Every domestic witch will eventually look into the subject of a household deity. Traditionally, there are two types of domestic deities: a major god or goddess or the minor or local entities called animistic deities. You’ve probably heard of at least a few of the goddesses used as deities in the household: Hestia, Frigg or Brigid are some of the most popular used today. But have you heard of the tomte, domovoi or cofgodas? These are but a few of the animistic deities that have been worshipped in the past.
Domestic deities are thought to look out for the members of the household, the home itself and/or the land around the home and any animals or livestock that live on it. In ancient days, a household would represent it’s deity with a small idol: a statue, a painting or even an amulet. Wealthy households held shrines for their deity. The deity was held in the highest esteem and they were treated as part of the family. Often they were invited to eat with the family, with plates of food left out for them in offering.
The worship of household deities was something that an early Christian church fought against (and continued to fight for centuries). Eventually the ancient household deities were, for the most part, relegated to mythology, folk tales and fairy tales. In the last few decades, some have made comebacks in role-playing games, modern literature, movies and video games.
Along with (or instead of) a general household deity, a domestic witch may choose to select a deity for different deity for each room and/or activity in the house: the master bedroom might be watched over by the Greek god Eros, the playful god of sex and amorous desire; the children’s rooms looked after by Kwan Yin, who mother’s invoke for the well-being of their children; the laundry room might be governed by Saule (sew-lay), the Baltic goddess who oversees all spheres of domestic work, including laundering.
Choosing a household deity can be tricky. Before choosing and inviting a deity into your home, a bit of research in need. While a brownie might seem like a nice animistic deity to have in your home, anger one and it will go “boggart”, a being that you certainly don’t want hanging around your home! Different deities require different invitations, different care, and different offerings to keep them happy.
Stay tuned to The Modern Pagan for upcoming articles about various domestic deities and their correspondences.