What is a Patron Deity?
A patron is literally defined as a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, cause, or activity. A patron deity can be viewed in the same way in terms of support. These are the gods and goddesses that lend you their strength or guidance or inspiration when it’s needed. However it’s not a matter of choosing a patron but a matter of discovering the patron who was meant for you.
We pick a patron to speak to because there is an aspect of the god and/or goddess that speaks to us completely and it gives us a channel to worship them better or more personally. There’s no hard rule about choosing patrons. People have been known to have as few as one, and as many as four or five. They are usually of the same pantheon.
A pantheon is literally “(a temple) of all gods”, “of or common to all gods”, but is meant to mean the particular set of all gods of any polytheistic religion, mythology, or tradition. Just be aware that mixing pantheons is always tricky and never should be taken lightly.
This might be something you never do, or do further down the line when you have a better grasp of who is communicating with you.
The benefit of being in a relationship with patrons is that it gets fully developed.
In your ongoing worship and serving your patron Gods, you get to know them intimately. In taking you under their wing like that, a God or Goddess will teach you a great deal over time and you can learn many lessons from them.
Sometimes you can be with the same patrons for life. Other times, you’ll be with them for a time (usually a few years) before you reach the ‘end of the road’ with them. This is not a terrible thing, when a God or Goddess ‘cuts you loose’; it’s not because you did anything wrong, but because you’re ready to move on.
This is when you’ve benefited from the relationship all you can, and they realize that you are ready for a new patron—a new teacher, who can bring you yet to the next level of lessons that need to be learned.
Having a patron does not mean you need to exclude all other Gods. In Wicca, we don’t believe the Gods are jealous or have the ‘have no other Gods before me’ policies as found in other religions you may be more familiar with. It’s okay to go to a ritual that worships another God, or to hold a ritual to a different Goddess if you wish for specific purpose.
Is It Okay to Mix Pantheons?
Some people say they have a god and a goddess from different pantheons coming to them. They may wonder if this is okay and whether or not this would make the gods angry.
Truly the answer is really in what you believe and is totally up to you to decide. I believe the deities don’t care who you work with, as long as you are showing each of them reverence and honor. Do your research and make sure there is no conflicting ideologies within the deities themselves.
Perhaps separating their altars or working with them separately is the best way to go. For instance, don’t do a ritual honoring them both at the same time but split the ritual up in two nights. Don’t give them the same offerings, but provide them with offerings they would each individually approve of.
On the same note, if you have two gods from the same pantheon that bump heads, it’s probably best to also keep them separate, even if they are from the same pantheon.
Being Called by the Gods
A lot of people will tell you they did not choose their Gods, but that their Gods chose them. Many religions will describe it like ‘a calling’, and as such it’s hard to explain. Many feel they get signs of some sort. This may be an image or animal associated with a certain God or Goddess popping up a lot unexpectedly, dreams or visions. Often these are accompanied by those gut feelings, or an inner voice.
Not Getting a Calling?
If you don’t feel the calling, you certainly should not feel bad. For one thing, maybe you’re just too new and not ready to work with a personal deity yet. For another thing, perhaps you are just missing the signs. Don’t get discouraged—the deities aren’t rejecting you. You may need to simply employ a little initiative, and meet the deities halfway. Start seeking deities, and approach them to see which ones will have you (or have been waiting for you to come to them in your own time).
What Are You Drawn To?
Is there a specific culture culture that you are drawn to? As a child were you interested in Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, maybe you were drawn to the history of India? China? Perhaps you had an affinity for the ancient Celtic tribes. If you a culture immediately comes to mind, then I would tell you to look further into this culture’s pantheon and go from there.
Often we are drawn to an ancient culture or country because we have lived past lives there, or our ancestors might have been from there. Whatever the reason why we are drawn to it, this might indicate you should be researching and connecting with the pantheon of this people.
Who Were Your Ancestors?
With all that being said, it is important to respect the culture you come from and not dive too deep into other cultures. So who are the deities of your ancestors? If you know for sure that your ancestors were from Nigeria, then I usually suggest to look up the different deities (gods) originating in Nigeria.
To delve into your ancestors’ beliefs and gods can be enlightening and can also help you find your god and goddess. This is just one example. If you know your ancestors were Irish or British, perhaps looking at the various Celtic gods from those countries in ancient times will help you find your god and goddess.
If you know literally nothing of your ancestors and heritage, ask or buy a DNA kit. Ancestry and My23.com both offer DNA tests that will tell you your ethnicity. Take the results and apply them to this question. This also helps for people who were adopted and know nothing about their biological parents and family. I did this and learned a lot!
Even if you know what your culture is and you have a good understanding you should still do plenty of research. Also reading about different pantheons, different deities, holidays, temples, myths, legends, and more will help you get closer to the right deity for you. You should read it all.
Don’t just stick with what you know, read about pantheons you’ve never heard of, or read myths about gods you know only a little about. Really open your mind to what’s out there and find what it is that speaks to you. Check out books, check out the internet, talk to other witchy folks. Each one will give you perspective on the forms of the God and Goddess out there, and how they can be worshiped.
Don’t assume that you already know and don’t need to bother with it. If nothing else it can confirm what you feel you know in your heart. And it can tighten your relationship with the deities but further understanding all the ways that they have been worshiped.
Meditation & Bonding:
Now is the time to get to really know your deity and open the lines of communication through meditation and intentional thoughts. You can sit down and call to each of them, starting with the ones you feel matter to you first. This process can take a long long time, especially if you aren’t a regular meditator.
The meditation is supposed to help you hear what people can refer to as The Call. I know it’s kind of vague. The Call is different for every single practitioner out there, you go on a meditative search and someone hopefully answers it. When It happens you’ll know.
Now you’ll start building a relationship with your patron. However you feel is best, and in whatever way might appeal to that god/goddess. If this is the god for you then you should probably enjoy the things that they ask you to do.