Taking the Penates home
Between Blaise Pascal and Pascal Bruckner, a choice has to be made.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”, noted the first.
“A life lived in a room is the sad countenance of existence”, answered the other.
House. Home. Heim. Hearth.
The root of all the words above is the Proto-Indo-European Tkei, meaning ‘to settle, be home, dwell’. The homeliest word in our deep legacy. The real hygge, the source of it all.
The ancient Romans began their worship at home, with home, with the household deities which they called ‘Di Penates’. These tutelary dieties preceded, historically, all the other gods in the pantheon, like Jupiter, Venus or Neptune.
There is a deep insight there. Things begin at home, with the things closest to one’s being. To achieve great things, the household has to be in order.
When Aeneas flees Troy, he’s careful not to forget to carry the Penates with him. Home may be where one finds himself, ubi bene ibi patria, but there’s no place without a home.
A citizen of the universe is a citizen with a home. Roots may be uprooted but they are always thrown somewhere where they can grow.
Running away from home is running towards another home. The Penates need an altar, whence they can grow into community, into a place they can call home, for their sake as well as ours.