It Came from the Search Terms, April Issue

Every once in a while, I answer the questions that people typed into search engines to find this blog. Except for adding punctuation, I don’t change the wording. Enjoy!

How did greek oracles better tune there visions?

Every oracle had a particular method of divination. These included motion of objects in the spring, movements of birds,  cracks in the bones of animals, rustling of leaves, interpreted dreams, etc, and were all considered valid indicators for divination. Some established oracles were those of Zeus at Dodona, Apollo at Delphi and many more. Oracles were priestesses, often educated in temples devoted to particular gods. This means that more experienced priestesses trained them, and acolytes gained the benefit of practice before taking on the mantle of authority. They had the benefit of institutional structure and mentorship. Of course, more detailed questions presented to the oracle would help them focus.

A patron god or goddess and how to know?

It sounds like you think you might have a patron god or goddess but want to be sure. My best advice would be to continue reaching out to the deity in question – make offerings and libations, ask for specific favors – and see what happens. If you see objectively that your god is granting your request (and you’re holding up your end of the bargain) and subjectively you feel something inside when you speak to Him or Her, then you have a relationship. Another idea, if you have very specific questions like “Are you my patron?” is to write your question in a journal before you go to sleep, then the god may answer it for you in your dream. Regardless, as soon as you wake up before even getting out of bed, open your journal and begin writing. Don’t let any doubts or thoughts filter what you’re writing, just write for about 15-20 minutes or three pages. Then stop and see what you’ve written. You may recall your dream or have your answer.

Hellenism holy book?

The only state-recognized church in the US is Hellenion, and it had previously published an overview book of modern Hellenism called Old Stones New Temples which is currently under revision. Though our sources, which are divinely inspired, are Hesiod and Homer. Currently there is discussion in Hellenion about whether or not to produce a modern ‘holy book’, but this is a controversial issue.

Maxims of delphi hellenion.

The original Delphic Maxims can be found here. Though there are maxims that are no longer followed in modern Hellenism, such as “Rule your wife (Γυναικος αρχε)”. Modernizing the maxims is an interesting idea for a holy book, should Hellenion decide to produce one.

Can gods die?

I suppose that depends on if 1. You believe that time is linear (a modern idea) and not cyclical (an ancient idea, discussed by Herodotus among others) and therefore there is a permanence to death, and 2. If you count transforming into another deity, or part of a deity, death. Even though they were overthrown, many Titans such as Prometheus and Atlas were imprisoned but not killed. Early Titan wives of Zeus such as Metis (goddess of wisdom, skill, and craft) did not remain in the same form. Because She was both important and a threat to Zeus, prophesied to have powerful children with him, He tricked her into transforming into a fly and Athena was born. Does this mean She is dead?

On the soft polytheist side, we could argue that since there is still deep thought in the world, that the embodiment and essence of thought is not dead. On the hard polytheist side, the question of she died is open vs. if She is still inside Zeus (as He and His siblings were once swallowed but were able to escape), whether She ceased to be because She was transformed, or if She is actually reborn as Athena. It’s like asking if water cease to be water when it evaporates.

What is the difference between a demigod and a god?

A demigod is a hero, born of one god and one mortal parent. A demigod is between mortal and immortal, and therefore able to perform super-human feats but aren’t immortal (unless transformed into a god). They have the benefit of being able to travel between realms; which is off-limits to all but psychopomps, messenger gods, and mortals who have recently died. Some demigods, such as Hercules, had their own temples and many were worshiped as champions of the people – more approachable than gods.

Demigods, and their cult followings, are very similar to how today we sacrifice a great deal of time, money, and attention in tribute to super hero characters. They inspire the best (and worst) in us, live among us, and champion us, but aren’t totally human.

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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.

More On Our Relationship with the Theoi (Gods)

As an insightful member of my demos said:

We are like cats to the gods. Sometimes they euthanize us, sometimes they just pick us up and move us to the next room. If you think a god is likely to do the former, try to escape the apartment and find one that will pet you and feed you the good food. If you pee on their furniture, they will get angry. Don’t assume you know what their furniture looks like. If you find one that really tries to understand things from your limited point of view and helps you be generally happy in this life, love them with all your heart.

The cat without a name

Image via Wikipedia

I’d also add, try to understand that when they are taking you to the vet, no matter how unpleasant and scary it is at the time, it is (usually) for your own good.

When the gods touch my life, I’m sometimes not sure if it will help me or hurt me. Just like when I pick eye-bookers from my cats’ eyes; they shy away a little bit but trust me enough to pick at their eyes and don’t run away. They don’t understand why I am doing it or that it’s to their benefit, let alone when I take them to the vet, but they trust that I’m not trying to hurt them. It should be the same way with one’s patron god(s).