Tegobessus II: Tegoatis (House spirit)

In the previous piece we spoke of the basics of doing a simple ritual at home. That involved the invocation of deities in such rites. However, it’s important to note that deities aren’t always going to be the main focus of such rituals. As Galatîs, and especially in BNG, there are many spirits other than deities with which we have encounters through more or less formal rites.

One of those which is less formal is that concerning the Tegoatis, or “one of the house”. From Tegos “house”, and -atis “the one of”, such as in Toutatis “the one of the tribe”. Your house spirit. Of course this also applies if you live in an apartment.

House spirits aren’t something recorded from Gaul because household practices such as this weren’t really recorded. Though it is possible that the severed heads that some Gauls were known for keeping, or perhaps the bones of an ancestor helped serve this function. Or burying the body of a deceased family member within the premises of the homestead. Though we should not judge these ancient practices with modern eyes, they certainly aren’t legal in most places in the modern day. The Gauls were far from alone in doing this. But they are obviously not recommended practices to revive.

However, this is something found in many cultures including many of the neighbours of the Gauls at various points in time. One example is the Roman Lares. Amongst Germanic peoples the Anglo-Saxon Cofgodas, German Kobolds, and Swedish Tomte. The Slavic Domovoi are another example. Often customs related to such beings long outlasted the end of pre-Christian religions in Europe. Others like the Welsh Bwbachod, as well as English and Scottish Brownies are known later still.

The lore for all of these beings is different, of course. As the Tegoatis in BNG may differ from the above listed as well, but exists in some similar veins.

As all things have spirits — a principle of Anatiaxtâ or “Animism” — your dwelling is no exception. Therefore your, yes your home has a spirit. It is important to form a good relationship with that spirit. However, this is not the same as a formal rite in which we invoke a deity. You don’t need to invoke the Tegoatis because they’re already there. They live in your home with you.

The Tegoatis, when given offering and respect blesses and protects the home. In BNG, there is a synthesis of many origins for the Tegoatis. As a known Gaulish take isn’t really to be found, we have taken the step to help establish this piece of Galatis folk culture. As the house spirit has a centuries, and more, long place in many cultures throughout the world. And so they come in many shapes and forms.

On the subject of house spirits, an excerpt from the aptly titled ‘Tradition of the Household Spirits’ by Claude Lecoteux (Kindle edition) has this to say:

The house spirit therefore falls primarily under the jurisdiction of folk religion; he was part of our ancestors’ mental structures and embodied a transcendent element that people could turn to in need. It corrected adverse situations, redressed inequalities, and provided valuable assistance. In short, its existence offered reassurance because it gave physical expression to happiness and to the order without which nothing could prosper.”

And so it is in this tradition. Thus the Tegoatis has a deep importance. Even if the way in which we may address this being is done in a less formal manner.

From the experience of members of BNG, the Tegoatis actually asks for quite little in return for its blessings. Two things immediately come to mind. The first is to keep the house reasonably clean. After all, the Tegoatis lives there as well. They tend to prefer a safe, clean place to live.

The second is regular offerings. As the Tegoatis gives, the Cantos Ratî (Circle of Gifting) strongly suggests that we give something back. Whole milk, butter, oatmeal, porridge, incense, or coins tend to be safe offerings. But individual Tegoatîs (the plural form of the word) may also have their own tastes and so it’s important to try to be aware of that.

One can fashion their own image of a Tegoatis. Or a miniature of a gnome, dwarf, fairy (even in the way they are depicted these days) can work as well. There are many options here. They can be any gender. To offer to the Tegoatis in the BNG way is quite simple. When speaking, a simple address, salutation, and offering are sufficient. As the Tegoatis specifically blesses and protects the home.

A sample, in both Iextis Galation and English follows:

Subutâ, Tegoati

(Hello, Tegoatis)

Rodîmosnis/Rodîumî sinadbertâ tê

(We/I give this offering to you)

Uregar

(It is done)


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