The "powers" (numina, not dei), which thus become the objects of worship, are spirits specialized in function and limited in sphere.
Nor are the numina, not being anthropomorphic, capable of relation XXIII.
The primary attitude of man to the numina seems clearly to be one of fear, which survives prominently in the "impish" character of certain of the spirits of the countryside, such as Faunus and Inuus, and is always seen in the underlying conception of religio, a sense of awe in the presence of a superhuman power.
Special deities, moreover, will demand special victims, while the more rustic numina, such as Pales, should be given milk and millet cakes rather than a blood-offering.
This conception of the nature of the numina and man's relation to them is the root notion of the old Roman religion, and the fully-formed state cult of the di indigetes even at the earliest historical period, must have been the result of long and gradual development, of which we can to a certain extent trace the stages.
The worship centres round certain numina, the spirits indwelling in the sacred places of the original round hut in which the family lived.
2919 2) the conception of Vesta was still material and not anthropomorphic. The Penates were the numina of the store-cupboard, at first vague and animistic, but later on, as the definite deus-notion was developed, identified with certain of the other divinities of household or state religion.
To these numina of the sacred places must be added two other important conceptions, that of the Lar familiaris and the Genius.
The Lar familiaris has been regarded' as the embodiment of all the family dead and his cult as a consummation of ancestor-worship, but a more probable explanation regards him as one of the Lares (q.v.; numina of the fields worshipped at the compita, the places where properties marched) who had special charge of the house or possibly of the household servants (familia); for it is significant that his worship was committed to the charge of the vilica.
The family meal is sanctified by the offering of a portion of the food to the household numina: the chief events in the individual life, birth, infancy, puberty, marriage, are all marked by religious ceremonial, in some cases of a distinctively primitive character.
Here we have a series of celebrations representing the occupations of the successive seasons, addressed sometimes to numina who developed later on into the great gods of the state, such as Jupiter, Mars or Ceres, sometimes to vaguer divinities who remained always indefinite and rustic in character, such as Pales and Consus.
Sometimes again, as in the case of the Lupercalia, the attribution is so indefinite that it is hard to discover who was the special deity concerned; in other cases, such as those of the Robigalia and the Meditrinalia, the festival seems at first to have been addressed generally to any interested numina and only later to have developed an eponymous deity of its own.
In the earlier stage - whose notions of course still persist alongside of the state religion - each household has its own relations to its numina: now the state approaches the gods through its duly appointed representatives, the magistrates and priests.