The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here.
The second you step a toe into the pagan hemisphere of the Internet, you start seeing questions about “patron deities.” Invariably, these questions relate to finding one. From a polytheistic perspective, these questions don’t lessen any when you decide to go that route. And from a recon-slant perspective, such as my own, the questions keep on coming. I think this is one of the most popular questions that neophytes ask us older and wiser practitioners. The problem is that is it really necessary from a polytheistic perspective, more specifically, my recon-slanted Kemetic practice? And honestly, even though I technically have one, I can say that I don’t think it’s even remotely necessary.
I know; I’m probably not even remotely making a lick of sense. Or, if you completely understand what I’m saying, then this is probably coming off as a bit of a double standard. I have a patron, but I don’t think they’re necessary? That seems like an awful strange mix there, to me, and I’m sure it looks pretty strange from an outsider’s perspective. But in all honesty, aside from giving me a fierce joy in the knowledge that Sekhmet is around whenever I need her, I really don’t go for her outside of her specific aspects of healing or destruction. I could do that without her being my patron deity just as easily as I can with her being my matron*. With her being my patron, I’m possibly given a little more credibility and a more sure-fire ear than I would have without her being in my life. However, just because I have a direct line, so to speak, that doesn’t exactly guarantee that what I am requesting aid with is going to happen.
And I think that’s something we assume will happen with patron deities.
We start building a relationship with a specific deity and we think, I’m wanted; I’m desired. And we forget a lot of the time that the relationship isn’t for us. This building of a foundation with a particular deity is about them. They require us just as much as we require them. While it’s great and thrilling to finally have that moment where you realize that a deity desires you in some form or another, you also have to be practical about it. It’s not just like butterflies in the stomach when your crush looks back at you; this is a deity, a being who is more than we are, and they are probably getting the “warm and fuzzies” for you as a type of food source, literally and metaphorically. So, while the feelings are great and it makes you feel like you suddenly belong somewhere, you also have to look at it from a realistic angle, as well.
This relationship is cyclical.
However, considering my last post, it’s really no wonder that I don’t really hold with the age-old stereotype of requiring a p/matron any longer. Polytheists need to branch out of their comfort zones and by acquiring a specific p/matron we are less likely to do so, me thinks. Now, I’m not talking about those of you who are still new and uncertain. I think it’s a wise decision to limit yourself to a few deities at a time – you have to get to know what a relationship with any deity is like, for starters – and I don’t think you need to push your limits. However, once we acquire that comfort level where we can anticipate wants, desires, feedings, etc. then it’s time to start thinking about outside of the boxes we shove ourselves into.
Another reason why I think refraining from this p/matron search is because a lot of people take for granted that they can just utilize UPG entirely in their practice. I will admit, I am a heavy user of UPG in my relationship with Sekhmet. However, with the other gods that I do honor on a regular basis, I am entirely restricted to forming my relationships on a historical basis. The reason being is that, while UPG is fine and dandy, learning about the deities we are working with is essential to (A) maintaining that practice and (B) to formulating a fulfilling religious background. And while you can profess a relationship with Sutekh, if you don’t know his mythology very well, then you’re probably going to be left very frustrated with the things that Sutekh requires of you. In like vein, assimilate what I just said to all Kemetic deities you would be willing to work with. If you don’t know a damn thing about Hetheru, then when she asks you to have wild, insane sex on her behalf, are you going to know why? No, you aren’t.
And these aspects are intensely related to numerous relationships with these deities. They are aspects that are easily found in the sources we have to hand. And without having accessed those sources, you could very well be under the impression that you are not just insane or on crack, but a heavy dose of the in between. And while we all have moments where we think we are entirely insane and making shit up in our heads, if you just did a bit of background research, you’d know that you were not, in fact, insane.
And finally, one of the last reasons why I think prohibiting this p/matron thing is a necessity is because of all the conversations I see cropping up where kids go, “You can’t tell a deity ‘no.'” This is such a patented falsehood that I don’t even really know where to begin. Anyone can say “no” to whomever or whatever they so desire. You can tell a deity who is knocking that you are not ready; you can tell them that you are not willing; and you can tell them to “fuck off right now because never, ever in a thousand years.” However you want to phrase it to the deity in question is entirely up to the person in question, but just because you are searching for a p/matron doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suddenly unable to tell a deity “no” if you are uncomfortable with their pestering.
And I think a lot of people who do a serious search for a p/matron are so starved for the attention that they think those of us with p/matrons get that they honestly believe they cannot tell them no. Wrong.
I tell deities no ten times a day some days. I tell deities no once a day on other days. Whatever the reason, I’m still an individual with free will. And that means that I get to exercise that free will whenever I so desire. This means that I may tell them this in regards to an offering, to a particular rite, to entering my life, etc. It doesn’t really matter what the reason I’m telling them no. I may explain my reasoning; I may not. It doesn’t matter. Again, when we were created, we were given free will. And that means we can tell the gods to talk to the hand if we want to.
As persistent as a deity is, you can always tell them no. And if they don’t listen, then I recommend punching them in the face.
But let’s get serious here for a minute. I fully advocate saying no. The reason isn’t just free will, not enough spoons, etc. The reason I do advocate this is because of the amount of responsibility that ultimately goes into the relationships we build with netjer. Referencing back to what I stated above, as a food source of this deity… that is a large responsibility right there. And just as you are completely responsible for your children’s needs and desires, so too will you be 100% responsible for the deity’s needs and desires. You can’t just say, oh, they have other worshipers who feed them if you no longer want that responsibility. You don’t do that with your kids or your pets, so why would you do that to a god?
So, while being unable or unwilling is always something to keep in mind, really, you have to ask if you can maintain this relationship indefinitely with all the pain, anger, and hatred that may come along with it.
* Though I do still ascribe to the very antiquated depiction of Sekhmet as my patron, our relationship is vastly different from what it was when I first began this path all those years ago. I mostly utilize this phrasing so as not to confuse my readers. I also use this because then I won’t have to explain my UPG here, as it is very P.