What kind of relationship do you have with your gods?
Erin provides an interesting discourse on our relationships to deities.
The gist of a lot of it echoes my essay on selecting a patron deity to some respect: figure out what you’re looking for and try to make contact with them. Play nice and see how they take you.
Once you know what you feel you need from a Deity, and it is by NO MEANS guaranteed that you will get what you feel you need, you look at Gods that are compatible with your needs. You investigate them. You can start with a basic primer on mythology in this step since you are only getting an overview of Them. You move to more in depth investigation of those gods that interest you. Sometimes this will lead you in very different directions. Go with those side paths as you may find that they give you much more information than just straight study alone will.
Talk to others. There is no shame in asking for help and for resources to use. Because you don’t know a specific deity’s name is does not mean that they are not right for you. So ask around. Heck, it may be that you are a masochist and that Loviator would be a better match for you than Hel is anyhow.
Once you find your deity, this next step is critical. Talk to them. Invite them into your home and into your life. Associate with them. Give them offerings of their favorite foods; share your day with them. And LISTEN to them. There are many times when they will speak to you, but you have to stop talking long enough to hear them speaking.
And now we come to “what kind of relationship do you want to have with Them?” Keep in mind that while the relationship can change, it’s going to “color” everything you do and say and are with that specific Deity for a long time to come. One can become friends with the parent, but it’s still going to have baggage from when it was parent/child, even though now it’s friends.
Research is important, but so is the introduction. Wine and dine your deities. Kick it with them. See what they like and how they feel about things. See what they’re willing to share.
But what strikes me as significant is Erin’s focus on the nature of your relationship.
Think about all the human interaction relationships you have. Teacher/Student, Boss/Employee, Parent/child, Siblings, Friend/Friend, Husband/Wife, Co-workers, Master/Slave and many more. Each of these relationships has a different dynamic, and in some cases are SO strange that they are their own class of interactions.
I have personally lived through every one of these relationships with my Gods, and I learned from each as well.
This is very powerful and often overlooked. Many of us will petition or dedicate ourselves to or worship deities without thinking about the nature of our relationship to them. The strong anti-hierarchy push through much of Paganism makes defining these relationship trickier sometimes, but I’ve often found that many of the old gods are fans of well defined and formal relationships.
Jupiter will function differently if he is seen as a benevolent father rather than a strong, formal king. Mars is different as a commander and mentor than as a comrade and citizen soldier. Be cautious at the urge to approach gods a friends: if you are to be peer to a god, you may be required to prove your worth! Be aware that a mentor will guide but also test you, and that a parental figure will comfort you but also set limits.
So ponder the relationships you have with your deities. Ponder how you’d like them to be, and what might suit you and them. Be aware of the fact that you may have to qualify yourself before being accepted into certain relationships, and that you may have to progress through some to reach others.