I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately regarding how one gets to know the gods, or determines their patron. I think my posts have been giving people the wrong impression concerning patronage in general.
For my purposes, I’ll be using the word ‘patron’ in the context of a deity who has a significant role in one’s life, to the point where one doesn’t merely honor them through devotional activities or offerings, but does their Work and lives their lives as representative of that deity’s presence. In other words, I’m not talking about the god you may work with primarily, or the one you like the most, but the one who, in essence, lives through you. I know sometimes ‘patron’ is thrown around as equivalent to any god you may feel especially connected to, but this is my definition of it.
First off, let me make it clear that you don’t need a patron to lead a fulfilling spiritual life. I know I make a big deal about how Lucifer ‘saved’ me from my depression and loss of faith, but there’s always that skepticism in me that wonders whether or not I made it out of that deep dark hole on my own—which of itself would be a great thing. That means I had the strength to pull through without the aid of a deity. I’m rather partial to the view that if the gods aren’t messing with your life, it means you’re not screwing up bad enough to need their help.
However, just because you may not be ‘called’ by a god doesn’t mean you aren’t free to go introduce yourself anyways. Introducing yourself doesn’t mean demanding a relationship or help! You wouldn’t go up to a complete stranger and tell them you’re bffs now, and that they’re obliged to help you find a job because you made the effort to reach out. Relationships with gods aren’t really much different from relationships with other people—there will be gods you just won’t get along with, and some you may connect with without a hitch. I originally sought out Artemis, and I got absolutely nothing. Not a peep. Actually, looking back on it now, I think I rather annoyed her. As for demanding help—I will admit that in the past I have been guilty of this. Blame it on my naiveté, but I used to think that I could just toss an offering a god’s way and I would get what I was asking for (protection, wealth, etc.). You may get what you ended up asking for…but with a catch. You could ask for safe travels, and end up at your destination safe and sound…but not without a few scares along the way. Just keep in mind that the gods don’t respond well to bribery, which is pretty much what I was doing as a young and foolish kid.
But anyways, what I mean by introducing yourself and getting to know the gods is just that—talk to them. Build a relationship. Sometimes that may start off as you just speaking aloud to them, about anything really. That’s how I started off with Lucifer—I wasn’t expecting any response, much less an actual relationship. Those of you who have used tarot or runes, you might want to try that as a method of communication as well. Meditation works well too, if you aren’t headblind like me.
So what happens once you’ve got a solid foundation with a particular god? A lot of times, nothing. Like I said, not everyone needs a patron god. Ask yourself why you need to deepen your relationship—what’s wrong with just having someone you can run to for help in a crisis? Do you really need/want a god nagging at you or messing with your life (not always for the better)? Also, the god in question may not want a patron relationship with your either. Patronage is a lot of responsibility, on both ends. The gods are in charge of molding and shaping the person you are to become, and you bear a similar duty to represent those gods as your mentors and teachers.
You can still work with a god to better yourself without the burden of patronage. Sarasvati has been gracious enough to help me rekindle my passion for dance and the arts, but doesn’t expect me to do anything apart from the occasional puja and devotional dancing—and in my opinion, this is the best sort of relationship. The balanced reciprocity we share is that of security and stability—I can be sure (well, as sure as anyone can be when dealing with gods) that as long as I hold up my end of the bargain concerning offerings and devotionals, she will continue to teach and guide me. This isn’t the case with patronage. While I wouldn’t say you have to have blind faith, you do have to have a certain level of trust in your god during those times when it doesn’t seem like they’re really there anymore. I’ll go weeks without any signs from Lucifer, and I have to remind myself why I continue with my devotionals, or why I bother checking myself while I’m out in public, to be sure that I’m acting in a manner befitting of one of his disciples—I mean, no one knows I’m one of His own, or that my actions and words reflect my patron, so what’s the point?
And then, out of nowhere, I’ll get a reminder of why I do it. A reminder that he’s still there, that he’s still guiding me. And then I realize why I do it—not because it makes me special, or out of some obligation, but out of love. Even though he drives me crazy sometimes, and his lessons aren’t always the easiest to learn, I know that he has my best interests at heart.
He couldn’t force me to become his disciple, just as I couldn’t have forced him to become my patron. I don’t have to be his eyes and ears in this world, or take time out of my day to write up stuff like this just so someone may or may not begin to question what they’ve been taught about him, but I want to, because it gives him hope.
This is what patronage is, in my mind—a relationship based on trust, hope, and faith.