Gods of the Month: Gods of the Pantry (Di Penates)

ndcricket

Roman Polytheists have many deities who protect the household. Di Penates, the Spirits of the Pantry (penus) guard the food stores. Three times a month (Kalends (1st), Nones (9th) and Ides (15th), the Lararium (household altar) is decorated with garlands in their honor. On October 15, a festival is held for Di Penates.

Di Penates are the Spirits of the Ancestors who have become the Keepers of the Hearth and the Stores. They preside over cooking and meals, inspiring the family to make and eat nutritious meals. Di Penates also help the family care about food that they consume. During meals, They are thanked for their role in the family’s well-being.

Any food that falls on the floor is offered to Di Penates. I usually give Them cereal each day and any leftover scraps from cooking. Di Penates help me with my meal planning and cooking. They also ensure that I have a well-stocked pantry.

Traditionally Di Penates are represented by snakes. Even today, these reptiles are enticed to stay near the stove and are fed milk. If the snake leaves the home, then disaster will follow, since Di Penates no longer protect the family. I have a pewter snake next to my kitchen cupboard, which I give milk to.

The veneration of Di Penates have continued, in subtle ways, in modern times. In some parts of Europe, homes still have pots behind stoves for bits of food. These pots are for the “Masters of the House” (i.e. Di Penates). Meanwhile, a cricket on the hearth brings prosperity and good health. A cricket in the living room ensures good fortune. “The Cricket on the Hearth,” a novel by Charles Dickens, features the cricket as a guardian angel.

Salvete Di Penates!
Kind Spirits of the Home
Who protect our stores
May we remember You.
May we thank You always
Kind Spirits of the Home
Salvete Di Penates!

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