This November, 2017, is the first time I will be trying to observe every single ritual that I have added into my personalised Men Kata Theion, or Sacred Month.
The second day of the lunar month, that is the day after the new waxing moon, is dedicated to the Agathos Daimon. Unlike Noumenia, the day of the Agathos Daimon doesn’t involve too much work and the ritual itself needn’t be anything too complex. For this month the Agathos Daimon began on the evening of Monday the 20th and continued into the day of Tuesday the 21st.
The Agathos Daimon
Agathos Daimon translates as “good spirit” and can refer to many different types of spirits, but for this particular monthly observance it refers to one (or two) specifically. The Agathos Daimon is the friendly guardian spirit of the household, which generally takes the form of a serpent. It is said that every household, or perhaps every person, has their own Agathos Daimon. This daimon is responsible for guarding and protecting the home, guarding the pantry and food of the home, bringing good fortune into the home and of generally being a helpful spirit and guide to the individual. Of course, this is all dependent on whether you are on good terms with your daimon or not.
The Daimones are said to be the spirits of the first race of “men” or beings that existed during the golden age of Hellenism.
“(ll. 109-120) First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.
(ll. 121-139) But after earth had covered this generation—they are called pure spirits dwelling on the earth, and are kindly, delivering from harm, and guardians of mortal men; for they roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds, givers of wealth; for this royal right also they received;” – Hesiod, Works and Days.
Some of the ancient philosophers, healers, scholars etc spoke of their personal daimon, or similar spirit. Socrates for example spoke of his daimon in a way that many of us might describe our conscience – a small voice that would tell us to not do the thing we should not do.
“The familiar prophetic voice of my “spiritual guide” has manifested itself very frequently all my life and has opposed me, even in trivial matters, whenever I was about to do something wrong.” Plato, Apology of Socrates.
It seems to me that there must be two types of personal Agathos Daimones, the ones of the household for the family and home, and the one of the individual. Obviously this means there are countless personal Agathos Daimones, but only two at any given time per person. Whether one, two or many it matters not – the Agathos Daimon should perhaps be regarded as one of, if not the, most important being to be on good terms with.
What I am not clear on is whether a household Agathos Daimon moves with the family when they move house, or if each house has its own specific Agathos Daimon. In some ways, one for each house seems to make more sense – this way when the kids leave home the Daimon isn’t somehow split between the family members. But at the same time, this would mean that every time you move house you would need to connect to a new Daimon completely. It probably doesn’t really matter, and we should simply treat them all the same – with respect and honour.
Ritual for Agathos DaimonWe begin with the usual Hellenic ritual forms, preparation, procession and cleansing with Khernips. This is followed by the lighting of a ritual fire or candle/s, and the tossing of barley if you happen to do that. Then we call on the Gods to attend the ritual. Our first hymn and libation are to Hestia, then we recite our hymn to the Agathos Daimon, pour the libation and say any other prayers we need to. We end with a libation to Hestia.
Wine or honeyed milk are the suggested libations for the Agathos Daimon, but I find hot chocolate to be good as well – because it is kind of homely. For offerings I would suggest homely things, breads and cakes for the most part, or part of your own dinner. I also, for this days ritual, offered some fresh bottlebrush flowers. For the incense I chose lavendar, for no reason other than it felt right.
I call on the Gods of the Hellenes,
Deathless Ones, most glorious,
Chthonic, Oceanic, Ouranic,
Protogenoi, Titanic and Olympian.
Attend this rite and bear witness
Hail to Hestia, First and Last
Hearth Keeper, Guardian of the Home,
Accept this our first libation. Pour libation.
Glory to the Agathos Daimon, Kindly One
Without whom, this house would not run,
Snake formed spirit, beloved of Agatha Tyche,
Bringer of good fortune, the things we need and like,
Protect this home, and all who dwell within,
Hear this prayer, accept this my offering,
With fav’ring mind the sacred rites attend,
and grant my days a glorious, blessed end.*
Pour libation. Light incense, add any personalised prayers and give any other offerings (fruits, flowers, coins, cakes).
Glory to the Theoi,
I offer my thanks to you. Pour libation.
And to Hestia, first and last. Pour libation.
Drink whatever remains of the libation offering (if it is potable) and eat what is left of the offerings, it’s good to share a meal or drink with the Gods. Spend some time in after ritual practice, for the Agathos Daimon day it may be good to focus on household things like cleaning, decorating and the like. Since we also may be honouring our personal Daimones as well, it might be a good time for self-care, such as with some exercise.
More for the Daimon
The Agathos Daimon takes a special role on this day, the second of the lunar month, as well as during the Noumenia. However this isn’t the only time to honour this particular spirit. Some people choose to offer to the Daimon on a regular basis, in a similar way to how some honour Hestia. This is by pouring a small libation to the Agathos Daimon every time you drink wine (or another favourite drink perhaps) and/or offering a small amount of food to the Daimon during every meal.
The Agathos Daimones may not be Gods, Titans or Protogenoi but they are rather powerful spirits that could play a potentially important role in our lives. So it’s a good idea to take a few moments and create a good relationship with them.
* The last two lines of this hymn I borrowed from the Orphic Hymn 72 to the Daimon, but the rest I wrote myself.