Do You Really Need a Patron?

Cerridwen Statue on my altar
Cerridwen Statue on my altar

Admittedly, this is a bit of a hot button topic for me. In the Pagan world, I find a lot of people using the terms “Patron” or “Matron” to refer to a particular god or goddess that they are working closely with.

The traditional meaning of patron that I learned is an individual who is your supporter and protector. There’s a very deep level of relationship between the patron and the individual. When I’ve heard people use the word “Matron” in this context, they usually mean a female patron. There are individuals who have this depth of relationship with a god or goddess. Many of these individuals call themselves a priest or priestess of their god, but not all do.

In ADF, we often talk about finding your patron god as part of your journey, but do we really need one? Need? No.

Consider your relationships with the gods in the same light that you have relationships with people. Sometimes we have one really close friend, sometimes we have a couple of really close friends, and sometimes we have a lot of relatively close friends. And then we have all the other people with whom we have different levels of relationships.  The gods and goddess are similar to that. The exact nature of the relationship is a little different in how we interact, but there is a range of relationships from super close, BFFs, to individuals who you just casually wave from across the room. What relationships you have with the gods and goddess is up to you. The amount of effort you put into the relationships may affect the closeness, but like with humans, not every relationship works out perfectly.

Work on your relationships – with whatever beings you desire – and see what happens.

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The Challenge of Moving

CreekOur Landlady told us that she was raising the rent – raising it further than we were comfortable paying. So we’re moving. And I really don’t like it.

This discomfort is completely aside from the effort of packing, and organizing the moving of utilities and internet, not to mention the extra expense for new security deposits and paying people to move our lovely – but heavy – furniture.

Our new place is great. It has a wonderful area for entertaining, and it’s providing me the opportunity to re-work my Craft/craft room to more accurately reflect my current interests and activities. Yes …. UGH!

I finally figured out what it is … this place doesn’t feel like “home” anymore. Half my stuff is in boxes and I can’t unpack yet, and so I can’t do what I want, when I want it. In a couple days I move. I now realize that I need to claim the new space quickly. So I have a home – even if lots of stuff is still in boxes.

In my family, we have a symbol that means that “this is home.” It’s a simple lock with hooks to hang keys.  So I’ll take that item and put it in the new place first thing. Then maybe, I can have “home” again.

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Pertho – The Loot Cup

PerthoOne morning, not that long ago, I drew Pertho for my morning divination. Pertho is a bit of a loaded rune. It’s often called the loot cup or the dice cup, and can be considered a rune of luck.

But, for me, there is so much more.

There is a side of Pertho that is about the joy of playing together, the social interaction that comes from companionship and play. It’s also a cup, and so can be used to hold water, and thus wisdom and emotions, for you. It also resembles the dice cups used in play – the idea that you roll the dice and make of it what you will. Some say that this ties it to the Wyrd.

Pertho is not, I believe, the final fate, it’s just what life hands to you that day. What your fate is matters a lot on what you do with what you are given. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like there’s much that you can do. The day I was let go from a job, I felt devastated. After a couple of days though, I started to chase down new jobs, and found a good one. That day, the Wyrd handed me a situation that I didn’t like or appreciate, but it was up to me to move forward.  The past might be fixed, but how you deal with the situations that are in your life is what decides your future. The possibilities are not necessarily endless, but your actions are what selects which one of the potential possibilities you end up with.

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Women’s March

March for Women's Lives, 2004 from Wikipedia
March for Women’s Lives, 2004 from Wikipedia

I don’t usually venture into politics on this blog, but I feel that it’s a good day to do so.

Today people throughout the US are marching in the Womens’ March – standing up for their rights. There are marches in many different towns throughout the US, and in towns that don’t have organized marches, people are still getting together.

The goal of the march is a great goal – every human deserves to be respected. We, as humans, have the right to be treated equally, to be treated with respect, and given the opportunity to succeed as much as we are able.  Everyone is different, everyone’s limits are different – but no one should tell you what your limits are.  Your limits can only be determined by you.

From Women’s March on DC web page reflects how this March came about.  It’s about the current batch of politicians and what behaviors the media and political parties seem okay with.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

I hope that one day I can live to see a world where we don’t have to worry about this anymore – at least not at a national level.

If you can’t march, for whatever reason, lend your energy to those who do.  I once heard Selina Fox say that for every front line protester, there was 1,000 people behind them.  We can’t all be on the front.  If you’re not at the front, I urge you to do what you can to support them.  People can’t effectively protest without support – money, letters/calls to politicians, people bringing them food, re-tweeting, liking, commenting.

May these Marches have the desired effect.

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Pagan Hotel-ing

Many times, my job requires me to travel, and that means hotels.  I currently do a (mostly) daily practice, and this becomes a lot more challenging when I’m in a hotel. I don’t have access to my altar, or my stash of offerings, or my space. I usually can’t light a candle or incense and am limited by the considerations of whatever space the hotel has.

Portable Altar
Portable Altar

I have a traveling altar that I bring with me – it’s small enough to be stored in a Korean rice bowl that has a lid. I usually put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and leave it there for the whole time – unless I’m there for more than a week and then I’d like clean sheets and towels – so I don’t have to worry about maids disturbing my altar.

My offerings and practice change too. Instead of making physical offerings, I will usually brew a cup of tea and share it with the Kindreds.  Sometimes I bring tea bags with me, and sometimes I will use the tea that is in the hotel. Because I don’t leverage the maid service, I usually end up having to buy some tea if I didn’t bring some. My choice of tea is because I’m not a fan of coffee.  Feel free to use your beverage of choice!

So, I brew a cup of tea and share it between 2 cups or mugs – whatever the hotel provides. The Kindreds’ cup gets placed next to my little portable altar as I say “Hail to the Kindreds” or something similar. I take my cup and stand by the window and connect with the city or space I’m in. I try to be present in the moment, feeling the energy of the city and of the hotel. I’ll usually also say a prayer, sometimes it’s pre-scripted, but often it’s ad-hoc.

If for some reason you can’t have an altar out – you’re sharing a room with someone who wouldn’t understand, you can still spend some time in the mornings in quiet contemplation of the world around you as you enjoy your cup of tea.

So if you’re ever stuck away from home, maybe this little ritual can help you stay connected.

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On Protecting Ritual Spaces

A spell for protection
A spell for protection

Over my many years as a self-identified Pagan, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of different ways of protecting ritual spaces.

While many Wiccan circles define a firm boundary to the ritual space, there are many other traditions that don’t.  Even the traditions that do have the firm boundary sometimes don’t have it all the time.

So, why do you define the boundary or not? Well .. there’s a lot of “it depends.”  In most cases that I’m aware of, the firm boundary is designed as much to hold IN energy as to keep negative influences out.  When you’re doing focused magic or intense work, this can be very useful.  However, there are other times where it’s not as important to hold the energy in .. or even preferred to allow the energy to spread out gradually. In public rituals especially, it can be very useful to have a flexible or permeable boundary. Parents feel more comfortable bringing their kids if they can quickly leave if the kids don’t want to be there, or people can go if they need to go to the bathroom. And if you’re at an outdoor festival, not having to worry about the adults or children who wander late to the ritual crossing your boundary is very useful!

In ADF, our public rituals don’t have firm boundaries.  Since our public rituals are mostly devotional, this works out great.  We want the natural world to interact with us during the ritual. We do, however, make sure to protect the space that we’re working in – while we want beneficial, or even neutral, outside influences, we do want to keep out the negative influences. As part of our rituals, we call upon a Gatekeeper – an other-worldly being who we call, make offerings to, and ask to protect the space. Also, many of our rituals make an explicit call to these negative influences – what we sometimes call “Outsiders” to leave us alone.  Ritualists in other traditions will often do similar things for rituals where they don’t have a firm boundary. They will either call upon an other-worldly being or will take other specific actions to protect the space without requiring the firm boundary.

There is no “right” way to protect the boundary of your ritual space.  The type of protection that you should use is very dependent upon your physical, magical and spiritual circumstances. Sometimes you really want that firm boundary, sometimes you really don’t .. and most of the time you’re somewhere in the middle.  Think about what you’re doing, and experiment.  Find what works for you.

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Caring for Charity

A while ago, I made a blanket for charity as part of an offering to Freyja. I asked for something pretty big and it worked out – so something pretty big was returned. So I made the blanket, and then left it out at a train station with a hand towel, a bar of soap and a note that someone who needs it should take it. I have no idea who took it, or if someone even tossed it in the trash, but the next morning it was gone. It felt so great to make something that I would just send into the world.

Since then, II’m currently working on 2 blankets for Project Linus and am on the lookout for additional charities to make items for. It’s one of the ways that I can help people outside of my little space. Each of the blankets are worked with a spirit or god in mind so that the spirit of the being is infused into the yarn.  One of the blankets is focused on the Harry Potter world – with each of the houses represented – focusing on working together even if we’re different.

Charities provide care and help for people in need – both for the people that they give items to and the people who help out and work at and with the charities. As we consider gifts for our fiends and family, perhaps we can also consider gifts for those who are in need.

 

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Offerings and gifts

A rather full mortar of offerings being mixed for the Kindreds
A rather full mortar of offerings being mixed for the Kindreds

As I mentioned in my last post, I make a lot of offerings in my daily practice 🙂  Five or six times a week, I make devotional offerings to various Kindreds.  Most of the time, I’m making offerings to the gods that I work with more closely, some of the times it’s to my ancestors or to the local nature spirits.

Offerings are not intended to drive you broke, or be a huge sacrifice all of the time. Offerings are more like when your friend comes over and you offer them a drink, or some food.  Much of the time it’s something that you can easily afford, but you still pay attention to your guest’s needs and desires.  I wouldn’t offer salami, cheese and crackers to a vegetarian, for example, but something more appropriate for them like carrots and hummus. Larger sacrifices are appropriate sometimes, but not every time.

I think that it’s very important that the offerings that you make come from you in some way.  Maybe you purchased the offering, maybe you made it from purchased components, maybe you grew them … the idea is that you put some of your own energy into it.  This energy can come in the form of money, time or attention – and is most commonly some combination of the three.

Much of the time, I make offerings from combinations of dried plants (sometimes from my garden, sometimes not), gemstones and incense. These kinds of offerings are most often gathered in a dish on my altar then later are scattered on the ground or offered to the fire. Other times, the offering is in something that I have crafted – usually these are donated to charity, but sometimes they go to the fire. When it’s appropriate, I will often also offer drinks – alcoholic and not, home made and not.

The key thing about offerings is that it’s personal. What you give must have meeting to you and to the being to whom you are making the offering. If you’re ever wondering what offerings to give to a being – ask them, do some research, do some divination or trance work, and see what feels right.

If you’d like to dig further into the idea of Sacrifices, I recommend “Sacred Gifts: Reciprocity and the Gods by Kirk S Thomas. Thomas goes into the history of offerings and sacrifices and why we would want to do them.

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Letting go of the old

Burning OfferingsOn Samhain night this year, I took the offerings that I had made over the last season and burned them in a cauldron on my grill. The grill itself is a gas grill, but I was using it for a safe space to burn my offerings.

Multiple times a week, I make offerings in my practice. They’re usually dry offerings, but sometimes include oils or resin incense.  Since I make these offerings on my indoor altar, it’s difficult to burn them as I’d prefer.

Before my grill, I’d take my cast iron cauldron and burn the offerings on my concrete patio that’s a bit hidden from my neighbors. I put a layer of Epsom salts in the bottom of the cauldron, and soak it in a bit of rubbing alcohol then light the flames.  Using tongs I’d place the offerings onto the flame in bits to burn. Because the flame was pretty open, I’d have to watch it the entire time.

Now that I have the grill, I have the option of closing the lid and letting it burn.  I do like to watch the flames just in case.  I will also sometimes sing songs to the Kindreds while I’m burning the incense to make it more spiritual and not just practical.

As you can see from the cauldron, I have a decent amount of offerings to burn! I think I’m going to get a bigger container to burn them in for the future.

If you live in an apartment and are allowed to have a grill – of any kind – it’s very useful for burning offerings in addition to cooking.  The key is to have a safe place to have a fire. The more contained the fire (like on a tray or in a pot) the better to make clean up easier. Don’t put anything toxic on it and make sure to clean the grill well before cooking food on it again.

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Perry the Dream Guardian

Perry the PlatypusMy husband and I enjoy watching cartoons – especially those that are designed for adults to enjoy as well as kids. One of the cartoons that we enjoy is Phineas and Ferb by Disney.

In the cartoon, there’s a character called “Perry.” Perry is a platypus who is a pet that doubles as a secret agent. I’ve got a stuffed Perry on my bed. He’s fierce and kind, understanding and respectful but still gets the job done … and there’s a point to me talking about a cartoon.

In my class on the Process of Magic by Taylor Ellwood, we talk about using thought-forms and other beings to help us. A few weeks ago, I had the idea to leverage all the energy and attention that had been given to Perry to help me with an issue I’ve had sleeping. I took the stuffed Perry toy that I have and talked to it. I asked him to help guard my dreams like he guards the boys in the cartoon. Every night I ask for what kind of dreams I’d like to have that night. It’s usually something like “restful” or “good” or “pleasant” but I have occasionally asked for “none.”

Phineas sleeping with PerryIt’s been working decently overall.  My dreams have not left me overtired, or waking up frustrated or angry.  Dreams that would normally have me end up frustrated have somehow avoided the emotion – like someone was defending me from it (Thanks Perry!). Asking for no dreams didn’t work though .. I still got random dreams, although without the level of frustration that I normally get when stressed so it was an improvement.

Next, I think I might try a sigil and empower my Perry to help out a bit more with deeper sleep and remembering my dreams.

It’s an interesting experiment in pop culture magic.

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