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.

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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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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.

An Amusing Side-note

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You know, I find the dichotomy between the last two posts to be very laughable. I love how I have these peaks where I will be on top of the world, and then, like the billy-goat Dumbass, will slide off the peak of that mountain and hit every single ledge on the way down.

Oh well… I guess that’s part of working through Water — the only way to find the emotional pitfalls is to well… fall into them, and then climb your way back out. The key is just filling in the abyss so that it’s no longer there afterward.

New Day, New UPG

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Since the guide-post about grappling with UPG has become longer than I expected, I’ll share the interesting events of my day in the meanwhile.

The day started out pretty normal. I took my fiancee to class, took him out to lunch at the new chinese buffet, and then dropped him off to sleep while I went to do my research assistance in Lansing.
Something told me not to take 23, and I had the feeling there was more to that notion that just the heavy lines of traffic packed like sardines sliding along a tray at 10 miles an hour. So, I took 94 instead.
Since my experience with the cat, my aversion to looking strange by picking up fallen animals on the side of the road has largely been obliterated. So, I have this agreement with Heru and my own moral conscience that if I happen to see any hawks on the side of the road, I will stop for them. The same would go for crows, or any other such creature my Gods hold sacred.
So, I’m cruising blissfully along 127 when something catches my eye on the side of the road — a good sized black body… with a single wing flapping in the breeze.
Son of a bitch! I sigh to myself as I reluctantly pull the car off at the next exit. I don’t plan on taking this route back, and it’s an 80 degree (F) day. The idea of having a half-rotted bird baking in the back of my vehicle until I can find somewhere proper to bury and honor it is not a tantalizing prospect.
Nevertheless, I double back, pull my car off far enough so that some hapless driver will not plow my wonderful Buick into the ditch while fighting with their cheeseburger, and examine the unfortunate avian. I was quite surprised to find out that it wasn’t a hawk at all, but a turkey. The spirit was happy that I stopped, but didn’t require that I move her body. Instead, I took some of her feathers that were scattered amongst the ditch, then took a few moments to honor her and to help her spirit cross over.

Once that ordeal was finished, I was not far along my merry way to Lansing before lightning began to flash in the distance. It was quite beautiful, until the torrential rain began.
Now, to understand the magnitude of this downpour, I must first explain to you the normal behavior of your average Lansing driver. Imagine combining NASCAR with demolition derby racing, and you have your average day on a busy Lansing road. Imagine now a rain so hard, that it makes people with this degree of insanity and road rage slow down to 35 miles per hour on a 70 mile per hour highway. I was passing people in the right lane going that fast. Even with my wipers on the highest setting, I was navigating entirely by brake lights and the glare off of white trimming on vehicles.
Needless to say, after a few minutes of this, I started to wonder if I was going to make it to Lansing in one piece. So, I threw out a prayer to Ran and the Nine Undines asking if they could please calm the rain until I was done driving to my destination. Instantly the rain calmed down to a point where I could see almost perfectly. So, I think to myself, Hm, that was pretty cool. But.. maybe I just hit a light sheet of rain..
So, I keep on driving, get to the bank, and drop off our donation for the Audubon Society, and as soon as I leave, I exit to another torrential downpour. Some poor man comes dashing up to the door, notifies me that “At least it’s a warm rain”, and scurries inside. Likewise, I dash like hell for my car, and it the instant I end up inside, the rain again quiets. That made me feel pretty incredible.

I spent most of the next few hours wadding through hundreds of pages of illegible scrawl and having internal dialogue with Loki. I asked Him a variety of questions, such as why we have the intense relationship that we do, why He wanted me to be his priestess, and a variety of other things. Like usual, getting straight answers out of Him can be like pulling teeth out of a crocodile — difficult, exhaustive, and often painful.
I really didn’t make any headway until I was driving home. We were discussing how our different experiences interrelated to the concepts of abuse. I asked Him a variety of questions, such as ‘During the events leading up to Ragnarok, had He ever thought about suicide, or was it possible for a God to do such a thing?’ It was an interesting conversation, and it eventually ended on Him asking me why I was so full of questions.
I told Him: “I’m struggling… a lot … with everything that’s happening in my life right now. I just need something that makes sense: a foothold. Somewhere.”
To which He responded: “I have your hand, babe. I always have. From the beginning.”
I burst into tears.
This brought us back to our original topic of conversation, upon which He asked me, “You really can’t grasp the idea of someone loving you unconditionally, can you?”
Again, I fought tears. He was right. This is something that Tim and I had gone around on several times. I was just surprised I brought it to my relationship with my God. But, I do always expect something to be there — that there’s some unseen incentive, or this wouldn’t be happening. It’s a lot easier to invalidate your own experiences when you feel complete unimportant.
Right after this, there was a short pause on the radio, and then “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey started and I burst out laughing. I laughed and cried and drove for the next five minutes. I felt somewhat schizophrenic, but I felt better than I had in a long time.

I actually shared some of my UPG (and turkey feathers) with my housemates — something that I rarely do. Things, of course, went deeper than this and involved some more personal topics, but that’s for another time. But, it was good to get outward perspectives and to be able to share what’s been whirling around inside my head. This is something that plays directly into my next post.
I might be crazy, and maybe I drive home in my car having conversations with only myself. I really don’t think so, but, regardless, it doesn’t matter. Those relationships with Gods… spirits… and whatever else lies out that has made my life infinitely better. And, frankly, the other people in this family we’ve built hear the same voices, so I can only hope that if we’re all wrong, and this is only in our heads, we at least get adjacent padded rooms.

Good night, everyone!