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Author Topic: Let's talk about patron deities.  (Read 6046 times)

Night Owl

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Let's talk about patron deities.
« on: February 28, 2015, 02:32:47 am »
An ever-common topic in the Paganism for Beginners subforum (and others) is 'Help me find my patron deity'. Just right now, there are at least four of them out there on the front page. And they all seem to follow the same script: Newer pagan doesn't have a patron deity, needs one badly. Is looking everywhere, can't find one. Wants suggestions. More experienced pagan comes in and tells them that not everyone has a patron and they don't need to keep looking. Newer pagan rejects this idea and keeps looking, to varying degrees of success. But why?

There have been numerous articles about Facebook having a negative effect on your mood; the theory is that since people only post the highlights of their life on their page, you start to see that as normal. It looks like everyone else is having more fun than you, doing more things, and often just being a better and more interesting person in general.

I'm seeing this same effect in internet paganism. We only talk about our most noteworthy experiences because everything else is, well, kinda mundane. And it's created an atmosphere where it seems like every experience has to be mind-blowing and if not, it's a failure. This causes newbie pagans to develop false expectations of what their spiritual experience should be like.

When the experienced pagan tells them that they don't need a patron, it goes against everything they've read before. Everyone who has a patron is talking about their patron, and anyone who doesn't have one is either lamenting their lack of one or just not talking. Even the person telling them they don't need a patron has one! To the newbie, paganism without a patron is like many people's idea of a vegetarian meal: a plate with an unfilled space where the meat should be.

Any thoughts?

Fier

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2015, 10:10:34 am »
Quote from: Night Owl;171927
An ever-common topic in the Paganism for Beginners subforum (and others) is 'Help me find my patron deity'. *snip* More experienced pagan comes in and tells them that not everyone has a patron and they don't need to keep looking. Newer pagan rejects this idea and keeps looking, to varying degrees of success. But why?

I think the following reasoning you give is a big part of it. All over the internet there are posts about working with deities. Newbies probably see more pagan content about working with gods than not.

Another thing is that a lot of pagan religions are very heavily deity-focused. In Wicca and neo-Wicca, ADF, and the various polytheism faiths, a heavy emphasis is put on honoring gods.

Furthermore, I think that the definition of religion and spirituality in many people's minds greatly includes honoring gods. So they think, if I have no god, I have no religion!

Quote
I'm seeing this same effect in internet paganism. We only talk about our most noteworthy experiences because everything else is, well, kinda mundane.

This is true, but I wish it weren't. I would actually like to here more about people's "mundane" practices, because that's what they are doing every day. And that's really what the bulk of spirituality is.

Siannan

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2015, 01:45:49 pm »
Quote from: Fier;171941

This is true, but I wish it weren't. I would actually like to here more about people's "mundane" practices, because that's what they are doing every day. And that's really what the bulk of spirituality is.

 
This!  Definitely this! I have gone back and forth between agnosticism and paganism for a very long time, this after leaving Catholicism. I'm still not sure what I believe and am trying to work it out every day. For me, I want to hear more about the mundane, the day to day. I want to learn how people bring the spiritual into their day to day life, and while I can find it out there, I usually have to dig for it.

Darkhawk

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2015, 02:01:58 pm »
Quote from: Night Owl;171927
When the experienced pagan tells them that they don't need a patron, it goes against everything they've read before. Everyone who has a patron is talking about their patron, and anyone who doesn't have one is either lamenting their lack of one or just not talking. Even the person telling them they don't need a patron has one!

 
You know, this actually pinged something for me.

By the standards of the stuff people talk about on the internet regarding their patron deities, I don't have one either.  Nothing with extensive interactiveness, with 'come around and have a tea party', with clearly expressed verbal communication, and all that stuff.

Most of my significant and dramatic experiences are over a decade old, and some more than twenty years old; I don't think I've got anything major more recent than six years ago.  Fleeting impressions, hints of 'look this way', yes; stuff that I would consider worth posting on the general internet if I were tacky enough to post that sort of thing on the general internet, not so much.

These days, if I say 'patron' I mean 'this power governs the work that I do'.  WHich is something that anyone can say, at any time, when they know what their work is, and which powers have an interest in that work.  (As far as I can tell, the more intense stuff of years ago was mostly of type aimed at 'you need to figure out what your work is'.)
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Lana288

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2015, 02:14:08 pm »
Quote from: Fier;171941
I think the following reasoning you give is a big part of it. All over the internet there are posts about working with deities. Newbies probably see more pagan content about working with gods than not.

Another thing is that a lot of pagan religions are very heavily deity-focused. In Wicca and neo-Wicca, ADF, and the various polytheism faiths, a heavy emphasis is put on honoring gods.

Furthermore, I think that the definition of religion and spirituality in many people's minds greatly includes honoring gods. So they think, if I have no god, I have no religion!


*This*. I remember that when I first dipped into paganism, I never stopped to consider that there might be anything beyond "let's honor ALL the GODS!". Honestly, I still do that, though I like to think it's better now.

Quote from: Fier;171941
This is true, but I wish it weren't. I would actually like to here more about people's "mundane" practices, because that's what they are doing every day. And that's really what the bulk of spirituality is.

 
That would be nice. I tend to think that religion can be a bit pointless if it's not helping people to live their own lives and/or help others. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of empty prayer and ritual.

Yei

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2015, 04:25:25 pm »
Quote from: Night Owl;171927
An ever-common topic in the Paganism for Beginners subforum (and others) is 'Help me find my patron deity'. Just right now, there are at least four of them out there on the front page. And they all seem to follow the same script: Newer pagan doesn't have a patron deity, needs one badly. Is looking everywhere, can't find one. Wants suggestions. More experienced pagan comes in and tells them that not everyone has a patron and they don't need to keep looking. Newer pagan rejects this idea and keeps looking, to varying degrees of success. But why?

 
Well personally I think that the emphasis on a patron deity is a reasonable, modern though it is, response to the current religious, social, and political climate. In our modern interconnected world we know about a multitude of deities and spirits, all of whom can claim some justification to be worshipped. But few polytheist communities exist (near where most of us live) and it is difficult to grasp what it means to be part of one of these religions.

Picking a patron deity is a good way of focusing/narrowing the scope of worship into a more manageable form. This allows the new follower to learn about religion and values systems without being overwhelmed.

Lana288

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2015, 08:10:36 pm »
Quote from: Yei;171968
Picking a patron deity is a good way of focusing/narrowing the scope of worship into a more manageable form. This allows the new follower to learn about religion and values systems without being overwhelmed.

 
That's a really good point. In that case, though, are they really patrons? I had the impression that patronage involved some sort of permanent commitment, which is something I would warn beginners away from- or is there such thing as a temporary patron deity? (Now that it's come up, I suspect the answer's 'yes'. Be as that may)

Fier

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2015, 08:57:42 pm »
Quote from: Ian288;171981
or is there such thing as a temporary patron deity? (Now that it's come up, I suspect the answer's 'yes'. Be as that may)


One could certainly contract a committed relationship for a period of time, to be reviewed once the time period expires. Kind of like handfasting with a deity. Let me work closely with you for a year and then see whether or not I want to continue this relationship.

SunflowerP

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2015, 12:39:20 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;171956
These days, if I say 'patron' I mean 'this power governs the work that I do'.  WHich is something that anyone can say, at any time, when they know what their work is, and which powers have an interest in that work.  (As far as I can tell, the more intense stuff of years ago was mostly of type aimed at 'you need to figure out what your work is'.)

 
Back in the first few years I was on TC, the standard definition of 'patron deity' was much like this - to the point where some folks felt that it precluded the sort of deity relationship that involved a 'thwap' and/or direct interaction. (For a while, people were starting to use 'thwap-patron' to recognize that distinction, but it never fully caught on.)

I want to frame the paragraph I quoted and hang it prominently on the (virtual) wall of TC. This is both more precise and more concise than the standard I recall, and neither requires nor precludes 'being thwapped', while expressing a core feature of the concept. (I'll note that 'work' here has a broad scope; it could be work of a specifically religious nature, or of a profession or trade, or of an avocation, or some other role.)

The current trend, both on TC and off, seems to be toward, 'you don't choose your patron deity/ies, they choose you,' which is a kind of a raw deal for the very many people who are never 'chosen', or are unable to perceive it if they have been. Nor is there very much precedent for such a definition, either in ancient polytheistic cultures or in the neoPagan movement. I'd like to see a return to a broader, less exclusive, definition of 'patron deity'.

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Night Owl

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2015, 03:22:11 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;172002
The current trend, both on TC and off, seems to be toward, 'you don't choose your patron deity/ies, they choose you,' which is a kind of a raw deal for the very many people who are never 'chosen', or are unable to perceive it if they have been. Nor is there very much precedent for such a definition, either in ancient polytheistic cultures or in the neoPagan movement. I'd like to see a return to a broader, less exclusive, definition of 'patron deity'.

Sunflower

 
Though I was never around for when this definition was widespread, I can back this.

Sunshine

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2015, 07:50:31 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;172002

The current trend, both on TC and off, seems to be toward, 'you don't choose your patron deity/ies, they choose you,' which is a kind of a raw deal for the very many people who are never 'chosen', or are unable to perceive it if they have been. Nor is there very much precedent for such a definition, either in ancient polytheistic cultures or in the neoPagan movement. I'd like to see a return to a broader, less exclusive, definition of 'patron deity'.

Sunflower

 
As someone with very minimal deity interaction, I loved this. Thank you!

EJay

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2015, 02:14:14 am »
Quote from: Night Owl;171927
An ever-common topic in the Paganism for Beginners subforum (and others) is 'Help me find my patron deity'. Just right now, there are at least four of them out there on the front page. And they all seem to follow the same script: Newer pagan doesn't have a patron deity, needs one badly. Is looking everywhere, can't find one. Wants suggestions. More experienced pagan comes in and tells them that not everyone has a patron and they don't need to keep looking. Newer pagan rejects this idea and keeps looking, to varying degrees of success. But why?


I see the whole "finding a patron deity" thing kind of like dating.

Sometimes a deity finds you with the "thwap" and asks you for a date, then you can agree or not to have a relationship with said deity.  Sometimes you have to be the one to ask a deity out on a date.  I love the Greek pantheon, but it just never worked out.  None of them asked me for a date and none responded to my requests.

If it doesn't work, let it go and move on.

I've had a long-term relationship with Pele, but now we're "just friends."  She still shows up now and then, but it's not the intimate daily relationship we used to have.  I always know She's there and still talk to Her now and then.

Currently, I'm a single pagan with no patron deity.  I am working on communing with God directly, through myself.  I get frustrated, sometimes, and ask for Pele's help, but that doesn't really seem to be Her thing.

So for newbies, you don't need to sit on the bleachers waiting to be asked to dance.  You get to ask the deities for a dance, too.  If no connections are made at first, continue to learn how to dance on your own until you find the right partner.
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Jainarayan

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2015, 11:02:17 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;172002
The current trend, both on TC and off, seems to be toward, 'you don't choose your patron deity/ies, they choose you,' which is a kind of a raw deal for the very many people who are never 'chosen', or are unable to perceive it if they have been.

 
I think it's a shame people feel that way, or are made to feel that way. I don't think everyone is chosen by or chooses a deity, nor are either of those required. I think like many other things, it's "peer pressure" that makes people feel somehow lacking if they don't get that *thwap*. As a Hindu I did not have a connection to any deity, which is one of several reasons I left Hinduism. I was fortunate to get that *thwap* from Thor. That all told me Hinduism was not the right path for me, nor was Buddhism, nor was Taoism. That's not to say everyone who doesn't get that *thwap* isn't going to find a path, it's just that maybe a *thwap* from a deity is not required. Just an observation. :)
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Triskell

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2015, 08:14:44 am »
Quote

Speaking of patron deities, has any of you got that feeling that your patron god or goddess has always been here for you, though you didn't know it at that time?

I mean, in a sense, way way before you "discovered" your true religious path/set of beliefs/ more or less concrete "denomination" to associate with. Especially during the formative years of childhood.
So this deity was sort of looking after you, gently pushing you towards things that you now like, and when you got that "revelation" of who that patron is, you got that "aha" moment, everything suddenly makes sense and is so linked together that you end up saying "of course, how could it be otherwise, it had to be You"?

Or your patron god or goddess makes himself/herself known sort of out of the blue, like "yup, this is the beginning of something beautiful between you and I", but not so much as a past together?

I'm really curious, because I'm of the first case scenario I describe, with Manannan, and piece by piece, I believe it all started as far back as when I was 4 and then it really got crescendo up until my "aha" moment a few days ago (and it was very loud and clear, literally, though it took me two days to know for sure that it was well and truly Manannan).
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 10:44:34 pm by SunflowerP »

Jainarayan

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Re: Let's talk about patron deities.
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2015, 09:23:18 am »
Quote from: Triskell;173852
Speaking of patron deities, has any of you got that feeling that your patron god or goddess has always been here for you, though you didn't know it at that time?


Without a doubt.

Quote
So this deity was sort of looking after you, gently pushing you towards things that you now like, and when you got that "revelation" of who that patron is, you got that "aha" moment, everything suddenly makes sense and is so linked together that you end up saying "of course, how could it be otherwise, it had to be You"?


Without a doubt. Thor was patient - compassion and patience with friends is one of his traits many people are not aware of - but I think he finally said "enough is enough with this one" because I was floundering. Then he gave me that *thwap*. Not that he was enjoying my floundering, he's not like that, but because the Aesir value independence, he gave me leeway and latitude, then saw he needed to step in. This is how I feel in the pit of my stomach and in my heart.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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