Traditions are born in the home

Traditions are born in the home
by Sannion

In ancient times you were raised in a world full of Gods and Spirits.

When your mother brought you screaming into existence prayers to the Goddesses of birth were upon her lips or being said over her by other members of the family.

A series of rituals would be performed on you during the coming months to ensure the Gods’ guidance and protection during this highly dangerous phase of your life. (There was a better than average chance you’d be dead before you saw your first birthday so you needed all the help you could get.)

From your mother or wetnurse’s breast you would hear the myths of the Gods and legends of the heroes, and once you were able to toddle about you would encounter numerous shrines and objects of worship for the hereditary and domestic Gods, as well as the divinities that one’s parents were particularly devoted to. (If you were wealthy and your home spacious enough your Thracian slaves might even have their own shrines set up somewhere.)

Slowly you would be integrated into home cultus, given increasingly important tasks to perform such as gathering flowers for the garland-crowns or carrying the sacred utensils to the altar.

You were taught to honor the Ancestors, respect the Spirits of the land and revere the traditions of your people.

Various stages of your early life would be marked religiously – getting your first taste of wine at Anthesteria, playing the bear for Artemis if you’re a girl or killing your first man in defense of the earth covering the bones of your Ancestors if you’re a boy, going through puberty and that sort of thing.

You would be taken to the numerous temples throughout the city and participate in massive communal festivals. (Everyone got free barbecue!)

Everywhere your eyes rested would be some reminder of the Gods – towering temples and statues in the marketplace, wayside shrines and murals in the home, even the cup and bowl that one dined with likely had divine images painted on them.

All of the arts – music, dance, theater, etc. – had the sacred as their subject matter.

When you were of age you would be brought into more specific cults such as those of a particular family line, neighborhood or occupation and there were a number of elective or voluntary cults you could participate in as well, ranging from religious dinner clubs to groups offering special instruction and mystery-initiation. (This initiation brought you into a more intimate relationship with a divinity which resulted in good things such as smooth sailing or an eternity of drunken revelry.)

At some point in your life you would probably travel abroad (if only to the next city over) and encounter people worshiping an entirely different group of divinities, often in ways vastly different from what you were familiar with. And when they did call them by the same names they often told stories about the Gods you had never heard before. Though not the same, you respected it for it was their traditions and tradition is the lifeblood of the community. Sometimes you even worshiped them too, because one can never have enough of the divine.

That is how it was and that is how it can be again. Each of us have a part to play in that restoration.

The time is now.

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