On the topic of finding a patron

If you don’t read my blog regularly, you may not know this, but I don’t generally like the sort of “do this, don’t do that,” advice. At least, I don’t like to give that sort of advice. I prefer the ‘hey, here’s some things I’ve done, here’s been my experience, here’s how I came into that situation, and here’s why it may be similar to what you’re dealing with,’ sort of advice. I’ve seen too many well-intentioned experienced pagans offer advice that worked for them, that sounded, in the delivery, like commandments. Not everything is going to work for everyone, and unless you’re in a specific tradition, attempting to conform to their standards and ways of doing things, that’s totally acceptable. More, it really shouldn’t be forgotten.

An upside to watching the YouTube pagan challenge vids has been getting to see people talk about their experiences (or lack there of) with their matron or patron deities. While that’s not really the language that we use in devotional polytheism, it’s a phrase that I hope most of us understand. Certainly, I do.  It’s been great to watch — but I’m coming away from some of these videos a bit heart-sore, in that people talk about being nervous to approach certain Powers, or that they don’t feel “called” by any One, and so they don’t approach, even when they are interested in Them. This breaks my heart. Why do we hesitate? Why is it not okay for us to make the first move?

I don’t think I’m special. I don’t think I have any secret knowledge (and if I did, you’d know about it already, because I share SO MUCH here, and it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, and so I still wouldn’t have any secret knowledge). I don’t think my experiences are all that rare or grandiose or anything — I’m just a woman, living my life, and worshiping  my gods. But, there are some things that I do know, some “truths” that have guided me well these two decades in my relationships with the gods. I am  dedicated to two gods who could arguably be considered scary, intense, off-putting (Odin gets more of that reputation than Poseidon does; I suspect it’s the whole sacrificing of Self thing, and His ruthlessness; let me tell you, Poseidon is pretty intense, all the same. Water wight to the millionth degree, I’m just saying to you.)

  1. If we even know about the Powers, enough to have names for Them, and stories, enough to even grasp a sense of Their presence, it’s because They’re interested in humanity.  They could be interested in your personally, or humanity in general, or any configuration between those two points, but if the Powers do not care about us at all, there is zero reason for Them to make Their  presence  known to us.
  2. Hospitality Matters and goes a long, looooong way. There’s an idea with (Krisna? Vishnu? It blurs, but I think Krishna) that any offering given with intent and devotion — even a cup of water, if that’s all one has — will be accepted, gladly. Hospitality is a two-way street. We have responsibilities as the givers of hospitality, and the recipient also has responsibilities, and it has been my experience — even with Odin, even with Loki, even with Hekate — that They will not ask of you what you cannot give. In material wealth, in wealth of time, in any area of your resources. This may change as you develop a closer relationship, maybe, but during the initial overtures of connection building,  I’d be surprised.
  3. Making the first move is acceptable. To be clear, Poseidon made contact with me before I knew Him, and Odin was in my realm of awareness before we had any direct experiences. When it comes to the final dedication to Poseidon — my marriage — I made that first move. I proposed to Him. I used to lament that — it wasn’t romantic, at all — but now, I’m kinda proud at my audacity. I asked Him to marry me, and I had the pleasure at experiencing Him go utterly still in shock. (Stillness is a thing with Him, and it’s heavy, and weighted, and intense, and full of past-reactions-gone-horribly-wrong) that had me back pedaling for a bit, trying to pull away from whatever overstepping I had done. This is in direct opposition to my experience with Pops, where He was all, ‘Learn the runes, and also, you’re Mine, we should get to working now.’

If you are interested in a Power and you don’t feel They’re interested in you, or even know that you exist– approach Them. I can’t say that it’ll always go the way you want it to go. What I will say, emphatically, is, there is no good reason why you can’t approach  Them first. Also, all the Powers are intense and can be scary. Some simply use fewer masks to make us more comfortable. Opening yourself up to any of Them means opening yourself up, and that is always going to be scary. (And, to many of us, so worth it)

20 thoughts on “On the topic of finding a patron

  1. Good advice. It’s good because it comes from experience and isn’t weighted down with ‘thou shalt’ or even ‘thou shouldst’ language. I appreciate this.

    • I assume that the majority of those “thou shalts” are coming from a well intentioned place. I suspect that’s willful one my part, but it helps me think better of the world so I decide it’ll be so. Still, I strive to be clearer in my language because I’ve witnessed to many damaged by careless words.

  2. I can empathize with those who feel that they would love to approach the gods but think they cannot because they haven’t been chosen to be approached. I would love to start leaving offerings but im afraid I have no idea how this is done…? are you supposed to leave something for them and say a prayer? sorry im very new to this- haha

  3. Reblogged this on Wytch of the North and commented:
    Good advice from Jo (as usual)! I often hear it said of certain Powers (Odin among Them) that “You don’t choose Them–They choose you.” And while this may be true in the *majority* of cases, I’ve also heard people say they found it triggering and off-putting. If you’re drawn to a particular Power, there is no reason at all why you can’t educate yourself about Them (via books, articles online, or even watching videos made by Their followers), make an offering, and introduce yourself. There is no reason you can’t say “Your name and symbols have been popping up for me lately and I think I’d like to see if w/We might be compatible.” The answer might be no–but it also might not be. You could miss out on a lot if you’re afraid to ask.

    • Well the thing is that I do educate myself about them-I like collecting books about greek mythology and I’ve been interesed in them ever since I was a freshman in high school- but I’ve never actually given an offering mainly because I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to be done. I feel like I’ve dedicated much of myself to them and I wanted to find a new way to express my love. so I will try to be less afraid in asking for help from others and the gods when I need it. thank you for your help🙂

      • Depending on whether you’re trying to conform to a particular tradition or not, approaches to offering can vary. Degree of formality, ceremony, types of offering. . . But I truly believe that offerings given with genuine intent are going to be received with their intention in mind. It’s one thing to know that, say, Poseidon doesn’t care for X type of offering, but you’re going to give it anyway. Its something else to give Him X out of ignorance or what have you.

        My first offerings were my time, my attention, and candles burned for Him. Incense, water, wine. I’ve heard of people dedicating fake food stuff to Them to use and recharge and reuse. When and if preferences are established, of course use those for guidance. But that takes time and experience. Start where you are and with what you have.

        I really cannot recommend Silence Maestas’ Worshiping Loki’ enough. It’s specific to Loki, and yet, the material also isnt, not the bits about beginning worship. It was valuable for me, and I’ve been at this a minute.

      • Sometimes your research will yield information about things they might like (such as wine, mead or whiskey for Odin, for example). But you can also just share a portion of your dinner, or do something such as dedicate a candle to Them to be used during meditation. Even a stick of incense is appreciated–offerings don’t need to be fancy, especially when you’re making that initial approach.🙂

  4. Reblogged this on The Forest Witch and commented:
    Don’t forget this!! Never forget that you have the ability to approach the Gods. You don’t need to wait till Someone poked you on the shoulder (or, you know, just bursts right in, I’m looking at You, Odinn!). We can initiate things as well.

  5. I have approached some Gods, and some have approached me. I initially started approaching deities because when I started out (which, relatively speaking, wasn’t so long ago) I didn’t have any clue how to recognize signs from them or how to confidently interpret omens. I realized if I wanted any substantial relationships in the beginning, that I had to make the first move. This opened the door to other deities coming to me, sometimes via the ones I had already contacted. I don’t really get wha the big deal is ado is in favor of “rules” for devotional relationships. If a deity wants nothing to do with me, I am sure they will let me know, either directly or by simply not answering my call.

    • I realized if I wanted any substantial relationships in the beginning, that I had to make the first move. This opened the door to other deities coming to me, sometimes via the ones I had already contacted. I don’t really get what the big deal is ado is in favor of “rules” for devotional relationships. If a deity wants nothing to do with me, I am sure they will let me know, either directly or by simply not answering my call.

      If I could just love this bit a thousand times, that’d be great. I feel so strongly that any ‘rules’ that come about need to come out of the relationship(s), and not so much outside of the relationship.

  6. Great post as always! To those who don’t feel “called,” I would add a caution from my own experience to be sure you are not trying to compare your own spiritual life/experiences to other people’s when trying to discern whether a Deity is trying to get your attention. I fell into that particular pit myself, and it was miserable.

    It’s certainly not always the case, of course, just something to watch out for on the road. Not only is it fine to approach the Gods yourself, but depending on the Deity, it may be Their preference to be the one approached. They’re like us in that They do indeed have personalities and preferences, and Some are more pushy- er, more outgoing than Others.😉

    • To those who don’t feel “called,” I would add a caution from my own experience to be sure you are not trying to compare your own spiritual life/experiences to other people’s when trying to discern whether a Deity is trying to get your attention. I fell into that particular pit myself, and it was miserable.

      Yes to this, so much yes. I forget about this particular pitfall, and not because I’ve never done it, because I have, and there lies only pain and suffering and misery. I like to remind myself that I’m looking closely at the relationships that, say Poseidon, has with others and what that might look like, or even how some other random Not-Poseidon Power’s relationship looks like with some other random not-me person, then I’m not paying attention to my own relationships, and of course that’s going to lead to me feeling disconnected, distant, and lonely. Tend to your relationships. Don’t worry so much about others.

  7. thats very true, I follow a bunch of blogs and they all talk about their relationships and it does make me feel disconnected from Them. I keep telling myself to stop reading but I just can’t- lol. i enjoy reading your blogs and learning more about how They interact with others. I used to have dreams about a few of the gods but i haven’t had any for a long time. it worries me. especially since the last one felt like a goodbye. it kind of makes me feel abandoned. especially since some of them meant so much to me.

    • Reading about other people’s experiences can be helpful — but if it’s hurting more than helping, taking time away can be a very useful thing.

  8. Pingback: On the topic of finding a patron | My own path

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