Household Gods

It has often been noticed that when a group comes together for a purpose it can achieve far more than its members could acting as individuals. Many explanations have been suggested for this but the one favoured by the Morivian is that the difference is a what they call a Household God. The name reflects their first emergence in Morivan culture when the household was the main nuclear grouping of people. With the development of society they have spread (or at least people's behaviour toward them has spread) to include work places and even some more mobile groups (such as military units, caravans or ships).


Attracting a God

A household that is newly formed or which failed to bring its god with it when it moved will often actively seek out a new god. Some believe that the gods settle on households that match their temperament and that a household in search of a god must "advertise" by their behaviour for a god that will suit them; others hold that the gods are fickle and settle without regard for the people who must then adapt their behaviour to match their god if they are to prosper.

Setting up a shrine within the household is often believed to be useful, though many households have succeeded in their many endeavours without such an item. Though these are particularly common in groups that are more mobile, even military units on campaign have maintained their relationship with their god without such an artefact.


Wider Gods

In addition to their household gods, many also have faith in village, town or regional gods. These may be vested in geographical features or "housed" within what might be thought of as temples but more accurately act as town or village halls: some are furnished as temples but most are more functional communal spaces which serve for the community as the house does for the household. Though some even boast a permanent priesthood, this seems to be more a statement of the community's ego than something that directly affects the town or village god.

The similarity between these gods and the location gods worshipped by the Taru has been noted by students of comparative religion and travellers through the Morivian lands. Though such deities are more common in areas with a clearer cultural link to the Taru, many Morivians will ldismiss such suggestions.

Of Priests and Household Gods

Although there are some retained in priestly roles some of the larger temples, there is no priesthood of the household gods, for all rites are expected to be done by the members of the household. Nevertheless there are some who have studied the ways of these gods and whose advice is sought in dealing propitiously with household gods. Some are charlatans whether by design or because of a fortuitous action that they cannot repeat but others are learned and the advice of a respected Godsman is often sought by those moving their families or builders seeking to build a reputation for auspicious housing.

Gods of People or Gods of Places?

The question of whether Household Gods are linked to the group or to the place has been much debated. Much effort is put into trying to ensure that the household god moves when the group does (for example the Rite of Passage ). Sometimes this works and sometime it doesn't, and is not consistent for an individual household god (in so far as they can be positively identified as individuals). The answer seem to be that they can be either and that if your group wishes to continue its relationship with its god, then it needs to keep in their good books.  

Household Gods or Household Devils?

Sometimes it has been noted that a group is less effective than the sum of its individuals; this is often associated with less kindly gods. But are these beings cut from the same cloth as the beneficent gods or beings of some different type. Stories such as the Tale of Hunnock or the Tale of Marya point to them being the same and interchangeable though some (particularly those more used to larger religion) take the opposite view.

Getting Rid of a Troublesome God

Where a god's brings bad fortune or conflict it is often easier for the household to move and hope that the god stays. Rites such as Narravine are relied upon by some, as is the desecration of shrines but neither of these are guaranteed to be effective.

A summary of Common Rituals

As the worship of household gods is not a formalised religion it must be noted that these rituals vary from place to place; some may not be found in use in one place and others may be present not listed here. Most households or groups will have their own specific rituals, but these are the most generally encountered.

  • Evens - a daily observance at the end of the day to give thanks for benefits received.
  • Hearthhome - the induction of a new member of the household.
  • Hearthtime - a daily observance at the start of the day when as many members of the group or household as possible will be present at the lighting of the fire, with prayers and offerings.
  • Narravine - a rite to rid the household of an unwanted deity.
  • Rite of Passage - conducted when a household moves. Designed to bring the god with them.
  • Rite of Passing - to mark the departure of a household member, whether through death or otherwise.

In practice - Moving House

Because household gods may move with the household, or may stay the act of moving a household has serious potential impacts. An uncaring or malevolent god will seriously reduce the value of a dwelling or workplace despite the potential for it to move on with the sellers. Even a beneficent household god may pose significant problems for the purchaser - the god may not get on well with them, or they may already have a god that they are looking to bring with them. An ill willed god is bad, but conflicting gods are worse still.

Most property sales include specific clauses relating to issues with gods and it is usual for upto 50% of the agreed price being dependent on how the relocation of the household gods proceeds. In the larger towns it is usual for a Godsman to be retained to advise on the transaction with their costs being split between purchaser and seller.

With such risks it is not surprising that in rural areas (and even occasionally in towns) when an estate changes hands a new house is built by the incoming family and, where possible the old one left standing until the new occupants are established with their familiar god.


See Also


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