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Question 4: Loki: Revulsion and Reconciliation

March 9, 2013 7 comments

From Dreaming in Smoke and Fire:

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.

Hail Loki!

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Sigyn Project: Day 26

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

The wolf tore the tender flesh

Madness gripped unbidden

and Death rode within the Child

Whose Godly life was taken

 

The madness gripped the Wolf

and He snapped and snarled and howled

By magic Odin fettered Him

Mind and form befouled

 

He knew not what He did

He only knew that when

He ripped His Brother’s stomach out

His madness would not end

 

How come we to this pain?

How come we to this wrong?

How come we to the cave?

In which You have served so long?

 

For pain exacts its own price

in wrath will have revenge

and in a Father’s loving lost

Comes the Worlds’ own End

 

You stand before the doom

of all that once was full of Life

You stand with bowl upraised

a weeping Witness and a Wife

 

Succor, I pray to Your pain

and to Your Family too

But not prayer nor power can take away

The wrong done unto You

 

Oh Gods, hear my prayer!

My little mortal cry

May it pierce the depths of Helheim’s Gates

and pierce great Asgard’s sky!

 

Peace oh peace! Peace!

I pray, with fervent lips aloft

For I can feel the Battle coming

And it is not far off

 

Great Jord She shakes in agony

with Loki in Her bones

His thrashing wounds Her heart and soul

Sigyn, She stands alone

 

Ever-faithful Lady

indomitable and unbowed

Hail to Your Holy Duty

To the thrashing Serpent-Crowned

 

Hail to You Holy Mother

May frith be offering,

That no other may know the loss You bear

or know Your suffering

 

Odin Project: Day 28

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

More good is found | than most believe

in love for mortal man;

For the less he loves | the more does man

turn mind against his kin

Odin Project: Day 21

November 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Ask Rúnatýr’s aid | if Runes are sought,

giving gift in turn for gift;

For great was the price | Yggr had paid

in winning the Runes from the Gap

 

Ask Rúnatýr’s aid | if Runes are sought,

keeping keen in mind and Work,

For great is the price | the Runes will demand

From fools who know Them not

 

Ask Rúnatýr’s aid | if Runes are sought,

knowing each in Their own turn,

Wisdom and power | and rede one can find

If well one knows Their kin

Loki Project Day 30

July 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I feel the heat, hear the crackle of the fire; there You are, looking back to me as I gaze into You

The logs sputter as they lose their water, Your gentle caresses inflaming them with their hidden fire

Were I to reach in for long, you would do the same to me, not out of malice, but of Your nature

To unlock the potential within us; how can we blame You if the process hurts?  Shouldn’t have stuck your hand in the fire

Just by Your Presence I am warmed, the fire expands under Your breath, the dead trees catching

Your sacred önd blows, and the heat presses against my face; I think perhaps this is why we cannot get too close to Gods

If we do not wish to be consumed in Your Presence, Your Being, that alights our hearts, minds, and souls, our tree-selves like kindling

Yet I do wish to be closer to the Gods, to you, Loki, to Odin, so I ask if I am mad; no, I decide, it is not mad to desire to be near the ones you love

So I sit as close as I can, distanced respectfully, close as I can, so I can see You, hear You, away from the distractions of life and little concerns

Present in this moment, sitting with You, my Ancestors close by, Fire itself at the heart, and listening to Your Voice crackle on the wood

Loki Project Day 20

July 20, 2012 4 comments

Thank You, Loki

For never sparing me

Heart, mind, or soul

From Your lashing tongue

Each lash has rent its own

Layer of bullshit

Till You and Your Blood Brother

brought me tender, tearful

And through those same tongues

Made me more than I’ve ever been

Killing the Soul; Reviving Indigeny

May 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The idea of indigeny is one that, several years ago, I felt I had no right to.  I have loved Native American myth, particularly of the medicine men and women, the various Gods and spirits, since I was a child.  When I announced to my 1st grade teacher I wanted to be a shaman, her response crushed any idea that I could be an indigenous person for a long while until I reconsidered it a few years ago.  Not only could I not be Native American, or indigenous anything, I couldn’t be a shaman either.  Until Odin flipped the latter notion on its head, I did not come back to considering the topic of indigeny at all.

Monotheism has killed the idea of indigeny for a good many of us that we had an indigenous anything.  This foreign religion swooped over many a Pagan land, and took with it their individual cultures, replacing them systematically with a maladaptive, singular religion.  It wiped out many of our understandings of our Gods, pushed survivors to break their oaths to our Gods, and what little has mercifully survived in many corners of the world has been unable to come to us untainted by Christian scholars.  Very few modern Pagan pathways have much more than a generation or two of practicing Pagans, so it is a small wonder that many of us, converting from Christianity, have a hard time approaching, much less adopting the idea of indigeny.  Those of us who are not converts, at least in the United States, cannot escape the influence of white Protestant Christianity that has made a good amount of the backbone of this country’s history.  Yet, if we are to actually pass on our Pagan ways, I think reclaiming our indigeny is the only way forward.

In many ways this involves killing the modern concept of the soul.  In my own path the soul is not simply the ego-Me, but the community-Us, and a good many other parts to it that extend well and truly beyond myself.  It is not a separation of body and soul, either; the two are linked.  My lich (body) is as holy as my önd (breath, life force) and is as much a part of my soul as my maegen (personal power grown by keeping oaths, one’s word, etc.) and hamingja (similar to maegen, but grown with community) and just as holy.  The traditional dichotomies and binaries simply do not wash.  To reclaim one’s indigeny, I feel you have to first reclaim your soul.  Coming to understand your soul as more than your flesh, more than your mind and yet they are part of your soul is sometimes a hard thing, especially with the idea of Descartes” Cogito ergo sum’ firmly ingrained into our minds from an early age “I think therefore I am.”  The dichotomy between mind and body is inculcated early, and it takes some work to shake this off.

Part and parcel of killing the soul and reviving it in our indigenous ways is recognizing and engaging our own creation myths.  When I meditate as a tree for grounding and centering nowadays, that is not only me imitating, perhaps on a spiritual level even mimicking or becoming a tree.  As a Northern Tradition and Heathen Pagan, when I become a tree either in meditation or other things, I am heralding back to Ask and Embla, the two trees from which all humanity springs when Odin, Vili, and Ve gave us our features from two trees that wash up before them on a shore.  I am, on a very primal, Ancestral level, directly related to the ground I stand on, the garden I grow my food from, the house I live in, and the world at large in which I live.

Think about that: we are directly related to the trees.  We are directly related to the world on which we stand.

Our Ancestors were the trees, blessed by Gods.  I am a Son of Odin.

These are revolutionary thoughts, and bear meditating on all their own.  These may be posts I consider down the road.  The point is, is that by reviving the soul in indigeny, the separation that monotheism places between Creation and Creator, the Created and Co-Creators, is in many respects gone.  We are descended from the very land we live on, and many of our old bloodlines (Englanders anyone?) claimed descent from Gods.  Our Gods, landvaettir, Ancestors, all of us, are part of this and other worlds.

Another part of killing the modern conception of the soul is destroying the separation of mind and body.  We cannot.  Our bodies are made to be integrated with our minds, and vice versa.  Our minds regularly react to stimuli, real or imagined, that the body provides it, from shivers in the cold to dancing around hopping and cursing when we stub a toe.  Our body is a great big sensory organ; it provides us an immense amount of information, from pressure to temperature, closeness to color and so much more.  If our bodies are not nourished, our minds wither.  The same goes for the mind.  We truly do need affection and stimulation to survive well as much as we need good, healthy, reliable amounts of food.  Food is sacred, love is sacred, raising children (as well as remaining child-free) is sacred.  Expanded one’s horizons is sacred, as is meditating, as is doing arithmetic, science, or any number of intellectual pursuits.  This world, and we, are brimming with holiness if we would but see it, let it in, allow it to suffuse us.  If we enter into right relationship with ourselves, we will be able to enter into right relationship with this world.

We can revive our indigenous ways.  When we honor our Ancestors, the Dead, the landvaettir, other spirits and the Gods, in so many ways we are, step-by-step, rebuilding our indigeny.  By interfacing with our Ancestors, Dead, spirits, and Gods, and learning from Them, we can learn ways in which our indigeny can thrive now.  We can reclaim, revitalize, and revive the indigeny that each of us has the ability to lay hold of, claim, and hold close.  Thank the Gods.

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