Who requested I learn to play the basic tune on the kantele for Them. Sometimes the things the Ancestors ask of us hurts the heart, and others, it lifts us up. This song, for me, is something of both. Reminds me of my grandfather. Of family, Ancestors I’ve never met in the flesh. Of those I will lose, and those who will lose me.
Joy and bittersweet.
Hail to all of my Ancestors. May They ever be hailed.
On days like today I make prayers and offerings not only to the Sons and Daughters of Muspelheim, but the Sons and Daughters of Nifelheim. I smoke to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits to keep me safe as I go to work. To keep me on the road. To keep me safe from harm. For the snow to be gentle with me, to work with my car. I smoke for my car, that it carries me well, and gets me safely to my destination.
This is where my metaphoric rubber meets the road. When I engage with the world I engage with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits. There is no, can be no separation. If there was, then the cold Ice around me as I walk to my car would not touch me nor inspire equal worship to the Fire I cradle in my hand as I light my pipe when inside it. If there was truly separation the cold could not touch me in heart, or body, inspiring words that praise the pristine beauty and fierce bite, and the heat would not inspire words or prayer to praise the warmth in my hands or the small flame I put to tobacco to say my prayers. There can be no separation because the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits are all around me.
Yes, even in something so mundane as starting my car there are spirits: the spirit of my car, the spirits of all those that fill its tank, the spirit of Fire that makes the engine go, the spirits of Earth that form the car, the spirits of Water that lubricate the car, the spirits of animals whose bodies line the cars’ various innards, the tires themselves made from rubber with spirits of their own, the spirits of Ice that keep the car cool in the summer, and the spirits of Air that help to warm my car. There are Gods and spirits of roads and crossroads, local and large, great and small. There are Gods to pray to, to worship everywhere one turns, if one but pays the mind and chooses to. I could split myself into a million millions of me and still not have enough of me to pray to, offer to, worship all the spirits great and small that surround me. So, I do what I can. I light the tobacco after a prayer to It and Fire, and smoke and pray to all Who wish to hear to my words, praying to my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, speaking to the breathing, living Jörð and all Who share this time and space with me upon Her. I pray to Odin, my Father, through His heiti Gangleri the Wanderer and Traveler to help keep me safe and keep me keen, first among the many Gods I will pray to quickly before I pull out of the drive.
There are the landvaettir all over, some I would call local Gods, such as the rivers that run near town, and Others that live in the heart of parks and Others that live with humans, landvaettir and housevaettir. There are spirits, vaettir, all around, and though I may not worship Them all (how could I, They are so many?) They all are due my respect as I pass through Their homes, territories, holy places. I pass what I view as a herme each and every day on the way to work; one of my neighbors has 3 large stones set one upon the other, and there is a spirit there that, when it catches my eye, I nod to in respect as I drive past it. The ground I walk on is full of life, covered in snow. The sky is alive with little spirits that twinkle in my headlights, some landing on my windshield, melting from the heat of my car.
There is no place I, or anyone can go where the spirits are not. I am truly blessed.
How do you feel about / reconcile the acceptance of Odin in most major Heathen / pagan circles alongside the revulsion held for Loki?
– What are your thoughts and have you / how do you help others make the transition into acceptance?
This is probably one of the hardest questions I have had to encounter in the Pagan communities, especially the Heathen ones where He is greeted with deep vitriol.
I am going to be blunt about how I feel. I think that the revulsion held for Loki is despicable. It is blasphemous.
Most any thing that has aided the Aesir or Vanir came through Loki’s hands. The weapon that the Jotun were said to fear, Mjolnir, came from Loki’s work. If He comes to you at all it is a blessing even if you cannot see it then.
Wiccan Issues With Loki
I used to hear and say “Hail Loki” tongue-in-cheek when I was a Wiccan, frequently, when something in ritual went screwy. When words garbled or something fell off the altar, a “Hail Loki” often followed. To a certain extent I look at this humorously now; obviously it was not Loki holding my tongue and saying sing-song “What’s-a-matter? Can’t talk?” as I tried to speak. However, it was not reverent. He was spoken of in tones of ‘not welcome’, yet we were calling His Name. All I knew at the time was that He was Trickster, a God of Chaos and Fire. I did not know much back then.
Much of the revulsion, at least from the Wiccan angle, came from a place of wanting everything “NEAT UND TIDY!” Rituals have a certain flow, a certain way they are supposed to go, and accidents, interruptions, and garbled words screw with that. So too, our relationships with the Gods. There is comfort in such rituals, and comfort in The God and The Goddess encountered in Wicca, but Loki is a God Who often pushes past the comfy, the familiar, and the planned. He can bare you to all your flaws in a moment, or give you that push with a giggle that, as you stumble to get back to your feet, you find yourself exactly where you need to be.
Heathen Issues With Loki
Where some Pagans, especially Heathens are in agreement, is that they would rather not worship a God who heads the Jotun armies at Ragnarok. Leaving aside that Ragnarok may entirely be Christian invention or revision, it is said that the Dead who live in Helheim rise up to fight. Which, if you think about, includes a good chunk of our Ancestors, as most died a ‘straw death’, death by disease, old age, etc. Essentially anything but fighting. When you think about it that number will probably include most anyone. I digress.
Many Heathens take issue with the fluidity of Loki. He changes sexes, shape, specie; He is a Father and a Mother. He turned into a female horse and brought back Sleipnir, which He gave to Odin for His steed. He is wed to two Goddesses, and has had children with both. Fenris, the Wolf Who Devours Odin at Ragnarok, Jormungandr the World Serpent Who keeps Midgard’s borders, and Hel the Goddess of Death are His and Angrboda’s children. His two sons with Sigyn are Narvi and Vali, both of Whom come to a tragic end at the hands of the Aesir.
Loki is outside and within the binaries of modern life. He is within and without the innangarð. He is Jotun and counted among the Aesir, He causes trouble and resolves conflict. He is a victim of abuse, and a wrathful avenger.
There are those Heathens who simply see all Jotun as enemies. In this black and white understanding of the Gods, the Aesir and Vanir are the forces of good, and the Jotun the forces of evil. Or order and chaos. Or whatever binary is handy at the time.
The reason I list all of this, well known to most of Loki’s worshipers, is for some of these people there is reconciliation with their understanding of Loki. I used to really not be a fan of Him, until He came into my life through Odin. Slowly I started to work with Him, and then, worship Him.
For those who say “None of the Jotun are due worship”, how can that be reconciled by me? All I can do is provide an example of what a life touched by Loki looks like, and if the person wishes to change their mind, they will. Odin Himself came from Jotun stock, as did Thor, Heimdall…many, if not most of the Aesir are, in some way, shape, or form related to Jotun or are Jotun Themselves, i.e. Loki and Skaði. The Vanir are actually the odds one out in this. They are, so far as I can tell from lore and personal experience, unrelated blood-wise to the Aesir and Jotun. Even so, Freyr, a Vanir hostage to the Aesir, takes Gerda, a Jotnar Goddess (Gýgr, giantess) for His bride.
The Transition to Acceptance
So how do I help others make the transition into acceptance? I am a responsible worshiper, to start with. I do not blame my mistakes on Him, and do not allow abuse to be heaped upon Him. I speak out when I need to, especially when His, or His brethren’s Names are being thrown in the mud. I show people that a follower of Loki need not be an irresponsible person, or a person who uses the Gods as an excuse to get their kicks.
When people come to me, worried they may be getting the tap on the shoulder by Loki, I give the same advice I do to anyone worried about a God or Goddess coming their way: set up an altar, give Them offerings and time, and see where They lead you. Ultimately any reconciliation is going to happen between the Gods and them. I’m just a person who might help them in the journey. Sometimes it is small words of encouragement, storytelling of my experiences with Him, or exegesis of the lore we have available to us.
The number one thing I have found that has served me best as a Pagan, whether it was as a layperson, a priest or a shaman, is shutting my mouth and listening. Listening to peoples’ fears, concerns, worries, and listening to them, not just hearing their words. It is no different here with reconciling worries and conflicts with the Gods.
I have no illusions that those who love Odin but hate Loki or His Kin will somehow ‘come to see the Light’ (or Fire, as the case may be) and give up that hate in a moment no matter how much I listen to them. If they are to do something as radical as give up hate that has to come after a time of letting go of that. If I help to be a catalyst for that change, I consider that holy Work. My focus is more on those who are being bothered by Him or are just scared of Him. He can evoke fear in people; He certainly did for me, and sometimes still does.
Where to Start
I start by listening, and seeing where the person is at. If they are open to a deeper understanding of Loki beyond “He’s not just some monster” or “He’s not out to make your life hell” then we can go on. If not, I do my best to correct misconceptions, and provide my own understanding of Loki. I usually will talk about the sources of lore for Loki, if we have time/ability to do so. If not, I recommend the person read the sources of lore for Loki, and keep up dialogue while they are doing so, especially where they find issues or questions popping up. I’m no loremaster, and I cannot read the old tongues the works are originally recorded in, but I talk to people and can recommend sources I have read or have been recommended to me. From there, as I mentioned before, I usually will recommend they set up an altar if they do not have one, and if they can, find a symbol of Loki. From there, I recommend they give offerings, prayers, and time to Loki in whatever ways they feel called to so long as it is reverent. After that it is really just being there for the person as I can be and as they need.
Almost all of the work is on the person in the end. At best all I can do is help to facilitate a better relationship between themselves and Loki. I can bring two or more people together in a space and say “Let’s try to be friends!” and after that point I really have little control over whether or not that ends up being the case. So, to a good extent, letting go of the situation after I have done my part is one of the best things, aside from keeping my ears open, that I can do. Their relationship with Loki is, in the end, theirs. Loki never laid claim to Mjolnir once He gave it to Thor; indeed, He never laid claim to the Hammer in the first place.
How can I lay claim to something so powerful as another’s relationship with a God?
I pray that more people open their minds, hearts, and souls to the beautiful touch of this incredible God, and experience Him for Who and What He is. May His Name come with the same love so many give to His fellows Gods and Goddesses. May those who worship Him never take Him for granted. May He always be hailed.
May my mind be open
So I may see the right way
May my hands be skillful
So I may make the right way
May my legs be nimble
So I may walk the right way
May my ears be clear
So I may hear the right way
May my eyes be bright
So I may see the right way
May my heart be open
So I may know the right way
May my soul be prepared
So I may embrace the right way
The gentle smile and softest hands
Belie a Will of Steel
A Heart, a Love, a weaning Child
By holy hands You healed
Please let me know these gentle hands
and gentle Your embrace
For in Your graciousness we find
Resolve to face our Fate
When I leave this flesh behind
And all memory fades of me
May the world be better for
Whose futures are to be
When I journey forth unto
The Ancestors’ old home
May Midgard hold me to Its heart
Name proudly carved upon a stone
When I leave this world behind
In dust and bone and dirt
May it be said I did my best
When I walked upon the Earth
Caution bodes well | in love and wealth
for the fool is soon found without either;
Fickle is the heart | lacking in temper
and the wallet too often opened