The Road Home

A great take on how Loki works within the Heathen community despite the way so many Heathens fail to acknowledge Him.

mainer74

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A thousand years ago, our ancestors understood the traditions we try to embrace today.  They lived in a world where they walked with their ancestors, knew the wights of the lands and waters, made peace with the jotnar of the high mountains and raging rivers, learned the alfs of the wild places.   The gods and goddesses held a place for them that was something we can only imagine, for they learned how everything fit together from their first breath, first step. There was no word for what they did, for it was no more possible to separate their practice from their life, than it was to separate their breath from their body and continue to live.


A foreign smoke stole that breath from the body of our ancestors, and the living faith died a long time ago.  The path they walked we cannot.  What they knew, we can only guess…

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When Freyr Provides

Sometimes, the gods themselves bring to us the means in which to honor them best.

This day has been a prime example of that for me.

Earlier today, my sister went out to get food from food pantries, as her and her boyfriend are currently struggling to make ends meet. Due to complications arising between work schedules and school commitments, the two of them need some help to get by.

On my own end, I am saving money to move into an apartment at the beginning of the year, so I have sacrificed eating well for saving the money I need. I have been doing my best to live off the smallest amount of the cheapest food I can afford, so purchasing a feast to celebrate the High Night of the Winter Solstice was out of the question.

When my sister returned, she had a couple boxes of food with her. Some of that food included ham and ribs. Even though we share a home, we don’t eat together, so I wasn’t expecting them to include me in their meal tonight.

For supper, they prepared barbecued ribs, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and corn. After they were done preparing the food, they told me I was welcome to the food. I was surprised by the offer but gratified by it.

Not only did they offer me sustenance, they also allowed me the means in which to offer a proper plate of food to Freyr to honor Him on this night. Neither one of them are Pagans or Polytheists (I believe they are both atheists), so the meal itself didn’t seem like more than a coincidence to them.

I found it fascinating, however, that the meal itself contained pork, which is one of the meats most often used in feasts prepared in Freyr’s honor. I saw Freyr’s presence in the contents of the meal as well as in the way it came to me, as Freyr is a god of abundance and wealth. That wealth comes in many different forms, and food is one of those forms.

I was also caught up in thinking earlier how I wished I had a way to prepare a feast in His honor, the way my path dictates. And then that wish was granted. Freyr made it possible for me to honor Him tonight, and I don’t really think I can adequately explain how grateful I am to Him for giving me the means to strengthen the bond between us.

Ragnarok and Roll

A great post from a fellow Lokean.

Sagna Hrœri

I realize that I have yet to even write an introductory blog regarding who I am and what it is exactly, that I believe….but I’ll get there. For years I have been wrestling with some very annoying insecurities regarding my writing as well as merely being allowed to have a voice. So, this is difficult for me. Today I’m feeling inspired by a question a friend posted in a spiritual heathen group dedicated to Loki:

“Here’s some food for thought. Why is Loki so present today?

Theory: Because the world is broken. Systems are falling apart. They’ve stopped working. And when systems stop working, Loki’s the only one who knows how to fix them. Usually by completely upending them.

Thoughts?”

This thought provoking question came from my friend Kyaza (Heathenwoman.wordpress.com).
Now, my thoughts on this question are based upon my own UPG, as well as experiences and research. I am…

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Loki University

While I originally planned to write a book for Loki, that morphed into putting together a school instead.

The school is intended to introduce people to Loki and the Lokean path, and it is also intended for people who often find themselves on the fringes of Heathenry and Paganism as a whole.

That school can be found here: https://lokiuniversity.wordpress.com/

Please feel free to take a look around and get acquainted with the curriculum.

If you are interested in applying, please read the enrollment requirements. We will accept applications now – just know that we will not start the course until after January 1st. Classes will begin when ten students have been accepted.

Note that the earlier you apply, the lower the expectations for the initial applicants will be, as we have nothing to judge against.

To all my wordpress friends, please spread the word about this school. Post about it on your blogs, on your social media pages. Talk about it on Youtube or Twitch. Please do whatever you can to get the word out about this new school.

In return for you help, I will offer my services as a guest writer or speaker – or I will promote you in turn. Let’s all help each other.

Blessed Yule,

Kyaza

Fight for Net Neutrality

If you’re interested in keeping the net neutrality laws that make the internet accessible to everyone, please visit https://www.battleforthenet.com/ and fight for that to happen. The cable companies are fighting hard to end net neutrality so they can impose bandwidth limits, throttle access, and potentially even block content. Information control is one of the worst things a government can impose on its people, and if the net neutrality laws are rescinded, there’s no telling what our social climate will end up looking like.

If you don’t want to be told what to think, then you need to fight for net neutrality. Visit the site, call congress, spread the word, and participate in the internet-wide protest tomorrow.

Sigyn’s Strength

I talk about Loki a lot, which makes sense, considering I serve him as a priest. But I also think it’s important to talk about Sigyn, as she is often overlooked and/or wrongly portrayed. She is one of the fiercest deities I know, and she’s not someone I’d want as an enemy.

It always astonishes me how easily she accepts the numerous godspouses that Loki collects. I asked her about it once – why she so easily accepted that her husband was always off gallivanting with other women. Her straightforward and nonchalant reply surprised me, but I must admit, it makes a lot of sense.

She told me, “It doesn’t matter how many women Loki sleeps with, at the end of the day, I have all of his heart.” She went on to explain that she knew exactly what she was getting into when she agreed to marry him. That she’d never try to change him, as she loves him for the person he is, not the person others want him to be. Her loyalty is very real, and very strong, but it isn’t founded in idealism. She isn’t waiting for Loki to get tired of sleeping with other women.

Sigyn knows that Loki will always have trysts, will always have more godspouses than he can handle. But she also knows that Loki will never trust them with everything he trusts her with. She is devotion incarnate. She gives him the room he needs to be himself, and, in turn, Loki’s devotion to her is unquestionable.

The reason people misunderstand the relationship the two of them share is that we tend to judge gods by the standards of human morality. Loki and Sigyn – neither of them view monogamy as a way to measure the loyalty they share. Loki sees Sigyn’s devotion, and he responds to it by giving her what he gives no one else – the full knowledge of who he is.

That is a profound gift, as trickster deities are masters of illusion. They morph from shape to shape, barely allowing us to grasp the understanding of one of their forms before moving on. Loki is no different. He shows us one aspect, then flows into another, and we are not capable of mastering an understanding of any one of his aspects. We may come close, but we don’t have the capacity – as human beings, we are limited in our capabilities to understand the gods.

I understand enough to know that I understand very little about the gods. That is why theology so fascinates me. The gods, to me, are the great unknown. To have a relationship with even one of them is a great gift; to have made friends with so many is an honor so great words cannot ever do it justice.

That is why it makes me so angry when I see the way Sigyn is portrayed by others as weak-willed and misguided in her loyalty. People judge her by human standards, and they fail to see the strength she exudes. The little we know about her from the myths only tell us that she never left Loki’s side when he was forced to endure an agonizing punishment. She stayed by him, never wavering in her loyalty to him, and there is a fierceness in that act that few people can see.

Sigyn is not a deity to be trifled with, and she’s not above teaching people better manners. I went to a restaurant with a couple friends, and the waiter we had was the most atrocious server I’ve ever seen. The restaurant was basically dead. The waiter handed us our menus, then came back every two minutes to ask if we were ready to order after we’d told him we hadn’t decided on what to get. He also only provided two menus (for three people), and he forgot to give us straws at all (we had to ask for them). He never came to ask us if we needed refills, and his general attitude was one of “I really don’t want to be here.”

Now, as someone who has experience working in the food industry, I know that there are circumstances that can put a person off their game. A busy restaurant, too many tables, too many people at a table – potentially even a bad day for personal reasons. If someone is bringing their personal problems to work, however, that’s unprofessional, and I dislike it when people act unprofessionally when they are at work.

I am typically the type of person to leave a tip, no matter how bad the service is. When I started to put the tip down on the table, however, I got a direct sense of Sigyn telling me not to do it, followed by the message, “We don’t reward bad behavior.” So, I didn’t leave a tip. I figured it was better to insult the waiter by not leaving a tip – especially as his service sucked – than it was to insult Sigyn by refusing to ignore her advice.

Sigyn, unlike Loki, isn’t constantly present in my life. She has a lot of meaning to me, and I highly respect her, but we don’t have conversations as often as I do with other deities. We do talk, on occasion, and that’s been enough for us. In this moment, however, I felt it was important to provide a different perspective on Sigyn than the one I usually find myself reading. She is a strong deity with a strong presence, and she deserves so much more respect than she gets.

On the Worship of Loki – A Facebook Discussion Response

The following is the response I gave to a TAC (The Asatru Community) facebook discussion where the original poster said “Debate* worship of Loki.”

Having read through all of this, I see a lot of people have some very strong opinions about Loki. I’m the admin for the Loki’s Wyrdlings page (found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/959611187421203/?ref=bookmarks), and I serve Loki as a priest. I have quite a bit to say, but I want to start off by saying that this is how I perceive Loki, and I do not expect anyone to agree with me – everyone is entitled to their own path, no matter how different it may be from mine.

So, first – Loki has many, many aspects. He is the Catalyst of Change (generically, the trickster). He is the Worldbreaker – the role he plays in Ragnarok is very real. Even here, however, he is playing a role. The world must always end and begin again, and Loki plays a key role in the change. I could go in-depth to the way I understand the Baldur myth, but I will hold off until/unless someone asks for further clarification.

Second – someone up above said that everyone they knew who honored Loki did so in a vacuum, where Loki alone was honored and the other deities ignored. Personally, I have rarely found this to be true. I myself honor many deities, both within the Norse pantheon and outside it. I work with Freyr, Odin, Freyja, Sigyn, Ullr, Mani, Tyr, and Thor within the Norse pantheon. Outside it, I work with Queztalcoatl and Bast. In my experience, most people who honor Loki honor a plethora of deities because Loki is an incredibly social god who seems to know all the deities in all the other pantheons and is incredibly willing to help people find the connections that others need with the deities.

I’m aware that within Asatru, it is far more common for people to work with ancestors and land-spirits than with deities, and if that is the path your spirituality takes, I have no qualms with it. I have a good relationship with my ancestors and the spirits residing on my land, but my practice primarily revolves around the gods and the relationships I’ve formed with them.

Loki is a deity of connection and self-knowledge – he doesn’t allow people who honor him to lie to themselves for very long, and that is why he can be a difficult god to work with. Someone once told me that the version of Loki who shows up is the version of Loki you expect – if you expect him to be evil and ill-humored, that is what he will give you. If you expect him to be friendly and compassionate, that is what he will give you. He shows up the way you expect him to show up because he has a tendency to reflect your deepest secrets and hidden neuroses to you in such a way you cannot deny that they exist.

Another thing that someone above pointed out is that everyone they’ve ever met has worked with Loki due to the Marvel movies or to be edgy. When I started working with Loki, I hadn’t seen the Marvel movies. I had just finished reading the Lokasenna, and I was incredibly amused by how he had been called the god of lies while telling the truth the entire time. I was instantly drawn to him because he refused to sugarcoat the truth, and I’ve been criticized my entire life for being too honest with people.

That being said, I’ve known people who have come to Loki through the Marvel movies. More than any other deity I work with, Loki seems to enjoy inserting his presence into fictional streams in order to find people who understand him. He is a social deity – he wants to have tons of friends among mortals, so he finds them through whatever avenue he can. Considering the problematic equation of Loki = bad or Loki = devil typically found within Asatru, it is no wonder to me that he seeks people from outside of the community. He is an inherent problem-solver, and the easiest way to solve a problem is often to circumvent it.

Another person stated that Loki is the type to use and discard those who come to him. Up until that point, I was enjoying the back-and-forth because Loki loves to watch people argue over him (his vanity is pretty high, so any attention is good attention). While some people may have the misfortune to be used and discarded by Loki, it is typically only the people who expect that from him who will find that to be true. Loki is one of the least self-serving deities I know, and his compassion knows no bounds.

There is a reason those who work with Loki are often those found on the fringes of society – the disabled, the mentally handicapped, those with mental disorders, those with marginalized gender identities, those within the LGBTQ+ community, etc. Loki prizes the people society discards because he knows what it is like to exist on the fringe. His godhood is constantly questioned, and he is accepted with unease except by those who know him well, which is a very small number. Loki sees the value and potential in the people that society is too quick to turn away from, and he never turns his back on anyone who truly commits to understanding him. He gives people the compassion they need when they need it most, but he also gives people the tools they need to look inside themselves and do a deep inventory of their own neuroses.

That is my experience of Loki. I don’t expect anyone else’s experiences to match, as all spiritual paths are valid and unique. This is simply a final disclaimer – I do not claim to speak for all Lokeans or all Heathens. This is simply my perspective.

Please keep in mind that this is part of a larger conversation – I am posting it here because someone asked to use the response with appropriate credit. I am posting it in my blog to make it easier for others to access and credit appropriately.

 

Prometheus and Coyote: The Theft of Fire

I was recently approved and selected as the editor of the Bella Online website for the Folklore and Mythology section. My first article has been posted: Prometheus and Coyote: The Theft of Fire. I will be adding at least one article per week, more if time permits. If there are any specific folklore related questions you’d like to have answered or just articles you’d like to see, please feel free to let me know, and I will add them to my list for article ideas.

 

For Loki: A Lost Reflection Found

So, I found a reflection I wrote back in April when I was going through my notes on my phone. Sometimes, I forget that I write reflections on my phone, but this particular one seems relevant to share here, as it was written on April 1st, which is often considered a particularly good day to honor Loki.

I feel like I’m always dancing on the edge of every group I join, and I wonder what fitting in would feel like – would it hurt? Would it feel like truth, like coming home, like being free? Would I find acceptance? Would someone finally embrace me, with all my faults and imperfections, and tell me, finally, that I’m allowed to breathe? Or would it be just another moment of loss, of self-defeat? Would I have to give up part of myself, sacrifice a bit of me, in order to find a way to fit? 

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what the truth is. I doubt I’ll ever know because the truth is, I’ll never fit. I’ve never fit, and I’ve tried. The gods know I’ve tried to fit in; I have tried to adapt. I have tried to remake myself in the image of the groups I can see parts of me in. But nothing ever sticks, not really. What does stick doesn’t quite take, doesn’t quite mold itself to my skin, doesn’t quite embed itself in my flesh, doesn’t quite mesh with my mind. Always, something holds me apart, sets me aloof – just slightly – so that a life of outside looking in is all I’ve ever been allowed to know. 

Even with my friends, I know I don’t quite mesh, don’t quite fit, don’t truly belong because everything I am is too different, too me to be adapted into something not quite right. I see how my friends try to see me, try to understand, and it hurts the most because I know they never can. They can’t reach down into my heart and pull out the truth of my soul. They can’t see the depth of the emotions running as currents between us, and I can never adequately express myself because what I feel is too deep, too primal and raw, for words to do justice.

I hang on the precipice, grasping the edge over the abyss with desperation, trying to find a way to get more than a finger-hold on the edge. I’m watching everyone else around me, seeing the way they’ve found solid ground to stand on, wishing I had what they have because I am so precariously close to falling out of this world. But I’m not angry they have it when I don’t – I’m too busy trying to figure out how to overcome the predicament I find myself in, too besieged by the problem before me to care that no one else seems to be struggling with this problem. 

Except no one else seems to notice the difficulties besieging me, and they keep asking me to create a bridge for them to cross from one solid stance on the ground to another. I am transition, and I am desperately trying to provide for everyone else and also find my own path out of the ravine I’m hanging over. No one stops to ask me if I need help, but it’s not because they don’t want to help. It’s more that they can’t see that I’m not standing on solid ground. They buy an illusion I don’t have the eyes to see, and they assume I’m standing on the ground beside them with some sort of magic peak from one piece of ground to the next. They don’t see my pain….They can’t. 

Whether they want to or not doesn’t matter because the illusion is all that they can see, so if I speak, I’m silenced because what I see….The reality I live within is an illusion to them, as theirs is an illusion to me. So, we’re always missing the point, the perspective of the other person’s life is ignored, and I find myself serving as a bridge because I can see the desperate importance in being taken at face value. Because for me, I’ve never had it. I’ve never been believed when it most matters, and that is when I am telling the most truth. Because truth doesn’t need to be distorted to be painful, and lies do nothing but enhance the illusion.

It’s no wonder I work so well with Loki….We’re both outsiders who don’t know what it’s like to simply be believed. 

 

 

What Polytheist Priests Should Provide

One of John Beckett’s latest posts, Am I Hearing a God or Am I Going Crazy? brings up some pretty interesting points. I’m reminded a little about the post I wrote about Communicating with the Gods as it can be difficult for people to tell the difference.

Beckett makes a point to differentiate between mental health and divine communication, which I respect. In a world where everyday interaction with the gods isn’t commonplace, it’s easy to understand how sudden divine communication could be seen as a sudden bout of insanity instead. That’s generally not how mental health works, which is a good thing to know.

As someone who communicates with the divine on a regular basis, I’m highly aware of how easily it would be for someone to take the experiences I share with them and twist them around to use as an effort to prove that I’m crazy. Because our society really does not have the cultural context needed to understand what direct interaction with deity entails.

I’ve been a practicing polytheist for so long now I don’t remember what it’s like to not expect the gods to just show up on a whim. I had no cultural context for it when it started happening, and it was unnerving and unsettling mostly because I had no one to turn to, no one to rely on, no one to understand what was happening. I had to figure all of that out on my own. Well, on my own and with the help of the gods. In a way, as the gods were showing up to the point I felt like I might be losing my mind, they were also showing me how to understand them — the gods helped me understand what a polytheistic framework looks like.

I can’t say that I don’t still find it unsettling sometimes when the gods drop in, especially when the god in question is one I don’t know. But I don’t find it impossible the way I might have before I started to understand what the world looks like through the eyes of a polytheist. I have met gods in human form, seen gods channel themselves through friends who are open to the experience, held conversations with gods in dreams, and communicated with gods in rituals. They are everywhere, and they take human form when they feel the need to do so. It’s weird to talk about the experiences I’ve had with gods who choose to come to me wearing a human form, as I know I’m going to deal with people thinking I’m making things up or going crazy.

But I deal with the gods on a regular basis – that’s part of what it means to be a polytheist priest. Loki and Freyr may be the ones for whom I do the most work, but once the gods know you are willing to do work, they know they can come to you for help, and they aren’t very shy about it. I view my role as a polytheist priest as one of facilitation – helping people find the gods that are trying to find them. Forging relationships. Creating friendships. In a way, I view my role to be one of networking gods to humans, humans to gods. Considering the gods I do the most work for, that role makes sense – Loki and Freyr are both very social deities, though they tend to run in different circles. The friendship between them connects them, thus creating an expansive network. It is through the work I do as their priest that allows those aspects of the gods to echo through me and throughout the Pagan and Polytheist communities.

Because I view my role as a priest to be one of networking gods and humans and vice versa, I take the communications I receive from the gods very seriously – though sometimes they can be rather confusing and/or exasperating. I’m open about the experiences I have with the gods so that I can let people know that someone will take them seriously, even when the rest of the world is telling them they’re crazy. And I’m open so that people know that they can approach me with deity-related problems and know that I will do the best I can to help them find the way to the answers they are seeking (as I don’t believe I hold the answers – I just know how to nudge people into asking the questions they are overlooking).

Take, for example, the latest direct interaction I had with a deity. I was having lunch with a friend, and we were minding our own business, talking about different pantheons of gods (what else do polytheists talk about? :p) when a person approaches our table. As he approaches, I’m already on high alert, my shoulder blades are tensed, and I’m feeling a very strong aura of “this person is not what he appears to be” which is an energetic aura that I generally only ever feel with deities using flesh form.

He starts having a conversation with us, asks us what we’re having for lunch, and I get this nudge from Freyr to buy the person lunch. So, I give him money to get lunch, he gives me a hug, and he sits down and starts talking to us in-depth about literature. My friend was reading some Shakespeare for class, and the person goes “He was alright” and tells us he prefers a French collection of poetry called Les Fleurs de Mal, which is about Satan dreaming.

After this conversation ends, I get out my phone and instantly start doing research because by this point I’ve realized I’m dealing with a deity, and I feel a strong need to know which one (I’m fairly certain the gods aren’t allowed to give their names to humans when they show up in human form. I’m not sure why, but uh… well, the effect Jesus had when he did that may play a role). Anyway, I look up this French poetry collection, learn that the version of Satan mentioned in the poems is actually Hermes Trismegistus…which is the Greek form of the Egyptian god Tehuti (also known as Thoth).

Now, while I’ve had some run-ins with Egyptian gods (namely Bast), I’d never even met Tehuti. The friend who was with me at lunch is Kemetic, but she doesn’t do a lot for Tehuti. I tell this story to another one of my friends who is also Kemetic (and does work for Tehuti), and she confirms for me that the actions the person took were pretty much exactly how Tehuti typically behaves. Gods, like humans, have personalities, so I take her word for this. The gods do whatever they have to when they need to be noticed.

A couple days after this encounter, one of my other friends, a Hellenistic polytheist, randomly texts me about how to make proper offerings to Odin. She has apparently decided to create a business contract with Odin in order to determine where she stands with the Greek pantheon, since Odin has so much knowledge of other gods. It was an interesting direction to take, but I was curious as to why she wasn’t asking the Greek gods since she already has ties there. The answer I got was that she had asked Hermes what kind of relationship they would have, and the response she got was a lot of chaotic events – traffic tickets, small accidents, etc. She felt that it was the equivalent of being told to work for Hermes while he did everything to mess up her life.

I then explained to her that sometimes the gods don’t understand human affairs – some gods are closer to humans than others. I told her that considering Hermes Trismegistus was coming to me, in person, it was fairly obvious that Hermes wanted to work with her…and perhaps was worried that she was going to turn away from that relationship and didn’t know what to do about it.

As a polytheist priest, this is normal. This is what it means to live within a polytheist framework. Sometimes, the gods stay distant and communicate only via dreams and within specific religious contexts. Other times, they drop in to have lunch wearing a human suit. Both are perfectly natural occurrences – the gods do what they want when they want. They are everywhere – it’s only that our society has forgotten what it means to live close to the gods. Because the monotheistic bent to our world has convinced people that it is impossible to stand next to a god. Impossible to have a conversation with a god in a flesh-based form. Impossible to hear a god.

But it isn’t. The gods are very real, very present, and very willing to interact with us. We just have to learn how to interact with them again. They never forgot us – we’re the ones who forgot them. And it is up to polytheists, especially the polytheist priests, to teach people how to hear the gods again, as well as how to recognize them when they choose to walk among us (and they do this often). The gods want to be heard as much as we want to hear – but first, we have to recognize that we have the ability to hear. We have to stop convincing ourselves we’re crazy when we’re receiving a legitimate message from the gods. We have to create a framework where we can talk to the gods and the gods can talk to us without constant fear of insanity making it so people who experience the gods in direct ways have no one to turn to.

The gods are real. The experiences we have of the gods are real. Learning to live with gods who change, grow, adapt, and are fluid is perhaps the hardest part of being a polytheist. Because the gods? They don’t fit in the nice, neat boxes we call lore. They don’t fit into the character sketches we make of them from the myths we read. They don’t fit into archetypes. They are complex, sovereign beings with agency of their own – and until that understanding is reached, communicating with the gods may always cause a person to reach for the question “Am I Hearing a God or Am I Going Crazy?”

So, thank you, Beckett, for pointing out one of the glaring foundational lapses of modern-day polytheism. That is something that needs to be addressed directly instead of whispered about being closed doors. The gods are real. Your experiences are real. And there are people out there who will take you at your word and offer you the understanding you need. Polytheist priests are rare, but we do exist. And I will always make myself available for any person who finds themselves at a loss for what to do when the gods drop in without warning. That is the bare minimum of what it means to be a priest. Because being a priest – yes, it is about serving the gods. But it is also about helping people. It is a calling to both the gods and to those who honor them. Let’s not forget to help the people in our eagerness to serve the gods.