Most animistic and polytheistic traditions have some conception of a house god, goddess or deities which rule the sacred enclosure of the home.
These gods of home protection can help manage the microcosm that is the domus, the hearth and the home. Having an altar or shrine for the spirits that live at home is a way to become the priest/priestess of our sacred quarters.
What are Household Deities?
These are deities or spirits that protect the home, particularly overseeing the family. It has been a common belief in paganism, as well as in the folklore of many parts of the world.
For example, it was an offence to Hestia to refuse hospitality to a stranger. Hestia’s followers recognized the sacred obligation of sheltering and protecting those in need from ill treatment.
In Ancient Greece, the town hall was built around a hearth that honoured Hestia. The living flame of Hestia was tended constantly and was never allowed to die out.
The circle was an important symbol of Hestia. It symbolized her as the “complete” goddess, the goddess who was whole and complete within herself. She was seen to represent the center; the center of the home and family, the center of the city and even of the world itself.
In Celtic lore, Brigid is associated with perpetual, sacred flames, such as one maintained by 19 nuns at her sanctuary in Kildare, Ireland. The sacred flame is said to have been surrounded by a hedge, which no man could cross. Men who attempted to cross the hedge were said to have been cursed to go insane, die or be crippled.
In Aztec religion, Chantico (“she who dwells in the house”) is the deity reigning over the fires in the family hearth. According to Aztec myths she brings wealth and stability to the home. Chantico protects the home from thieves and losing things
Another type of domestic deities are those of an animistic kind, who generally have lesser powers than the main deities.
Lares, Protectors of the Home
Ancient Etruscans practiced ancestral or family cults very similar to those offered by later Romans to their Lares. The word can be translated as “hero” and they may have been hero-ancestors that protect the family, hearth, and fields.
Offerings to the lares could be served at any time and they often involved honey cakes and honeycombs, grapes and first fruits, wine, and incense.
Household deities were generally worshiped not in temples but in the home. A Lararium was a type of shrine or altar that typically contained a Lares figure or two. Source.
Goblins supposedly live in grottoes but attach themselves to households, where they are believed to bang upon pots and pans, snatch nightclothes off the bodies of sleeping people, move furniture at night, and flee after rapping on walls and doors.
They are thought to help parents discipline children by rewarding the latter with presents when they are good and punishing them when they are disobedient. - Source
Brownies (Scotland and England)
A brownie is a household spirit from British folklore that is said to come out at night while the owners of the house are asleep and perform various chores and farming tasks. The human owners of the house must leave a bowl of milk or cream or some other offering for the brownie, usually by the hearth.
Brownies are described as easily offended and will leave their homes forever if they feel they have been insulted or in any way taken advantage of. Brownies are characteristically mischievous and are often said to punish or pull pranks on lazy servants. If angered, they are sometimes said to turn malicious, like boggarts. - Source
Although usually invisible, a kobold can materialize in the form of an animal, fire, a human being, and a candle. They are mischievous household spirit who usually helps with chores and gives other valuable services but who often hides household and farm tools or kicks over stooping persons. He is temperamental and becomes outraged when he is not properly fed. He sometimes sings to children. Source
The domovoy is the guardian of the family and its wealth, but he is partial to conscientious and hard-working people. He can foresee the future, and his groans and weeping or singing and jumping are interpreted as portents of evil or good. No household would consider moving to a new location without formally inviting the domovoy to join it.
A domovoy dwells in any number of places in each home: near the oven, under the doorstep, in the hearth. He never goes out beyond the boundaries of the household. Source
Mythological creature from Nordic folklore today typically associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season. According to tradition, the nisse lives in the houses and barns of the farmstead, and secretly acts as their guardian.
If treated well, they protect the family and animals from evil and misfortune, and may also aid the chores and farm work. However, they are known to be short tempered, especially when offended. Once insulted, they will usually play tricks, steal items and even maim or kill livestock. Source
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I have added in the picture above, a few symbols and runes that represent torches and sacred fires, such as the fire of the hearth.
May your house spirits and deities continue to bless and protect you!!