On patron deities

Patron deities have been a contentious subject in the Hellenic polytheist community. I would argue that the problem is the term itself and its lack of clear definition. What people usually refer to when they say they have a “patron deity” is usually one or both of the following:

  1. They are drawn to a particular god or goddess due to an important trait in their lives that’s related to them personally. For instance, it would make sense that people interested in medicine and healing would be drawn towards Apollo, Hermes for anyone in the IT and/or communications industries, etc.
  2. They feel called to serve a particular god or goddess within their community and devote their lives to them on a meaningful level that often entails a great deal of responsibility

With #2 under the proper conditions, the answer to this would normally be “serving as a priest/ess”, and were we in greater numbers that’s exactly what that would mean. #1 more aptly describes a relationship that in ancient times would be akin to a tutelary deity relationship.

So what does this mean? Does this mean that Hellenismos does not have room for patron deities? I would argue that it most definitely does have room, although it can be argued that the reason for them exists mainly because our community in the modern era is too small for the most part to really engage as a priest/ess of the community beyond the online world. Without that outlet and serving them in a fairly solitary sense, marking that in today’s world as a “patron deity” relationship makes a great deal of sense.

Are they required for worship? Most certainly not, but having one isn’t “non-Hellenic” by any means either, and it’s not a purely modern concept–just one that has been fashioned by the modern times we live in.

I’m currently in the process of reading through a lot of material on the concept of tutelary deities in ancient Greece and once I am finished, I will expound on that further in this post.


Greek polytheism 101