Wednesday, November 6, 2013


EVERY home in Ancient Rome had a special niche or devotional area known as a "lararium" for honoring the spirit of the household.

Today we tend to move from one house or apartment to another with little or no thought to the spiritual element of the structures we inhabit. We are spiritually poorer for that.

The Romans knew that each structure built by the hand of mankind is imbued with a spirit.

And they knew that this spirit grows and prospers ... as the people who reside there grow and prosper ... the spirit is a spiritual reflection of the people who live there ... and it assists and nurtures "its" residents just as they assist and nurture it.

This is the Spirit which loves to build a comfy nest, a place to call one's own. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home for this Spirit. It is the Spirit of the special place which is your home, whether it be a rented room or a sprawling mansion. This Spirit invites you to step inside, close the door behind you, kick off your shoes and revel in being Home.

The lararium in every Roman home was a niche in a part of the house where people would congregate ... it was a place for prayers and offerings to the spirits not only of the house itself but of all those who had ever lived there.

This image above shows the Roman fresco from the lararium of the house of Iulius Polybius in Pompeii. We love the fact that this fresco is located on a wall adjacent to the kitchen of the house ... the one room which is vital to everyone in the house ... the room from which food and sustenance issues forth.

The fresco shows an enormous serpent coiling forth from the earth to entwine itself around a sacred altar. To our eyes this alarming image seems hardly the thing you would want to see at the door to your kitchen.

But the Romans recognized that this serpent is the Agatho-Daimon (Blessed Spirit) " In Greek, "daimon" means "spirit-being" regardless whether that being is beneficial or detrimental to humans. It was only later that the Christians literally "demonized" the word daimon, so that the modern word "demon" only ever refers to an evil spirit.

Agatho Daimon is a decidedly beneficent spirit, rendered often as a serpent. And in this fresco this beneficent spirit is blessing the altar ... and the feminine being in red wrap is the "genius" or spirit of the household itself. 

Behind her stands a male spirit holding a cornucopia of plenty.

On either side are large figures (perhaps ancestors) pouring libations of wine or holy oil. The smaller figures (child-like household spirits) are making music and serving food ... creating an atmosphere of hospitality.

Antinous was often compared to Agatho Daimon, and is often portrayed with the Serpent in his hand, as in the famous Berlin Antinous-Agathodaimon statue pictured here.

Perhaps you live in a small rented room. Perhaps you live in a grand house. No matter! Honoring the spirit of your home helps to center you and give you a firm home base. By nurturing the spirit of your home, you nurture your own inner spiritual home.

May Antinous Agatho-Daimon ... Antinous the Blessed Spirit ... bless your home ... and you!

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