Monday, April 5, 2010

Hellenic Hearthcraft (Part 1)

Since I finished with definitions, I'll start addressing each aspect/field of my path and practice individually. I figured it's better than providing both an explanatory notes post AND an individual post, since a) that would make everything too long and detailed and b) it's confusing.

This is a post on Hellenic Hearthcraft specifically. I realized that I cannot really give extensive explanations and notes on what it is because it is a tremendously localized and personal practice. Meaning, my Hearthcraft will be very different from someone else's even if he/she were Greek (similarities would be in some of the deities involved, certain core practices etc). Therefore, I'll provide some general info and explanations on its various sections and then explain and share my own version and how I perform this craft. I'll break it down to sections (such as deities and other spirits, methods, goals etc), provide examples where possible as well as include what I intend to do in the future.

Deities: In Hearthcraft one works with the following deities (some are aspects of deities): Hestia, Zeus Ktesios and Zeus Erkeios, Apollon Agyieus, Hekate and Hermes. As far as other spirits are concerned one works with the Agathos Daemon of their household as well as their ancestors. Personally, I work with the aforementioned deities, recently started working with the Agathos Daemon of our house and I also plan to build relationships and bonds with the loca, nearby spirits (namely the nymphs of the trees and greenery in front and in my house, specifically the plants in the pots in our balcony) soon enough. I have not yet approached my ancestors although I also intend doing so.

Hestia: the Goddess of the Hearth, herself. The most significant and central of the household deities, she presides over the household thoroughly. She is the first and the last to be hailed, welcomed and bidded farewell. Traditionally, the first and last pieces of food from a meal are to her honour.
Moreover, it is traditional to have a fire always lit in her praise. However, I cannot keep anything, even a candle lit always (and the fire hazard is not the only reason). In order to compensate for the lack of lit fire, I keep a piece of rock (lava actually) from the volcano of Santorini, in a high and visible place.

Zeus: Zeus as Ktesios and Erkeios is one of the household Gods, second to importance only to Hestia. As Ktesios he is "he who protects the prosperity of the household". As Erkeios he is "he who protects the safety of the household" since 'erkos' (where Erkeios comes from) means 'fence'.

A traditional offering and symbol of Zeus Ktesios is the Kathiskos. The Kathiskos is a jar (or other type of bucket/item that can store) filled with goods that represent the household's prosperity (e.g. fruits, olive oil, sweets, bread etc). It is sealed and kept hidden/stored away. Zeus Ktesios can also be associated and depicted as a snake - the house serpent, which is a protector of the prosperity of the household too. This is also a popular depiction and association of the Agathos Daemon.

A small altar on Zeus Erkeios is usually placed outside (since the fence is outside of the house and he protects it's safety from outside 'invasions'). Little is known about his worship. If the outdoors altar is not possible (e.g. in the case of an apartment with no garden), he can be included in the central altar alongside Estia and Ktesios.

Hermes, Hekate and Apollon Agyieus: Their role as household Gods is one that demands for their aspects as Gods of the roads. Alongside Apollon Agyieus ('of the streets'), they are deities that protect from outside threats coming 'from the roads'. Idols (as in physical depitctions, figures and symbols like statues) of Hekate and Hermes may be placed outside usually in a special enclave or other structure (like a shelf) next to or otherwise very close to the main entrance of the house. Hekate, as a ruler of the crossroads, Hermes as a God of boundaries and Apollon as a God of roads receive simple food offerings in common days and there are no special acts needed in their worship in this case.

Other spirits: the worship and honouring of other spirits occurs in Hearthcraft as well: the Agathos Daemon of each household as well as the ancestors of the family. In some cases, other deities to which the family may have a connection (e.g. a family of scholars may have a deeper relationship to Athena and as such include her in their Hearthcraft and worship) are included in the workings.

Agathos Daemon: The Agathos Daemon (meaning 'good spirit') is a spirit of the home and hearth, protector of the prosperity of the household and of the family. He is often portrayed as a serpent (snake) or less often as a young or short man carrying symbols of prosperity and abundance (cornucopia, bowl, ear of grain, poppy etc). He is closely associated (in his serpent form mostly) with Zeus Ktesios although they are not the same. He is revered and offerings left at the threshold. Often, especially in rural areas, a lone snake living within the household (or the owned territory in general) was protected and fed, thought of as the representator/follower/messenger of the Agathos Daemon.

Ancestors: this is largely a personal matter and one of the points where Hearthcraft differs from family to family. In general, the ancestors of a family are revered and honoured, offerings left at the altar and/or crossroads and libations poured for them in the house's hearth or altar. They are thought to aid the safety, wealth, power and general well-being of the family.

Since this proved too long, I'll continue it in one or more additional parts.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I am a solitary witch of the Old Path, and am currently writing a novel of paranormal fiction. I have a blog devoted to that novel, and every month I have a new blog "theme" which points to some aspect of my novel. This month it is witches (in keeping with October and also in keeping with my novel!) I really liked your essay on Witchvox (I am a long time member/sponsor) and was wondering if you would like to be a guest author on my blog this month. What this requires is simply an article that deals with witchcraft - the content choice is up to you - about 800 words give or take. My blog is Take a look (last month was druid month and we didn't do so well...those secretive Druids!! :o) ) but you can see previous articles by clicking on the Monthly Themes tab. I'd really appreciate this. You can contact me at
    Thanks so much in advance!! - C.L. Ross (pagan name Cypress Willow) Bright Blessings on you and yours!