Hestia, Agathos Daimon, Apollo[Apollon], Hercules [Herakles], Hermes, Hecate [Hekate], and the Dioskouroi), the Twelve Olympians, and All Gods and Goddesses (in a general declaration of devotion).
  • Other personal devotions, based on dominion, can include the Gods of Marriage, the Gods of Agriculture, the Gods of Healing, the Gods of the Countryside, and other “families” of Gods based on domains such as age, gender, marital status, occupation, or other special interests.
  • Observance of days of obligations as prescribed by the Attic (or similar) Festival Calendar.
  • Can also include the reading of ancient texts and/or contemplation/meditation.
  • At each meal, families sets aside a portion of food and make libations.
  • Spontaneous acts of friendship and generosity.


Personal Patrons
Hellenic Polytheists also have the opportunity to honor a personal deity/daimon. This personal deity is known as the Eautou (personal or “one’s own”) or Genethlios (birthright) Daimon, the guardian spirit who watches over the fate of an individual from birth. Devotions can consist of worshiping one’s personal daimon with prayers and offerings, accompanied by contemplation (meditation).
Simple household rituals include:


  • Lighting of the flame (lamp or candle). If you keep a hearth flame continuously burning, then use a lighting stick to transport that flame to your altar.
  • The hands of the participants are washed with lustral water (prepared with pure spring water and sea salt), and then discarding contaminated water.
  • Sprinkle water onto the sacred space, altar items, and offerings.
  • Light (at minimum) two incense sticks or cones*, using the lighting sticks, for your sacrifice.  A portion is made to Hestia, and additional individual sacrifices can be made to each deity associated with the ritual.
  • Make, either additionally or alternatively, offerings of foodstuff (fruits or cakes) or gifts.
  • Say prayers and hymns to the God(s) the ritual is dedicated.
  • Libate wine or other appropriate liquid.
  • Ritual concludes with food items being eaten by participants, or offerings collected and placed in the vault.


This document is not intended to be all-inclusive, but provides some essentials to get started. It provides only basic information for a person to create a working household practice. More complete descriptions of traditional Hellenic rituals can be found within both  primary and secondary sources. Please, feel free to post any questions you may have either here or on our forum.
Rejoice in the company of the Gods!

*Special Note: I do not recommend burning resins, herbs, or loose incense with charcoal tablets in the home. These items give off a lot of smoke, and need a well ventilated area. [Edit by J_Agathokles: using charcoal indoors is also a carbon monoxide hazard, making it medically necessary to make sure the room is well ventilated]

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Callisto on Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:26 pm

Here is some more info about household religion from the previous forum:

An informative essay by Pandion of LABRYS (a group in Hellas) that is all about Household worship:

http://labrys.gr/index-en.php?l=oikiaki_latreia-en

--

The Semi-Fixed Nature of Greek Domestic Religion
by SWINFORD, KATHERINE M.
Degree MA, University of Cincinnati, Arts and Sciences : Classics, 2006.
Advisor Kathleen M. Lynch
Pages 83p.

Abstract: The present thesis is concerned with household religion practiced during the Classical period in ancient Greece. In the past, the study of domestic cult was overlooked, and instead scholars focused on the public religion of the Greeks. These studies used literary evidence in order to describe civic religion. However, ancient texts also provide evidence for rituals practiced and gods revered in the Greek household. Literary sources indicate that domestic rituals did not require specialized equipment, and therefore, such equipment is difficult to identify in the archaeological record. This study attempts to identify such implements and examines material excavated from domestic contexts in three cities: Olynthus, Halieis, and Athens. The integration of literary sources and archaeological evidence demonstrates that common household items were used as the implements of domestic ritual. Thus, it seems that everyday, household objects assumed religious significance in certain contexts.

Keywords: ancient Greece; domestic ritual; domestic religion; household ritual; household religion; hearth; altar; Olynthus; Athens; Halieis

Website: OhioLINK ETD
Download Full Text - 4.45 MB PDF file

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Re: The Household religion

Post  J_Agathokles on Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:45 pm

Ooooh thanks for that link! Very Happy

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Worshipper of Eros on Sat Jun 08, 2013 4:17 pm

I want to double check that this procedure would be deemed acceptable for my personal household worship and offerings.

1) Cleanse miasma from self/altar and offerings.
2) Light a candle and call upon Hestia, recite hymn, pray and light incense as first offering.
3) - Pour a libation to Zeus Ktesios (I live with my parents so the pantry may be invasive, though I'm fortunate that they accept my faith and encourage me in holding beliefs),
- then a portion to Zeus Herkios,
- then a potion to Apollo Agyieus
4) Pour a portion for 'the twelve dodekatheon' (I'd say something along the lines of 'to the twelve dodekatheon, in thanks and gratitude' or words to that effect.)
5) Perform an offering to any other deity as needed.
6) Final libation to Hestia.
7) Thank the Gods and leave.

So far the only household deity I offer to is Hestia, so this will be a step up the ladder for me. I will pour the libations into a single bowl also, is that acceptable? Just a generous splash in honor of each of the household gods.

Another question I have is, how have the household Gods affected your life? Did you notice improvements be it physical, mental, emotional?

My thanks as always. Smile
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Re: The Household religion

Post  J_Agathokles on Sat Jun 08, 2013 4:33 pm

Worshipper of Eros wrote:I want to double check that this procedure would be deemed acceptable for my personal household worship and offerings.

1) Cleanse miasma from self/altar and offerings.
2) Light a candle and call upon Hestia, recite hymn, pray and light incense as first offering.
3) - Pour a libation to Zeus Ktesios (I live with my parents so the pantry may be invasive, though I'm fortunate that they accept my faith and encourage me in holding beliefs),
- then a portion to Zeus Herkios,
- then a potion to Apollo Agyieus
4) Pour a portion for 'the twelve dodekatheon' (I'd say something along the lines of 'to the twelve dodekatheon, in thanks and gratitude' or words to that effect.)
5) Perform an offering to any other deity as needed.
6) Final libation to Hestia.
7) Thank the Gods and leave.

So far the only household deity I offer to is Hestia, so this will be a step up the ladder for me. I will pour the libations into a single bowl also, is that acceptable? Just a generous splash in honor of each of the household gods.

Another question I have is, how have the household Gods affected your life? Did you notice improvements be it physical, mental, emotional?

My thanks as always. Smile

This seems pretty ok to me.

Cleaning miasma can be done by washing yourself, as far as altar and offerings go, I think it is best to first light a candle to Hestia while saying a hymn to her (I use Homeric Hymn 24 at the beginning of rituals), and then put out the match you used for lighting the candle in a pot of water. This will make the water into khernips (lustral water), which you can then use for purifying the altar and any offerings you have.

I think it's better to say "Twelve Olympians" or just "Dodekatheon", the "dodeka-" already means "twelve", so it's needless to say it twice ;-) Personally I always make a libation to "the household Gods", "my patron Gods" (meaning Gods connected to studying and scholarship, like Hermes, Athena, the Muses, etc.), 'to the Twelve Olympians', and to "all the Gods". I make offerings to individual household deities at the Noumenia and other important festivals involving them.

I also use a single bowl for libations. I think it would get far too unwieldy otherwise.

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Worshipper of Eros on Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:02 pm

I currently make lustral water by placing a wooden splint in water, before hand I pray over it that it may be made pure and given the ability to purify, but I like the idea of lighting Hestia's candle and using the match from that, so I will definitely apply that to my practice. I already use hymn 24 when calling upon Hestia, so no need to make a change there.

"the "dodeka-" already means "twelve", so it's needless to say it twice ;-)"

Rookie mistake, awkward lol Wink

"Personally I always make a libation to "the household Gods", "my patron Gods" (meaning Gods connected to studying and scholarship, like Hermes, Athena, the Muses, etc.), 'to the Twelve Olympians', and to "all the Gods". I make offerings to individual household deities at the Noumenia and other important festivals involving them."

Just to clarify, you don't feel the need to elaborate further then 'to the household Gods', 'my patrons' etc when you pour your daily libations unless it's the Noumenia, or were you just keeping your reply short and sweet?

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Re: The Household religion

Post  J_Agathokles on Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:23 pm

Worshipper of Eros wrote:Just to clarify, you don't feel the need to elaborate further then 'to the household Gods', 'my patrons' etc when you pour your daily libations unless it's the Noumenia, or were you just keeping your reply short and sweet?

Those are my exact formulations most of the time, it wasn't just shortening the reply ;-) I usually honour the Household deities specifically on the Noumēnia, and on those monthly celebrations when the deity in question is honoured generally, so then I also worship them using these epithets related to their household roles.

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Erodius on Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:34 pm

but I like the idea of lighting Hestia's candle and using the match from that, so I will definitely apply that to my practice.

That's the usual way to light any fire for worship in Greek religious custom. Sacrificial fires would be lit from an 'estia', a fire (usually a brazier rather than a full hearth pit) kept perpetually lit.

(I live with my parents so the pantry may be invasive, though I'm fortunate that they accept my faith and encourage me in holding beliefs),

Ktesios is a persona of Zas to whose domain the storerooms of a household are ascribed. By extension, a shrine and altar of Ktesios often appear in or near a house's storeroom, but it would be perfectly fine to offer worship to Ktesios at any altar dedicated to his worship, where his agalma* is enshrined. A home's central shrine is entirely suitable, and for this reason often has a nonspecific dedication, commonly a family name in the genitive, implying its dedication to the worship of "all the Gods of the ______ family."

* From Mikalson, p.p. 124
"One of the inner rooms of a house would serve as the storeroom, and there Ktesios has his station. He is represented by a two-handled jar draped in a white, woolen fillet and filled with a variety of seed, water and olive oil. He would also have a small altar there"

Here is a link to buy exactly such a jar, and for an affordable price:

http://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Amphora-Dispenser-G43-Decorative/dp/B007M4J0RG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hg_3

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"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: The Household religion

Post  Worshipper of Eros on Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm

In response to J_Agathokles:

"Those are my exact formulations most of the time, it wasn't just shortening the reply ;-) I usually honour the Household deities specifically on the Noumēnia, and on those monthly celebrations when the deity in question is honoured generally, so then I also worship them using these epithets related to their household roles."

I see, that's interesting, perhaps when I've been practicing for awhile I will relax with my daily offerings and use the 'shorthand' that you use so to speak. The lunar calendar is something that I will also need to apply, then the festivals. I'm building up slowly so as not to feel overwhelmed. Do you believe it's OK to only acknowledge the household God's on the Noumēnia?

In response to Erodius & J_Agathokles:

Do you periodically make a amphorae in honor of Zeus/Zas Ktesios on the Noumēnia? I would like to make one but I'm not sure how, I wouldn't want the contents to spoil either, though I would use a ceramic bottle and then seal the bottle with a cork.

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Erodius on Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:58 pm

Do you periodically make a amphorae in honor of Zeus/Zas Ktesios on the Noumēnia? I would like to make one but I'm not sure how, I wouldn't want the contents to spoil either, though I would use a ceramic bottle and then seal the bottle with a cork.

I doubt it should spoil really. Grain will lay at the bottom, the water in a middle layer, and the oil will float on top, effectively sealing it, though it still ought to be corked. (I've edited my above post to include both a description of the amphora of Ktisios, as well as a link to a small, glass amphora jar with a stand perfectly suited to this purpose).

However, no, I do not myself keep such an amphora. For one thing, I am not a householder, the house I live in is not mine, it also does not really have anything akin to a food storeroom. Furthermore, the household cult in which Ktisios, Erkeios and Agyieus appear so centrally was mostly a feature of Classical (i.e. pre-Hellenistic) religion. After about the 320s BCE, the dramatic paradigm shift in the Mediterranean world and its changes to the conception of 'centrality' as well as the practical changes in the sort of homes most individuals lived in made it so that the old household cult faded from the importance it had once had. Fortune/Tyche took over the role as the supreme governor of prosperity and wellbeing, and in many ways became almost a universal supreme goddess in the perception of many people — she had more temples than almost any other divinity, and had many cities dedicated to her. The role of the household cult in Classical religion becomes, generally, that of Fortune/Tyche in the Hellenistic period and beyond.

I am an Orphic, and the Orphic religion is, overall, characteristically much more Hellenistic than Classical. The household cult does not really feature significantly in Orphism, at least not nearly to the extent or in the same manner as in the Classical religion.

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"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: The Household religion

Post  Worshipper of Eros on Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:32 pm

Interesting, my sources of information thus far are Hellenismos for beginners, The Gods of reason (Both by Timothy .J Alexander) and Ancient Greek religion (By Mikalson) but you keep introducing me to new concepts outside of what I've read Erodius! Which is a good thing as it is allowing me to see the breadth of what traditions are held within Olympianismos as it's been coined.
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Re: The Household religion

Post  Callisto on Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:32 pm

Worshipper of Eros wrote:Do you periodically make a amphorae in honor of Zeus/Zas Ktesios on the Noumēnia? I would like to make one but I'm not sure how, I wouldn't want the contents to spoil either, though I would use a ceramic bottle and then seal the bottle with a cork.

I keep a kathiskos. You don't have to worry much about spoilage if you intend to replenish it regularly. Mine is a handled jar with a rubber-ring latched lid (similar to that found on a Mason jar).

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Erodius on Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:17 pm

I have a question, actually.

Could anyone point me to the original source for this practice? Burkert doesn't seem to know of it, Mikalson mentions it, but does not name it and does not provide a source for it. It isn't mentioned anywhere in my books on Roman religion or Hellenistic religion. I have never heard any mention of it in any of my classes on Greek or Roman religion. It is not a practice of the Orphic tradition. Liddell-Scott doesn't know of a word 'kathiskos'; I get no results searching for the word online in Greek, and the results I get when I search for 'kathiskos' are reconstructionist and a few neopagan sites that simply discuss how to make one — often using the exact same phrasing.

I'm just curious as to where this comes from. As I said, Mikalson does mention it, but never uses the word 'kathiskos' (at least not in my edition), and there is no citation nor lead in explaining where he got information of this practice.

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"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: The Household religion

Post  Callisto on Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:48 am

"Katheskos" seems to be a corruption of "kadiskos", itself a diminutive of "kados". When this spelling started, with what and whom, I don't know. But it's the spelling which seems most common today among recons. Even labrys.gr uses it on their website: http://labrys.gr/index-en.php?l=oikiaki_latreia-en.

"Kadiskos" would be preferable but it seems somehow "katheskos" has taken root (among recons).

So that's why it's not found in Lidell-Scott but kadiskos is: kadiskos, ho, Dim. of kados , Cratin.193, Stratt.22, BCH 35.286 (ii B.C.), Ph.2.89, Gal.11.555.

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Erodius on Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:57 pm

Callisto wrote:"Katheskos" seems to be a corruption of "kadiskos", itself a diminutive of "kados".

So that's why it's not found in Lidell-Scott but kadiskos is: kadiskos, ho, Dim. of kados , Cratin.193, Stratt.22, BCH 35.286 (ii B.C.), Ph.2.89, Gal.11.555.

Thank you for the etymology, but I was actually looking more for the source of the practice itself (though I was interested in the word's origin likewise); I should have made that clearer.

ΛΑΒΡΥΣ's site, I noticed, features a quotation that they source as coming from an 'Anticleides' — although the identity of the work itself is not cited nor indicated. This 'Anticleides' figure is not a name I have ever come across before anywhere. From what I can tell, the only quasi-significant 'Anticleides' we know of from Antiquity was a Hellenistic-era historian, whose attributed works we only know of from references to them in other texts, and whose actual writings are all lost, except for a handful of quotations in other texts that are attributed to the name 'Anticleides'.

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"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: The Household religion

Post  Callisto on Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:27 pm

Do you mean the practice of using the "katheskos" spelling, or the practice of naming the jar at all? It would be interesting to discover the origins of the former.

As for identifying the jar as a kadiskos, yes it seems Antikleides was a historian who authored a text called a/the Exegetikon, a handbook on religion and ritual practice of which only fragments exist. Some references:

"Ancient literature is also ambiguous about the use of miniature vessels in domestic rites. Some ancient texts refer to a ritual implement in its diminutive form. The vessel associated with the worship of Zeus Ktesios is called kadiskos, which is the diminutive form of kados. [Antikleides 140 F22 FGrH] It is dubious if this refers to a miniature vessel, or simply a smaller form of the usual kados." - Katherine Swinford, The Semi-Fixed Nature of Greek Domestic Religion, p. 42
[Athenaeus, Deipnosphists XI. 473b-c] Philemon says that a kadiskos is a kind of drinking cup. It is also a vase in which they set the figures of Zeus Ktesios, as Autokleides [sp?] says in his book of interpretations: "The figures of Zeus Ktesios should be installed in this way: take a new two-handled, lidded kadiskos and garland its handles with while wool, with a fillet (hanging) from the right shoulder and brow…" - David G. Rice, John E. Stambaugh, Source for the Study of Greek Religion, p. 108

Not related to Antikleides or ritual use but interesting to note:

"Another point of similarity between the kados (or kadiskos) and the amphora is that both were used as balloting urns, although for this use the former is more often mentioned. This wide range of sizes suggests that the name was applied broadly to vases of a certain general type, without much regard for details of size or use." - "The Attic Stelai Part III ", Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, p. 186


Jane Ellen Harrison is a bit more specific about the quote, and references other sources:

"Zeus Ktesios was the god of the storeroom. Harpocration says, 'they set up Zeus Ktesios in storerooms.' The god himself lived in a jar. In discussion the various shapes of vessels Athenaeus says of the kadiskos, 'it is the vessel in which they consecrate the Ktesian Zeuses, as Antikeides says in his "interpretations," as follows: the symbols of Zeus Ktesios are consecrated as follows: "the lid must be put on a new kadiskos with two handles, and the handles crowned with white wool… and you must put into it whatever you chance to find and pour in ambrosia. Ambrosia is pure water, olive oil and fruits. Pour in these." - Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, p. 642

"Athenaeus, quoting Philmon, makes the following statement: 'The Kadiskos is the vessel in which they set up Ktesian Zeuses.' He goes on to quote from the Exegetikon of Antikleides, a post-Alexandrian writer, some ritual prescriptions for carrying out of the 'cult' or rather installation,

"Put the lid of a new two-eared Kadiskos, crown the ears with while whole and let down the ends of… the thread from the right shoulder and the forehead and place in it whatever you can find and pour into it ambrosia …" - Jane Ellen Harrison, Epilegomena, p. 299


This might also be of interest to forum members:

Nikolaos Markoulakis, a grad student at Nottingham Trent University has an article about Zeus Ktesios and the kadiskos on his blog: http://tropaion.blogspot.com/2011/01/kadiskos-symbols-of-zeus-ktesios.html

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Erodius on Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:52 pm

It seems to me, from these writers, that what is being described is not at all what many have taken it to mean. From how it appears to me, what is described is much more like the Hindu lingam or image for abhiṣeka, or the dzhambhala water offering rite in Vajrayana Buddhism — all acts of ritual bathing of an image.

It seems to me that the jar was not itself the object of worship, as Mikalson seems to imply, but that it was simply a basin to catch the offerings of water, oil and fruits of the earth that would be poured out for a representation of Κτήσιος placed *inside* the vessel; the image crowned with saffron thread on its head and right shoulder, or the metal snake statues Markoulakis described. This makes far more sense to me than keeping a jar of oil, water and seed garlanded with white and saffron yarn in a storeroom — an idea to which my logical mind always balked at as lacking a clear reason or purpose. Its purpose is entirely practical, then — its just a vessel to hold the oblations to the image of Κτήσιος kept inside it, which would be why the word used is just a diminutive of 'jar'.

it is also a vase in which they set the figures of Zeus Ktesios, as Autokleides [sp?] says in his book of interpretations: "The figures of Zeus Ktesios should be installed in this way: take a new two-handled, lidded kadiskos and garland its handles with while wool, with a fillet (hanging) from the right shoulder and brow…"

a stone kadiskos, ritual vessel, containing two replicas of snakes, one made by iron and the other by silver, a small bone and a shell

This is what I see described, at least in the first description:


Last edited by Erodius on Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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-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,
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Re: The Household religion

Post  Worshipper of Eros on Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:23 pm

This makes far more sense to me than keeping a jar of oil, water and seed garlanded with white and saffron yarn in a storeroom — an idea to which my logical mind always balked at as lacking a clear reason or purpose.

You could be on to something, but I would like to make a suggestion as to how a jar may be deemed as logical. The items placed inside the vessel are sympathetic to what the worshiper wants to be protected, the jar itself then becomes the God who acts as a wall or barrier to anything interacting with the contents, as Zeus Ktesios would with the items stored in the pantry. Again, I'm new to all this but that is how one could view it, a sympathetic act.
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Re: The Household religion

Post  Erodius on Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:59 pm

I think it certainly goes without saying that the water, oil and produce that appear in the worship of the Κτήσιος were representations of archaic measures of material wealth and that their placement in the jar was an effort to sympathetically preserve and encourage these 'wealths' through their placement in the presence of an enshrined deity. However, I don't think the jar was itself the object of worship as it's sometimes been taken to be (by even individuals such as Mikalson). From the primary source mentions that Callisto compiled, I think it is clear that the jar was a dual-functional container and shrine for a representation of the Κτήσιος, holding both the image and the 'ambrosia' triad offered to it.

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"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: The Household religion

Post  Callisto on Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:20 pm

Worshipper of Eros wrote:
This makes far more sense to me than keeping a jar of oil, water and seed garlanded with white and saffron yarn in a storeroom — an idea to which my logical mind always balked at as lacking a clear reason or purpose.

You could be on to something, but I would like to make a suggestion as to how a jar may be deemed as logical. The items placed inside the vessel are sympathetic to what the worshiper wants to be protected, the jar itself then becomes the God who acts as a wall or barrier to anything interacting with the contents, as Zeus Ktesios would with the items stored in the pantry. Again, I'm new to all this but that is how one could view it, a sympathetic act.

From recollection of what I've read, (some) authors refer to the jar as a type of statuette, which cited fragments seem to imply by referencing the handles and upper portions as ears, shoulders and forehead. I'd have to go looking for the exact quote but I think it's Harrison who said Ktesios is a daimon and the ambrosia symbolic of immortality.

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Worshipper of Eros on Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:45 pm

From recollection of what I've read, (some) authors refer to the jar as a type of statuette, which cited fragments seem to imply by referencing the handles and upper portions as ears, shoulders and forehead. I'd have to go looking for the exact quote but I think it's Harrison who said Ktesios is a daimon and the ambrosia symbolic of immortality.

Ktesios as a Daimon? I thought Daimons were spirits, lower then the Gods (higher then humans?), so where does that leave Zeus in this practice?

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Erodius on Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:14 pm

Any god is a daemon; any being of aether is: noëtic gods, noëric gods, archons, archangels, angels, terrestrial daemones, heroes, cacodaemones and souls.

The Κτήσιος is a power of Zas — a stasis, an emanation, an action — any of these are accurate descriptions; a power coming from Zas, but not the fullness or entirety of Him.

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"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: The Household religion

Post  Callisto on Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:10 pm

Worshipper of Eros wrote:Ktesios as a Daimon? I thought Daimons were spirits, lower then the Gods (higher then humans?), so where does that leave Zeus in this practice?

It took a minute, but I found it. The comment comes from Harrison's discussion of Zeus Ktesios as Agathos Daimon. (Bolded emphasis is mine to indicate the comment I attempted to recall):


Zeus Ktesios is not only a snake; to our great delight we find him also well furnished with Pots. He was essentially domestic. Harpocration, quoting Hyperides says "They used to set up Zeus Ktesios in storerooms".

In the temple of Zeus at Panamara a votive inscription was found, "To the household gods, Zeus Ktesios and Tyche and Asklepios".

It is to such primitive daemons of the penetralia that the Chorus in the Choephoroi of Aeschylus appeal. It is at the altar of Ktesios that Cassandra as chattel of the houses bidden to take her place…

It is interesting to find that the actual cult of Zeus Ktesios as wells his name lands us in the storeroom -- though to speak of his 'cult' is really a misnomer… Athenaeus, quoting Philemon, makes the following statement, "The Kadiskos is the vessel in which they set up Ktesian Zeuses."

He goes on to quote form the Exegetikon of Antikleides, a post-Alexandrian writer, some ritual prescriptions for the carrying out of the 'cult' or rather installation.

'Put the lid on a new two-eared Kadiskos, crown the ears with white whole and let down the ends of … the thread from the right shoulder and the forehead and place in it whatever you can find and pour into it ambrosia. Now ambrosia is pure water and olive oil and pankarpia. Pour in these.'

The text is corrupt and therefore it is not quite clear how the wool or thread was arranged on the vase … (But) Why in the world should ambrosia be defined as pure water, olive oil, and pankarpia. Why, but because in the pankarpia and the oil and the pure living water are the seeds for immortality, for the next years reincarnation? The Olympians took ambrosia for their food, but its ancient immortality was of earth's recurrent cycle of growth, not of heaven's brazen and sterile immutability.

Athenaeus has yet another small and pleasant surprise in store for us. The comic poet Strattis, he says, in his Lemnomedia makes mention of the Kadiskos, thus:

Hermes, whom some draw from a prochoidion,
Others, mixed half and half from a Kadiskos.

By the help of the Agathos Daimon we understand the comic poet Strattis. Hermes is the daimon of ambrosia and of immortality.

Zeus Ktesios then like Hermes [Hermes Chthonios] is simply a daemon of fertility, taking snake form -- he was not yet a theos. His aspect as Ktesios embarrassed the orthodox theologian and delighted the mystic and the monotheist. It is pleasant to find that even when translated to the uttermost heavens he did not disdain the primitive service of the pankarpia.

- "Daimon and Hero: Zeus as Agathos Daimon", Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion, Jane Ellen Harrison, pp. 297-300

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Re: The Household religion

Post  J_Agathokles on Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:40 am

My kathiskos is also a jar like Callisto's.

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Re: The Household religion

Post  Pemphredo on Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:11 am

On my research about the Household worship I found out that the goddess Athena is said to could have been developed from a Minoan house goddess into a Mycenaean palace goddess into a Greek/Hellenic city goddess (and later, as Minerva and part of the Capitoline Trias, into a Roman Empire goddess). The well-known “snake goddess” of Knossos could have been a household deity and hence the snakes, there could be some connection to the later Athena whom sacred animal is also a snake. I admit, I would never come up with the idea that the big breasted Minoan idol could have to do something with the maiden-goddess Athena, but since household worship forms for many of us the principal worship of the gods, this is quite precious to know! Mostly I’m more interested in the religious developments of late Antiquity, but in this case I would like to make an exception and welcome Athena “Ktesia” again as one of the principal household deities (even if that would be a little mishmash … but well… household worship is a private worship, isn’t it?).



 

My main source is Martin P. Nilsdon’s Geschichte der griechischen Religion. Erster Band: Die Religion Griechenlands bis auf die Weltherrschaft (1992: 349ff):

In English I found it mentioned in Patricia Monaghan’s [url=http://books.google.be/books?id=8zHxlL8my-YC&pg=PA392&dq=Athena+household+deity&hl=nl&sa=X&ei=RLS-Ua6BLoaGswaplIAY&ved=0CEoQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Athena household]Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines[/url]. Volume I and II (2010: 392):
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