The cult of Lasas

The worship of Lasas and Lares (pronounced lossa) can be found in other pagan traditions and is a common concept.

The cult of Lasas and Lares

Worship of Lasas and Lares

The Lares are defined as protective spirits and there are several types. Those celebrated in the stregheria are the Lares Familiares who are the protective spirits of the family. Their worship dates from the Romans.

The Lasas are actually the nature spirits of civilization. Etruscan. We know little about them. They were seen as the first spirits to exist before the human race. They are considered the spirits of the old religion, the very essence and force of nature. They are often called "The Elders".

Personally, to briefly summarize my view of Lares and Lasas, I see Lares as the Spirits of a place. I greet them when I enter an unknown place and I consider them when I create my sacred circle. I see Lasas as nature spirits. I ask for their assistance during divination or I ask their permission when I go for a walk in nature.

They are guides.

The cult of the Lares among the Romans

In the ancient pagan religion of Rome, the Lares were considered protective spirits. In the mythology In Roman times, there are several types of Lares: the Domestici (Lares of the house), the Rurales (Lares of the roads) and the Familiares (Lares of the families), among others.

During the times of the Roman Empire, when the old religion was still very present, the altar or the house of the Lares was the focal point of the family home. The altar or the house of the Lares, was (and still is) the dwelling that honored their presence and resembled a small Roman temple that was hung on the wall or placed on a shelf.

The Lares house was placed near the hearth in the kitchen (the most family room), where family members were invited to pray to the Lares each morning. Of course, offerings were also made there during family celebrations to remember the names of ancestors. Even if this cult seems simple, it was essential and still remains so in today's Stregheria.

The Stregheria

The Familiares are the Lares today celebrated and honored in the modern Stregheria tradition. Since the clans of Stregheria emphasize ancestor worship, it stands to reason that it is the Lares Familiares who are most worshipped.

The Stregheria is a neo-pagan tradition in its own right which takes up the foundations of the ancient Italian religion (vecchia religione) and which is based on the adoration of ancient deities, ancestors and nature spirits. It must be understood that even though the Lares is a Roman concept that derives from the Etruscan concept of the Lasas, they are not quite the same thing.

Many streghe mix these two concepts because many emphasize the Lares, thinking that they are the Roman version of the Lasas when in fact the Lares and the Lasas are two different concepts. However, even if the cult of the Roman Lares has more place in the daily life of some streghe, there are others who live both cults.

For me, the Roman civilization and the Etruscan civilization are two things, even if they mutually influenced each other. So I can't help but honor my Lares and my Lasas.

Nowadays, each streghe has its own Lares and Lasas altars. Usually an altar or house of the Lares looks like a temple roof supported by two columns with a long enough floor or tray to place offerings on. This altar is the gathering place of the ancient spirits with the streghone or the strega.

During full moons and family events, such as weddings, births and birthdays, offerings are made in the house of Lares and Lasas, such as lighting a candle, offering some wine, incense, fruits and flowers.

When a streghone or a strega wants to create his house of the Lares or his altar of the Lasas, a ceremony is necessary. In the case of the Lares, a photograph or object representing the Italian ancestors is often placed there, a bowl filled with fava beans (Mediterranean symbol of the Other World) and the house is consecrated to the God and Goddess.

Once consecrated, the Lares house becomes a permanent altar where certain requests are made. In the case of the Lasas, we unfortunately have no trace of the functioning of their cult among the Etruscans. Usually, the streghe make the offerings of their choice.

When a streghone or a strega pledges to celebrate both, the house of the Lares is placed to the east of the abode and the altar of the Lasas is placed to the west. Some believe that descendants of Italian families must have a Lares altar, while Streghe who have no Italian blood have a Lasas altar.

Personally, I do not subscribe to this opinion. I sincerely believe that the ultimate goal of the worship of Lares and Lasas exists for two reasons: to honor our ancestors, whatever their origin and to honor the spirits of nature who accompany us every day. Because for me, the Lasas are also our ancestors on another level.

I myself own a small house which is used to honor the Lares and the Lasas. I sculpted a small clay tray on which I placed a representation of a door I found. This object actually looks like an Asian sculpture. It's cute and it's small enough to create a Lares and Lasas house.

I place on the clay tray a bowl of herbs that I change regularly. I light two lanterns and incense on full moons, birthdays, deaths, and family events. I placed this house on a shelf in the living room, the centerpiece of my family.