It's about time for another installment of the 'Beginner's guide to Hellenismos', and this time I would like to not so much address a new topic as revisit one. This post about daímones in Hellenismos will replace the old one in the guide.

The word 'daímones' ((δαίμονες)has its etymological origins in the word 'daiō' (δαίω) which means 'to divide', 'to distribute destinies', 'to allot'. For the Minoan (3000 - 1100 BC) and Mycenaean (1500 - 1100 BC), the daímones were seen as attendants or servants to the deities, possessing spiritual power. Later, the term 'daímon' was used by writers such as Hómēros (8th century BC) to describe an incorporial benevolent or benign nature spirit which provides wealth and justice to mortals.

Hesiod gives us our first glimpse into the nature of daímones as he writes about the five Ages of Man in Works and Days. In this standard work, he writes about the golden age of mortals, created by the Theoi when Kronos was still leader of the Gods. There humans lived like Gods, without sorrow and grief. They had all they desired and lived the perfect, ethical life. They died as if falling asleep and knew no pain. These mortals were called pure spirits. Even after this generation of mortal men ended, they continued to roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds. They became givers of wealth because that is what they knew in life and are considered guardians of mortal men. These are the daímones khryseoi: 'golden spirits'.

According to some ancient writers, the spirits of the Silver Age also became daímones: the daímones agryreoi. They were described as earth-dwelling fertility spirits who proffered mankind with rich harvests. They were inferior to the Daimones Khryseoi. The former resided within the earth, while the latter occupied the air.

Hesiod makes clear distinction between the Theoi and the daímones: the Theoi are Gods, the daímones are members of the Gold (and Silver) Age who gained immortality. This differentiation is much less pronounced in the writings of Hómēros, where 'Theos' and 'daímon' are used virtually interchangeably. Especially through Neo-Platonics, comes the placement of daímones between the Theoi and mankind. Daímones are less powerful than the Olympic Gods, with lesser domains; more concerned with the daily happenings of life than the Olympians are, but they, too, are immortal, and deserve honors. Socrates even went so far as to say that a daimon is a personal guardian spirit or the personification of a person's conscience.

Daímones are an important part of Hellenismos, but because they are so intangible--both in substance and intellectual pursuit--they seem hard to incorporate. Sorting out the confusion can be done by saying that what defines a daímones is a divine spark--and everything has a divine spark. Clearly, the Gods have a divine spark--They exist solely of it. This is why the terms "daímones" and "God" can be used synonymously. Beings born of a God and a human have a clear divine spark too--these are the heroes, but also nymphs and so called "minor" Gods. Humans also possess a spark of the divine, but we are not divine ourselves. As such, the spark is separate from us: Socrates' idea of a personal daímones that "speaks" to us. What lingers of us after death, the part of us that remains in stories and proper ancestral worship is also divine. As such, the dead are daímones too. Animals and plants, in Hellenismos and ancient Hellenes thought were not divine and did not qualify for the status of daímones.

If one wants to honor the daímones, one needs to look at them not as "daímones"--so in essence "divine"--but as what They actually are, be it Gods, heroes, ancestors, nature spirits, or even your own conscience. All have their own rituals, sacrifices, festival days and particulars to remember when it comes to worship. Consider "daímones" a category in which many types of beings fall. It's a muddled term and one that is best to avoid. Focus on the beings Themselves and honor Them as one should. It'll take the confusion out of it.

Having said that, that leaves one complication: Agathós Daímōn. On the second day of the new Hellenistic month, we give sacrifice to (the) Agathós Daímōn (ἀγαθός δαίμων, Good Spirit). It's an important practice, and the mythology, application and existence of the Agathós Daímōn is muddled. The Agathós Daímōn is a God, married to the Theia Agathe Tyche (Ἀγαθή Τύχη, 'Good Fortune'). It is also an epithet of Zeus, or linked to Zeus Kthesios and/or Zeus Melichios.

The Agathós Daímōn was always a positive in one's life, and was generally seen as the source of personal or familial good fortune. Libations of (unmixed) wine were given to Him with each newly opened case of wine, and during feasts and symposium, Agathós Daímōn received the first libation. When crossing a snake on the road, it was also customary to pour out a libation, just in case it was a herald of Agathós Daímōn, or Agathós Daímōn Himself as He was often seen as a snake.

Agathós Daímōn as the serpent household daímones who brings good fortune, honor and wealth to the oikos, was and is honor, as said, on the second day of the month. He receives libations of unmixed wine and can be asked to watch over the family, to keep honor in the family line, and to let the family name be forever remembered through the deeds of all who carried the name--yours included. One may also draft and read out a list of events and goals for the new month to the daímones, so He may help you achieve it.