[Poseidon] Domatites – a pagan blog project post

Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet,–where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last . . .” (Homeric Hymn to Hestia, Hugh G. Evelyn-White trans.)

PBP2014bFor many pagans on or influenced by a Hellenic path, Hestia as the hearth is a given. Considering the dependency that we had upon the flame before the advent of electricity, this is only fitting. We needed that fire, for heat, for fuel, for transforming raw food stuffs to materials that we can eat, for making so very many things. We still need that fire, but many of us get that fire these days at the flip of a dial. (whether this is a good thing or a bad thing largely depends upon where you are – a recent uncharacteristic for our area ice storm drove that home; we do not have any heat source other than electricity. Thousands of people in our city were without power for days, some as long as five days. We were not among them, thankfully, but what if we had been?)

It’s not surprising that many modern day Hellenic pagans follow the advice set forth in this Homeric Hymn. Sacrifices and libations are given first and last to Hestia, and Her central place in the home is honored, as it had been in the past.

I don’t do this. I never have. From the beginning, before I reached out and began to explore Hellenic paganism, Poseidon was the center of my worship. I had no desire for Him to move from that place. Others would speak of Hestia being the center, the hearth, and while I could understand that metaphor, when I thought of my center, of my hearth that the rest of my spirituality was built around, it was Poseidon. The biggest reason early on that I decided I was not and could not be a Hellenic pagan was because Hestia would not be my hearth; Poseidon was. Poseidon would remain so.

Fast forward years later. Just last April I was reading through Pausanias’s Guides To Greece, as one does, and I stumbled upon a reference to Poseidon Domatites – Poseidon of the house, or, more specifically, of the rooms. (δωματί). Rereading is a good thing, revisiting where we’ve been already can be beneficial. (Interestingly enough, it was with this discovery that I was able to better gain an understanding of the role that Hestia fulfills when it comes to sacred ties of family. Funny, that.) This was an exciting discovery. It resulted in a poem. I don’t write poems often; they are all of them about Poseidon. And instead of going on and on about how exciting this was for me, I’m going to just share the poem. Enjoy!


You are the Foundation,
cellar dug deep for stores to be laid up, to see us through our lean times,
stone ringed ’round, thick and strong, to carry the weight of our dwelling.

You are the framework.
Timber hewn and set in place, the bones of this structure that is my life,
solidly braced throughout, giving shape to so much raw material.

You are the openings.
Windows and doors placed in just the right locations to let in light, air, breath,
and easily shuttered when the outside elements threaten to overwhelm this sanctuary.

You are the walls.
Plaster and paint, the flesh of this space, gently partitioning off the rooms of my soul,
providing layer upon layer of solitude and privacy, yet welcoming enough for company, as needed.

You are the chamber in the heart of the house,
Replete with all the lush comfort any bedroom could offer, rich in textiles,
and an intimacy that goes deeper than blood, than life, than something so simple as love.

You are my Hearth,
at the center of it all, my life an offering poured into the flame of Your divine glory,
All that is nourishing and warm and life-giving within me comes from Your shelter, Your blessings,
Your generosity.

You are the Foundation.

12 thoughts on “[Poseidon] Domatites – a pagan blog project post

  1. Yet again, I am excited and fulfilled by your research.

    Do you still believe you cannot consider yourself a Hellenic Pagan? I wonder about that, since Hellenismos was and is a religion based on local custom, and no doubt you’re more aware of the variations in antiquity than I. If the Orphics can raise Dionysos up as the One God, I think there’s more than enough room for you to honor Poseidon as your hearth.

    • Aw, thanks.

      I go back and forth with regards to considering myself a Hellenic Pagan, honestly, and I suspect I always will. I’ve often likened the degree of comfort I have from a heathen worldview/understanding versus a hellenic paganism worldview/understanding to the differences between one’s native family versus being taken in by one’s inlaws. Not a perfect analogy by any means, but I think it serves my purpose well enough. I can speak the “language” fluently now, often times well enough that I start thinking in that “language” but it does not yet have the ease and comfort and intimacy that my native “tongue” affords me.

      When I think of myself, and of what I call myself, I think: Poseidon’s, and then Odin’s, pagan and polytheist and heathen after. I realize I could likely use Hellenic pagan as a description, too, at this point, but it still feels dishonest? Possibly too specific enough, all things considered, though then I wonder, why is that too specific and heathen isn’t? That said, I really use pagan and polytheist more than heathen, these days. Which I blame on Odin. Something about letting labels narrow my definition, rather than being a tool to explore and expand.

      Poseidon as my hearth has created a whole host of connections to fire musings, which has been fun to explore, as well.

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      • Thank you!🙂 Vesta! My experience with Vesta, as opposed to Hestia, is She is the Center of her people. She was the flame and spirit of Rome that connected everyone, and while I’m sure that’s the case with Hestia it was taken to all new levels with Vesta (Levels I’m not always comfortable with, because the Vestal Virgins have never fully meshed with me on a gut level). My experience with Vesta has been less about her being Center for my home and family, but more about Center for my people. People tell me that she seems more removed than Hestia in cultus, and from my own experience that is why.

        BUT what just popped into my mind is that it was said the flame at the Temple of Vesta came from Troy, along with the Palladium, which was also housed there. Given the whole tearing the Wall of Troy with a sea monster, I’m wondering if maybe there’s a connection there as to why you’ve not felt as connected to Hestia?

        • You’ve got me, again, realizing I need to branch out into Rome a bit. The differences between how various gods were understood is interesting and can only add to our understanding. The tearing of the walls of Troy by a sea monster is interesting also considering the story of the *builders* of the wall, too.

          Curiouser and curiouser. Thank you for sharing.

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