Fun Facts For the Deity-Owned

Recently I have run into lots of people who have recently been claimed by a Patron Deity. Sometimes they have been the ones to initiate the contact, but more frequently the Deity in question has swooped in out of the blue to claim ownership. When this occurs it can be intense, disorienting and a bit scary, especially if the Deity in question is from a different tradition or pantheon than the person in question expected. This is something I’m quite familiar with, since I was scooped up by a Norse God after primarily practicing Afro-Caribbean religion for most of my life. Even when the Deity is from the expected tradition and pantheon, suddenly being God-Owned always comes with a big paradigm shift.

Let me take a moment to say that not everyone who is pagan will be scooped up by a Deity. For whatever reason, some folks can work quite well as free agents and will be given the latitude to do so and others will get claimed. Bottom line is; if it is your fate to serve a Deity, whether you consent consciously or not, you cannot outrun Wyrd. I know this concept is controversial; that a God or Goddess can pop in and lay a claim on whom They choose without the express consent of the human involved. We do live in a very individualistic society in which personal freedoms and human dominance are treasured ideas. So when a Deity shows up and behaves in ways we do not expect and They do not give a fig about the concept of human agency, it can ruffle feathers.

I have seen a lot of people struggle (and have struggled myself) when they want to belong to Deity A and Deity A says “no thanks, since you belong to Deity B”. This usually leads to a lot of readings, a lot of stress and bemoaning, “but I really want to serve Deity A and I am more comfortable doing things in a familiar way…” It is hard to realize that the Gods are not here for our comfort and convenience and that, in the end, it is up to Them who they choose. This does not mean that They don’t care about us, They do. But They have their own ways that are not human ways and Their own agendas. They also know far better than we do what we need as opposed to what makes us comfortable and complacent. In the end They will do what needs to be done for our long term spiritual growth, even if it means dragging us kicking and screaming down the path. Ultimately, where our agency comes in is in our response: we can choose to fight and whine and melt down and make the process of winnowing away all that holds us back from being Useful all the more protracted and messy; or we can get with the program and earn some Brownie points for being smart enough to cooperate.

So, when I run into folks who have not been claimed yet searching around to find their Patron, I caution them to be wary of what they ask for. I also advise them that, if they are meant to be Deity owned then the Deity in question will surely lay claim in good time and to take the opportunity now to build the skills that will make the claiming process less challenging. First, I’d say get your ancestral house in order and develop a good working relationship with the land spirits and the Dead. This will build good habits, build lots of protection and the Ancestors especially can teach us how to serve a Deity with grace and humility. If you learn to serve your ancestors well, you will build the skills you will need to serve a Deity. You will also make yourself far more interesting and valuable to the Deity who is watching from the wings waiting to swoop in on you at an opportune moment. The Gods like people who are useful and know how to serve consistently and well.

Now, if you have been claimed by a Deity before you have had time to get your bearings…that is a rougher road, but all is not lost. If you do not yet have a strong ancestor practice, you can start now. Most Pagan Deities will want you to develop a strong connection to your ancestors in addition to your connection to Them. Ancestor veneration was a significant part of every Pagan culture and our Gods expect that we will honor our dead. This is because it is right to do so and also because we are strengthened when our ancestral house is in order and it adds to our usefulness and our ability to serve our Gods well. Our Deities want to see us strong and will forge us into tempered steel. In retrospect we will see how necessary this process is, though at the time of our honing all we know is that it is distinctly unpleasant. All I can say is if we hold on, we will come out better, stronger people with an ability to be sustained by our faith and an ability to do our duty under any conditions. This is the paganism of our ancient kin.

We live in a culture where we are overindulged with regard to acting on our feelings to the point that we frequently allow our emotions to rule our actions. A significant portion of this work involves rewiring our brains so our actions are dictated by what is right and honorable in the eyes of our Gods. When we achieve this, then we are in control of our choices and are able to consciously choose our responses instead of unconsciously reacting to every negative stimuli that sweeps down the lane. This does not mean that we hide from our feelings; it means we experience our emotions fully yet allow our actions to be guided by a higher authority, even when the right thing isn’t easy.

Before everybody starts to wonder why anyone would ever wish to be Deity-Owned, I have to say that, for all the challenges and hard lessons, there are great blessings in service. That is because true happiness does not come from self-centeredness, but from knowing one is a part of something greater than oneself. So many people in our culture chase happiness and run from any discomfort…and find themselves alienated, disconnected and in despair. This path, while difficult, brings great rewards, connection and self-respect. Seek to do what is right and happiness is the byproduct of a life well-lived.

Walking this particular road requires a lot of faith, trust and willingness to be fully honest with ourselves and our Deities. They do understand that we may struggle…but They want our complete honesty and openness within that struggle. They want us to turn ourselves towards Them and ask Their aid and learn to rely on our relationship with Them to sustain us. They want us to be willing to get up each time we stumble, dust ourselves off and begin anew. Trust is built inch by inch…They do not always tell us in advance where the road leads. Sometimes this is a mercy. We have to have faith that They are carefully guiding us for a purpose and will get us through the challenges we will face. As we follow Their lead we grow closer to Them. Deity relationships can be astoundingly sustaining and intimate and our Gods are capable of great tenderness towards those They love.

And, ultimately, this is a love relationship. What else would you call pouring yourself out for another and learning to trust instinctively and give fully, withholding nothing? On a final note, all I can say is that the love we give to Them is returned abundantly. I am owned by Loki and He has blessed me so much even during the hardest moments. He has never turned away, even when I was raging about the price I was being asked to pay. He has loved me unreservedly, the good and the bad, even as He nudged me forward towards the person I was meant to become. Loving me didn’t prevent the honing process and its attendant pains…our Gods do not coddle. Our Gods, however, do sustain, remake and lift up those who love Them.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Ah, Loki-owned. That explains a lot!

    ‘Wanting to belong to Deity A and Deity A says “no thanks, since you belong to Deity B”’ is how I became Pagan. I was working on Pentacostal (shamanic) Christianity (not just a religious path, but a GREAT rebellion move for a nice Jewish girl!), and Jesus just said “no, dear, you’re not mine. Look over there…”

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      And Drew Campbell had the Olympians tell him he should really be Episcopalian. The world is weirdness incarnate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/The.Lady.NightShade Tabatha Cherry

      Yep, I got that message too, but He told me to go talk to His Mom! The Goddess has had Her hand on me ever since…..

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Ah, Loki-owned. That explains a lot!

    ‘Wanting to belong to Deity A and Deity A says “no thanks, since you belong to Deity B”’ is how I became Pagan. I was working on Pentacostal (shamanic) Christianity (not just a religious path, but a GREAT rebellion move for a nice Jewish girl!), and Jesus just said “no, dear, you’re not mine. Look over there…”

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      And Drew Campbell had the Olympians tell him he should really be Episcopalian. The world is weirdness incarnate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/The.Lady.NightShade Tabatha Cherry

      Yep, I got that message too, but He told me to go talk to His Mom! The Goddess has had Her hand on me ever since…..

  • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

    Let me take a moment to say that not everyone who is pagan will be scooped up by a Deity. For whatever reason, some folks can work quite well as free agents and will be given the latitude to do so and others will get claimed.

    I think that sentence presents a false dichotomy. Most of the pagans I know who have meaningful patron relationships with gods are not god-owned. I think the simplest model we should be using is that of a spectrum, with patronless individuals at one extreme and god-owned at the other, and with most individuals somewhere in between.

  • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

    Let me take a moment to say that not everyone who is pagan will be scooped up by a Deity. For whatever reason, some folks can work quite well as free agents and will be given the latitude to do so and others will get claimed.

    I think that sentence presents a false dichotomy. Most of the pagans I know who have meaningful patron relationships with gods are not god-owned. I think the simplest model we should be using is that of a spectrum, with patronless individuals at one extreme and god-owned at the other, and with most individuals somewhere in between.

  • http://sonneillon-v.livejournal.com/ Sonneillon

    It can be very difficult to connect with one’s ancestors when one is the product of a closed adoption. Just saying. It’s something I’ve struggled with on the pagan path because I don’t know my family history. I don’t know whether they immigrated from Scandinavia or Germany or Britain. I don’t know which pantheon is culturally mine.

    I am deity-claimed (of Hekate) and perfectly happy to be, but if I had to pick an area of my life in which my legally-enforced ignorance gave me the most grief, my spiritual life would be it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      When I think of ancestors I think of both biological and spiritual ancestors.

      As an American mutt I don’t worry about which pantheon is culturally linked to me. We all originally came from Africa and respect is the key, not genetics.

    • Galina Krasskova

      Sonneillon, i just want to comment for a moment on ancestor work. Even if you don’t know your ancestors because of a closed adoption, you can still honor them. In cases like this, it’s ok to make a call to “my biological maternal line and my biological paternal line.” they know you, after all. Actually, you have four ancestral lines that you can call upon: adopted maternal and paternal and biological maternal and paternal. I’ve often found that as the relationship develops, information about those ancestors can be surprisingly forthcoming…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1700342856 Li Li Jinsei

      And don’t forget that none of us can be 100% certain that what is listed on the genealogy charts is true. Paternity has been lied about for eons, when circumstances call for it, and even maternity can be fudged. I’ve known people who adopted their sister’s/daughter’s kid(s) and pretended to be their biological mother. Then there are secret adoptions/kidnappings/fostering… Pedigree charts aren’t iron-clad, and you can have a whole nationality/line that isn’t truly yours, strictly speaking. Or have one you don’t know about. None of us can be absolutely certain where we came from. Less certainty the farther back you go, too.

      I like what Galina said about honoring them anyway, even if you don’t know their names or origins. You did have ancestors, and that’s sufficient. =)

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      There is evidence from various cultures that, when an individual is adopted into another kin group, the individual then has a relationship with the ancestors of the kin group as if s/he had been born in. Try working with your adoptive parents ancestors, just as you would have if you were born to them. See what happens.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VEEMQX2GD25SDURRLNSK4CDF3Y TonyaP

      Yeah I know where you’re coming from my dad is the product of a sealed adoption we were after a time and a ton of research able to find out some basics, but his mother we never could find she just up and fell off of the map around 1960, and his dad died in 1981. We have a general idea of his family being biracial his mom was most probably at least part Cherokee or Lumbee as Virginia would not recognize his parents marriage because it was considered biracial. I know his dad’s family comes from Europe mostly England and Denmark if I remember correctly what my biological great grandma said the one time I got to meet her before she passed. My moms family comes mainly from Scotland with some Irish and Cherokee thrown in for good measure. My adoptive family is mostly Irish and German so yeah I a mutt and proud of it I have a little bit of allot of things floating around in my family tree as do most Americans if your family has been here for at least a few generations so I’d have to say it’s almost impossible to know exactly every branch of ones family tree, and you shouldn’t worry about it all that much just honor them the best way you know how. They’re not going to hold you responsible for circumstances beyond your control that led to your being uncertain of where your ancestors came from.

  • http://sonneillon-v.livejournal.com/ Sonneillon

    It can be very difficult to connect with one’s ancestors when one is the product of a closed adoption. Just saying. It’s something I’ve struggled with on the pagan path because I don’t know my family history. I don’t know whether they immigrated from Scandinavia or Germany or Britain. I don’t know which pantheon is culturally mine.

    I am deity-claimed (of Hekate) and perfectly happy to be, but if I had to pick an area of my life in which my legally-enforced ignorance gave me the most grief, my spiritual life would be it.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      When I think of ancestors I think of both biological and spiritual ancestors.

      As an American mutt I don’t worry about which pantheon is culturally linked to me. We all originally came from Africa and respect is the key, not genetics.

    • Galina Krasskova

      Sonneillon, i just want to comment for a moment on ancestor work. Even if you don’t know your ancestors because of a closed adoption, you can still honor them. In cases like this, it’s ok to make a call to “my biological maternal line and my biological paternal line.” they know you, after all. Actually, you have four ancestral lines that you can call upon: adopted maternal and paternal and biological maternal and paternal. I’ve often found that as the relationship develops, information about those ancestors can be surprisingly forthcoming…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1700342856 Li Li Jinsei

      And don’t forget that none of us can be 100% certain that what is listed on the genealogy charts is true. Paternity has been lied about for eons, when circumstances call for it, and even maternity can be fudged. I’ve known people who adopted their sister’s/daughter’s kid(s) and pretended to be their biological mother. Then there are secret adoptions/kidnappings/fostering… Pedigree charts aren’t iron-clad, and you can have a whole nationality/line that isn’t truly yours, strictly speaking. Or have one you don’t know about. None of us can be absolutely certain where we came from. Less certainty the farther back you go, too.

      I like what Galina said about honoring them anyway, even if you don’t know their names or origins. You did have ancestors, and that’s sufficient. =)

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      There is evidence from various cultures that, when an individual is adopted into another kin group, the individual then has a relationship with the ancestors of the kin group as if s/he had been born in. Try working with your adoptive parents ancestors, just as you would have if you were born to them. See what happens.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VEEMQX2GD25SDURRLNSK4CDF3Y TonyaP

      Yeah I know where you’re coming from my dad is the product of a sealed adoption we were after a time and a ton of research able to find out some basics, but his mother we never could find she just up and fell off of the map around 1960, and his dad died in 1981. We have a general idea of his family being biracial his mom was most probably at least part Cherokee or Lumbee as Virginia would not recognize his parents marriage because it was considered biracial. I know his dad’s family comes from Europe mostly England and Denmark if I remember correctly what my biological great grandma said the one time I got to meet her before she passed. My moms family comes mainly from Scotland with some Irish and Cherokee thrown in for good measure. My adoptive family is mostly Irish and German so yeah I a mutt and proud of it I have a little bit of allot of things floating around in my family tree as do most Americans if your family has been here for at least a few generations so I’d have to say it’s almost impossible to know exactly every branch of ones family tree, and you shouldn’t worry about it all that much just honor them the best way you know how. They’re not going to hold you responsible for circumstances beyond your control that led to your being uncertain of where your ancestors came from.

  • The Norse Alchemist

    A very good article. I would like to add on something you almost touched, but didn’t quiet talk about.

    That the god-chosen are picked, not just for themselves, but for the future. The gods and goddesses do want to improve us, but they are also looking to keeping the restoration going. They play the long term game, and we shouldn’t forget this. Sometimes it’s about what we can do and alter for the future, as much as it is what they can do for us now.

  • The Norse Alchemist

    A very good article. I would like to add on something you almost touched, but didn’t quiet talk about.

    That the god-chosen are picked, not just for themselves, but for the future. The gods and goddesses do want to improve us, but they are also looking to keeping the restoration going. They play the long term game, and we shouldn’t forget this. Sometimes it’s about what we can do and alter for the future, as much as it is what they can do for us now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rena.mcgee2 Rena McGee

    People who define themselves as “diety owned” interest me in a lot of ways, because I generally don’t have such strong feelings or perceptions. (I think I have to define myself as “pagan agnostic,” because I’ve never had the sort of definite visitations that others seem to have.)

    This was going to shape into a question about visitations, but I don’t think I can frame it in a way that wouldn’t be prying and overly curious.

    • Heather

      I was an agnostic pagan and Loki just showed up. O.o 

  • http://www.facebook.com/rena.mcgee2 Rena McGee

    People who define themselves as “diety owned” interest me in a lot of ways, because I generally don’t have such strong feelings or perceptions. (I think I have to define myself as “pagan agnostic,” because I’ve never had the sort of definite visitations that others seem to have.)

    This was going to shape into a question about visitations, but I don’t think I can frame it in a way that wouldn’t be prying and overly curious.

    • Heather

      I was an agnostic pagan and Loki just showed up. O.o 

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    I have to admit that I find the whole concept odd. Not in a judgemental way, just in the sense that it just doesn’t seem to be something I’ve ever found in my ‘tradition’ (for lack of a better word). In Finnish Paganism the Gods can seem a bit more removed from human concerns, as compared to how it seems in, say, traditions based on Indo-European cultures and Deities. Our Gods just don’t seem to work that way.

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    I have to admit that I find the whole concept odd. Not in a judgemental way, just in the sense that it just doesn’t seem to be something I’ve ever found in my ‘tradition’ (for lack of a better word). In Finnish Paganism the Gods can seem a bit more removed from human concerns, as compared to how it seems in, say, traditions based on Indo-European cultures and Deities. Our Gods just don’t seem to work that way.

  • Cora

    I was claimed by Hermes when I was 8 and even through the years of trying to be the good little Christian girl, I was still Hermes’ and am to this day.

    Regardless of whom else I work with, He is always the ever constant. At this moment I am serving Hestia and She requires a lot of work from me, but Hermes is still there, the ever present.

  • Cora

    I was claimed by Hermes when I was 8 and even through the years of trying to be the good little Christian girl, I was still Hermes’ and am to this day.

    Regardless of whom else I work with, He is always the ever constant. At this moment I am serving Hestia and She requires a lot of work from me, but Hermes is still there, the ever present.

  • Lpatsouris

    So many very good points…certainly there is a full spectrum between having no specific deity connection to being full-on owned by a Deity. There is a lot of middle ground. And it is certainly true that the Gods cast an eye into the future. I may never fully know all the reasons why I was claimed by Loki instead of another God or Goddess. They have Their reasons, sometimes They can be baffling. All part of the Mystery. Galina already addressed the question about ancestor work when on is adopted and has no information about their line. All I will add is that, as a 40th birthday present last year I was given mitochondrial dna testing to tell me where my maternal line originated. My Mom has Afro-Cuban roots and because of slavery there wasn’t a lot of information about where the line came from. They were able to tell me which countries in West Africa I had genetic links to.

    • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

      That would be my biggest disagreement in terms of this entire discussion, both with your response Laura and Ian Phanes’ original objection–namely, that all of the various sorts of deity-human relationships can be placed on a spectrum or a continuum of any kind, with “none at all” on one end and “god-owned” on the other, and everything else in between.

      Such a construction automatically means that, in some person’s eyes (depending on their theorized position on the spectrum), they may be “superior” in their devotions than those to their right or left. No particular divine-human relationship is at the pinnacle or the extreme of spiritual possibilities for the human race. If anything, the differences in kind between all of these possibilities would suggest that they are, inherently and completely, different, and should be treated as such, with no evaluative dimensions attached to the question at all.

      There is nothing wrong with being a “free-agent” devotee of a deity, nor with being a god-slave, nor with being a casual devotee who pays their respects once a year, nor with being any other possible option there is (and there are bound to be millions of such options, given the way human and divine diversity work). People and the gods whom they serve will work out their own best relationships, and none but the gods themselves are in a position to say which one is better or more useful or more valuable to them.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        I think you are hitting on something here. I’ve always felt that we perceive and relate to the Gods precisely as we are meant to, according to a whole constellation of factors. Each of us is uniquely “wired” to relate to all that which is Divine differently, and there is no “good” or “bad”. You can be in tune with your nature or against it, and no outside authority can qualify or evaluate that. However, it’s not an excuse to behave badly, like Fred Phelps or Christopher Hitchens. We are each sovereign of our own soul, and responsible for our own relationship to all that which is Divine.

        • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

          Indeed–I think it is possible to be permissive and approving, without being totally relativistic and to allow for “anything goes” either. There are some forms of spirituality, or usurped spiritual authority (and often it’s not even legitimate, authentic, or true spiritual authority), which are wielded for destructive purposes and selfish gain, and those sorts of things can in no wise be approved and deserve our critique.

          But, in terms of the general run-of-the-mill diversity of people who are devoted religious practitioners, and who are not concerned with getting the undying fandom of followers or of fleecing their flocks out of their last dimes, one person’s daily devotions may be just as good as another’s yearly attendance of a festival…it all depends.

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        Lupus wrote:

        That would be my biggest disagreement in terms of this entire discussion, both with your response Laura and Ian Phanes’ original objection–namely, that all of the various sorts of deity-human relationships can be placed on a spectrum or a continuum of any kind, with “none at all” on one end and “god-owned” on the other, and everything else in between.

        Such a construction automatically means that, in some person’s eyes (depending on their theorized position on the spectrum), they may be “superior” in their devotions than those to their right or left.

        —–

        But what I had written was:

        I think the simplest model we should be using is that of a spectrum, with patronless individuals at one extreme and god-owned at the other, and with most individuals somewhere in between.

        —–

        I respond:

        In my statement, there is nothing that suggests that describing something as a spectrum means that any position is better or worse. (Is blue better or worse than yellow?) The only value judgement that is appropriate on a spectrum is more or less normal. That is, the people who are “none at all” and those who are “god-owned” are equally distant from the norm. Falling “in between” should be understood as the norm. If anything, a spectrum model should argue against any position being superior.

        What’s more, I refer to a spectrum as “the simplest model” specifically because I don’t believe that reality is that simple. I am convinced that each thread in the Tapestry is unique, and that the work of each individual is to express her/his unique nature as fully as possible. But that isn’t effective for describing people, so I use multiple models as they are useful.

        Before imputing interpretations to my words, please make certain that I have said that. If you aren’t certain of my intent, please ask me what I mean.

  • Lpatsouris

    So many very good points…certainly there is a full spectrum between having no specific deity connection to being full-on owned by a Deity. There is a lot of middle ground. And it is certainly true that the Gods cast an eye into the future. I may never fully know all the reasons why I was claimed by Loki instead of another God or Goddess. They have Their reasons, sometimes They can be baffling. All part of the Mystery. Galina already addressed the question about ancestor work when on is adopted and has no information about their line. All I will add is that, as a 40th birthday present last year I was given mitochondrial dna testing to tell me where my maternal line originated. My Mom has Afro-Cuban roots and because of slavery there wasn’t a lot of information about where the line came from. They were able to tell me which countries in West Africa I had genetic links to.

    • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

      That would be my biggest disagreement in terms of this entire discussion, both with your response Laura and Ian Phanes’ original objection–namely, that all of the various sorts of deity-human relationships can be placed on a spectrum or a continuum of any kind, with “none at all” on one end and “god-owned” on the other, and everything else in between.

      Such a construction automatically means that, in some person’s eyes (depending on their theorized position on the spectrum), they may be “superior” in their devotions than those to their right or left. No particular divine-human relationship is at the pinnacle or the extreme of spiritual possibilities for the human race. If anything, the differences in kind between all of these possibilities would suggest that they are, inherently and completely, different, and should be treated as such, with no evaluative dimensions attached to the question at all.

      There is nothing wrong with being a “free-agent” devotee of a deity, nor with being a god-slave, nor with being a casual devotee who pays their respects once a year, nor with being any other possible option there is (and there are bound to be millions of such options, given the way human and divine diversity work). People and the gods whom they serve will work out their own best relationships, and none but the gods themselves are in a position to say which one is better or more useful or more valuable to them.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        I think you are hitting on something here. I’ve always felt that we perceive and relate to the Gods precisely as we are meant to, according to a whole constellation of factors. Each of us is uniquely “wired” to relate to all that which is Divine differently, and there is no “good” or “bad”. You can be in tune with your nature or against it, and no outside authority can qualify or evaluate that. However, it’s not an excuse to behave badly, like Fred Phelps or Christopher Hitchens. We are each sovereign of our own soul, and responsible for our own relationship to all that which is Divine.

        • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

          Indeed–I think it is possible to be permissive and approving, without being totally relativistic and to allow for “anything goes” either. There are some forms of spirituality, or usurped spiritual authority (and often it’s not even legitimate, authentic, or true spiritual authority), which are wielded for destructive purposes and selfish gain, and those sorts of things can in no wise be approved and deserve our critique.

          But, in terms of the general run-of-the-mill diversity of people who are devoted religious practitioners, and who are not concerned with getting the undying fandom of followers or of fleecing their flocks out of their last dimes, one person’s daily devotions may be just as good as another’s yearly attendance of a festival…it all depends.

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        Lupus wrote:

        That would be my biggest disagreement in terms of this entire discussion, both with your response Laura and Ian Phanes’ original objection–namely, that all of the various sorts of deity-human relationships can be placed on a spectrum or a continuum of any kind, with “none at all” on one end and “god-owned” on the other, and everything else in between.

        Such a construction automatically means that, in some person’s eyes (depending on their theorized position on the spectrum), they may be “superior” in their devotions than those to their right or left.

        —–

        But what I had written was:

        I think the simplest model we should be using is that of a spectrum, with patronless individuals at one extreme and god-owned at the other, and with most individuals somewhere in between.

        —–

        I respond:

        In my statement, there is nothing that suggests that describing something as a spectrum means that any position is better or worse. (Is blue better or worse than yellow?) The only value judgement that is appropriate on a spectrum is more or less normal. That is, the people who are “none at all” and those who are “god-owned” are equally distant from the norm. Falling “in between” should be understood as the norm. If anything, a spectrum model should argue against any position being superior.

        What’s more, I refer to a spectrum as “the simplest model” specifically because I don’t believe that reality is that simple. I am convinced that each thread in the Tapestry is unique, and that the work of each individual is to express her/his unique nature as fully as possible. But that isn’t effective for describing people, so I use multiple models as they are useful.

        Before imputing interpretations to my words, please make certain that I have said that. If you aren’t certain of my intent, please ask me what I mean.

  • Helix (Christine Kraemer)

    Perhaps an ignorant question… would you relate being god-owned to the African diasporic concept of having an orisha on your head?

    • Lpatsouris

      I would relate being God-owned to the concept of having an Orisha on one’s head. That is a good analogy….particularly sine, in Afro-Cuban tradition the identity of one’s ruling Orisha is not something one chooses, the Orisha chooses them.

  • Helix (Christine Kraemer)

    Perhaps an ignorant question… would you relate being god-owned to the African diasporic concept of having an orisha on your head?

    • Lpatsouris

      I would relate being God-owned to the concept of having an Orisha on one’s head. That is a good analogy….particularly sine, in Afro-Cuban tradition the identity of one’s ruling Orisha is not something one chooses, the Orisha chooses them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wendi-Wilkerson/563249337 Wendi Wilkerson

    I’m not completely convinced that Gods swoop in and lay claim without our consent; maybe without our express conscious consent, but not without our soul’s consent. I do believe that when they appear in this fashion, it’s because even if we are deaf to our own longing, our souls cried out for the kind of growth and fulfillment than only such a difficult and intense relationship with Them can provide. I believe that we become God-owned because that is the sort of challenging and transformative relationship we really need to meet our spiritual growth potential. Some people just don’t need the same level of intense hard work in order to reach their growth potentials. This is not to say that those potentials are greater or lesser in the God-claimed than in the Gods-loving, but to say the each individual has different needs and different ways of having those needs met. God-ownership is the route some of us HAVE to take. (For me, it’s perhaps because I’m so hard-headed.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wendi-Wilkerson/563249337 Wendi Wilkerson

    I’m not completely convinced that Gods swoop in and lay claim without our consent; maybe without our express conscious consent, but not without our soul’s consent. I do believe that when they appear in this fashion, it’s because even if we are deaf to our own longing, our souls cried out for the kind of growth and fulfillment than only such a difficult and intense relationship with Them can provide. I believe that we become God-owned because that is the sort of challenging and transformative relationship we really need to meet our spiritual growth potential. Some people just don’t need the same level of intense hard work in order to reach their growth potentials. This is not to say that those potentials are greater or lesser in the God-claimed than in the Gods-loving, but to say the each individual has different needs and different ways of having those needs met. God-ownership is the route some of us HAVE to take. (For me, it’s perhaps because I’m so hard-headed.)

  • Literata

    The stories about getting redirected to the right deity are fascinating – thanks to everyone who shared. I was wondering if anything like this ever happened to Catholics, since there seem to be some superficial similarities with devotion to/patronage from particular saints or appearances of the Virgin Mary. Does a young nun ever think she’s going to work with St. Barbara, when suddenly St. Dismas swoops in, and she ends up going in a totally different direction?

    • Michael

      As a Catholic, I’ve felt something like that in my life, but never expected to be discussing it in a Pagan context. My name is Michael, and I’m supposed to have the Archangel St. Michael as my patron, and I do. However, I’ve become very close to St. Joseph over the years, and consider him my other patron (I don’t know if that’s theologically sound in Catholicism), and interact with him much more than St. Michael.

      I’ve also noted after the fact that, to some degree, St. Michael could be considered Aesir-like (warrior), while St. Joseph could be considered Vanir-like (nurturer).

  • Literata

    The stories about getting redirected to the right deity are fascinating – thanks to everyone who shared. I was wondering if anything like this ever happened to Catholics, since there seem to be some superficial similarities with devotion to/patronage from particular saints or appearances of the Virgin Mary. Does a young nun ever think she’s going to work with St. Barbara, when suddenly St. Dismas swoops in, and she ends up going in a totally different direction?

    • Michael

      As a Catholic, I’ve felt something like that in my life, but never expected to be discussing it in a Pagan context. My name is Michael, and I’m supposed to have the Archangel St. Michael as my patron, and I do. However, I’ve become very close to St. Joseph over the years, and consider him my other patron (I don’t know if that’s theologically sound in Catholicism), and interact with him much more than St. Michael.

      I’ve also noted after the fact that, to some degree, St. Michael could be considered Aesir-like (warrior), while St. Joseph could be considered Vanir-like (nurturer).

  • Ananta Androscoggin

    One thing I suppose I will always tend to decry, is the sloppy use of language which is so common. Often those who defend such incorrect usages come across as not wishing to have to be accurate with their statements, to be ambiguous in order to avoid being pinned down on just what it was they were actually trying to say.

    A “Patron” or “Patroness” is the one who has done the choosing of whom they will use, who will work for them. Those humans who are merely choosing a deity they like the stories or images of, or whom it is popular to claim association with, seldom actually have that same kind of strong, intense relationship with deity as those who have an active Patron. What word would best suit as a term for this human-end-chosen-but-not-Deity-confirmed relationship I won’t guess at this time, but I suspect the question will simmer in the back of my mind now that I’ve begun wondering about it.

    Deity chooses. I have no idea how many one might actually be claimed by at any time without conflict, but I suspect it varies with each human’s destiny. As one grows, one may discover that they are passed along from the one deity to the next one to guide further growth of that individual’s soul. If one is already claimed by another deity, there may be times one is lent to another for specific purposes they agree upon.

    Since none of us live on Olympus or Asgard or within any of the Axis Mundi of the world’s cultures, we get to keep guessing all our lives.

    I began ignoring the Calling around my mid-teens, in the late ’60s. It took me years to fully acknowledge it, and a bit longer to embrace it. While my experiences often make me wonder if my Patroness as The Goddess might be a gestalt-emanation of all of the Goddesses of this world (and why they would create such I cannot fathom), there have been indications of entanglements with Persephone and with Erishkegal. But it seems She will speak through any of the Goddesses who make Her up when I am in need of a clue-stick up-side the head.

  • Ananta Androscoggin

    One thing I suppose I will always tend to decry, is the sloppy use of language which is so common. Often those who defend such incorrect usages come across as not wishing to have to be accurate with their statements, to be ambiguous in order to avoid being pinned down on just what it was they were actually trying to say.

    A “Patron” or “Patroness” is the one who has done the choosing of whom they will use, who will work for them. Those humans who are merely choosing a deity they like the stories or images of, or whom it is popular to claim association with, seldom actually have that same kind of strong, intense relationship with deity as those who have an active Patron. What word would best suit as a term for this human-end-chosen-but-not-Deity-confirmed relationship I won’t guess at this time, but I suspect the question will simmer in the back of my mind now that I’ve begun wondering about it.

    Deity chooses. I have no idea how many one might actually be claimed by at any time without conflict, but I suspect it varies with each human’s destiny. As one grows, one may discover that they are passed along from the one deity to the next one to guide further growth of that individual’s soul. If one is already claimed by another deity, there may be times one is lent to another for specific purposes they agree upon.

    Since none of us live on Olympus or Asgard or within any of the Axis Mundi of the world’s cultures, we get to keep guessing all our lives.

    I began ignoring the Calling around my mid-teens, in the late ’60s. It took me years to fully acknowledge it, and a bit longer to embrace it. While my experiences often make me wonder if my Patroness as The Goddess might be a gestalt-emanation of all of the Goddesses of this world (and why they would create such I cannot fathom), there have been indications of entanglements with Persephone and with Erishkegal. But it seems She will speak through any of the Goddesses who make Her up when I am in need of a clue-stick up-side the head.

  • Anya Kless

    I wrote a long reply to this (and Lupus’s related article) on my blog:

    http://fruitofpain.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/a-wife%E2%80%99s-perspective-on-ownership/

  • Anya Kless

    I wrote a long reply to this (and Lupus’s related article) on my blog:

    http://fruitofpain.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/a-wife%E2%80%99s-perspective-on-ownership/

  • http://blog.dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    For me, having a patron is not the same as being dedicated to the patron. I have one patron that I have formally dedicated to, but other gods within that pantheon (and a few without) identify as patrons. I see it as a sort of sponsorship/underwriting deal. I’m not “owned” by any of them, but they clearly support my work and like to have some say in what I do.

  • http://dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    For me, having a patron is not the same as being dedicated to the patron. I have one patron that I have formally dedicated to, but other gods within that pantheon (and a few without) identify as patrons. I see it as a sort of sponsorship/underwriting deal. I’m not “owned” by any of them, but they clearly support my work and like to have some say in what I do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sonya-Hill-miller/1554050622 Sonya Hill-miller

    First, to have a patron does not mean you are owned. Patron is like having a sponsor…they sponsor you. Secondly, you can be claimed by many gods or goddesses in a lifetime. Next, you can work with any God or Goddess you want to work with, that is how a high priest or high priestess does it…Imagine if Isis/Aset told me i could not invoke or evoke any other deities at festivals, or workshops, or to write a book or spell…how limited I would be.

    I think it would be much more accurate to state…that this is your relationship, this is your perspective, this is the contract you made with LOKI….than to post this in the vein of this is how it is to the world.

    As for coddling, once again this depends on your deity…Kuan Yin, and my Goddess Isis are great at holding and coddling you…mother goddesses are this way. You must feel that Gods and Goddesses are not coddlers. Please Please Please, explain this is YOUR perspective…not the “rule” of the path….People read you published and expect you to know…and even if you are not experienced, have only been a solitaire…never have led any rituals, or dispensed the sacraments…they think because you are writer you know….

    Think, and please think hard before you post such things…there is no Elder or hp or hps, or Pagan Clergy I know that would agree with this post.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Laura is writing from a Heathen perspective, and I think it’s clear she’s writing from her own perspective. I know other Heathens who use similar language when speaking of their relationship to their Gods.

      I am very much against trying to censor Pagan writers. We are a diverse people with diverse views. Just because our views aren’t mainstream doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard. On the contrary I think we should all be open to being challenged.

      I think we’ve reached a time where we need to stop expecting individual Pagans to speak for all of Paganism or add disclaimers to what they write. It implies that what they are saying is “wrong”, when really it’s just different.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1678081929 Bill Wheaton

        meh… I dunno Star. My father taught me, in cut-throat chess, one takes the Queen ruthlessly, but among friends and family we say “Gaurd your Queen”.

        Laura makes a lot of empirical statements. When I run into articles like this I try to run the subject replacement test on it and see how it sounds. Replacing ‘Pagan’ with ‘Christian’ makes it sound like a fundy piece. When I see the word ‘claimed’ I see ‘born again’, as if to say “if you aren’t claimed, you aren’t fully pagan yet”.

        No, she shouldn’t be censored, of course, and that includes self-censorship, but adding a disclaimer is not the same thing as censorship. It is a practice that acts as a demarcation point. “Go beyond this and you are beyond my responsibility of cause and effect”. Lots of mature religions do that, not just pagans, and it doesn’t imply wrongness, but rather, it allows an entry point for critical debate and tolerance. If Laura did that, then Sonya and I missed it.

        The idea of being “owned” by a diety is anathema and abhorant to me personally, and diametrically apposed to my belief. But if a pagan wants to believe that, it’s up to them. It proves how big a tent paganism really is though. And it is always the responsibility of someone speaking way out of the mainstream to indicate that so that others are not caught unawares.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sonya-Hill-miller/1554050622 Sonya Hill-miller

    First, to have a patron does not mean you are owned. Patron is like having a sponsor…they sponsor you. Secondly, you can be claimed by many gods or goddesses in a lifetime. Next, you can work with any God or Goddess you want to work with, that is how a high priest or high priestess does it…Imagine if Isis/Aset told me i could not invoke or evoke any other deities at festivals, or workshops, or to write a book or spell…how limited I would be.

    I think it would be much more accurate to state…that this is your relationship, this is your perspective, this is the contract you made with LOKI….than to post this in the vein of this is how it is to the world.

    As for coddling, once again this depends on your deity…Kuan Yin, and my Goddess Isis are great at holding and coddling you…mother goddesses are this way. You must feel that Gods and Goddesses are not coddlers. Please Please Please, explain this is YOUR perspective…not the “rule” of the path….People read you published and expect you to know…and even if you are not experienced, have only been a solitaire…never have led any rituals, or dispensed the sacraments…they think because you are writer you know….

    Think, and please think hard before you post such things…there is no Elder or hp or hps, or Pagan Clergy I know that would agree with this post.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Laura is writing from a Heathen perspective, and I think it’s clear she’s writing from her own perspective. I know other Heathens who use similar language when speaking of their relationship to their Gods.

      I am very much against trying to censor Pagan writers. We are a diverse people with diverse views. Just because our views aren’t mainstream doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard. On the contrary I think we should all be open to being challenged.

      I think we’ve reached a time where we need to stop expecting individual Pagans to speak for all of Paganism or add disclaimers to what they write. It implies that what they are saying is “wrong”, when really it’s just different.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1678081929 Bill Wheaton

        meh… I dunno Star. My father taught me, in cut-throat chess, one takes the Queen ruthlessly, but among friends and family we say “Gaurd your Queen”.

        Laura makes a lot of empirical statements. When I run into articles like this I try to run the subject replacement test on it and see how it sounds. Replacing ‘Pagan’ with ‘Christian’ makes it sound like a fundy piece. When I see the word ‘claimed’ I see ‘born again’, as if to say “if you aren’t claimed, you aren’t fully pagan yet”.

        No, she shouldn’t be censored, of course, and that includes self-censorship, but adding a disclaimer is not the same thing as censorship. It is a practice that acts as a demarcation point. “Go beyond this and you are beyond my responsibility of cause and effect”. Lots of mature religions do that, not just pagans, and it doesn’t imply wrongness, but rather, it allows an entry point for critical debate and tolerance. If Laura did that, then Sonya and I missed it.

        The idea of being “owned” by a diety is anathema and abhorant to me personally, and diametrically apposed to my belief. But if a pagan wants to believe that, it’s up to them. It proves how big a tent paganism really is though. And it is always the responsibility of someone speaking way out of the mainstream to indicate that so that others are not caught unawares.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharyn.hall Sharyn Hall

    Some background:

    My first decade of following a pagan path, I loosely aligned myself with Artemis, because I liked Her symbolism, connection to the Amazons, etc. At this stage, I never had any communication with her. At one stage, I experienced contact (and a remarkable emotional connection) with Inanna, which I have never forgotten. At no point, during those years, did I feel that either goddess was expressing that it was my fate to work with Them; even Inanna appeared to make it clear that my association with Her was a one-off, there to help me see an aspect of myself for who I truly was, not because She wanted me to work with/for Her beyond that event.

    However, when Apollon finally revealed His influence upon my life (which I have since discovered has *always* been the case, whether I was aware of it or not, and regardless of what my faith had been at the time), I learnt – in no uncertain terms – that He was my patron, and that while I was free to communicate with other deities, He was the principle figure I would connect to and work with, and that this would always be the case. He stated that I would likewise have much to do with Athena over the course of my life, but that He would remain at the fore. I’ve had too little to do with Athena thus far to know for sure the true nature of her connection to me, however I do feel that I am most definitely claimed by Apollon, that it remains a thoroughly life-affirming experience, and I receive much comfort from the knowledge and understanding that He is here for the long haul.

    On the general topic of patrons:

    I hold no strong opinion one way or another about the nature of deities within the scope of the wider pagan community, I can only speak of my own experiences and how I interpret them. I do feel that those pagans who do not feel claimed by a deity/ies are in no less a position than those who are – I don’t believe I understand why it works out like this, only that it appears to be this way, and I accept that for what it is. I think it’s just perhaps how some cards have fallen, and time will tell how this plays out within our lives.

    I believe it to be a personal truth of my own, a truth that may not be the same for another pagan (either in part or entirety), but which makes it no less important nor relevant to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharyn.hall Sharyn Hall

    Some background:

    My first decade of following a pagan path, I loosely aligned myself with Artemis, because I liked Her symbolism, connection to the Amazons, etc. At this stage, I never had any communication with her. At one stage, I experienced contact (and a remarkable emotional connection) with Inanna, which I have never forgotten. At no point, during those years, did I feel that either goddess was expressing that it was my fate to work with Them; even Inanna appeared to make it clear that my association with Her was a one-off, there to help me see an aspect of myself for who I truly was, not because She wanted me to work with/for Her beyond that event.

    However, when Apollon finally revealed His influence upon my life (which I have since discovered has *always* been the case, whether I was aware of it or not, and regardless of what my faith had been at the time), I learnt – in no uncertain terms – that He was my patron, and that while I was free to communicate with other deities, He was the principle figure I would connect to and work with, and that this would always be the case. He stated that I would likewise have much to do with Athena over the course of my life, but that He would remain at the fore. I’ve had too little to do with Athena thus far to know for sure the true nature of her connection to me, however I do feel that I am most definitely claimed by Apollon, that it remains a thoroughly life-affirming experience, and I receive much comfort from the knowledge and understanding that He is here for the long haul.

    On the general topic of patrons:

    I hold no strong opinion one way or another about the nature of deities within the scope of the wider pagan community, I can only speak of my own experiences and how I interpret them. I do feel that those pagans who do not feel claimed by a deity/ies are in no less a position than those who are – I don’t believe I understand why it works out like this, only that it appears to be this way, and I accept that for what it is. I think it’s just perhaps how some cards have fallen, and time will tell how this plays out within our lives.

    I believe it to be a personal truth of my own, a truth that may not be the same for another pagan (either in part or entirety), but which makes it no less important nor relevant to me.


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