Let’s Talk About Patron Deities

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?

Ceridwen: Potential Thwap?

A little over two years ago, when I first started down the Pagan path, I Googled “writers patron deities,” hoping to find someone I would connect with. I came across Taliesin, and in turn, Ceridwen. I thought the story interesting, but didn’t really feel much of anything besides passing interest.

Fast forward to about a week ago, when I stumbled upon Taliesin and Ceridwen again; I had forgotten about them. I read more about Ceridwen (as there is sadly a lack of information about Taliesin as a god), and her correspondences, almost obsessively, soaking in everything I could. Then, I started to notice things on my walk to work. **Live hens for sale, and pecking at ears of corn. Butchered pigs for sale, with the heads proudly displayed on vendor’s tables. And, two or three large, brown rabbits, which, while I know aren’t sacred to Ceridwen, still made me stop and go, “Huh.”

I don’t know if this is “thwapping,” or gentle nudging, or I’m reading into something that isn’t really there, but any advice would be great–whether it’s about Ceridwen, thwapping, whatever. My Tarot cards say it would be a positive and enlightening relationship to pursue, but I would still appreciate other’s opinions.

Structuring a Ritual

What are some of the ways you structure your rituals? I’m mostly informal in my practice, which works well for me, but I feel like it might be a good idea to incorporate some structure there.

Do you write your own? What are some of the things you find to be important during ritual?

Deities for Pets (and Familiars/Livestock)

English: Idols of Indian deities
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The short of it is that I keep pets and I’d like to ask a deity to work with me in maintaining their health.

The long of it is that I’ve had a couple vet trips this year, a big move, and I’m not feeling super confident even though I know logically that I’ve got everything matching or better than the ‘ideal condition’ for each pet, and I’d like a bit of well, help. The deities I regularly work with do, but it’s not their forte, so to speak, and long term work in that niche isn’t going to be ideal. I’d also like to build a relationship so that the occasional more heavy or specific petitioning was not out of place.

Specifically, I have rodents and reptiles, and should I find one I feel a bit of a pull to working with a snake deity, though I’m not aware of any other than general nagas. I don’t work with any specific pantheon.

To be very clear, all mundane things are covered, everyone has food, water, shelter, health care, cleanliness, etc.

Familiars/Livestock is mainly to cast a wider net, they are less ideal, but at the same time I think that since what animals people keep for what reason has evolved, at least some of these deities will be willing to work on a wider purpose than their label, and in any case, suggestions will give me a jumping point.

Scott Cunningham

Cover of Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Pract...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I wouldn’t put him on the same level as fluffy authors like Gerina Dunwich, Patricia Telesco, and DJ Conway, he did write in a way that whitewashed Wicca and made it politically correct, rejecting the word “witch” and advancing Wicca as a religion of love and light. That said, he also captured the beauty of it, as well as integrating its shamanistic and magical characteristics into the more devotional religious aspects that not many authors and teachers are able to do.

The problem is that Wicca in his books, and those of similar authors influenced him such as Silver Ravenwolf, just seems rather generic. He also really emphasized the “harm none” rede, which is problematic for some people, and I have heard from BTW traditionalists that it was not originally part of Wicca, and is still not a significant aspect of traditional Wicca, as it is a pretty vague and unrealistic guideline.

What are your thoughts on Cunningham’s books?

Christian Trinity and Gaelic Polytheism?

English: a Venn diagram-like symbol for the Ch...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it possible to honor and believe in the christian trinity and still be a Gaelic Polytheist? Or can one blend the two paths?

For a little background info; I consider myself a seeker again. I’ve gone through some major ‘me’ changes that shook loose my loose foundations in Kemeticism and Flamekeeping. It loosened it up enough that I’m back to square one. I’ve got this indescribable pull towards the christian Trinity, with a lot of focus on the Holy Spirit and St. Mary. That would be simple enough, if I didn’t also have the draw to Gaelic polytheism. So, I’m trying to balance those two pulls and find some common ground between the two. I’m not sure if I’m making much sense, but I’m trying.

Does anybody have any input or thoughts on what I’m trying to grasp at? Any suggested directions I should head?

? 2014’s Up All Night: A Technopagan Winter Solstice ?

English: Highworth cemetery at the winter sols...
Highworth cemetery at the winter solstice The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere falls between the 20th and 23rd December depending on the year.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Will there be a 2014 version of Up All Night: A Technopagan Winter Solstice?

Of course there will!

For those of you who may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about…

Each year on the December solstice–that’s the winter solstice (longest night of the year) in the northern hemisphere–many of us here at the Cauldron, of various paths and inclinations, celebrate by passing all or part of the long night together. We “gather” electronically here in a special thread created just for that night, and/or in chat, and rally each other to stay up all night.

It’s a lot of fast-moving, random fun (esp. in the wee hours, when we’re all loopy from sleep-deprivation), with absolutely no requirement to tough it out for the whole night; come as you are, come for a minute, come for the long haul…but come and join us!

And yes, you sun-basking, warmth-savoring southern hemisphere inhabitants (where it’s the summer solstice) are welcome, too. (Just don’t be surprised if we northerners are totally envious.)

TC’s hosts, Randall & Lyric, have graciously offered us this cyber-space for our gathering again this year, so it’s on for the evening beginning at sunset on Sunday, December 21. And in an astronomical double-whammy, the solstice and the new moon coincide that night, so get ready to tap some major low-ebb-of-the-cycle mojo.

This year’s non-theme? (Up All Night is very unstructured; we report on the progress of night from our locale, swap recipes–chocolate mug cake!–trade stories, share videos, music, or other links found on the web…anything goes, within the usual forum rules, of course. But each year we try to think of an organizing theme that can be readily ignored; hence, a “non-theme”.) I’m proposing–

“Home Is Where the Heart(h) Is”

–tell us about/show us your home, or where you’d like to make your home, share something that makes you feel at home…you get the idea.

What do you guys think of the non-theme? Any better ideas? And more importantly, who’s planning to join us for Up All Night?

Pagan Stances on Euthanasia?

I’m curious about something. There have been a few news articles recently about euthanasia and assisted suicide. I know the Christian position of Just Say No, and I’ve read comments various places by people whose religions were not specified about going through the dying process (or living with an untreatable illness) as necessary for spiritual growth or working off karma etc. (Although I have some doubts about how much spiritual growth someone is going to accomplish when kept alive against their will—or with dementia.) So I was wondering if any of the various pagan religions had a viewpoint on this. Is there a religious duty to go on living until the bitter end? What about non-terminal illnesses, and where do you draw the line? Or is it entirely the choice of individuals?

Spell Analysis and Assessment

English: A diagram intended to cast a spell or...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First off, I don’t do a lot of magic. But I’m a practical Capricorn who doesn’t like to make mistakes, or at least, doesn’t like to make mistakes more than once. So it doesn’t surprise me when, if a spell goes wrong, I find myself wanting to figure out just how and just where, so that if I need to attempt such a thing again, I know what not to do. But where do you really begin with such an analysis?

It seems to me that magic is such a subjective undertaking, with so many variables, that systematically, or, dare I say, scientifically determining just where and how something went wrong (or right!) is probably or practically impossible. Still, surely someone else has wrestled with this same sort of desire and found a solution to meet their needs?

I’m curious to know if anyone has come up with a systematic approach or devised a checklist of sorts to help them figure out their spellwork results*, or help them revise their spells for a second attempt, or ensure desired results can be repeated?

*If anyone has come up with a system for systematic analysis of their ritual work, I’m sure the tools could be easily used or modified for spell work, so do pipe up if that is the case.

Samhain Practices

Clothahump at Samhain 2006
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who celebrate/observe Samhain or similar what are your rituals and practices around it?

Where did these come from? Where did you get the ideas and inspiration?

What doe these practices do for yourself, the gods, the ancestors?