Why Faith? Why God? Why Bother? (Part One)

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This was originally a comment written to John Halsted in response to his post: The role of faith and hubris in Paganism.

Unfortunately, it has since blown up in my mind and I felt that I had enough relevant things to say, given recent topics, that this was worth a series of posts. So, I will try desperately to stay on topic, which is something I seem to be rather bad at in such discussions.

On Faith:
This is a word many people hate to hear. For some, it dredges up memories of being trapped within a church while some strange man screams at you about how your only hope in life is to put a blind trust in a God, who you may not even understand or relate with. Faith cannot be forced upon people, you either find a place for it in your heart, or you don’t. Unfortunately, many religious paths, not even just Christianity, try to push this upon people. The concepts of “You must connect to God as I do” or “You must understand God as I do” are not only fundamentally wrong, but impossible. Everyone comes to faith in their own time, partially because we all come to it damaged, for a very good reason:

Faith is independent of religion.

Faith does not begin with any God. It begins with one another. It is born and cultivated within society and faith is the fulcrum upon which society rests. Faith has a place in all things, whether they are an interaction with something tangible or intangible. It begins with our parents, or whoever raised us up from infancy, and grows, changes, shatters, and redevelops as we and our relationships mature.

For example, I have faith in my fiancé. He is completely tangible. But, I have no guarantee that he will never raise his hand to me or our children. I have no unbreakable promise that he will not lie, steal, cheat, or burn down our household. He is fully physically capable at any point in time to do any of those things. But, I am promising a space in the rest of my life to another human being because I have faith that he will honor his vows and is an honorable person.

One might say that this is a rational assessment based on an evaluation of his reactions and personality traits over time. But, I smile at this because: a) nothing we do, as humans, is rational. We are rational thinkers with emotional responses with many millennia of colorful history to cite as a reference, and b) that same assessment cannot explain why, despite the assumed possibility of this reasoning, the divorce rates in America are ridiculously high.

But then, how does this differentiate from trust?

Faith is the bridge on which trust meets action. You can trust someone, but not put any faith in them. But, you cannot put honest faith in someone without trusting them.
Trust is thinking your neighbor is a nice person. Faith is inviting them over to watch your kids when you’re not home. Trust is thinking a person can keep a secret. Faith is sharing with them a fact that might damage your reputation in your community if misused. Trust is thinking that God is ok and probably helpful. Faith is giving God a place in your life, etc.

So, if someone says that when God says “Jump”, they say “How high?”, it doesn’t mean that this person is mindlessly obedient. They just have faith that if said God/Gods can be distracted from what they are doing long enough to tell them to jump, there must be a damned good reason.

I remember a woman talking about Santeria at a spiritual convention a few years ago and how guests would be frustrated by really unclear messages in divination.
For example, a practitioner would get a message saying, “Don’t stand on the corner of First and Broadway at midnight.”
The recipient would be frustrated and ask, “What the hell does that mean?”
The only answer was simple: “I don’t know, but if they took the time to tell you not to do it, and you do, don’t be upset if you get hit by a bus. They told you not to be there.”

I’m not one that believes the Gods have any vested interest in arbitrary dogma. If they take the time to ask us to do something, it’s for our own benefit. Yes, sometimes they seem to set up laws for their own egos, like the hubris taboo in ancient Greecian culture. But, if you look at anyone who breaks the Gods’ laws, they do not do so to be a good person. If you look a history of hubris, such as that of Niobe, (Who proclaims that she is surely better than Leto, the mother of Artemis and Apollo, for she has fourteen children and Leto only two) those people are setting themselves up not only above the Gods, but above the rest of humanity in the same process. If you’re better than Leto, you’re also asserting superiority over any other mother who does not also have fourteen children. This erodes relations, trust, and therefore faith between people, and thus erodes the bedrock of society.

There’s a favorite telling of mine about the coming of Ragnarok in Gruber’s Myths of the Norsemen. The heralding of Ragnarok occurs when both Sunna (the Sun) and Mani (the Moon) are swallowed by the wolves that chase them, Hati and Skoll. It is said that Angrboda, the Mother of Monsters in the Ironwood, feeds these wolves on the bones of dead thieves, murders, and oathbreakers. Thus, the end of the world comes not because of some seer’s prophecy, but because people cannot stop being assholes. If there were not enough thieves, murders, and liars within the world to feed the wolves, they would never be strong and fast enough to swallow the Sun and Her brother.
While I have not found this corroborated elsewhere in the lore, its basic premise is maintained by the concept of frith in modern and ancient Heathenry alike, which is, as a loose definition, peace maintained through a community by trust and right action. Effectively, when faith and trust have broken down between tribes and families, this is what heralds the end of days.

This is also paralleled in Hinduism. Many Hindu scholars believe that we are now within the Kali Yuga, or “Era of Discord”, according to the writings within the Surya Siddhanta. This is the last of the four Yugas that occur within the world’s lifecycle before it is unmade. Not unlike the situation above, the Kali Yuga predicts a time when human beings are deceitful: families turn on each other, rulers are grossly unfair, oaths are broken, and material needs and sexual relations become tantamount to love, trust, and God.

These are recurring themes in many other cultures.

So, in summary, faith is not something to be afraid of or revile. Regardless of what theology you subscribe to, you’ve been practicing faith all of your life.
The people who testify about faith in a God or some other higher power do not do so out of blind following or as a method of zealotry, but because they have cultivated a trust with deity, and I’ll get further into my thoughts on that in a later post.
But, there seems to be some fear that faith in God somehow leads to violence. I present very few things as absolute truths, but I believe very strongly in what I am about to say. Belief in God does not make anyone kill others over that belief. Zealotry occurs when someone forgets that mythology, scripture, etc. are metaphors, not meant to be taken literally or to kill others over because they don’t believe as you do. Even zealotry in itself does not cause religious warfare. Hurt and damaged people cause warfare. Someone decides to kill another person because somewhere along the way, that person’s trust was so damaged that they can no longer extend it to another human being who does not believe exactly the way they do. Some people are psychologically broken from it, and just want to break the world. Look at the history of some of the world’s greatest killers. It’s a repeating pattern that you see.

If there is a great killer within the psychology of men, it is not faith, it is fear. The only remedy to that is not atheism or attacking spiritual believers, but instead healing the damage within ourselves and practicing faith within our fellow humanity. Not everyone takes that trust and emotion to God, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that the ones who do have had some break with reality, their perspective is just a little different from yours. If you truly worry about the impact of faith on this world, be excellent to one another and give doubt a little less of a foothold between humanity. It’s not faith in God you’re really fighting: it’s the fear of each other.

Why Possession Phenomenon are Poisoning the Pagan Community

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The Gods did not reveal, from the beginning,
All things to us; but in the course of time,
Through seeking, men find that which is better.

But, as for certain truth, no man has known it,
Nor will he know it; neither of the gods,
Nor yet of the things of which I speak.
And even if by chance he were to utter
The final truth, he would not know it;
For all is but a woven web of guesses.

- Xenophanes

 

This is a post I struggled to write, for fear that it would come off as caustic, but nonetheless, I feel that it must be said.

To take a moment to define the phenomenon in question, let’s say that we are talking about all situations where a deity is somehow experienced through someone else’s body. This includes full on possession, channeling where the deity is only using the person as a conduit through which to pass on words, etc. (In terms of the person acting as the conduit for a possession, channeling, or other divine communication, you will also hear me interchangeably using the word vessel with the word horse. The latter is a term from African Diaspora religions, especially Vodou.) While these experiences themselves are not a bad thing, I’ve observed that they’ve driven a rising movement for on-demand or drive-thru spirituality.

It’s difficult to build a relationship with a God, or a spirit, or even your ancestors. I’ve had a lot of people coming to me upset because they cannot hear the Gods as clearly as others or at all. They lament about how their experiences do not match those of others, how they don’t feel the energy as intensely. They feel lost, confused, and often hurt.

The only comfort I can offer is this: you are meant to suffer through this. Not in the sense that you are somehow an awful person, and deserving of silence and despair. But, this is part of the mystic’s path. You will question. You will doubt. You will be afraid. You will know moments of ecstatic closeness to the divine and moments of utter solitude and quiet. You will write words of love, enthrallment, and hope. You will curse Their names and wish you had never gotten yourself into this, before you wake up and make them an offering the next morning. Mysticism and the spiritual experience is a journey. It requires seeking and struggling.
For those of you asking how to hear better, how to exist in certainty with the will of your divine and ancestors, this is how it happens. It takes time. It takes determination. It takes hours or even days of meditation over weeks, months, and years. It takes struggle. Because in this ordeal, that is how you come to know Them. More importantly, that is how you come to know yourself. You become able to distinguish God’s voice from those phrases and ideas that linger in your subconscious. You learn the feel of Them and the omens that they give you. You learn the difference between the feeling and emotion that comes with a spirit or deity tampering with coincidence and the shuffle button iTunes.
It takes time. It hurts. It takes patience, and most of all, faith. The battle between doubt and this hard-earned gnosis cements the trust between yourself and the spirit in question. It builds faith.

That’s why I take such umbrage with all of this possession and channeling going on, especially online. I know that most people do this as an effort to be genuinely helpful, but it is, in truth, a robbery.
Honing out that connection and clarity for yourself is crucial to a successful spiritual relationship that is not dependant on others, as all spiritual relationships should be.
There is, unfortunately, a lapse of judgment regarding this on the side of those provided said channelings and possessions. If you are one of those people, please take a moment to stop and consider whether or not this is really the right thing to do for the person in this situation. I know it is difficult to watch someone suffer through the struggle I’ve mentioned above. But, pause to consider that if someone had come in and told you the answers, and you never had to seek for them yourself, would you be in the same relationship that you are with your Gods/spirits/ancestors right now? You might have wanted to pull your hair out a little less, but the answer will be, in most cases, probably not. If that person is struggling for help, consider, instead, providing them with advice on how you got through a similar ordeal, and if they’re really struggling, perhaps a divination. Even if you feel that said God or spirit wants you to do this, consider what it is doing for or to the recipient, and consider how you will feel if this person attaches to you as some sort of prophet for this deity and therefore comes to you with every question they have because they have failed to establish that relationship on their end. I would hope not good, but that’s what this type of consistent struggle-and-response relationship nurtures. This type of hang-up has the potential to do a lot of damage to both individuals and communities alike, please take this from someone who has been there.

For those of you who are struggling to build a relationship and are upset because you cannot hear or you feel lost, I understand. When you are reading the words of people who are experiencing what at least appears to be a peaceful and/or strong spiritual relationship, it is not because we were more loved by the Gods or more deserving than others, it’s because we have been where you are right now, in all of its painful glory. We can sympathize, we can offer advice, but we cannot take that struggle away, nor should we want to. Not because we are awful and want to see you suffer, but because spirituality is a seeking process and you must find that place of peace and strength for and in yourself.

If you are going through this, my first advice to you, if you have not done so, would be to get a type of divination native to either your ancestors and/or the spirit or deity you are trying to contact. This is why I learned the runes, you may find yourself learning Ogham or the Tarot or even a type of divination you have never heard of. I even know one young woman who divines using otter penis bones, because it’s a Polish system she was taught by her ancestors. Either research, or just walk through the divination section at a local metaphysical or book store and see if something jumps out at you. If you don’t have a local shop, you can take the same pretense to an online store and see if you feel compelled toward a certain set or idea. Make a practice of using that system to talk to your spirit/deity with them at least once a day. If you are confused and struggling, this is normal. This too, in time, shall pass. Keep a journal of your readings and experiences so you can re-read them and note, for yourself, the progression. Seek out others as you get stuck and ask how they got through what you are experiencing.

Secondly, fine-tune your intuition and never question it. We’re taught not to listen to our instincts from a very early age, but they are our most primal and important red flags. If you feel in your gut that something is either very right or very wrong, you’re most likely correct. There is an excellent book titled The Gift of Fear by Gave de Becker specifically about this.
Take time to ground/banish and shield every day, and take a few moments of quiet meditation afterward. Try to quiet your mind and then journal on the thoughts and ideas that pop into your head. You will likely find repeating patterns. These will help you distinguish the mental sock puppets and subconscious fears/thoughts from spiritual messages.

If you feel that talking to a God or spirit directly is absolutely necessary, be analytical about whom you choose. Talk with your chosen vessel/horse and research them. Do they seem stable and like they have a firm grasp on themselves? Do they claim to have been a practicing priest of so-and-so for twenty years and you found them posting as a self-proclaimed atheist four years ago? You are asking for a demanding and deep spiritual process, be as confident as you can that you’re getting the least amount of interference. This is why developing confidence in your intuition is so important.
You need to be analytical about the process during an interaction as well. It is always best to err on the side of reverence and be respectful during the possession, but you can politely excuse yourself from the experience if you don’t believe it to be genuine.
As part of your research, I would recommend that you purchase or at least read a copy of Drawing Down the Spirits by Raven Kaldera and Kenaz Filan. Regardless of how you feel about Raven, this is the most modern non-path-biased reference we have from both within the observer and vessel’s point of view. One chapter also lists a series of warnings to watch out for that may signal that a message or possession may not be genuine.
One very common sign is if the vessel refers to themselves at all during the possession, especially by name or in a manner intended to build confidence in or promote the vessel during the possession. Referring to the horse during possession rouses the conscious mind, and since the horse often goes through efforts to attain an altered state of consciousness through which they can be not present, this can disrupt possession by re-establishing a sense of self-identity and disturbing the connection. This same concept carries over into a person “talking themselves up” during a possession. Be wary of horses who want to tell you about how great they are or who ask for things while possessed. The same is true of horses who say things while “possessed” in effort to validate the possession, such as that they “will not remember this”, etc. The deity is there to communicate with you and is generally unconcerned about the side effects on the horse after they leave at least in the sense of such “givens” as memory loss or confusion.

I don’t deny that there is a situation where possession can be very helpful or even necessary. I also feel that a possessory right is something that most practitioners should experience at least once in their lifetime. It is an awe-inspiring and intense rite of devotion. But, I feel strongly that this something worth traveling to someone you find reputable to experience and not best lived over the connection of a keyboard.

Be blessed in your seeking, whichever road you chose.

On Sigyn and Suffering

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I’ve always wondered why Sigyn is not insane.

There are many accounts of Loki as Breaker of Worlds: a madman driven to the brink by His suffering in the cave. But, I have neither heard an account of Sigyn as rage-filled and blood thirsty, nor have I encountered Her this way myself. I have no doubt that She suffered as much as Loki: watching Him there bound with their son’s remains. All the while, they are both starving, and only the bowl cupped in Her venom-pitted fingers halts Her husband’s agony from the poison of the snake draped above His head.

 I have always viewed the myths as much symbolism as a written history of our Gods. Since our family’s last year has been filled with grief and trials, the ending struggles of Sigyn and Her Beloved have been at the forefront of my meditations.

I believe the answer lies in how She has come to handle grief, and within it is an amazing lesson for all of us.

Everyone wants to protect their loved ones. An insult to them is an insult to us. We fear for their safety when they are in danger. We share in their grief, their laughter, their pain, much in the same way that Sigyn shares in Loki’s suffering.

Within the cave, Sigyn is not bound. She is under no oath about how she may handle His pain. Yet, she does not throw Herself on top of Him. Wouldn’t the true sense of devotion be to drape Herself over His head that She might bear the poison instead of Him? She doesn’t spend the first millennia or so sawing away at Narvi’s intestines trying to free Loki. Sigyn does not hold the bowl past filling, tilting it to burn herself and sloshing it onto the floor to burn her legs and feet.

Yet, we do these things with one another.

It’s a very difficult to endure someone else’s pain. We’ve all been in that situation where we see someone heading down the fast road to disaster. Perhaps it’s something that we’ve experienced before, and we try so desperately to get that person to understand/

“Damn it, I’ve been here and done this. If you’d just listen to me, you’d save yourself a world of hurt!”

Many relationships between friends, lovers, and parents/children get scarred for that mindset.

It’s because they don’t know. Unfortunately, sometimes those lessons are necessary, harsh ones, and nothing we say or do can alter that person’s mind until the inevitable end.

That brings us to the hardest part of bearing suffering. It’s not experiencing the grief, it’s that simple and awful act of letting go and bearing someone’s suffering knowing that you can do nothing to end or change it.

It’s Sigyn walking from the cave to empty the bowl that has grown too full. It’s hearing Loki screaming and not dropping the vessel, burning Herself, and running back to His side. It’s watching that person, so dear to you, slide face-first down the ravine of loss, grief, or misguidance. The only comfort sometimes is that you are still there with them — that you will get to return with the bowl or still be standing there with the bandages to clean up the scrapes when it’s all said and done. Like Sigyn, you must come to accept that which is necessary or unchangeable.

When my fiancé lost his father, I wanted nothing more than to take every tear and wring every ounce of grief from his heart. Having lost my own mother just as suddenly five years before, I understood his pain. But, it was all I could do to hold him while he wept, to stand beside him, one hand on his shoulder, while he stared at his father in the coffin. I lifted him up when he stumbled and was his shoulder to lean on when he could no longer hold himself, but nothing I can ever do will take that pain away. It is a scar on the heart that never truly heals. Even though I was never close to my mother in life, I’m certain that I will always cry when I put irises on the ancestor altar every Mother’s Day.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed when you share those emotions with someone experiencing it as equally.

We have to remember to empty the bowl. Sigyn’s vessel is not endless and neither are our hearts nor our endurance. When you are that support for a loved one during suffering, you must always remember to take a moment to breathe, to separate, to disengage. Take the time, as Sigyn did, to walk to the door. Breathe. Empty your bowl. Find strength again. Grief and pain come in waves, and we all must take our time bound upon the stone. We all survive through the support of one another, and in the strength and acceptance necessary to hold the bowl.

Revamp

Heya everyone,

Sorry for being MIA for so long. A lot has been happening and I have had a lot to bring to order.

I’ve done some long over-due editing of previous posts and there will be new things coming up in the near future.

Thank you for all your patience, and you can look forward to updates soon.

The Path to Freedom: An Homage to The Breaker of Worlds

As many as 64% of women emerging from domestic violence are diagnosed with or exhibit signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (National Institute of Justice)
For many, it’s a scary name pasted over the walls of a prison.
In the middle of a perfect day, someone will move in a certain way. Suddenly they are your abuser, bearing down on you, and your world is shattered. You have no control over what triggers it. It says you will always fear that the person, who hurt you so deeply, on so many levels, will someday reappear in your life and find you, your partner, your family. It means that no matter how far away you move, how strongly you disassociate, you may never really get away. A part of you is so rooted in that fear that you can’t escape it, because that part of you is still trapped there with your attacker.

I’ve had many people ask me why I honor Loki. After all, he’s a Mad God. Parts of Him are terrifying and completely insane. It’s His release that cuts the red ribbon on Ragnarok. His wrath heralds the death of every living thing on Midgard, save two humans who are sequestered away in Yggdrasil. At least, that’s how the myth goes. But, if our ancestors saw this God as a force so devastating, how could He possibly be an ally to humanity? To anyone?
I understand the confusion. There really aren’t words to describe how I feel for Him or why. Even with all I’ve written in this blog, I feel that I just scratch the surface of explaining and illustrating His influence in my life. Yet, I still love and relate to The Breaker of Worlds. I’ll try to illuminate a little of why here.

When Loki was bound before Ragnarok, He was bound with the intestines of his child. Odin had turned one brother into a wolf and set him upon the other, so that Narvi was ripped apart and his brother fled in madness. I’ll liken back to one of Raven Kaldera’s writings of his own gnosis, where Angrboda comes to Loki and Sigyn and tells them that the ropes holding Loki cannot be broken by another: the magic holding them binds Loki with His own love for His son.

It may seem like a great leap, but it’s truly not all that different coming out of a domestic violence situation. While there’s certainly a strong element of fear, you are bound by this bond of love with your partner. You may confuse possession for endearment and suffer from a whole variety of illusions, but that doesn’t change how you feel. The types of people who engage in partner abuse are of a distinct personality: they don’t start dropping the venom until they’re sure the ropes are tight. Then, once the pain begins, you’re willing to lie in it. Of course, when you’re being beaten, molested, or put down, it hurts. You writhe. You cry. You think of how desperately it is that you want it to stop. But when you’re not in those moments, you think of how that person made you happy, about how at least some part of you felt loved or fulfilled, and once more you want to stay. This is how the cycle perpetuates.

It takes a lot to truly sever that bond. Loki goes into Ragnarok knowing He’s going to die. You leave an abusive relationship fearing that you might. But you do it, because you’ve reached the edge of your survival instinct. You might die leaving, but you’re already dead if you stay.
And it does break worlds. Whole families come apart over those brave escapes. It’s not at all uncommon for family members and friends to have had no idea about what was going on. They may even take the side of the abuser, testifying that this person is a “nice guy/good woman” and that the victim is horrible for making such accusations. Many survivors feel extremely isolated, because they find themselves leaving more than just their partner behind.
It doesn’t even stop there. Trust? Intimacy? Other relationships? Forget it. It takes years for many abuse survivors to be able to approach a relationship again, and even that often assumes a partner patient enough to unwind years of fear and knee-jerk reactions. Some survivors never attain that, and spend the rest of their life perpetuating the cycle because they can’t really break the chains. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s just nigh impossible to do alone, and even if they escape, many survivors feel that they can’t seek help. Even if there are resources available in their area, it’s a hard topic to broach with the nearest of friends, let alone a strange therapist or volunteer. It’s a dangerous slope, and hail to the ones who crawl out of it.
During that journey, it’s reaffirming to have a deity who understands that desperate need to incite change, to end wrongs so badly, that He was willing to shatter the world and even his own life for it. If nothing else, the lore alone shows that Loki truly understands the sacrifice and necessity of starting over.

While Loki had not made Himself overtly known at that time in my life, I know He was with me. Whenever something horrible happened in that relationship, He saw. When I decided to leave, and David was kicking the dog and breaking furniture in an effort to scare me into staying, He pushed me where I faltered. That day is still stark in my memory as the most terrifying day of my life. If you’ve never been absolutely convinced that someone is going to kill you or at least do a damned good job at trying, it’s a terrible experience. He was my strength when I had none.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in February of this year. For me, it was actually kind of liberating to put a name to the disease that had taken up years of my life, making it hard to focus or have a stable relationship. It filled me with a sense of strength and direction. Just like how mysticism tells us we have power over a spirit in knowing its true name, now that I knew the name of my demon, I knew how to attack it and where to go for help.

Of course, this was a battle Loki and I had been fighting together for years. Loki, unrelentingly, had seen through the fear and tempered me like a fine blade. He dredged up old emotions and tore scabs time and time again. Not because He is cruel but to clean out the infection and allow them to truly heal. I was brought to understand the reason for much of my behavior, especially where relationships are concerned.

Even before I took my vows to Him last August, I expressed that I didn’t want Him to be my only partner. I didn’t want Him to be hurt by that, but I wanted that companionship in a more physical aspect and I wanted children someday. But, furthermore, I felt that such a relationship was crucial to my healing; that it filled some hole that my relationship with Him, for all its greatness, could not. He would just smile that me and say nothing. (You know, the infuriating, knowing grin He gives when He has something planned and plotted out but won’t stay a damned thing.)
Finally, now I understand.

I know that I would not be receptive to my current relationship without Him. Loki tore my life apart: my neuroses, my fears, my defense mechanisms, and my poor expectations were all pieces on a chessboard that was plainly inspected and then up-ended in the trash. I’ll testify that it was painful. I had everything from my friendships, to my love-life, to my finances turned upside down by Him. Even when it hurt most and I wanted to curse His name, I knew that He did it with the best of intentions.
One thing that Loki has made perfectly clear is that He is not concerned with your personal comforts and illusions, He is concerned with your best possible outcome and what you can become.

For this, and so many other things, I am deeply grateful to Him.

Hail to The Breaker of Worlds!

1: National Institute of Justice, . “Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges.” National Institute of Justice. Office of Justice Programs, June, 2009. Web. 14 Jul 2012. .

The Ceremony

I finally took vows to Loki at Etinmoot on August 14th, 2011. It stills seems surreal in my mind, but here’s my rendition of what happened.

I woke that morning to the soft patter of rain on the tent. I winced and closed my eyes again. There had been a rather large blow-up the night before with the man who had agreed to be my horse. He and Loki had some serious unresolved issues, and Loki had jumped the body of one of His wives to make that abundantly clear. Needless to say, that particular horse-deity pairing was not going to happen. While He obviously had other available horses on-site, the blow was still devastating to me, especially given some of the reasons behind said disagreement. I hadn’t gone to bed in the best of mind-sets, and now it was raining…

“Give it time,” He told me.

The wedding was “set” for 9 am, and I tossed and turned to the whining of my phone’s alarm until about 7 am. I had makeup to be done, offering tables to set up, and even if someone had to follow me around with an umbrella, this was going to happen.

Candice and I commandeered Tim’s tent (it had the nice, inflatable air mattress, which made a nice “seat” for pre-wedding preparations) and finished my makeup and gathered all the loose jewelry and necessary supplies that had been scattered throughout the tent over the course of the camping trip. When Candice ran to the car to get my dress, the rain finally subsided and I began to set up the altar and offering table. I laid out two red altar cloths, each a piece of leftover fabric from my wedding dress, and dressed one with a simple red candle from Loki’s altar, and the other with a variety of offerings for both Him and Odin, including smoked salmon, chocolate, and several small bottles of honey whiskey.

The final bit of frantic preparations occurred in Linda and Lorena’s camper, which they very generously allowed me to use as my dressing room. After Candice’s 20-minuted epic battle with the iron and dress, I finally convinced her that it was just going to get wrinkled anyway, and we processed toward the field where the wedding would take place. I have to admit that I was incredibly nervous. Not only was I moments away from marrying the God who I trust and love, but I’m also a very clumsy person… wearing a lot of draping fabric…across very uneven ground. I was half-joking the entire time that I was going to trip and mud-slide in my wedding gown, or that I was going to pass out at the altar. Either I was actually much more composed than I felt at the time, or Candice’s threats to skin me if I stained the dress she’d worked on for a month convinced my subconscious not to jinx itself.

Procession

Procession

Procession

Loki and Odin, of course, completely by-passed the altars I had laid out for them, and had instead set up their own little space on the stage in the middle of Cauldron Farm’s ritual area. They always have Their own agenda.
Candice carried the rings for me as we approached the stage, and our attempt to arrive with all the drama and fanfare of the “Bridal March” playing over her phone just ended in riotous laughter. If that didn’t cool my pre- marriage jitters, the look on Loki’s face when He saw me for the first time in my wedding dress did.
You see, Candice had made a deal with Him, that if she was going to make the dress, He had to abide by tradition and not peek at it or see me in it before the Wedding Day. It was definitely a reluctant agreement, but Loki’s reaction was worth it. His grin gave the Cheshire Cat a run for his money.

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I ran into his arms, and the instant He held me, any residual feelings of anxiety dissolved. The love that radiated from Him overwhelmed and consumed me. Odin spoke of Loki, calling Him both The Best Son of Jotunheim and the Best of Husbands. All very true.
As was customary for Jotun weddings, Odin cut my hand open: just a small cut, using sanitary measures. Loki and I had already done this in Jotunheim, and while that’s a different UPG for a different time, He wanted to physically manifest every possible part of our commitment on this day. It meant so much that He had done so much to make this happen, to show this amount of love for me. He’d been willing to make almost any effort to prove to me that what was happening was real. In His arms, I discovered what it was like to live and love again. Truly freely, without restriction, and as myself, not fulfilling expectation and not living in someone else’s shadow. With Him, being loved was not being possessed. I was no one’s caged bird, and He wouldn’t let me live that way. Instead, when I fell from the sky and the very act of dreaming seemed unattainable, He was right behind me, throwing me into the air if He had to until I reached heights I hadn’t even conceived of before. Any deeper of what it is like to have that, constant, unending support, to have someone who knows every piece of you and loves you for it, even the parts that you, yourself, are reviled by and ashamed of… there are no words… While we are not always in agreement, He is the best friend, confidant, and lover I’ve ever had. Even standing there, with our hands bonded together for mere seconds, I could tell you, without a doubt that He truly is the best of husbands. But then, of course, I am admittedly biased.

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That was all I could tell Him in that moment, is that there was nothing else I could give Him. As He told me that I had been His for a very long time, and that He had waited for this moment, every part of me already belonged to Him. I promised that He would always come first in my life. I would take no partner other than Him without his consent, that no one would take His place in my life. I promised to honor Him and that our happiness would be my first consideration in every decision. But these were just re-statements of what we already knew. There were no words for our emotions: they hung tangibly in the air.
And that was the beginning of my role as a godspouse, or at least acknowledging myself as such, Loki would argue the timing. We danced. Linda and Tim drummed. It was fantastic.

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Everyone at Etinmoot that weekend was and continues to be fantastically supportive. Loki chose the location and He couldn’t have made a better choice. After the ritual, Linda and Lorena made breakfast, songs about Loki were sung (by the lovely Linda), and I was routinely shooed away from several attempts at helping to pack up. When we finally did leave the Gathering, we headed out to Marblehead for a wonderful dinner and spent the night at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast.
I’ll spare you the details. But, I discovered beyond a doubt that horsing is not the pinnacle of intimacy in a spiritual relationship.
I awoke again to the patter of rain, this time trickling down glass windows. As I laid there with Him that morning, I felt like a completely new person. And when I finally looked out, this was the view waiting to greet me…

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Harlequin Romance

Would we be different, You and I,
Had I laid waste to my aggressor?
Had I broken open new horizons,
With the cleaving of his skull?

Would I still find solace in your arms?
Would you be as gentle as you have always been?
Or would we wage war on an unrighteous world?
A new-age Bonnie and Clyde, making love as blood pools around us?

I think I would rather not know.
For what might be spent in grief and murder,
Is better spent lost in each others’ eyes, each others’ arms,
As we dance on the edge of madness.

On Loki: My Personal Experience

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Please Note: I struggled substantially with leaving this post up. Some of my experiences with Loki were accomplished through a medium whose possessions were later not found to be always genuine, so I fear that some of Loki’s actions in this post may be wrongly portrayed. But, I am still making this available to you because a) He asked me to, and B) because it has been so helpful to many who have been searching, that I think it is better to leave it as a foothold than to take it down.

How We Met…

I’ve always said that when you perform spiritual work with your friends, you end up working with your friends’ Gods, and in some cases, get adopted by them. This is how my practice first became eclectic, and how I met Loki.
Before Fall of 2009, I was a deep devotee of Bast and I wanted nothing to do with the Norse pantheon. My roots in Paganism had started about nine years before that in ceremonial magic, and my current Egyptian paradigm went right along with it. Then Loki came along and all of that changed in the blink of an eye. I’d never dared to work with Him before. In my earlier days, I was foolish enough to think that older and wiser always went hand in hand, and others portrayed Him to me as this caustic, merciless God who rode into your life on a white horse and left it burning in ruins in His wake. Before that autumn, I’d only dared to call on Him once, at a particularly chaotic time in my life. I knew that April 1st was considered His day, so I snuck back to the house altar with a gigantic cup of coffee and a prayer that was only slightly more eloquent than “Here’s some coffee. Please leave me alone. Thanks!” Obviously, this was very ineffective or I wouldn’t be writing this essay.
I met Loki “in the flesh” when a friend asked to have her patron invoked. There was this instant connection between us, and I felt drawn to him, like shrapnel being ripped across a table by a strong magnet. I shook it off and put it aside. The Norse pantheon was Tim’s thing, and when I worked with them, I worked with Thor and Sif, and that was about it. This event, funny enough, became a catalyst for our group of friends to begin our own weekly spirituality study. We met every Sunday, and since several individuals in our group were mediums, or “horses”, inevitably, one or more of the Gods that we worked with would often ask to be let through to speak with someone who needed their advice. Loki became a familiar presence at these gatherings. I laughed at his jokes, jested back and forth with Him, and shrugged off His advances. I enjoyed His company, I offered Him coffee, but I always kept both Him and the possibility of any real relationship at arm’s length, until the following February. You might say that was the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it.
The next year, at a large, Pagan gathering called Convocation, we were with our same menagerie that met on Sunday. A friend’s fiance had gone through a meditation and come out really worse-for-wear on the other side. When his priest failed to help him calm down and center, we invited him to our room to do some work with grounding and shielding. This particular person was engaged to a woman who was a devotee of Loki, who had prompted the meeting that first introduced Him into my life. While we were talking with him, Loki volunteered to come through a vessel and help him. He revealed Himself mostly as The Trickster in those days, because that was what we needed at the time. So, before we got down to work, He took a moment to play off the room, tease a few people, and much to my chagrin, spent a good chunk of time directly focused on me. I forget exactly what all was said, but I do remember somewhere in the conversation Him saying, “…because we have this rapport between us, sweetheart, and we need to do something about that.” I made the decision that night to stop ignoring that “draw”. Once our friend was feeling better, and everyone had departed for the night, I ask my fiance to horse Him again, so we could talk alone. I was curious. There was no more ignoring that draw: I was hooked, and frankly, I was frightened by the devotion that I felt for Him early on. For a long time, we walked that elaborate dance: I would push forward, He would wait for me to meet Him, He would step forward, and I would run screaming in the opposite direction. Before Loki, I had never experienced such a devoted and loving relationship with a God, and I, honestly, wasn’t sure how to react. There were many days when I felt like Kirsty in Hellraiser curled up in the corner screaming “You’re not real!” It’s taken me a long time to reconcile that, and more than one experience that my critical little nerd brain can’t analyze away. Regardless, my life began to change for the positive in that moment. Loki is the deity with whom I have had the closest relationship, but He was also the first to lock me in a cage with my demons and wait for me to stare them down.

Trial By Fire…

Loki has brought me screaming to my knees and risen me to heights that I could even conceive of, let alone see, from where I’d been previously standing. He has at the same time been the most patient and demanding, the most loving and cruel, the most powerful and gentle God that I’ve ever worked with.
When Loki first found me, I was a broken, lost girl, despite the fact that I was twenty-four. I was two years out of a horrible relationship where I experienced rape along with physical and emotional abuse. My own mother had passed away not too long ago, and my relationship with the remainder of my biological family was strained. My family had a long history of abusive relationships, and in some cases drug abuse. I trusted no one and I revealed nothing personal. Anyone who even made even the hint at emotional intimacy watched me devolve from a gregarious, loving person to a caustic monster in 0.5 seconds. I lived life half alive behind a wall of masks and facades, keeping myself busy enough to not have to confront what hid in the shadows. I convinced everyone around me that I was okay, no, not only okay, getting better. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was frozen in the past I’d run from. Every lover was my abuser, every friendship transitory. With Loki around, this melted quickly.

This was about a month after I’d come back from going through the Choronzon Ritual at Convo. Those of you who were there, know Khabbalic lore, or have read Peter Carroll, are already wincing. For those of you who evade those categories, I’ll explain: in Khabbalic lore, Malkuth (the material plane) is separated from the three Supernals (the three aspects of God) by the Abyss, which is the home of the demon Choronzon. Chorozon’s job is dissolve all the bitterness, pain, and everything you carried in this life so that you can move on without tether and restriction to be ready to approach God. Normally this is conducted after death, but we took the trip a little early. The meat of the ritual was fairly simple, composing of a guided meditation, but this ritual was extremely powerful and one of the very few cases of astral travel where my body experienced intense and lasting physical pain. I could have purged a good number, if not all, of the defense mechanisms I’d set in place from my abusive history in that ritual. But I didn’t. I kept my distance, mistrust, and my simultaneous fears of being hurt or alone. I recognized these things as necessary to survive. Who cared if I kept hold of them, healthy or not? It wasn’t a conscious decision, but one that I made, nonetheless.
When we came together for our weekly meeting about a month later, Loki made an appearance. He called me up in front of the group and called me out on having kept hold of all of those poisonous traits that I didn’t need. I’d told Him that I wanted to be rid of those old mindsets, and I’d completely spit on a perfect opportunity to do so.
“You lied to the Gods,” he told me. “You especially lied to me, and worse, you lied to yourself.”
Then He slapped me across the face.
In that instant, every nagging feeling or thought attached to my abusive ex came rushing to the surface. I remembered in that second, in a rush, what it was like to be belittled, choked, restrained, held down… everything I had tried so hard not to focus on, as if forgetting it would make it go away.
I was so shocked and overwhelmed in the moment that I wanted to do nothing more than burst into tears and scream at Him. How could He do that to me? But I refused to burst into tears at a slap with Him standing in front of me (as if He wouldn’t be around for the breakdown afterward). I steeled myself, and met his gaze stone-cold and listened to what He had to say until He left. Tim, my fiancé, had been hosting Him, and when he found out what Loki had done, to say that he was pissed was about five shades too happy for Tim’s reaction. I distinctly remember something about “never letting that fucker” back in his body. This, of course, turned out not to be the case. Loki and I spoke and recognized any anger that I had from that moment. I understood why He had done it. I really needed to let these things go. My inability to trust was destroying my current relationship and my life. I looked in the mirror and saw only an unhappy girl being judged by the standards of what everyone else thought she should be. Too many of the voices doing the judging were not my own, and if I needed a hard slap to the face to realize those things, then so be it.
The trials didn’t stop there, but I have no desire to run you through every painful ordeal that Loki has subjected me to. Many of them are extremely personal, and for those that I must illuminate, I’d rather do so beside the joy this relationship has brought me.

Nothing and Everything: Becoming the Priestess of the Fire God

As the work Loki and I engaged in gained momentum, so did our relationship. With the Egyptian gods, I received messages when I directly asked a question or meditated to Them. With Loki, I got a running commentary on my life. My brain was filled with idle dialogue, spiritual epiphanies, and random jokes. I was likely to just burst out laughing during a car-ride or while walking around in a store. I got my share of odd looks, but didn’t care. At the same time that I enjoyed our dialogue, the frequency at which they occurred disturbed me. Why did He care so much? Why was it worth His time to involve Himself in my personal life and issues? Why did I matter? He would give me a range of responses, from simple answers to hard truths. As easy as He could brighten my day and draw me from the darkest of moods into giggling fits, He could bring me to tears with a single statement. Sometimes, he would give me simple answers to my paranoia, simply saying “Because I love you” and sometimes He would throw the obvious in my face asking me questions such as “You just can’t accept unconditional love, can you?” And I couldn’t. There had to be a reason, some sort of equivalent exchange, and I felt that for everything He laid at my feet, that I could in no way possibly give back what I felt I “owed” Him. What I really didn’t understand was that He knew that, and didn’t expect me to. It boggled my mind.
If He wanted to say something to me in “Norse-speak”, as I have fondly termed Old German, it would often come into my head as the closest word that I was familiar with. Somewhere in the midst of all this settling, the word ‘goetia’ kept coming into conversation. Confused as to what exactly Loki had to do with a series of demons from Solomonic magic, I posed to the question to my fiancée, who had educated himself far better in the pages of Norse lore. Albeit, in a round-about fashion.
“So, I’ve been reading a few of the myths, and I read about these volvas that Odin spoke to,” I said to him while walking through downtown East Lansing. “It’s the closest analogy I’ve found for a priestess, though I could only imagine the series of jokes that would ensue if I called myself Loki’s volva.”
He laughed.
“Actually, there is a word for priestess: it’s gythia.”
Something in the back of my brain clicked and my blood froze in 80 degree weather. That was what He had been saying, and it scared the hell out of me. To me, the idea of being someone’s priestess was significantly different that just working with them. I believe you can work with a myriad of deities, but priesthood is more of a one-on-one show. Of course, this could just be because Loki’s loud and demanding and doesn’t leave much room for anyone else. (And I say that with much love.) Regardless, this suggested something much more personal than the relationship we already had going, and that made me nervous.
I asked Him if that was what He wanted: for me to be His priestess.
“Maybe,” he told me, giving half-cocked self-assured smile.
I sighed.
“What will you want from me?”
“Your love and devotion.”
“You want that now, what will change?”
“A lot… and nothing.”
“Specifically.”
“I’m not going to tell you.”
“Then I need time to think.” And that was fine.
In the meantime, I ran to my other sources. While I now worked far more often with Loki, I’d always felt safe around Thor. It’s funny to say that I find a God of Lightning, one of the most destructive and unpredictable forces on the planet safer than my own God, but it was true. His energy was warmer, more comforting, and Thor was a more straight-forward kind of God. He put what he wanted directly on the table with an iron fist. Loki… liked to keep possibilities open. I think, perhaps, that’s why so many Heathens feel so uncomfortable with working with the Jotun, even outside of the conflict depicted in the lore. (After all, Skadi is Jotun, and so is the mother of Thor, Frigga, and Thrud.) The Aesir seem to love you just for your humanity, and for your desire to better yourself and your fellow man. The Jotun are more utilitarian: What can you do, how well can you do it, and, frankly, why are you worth their time? I think Tim summarizes their outlook quite beautifully: “I liken the Jotun to the mafia: Once you’re in, you’re in, and if anyone fucks with you, they ALL come after you. But if you’re not, watch your ass.” For all I was working more with the Jotunar, I still loved Thor. He had worked with me through a lot of self-defense practice, and I still had promised Him a beer as a “Thank you”. So, I asked my fiancée to host Him so I could deliver said offering “in-person” with the secret intention of questioning him. Thor was both appreciative and amused.
I asked Him outright what I should expect. He laughed.
“You’re not serving me. What I would expect from you as my priestess would be very different from what Loki will be expecting from you as His. But, in all honesty, I really can’t tell you.”
That’s something that I’ve noticed across the board: Jotun or not, the Gods seem to keep each others’ secrets, with the exception of Loki and Odin, who foil each other regularly.
To be honest, I don’t think the suggestion that I become His gythia was ever a question. Did I have a choice? Certainly. But I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have liked where my life had gone had I said ‘No’. And that was exactly what did change: nothing and everything, all at the same time.

Falling in Love with a God

Many people balk at the idea of any having extremely close relationship to their deities, whether that be in the case of a parent-child or, worse, a romantic relationship. However, this is neither as foreign or fringe as many practitioners might think. Looking for example, at the practice of maryaj lwa in Voodoo, where practitioners marry lwa and set aside one night a week to sleep and be exclusively with that deity. There’s also the story of the Trojan War where Cassandra is driven insane because she refuses to marry Apollo. Of course, any historical link to that story is sketchy, but cultures rarely, if ever, write about events occurring within their own people for which there is no cultural precedent. There is also Meerabai, who declared herself a devout mortal wife of Krishna. Many Christian nuns consider themselves literally “brides of Christ”. In Celtic lore, men who had aspirations to ascend to a throne or a place of power usually curried favor with The Morrigan to do so, generally by engaging in a series of oaths and sexual acts with Her, which is why one of the names of Maeve was “The Kingmaker”. To which, someone might ask, what does any of this have to do with Norse deities or practice? Cultures bleed into one another as people travel and experience each other. This is why we see Celtic knotwork in Norse artwork, why Isis became venerated as an all-encompassing mother in Egyptian and Greek cultures, and why you have deities like Erzulie Freya and Erzulie Brigid in Voodoo spirituality. The divisions between cultures and religions has blurred heavily over time. Despite this, many traditions and practitioners caution against mixing paradigms in your practice. And in some cases, they’re right, certain things just don’t work. I work with both Ganesh and Loki. Ganesh certainly isn’t interested in a blot and Loki isn’t interested in being honored in puja. However, Loki does not speak to me in Old German and Ganesh does not talk to me in Sanskrit or Hindi, and I’ve found that if two deities have an affinity for a practitioner, they have no problem coming together to accomplish a common goal. Similarly, the aforementioned religions all have something in common: they facilitate a culture in which spirituality is a focus of daily life. It is only in these last few decades that we have “learned” that God, in any form, is excluded from our homes, our lineage, and our bedrooms. People have been taught that they were unworthy to receive divinity, and I think that this is perhaps one of the greatest injustices that has been done to modern spirituality. Hell, even in Norse lore, Odin and Skadi begot entire lines of kings, and in another tale, Rig (i.e. Odin or Heimdall, depending on who you ask) wandered Midgard sowing the seed of the Aesir in mortal lines. Even if these women passed namelessly into history, they still existed. Unless I missed something in basic physiology, conception is not a one-man job. It is not surprising to me that as more forms of spirituality “revive” in large numbers and become, again, part of our daily lives and thoughts, that we are seeing a rise in the amount of mortals identifying as “god-children” or “god-wives”. People are listening again. After all, how can you have a relationship with a child that won’t call, or a wife/husband that won’t speak with you?

The most notable difference was that Loki became a harder taskmaster when I became His priestess. He broke me down over and over again to build a stronger woman where I had once stood. Anything that He saw as an issue in my life, he attacked relentlessly, and those first six months were a test of something I had never had before: faith. He tested my compulsive, hoarding behavior with money, my fear of intimacy, my self-esteem. Loki ran me to the breaking point and over the edge, without hesitation, and nothing improved until I reach the point where I threw up my hands in the air and let go of it, giving it up to Him and finally listening to what He told me to. I had lingering abandonment issues from earlier ordeals in my younger life that were a peach to confront at this point as well. I’m stubborn. I didn’t want to face down these demons. It hurt even to look at them, to think about them: where they had come from, reliving those experiences. He made me see that the woman staring back at Him was a shattered visage of what I could be, that I was living half alive. I didn’t want to see it, and I fought Him all the way.
“You’re going to get sick of me,” I told Him when I reached those breaking points. “You’re going to get tired of my bullshit, and you’re going to leave.”
“I’ll always be here,” He told me, His voice quieting to that whisper He only takes on when He’s serious: intimate and engulfing. “As long as you keep trying, I’ll always be here.”

I used to laugh privately at the irony that fate had brought Tim and I together: An Odin’s son and Loki’s priestess. I’d stopped believing in coincidences. Loki spoke through them.
Not too long into this relationship, I had felt like I was truly losing touch with reality, like all the dialogue going in my head was just that: in my head, and I was losing that last hold on sanity.
“I can be your lover, I can be your priestess,” I told Him. “But, if you want this, please give me some indication that this is real.”
And then, things actually began to happen.
I would get lost in cities I was unfamiliar with and get directions home. I was told to go speak with a Heathen practitioner at Paganfest about what was happening with Loki, and the name ‘Beithor’ got stuck in my head, and when I went to say ‘Balder’, Beithor slipped out instead. Tim chuckled, thinking that I had gotten my Olympian Spirits and Norse Deities confused. The Heathen laughed and said, “Actually, that’s an ancient Slavic name for Balder.” I’ve never found anything to corroborate this, but a lot of information I’ve found reading texts on Norse myth is not available on the internet, and Steve was much more of a history buff that I can ever aspire to be, so I trust him. I would panic about not having enough money to pay my bills, be told ‘I’ll take care of it’, and random scholarships in amounts from $300-$3000 would drop into my account on various occasions. These are just a few of the things that have happened. Funnily enough, these “answers” to that request just made me feel crazier, and it took a long time for me to have faith in my experiences and be broken of that.
At the same time, Odin was breaking Tim of his attachment to the provider role. Odin had made it very clear that Tim was not getting a “real job” and that this was the time he needed to focus on college and spiritual work. This was very hard for him, coming out of a staunch Catholic family, where the man brings home the bacon and provides for the needs of his family. I’ve always been very independent both by nature and necessity, and have served this role in our relationship for a long time. This wasn’t a revelation that bothered me, though it drove Tim insane. Surprisingly enough, Loki took up that role in my life wherever I needed help. If I needed something, all I had to do was ask and it appeared: money, some obscure problem taken care of, you name it.
I felt my relationship with Loki shifting. He filled all the roles I needed or wanted that Tim didn’t fill. Tim couldn’t relate to many of my traumatic life experiences, Loki could. We spoke of what it was like to be abused by a parent. (In my UPG, or unverified personal gnosis, one detail that does not corroborate with any others that I’ve heard was that Farbauti as the “cruel striker” was not limited to his dominion over lightning.) We spoke of loss, of grief. I found a resonance in Loki that allowed me to be truly intimate with Him. In my day-to-day life, I fought with pangs of whirling doubt, but in His arms, there was a perfect calm to that storm and understood what it was to be content, loved, completed.
I shared many of Loki’s experiences. When Tim went through his nine-day isolation and meditation, it was I who had to care for him, just as Loki cared for Odin when He hung on Yggdrasil. During that time, Tim reeked of death and I could feel and see the wound festering in his side. It was painful to watch, and I could barely stand to be around him. It repulsed me and broke my heart at the same time, just as it had Loki’s. He was my only consolation through all of that, when I was the only one who could feed and clean up after my fiancé, and I can promise you it was as much an ordeal for me as it was for him. I had to watch him suffer in silence, and not be able to do anything about it.
One night when I was laying in bed, I found myself moved to stretch with my legs together and arms crossed above my head, and I experienced the entirety of Loki’s binding. I felt his grief first-hand at Narvi’s death. I heard Sigyn’s screams. I struggled until the tissue burned my wrists. I felt the poison splash on my face when Sigyn moved the bowl, burning and searing like high molar acid. I would have sworn it burned the flesh from my skull, had I not relived the agony when the bowl, again, filled. I felt the rage and pain that broke His bonds, and eventually the world. I was with Him right up to the point where Heimdall’s axe cleaved his head from his shoulders, and into the silence that followed. It was intense and powerful, and we held each other in silent understanding in the lull that followed when it all was done.
That was His last test of me before we hit a real breaking point in our relationship: to see if I’d go through all of that and not back away from it.

In the months preceding this, I’d struggled intensely with our relationship. I knew I was in love with a God. The realization snuck up on me as I was lying in His arms one night. Loki and I had had a sexual relationship, almost from the beginning. This wasn’t abnormal to me, I’d shared sexual energy with deities and spirits before, and I didn’t equate it to romance. I’d read sources talking about how Loki sexually pursued many of his followers, so I figured it was a perk that came with the job of being His priestess and didn’t much question it. That sounds so horrible to say that now, but He is a God, and I’m a mortal, and what could He possibly get out of having a deeper, romantic connection to me? But, I remember laying there, and Him whispering to me “I love you” and I said it back, and knew the instant the words left my mouth, that I didn’t just mean that in the sense that He was my deity and I was devoted to Him anymore. I meant those words in the deepest sense: that I was my happiest while in His company, that I craved the intimacy of His touch, and not just in a sexual manner. There was something about Him that produced a stillness in me that I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. It put me in awe, and the realization of that terrified me. After all, I’d read the Greek myths, and this never ends well. Despite the fact that He wasn’t Greek, He had two divine wives and several mortal ones. What did I have to add? It wasn’t even the devaluing of myself that made me run, but the realization that I loved Him deeper than I loved my fiancé. He was, after all, my God, but I still felt horrible over that realization, and I was terrified to acknowledge it. I knew He had asked at least one of His mortal wives to be with Him, and exclusively with Him. I knew that if He asked me to walk away from Tim and Damaru, that I would do it. I would fight and complain about it, but in the end, I belonged with Loki, and I already knew that.
But I doubted constantly His feelings for me, and He preyed on that, seeing how far it would go. He would be all jokes and surface humor, with a sparse affectionate word thrown in here or there. He would ask Tim to horse Him, show up wanting to fool around, and I would go along with it. No more than a few moments after we were done, He would leave and be silent for hours afterward. Other times, He would speak only of love and devotion, and have intimate, insightful conversations with me for hours. I felt like a yo-yo being thrown violently back and forth, and I would never know, from day-to-day, which length of the string I was on.
“He’s just using you,” I would tell myself alone in the dark. “You’re just a fun plaything when He gets bored. You love Him and you actually think He loves you back? You stupid little bitch…” I was harsh with myself in those times. I felt used and manipulated.
I wrote a lot off in this period. I began to rationalize everything. It was incredibly convenient that Loki had come into my life and fixed a lot of the problems that Tim and I had gone around. Even though I still spoke with Him, even though I still acknowledged certain elements of that relationship, I began to tell myself I was just working with a construct, and Tim was just taking a different persona, because it was easier to deal with these sensitive topics when he wasn’t “himself”. No matter how much this pissed Loki off, despite all the conversations we’d had exclusively in my mind, and despite the fact that Loki (while invoked) could address or continue those same conversations that I hadn’t told Tim about, it was the only comfort I had when He would switch from telling me that He loved me, to vanishing after sex and being silent for hours.
“He wants you to set boundaries,” Tim told me one day. This just made me even more frustrated and angry. Occasionally, Tim was privy to information Loki wouldn’t give me, because it would interfere with what He was trying to teach me. It was one of the agreements He and Tim had for Tim allowing Loki to use his body, much to my chagrin.
“How the fuck do you set boundaries on a God?!” I spat. I knew Tim had been equally upset by what Loki was doing, at least as much as Damaru, and perhaps even more so because his body was often the vessel for such interaction.
“You know, He’s afraid that He’s going to push you too far and you’ll stop working with Him.”
I was silent for a moment, the thought hadn’t even occurred to me. I know that this had happened to Him with quite a few devotees. Everyone loves to have fun with the Trickster, but spend fifteen minutes backed against the wall by the Breaker of Worlds and the party’s over. I got that latter aspect of Him more often than I would like to admit.
This was a period where I ran through everything I could find from Elizabeth Vongvisith and Tracy Nichols, two Loki’s wives who had written about their experiences, because I desperately needed someone to relate to, to find some other sign that someone else had gone through something similar, and that I hadn’t lost my mind. The only other place I found solace for this dichotomy was in the DC Universe. I’ve always related Loki, in His Breaker of World guise especially, to Joker and I had begun to feel a lot like Harley Quinn. The hard back-and-forth of their intimacy and abuse reflected how I felt about my God. (I’ll flash my nerd card here, and say that Harley is much more of an appropriate psychotic companion in the comics, and that that relationship gets a lot more depth there.) But, as I’d just stated, Harley is an abuse victim, in all accounts, and that was not what I wanted from Loki, or anyone at this point. I was ready to draw that line.
I think the final catalyst was about a week after Tim’s ordeal on Yggsdrasil when Loki performed another one of his bedtime disappearing acts and I finally lost my composure. Tim came back to see me broodily staring at the ceiling with moisture welling in my eyes and wanted to know what happened. I didn’t want to talk. I knew talking about it would make me cry, and I already felt like enough of an idiot. Like I’ve said, I weigh my UPG against whether or not the experience was making my life better. Loki had brought me so far, enlightened me, and changed my life so much that I desperately wanted this to be real. But this wasn’t making my life better. I hurt. I was miserable, and I couldn’t stomach this anymore. I confessed the dual nature I was facing with my God, how much it hurt me, and how used I felt.
“I’m done,” he said, throwing up his hands. “I’ve tried to be patient while He put you through whatever, but this is bullshit. I’m done.”
“No,” I said. “I at least need to resolve this.”

When I spoke with Him, He was actually nervous. Loki confessed, afterward, that He was all but certain that I was going to tell Him that I wanted Him out of my life, and any relationship or agreements we had were over. That wasn’t what I wanted, but I was about to that breaking point.
I explained how used and objectified I felt and asked Him why He’d been acting this way.
“I had to watch what happened with David, and I hated every moment of it. I watched every time he beat you… choked you… raped you,” He told me. “I needed to know that you could never go back there again. I needed you to recognize those cycles in a relationship, so that you would never accept that from anyone else ever again, even a God. And if I had to be your Satan, your adversary, to get you to see that, I was willing to do so, because I never want to watch that again.”
It hurt, just as much, that I had let Him do that, as that He had done it. I’d thought I was further than that, and once again, Loki proved me wrong. I’d let my emotions blind me enough to be used and objectified by another partner. He’d made his point.
I can’t remember what exactly was said from here on, only that I told Him I couldn’t do this anymore if He was going to use our relationship as a teaching tool. I would still be His priestess, but if He needed to do that, then any romantic aspect to our relationship was done. It hurt too much. And He swore to me, on his Troth, that He would never do that again. Of all the things that Loki is and has been, He is not an oath-breaker.
That’s something that Loki’s been very firm with me on: He wants a priestess who can stand beside him, not beneath Him. He needs a priestess who can hold her boundaries, even against a God. I’ll admit, that it’s a hard battle some days and a war on frustration: He’s my Deity, and I’ve had years of conditioning to be a people-pleaser. It’s a hard habit to break.

Rebound

It’s been a long road building back up from that, and being able to accept that I am so loved by a deity. I’ve had to push myself through a lot of doubt, and He’s, thankfully, been extremely patient with me. I’ve moved from someone who hid her pain in the darkness, as some demon in the shadows to never be released, to someone who can turn a very traumatic experience as a pivot upon which to relate and help people. I’ve gone from being a victim, to an advocate against domestic violence, reaching out into my community. I get random strangers who pour their hearts out to me, needing a sympathetic ear. I get phone calls at strange hours of the night and day. I’ve learned new energy healing techniques and been “sicced” on people to go and use them, with some incredible results. I’ve come to love the work I do alongside Him as His priestess. My life was set up for this. I’ve had hard experiences because it’s impossible to council others over certain life traumas if you’ve never experienced those traumas yourself. I think Loki was just waiting for the right time when I could be shoved through all this to become a force against the pain I have experienced.
As far as our romantic relationship, I’ve climbed mountains of doubt in believing that a God could have any interest in “little old me”. I’ve learned to not only believe, but know that I am beautiful, that I am worthwhile, and that I do have things to offer to this world. Loki has made my life better by leaps and bounds. I’ve wrestled for months thinking that I was insane, and this was all in my head. But, it’s very hard to believe that when different people, from different groups and locations are experiencing the same things you do, down to the same things the Deity has said or requested. It’s hard to believe all the coincidences and the “voices in my brain” are matching up so succinctly if there isn’t something going on. Beyond that, I think to all the times I’ve spent giggling over silly comments on car rides and in the middle of night, the joy I’ve felt lying in his arms, and the late-night dreams and wanderings through Jotunheim, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world. I’ve finally crossed a bridge to where I’m ready to share that part of myself and my spirituality with the world. I no longer want my relationship with Loki to be a secret that I hide in the shadows, and frankly, that’s been somewhat of a burr up His ass for a while.
Being able to read into practices such as the Maryaj Lwa and being able to talk to several other Loki’s wives has really helped me feel a little more “sane” throughout all this process. I have, formally, agreed to be His consort. (He asked me on my birthday in 2010. I was sitting with my fiancé, watching a movie and talking with Him and I mentioned something about engagement, in passing. He asked me if that would make me happy, I told Him it would, and was summarily dragged off to Asgard of all places.) We haven’t actually done any type of ceremony yet. I had some things I needed to work through first, and now I’m assembling all the things I want to honor Him “properly”, since we’re planning on doing something tangible and in the other worlds. (“Properly” being my own stipulation. What can I say? It’s the ceremonial magician in me. If I’m going to do something spiritually significant, it’s going to be a show.) It’s a display of love and devotion that I’m excited to make. While the universe was kind enough to give me Tim, and Loki was kind enough not to run him off, I was always supposed to be with Loki. I’ve just taken the (unnecessarily) long road to admitting that.

On Loki: Analyzing the Mythology

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When I first began researching Loki in the Fall of 2009, I was disappointed at the lack of information I could find, and moreso in the bias presented in what information was out there. There are surprisingly few accounts of personal interaction with Loki in Heathen writing, and even within the Pagan community. For any one article I found recounting a personal experience with Loki, I found ten based solely on fear and prejudice, claiming that Loki was not a God and should not be worshiped, or that His energy was inherently deceitful and should not be sought under any circumstances, with little or no sources cited to support their views. I’ve even seen personal accounts go as far as to say that cats bearing his name have tried to kill their owners by knocking electrical devices into their bathwater. (To this, I have to add a little bit of snark: If you leave your blow dryer, curling iron, and/or toaster on the side of your bathtub, and your cat, an arm-flail, or gravity drops it into your bathwater with you in it, besides being a tragic accident, that is not Loki’s responsibility. That, folks, is natural selection. Do not blame a God, blame Darwin.)
So, in light of that, I am making two pieces regarding both my research and my own experiences with Loki both as an offering to Him, and as a resource to anyone who may be on the same search I was and is struggling to find information on Him or those who work at His side.

Challenging Misconception One: Loki is not a God

This is an argument that you will hear in many circles, despite the fact that Loki speaks of being the blood-brother to Odin (a process generally consisting of two individuals opening a purposeful wound upon the hand or some other surface, and mixing blood to create a spiritual bond and connection) in the Lokasenna and is often counted among the ranks of the Aesir in various myths. The main defenses for this argument include the fact that no shrines have been found dedicated to Loki, nor have there been any historical records of cults centered around his worship. Similarly, no landmarks bear his name, with perhaps the exception of the designation of the star Sirius as “Lokabrenna” or “Loki’s Torch” in the Juttish/Cimbrian Islands. (de Vries 226) Still, to name a celestial body after a mythological character, with no mythological explanation, such as that of Thiassi’s eyes, still denotes cultural significance in reference to that character.
What truly baffles me about this is that Loki is not isolated among the accepted Asa Gods when it comes to a lack of recovered shrines. For example, Heimdall and Hoenir similarly have no historical reference of a shrine, temple, cult, or sacrifice (de Vries 204). It would seem rash to assume that they were never worshiped or venerated. Keep in mind, as well, that many Norse monuments and shrines were constructed of wood, and were not as impervious to the test of time as the stone temples and statues of Greece and Egypt. Unfortunately, this made them much easier to destroy, such as Olaf’s account of smashing a wooden effigy of Thor in the Heimskringla, when Christianity swept Europe. Unfortunately, unlike the Pagan cultures in say, Egypt or Greece, the Norse traditions were handed down orally, and we truly have no account of their culture written by anyone other than Christian monks who were free to insert Christian lore as they saw fit, as Snorri has been accused of in many sources. Egypt had over two thousand Gods and Goddesses within its religious practice (Bard 734). We have found neither shrines nor temples to even half of these, yet they are recounted in religious texts, such as the Papyrus of Ani as being Gods. We would have no record of these beings whatsoever if these manuscripts had not survived, or we would be puzzling through ambiguous names mentioned within tombs and on monument walls, much as we are weeding through the identity of Loki.
Outside of shrines, the only true evidence to be found is left in lore. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is found in the Loka Tattur , in which Loki rescues the son of a peasant family. The father bets his son as collateral in a challenge with a giant (a chess game in H.A. Guerber’s Myths of the Norsemen). When the father loses, he cannot stomach the idea of the giant taking his only child, and systematically calls upon Odin, Hoenir, and Loki to save his child. The three gods individually steal the child away and engage the boy in a wild, shape-shifting game of hide-and-go seek. It is only Loki that finally manages to outwit the giant by asking his family to build a boathouse with a special iron fixture over the door, into which the giant runs and knock himself out cold.
This myth is significant in the fact that Loki is called right along with, and in the same fashion as Odin and Hoenir, indicating that this family would have placed the same divine significance on Loki as they placed on the two deities called before him. As in many of Loki’s other myths, He is called in desperation and as a last resort after everything else has failed.
While many scholars have categorized Loki as a “demon”, goblin, vaettir (spirit), or one of the alfar, I believe this story sets him apart from those spirits. In no other place in Norse Myth are the vaettir, alfar, druegar or other such non-ancestral spirits called in such a manner to help man, nor are they summoned beside such powerful and well-known names such as Odin and Hoenir. If Loki were a spirit befriended by and bound to Odin, Loki would have been set to assist instead of or alongside Odin, not called upon specifically and separately. On this note, I also have a problem with classifying anything in Norse culture as “demonic”. There is no context for the idea of demons in Norse culture, especially not in the Judeo-Christian sense of a being working explicitly to do evil, often in answer to some greater, more malicious higher power. I find that to describe a character by a term out of their cultural context is to describe them completely incorrectly. The closest reference that I could even find it Norse lore is Angrvaettir, which has been loosely translated as “angry spirit” and this is never used in any myth to describe Loki. Furthermore, if the Norse themselves had any such notion of Him, He would certainly not be called upon to rescue a child.
Another argument that Loki must be an angrvaettir or some type of “demon” is that He is referred to as “evil” and “evil-doer” within various verses of lore. (Hymiskvitha verse 38, Grueber) I have heard heathens argue that such as phrase would never be used to consistently describe a deity. However, Odin has a name (Bolverk) that literally means evil-doer. (Lemming, Fee 18) One may argue that Odin experiences this title in only one tale, while Loki is called evil in a variety of sources. However, if we explore the context in which these are used, you find that Loki is more commonly placed in a position of needing to break either himself or the Gods out of dire situations, where Odin only encounters this once: in his journey to Jotunheim to retrieve the Mead of Inspiration.

Misconception Two: Loki is the murder of Baldr, and Hodr was innocently caught in Loki’s trick.
When Baldr is murdered in Aegir’s Hall, Odin sends his night-old son Vali to avenge Baldr’s death. However, when Odin discovers that Loki had a hand in His son’s death, He chooses to imprison Loki rather than order Him slain. This had never made sense to me, at least not until I read Saxo’s rendition of the tale.
In Saxo’s narrative of Baldr and Hodr, Nanna (Baldr’s wife in many other tales) is the foster sister of Hodr and he is in love with her. Baldr sees Nanna in the bath and similarly falls in love with her. Hodr is warned by “forest maidens” about Baldr’s intentions and promptly proposes to her. Hodr is encouraged by Nanna’s father to fetch a magical sword and armlet, as the sword is the only thing that can kill Baldr. From here we follow a back-and-forth battle of these two figures over Nanna. Hodr first defeats Baldr and a host of Gods, and then is Himself defeated by Baldr later in the tale, only to conquer again and eventually mortally wound Baldr with the magical blade (Saxo Grammaticus 63) Loki is nowhere present in Saxo’s tale.
To borrow a great point from Anna Rooth, the renditions of Baldr’s demise found in the Gylfaginning and the Voluspa are very close parallels to several other myths, including the demise of Atys as accounted in Heredotos and the accidental slaying of Fergus by the blind poet Ailill in Irish myth. In the death of Atys, Atys, son of the Lydian king Croesus, has a dream that he will be killed by a lance. Croesus orders all lances and spears to be confiscated and banned throughout the land to protect his son’s life. When a giant boar begins to ravage the countryside, Croesus sends a man of his household, Adrestus, to slay it, and eventually succumbs to Atys’ pleading that he accompany Adrestus on the hunt, as boars certainly have no spears. When the two have the boar surrounded, Adrestus takes aim at the boar and misses, inadvertently slaying Atys. I find the most striking prose in the comparison between this myth and Baldr’s death to be Croesus’ reply to Adrestus when he begs the king to sacrifice him over Atys’ body: “And it is not you who are to blame for this misfortune that has overtaken me. But the blame must lie with some deity, who knew from the first what was to happen (Herodotos, stanza 45)”. Also very similar to the Baldr myth, Ailill, jealous of Fergus’ interloping with his wife, Maeve, convinces the blind warrior-poet Lugaid that the splashing he hears in the water is actually a buck and a doe frolicking. Knowing Lugaid is not one to miss, Ailill hands the poet a spear and turns him in Fergus’ direction, causing the Lugaid to unwittingly slay his own foster-brother.
Most modern renditions of this tale stem from Snorri, who unabashedly added other areas mythology and locations into his work, such as suggesting that Odin originally came from Troy (Lindow 116). Whether or not we can make the leap that Snorri stole the framework of his rendition of Baldr’s death from the mythos of surrounding cultures is uncertain, though it is noteworthy that the same concept is repeated in several other cultures. Over time, it is extremely likely, if not fully accepted, that Christian influence seeped into Norse myth (de Vries 179-185, 282-288, Grueber 248) especially as Christian conversion gained momentum in the late tenth century. If Snorri had sought to make a further connection between Loki and the Christian Satan, he may have taken this opportunity to do so, as Loki is only briefly mentioned in this myth, and, within the plot, seems rather out of place.
It’s possible that if Loki was involved in Balder’s death, and informed Hodr of the only possible weapon with which to murder Balder, He did this as a back-handed way to help preserve His blood brother’s lineage after Ragnarok. It’s well-known that Odin and most, if not all, of his sons die in the Ragnarok. Loki spends several stanzas of the Lokasenna chiding Gods and their servants alike for their poor skill or absence at battle. Certainly, it would have been perceived as cowardice if Balder had watched the Twilight of the Gods pass and not battled, and likely died, at the side of the Asa Gods. This makes even more sense coupled with the fact that many scholars speculate that what Odin whispered into the Balder’s ear prior to sending his body out to sea was “Resurrection”. (Guerber 28) The obvious question is ‘Why would Loki do this?’ Since this is speculation around the lore, it’s truly hard to say. Perhaps this was truly just retaliation for Odin’s reactionary mistreatment of Loki’s own children. (Especially the tossing of Hel into Niffleheim/Helheim at a very young age and the tossing of Jormangund into the sea.) However, Odin has asked Loki to perform several “questionable” acts in the lore to suit Odin’s own ends: such as the theft of Brisingamen to gain Freyja’s aid in inciting and controlling the war between two clans. Even if Odin didn’t outright ask Loki to somehow aid in sending his son to Helheim, which is questionable, Odin may have made mention of his anxiety from the revelations of Ragnarok. Loki may have taken it into His own hands to “do something about it”, and that certainly may have been colored by any resentment He bore for Odin’s treatment of His own family. If there was reasoning behind Balder’s death and need to remain in Helheim until Ragnarok, this lends more reason why Loki, in his guise as Thok, does not cry, because it would completely unravel the purpose behind the work. Regardless, the fact that Balder is the only one of Odin’s line to survive Ragnarok and ascends to His father’s place after the destruction lends curiosity to the whether or not Balder’s death was just a tragic accident or a reluctant, morbid plot between the King of the Aesir and His close companion.

I’m sure this essay will continue to grow and reshape as I learn or feel the need to add new information, but these are my views on and rebuttals of some of the biggest “criticism” of Loki. It would appear that He often served as a more intentional and conscious “Cat’s Paw” for the Aesir, especially Odin, which likely lends to the common view of Loki as a God of chaos. This is a notion, from this view of the lore, that I can agree with, that parallels something that He once told me in my own personal experience: “My altar is laid on the foundation of crisis.” He is certainly a God of chaos, at least in the mindset of being a “God of last resorts”, which is something that is depicted in His lore over and over again. Though, the most common view of Him is as a God of fire. This is something that I agree with from my own personal interactions, even if it is not clearly present in the lore. Any connections to Loki and the hearth fire are very loose, as is defining whether or not He and Lothur on the same entity. Also, while the connection between the Loki’s creation of the net, transformation into a salmon, and the Fire Fish Runes of Finland (which define how to make and drag a net) is present, it’s still somewhat of a leap. (Rooth 159) I can definitely see where both viewpoints emerge, and I find both equally valid. In several cases, Loki is the last handle the Aesir retain on hope when everything else has fallen apart, whether or not the current crisis is by His own doing. Even in the cases when Loki is the cause of panic and mayhem, He always brings something better than the trouble he caused: Skadi, from his ordeal with Thiazi; Draupnir, Gullinbursti, and Mjollnir from His penance for cutting Sif’s hair. He’s certainly turned my life upside down many times, sometimes for his own devices, but, regardless, I have always left his tests, jokes, and ordeals a better person than I was before.
This, I believe, is why so many people fear Him and are hesitant to work with Him: He turns your life upside down to force you to make yourself better. What creates chaos in your existence, and why are you so attached to it? Is it worth that pain? He throws you into the change that you need to move forward, and not everyone can contend with that. Loki truly does try His people by fire, and it’s a hard road that some people will never allow themselves to walk. I can accept the hesitancy, the unwillingness, but I do feel a sense of sadness and even resentment that the aversion from Loki may discourage Pagans from coming to Him. Just mentioning His name in a group of pagans will evoke reactions from love to fear to disgust to outright hatred. So many practitioners I’ve spoken with want nothing to do with Him, or even his followers, because they’re heard “stories”. And many of these people can’t even tell you what the “stories” are about, in any acute detail, but damnit, they’ve heard them. While it’s truly a great injustice, I know that those who need the Fire God tend to find their way to His altar, and He’ll be waiting. Personally, I’m honored to be tempered in Loki’s fire, and happy to endure that heat over and over again.

Bibliography:

de Vries, Jan. The Problem of Loki. Helsinki: Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seuran kirjapainon o.y., 1933.
Rooth, Anna. Loki in Scandinavian Mythology. Lund, 1961.
Lindow, John. Norse mythology: a guide to the Gods, heroes, rituals, and beliefs. Oxford University Press, 2002.
Snorrason, Oddr, and Theodore Andersson. The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason. Cornell University Press, 2003.
Fee , Christopher, and David Leeming. Gods, Heroes & Kings: the Battle for Mythic Britain. Oxford University Press, USA, 2004.
Bard, Kathryn. Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. 1999.
Geurber, H.A. The Myths of the Norsemen. Digiread.com Publishing, 2009.
Macaulay, G. C. (English Translation) “Herodotus.” Sacred Texts. N.p., 1890. Web. 15 Jan 2011. .
Elton, Oliver. (English Translation) “Saxo Grammaticus.” The Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus. Sacred Texts, 1905. Web. 13 Jan 2011.

A Demon Named Fear: Breaking the Cycles of Abuse

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[Dear reader, be forewarned, this post is a documentary of some very graphic personal experiences and how they’ve helped heal some old scars. These issues deal with both violence and sexuality, so if you are offended by detailed accounts of such topics, I suggest you skip this session.]

“I am not some lovely, dovey God. I am The Breaker of Worlds. I will shatter everything you are, only to build you back up again, all because I can.”

He stands over me: His posture tense and His face contorted. I know there is a part of Him that revels in the fear and panic in my eyes. I know He can see the whirlwind of emotions and memories that lurks beyond it. In an instant of harsh words and painful gestures, I’m back to those moments of being held down by a man on a different couch, or being held up against a wall by my throat until I yield significant boundaries for things that seemed more important at the time, like air. Yet, at the same time that I ride that crest of terror, I fall into the temptation of wanting to yield into this.

Just take it, something in me pleads. A part of me wants to yield to that release, to the possibility that in losing that control one last time, in this context, that I can finally let go of that fear. But it’s the fear that wins.

“Please, don’t do this to me,” I whisper, pushing Him away.

“Why?” He hisses, His face just inches from mine.

“Because I’m afraid of getting hurt,” I tell him, and slide away on the couch, faking some center of calm.

“Liar.”

“Because I’m afraid of becoming that person again.”
And that’s the honest truth. I’ve spend so much of my life since I rose out of that abyss judging everything – my weight, my appearance, the way I dress, to the very core of how I act and speak – against that… person I once was. The further I stay away from becoming her, the further I can stay away from ever experiencing that pain again.
That’s why I made that vow to Thor at the sumble – to learn how to defend myself. Certainly, it’s one less burden on his divine shoulders – the protector of the common person – to have to worry about me if I could hold my own. But that’s what I had silently said to Tim every time I let him correct my pose, or he taught me how to land a punch or a palm-strike: “Teach me how to kill him. Teach me how to never have that happen again. Teach me to never be that woman again.” That fear consumed so much of my life, even if I exercised it in the most positive ways possible.

“And who did that to you?” He asks again, pressing closer until I feel His breathing against my chest and there’s no more distance between Him and myself, nor between myself and the couch. I’m caged here with Him and my own demons. And for a moment, they consume me. I’m lost in those flashes of pain where fingers are closed around my throat, where the body pressed against mine belongs to someone different and darker, and where words cut me deeper than blades could ever dream.

“Answer me!” He growls and I wince.

“David,” I spit his name.

There’s a silence between us and I can feel Loki staring into me, but I don’t turn to look at Him.

“Please, stop,” I ask again, as I feel His weight pressing against me, giving that threat He has yet to act upon.

“Are you going to just ask?”

I swallow hard.
“Get off of me,” I said, throwing enough of my weight against the body hosting Him to knock Him back and leap off the couch.

“What?” He snarls, instantly back in my face. The look in His eyes is still mad.

“Get. Off. Of. Me.” My voice is cold. Firm. Instantly, he melts.

“Congratulations. You’ve just set a boundary,” He says, looking into my eyes. “You’ve passed both mine and Angrboda’s test.”

I stare back at Him in the few moments of silence.

“I love you, but you’re both bastards,” I laugh.

“Come here,” He says, and holds me. I stand there a long while in His arms, stepping out of that old skin and back into myself. I revel in the separation.
“It was hard to put you through that.”

“I know.” If I had any doubt, the sudden change of his expression and body posture would have told me everything.

“That fear is still something that holds you back,” he tells me. “It gets in the way of your intimacy with everyone, even Tim.”
“Think about it.” He meets my gaze, and repeats my own words to me: “Why is he always smothering me?”

I hadn’t thought about the connection when they’d left my mouth.

“That is something you need to work through, but I want you to give that up willingly. And it doesn’t have to be tonight.”

I let out a long breath. He’s right, and this isn’t something I want looming over my head.

I stall for a while – grabbing a glass of water, meandering around the kitchen. He’s patient, and still waiting when I get back.

“What’s going to happen?” I ask, trying to prepare myself.

“I’m not going to tell you.”

“Do I get a safeword? Do I have a way to make you stop if it goes too far?”

“Not once I start.”

I take a long sip of my drink, wishing it was something a little harder than water.

“So,” I breathe. “How do we start?”

“Like this.”

Truth be told, He could have been much more aggressive. And He wasn’t. I appreciated that.

“I needed you to reason through this, not panic through it,” He told me later, and I had reasoned through it.
Struggling beneath Him, I felt my fingers reach for the soft hollows of eyesockets. I considered openings where a quick blow would have broken nasal bones. I stopped myself.
“I could see you running through the fight moves in your head,” He said. “I’m proud of you. I was worried for a moment that you were going to give up.”
There was some part of me that wanted to. Just as there is a part of Him that delights in taking that control, a part of me revels in yielding to Him. And that was perhaps the hardest part of the ordeal, separating Loki from David, and knowing that I had to react not to the God inhabiting my fiancée’s body, but to the man the deity was impersonating. I understand how hard it was for Him to do that. He really had no more desire to become David than I had to face him. But, He loved me enough to make that sacrifice, because I needed to overcome that. And I did overcome it. All three times that he came after me, I fought Him off, and when I did finally yield to Him, it was because I wanted to. Not because He forced me or overpowered me, which made the surrender all the sweeter. But I’ll spare you the details.

He gave me a very powerful gift that night – even beyond the confrontational therapy of reliving that experience. Loki gave me the chance to prove to myself that I couldn’t become that person again. I won’t give up that boundary out of fear or the desire for someone else’s happiness.

The Nicole from back then let herself be intimidated into giving up her body.
The Nicole typing here now would beat his ass.

So much of my work with Loki has been breaking and establishing boundaries – the inhibitive blockages versus healthy barriers. Opening this one has been a bit of a floodgate. Crossing that line has caused me to reconsider aspects of my sexuality and the terms through which I address myself.
We’ve done more work since then, but I’ve rambled long enough, and that is material for another time.

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