It’s not at all uncommon to hear talk of deities in witchcraft circles, after all, paganism and witchcraft do overlap pretty heavily! You can find worshipers of all stripes among witches, from Dionysus to Freya, Anubis to Brighid, there seem to be about a million different religions each with their own host of divine beings that find their way into witchcraft one way or another. And the best part? Our communities are generally quite tolerant of these wide-ranging beliefs!
It’s not only acceptable but expected that other witches that you meet will probably have different patron gods or goddesses than you. What if you don’t have a patron, though? Maybe you’re new to the craft and haven’t found the deity that feels right to you. Maybe you’ve been here a while, but deity work still kinda freaks you out. Or maybe you’ve even been approached by a deity at some point but were uncertain what accepting that invitation would even mean for you and your craft.
Whatever the reason, it can feel incredibly isolating to be godless in the craft. There’s a ton of pressure to hurry up and find your deities just so that you can fit in and that’s not even taking into consideration the crazy amount of misinformation out there on the subject! If this is you, don’t sweat it. Your craft shouldn’t be a stressful part of your life and that includes your relationship, or lack thereof, with a god or goddess. Today, we’re going to dig into this subject to learn whether you need a patron, why you might want one, and how to go about finding the one that’s right for you.
Do You Need A Deity?
First things first. Is it even necessary for you to work with a deity? It seems like witches are always talking about which deities they work with and how to find your patron but very rarely do we discuss whether this is actually right for everyone. Some people will tell you that every which needs a god or goddess, period. These people tend to be under the impression that witchcraft is a religious practice and that without a god or goddess to base your practice around, you’re not really a witch and you can’t practice magic. Let’s do away with this nonsense right now!
You do not have to work with a god or goddess to be an effective witch. There’s a reason I hardly ever talk about deities on this blog, they’re just not necessary for you to be a witch! I practice secular witchcraft, which means that I do not base my witchcraft practice around a deity or draw significantly on the power of a higher being in order to make my witchcraft work. For all the naysayers out there who believe that you cannot practice witchcraft without a god or a goddess, my witchcraft works just fine, thank you very much.
Does this mean that I never work with deities? No, actually. I have three deities that I spend time with on a regular or semi-regular basis, however, my religious practice and my witchcraft practice do not overlap significantly. This means that I keep these two parts of my spiritual life pretty much separate. You can be both a secular witch and a religious person, the two are not mutually exclusive!
Your Magic Does Not Come From Outside You
One vitally important part of getting into deity worship in your craft is understanding where your magic comes from. The truth is, your magic doesn’t come from anywhere. It doesn’t come from some higher power outside of you. It doesn’t come from the Earth. It doesn’t come from some crazy witchcraft bloodline or hereditary magical power. Magic is an innate human energy. It’s not something that we are taking from outside of ourselves and harnessing, it is us. Every single person on this planet was born with the capacity to access and harness their own innate magical energy. This spiritual power is not something that we have been blessed with from on high and it’s not something that can be taken away from us.
If you are looking into gods and goddesses because you feel like you need some higher being to grant you the power to be a witch, stop right there. You already have all the power you could possibly need! If you’re struggling to make your witchcraft work right now, it’s not a lack of power or a lack of some deity that’s causing you to struggle. It’s simply a lack of knowledge. As witches, our power can only be harnessed to the degree that we know how to utilize it.
If you are seeking to become a more powerful witch, don’t look to some external source to grant you that power, crack open a book and start studying! In this practice, knowledge is power. I would much rather see witches studying hard and learning how to become powerful, effective witches in their own right before they start getting into deity relationships than see them getting into deity relationships before they’re ready and then finding themselves stuck in that relationship because they feel like they won’t have the power that they need if they leave. You can think of a deity relationship like any other relationship. If you can’t get your needs met on your own outside of that relationship then it becomes a breeding ground for an out of balance, potentially manipulative dynamic.
Should You Work With Both A God & A Goddess?
Another common misconception is the idea that if you work with a god, then you need to also work with a corresponding goddess or vice versa. This idea of maintaining an equal gender balance between deities is very Wiccan and not particularly relevant to anybody outside of an initiatory Wiccan practice. If you like the idea of working with both a god and a goddess then there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is not mandatory that you choose one of each.
If gender is something that matters significantly to you, that’s perfectly fine. You’re allowed to structure your spiritual relationships in any way that makes you comfortable. If that means working with only goddesses or working with only gods, that’s fine! There are even gods that are very much in between or entirely off of the gender spectrum. Working with a goddess without the presence of a god is not going to spoil your spells because you don’t have a perfect balance of masculine and feminine energy. In fact, unless you work with the concepts of masculine and feminine energy to begin with, there’s no reason for you to take this into consideration in your magic. These are energies that you can work with but that you absolutely do not have to work with. Work with the deities that appeal to you and don’t worry too much about having a matching set.
Why Do You Want To Work With A Deity Anyway?
As with anything in the craft, there are benefits and drawbacks to working with deities. These pros and cons need to be carefully considered before you enter into a relationship with any being. What are you hoping to get out of the relationship, and how much are you willing to put into it? A relationship with a god is very much like any other relationship in that it requires a certain amount of time and attention to build trust and closeness. And, as with any relationship, it should be reciprocal. You should be getting something out of your deity relationship!
This might be assistance with your magical working, emotional support, help in your pursuit of witchcraft learning, advice and direction when you seek it, and much more. Every relationship of this sort will be different because just like people, gods and goddesses are individuals. They each have their own personalities, likes, dislikes, and talents. They will each be able to offer you something different. Beyond that, you are also an individual and your relationship with the deity will be entirely different from the relationship another person has with that same deity.
Essentially, you should go into any deity relationship with the understanding that the relationship you build with them is entirely unique to you. What you give to them and what they give to you in return will be unique to your relationship. This means it’s important for you to know what you’re looking for before you get into a relationship of this sort! In the same way that you would want to have an idea of the qualities you’re looking for in a romantic partner before you start dating, you need to have a good idea of the kind of relationship you want before you start introducing yourself to deities.
This is important for two major reasons. First, by knowing what you’re looking for out of a deity relationship, you can narrow down your potential options when researching deities. For example, if death freaks you out, then working with a death god or goddess is not likely to be in your best interest and you can knock any of them off your list. Conversely, if you’re interested in working with a deity to further your magical growth and prowess, then working with a deity such as Odin or Hekate could help support that goal. If you’re primarily concerned with home and hearth magic, goddesses like Freya or Brighid might be worth looking into, and so on.
Second, if you don’t know the kind of relationship that you’re looking for, you’re very likely to end up with the first thing that you stumble across. I can tell you right now that relationships begun on these terms rarely end well. If you have no idea what you’re looking for or what you’re willing to give to a deity, then you won’t have the necessary discernment to find a deity who works well with you. Deities are just as capable of being manipulative and taking advantage of a person as any other spiritual being, and it’s up to you to set boundaries around what you will and won’t accept in a relationship.
So How Should You Approach Deity Work?
As I’ve made clear by this point, I view working with gods and goddesses as a completely optional part of the craft and not something that should be rushed into. My advice is to focus on your witchcraft first and foremost and start researching the deities that you might be interested in on the side. Again, your source of power is you, focus on your innate power and learning to utilize it and worry about the deity thing second.
If and when you find a deity that interests you, do a deep dive into researching them. Learn about their myths and folklore. Learn about the cultures they come from. Learn about modern practitioners and read what they have to say about their relationships with that deity. This is honestly all that is required for a lot of people to make contact with a deity! Showing this level of interest will often cause the god or goddess in question to take notice and introduce themselves. If this happens, congratulations you’ve just met your first deity. If not, it’s okay. Not every deity is so forthcoming, and not every person is going to recognize how a deity is attempting to communicate with them right away. You may need to sit down and hold a personal ritual to introduce yourself before they start making significant contact with you.
Keep in mind that even after you have started working with a deity, it is completely within your rights to set boundaries, negotiate the terms of your relationship, and if necessary, end the relationship. Just because a god or goddess gives you their attention doesn’t mean that you are shackled to them forever. You can introduce yourself to a deity and then decide three weeks later that the relationship isn’t working for you and respectfully cut off communication with them. You can decide several months into working with a god or goddess that you want to renegotiate the terms of your relationship. As with any relationship, this should be a two-way street. You should both give and receive. You should both listen and be heard. If the deity that you have made contact with is unwilling to listen to you, to work with you in the ways that you need, or to consider your best interests, then that is not a good relationship and you are fully within your rights to move on and find a different deity to work with.
Overall, choosing a deity should be a slow process and one that you take your time with. This is a major, important relationship in your life. You wouldn’t marry the first guy you go out on a date with simply because he was willing to go on a date with you and likewise you don’t have to settle for the first deity that you come across. There are so many options and so many other parts of your craft for you to explore. Don’t get bogged down and feel like you have to find your patron right this very second. You’ve got plenty of time and you already have all the power that you need to work your magic just as you are.