One of the really interesting things about getting into Paganism is the realization and later understanding that all those gods and goddesses that you might have learned about in school — Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, etc. are still around and kicking.
That’s right, those wonderful stories about gods and heroes and legendary tales of monsters and amazing creatures aren’t necessarily doomed to be relegated to mere fiction. There is meaning and truth to them, if you know where and how to find it.
This is because mythology doesn’t mean ‘false’. All religions of all times and cultures have their place in mythology. A mythology or mythos is a group or body of stories particular to a culture or society (or religion). There is nothing inherently equal to ‘false’ about the word ‘myth’. All gods and goddesses of all cultures and religions are myth, assuming they have stories to go along with their names. In western culture, we are most familiar with the Christian mythos. In school most students learn about the Greek and Roman mythology and maybe a smattering of Egyptian, but there are myths and stories from every population on the planet.
One of the more interesting experiences a Pagan has is finding a personal god, goddess, or pantheon to engage in actively for working and worship. Sometimes this is found by seeking out a particular group to join. The group may already have a pantheon in place and the newcomer simply adapts to and accepts a relationship with the group’s deities. Or, one may seek out a particular god or goddess on one’s own to form a relationship with. Eventually, most Pagans feel at some point they are ready for this step and may seek out help or guidance with how to go about finding a personal patron deity.
First, you have to come to some solid understanding of what you think the gods are. To some Pagans, they are aspects or facets of one singular being. ‘All gods are one god, all goddesses are one goddess, and there is one initiator.’ To others, they are distinctly separate beings, and to people like me, they are something in the middle of these. Once you have a starting idea about what you think deity is, you have a way to begin.
I suggest that since most gods and goddesses are known more by ‘what’ they are rather than ‘who’ they are, you start with this. What I mean is most people think of the gods and goddesses as being a god or goddess OF something. Aphrodite is goddess of love and beauty, for example. That’s a very basic and simplistic way to view her, and should you end up working with Aphrodite on a more personal or involved level, you will come to several different realizations about her, but that’s for later. So, when you’re trying to figure out which deity you are most in sync with, make up a list of attributes or qualities that you most admire or desire to have in your own life. Because working with a particular deity and forming a close relationship will manifest their personality, strengths, and weaknesses in you.
A relationship with a god or goddess is a partnership. You get something and they get something. You both must accept and agree to work with the other. If you want to form a relationship with Aphrodite, that’s all well and good, but she has to want to form one with you as well. Just like any friendship, if you aren’t willing to put in the time and attention and respect then don’t expect much. When you start to form a relationship with a god or goddess, don’t think that you can just ‘call on them’ whenever without putting forth the effort and commitment of being a devotee, and definitely do not claim to be a priest or priestess of a deity if you aren’t serious. They find that sort of thing very offensive. (More to come on this in particular in a later blog)
Second, once you have settled on your concept of what divinity is and put together a list of qualities and attributes, now is the time for research. Study, do internet searches, meditate, pray, and write in your journal. Do this until you have maybe one or two deities that seem to most closely match up and with whom you feel a particular pull. When you’ve found your selections, read about the culture and history that was active during the height of their power. Find out what sort of things they like and enjoy and find out if there was a particular day, season, or time of day or night, or even a moon phase closely associated with them. When doing this, try to research thoroughly — lots of ‘new age’ authors will pin a deity to a particular set of correspondences with little or no actual connection.
When you have settled on some of these things, plan a small ritual where you will formally introduce yourself to the deity. Place flowers or stones they like, tools or other items they are associated with, and burn incense to them on your altar. Present yourself as a petitioner asking to form a personal relationship with them. Explain why you want to work with them and what you would be willing and able to offer them in return. This is why you need to research and study your particular choice deity — what do they value? What can you do for them? Partnership.
After the ritual is completed, keep your eyes and heart open for signs and communication from them. You may have a particular dream, see an omen, or hear a certain song or see a certain sign. Sometimes the message can come from very unexpected places. Be receptive. If your chosen deity accepts you as a working partner and devotee, then you should honor them with another ritual to solidify your new relationship. Remember, if you want a relationship to work, you must put in time and attention. Just like when you meet a new friend, if you don’t communicate with them or spend any time with them, the friendship will fizzle. Don’t expect to meet someone at a party, hit it off, and then never talk to them again for two months… then find their phone number when you need help with something. You’ll likely get the same reaction from your deity as you would from your new acquaintance… “Sorry, I’m busy.” And really, can you blame them?
Enjoy your search and best of luck to you!