AN: sorry for the sporadic nature of things, I’ve been setting up and moving, so I haven’t had the time to sit down and build a good collection of posts to put up, but here’s a little piece for you all.
If you’ve been hitting the net for any period of time, you’re going to come across a lot of people who describe their relationships with the Gods and Goddesses in a lot of different ways. I’m going to go over a few of the major “classifications” here to try and help clear things up, at least as I understand them.
These are the people who aren’t dedicated to any one God or Goddess, or don’t even feel that close to a number of them, but who go for the entire Pantheon. Historically, this is the largest group of people out there. If you fall into this group, don’t feel bad or like you’re not special to both our people, and our Gods. Being bound to a God, Goddess, or group of them, takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. Most people don’t have that because they are busy with the day to day workings of life. This is okay, actually, it’s in some ways wonderful. After all, in a society of nothing but Monks, who would run the country, or make the food, or clothes, or all the things that society needs to survive. Keep strong in your faith, but know that it is you who sees that society exists.
2) Patron-ed, God-Spouse, God-Thrall/slave
These are probably the three most common terms you will run into on the net. Each one is different, both in function and form, as well as what is required and where it leads. None of them is truly superior to the other, as each one serves a function and is based on both what the Mortal, and the God, need.
My first interaction with a God Slave was a man who said he was Slave to Hel, Norse Goddess of Death. Since then, I’ve run into a few of them, but God Slaves don’t seem all that common, perhaps due to the fact that slavery is frowned upon in today’s society, it’s been over a hundred and some odd years since we’ve had slavery in most Western countries, and no longer know what it’s like, or a number of other reasons. This man functioned in the BDSM community, so perhaps that was where he was coming at it from. But the Gods have been around a lot longer, and through history slavery was considered the norm, although there was no baseline as to how slaves were treated, that depended on each society. Norse society, for example was very fair to their slaves and allowed viable ways to get their freedom. Other societies have not been so lenient.
Slaves are someone who subsume their will completely to the God or Goddess they serve. There is no break, no rest, and no questions. The God or Goddess says jump, the slave goes “how high?” This can be highly useful to both the community, and to the Deity, but does have it’s limits. It restricts, if not out removes, the free will of the mortal to act independently with the power their God has given them, but on the flip side the God or Goddess gets the slavish devotion and faith of the mortal. You find people we would consider “God Slaves” a lot in religions like Christianity or Islam, but they happen in all paths from what I can see.
2b) God Spouse
These folks have a special relationship with a God or Goddess. Some might say that they have the closest of the relationships on the “Order of Divine Call” if you want to call it that. They are literally married to the God they have come to join with closest. These God-Spouses have much more free will to act, and their faith tends to flow to their chosen one much the same way that Love flows between a married couple (at least one that can stand each other). This can be very potent, but comes with some heavy responsibilities, just as any marriage does, for both Mortal and God. Often enough though, those responsibilities are not anything shied from by both parties. You will almost never find a God Spouse in the Monotheistic religions (Mary, mother of Jesus was a rare exception). The most common one you’ll find in a God Marriage is Loki, I suspect because it’s the easiest way for him to gain enough faith to keep working in this world with ease, since most Heathens aren’t….friendly to him.
Then you have the final major group that you might run across. This certainly seems to be the most common of the three, at least from what I can tell. This is where a God takes a mortal under their wing, and in turn the Mortal acts as their champion here on earth, and provides them with much more faith than a lay person has time to do. You might ask how this differs from the God Spouse, and it’s pretty much this. A God Spouse is married to a God or Goddess, a Patroned is more like a partnership between cops, or perhaps a better example would be like the Summer or Winter Knight from the Dresden Files, or the Cleric or Paladin from DnD and other role playing games. Mortal and God work together as Partners, rather than Spouses. Due to the fact that the responsibilities for both parties are some what less than those of the Spouse, and allows the Mortal to keep their Free Will actions, Patronage tends to happen just a bit more often than Spousal relationships, and a lot more often than the Thrall relationship. However, a Patronage can turn into a Spousal relationship, but this depends upon both the orientation of the mortal and the God, their desire to do so, and the need at the time. A lot of Priests tend to fall into this catagory, regardless of Path, though sometimes the “priest” has general patronage of the entire pantheon, rather than one, two, or a few direct Gods and Goddesses.
Most relationships you will come across can fall into these four categories. There are no hard and fast lines, and each category has a subset. Often enough no one is stuck in any one category. The Lay can move up, the Slave can earn their freedom (sometimes), the Patron can get Married, and the Married can decide they want a divorce. Life is fluid, and our relationships with the God are also fluid. So if you’re in one, especially the Lay category, do not feel bad, because you’re most likely just starting out. I’ve been at this for the better part of ten years, and I’m only now stepping into the realms of being Patroned. Get to know all the Gods and Goddesses, build friendships, one at a time, focusing on each. You’ll find your place, don’t worry. You’re still special no matter where you fall. 🙂