A reader writes in, "There's been some weird stuff going on in my life, and I'm beginning to notice things happening that make me think a god or goddess is trying to contact me. How do I know that this is the case, and that it's not just my brain making things up?"
Typically, when someone is "tapped" by a god or goddess, there is a series of messages, rather than a single isolated incident. Many of these messages are symbolic in nature, rather than actual "Hey! I'm Athena! Lookit me!" kind of things.
As an example, you might have a dream or vision in which you are approached by a human figure who has something different about them. You'll probably know it's a deity, but they are sometimes evasive when it comes to telling you who they are -- so you could do some research, and figure out who it was based upon appearance and characteristics.
In addition to a vision, you might have an experience in which symbols of this god or goddess appear randomly in your daily life. Perhaps you've never seen an owl before in your area, and now one has built a nest above your back yard, or someone gives you a gift of an owl statue out of the blue -- owls could represent Athena. Pay attention to repeat occurrences, and see if you can determine a pattern. Eventually you may be able to figure out who it is that's trying to get your attention.
One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make, when they're being contacted by a deity, is to assume it's the god or goddess you're most drawn to -- just because you're interested in them doesn't mean they have any interest in you. In fact, it may well be someone you've never noticed before. Martina, a Celtic Pagan from Indiana, says, "I had done all this research about Brighid, because I was interested in a Celtic path, and she seemed like a hearth and home goddess I could relate to. Then I started getting messages, and I just assumed it was Brighid... but after a while I realized it didn't quite fit. Once I actually paid attention, and heard was being said instead of just what I wanted to hear, then I discovered it was actually an entirely different goddess reaching out to me -- and not even a Celtic one."
Bear in mind as well that raising magical energy may heighten your awareness of this sort of thing. If you're someone who raises energy a lot, that may leave you far more open to receiving a message from the Divine than someone who doesn't do much energy work.