So, it’s silly o’clock, very hot and humid and I cannot sleep. That’s why I’m on here writing about patron deities. What are patron deities anyway and why do we need them? Well, in my personal opinion we don’t have to work with them at all, I know lots of pagans who don’t and that’s perfectly fine. However, many of us do have patron deities and work with them closely. Simply put a patron deity is one with which you form a relationship with and work closely with in all manner of things, including healing work, spell work, guidance in daily living, rituals etc. Generally speaking ones patron deities (or deity) comes from the traditional pantheon that you are working with in your spiritual path, so for example, I follow a traditional Celtic pantheon and so my patrons come from this tradition; in other words they are Celtic Gods and Goddesses. However, on occasion one might find a deity making contact with us from another pantheon. My opinion here is never ignore them, even if they are from a different pantheon because they are probably connecting with you for a very good reason. For example, you might generally follow a Hellenic pantheon and suddenly Thor pops up and gives you a great clonking with his hammer (Thor is Norse by the way). Well, if Thor did that to me I’d be taking notice for sure! Personally I don’t believe my other patrons would be jealous because they see the bigger picture and obviously know why Thor has come calling. So the onus on me is to be open, aware and listen! As long as one treats one’s patrons in a respectful way and doesn’t neglect them there should be no problems. Some deities connect with us for a long-term relationship and others only for a short while, to help us in a specific thing, and then they go on their merry way again.
But now for the reason for the title of this post…Us or Them? This alludes to the question I hear quite often about how one goes about ‘choosing’ one’s patron deities. Well, the simple answer here is we don’t! No, we should never choose our patrons as it is they who choose to work with us. For example, say we have a problem that we want some help with – we just don’t know what to do about it. We might research specific deities who have a special interest in that problem, and we may petition them for their help but that does not mean they are, or even will become, our patron deities. We might even be strongly attracted to a certain god or goddess but that still doesn’t mean they will become a patron. In other words, it is they who choose to have a relationship with us and not the other way round.
It is quite often the case though that deities will alert their interest in us by appearing in dreams, or turning up in our lives at the oddest moments through symbols or signs. We should not ignore these but explore them and if the connection is right it will strengthen over time and you will know in your heart and soul that particular deity has chosen to be your patron. Or, it might occur another way, like a huge slap in the face, or a massive enlightenment. The Gods choose many ways to get our attention and if we keep aware and open to the workings of Spirit then we will know without doubt.
So, if you have been chosen by a deity or deities, and they are willing to be your patrons, what now? You are about to enter into a two-way relationship that works on respect and for mutual benefit. The Gods want to help us, guide us and yes, they also want to bless us but they require something in return and the best things we can give them are honour, our loyalty and offerings. An offering can be anything from a heartfelt prayer of thanks to something more tangible like oil, or wine, bread or milk (depending on the deity, they each have their own likes and dislikes just as we do, so ask them what they like before giving them an offering). Just like any relationship the ones we have with our patrons need to be worked on and maintained. If we neglect a friend then that person is just going to drift away from us eventually and will feel quite hurt. It’s the same with the Gods, if neglected they drift away although I’m not sure if they feel hurt in the human sense.
The best thing to do if you receive the blessing of a patron deity is to build an altar to them, or at least include them in your regular altar. I have statues of mine on my main altar, each with their own candle and offering dish (because they happen to like different things). You don’t have to have statues but at least include some kind of representation of them. For example, if you had Cernunnos as a patron deity you could have a piece of stag’s antler to represent him; if Cerridwen is your patron you could have a mini cauldron to represent her. So think creatively about how you can honour them and make it a practise to do so. Most importantly find out as much as you can about them, their myths and stories, their associations, and even other names they go by. To do this don’t just go to the first thing you read on the Internet, instead thoroughly research as much as you can using credible scholarly sources…and of course most important of all TALK with them. Communicate with them as you would a close physical friend, although with deities it is somewhat different because the main ways of communicating with them is through prayer, trance meditation, path workings and dreams. This might seem hard at first because these are methods that we’re not always used to but persevere and you won’t be disappointed. Always remember though that we don’t always get an answer immediately and it’s not always the one we were expecting either but again, remember that as Spirits they can see a vaster picture than we can, and also have a different perspective than us.
In the end welcome your patrons with open arms, even though their lessons may be hard at times, know they are for our higher good, and know you are blessed.