Matron and Patron Relationships
One of the questions I’m most frequently asked by beginners on the Wiccan Path is “Who are the Goddess and God?” And for all the books out there on Wicca 101, most won’t give you the whole picture. Many are confusing to new seekers, stating or implying that “there are two Divine Beings in Wicca: The Horned One and the Triple Goddess.” And this is, in effect, both right and profoundly wrong. As with most subjects pertaining to Wicca, it’s complicated.
The first thing to understand is that “The Lord” and “The Lady” are not names of two Gods. They are place holder terms. These terms stand in for WHICHEVER God and Goddess one happens to honor in any given ritual. In no way does this mean that these are always the SAME Lord and the SAME Lady, but they might be. This confuses MANY solitary practitioners, some of whom, bless their sincere hearts, insist that Wicca is Duotheistic. It is NOT Duotheistic. It is Polytheistic. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that an individual practitioner’s PATH cannot be Duotheistic. If an individual or group of working compatriots wish to work with only one God and one Goddess for all of their rituals, that’s DANDY. Nothing wrong with that. When we get into hot water, however, is when we falsely proclaim that WICCA ITSELF has only one God and one Goddess, or that all the Gods MUST be seen as aspects of one God and all Goddesses MUST be seen as aspects of one Goddess. That’s categorically false. Let me explain further.
“The Horned One” is a type of God. “The Triple Goddess” is a type of Goddess. Not all Gods with Whom Wiccans may work have horns. Not all Goddesses with Whom Wiccans may work are triple aspected, or if They are, those aspects might NOT be “maid, mother, crone” (think Brighid, Aphrodite, Hecate, for instance). MANY of the Divine Beings with Whom we work fit into those “types” of Gods. And that’s great. But any book, teacher, or source proclaiming that Wicca has only these types of Divine Beings at its disposal for worship, or even more egregiously incorrect, that these are only TWO BEINGS is showing profound lack of training. Hard Polytheism is alive and well in Traditional Wicca. Solitaries are on their own to determine, through their PRACTICE, NOT through some book, what the nature of the Divine is for them. Even those in covens don’t have to have the same concept of what the nature of the Divine really is. That is to be discovered by each Wiccan. If two of us disagree, it’s not a problem. Your truth is your truth. YOUR Divine Ones might present as this or that, but that doesn’t limit other practitioners to your beliefs. We of the Wicce do NOT teach that there is ONE TRUTH. Truth is diverse. Truth is MANY. Honor YOUR truth. And honor it all the more when it changes. If you’re reading books that oversimplify the God and Goddess concepts or that limit those concepts, that doesn’t mean that the book has nothing of value in it, but it DOES mean that more study on your part will be your responsibility. Too many beginner books that I’ve read gloss over this concept, probably because it’s hard for new people to grasp. But you know what? I have faith in your intelligence. You’re smart enough for this stuff.
“But,” you say, “The Charge of the Goddess says…” Yes. The poem by Doreen Valiente DOES make it sound as though that particular High Priestess saw all Goddesses as one Goddess. HOWEVER, I can write a poem honoring “Woman,” and listing all “her” attributes and lovely gifts, but no one would probably insist that, by this, I mean there is only one woman in the world. Further, and this is IMPORTANT, Wicca is ORTHOPRACTIC. That means it is based in PRACTICE, not in BELIEF IN DOGMA. So, regardless of whether an esteemed early High Priestess saw the Goddess this way or that way, it doesn’t stand to reason that then we must ALL see Her that way. That’s not how this Wicca thing works. We EACH discover for ourselves the nature of the Gods, and it’s a never-ending discovery. Early writings of esteemed Priests and Priestesses, including Gardner himself, are not scripture. And most importantly, reading those things isn’t TRAINING. Those early writings REFER to the training, but reading them is not “training.”
Getting the “Call”
Many newer practitioners feel frustrated because they want to “find their God and Goddess.” This CAN be frustrating, but here’s something else that many Wicca 101 books fail to tell you. You can approach Divine Beings yourself, and you can ask for a conversation. You can also work with “All Mother” and “All Father” forever, if you wish. Often a call is not a big thump on the head. A call can be a strong interest in a God, a Goddess, or a Pantheon. It can be a dream. It can be subtle. And if you have an interest in a Divine Being, then research that Being. Read the myth cycles for that God or Goddess. Begin to pray to Him or Her. You will know if you get a response. But it’s no less a “call” for not being over the top. Not everyone is knocked out of their chair by a God or Goddess. And most of us find that Pagan Gods expect us to meet Them halfway. Very few of Them, if any, want supplication. They want us to walk WITH Them. They want us to work WITH Them. It’s hard to see where you’re going if you head is down, and it’s hard to walk on your knees.
The other side of this that isn’t often discussed in Wicca 101 books is that you can refuse a call from a Pagan God or Goddess. As long as you do it respectfully, it’s perfectly reasonable to say “No, thank you.” And lastly, multiple Matron and Patron relationships are just fine, too. We don’t find that Pagan Gods and Goddesses get jealous much. They’re much crankier about their statues sharing altar space than They are about sharing YOU.
Another thing newer practitioners have a hard time understanding is that most Traditions teach us not to smash together two unrelated Deities in one ritual. Yes, each Wiccan ritual honors one God and one Goddess, but what, really, would Kali Ma and Odin have in common? Most of us do not cross Pantheons in one ritual, because a Deity Pair expected to perform the Great Rite should have common stories. It’s fine to honor Kali Ma and Odin, but each needs His and Her consorts that make sense, and two different rituals might need to happen. Maybe work with Kali Ma and Her consort for the minor Sabbats and Odin and His consort for the Major, or vice versa. Remember, we don’t “use” the Gods in ritual. We HONOR Them. We think about what They would want. Not every practitioner feels a conflict about pairing Gods from different Pantheons, but I’d recommend that you be able to explain to yourself very well why this is something you want to do. That’s my two cents. You can certainly do what you want.
Just as you don’t like that friend who only calls when he needs something, the Gods don’t like being constantly badgered for stuff with nothing given in return. If it is your habit to pray constantly to ask for things, I’m going to encourage you to rethink that. First, can you do it on your own? If so, I recommend that you do it. Second, what are you offering IN RETURN for a Deity doing something for you? This is a relationship. It’s a two-way street. Remember, the Divine Beings with Whom you work are not simply Godly vending machines. They want a true relationship. Think in terms of what devotions you will offer Them as a token of your love and respect. It will go much better for you if you do!
Lastly, sometimes Matron and Patron relationships end. As with any relationship, Divine relationships are negotiated. We decide, along WITH our Gods and Goddesses, what the relationship will entail. We negotiate our terms and Theirs. And sometimes, one or both parties determine that the relationship has run its course. Parting respectfully, or for a while, is perfectly acceptable to most Pagan Gods. It’s the WAY you do it that matters. Remember, only YOU can know what’s right for you.