Loki’s Torch Seeking Submissions!

So hey! A few of us got together and decided to make a thing of beauty–a nice, thick, hunky volume of Loki Lore! We are seeking both general and scholastic writing, fiction, poems, artwork, recipes, rituals, and craft tips. Length from one to ten pages.

Just don’t send something with footnotes or we’ll send it back to you for revisionendnotes only.

Everything you need to know is on the flyer. Deadline for submissions below. We’re looking to have a 100-page publication, obtainable via print on demand. Looking forward to seeing your work!

Sub Flyer Loki's Torch Cover 2.

 

 

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IV. Spectrosexuality Survey: Neopagan Practices

The Neopagan Spectrosexuality and God/Spirit Spouse survey (March 5-March 19) asked respondents to describe some or all of their spiritual orientation and practices. Of course the umbrella term, “neopagan,” is impossibly large and sometimes controversial. When thinking about how to phrase Question Four, I reviewed a Down at the Crossroads interview with John Beckett from about two years ago. His “big tent” take on paganism (aka neopaganism) asked listeners to imagine the kinds of people who attend PantheaCon. I decided to err on the side of the “big tent” rather than list dozens of specific religious and magical  traditions and risk upsetting people by leaving things out.

So the question contains a few general categories. Respondents could check as many as they liked. The “other” comment box invited respondents to be more specific or to include things which were left out of the general categories. The Question Four illustration below indicates twenty-two respondents left comments in the “other” box. But there are actually fifty-three. More on the qualitative responses in a minute.

Neopagan vs Pagan

I have adopted the use of “neopaganism” over “paganism” in a large part due to the distinctions described in Sara Anne Lawless’s blog post, “For Sale: Neopaganism: As Is.”  She writes:

“The words ‘paganism’ and ‘pagan’ are used by the rest of the English speaking world mainly in reference to ancient polytheistic pagan cultures, such as Greece and Rome…”

“Neopaganism is an umbrella descriptor term for the paths falling within it…It is not a path or religion in and of itself.”

This made sense to me so I have revised my language use accordingly, though I understand these categories can also be controversial. (I’ve done the same with “tantra” and “neotantra.”)


 

Data_Q4_190318


Spirit Sex is Not Just a Lokean “Thing”

Many of the survey respondents reported working in several different types of traditions and with more than one pantheon or type of spiritual being.

Though the invitation to participate in the survey went mainly to members of Lokean and Heathen Facebook groups, you can see from the photo above that there is a lot of variety in traditions. Keep in mind that this survey focused specifically on people who have experienced “sexual” or “energetic” intimacy with a spirit or a god. These experiences range from a single, spontaneous incident all the way to ongoing relationships (e.g. god/spirit spousery). Some people seek out such experiences and for others, “it” just happened.

This is also not a scientific sample. Aside from posting in my blog, I deliberately did not post survey announcements in some social media groups due to my perception that certain groups had a higher level of “trolls” or because they were groups I had recently joined. Posting an announcement would have felt intrusive to me, as I was not yet a known participant in that particular community. I have no doubt that I could have gotten many more respondents from other groups if I’d overcome feelings of reluctance.

I’ll be comparing overlapping practices in a future blog.

Selections From the Comments Section

Because some of the comments were very specific and contain information that could lead someone to identify a respondent, I am not posting the comments in their entirety.  I will quote snippets instead, to preserve privacy and confidentiality.


Here are quotes from a number of respondents:

“I’m Lokean, and I’m not restricted to a purely Heathen path.”

“I’m very eclectic, acting more based on personal experience and instinct than on established traditions.”

“Practice Demonolatry…”

“My practices involve mainly divination and meditation.”

“As far as a label goes, the closest would be ‘Rökkrtru.'”

“Buddhist Hawaiian.”

“HIndu.”

“Homebrewed and eclectic.”

“Anderson Feri.” 

“I’m a rather new Lokean who was visited one night by the God of Chaos and taken by storm.”

“Heathen/Pagan with Celtic influence.”

“Gardnerian.”

“Chaos Magick.”

“Devotional polytheism mainly according to the Northern Tradition.”

“Traditional Witch.”

“Animist.”

“Shamanic.”

“Hoodoo & folk magick.”

“…also work with the Kemetic pantheon and am working on learning Hermetic magic.”


 

As you can see by the above, many of the respondents to this survey work in a variety of

traditions and with many pantheons and spirits. The phenomenon of spirit intimacy is
not limited to “Loki fan-girls on Tumblr,” as so many people say.
####

III. Spectrosexuality Survey–Demographics

Happy Super Worm Moon and Spring Equinox, folks! On this first day of Spring, with a full moon in Libra, the rainclouds are hanging low over Mt. Konocti. It feels like winter again.

Now begins a blog series of not-exactly-analysis and commentary on the results of the Neopagan Spectrosexuality and God/Spirit Spouse Survey (see raw data charts). This non-scientific, completely confidential, volunteer survey drew respondents primarily through Facebook groups and posts. I was hoping for a wide-array of folks from the “big tent” of Neopaganism (e.g. the sort of people who attend Pantheacon, or would if they could). As you’ll eventually see, there was indeed variety in the kinds of deities, spirits, and practices reported by the 100 people who completed the survey.

Because this survey was limited to ten questions, I only asked two on demographics. I wish I could have asked more.

Age

Data_Q2_190318

There is a perception in certain neopagan circles that people who claim to have had spectrosexual experiences and/or who claim to be god or spirit spouses are all very young people who overshare on Tumblr. This chart is almost a “hand basket of repudiation” to that notion. (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase in polite conversation…) As you can see, three-fourths of these respondents are “old enough to know better” (irony here) and yet still report incidents and relationships that other neopagans find eye-rolling.

Let’s face it folks, something is happening and not all of it is delusional.


Gender

OpenData_Q3_190318-2


About the only things I can note here are (1) the prevelance of cis women and (2) the sad lack of trans people as respondents (except for one trans man). I will also say that at least four more gender queer/non-binary people responded but they did not complete the questionnaire. I had to reject their responses as I needed 100 complete sets. How I hated doing that!

So that’s it for now. Enjoy whatever witchery you may be up to on this lovely Worm Moon. Next blog, more on the survey.

####

100 Respondents to Spectrosexuality and God/Spirit Spouse Survey

Data collection is closed as of March 18.

Now comes the fun! Please go to the Survey page for a look at raw data charts of responses to questions 2-10. And stay tuned to upcoming blogs where I’ll discuss the question responses in detail, included some excerpts from the open-ended comments sections.

You might also want to read Part I–Prelimary Thoughts and Part II–Mysticism Meets Sexology, if you haven’t already.

Here’s one of the most interesting charts.


Data_Q4_190318


Stay tuned for more!


 

Bullies with Bullets: The Weaponization of Cowardice

He may have the physical appearance of a human being but he has the heart and soul of a half-eaten corndog. He is the embodiment of cowardice. There. I said it.

Unfortunately that…man…was lethally armed. He thought he’d be a bigger man, a real man, if only he could get him some fame for mass murdering innocents.

And he apparently fancies himself as a future inhabitant of Valhalla. Bitch, please! Explain to me how murdering unarmed anybodies is an honorable act that would attract the attention of any deity of merit. No, don’t bother. You can’t, because it doesn’t. Got that? Cowards who kill aren’t destined for Valhalla, Heaven, or any other desirable afterlife. Odin has no need of pathetic bullies who kill unarmed children and parents in a surprise attack. Freya, also a chooser of the slain who die in battle, wouldn’t have wasted a nano-second on the likes of you. Even deities of every underworld you can name will spurn such paltry pickings.

You have not found “glory.” You have hand-crafted an artisanal oblivion of your very own. And now you are behind bars.

Life is sacred. Our family and friends and pets and lands are sacred. And our perceived “enemies?” Even more sacred, because every “enemy” holds a mirror. The enemy is not there to be killed, the enemy is there to remind you of what you must confront in yourself–your hate, your entitlement, your petulance, your cowardice and ignorance. Those you deem “enemy” are human beings, like you, forced into a larger complexity of social, political, and economic turmoil, trying to make sense of it all.

If you could have looked into your enemy’s eyes and truly heard “hello brother” (as one of your victims reportedly said) and in that moment put down your weapons and wept, you would have awakened true bravery in your soul. You would have looked at what you’d done, and what you were about to do, and you would have accepted the shame, the guilt, the unneccesary horror you created, and the responsibility to repent and make amends. Living with yourself would not have been easy after that, but you would have taken a step on the road to actual humanity.

Enough.

Yesterday, I could not write with emotion. I felt it, but I could not write with it. Stark facts and statements was all I could manage. Today is different.

But the killer’s problems, whatever they were–and I really don’t care–are as nothing to the fact that he and his ilk are human cancer cells forming a bully tumor of white supremacy, prejudice, and entitlement. They are obvious in their cowardice, ridiculous in their collective and individual self-importance. They proudly display their appalling ignorance and lack of decency. Ridiculous and appalling, that is, until one of the cancer cells picks up a weapon and makes us scared or dead.

Just now I was caught in the trap of trying to figure out–to understand–this phenomenon of the bully tumor and the people who are entangled in it. Perhaps because I hope that if I know more about it, I can strategize for effective resistance.

But what I need to admit is that these white supremacists are merely the disposable tools of policymakers, governments, and industries who stand to gain by their eagerness to provide convenient, blood-soaked distractions while government-sanctioned carnage and pillaging continues. Terrifed by what we see on the news and the internet, we forget to identify the root cause: those at the top who–for their own advantage–uphold systemic racism, zenophobia, cultural genocide, and all forms of social, political, and economic oppression.

My country, the United States of America, is one of the most ardent players in this game of global plunder. Is it any wonder that our so-called “president” spews hate and lies on an almost daily basis? We’re one of the top five arms dealers in the world and constitute “5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy” (Source: “Consumption by the United States,” public.wsu.edu website. Copyright 2008, The Associated Press.) Our lust to consume knows no bounds. We are the least sustainable society in the world.

I believe the cultivation and exportation of American-style white supremacy serves a larger purpose than simply terrorizing and killing immigrants and people of color. I believe it is designed to inject terror into daily life, to paralyze the populace with fright, so that the elites of Western countries can retain and strengthen their grip on world resources, particularly those in indigenous countries. We are a country of colonists that imported and exploited slaves and tried to kill off the native peoples so we could take their land. We excell at manufacturing weapons and we arm cowards with nary a thought for the consequences. We make wars and create policies that produce immigrants and refugees. We make wars that destroy the environment so that ordinary people can no longer cultivate food and find clean water. And then, when an act of terror happens, our hypocrites in office “send thoughts and prayers” to victims of tragedies that their policies have created.

If there is something local I can do, in solidarity, I will. My own deities demand it.

####

Stop Islamophobia and White Supremacy

This morning: 49 dead, 48 hospitalized from a mass shooting and attack on two mosques in Christchurch in Aotearoa (New Zealand). White supremacists planned and carried out the attacks. The gunman live-streamed the carnage.

In-depth coverage of the incident from Democracy Now. The commentaries from Qasim Rashid, a lawyer and human rights activist, and Farid Hafez, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Salzburg, are extremely important.

This is the latest horror to require a repudiating response and a strong call to action and solidarity from activist allies who oppose Islamophobia, structural and personal racism, anti-Semiticism, anti-immigration hate, and so on. (Have any of us done enough? I know I haven’t.)

Here are two opinion pieces just published in The Guardian.



“After Christchurch, Muslims need more than just your thoughts and prayers” by
Masuma Rahim, a clinical psychologist. A quote from her editorial piece:

“Your thoughts and prayers will not save our lives, while the actions of politicians and the media undoubtedly destroy them.

Every single day, people like me are subject to a media onslaught. Every single day, we are demonised, both by the people who make our laws and by the people who have significant influence over public opinion. And when I say “we”, I don’t just mean Muslims. Because it’s not just Muslims who are losing their lives at the hands of far-right nationalism. It’s Jews and Sikhs and black people. Because when fascism comes to call, it usually doesn’t care what shade of “different” you are. All it knows is that you are different, and it does not like you for it.”


And from H.A. Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, “The Islamophobia that led to the Christchurch shooting must be confronted.”  A quote from this editorial piece:

“Today is Friday. It is the day of the week when Muslims will gather all around the world in communitarian prayer. Many of them in the west will be fearful after seeing the news, worried that this attack may herald a new, ongoing threat to their safety. We have to make sure they know they are not alone. That wider society will stand by them. That we see them not as Muslim communities transplanted into the west, but as Muslim communities of the west. They are part of us, and we of them. If we do otherwise, and we allow this event to pass us by without recognising the ideas that propelled it, then it is only a matter of time before it is repeated.”



I am not sure how to make an impact in my own community. Does Lake County, CA have a mosque? I can’t seem to discover one. Otherwise I would call and ask what I can do, as a fellow citizen, to show meaningful support or action.

Making a donation to some other organization is at least one way to help. Here are two possibilities. I have just donated to both.

LaunchGood fund for United for Christchurch Mosque Shootings. All money will be distributed by the New Zealand Islamic Information Centre.

 ICNA Council for Social Justice (Islamic Circle of North America).


Finally, a statement from The Troth, an organization that promotes inclusive Heathenry.

This is important as the murderer made a comment about “going to Valhalla” which may indicate a link with neo-nazis who usurp Norse symbols and mythology to justify white supremacy, as the original nazis did.

Sorrow for the families. May the murdered rest in peace. May the cancer of white supremacy and violence be vanquished. May our merciful deities assist us to do much more than we are doing now.

####

 

Loki Blesses the Meds, Émile Coué Sanctions the Method

The brand new bottle of new-to-me meds is set before the altar. Offerings have been made. The candles are lit. Several consecrated pendulums are beside me. And thus the ritual begins.

“Beloved Loki, this medicine has been prescribed for me. Do you sanction its use?”

Pendulum swings yes. “And will you bless it for me, helping it to be free of any side effects?” Yes again.

“Thank you, my Lord Loki.”

And so on through my pantheon: Lord Freyr, Lady Freya (and her namesake cat appears at my knee to also add her blessing), Lady Gerda, Lady Brigid, and the Peerless Bastet. Ancestors too. One by one, via pendulum divination, they all accept and bless this medicine. I know they want me to be healthy and resilient.

And then I address the beings of the medicine itself–an artificial creation of “big pharma”–asking it to cooperate with me in a healing and resiliency building process. (Notice the animism in this approach?) I also ask my body to collaborate with the medicine. I pledge to continue taking care of my health in general.

And then I take the first dose, confident in the love and blessings of the spirits who are my family.


Caution: Never discontinue or avoid using any medication without first and always consulting with your doctor and health practitioners. 


What would I have done if one of my deities had said “no” to the “will you sanction its use” question? I would have replied, “Thank you. I am going to follow doctor’s orders, as I made a vow to do so, so while I understand your concern for me, will you please bless this medicine anyway, so that I can safely fulfill my vow?”

Spirits understand vows. And doctors understand that you will call them if side effects arise.

Better yet, I would have just asked for a blessing on the medication, without using the first question. That’s what I recommend for anyone reading this article. Just ask for the blessing. (And follow doctor’s orders.)

Why Did I Do This?

Unknown
Emile Coue. Source: Wikipedia.

I’m a hypnotist (among other things) and so I know a little hypnosis history. One of the “greats” was a French psychologist and pharmacist, Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie. He’s the founder of autosuggestion. You have probably heard some variation of the saying, “each day in every way I am getting better and better.” That’s from Coué.

He realized his patients often did better when he offered a positive remark while handing over the medicine, such as “Oh, this is exactly the right thing for you. You’ll do very well with this” (imagined examples). Here are two key paragraphs from the Wikipedia article:


Coué noticed that in certain cases he could improve the efficacy of a given medicine by praising its effectiveness to the patient. He realized that those patients to whom he praised the medicine had a noticeable improvement when compared to patients to whom he said nothing. This began Coué’s exploration of the use of hypnosis and the power of the imagination

And:

Coué believed in the effects of medication. But he also believed that our mental state is able to affect and even amplify the action of these medications. By consciously using autosuggestion, he observed that his patients could cure themselves more efficiently by replacing their “thought of illness” with a new “thought of cure”. According to Coué, repeating words or images enough times causes the subconscious to absorb them. The cures were the result of using imagination or “positive autosuggestion” to the exclusion of one’s own willpower.


So with my ritual, I have gone one better. Instead of creating a hypnotic autosuggestion ritual, which of course I could have done easily, I wanted the full blessings of my divine pantheon and my ancestors. They are deeply rooted in my subconscious and their participation means the world to me.

Also I had a curious incident a few weeks ago. I was in a crisis state triggered by a family situation. I prayed fervently to all my deities, but to Bastet in particular, for help. There is a line in the supposed “ancient prayer to Bastet” that you find on the internet:

“…slay the evil that affects our minds as you slay the serpent Apep.”

And so I begged her to slay the evils of depression and despair that blight my life. Weirdly, the persistent feeling of being bogged down by a constant state of depression and anxiety actually lifted by the next day and I felt light and free, much better than I have in years. This lasted for a few weeks. It’s like I knew I had been wounded but no longer felt it. “The edge” was definitely not just off, but gone.

Dude! I almost didn’t keep my appointment with the psychiatrist!

But though the deities grant grace and boons and blessings, we mortals are the ones to do the heavy lifting. Loki would rather teach magic and mischief and inspire my writing. Bastet prefers to focus on pleasure, beauty, and dancing. Gerda wants me to water the garden and talk with plants. Freyr reminds me that even toxic relationships can be composted for a new harvest. Freya and Brigid bring me back to explorations of the sacred feminine. In other words, there is more to explore in life and magic and if I want to step up my game…well then! My deities and ancestors are quite willing to give me a boost now and then, and blessings too, but I can’t waste my time in tears.

So I kept the appointment. And this morning I lifted the now consecrated tablet to my lips. I washed it down with tea and set the bottle on the altar, to remind me that the medicine is now sacred.

This approach could work for anyone, monotheist or pantheist, no matter who or what you call upon for assistance. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So mote it be.