How to Find Your Patron Goddess or God

This is a common question for beginners: How do I find my patron goddess or god?  Those who are beginning their spiritual journey oft look to others in their religious community asking this question because they desire a mentor or deity to connect with.

My advice to you, if you find yourself asking this question, follows:

No one can answer this question for you directly, only give you a compass and tell you what landmarks they saw along the way.  It’s a bit like finding the right job, and right employer – that “right fit” isn’t “right” for everyone but you can approach it in about the same way. It may come to you from a combination of research (to open your mind to different pantheons), ritual (because the gods respond to ritual and it also cultivates your awareness of the divine), and self-reflection coupled with introspection (you must know yourself before you can know others, including the gods). You could design your own ritual, appealing to “Whoever will accept me as a devotee”, give an offering, and see who chooses you. It may not happen the first time, but your chances are better with persistence and the right approach.

Behave like you are applying for a job interview: clean and dress well, make an appropriate offering, approach respectfully, and be open-minded. Know what you can offer in return and include that in your ritual. Some deities accept food or libation, others accept music or art or poetry, some even accept blog posts praising them.  If you have decided to approach a particular god, research what He or She is known to favor and accept (like you would when researching an employer).

Finding your patron or matron god is kind of like an interview with a potential employer.

Finding your patron or matron god is kind of like finding the right employer.

If you are a poet or musician, then Apollon may be an appropriate patron and you can offer song to Him. If you are a medical technician or some sort, then Asklepios may be appropriate and you can offer your services in His name. If you are talented with crafts, then you can offer artwork, weavings, or pottery to Athene (and you don’t have to appeal to Her aspects of crafty warfare).

Like I said, it’s a lot like a job interview to find not only who matches you, but who you match with. Essentially, asking for a patron/matron is also asking to be His/Her priestess. So cultivate the qualities that would honor Them and offer your services or what you can make or earn to Them in return like you would cultivate your skills and experience to put on your resume.  Make yourself a valuable devotee, and your chances of being chosen will improve.

Addendum: It’s also important to consider what kind of person you want to be and who you want to be associated with.  Again, like applying for work in which the reputation of the company and your supervisor are important for your career, your patron or matron deity will be important for the cultivation of your spiritual life.  If you are serious about becoming a devotee, you will be cultivating aspects that the god or goddess is known for and asking for aid in realms they have control over.  So be sure to research before committing yourself to a particular deity.

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40 comments on “How to Find Your Patron Goddess or God

  1. Labrys says:

    Even before I abandoned my long, weary attempt at the dominant paradigm as a Christian, I had a dedication to Athena. She was, after all the patroness of the Women’s Army Corps, which I joined with my enlistment to the military back in the 70’s. That was a superficial attachment, however.

    With age, I find more subtle bindings between this severe Lady and myself—myth denotes her as “motherless”; I am similarly unmothered, tho’ obviously not because my father literally devoured my mother! She was often called the “friend of man” and more of my companions have been male. I am told I am not feminine, that I am pugnacious and over emphatic, but I am also told I am wise and honest.

    But I do not believe I picked Athena; I believe she selected me and has guided-kicked my weary self into the steps she believed best for me. (BTW, my blog Walk of the Fallen is now ended, the Labyrinth work continues w/o an online face.)

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Labrys. It sounds like She did choose you and cultivated more than one aspect in you over time that She is associated with. You have more than one strong connection with Her and that makes her patronage (or matronage if you prefer) more flexible.

  2. Brynhild Tudor says:

    Mine are Morgan Le Fay, Gwydion and Brigid. Still trying to figure out the connection as to why we chose each other, especially since Morgan is *not* the Morrigun (trust me on this one, contrary to what everyone says), and particularly since I have a Nordic craft name yet never was interested in Norse deities. Go figure. I used to be a classical musician and still love choral singing, though I’m no longer involved in music nearly as much as I once was, and honestly have lost interest in that life, as it doesn’t hold much enjoyment for me anymore. I’m involved with music in a much more casual sense, and my life is now moving on to other things, like physical fitness. None of my deities seem to be linked with fitness, but we’re all still close to each other. I’m female but definitely *not* feminine or masculine, and my deities are not exactly tomboys or girly either. They’re just, well, there. Like me, they’ve never married, or at least, they do as they please and prefer not to attach themselves to anyone, the way you see some pantheons have combinations that fit together. So I’m not quite sure exactly what the connection is between us. Right now I’ve no desire for a steady work occupation, preferring to just have fun and do what interests me on a casual level. So now I’m enjoying myself, although I know I must find something to be of usefulness in society. My deities are healers but healing doesn’t interest me, not in a medical/psychology/psychiatry way. The connection search continues. We’ll see what happens!

  3. Ashley Harris says:

    I am new to this whole Patron Searching thing. I don’t really know where to start. All I know is that I feel the most connected to Greek Mythology. It is something I’ve always been interested in ever since I was younger. I guess you can say that Disney’s movie Hercules sparked up the interest. But every since I first started learning about it in school my obsession has just grown. I want to learn everything there is about the Greek beliefs though at time it feel like too much and just very frustratingly confusing. I wish to find out who my patron/ matron is though. I have a feeling that if I can find that out my life would seem more complete and happy. If someone could give me some advice as to where to start looking or how to find connections that would be great. If you need to ask questions, just ask and I will answer to the best of my ability. This is something that I just got into but am very passionate about…

    Thank you.

    • Hellenestekaigrammateus says:

      Hi Ashley,

      My best advice to you is to start with research. Go to the roots of our mythology by reading Homer and Hesiod and then the Delphic Maxims. Then start performing rituals to honor the gods in general. You can use the Homeric Hymns or the Orphic Hymns to honor the gods and see Who you feel the most connection with. If you aren’t sure how to perform the rituals, go to hellenion.org and browse the articles there. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have specific questions along the way.

  4. Casey says:

    I just need to know the signs. I have been obsessive with the goddess Selene lately. And i don’t know if its by coincidence or not, but the last few books i’ve read have had similar traits to what i believe is the goddess. Compassion, love, and strength. I have always been one for the night. I really am considering Wicca, I don’t know why exactly— perhaps i wish to cleanse myself of the past? Or i just am finally willing to try this, I have never been influenced by religion so this is new to me, Selene may very well be my Goddess… Yet i do not have dreams of her, which i feel would be most logic for a goddess of the moon and tide, actually. I feel drawn to her and her history— well it feels compatible with mine. Music also seems to revolve around her in my mind now too. Do you think my obsession could be the Goddess’s doing?

    • Khaire Casey,

      It could very well be. You’re noticing a pattern and feeling strongly drawn towards Her, so it would be appropriate to make offerings and “listen” to what She has to say.

      Aside: Hellenics tend to think of the gods separately, either as distinct beings (hard polytheists) or as more abstract forces (soft polytheists); whereas Wiccans see the gods as multiple faces or facets of the same two gods (or sometimes even one being). Whichever way you see it is what is right (for you). I just want you to be aware of the terms when deciding which groups to engage in and what to expect from them.

      I’d recommend practicing a daily ritual and make offerings to Her, and see if you feel like She is a distinct personality or a face of a larger being; that will help you see both whether She is your matron goddess and if you would feel more comfortable honoring Her from a Hellenic approach or a Wiccan approach.

  5. lost says:

    i have recently started practicing and i am christian what do i do

    • Khaire Lost,

      The first step is to read, read, read, and read some more! Check out these sources to start with:
      – The links on the Must Read! and Glossary pages here at Helleneste kai Grammateus
      – Our “holy books”: Homer’s The Iliad and the Odyssey, The Homeric Hymns, Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, the Delphic Hymns, the Orphic Maxims.
      – Join Hellenion at: http://www.hellenion.org/index.html

      That will be more than enough to get you started. By joining Hellenion and other groups you’ll get good recommendations of other sources to read and have forums in which you can get your specific questions answered.

      The next step (or parallel step) is to start putting what you’ve read and start giving regular offerings to the gods, at the very least hold to the monthly rituals.

      May Hekate light your way!

  6. Newbie91 says:

    I just started getting into paganism, and I thought my deity was Athena. But lately yhe name Saraswati have been repeated in my head. I just thought it was a coincedence, because I read her name, even a few weeks after reading her name it still pops up in my head. I also feel connected to Hestia and Chaos. Help!

    • It sounds like a blessing to have the attention of so many gods! If you can afford to, I’d suggest nurturing all of those relationships! The only limit is on your own resources: time, attention, and material sacrifices.

      Aside: The first and last of every sacrifice belongs to Hestia. She sits at the hearth, the centerpiece of the home, Her fires deliver burnt sacrifices to the gods above, and She is arguably the single most common deity to pay tribute to in Hellenism. It’s perfectly encouraged to connect with Her alongside other gods.

  7. Isaac says:

    I found that my patron was Cernunnos about a month ago… the wild, the forest, the Green Man in the spring and the Hunter in the fall. I then realized that I have also been working with Hermes and Saraswati for a much longer time. I am a mediator, communicator and teacher in and between multiple communities and I am also a poet, musician and seeker of knowledge.

  8. Charity says:

    I am so confused. 😦 I’ve always been interested in Greek Mythology, and ancient Egypt…. I don’t know where to really start with Egypt, but I know about Isis… and I’ve always felt connected to Athena… I don’t know what to do

    • Khaire Charity,
      I’m not sure if you are feeling stuck due to a lack of knowledge about one or both pantheons, or because you believe you have to pick one or the other. For the former, I suggest you do your research into the mythology of both pantheons. Then start practicing rituals appropriate to them.

      For the latter issue, keep in mind that before monotheism it was perfectly acceptable to acknowledge, address, and even sacrifice to gods of more than one pantheon. Some pantheons even recognize others’ gods formally by giving them a new name (the Romans did exactly this with the Greek gods, then added some more from other pantheons). So if you choose to, you can become both a Hellenic and a Egyptian devotee. Ours are not jealous gods. They just want you to use the correct orthopraxy with them.

  9. sydnisan says:

    I don’t know who my patron Goddess is. I have a feeling that it might be Morgan Le Fay, but I’m not sure. I’ve always felt drawn to her and many aspects in my life are connected with her, but I kind of feel like I’m imagining my connection with her sometimes.

  10. deanna says:

    Im a catholic and i have like being drawn too this religion, im not sure what it is but i love the gods but i will feel terrible for leaving my religion, im barely a teenager but like i said its like im being drawn too this, and i have been searching this stuff all day and it just feels right somehow im cofused, would it be bad for me too leave my religion behind and start again??

  11. Mae says:

    I was raised a Christian, but I felt that much more of a connection to polytheism and I’ve always found interest in Greek Mythology, and have found a fascination with Aphrodite, but I am also very curious about my Swedish roots and have an interest in Norse Mythology, but am still very unsure of how to find my best fit and what patron would be the best for me. I need help.

    • Khaire Mae,
      It sounds like you’ve begun some research in connection to both your interests and heritage. And in my opinion, there’s no reason why you can’t pray to members of both pantheons. You could try honoring gods of both houses and see if you feel more comfortable in one “camp” or another, or if you feel equal affinity for both. There’s also no reason you can’t develop a strong relationship with more than one god, in the same or different pantheons.

      It’s kind of like dating in that you have to just start getting to know the other person, or group of people, before you can feel out whether you’re a good fit for each other. My advice to you is to begin by practicing regular rituals and see what your personal gnosis brings.

  12. kittydarlin says:

    Since I can remember I have always been drawn to Artemis, although I was raised strongly Christian. When I have studied or talked with others, the name Hecate and Selena also get brought up. From what I have gathered some see them as variations…one in the same.

    I am largely into the arts, am strong willed, love animals (cats are drawn to me like I’m made of catnip!) and anything artistic. I also tend to feel more at home in the dark and out in nature. Is there anything I can look into to really figure out to which god or goddess I am being called to? It seems each is wanting attention, lol.

    I do know that my great-great grandmother on down to me (my mother’s side) all had the gift of seeing what was to be or had been, as well as past loved ones. This was hidden to to their strong Christian faith. I seem to also be a strong conduit, and when keeping a friend from falling during a ceremony…had the goddess come down through me in the form of Artemis.

    Sorry for this long rant, just know I am not “normal” and have had others say they see things in me that I have seen since childhood.

    Any guidance would be MOST helpful. Thank you!

    • Khaire Kittydarlin!
      It’s wonderful that you have such strong Sight and are comfortable being a conduit for divinity, what a blessing! It also means that you can see quite a few options ahead of you, no wonder you feel the presence of Hekate.

      There are two things I’d suggest considering. The first is that Hekate might be standing at the crossroads to help you find your way in this. You might pray to Her first for guidance and see if she is more present in your life temporarily or on a more permanent basis. Sometimes the theoi need us (and us them) for certain periods of time and not others.

      Next, keep in mind that there is no requirement that you must be devoted to one deity at one time. You are limited only by your resources, time, and energy. It’s just easier (usually) for people to either focus most of their devotions on the theoi or else start with one, and when they have an established relationship, develop a cultus for another in addition. Personally, I am chiefly devoted to Athena, but at one point Asklepios was also very important in my life, and over time I’ve been building stronger relationships with Hestia, Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, and Hekate.

      If you feel called to serve both Atremis and Hekate (both of which share some aspects with Selena) then perhaps that’s what you are meant to do. You could set aside seperate shrines or else seperate fetishes (anointed, consecrated, and “activated” objects to focus your devotions) on the same shrine to your chief Matrons and honor the either separately or together in joint rituals (as long as you use epithets that are appropriate – such as invoking the wilderness and the night). Just keep in mind that it’s potentially double (or triple) the time and energy and don’t get burned out! Pace yourself and find ways that work for you to establish relationships with Them.

  13. Cas says:

    Hello, I’ve always felt very connected to both Athena and Artemis. I’m very new to this religion and I’m very confused on how to introduce myself as a devotee and how to tell if I’m accepted or not. Also how do you give libations and what should I give as a libation. Sorry for so many questions.

    • Khaire Cas, and welcome!

      These are good questions.

      1. For libation structure and what you should offer, Hellenion offers an in-depth introductory course called Basic Adult Education which is held on this message board and access to the book Old Stones New Temples. But the bare bones formula for a ritual is this:
      – Wash hands and face
      – Light lamp or candle,
      – Recite a Homeric Hymn to Hestia
      -Then drop the match into a bowl of fresh water to make Khernips (sacred water). Sprinkle the khernips over your shrine/altar, offerings, sacred god images, and the sacred space around you. Set the bowl aside off the shrine/altar as it’s no longer clean.
      – Light incense
      – Recite Hymn(s) to god/dess(es) you are honoring (do this out loud, with your whole heart, and absolute attention) and make a libation (sponde or choe depending on if the deity resides above ground or below it – these terms are defined in this blog’s Glossery).
      – Pour the libation (usually this is wine mixed with water, but olive oil [especially for Athena], milk, and honey also serve)
      – You may also offer traditional barley or a portion of your favorite foods or foods that the deity enjoys (olives for Athena and perhaps berries for Artemis, chocolate, cakes or other treats)
      – Announce who you are, standing proud, with palms up. Address the goddess(es) with the appropriate epithets for the purpose of your ritual (you can find these at theoi.com). Make personal supplications and thanksgivings.
      – Thank the gods and extinguish the lamp or candle.

      An example of one of my older rituals can be found here. Though I may post an updated version of how I perform devotions soon.

      2. To introduce yourself as a devotee, you would change this basic structure by addressing the goddess with all of Her epithets, give a very meaningful gift that represents a significant sacrifice for you* (and based on your research of what this goddess enjoys)**, and then in the supplication part of the ritual you would offer yourself as a devotee and ask to be accepted. Hopefully you’ll have a strong feeling or sense acceptance, but you can also ask for a sign to appear at a later time or for an answer in your dreams. Some of the theoi are harder to build relationships with than others, and it might take more than one devotional ritual and/or different gifts before you feel accepted or find your prayers are being answered. Keep trying and trust your intuition!

      *When I devoted myself to Athena I had painted Her, took no pictures of it, and burned the painting as a sacrifice.
      **For Artemis, you might give a significant donation to a wildlife charity on Her behalf.

  14. Ellen says:

    Hey, I recently converted to Hellenic Polytheism and my favorite God was always Dionysus, our personalities match and whenever I pray to Him, I feel lots of energy and happiness, but I’m afraid that He won’t accept me, mostly because I can’t make offerings daily. Does that really matter?

    • Khaire Ellen!
      Congratulations on identifying your patron deity! You have a strong sense of personal gnosis and awareness in your connection to the divine!

      I would suggest looking to those feelings when you do pray to Him and note the results of your prayers. If you are getting the feeling that He is listening to you, and if you are getting what you ask for in the relationship, then you must be doing right by Him. It sounds to me like He is already accepting you.

      That said, this is a transactional relationship and you get what you put into it. If you can make devotions more often, or in different ways that don’t require consistent attention, then you’ll get even more out of it. If you’re looking for other ways to show devotion, they could be: Writing poetry or making art devoted to Him, setting up an e-shrine (there are a lot of examples on Tumblr out there), setting aside space in your home for a physical shrine (maintaining a shrine is a constant sacrifice we can make even without daily ritual), having a big party once per year in His name (a bigger but infrequent devotion), etc. If you’re still not sure, you can also pray to Him and ask if He can accept you without consistent offerings and/or what kind of offerings He’ll accept. The answer may come by intuition, in your dreams, or by some other sign.

  15. R says:

    Hi, thank you for your article it was very interesting! I’ve always been drawn to paganism and greek mythology, but my mother being a very devoted catholic, any mention of it was dangerous. Recently my friend came out to me as a witch and explained who her patrons were, she said she could see me with Hermes due to his associations with communication (I also have a tendency to take things). But, I’m drawn to wolves which are not associated with Hermes, poetry, music, illusion; I also often have semi prophetic things but its about small mundane things like topics of conversation. As far as I know no gods have made any contact with me but I am very interested in following this path and seeing whether someone is trying to contact me.

    • It sounds like you are on the right track! As you continue to make contact with the gods and spirits, your personal gnosis will grow and it’ll become more clear to you. Sometimes that gnosis comes from Them literally speaking to you, and sometimes it’s a _feeling_ of _being listened to_.

      There is nothing wrong with devoting special attention and service to multiple gods and spirits. For example, as an artist, I feel primarily connected to Athena but still have a strong affinity to Asklepios from my previous work on His behalf, Hermes from the amount of travel I’ve had in my life, and am now cultivating relationships with Hephaistos, Apollon, and the Musai because of my work as an artist. That’s in addition to my personal daemon, or helper/guardian spirit. It can help to develop one relationship at a time though, so as to not be overwhelmed.

      As always, stay safe. No one is expecting you to “come out” to people who aren’t supportive of your spiritual growth. It’s not really their business anyway, this is about you and your gods and spirits.

      Please feel very welcome to come back and update us on your journey!

  16. Mishael says:

    Hi I’ve recently entered paganism, but I feel very confused. I’m an Arab and come from a Muslim family. I thought I should go back and worship my ancestral deities. The Arabian ones like Manat, Al-uzza, Allat and Hubal as the father god. The ones I’ve listed are the most well known ones but in the Arabian pantheon there are 360 gods and goddesses. But I’ve also feel a deep connection to Anahita the Persian goddess, but they are now warring with each other I can feel it in my heart. The Arabic gods and goddesses and Anahita the Persian godess refused to be worshipped together. Which one should I devote my worship to should, I do I feel extremely stuck right now.

    • I’m sorry, it must be very frustrating. To extend the job interview metaphor – in an ideal world you could devote yourself part-time to serving each, but since they are in competition, you’re going to have to choose.

      Use your judgement when taking in this advice, as you know your gods best. There are two options I can suggest:

      1) Perform a divinatory ritual, or find someone who can do a reading for you, to gain insight into which pantheon you should dedicate yourself to. This is a safer option but you might not get as much personal gnosis and self-awareness.

      2) If at all possible, I would suggest stopping short of full devotion and performing a series of smaller rituals in honor of each deity you are drawn to. Like a series of introductory job interviews, these would be “getting to know you” meetings and comparing first impressions without commitment. Just as potential employers will ask you if you are interviewing with other employers, be open with your gods about what you’re doing ask that they understand that this is an informal trial for you to sense where you fit, and that you will be performing this single trial ritual for each of the other three gods. That way you are not favoriting any one god as you explore. Take your time and tune in to how you’re feeling each time you do this. Keep a journal on your impressions. If you dream of any of these gods, write those down in your journal too. When you’re done, compare your notes and it will inform your decision on which god (or pantheon) to devote yourself to.

      That said, if you felt resistance from any of them, or if there was a negative sign, stop the ritual immediately and perform a divination to gain clarification. Some gods are more difficult (but rewarding) to satisfy, and this too can inform your choice.

      I hope you gain the clarity you’re seeking. Please come back and let us know where you are on your journey.

      • Mishael says:

        Hi I think the one of the gods has sent me a sign. I felt hope
        less like I was never going to find which one to devote myself to, I praise last night that if one of them could prove themselves to me. Then today I saw a cat in my house even though all the doors were closed how it got in I have no idea. I followed it outside and I said the name of many gods and goddesses in front of it but only one name made it look at me Anahita, so I scream the name Anahita into the air and suddenly the wind blew louder and colder. I wonder if this is sign from the gods if so could you exactly tell me which one please, thank you.

      • That sounds like a plausible sign to me, but you know this pantheon best. Are cats sacred to this goddess? Why would She use these signs? More importantly, you’ll need to tune in to how you feel to develop your own indisputable sense of personal gnosis. If you are sure it’s a sign, then it’s a sign, and you won’t need me to confirm it. 🙂

        If you’re not sure, then I suggest practicing divination. That could take the form of a dream journal – it’s said that if a god appears in your dream then they are definitely part of your household cultus.

  17. rebeedmunds says:

    I’m not new to this whole Patron Searching thing and I have done research on both Zeus and Hades, All I know is that I feel the most connected to both of them but I can’t make mu mind up one minute it Zeus then to Hades and now again Poseidon for awhile but I always go back to Zeus, now I am finding this very frustratingly confusing but for some reason I feel like I have to have to pick one or the other and I can’t let both of them in, do you have any advice to help me

    • Hi rebeedmunds, good question! First, I would turn it around and ask you why you feel like you have to pick just one? Does it feel like, in your experience with Them, that the gods are requiring you to pick just one of them (something similar to Paris’ choice)? Or does that come from your expectation, which could be influenced by living in this predominantly monotheistic culture? Or does it just feel overwhelming to develop all three relationships at once?

      On a practical level it can make sense to start with one patron god and develop a relationship with Them in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the whole pantheon. Then They might “refer” you to other gods, or you might decide to include more in your primary household cultus over time. But that’s not the only path you can take.

      Put another way, you don’t have to commit yourself to that one god. And if you do feel the need to commit to one, it doesn’t have to be forever. For example, I used to be closer to Asklepios when I worked in the healthcare industry, but as I don’t work in that area anymore, He’s no longer my patron. I still appeal to Him from time to time, just not on a daily basis because my life has taken on a different direction. You can also have more than one patron at a time. Often gods are paired together in the mythology and hymns for a reason – for example, Athena and Hephaistos are often considered the “parents of civilization” for Their gifts to human society and Their patronage over the arts. In that respect, both of them would be appropriate patrons to anyone who works on behalf of communities, governments, science, and/or the arts.

      So is there a reason you’re drawn to the three brothers? What do They share in common? Is it that you seek union between the domains between sky (Zeus), earth and sea (Poseidon), and below (Hades)? What is it that draws you to each of them?

      It’ll take some introspection on your part to figure out where the feeling that you need to pick one is coming from, and why. Once you know, you can develop your household cultus practice and go from there.

      Practical tips:
      – Start by just studying Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Their myths, their epithets, prayers to them (Homeric, Orphic, and others you can find), artworks, their origins (Hesiod’s Theogony), etc. While you do this, keep a journal on your gut feelings and impressions about Them. That journal could lead to some insights to the questions above.
      – Then begin doing simple rituals to honor each of Them (make sure to use the chthonic version for Hades at night). Journal about how you feel and the impressions you get doing these rituals.
      – Finally, do regular activities that respect each of Their domains. Hellenion has instruction on Making a Kathiskos Jar for the monthly Noumenia to honor Zeus in His aspect of protecting the household and resources. That might also include doing things that serve justice or the homeless. For Hades you could go to a cemetery and honor forgotten graves with flowers, wine, and maybe a few coins. For Poisidon you could donate to earthquake relief or to protect coral reefs, or clean up a beach. Again, take note of how you feel and your impressions doing this. See how these activities effect your formal rituals and your research. From your research and rituals you should also get more ideas on how to honor Them in your daily life.
      – Try these things for at least a month. Journal, meditate, or speak to the gods on whether you feel overwhelmed doing all of this for all three of them simultaneously, or if you want to focus your efforts on just one for now. Then try focusing on just one for a month at a time. Think of it like an “internship” seeing what it’s like to work for each of them.
      – And remember, focusing on one doesn’t mean you have to ignore the others. If it feels right to focus on Zeus, great! But you can still honor His brothers too, sometimes more than Him depending on what’s happening in your life. It could be that you “primarily work for Zeus” but He sends you out to do good work for His brothers now and again.

      Please come back and let us know how it’s going, or if you need more suggestions!

  18. Grace says:

    Hi there, I really want to thank you for this article, but could I ask you something? I’ve always felt drawn to Hellenismos, ever since I found a story book about the legend of Arachne and Athena when I was five in my school library. However My family are strict Atheists and I’m scared they won’t accept me for my spirituality, I could really use some advice! Thank you

    • You’re very welcome, Grace, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Thank you for that important question, it’s a very difficult situation. It’s a conflict between wanting to be your open authentic self and yet accepted by your family and community. It’s a problem that many marginalized people, including gay, bi, genderqueer, trans, and others experience as well. There is a lot of good literature in these communities on navigating this conflict, and they could articulate the issue and strategies better than I could. There are also practical tips for handling awkward situations and boundaries that can be found on one of my favorite blogging sites, Captain Awkward. I would definitely check these sources because it’s a complicated issue! But you are trusting me to give you some specific advice, so I will also give you my best no-BS not-sugarcoated suggestions based on my experience with this.

      Full disclosure: My parents don’t accept that I’m polytheistic. The very few times it’s come up I’ve given matter-of-fact answers, or if it was heading in an unproductive direction, I’ve ended the conversation. None of us brings it up now, and while that’s not ideal, it’s still a win because I don’t have to hear pointed questions about my altar and I’m not shamed about practicing something different than they do. If it comes up again, such as when/if I have kids, I have this foundation of “Your opinion isn’t going to change my spirituality, and if you want to be part of my life, you won’t try to shame me for it.”

      So I will share with you something that I wish I’d realized a long long time ago: You don’t owe anyone, even your family, your whole story, nor conformity to their expectations. You also can’t control their reactions, only what you put out there.

      If you are in an economic situation where you are dependent on family, such as if you’re living in your parents’ house, then it’s not a balanced power relationship and it might not be the right time to “come out of the closet” as polytheistic. That’s a hard position to be in when you want mutual understanding and respect, but hopefully it’s endurable until you’re on your own.

      If you’re living on your own and supporting yourself, then you need to decide the cost vs. benefit of confiding in them. I know, I know, we really want to be accepted as our whole selves. But ask yourself: Is it worth it to bring it up? What could you gain by sharing this part of yourself? What’s the worst case scenario? What are the shades in-between? What specifically do you need from them?

      When it comes down to it (usually) having a relationship with you is more important to family than being “right”. You might be surprised by how accepting some of them can be when you articulate how important it is to you. But you also might be surprised by how unaccepting people can be. There are things you can do on your side to soften the conversation and make it easier for them to accept, and there are also things you can do to protect yourself from being rejected. Ultimately though, you can’t make other people react a certain way. If you’re going to tell them, then it’s best to approach the issue with empathy and acceptance of who they are too, and give them a chance to be the best version of themselves. If they can’t be that person right now, then it’s time to set your boundaries.

      Whether you come out or not, if they’re openly mocking non-Atheists in front of you and making it a toxic situation for you to be different, then you can call them on their rude behavior without referring to what you believe, “That’s a very rude way to talk about people. Would you say that to, [a Hindu person you know]?” and “It doesn’t matter what I believe about god, or gods, you are being rude.” and if they continue despite how it obviously bothering you, you can leave the room. Read Captain Awkward for more on how to do this.

      You can also dispel some biases they have that were formed in reaction to organized monotheistic religions (often criticisms of Christianity can be conflated with all of religion and spirituality) by referring to how some polytheistic cultures, like the Vikings and Spartans, were different – or draw distinctions with contemporary examples they might be more familiar with like Hinduism, Buddhism, or Native American spirituality. That’s chipping away at the assumptions that are dividing you and making it hard to be open.

      Another option is to just be matter-of-fact in response to questions. “Yes, that is an altar.”, “Yes, that is a statue of Zeus.”, “This works for me.”, or even, “Yes, I set aside a little bit of food for Hestia. Doing this reminds me to be a good host, keep my home clean and inviting, and to be grateful for the blessings I have, including your company!” and you can always change the subject.

      If the questions are designed to shame you, then you can say, “It’s weird that you’re asking me that”. and “How exactly do you want me to feel when you say that? What kind of outcome are you hoping for?” and turn the focus back on them. They probably won’t change their worldview, but you can teach them how to behave around you with the boundaries you set up – namely, that your spirituality and practice isn’t up for negotiation.

      Or you can give them part of the truth. You can do the same rituals such as pouring wine on a grave of a loved one without coming right out and saying to your family that you are honoring Hades. If asked, you could say, “It felt right to do this in their memory.”

      If you have The Conversation you can also point out that things they normally do – blowing out candles for wishes, throwing rice at weddings, or flowers on a grave, etc, are all related to more ancient spiritual practices. You’re just adding new ones into your daily life. Say it as if it’s a perfectly normal thing to do (because it is!) and help them see that it doesn’t have to be a point of contention between you.

      Let us know if these suggestions work for you! And everyone else, how did you handle conflicts with your family over your spirituality?

  19. Grace says:

    Thank you so much!

  20. Grace says:

    My brother is really the only one with a bone to pick when it comes to religion, my mother just ignores them. However my brother hates all religions. The way I deal with his rudeness is by just doing what I feel is right, it isn’t easy. He is extremely rude when it comes to my way of life and has at least one tantrum every month about the way I express my spirituality.

    All I can do is practice my beliefs. It isn’t easy, especially when he tells me that he just isn’t comfortable in the same house as someone who is religious. He’s my little brother, and I want him to be comfortable in the house.

    However I can’t simply abandon the Gods because of his comfort level, it is wrong on so many levels to do so. All anyone can do is do what feels right.

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