Snake

  • Title: The Good Spirit
  • Other Names: Agathodemon, Agatho Daimon
  • Origin: Egypt
  • Preferred offering: Wine
  • Manifestations: Consistently serpentine, he may appear as an ordinary snake or a hovering winged serpent.

Agathodaemon is a benevolent spirit of healing, protection, luck, and good fortune who manifests as a snake. Veneration of Agathodaemon traveled from Egypt to Greece and Italy. He is a consistently benevolent spirit. In Egypt, he evolved into a Gnostic guardian angel.

Agathodaemon is a companionable spirit. Among the deities with whom he happily shares altar space are Serapis, Tyche, and Hermes. He may be fond of Sicily’s Saint Agatha who may or may not be an ancient serpent-goddess in disguise.

Agathodaemon survives in modern Egypt, too, albeit undercover. Each of Cairo’s four quarters allegedly possesses its own snake-shaped guardian spirit, its own Agathodaemon.

The Greek version of this deity, is known by Agathos, or Agatho Daemon. Information on this version of the Serpent Spirit can be found here: Agathos.

Source: Encyclopedia of Spirits

  • Also known as: Agatho Daemon

The Romans and Hellenistic Greeks did not like deities in the shapes of animals. They liked their spirits to resemble humans. Adopted Egyptian spirits thus adapted in form.

Agathos may be Agatho Daemon in human form; he may be an emanation of Agatho Daemon who developed into an independent spiritual entity; or he may always have been a distinct spirit.

Agathos is Lord of Vineyards and watches over fields of grain, peace, prosperity, and plenty. He bestows wisdom, good health, and good luck. Agathos was venerated at home, traditionally by a family together.

The worship of the Agatho Daimon was and is mostly a private practice. Greek families poured out a few drops of wine to him after every meal. Small offerings were sometimes left out to the daimon, which appeared as a snake around the household.

To honor the spirit, pour out libations to him, speak to him on a regular basis, asking for protection for yourself and your home. You might also make a sculpture of a snake to serve as a visual reminder of your daimon.

He shows his favor via a family’s good fortune (or lack thereof). Agathos guarantees that a family has sufficient food and drink.

  • Favored people: Barkeeps, those who own vineyards or grow artisanal grain.
  • Manifestations: Agathos manifests as a snake or a handsome young man.
  • Attributes: Goblet, ear of wheat, poppies, cornucopia, staff or wand entwined by a snake.
  • Offerings: Toast Agathos with a glass of wine at each meal; if you’re not drinking, then just set one aside for him.

The second day of every Athenian month was also a sacred day, devoted to the Agathos Daimon (good spirit). The name “daimon” does not mean the evil demon of modern Christianity, (although it did have a negative form, called the kakodaimon), but was thought to be an aspect of Zeus, as Zeus Ktesios, Charitodotes, and Epikarpios, titles as giver of increase and joy.

Agathos Daimon is most often represented in the form of a snake, a symbol of healing. However the daimon is also a function of one’s being, a characteristic inherently neither good nor bad. Hence, one prays for a good daimon, an eudaimon, and goodness from the gods for the coming month and also for the favor of father Zeus as Agathos Daimon.

Pindar, Socrates, Proclus and Plotinus mention their daemons as well. The spirit acts as a guardian against error and a guide in life.

Burkert (Greek Religion, p. 181) says that “One must be on good terms with it.” And Pindar sang that “The daimon active about me I will always consciously put to rights with me by cultivating him according to my means” (Pyth. 3.108f) and “The great mind of Zeus steers the daimon of the men whom he loves” (Pyth. 5.122f). The philosopher Sokratēs talks of his own daimon as a small voice which speaks to him and warns him to refrain from certain actions (Plato, Apology, 31d).

The myth of the Agatho Daemon can neither be proved nor disproved. “Agatho” stems from the Greek “to agathon,” meaning the highest or supreme good in a moral sense, summum bonum. Since the daemon brought both spiritual and material wealth to a household or person, the Agatho Daemon amounts to the “good spirit.”

Each person was assigned a daemon at birth, and the “good spirit” of the daemon protected and guided him through life. Sacrifices of milk and honey were made to the daemon on one’s birthday. Otherwise a cup of consecrated or spiritually pure wine was passed around at dinner, called the cup of the Agatho Daemon. As we shall see, these rituals were meant as an affirmation of life (and thus as an acknowledgement of death).

The Agatho Daemon was the “good” half of a good and evil duality. This duality was portrayed in frescoes as a serpent with the head of a lion with 7 or 12 solar rays emanating from it. The serpent portion was called the kakodaemon, representing the underworld and water, and the lion’s head was the Agatho Daemon, representing the solar fires.

The cosmic interpretation of the daemon as solar provider was tied to the household’s prosperity in the form of the genius. The lion-headed serpent was frequently pictured along with the household genius, the latter shown as a youth holding a horn of plenty and a bowl, or a poppy and ears of corn, representing the growth and abundance of harvest. The harvest imagery along with the serpent as rain and sun were all symbolic of a successful harvest.

Information about the Egyptian version of this deity, known as Agathodaemon, can be found here: Agathodaemon.

Information collected from various sources

  • Names: Nit
  • Attributes: Two arrows and a shield, shuttle
  • Creatures: Crocodile, snake, bee
  • Color: Green
  • Plants: Flax, papyrus
  • Favored people: Soldiers, hunters, weavers, artisans

The inscription on Neith’s temple in Sais in the Nile Delta (now modern Sa el-Hagar) read:

I am all that has been,
that is and that will be
No mortal has yet been able
to lift the veil that covers me.

Neith, the First One, the primordial goddess, was never born but always existed. Alternatively she is completely self-generated. Neith traveled from the deserts and oases of Libya to emerge as among the greatest of Egyptian goddesses. In one Egyptian creation myth, Neith brought forth Ra, the sun. Then she invented the shuttle and loom, put the sky on her loom, and wove the world into existence. Neith, the first to give birth, invented weaving. Her name may derive from a word for “to weave” or “to knit.”

She is called:

  • The Oldest One
  • Nurse of Crocodiles
  • The Huntress
  • Opener of the Ways
  • Great Goddess
  • Lady of the West

Mother of the Gods, goddess of war and the hunt, she is goddess of the lower heavens, a warrior goddess and protectress. Her name means “I have come from myself,” or self-begotten.

Eternal goddess, universal mother; the Spirit behind the Veil of Mysteries; World Body; Primal Abyss. Her cult was a very ancient one with two queens of the First Dynasty named after her. Often shown along side Selqet as mummy guardian and protectress of marriage. She wore the red crown of Lower Egypt. In her hands she held a bow and two arrows.

Neith is a goddess of hunting. She presides over crafts of all kinds, including witchcraft and warcraft. Amuletic weapons placed in the tomb to protect the deceased from evil spirits were consecrated to Neith. She is the judge of the Egyptian deities. After eighty years, when the lawsuit between Horus and Set in the Court of Deities was still not resolved, Neith was called in to render a decision to which all could defer. (She favored Horus but compensated Set. Neith has historically had a close positive relationship with Set.)

Her ceremonies were of a mystic nature. Neith was worshiped with Mysteries and lantern processions. In December (on or around December 8th), a great festival, called the Feast of Lamps, was held annually in her honor and, according to Herodotus, her devotees burned a multitude of lights in the open air all night during the celebration.

She is the patroness of domestic arts, weaving, hunting, medicine, war, and weapons. Turn to her when working with herbs, magick, healing, mystical knowledge, rituals, and meditation. She is the protectress of women and marriage.

She may be venerated independently or together with her son, Sobek. The Greeks identified her with Athena, also identified as originating in Libya. Many consider Athena to be a Greek path of Neith or at least a very closely related spirit.

Neith appears as an androgynous woman. She wears the red crown of Lower Egypt. She sometimes appears in the guise of a golden cobra, as well. In Iconography, she is customarily depicted with a green face and hands. Neith is portrayed suckling a crocodile at each breast.

The main imagery of Neith was as the deity of the unseen and limitless sky, as opposed to Nut and Hathor, who respectively represented the manifested night and day skies. Her epithet as the “Opener of the Sun’s Paths in all her stations” refers to how the sun is reborn (due to seasonal changes) at various points in the sky, under her control of all beyond the visible world, of which only a glimpse is revealed prior to dawn and after sunset.

It is at these changing points that Neith reigns as a form of sky goddess, where the sun rises and sets daily, or at its ‘first appearance’ to the sky above and below. It is at these points, beyond the sky that is seen, that her true power as the deity who creates life is manifested.

This ancient goddess represents the full ecliptic circle around the sky (above and below). It was this realm, the cosmos below the horizon, that Neith personified, for she is the complete sky which surrounds the upper and lower sky, and which exists beyond the horizon, and thereby beyond the skies themselves. Neith, then, is that portion of the cosmos which is not seen, and in which the sun is reborn daily, below the horizon which may reflect the statement assigned to Neith as “I come at dawn and at sunset daily.”

As the goddess of creation and weaving, she was said to reweave the world on her loom daily. An interior wall of the temple at Esna records an account of creation in which Neith brings forth from the primeval waters of the Nun the first land. All that she conceived in her heart comes into being, including the thirty deities. Having no known husband she has been described as “Virgin Mother Goddess.”

Unique Goddess, mysterious and great who came to be in the beginning and caused everything to come to be . . . the divine mother of Ra, who shines on the horizon… 

Sources:

Damballah

  • Other names: Damballah Weddo, Da, Papa Damballa, Obatala
  • Manifestation: Damballah is a huge snake, so big his body forms seven thousand coils
  • Color: White
  • Day: Thursday
  • Plants: Bougainvillea, trees in general, but especially the silk cotton tree (Bombax ceiba) and the Royal palm.
  • Altar: Keep shallow vessels of clean, fresh water for him to curl up inside.
  • Holiday: March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)

Once upon a time, there was only Damballah. He lay beneath Earth, a great snake, cushioning and protecting it from falling into the watery abyss below. Although he lay still for a long time, eventually he had to move. His movements raised mountains and created valleys. Stars were shaken up into the sky. Sacred waters were released, forming oceans, rivers, springs and streams.

The first rain began to fall, and Aido-Hwedo, in the guise of the first rainbow, appeared. Damballah and Aido-Hwedo fell in love. They remain in love today. The intensive all pervasive power of that love infiltrated the entire universe. That power is manifest in human beings in the form of white liquids: milk and semen.

Associated Catholic Saint Patrick (who drove the snakes out of Ireland), and sometimes also Moses, whose staff transformed into a snake to prove the power of God over that wielded by Egyptian priests, Damballah is the primordial snake Iwa of life, wealth and wisdom. He is venerated in Dahomey as well as Haitian Vodou. He may also survive in the New Orleans folk saint Blanc Dani.

Damballah is among the most beloved and important Iwa. He associated with creation and is viewed as a loving father to the world. His presence brings peace and harmony. He bestows wealth, prosperity, good health, and fertility to devotees and can expose the location of missing treasure.

Damballah and his true love, the rainbow serpent, maintain the balance of forces, which sustains all ife on Earth. As a source of life, he is also strongly associated with water and regulates moisture and the rain.

He is incredibly old and powerful and is usually not bothered for trivial matters. He can be extremely generous, however, and so may be approached when one is genuinely desperate or really in trouble. Despite his venerable age, he remains interested in people. He will engage in sacred marriages with women but also occasionally with men.

Dambullah appears in dreams. He does not communicate well. You must pay attention. He is so old and primal that he is pre-articulate; he emerges from a time before speech. Damballah may hiss or make whistling noises but does not speak human language.

When he possesses a human, he does not speak but instead only hisses and whistles. His movements are also snake-like, and can including slithering along the ground, flicking his tongue, and climbing tall objects.

He is a stickler for cleanliness. He doesn’t like strong, pervasive odors of any kind, but especially tobacco. If you smoke, then do so far from his altar space or anywhere associated with him. He may object to cleaning products with strong odors too, as well as air fresheners with strong aromas. Rooms should smell clean and fresh. Open a window to aerate them. He does not object to light floral odors, like rose or orange blossom water, and traditionally expresses a fondness for Pompeii Lotion, a cologne product found in botanicas and spiritual supply stores.

Offerings:

For a very traditional offering, make a bed or hill of white flour on a perfectly clean, pure white plate. Nestle one whole, raw white egg into the center of the flour and serve.

Other offerings could include white candles and white foods like rice, milk, whole raw eggs (leave them plain or rub gently with rose or other mildly scented, fine quality floral water), corn syrup, white chickens, or white flowers. More lavish offerings might include luxurious white fabrics, crystal or porcelain eggs and/or snakes.

Veve for Damballa and Ayida-Weddo:

800px-VeveDamballah.svg

From; Encyclopedia of Spirits

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  • Also known as: Lases (Etruscan); Lassi
  • Manifestation: Lares usually come in pairs, either in human form or as snakes.
  • Sacred animal: Dog; Snake
  • Origin: Italy
  • Feast: Dec 23, The Larentalia

Lares are guardian spirits. Lares is plural but that’s fitting because they virtually always manifest in pairs. The singular is Lar. They are found inside the home, on the property they protect and also at crossroads. They make their home with the family they protect, usually dwelling by the hearth or beside the chimney.

The Lares themselves are usually depicted as dancing youths, with a horn cup in one hand and a bowl in the other. As progenitors of the family, they were accompanied by symbolic phallic serpents.

There were many different types of guardians. The most important are the Lares Familiares (guardians of the family), Lares Domestici (guardians of the house), Lares Patrii (guardians of the fathers) and Lares Privati (personal guardians). Other guardians were the Lares Permarini (guardians of the sea), Lares Rurales (guardians of the land), Lares Compitales (guardians of crossroads), Lares Viales (guardians of travelers) and Lares Praestitis (guardians of the state).

The Lar Familiaris protected all household members, free or slave, and was associated with a particular place, thus did not accompany a family who moved. Tradition holds that a family’s Lar would generously help those who honored him by devotionals and sacrifices. But the Lar would turn his back to those who would not offer him thanks or neglected him.

roman-larariumPresumed to be sons of Mercury and Lara, Lares are beneficent and friendly spirits, and deeply venerated by ancient Romans. In every house there was at least one little statue, and through these small statues, the Lare was presumed to take part in all that happened inside the house. Often a statue was put on the table during the meals, and other small statues were often placed in the higher places of the house, far from the floor, or even on the roof.

The Lares were worshiped in small sanctuaries or shrines, called Lararium, which could be found in every Roman house. They were placed in the atrium (the main room) or in the peristylium (a small open court) of the house. Here people sacrificed food to the Lares on holidays.

Care and attendance to domestic Lares could include offerings of spelt wheat and grain-garlands, honey cakes and honeycombs, grapes and first fruits, wine and incense. They could be served at any time and not always by intention: as well as the formal offerings that seem to have been their due, any food that fell to the floor during house banquets was theirs. On important occasions, wealthier households may have offered their own Lares a pig.

A household’s lararium, a shrine to the Lares Familiaris, usually stood near the hearth or in a corner of the atrium. A lararium often had the appearance of a cupboard or a niche containing a small statue, a niche painted on a wall, or a small freestanding shrine. Sometimes the Genius of the head of the household, pictured as a bearded or crested snake, or as a man with the fold of his toga covering his head, is depicted with the Lar.

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Iconography: Lares are usually depicted as two young men with a watch dog; if depicted in serpentine form, then they may be crowned.

The Lares Compitales, the guardian spirits who protected local neighborhoods were housed in the crossroad shrines which served as a focus for the religious, social and political life of their local, overwhelmingly plebeian communities. Shrines were erected at crossroads. These shrines were usually open in all directions so that the Lares could travel as needed.

More about the Lares Compitales and their festival and feast days can be found here:

 

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