The word patron literally means “father,” but in the context of spirits, the word indicates dominion. A patron of tuberculosis has dominion over that illness and those affected by it and may be invoked for assistance.
Spirits may also patronize people or at least certain types of people. Patrons are expected to behave like ideal parents: protecting, guiding, and providing enhanced opportunities and prosperity. Ganymede is the patron of wine stewards. He protects those serving in that profession; they may appeal to him for assistance, professional or otherwise. There are spiritual patrons for virtually anything that you can imagine. Spirits serving as your patrons may have spiritual obligations toward you. (At any rate, this may be worth nicely suggesting to them, should the need arise.) They are counted among your personal spiritual allies.
In her 1993 book Warrior Marks, author Alice Walker describes being requested to serve as patron of a charitable organization. She responded that it was impossible for her as a woman to be a patron, but that she would happily serve as matron. Having once read Walker’s words, I have never again been able to use patron for women, not even the variant intended to feminize an inherently masculine word patroness, essentially “lady father.” Thus, female spirits in this book are designated matrons, spiritual mothers, not fathers. (An argument has been made that
patron really derives from the Latin patronus, indicating a defender or protector of clients, but the word still retains its paternal air.)