Happy Birthday, Tom Hiddleston!

Thank you so much, Mr. Hiddleston, for your wonderful portrayal of “Marvel Loki.” Your performances have served as a “gateway drug” for so many who are now fervent Norse Lokeans! You’re the best “Loki cosplayer” on Midgard!

46846517_10156398883181281_4512129969291264000_n
I don’t know the origin of this meme–I tried to find it on Google’s image search. It’s probably up on thousands of websites today!

Hail Loki!

####

 

Advertisements

Love and Unholy Glee: Loki and the Positivity Ratio

tumblr_ncrl5cyGz21tua3tio1_500
One of my favorite Loki Images, by A. Sceithhailim on DeviantArt. You can purchase this print! I did! Go to https://www.deviantart.com/sceith-a/gallery/49128055/Laufeyjar-sonr

Loki is great for my Positivity Ratio! I could never have dreamt I’d find such a rich source of positive emotions in the service (and the metaphysical arms) of a notorious trickster god!

This morning I woke up to find yet another clever Loki-themed meme posted on social media (I will share it at the bottom of this post). The meme caused me to experience immediate pleasure in the form of amusement–the kind I classify as “unholy glee”–as well as a feeling of an almost blissful love. That’s one of the many perks of being a Lokean–access to endless witicisms and scads of great artwork inspired by our favorite Norse deity (example at left) or his deft Midgardian cosplayer, Marvel Loki.

So, what is this Positivity Ratio? Psychologist and researcher Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., has found that we in Midgard need a diet rich in positive emotions in order to thrive. The minimum ration is three positive emotions to every negative one. I learned about Dr. Frederickson’s work through her free Coursera class on Positive Psychology. You can check your own emotional nutrition by taking her Positivity Ratio test online.

You’ll notice in the list below that “happiness” is not included in the list. It’s too vague. Instead, Fredrickson lists happy-making emotions as elements (nutrients!) that can enrich an emotional diet. The idea is, you can do this deliberately, just as you can choose to add vitamin supplements or a fresh salad to your daily menu.

B. Fredrickson 10 Positive Emotions

Now, when I took Fredrickson’s online course, I was in bad shape: I’d moved away from California and was desperately homesick, I was waiting for my divorce to finalize, a love affair had soured, I had developed a bad case of social anxiety, and so on. I was often alone, depressed, and hopeless. But when I encountered the above list, I realized that no matter how bad I felt, I could ALWAYS access Interest and Amusement. In other words, learning new things like magic (interest) and watching cat videos (amusement) could improve my mood, even if the improvement just lasted a minute or two.

Increasing the daily frequency of such emotions could–and did–build my resilience over time. Resilience is key.

I would say that Loki the trickster represents a deified personification of “Nonserious Social Incongruity” aka “Amusement” (among other things). I tried to get at this in a previous post, My Lord, I Offer Thee…Twisted Humor.

Through my devotion to Loki and my other deities, I access nine out of ten of the above positive emotions. Certainly I feel Love, Awe, Gratitude, along with Interest and Amusement. The only emotion that I don’t seem to experience in this context is Pride.

I never thought I’d understand what religious practices and beliefs did for people, but after a couple of years of my own daily devotions, now I think I do. Our imagined but not imaginary companions–gods, goddesses, non-binary deities, spirits, ancestors, etc.–present an opportunity to engage and enlarge ourselves through the above emotions as well as the larger beings we’ve contacted. I have a little more empathy now for people who are “high on Jesus” and those who have similar evangelical fervor regarding other deities. They think the rest of us are missing out on the bliss they experience. They don’t understand why others may reject their particular source (which they feel must be the ONLY source). They don’t understand that it may not be the specific deity or set of practices that provide that bliss, it’s the repeated, deliberate connection with something (anything!) larger that provides the emotions that eventually coalesce into a feeling of grace.

I should add that states of grace can be experienced through creative, intellectual, or generous actions–it’s not just a “gift of the gods.”

But for me, Loki is the fast track to all kinds of emotional goodies. When I wake up to a meme like this (based on Marvel’s Midgardian cos-player), I laugh, I feel glee, I swipe the meme and post it myself. I laugh at myself when I do it. And I enjoy people’s reactions. I am amused. And this improves my emotional diet, which can then be tracked via my positivity ratio.

This is just the beginning–sharing such emotional goodies with others is also a way to amplify them. That’s partly why our Lokean community is so vital. We can easily increase our Positivity Ratio by harvesting positive emotions through our Loki-related sharing.

It all makes perfect sense now.

51617023_10217472978189795_4762780189056827392_n
Google Image search did not reveal original source. I do not own this image. I found it on Facebook.

Hail Loki! God of Nonserious Social Incongruity!

####

Loki’s Liminal Space–And Mine

0-6I’m there now. I’m here in this picture but I’m also in liminal space. Waiting, unsettled, having a difficult time, not able to focus on any one of the twenty different things I could be doing right now, except for blogging.

Loki is a god of liminal space–and so I invoke him now. He’s the pent up fire, and I’ve got the pent up energy, and I’m having to sit with that, rather than dashing off on some mad adventure (which in these here parts generally means a trip down the road for Chinese food. Really.)

I chose this picture of my immediate landscape because it has several discordant elements, as well as examples of different kinds of “between space.” There’s the visible “power” represented by the PG&E and Mediacom wires. These wires enable me to harness the power of light when it’s dark outside, and reach out into the internet world from the little house where I live. I can only see the natural landscape–the real dark and light, the real outside world–by looking between and beyond these human artifacts. And there’s also the invisible powers communicating all around me, through smells and mycelium and sounds I cannot hear.  I can also see palm trees (tropical icons) in front of a mountain capped by snow. And there’s the lake and looming rain clouds (water) to contrast with the element of fire represented by Mt. Konocti, a slumbering volcano. The problem is, I am not sure what to do with all this information that’s packed into the landscape in front of me. It’s like that Clash song and I’m not used to being indecisive. I’d rather shatter what holds me back than wait and see.

Maybe I am just supposed to wait. Wait for things to make sense. Maybe this is not a day for reaching out, but rather a day for reaching in. Maybe I should just take a nap and dream of my gods?

Still, I’m restlessly obsessed: what waits for me in the between spaces during these liminal times, and why can’t I see or feel it yet?

One thing that can be done, when I feel so impatient, is divination. I have a very Scorpio urge to “know all”–perhaps so I can brace myself, plan an entrance or an exit if I need one, strategize… Perhaps I’ll cast the runes later.

On the other hand, filling the house with music is another way to warm what feels empty or incomplete. And so on this grey day, I offer up some music of ancient bohemian provenance–Richard and Mimi Fariña’s Celebrations for a Gray Day. Here they are, sitting with Pete Seeger, a saint if ever one existed.

As Mimi and Richard play, my inner child imagines the lake as one big mud puddle (a place to splash) and my ancestors are  humming along to the parts that sound like “Old Joe Clark.” And at the end Pete Seeger says, “It would take a dead man not to move to that!”

Just so! Dead or alive, we have no choice but to dance in the liminal space. Loki leads the way. Even when it feels like a mosh pit.

####

Sexologist Leaves Broom Closet

The “Broom Closet” is a term which refers to neopagans and witches who are not “out” about their religion and practices. As a sexologist and sexuality counselor, I have worked with many people who at one time or another had to emerge from a sexual or gender closet in order to lead a more authentic life.  What I’ve just done is slightly similar, though more fraught with professional peril than with personal difficulties.

Jean-François_Portaels_-_The_witch
The Witch, Jean-François Portaels. Public Domain.

Of course it doesn’t escape me that outing myself as a witchy Lokean neopagan polytheist means my potential dating pool has now shrunk to the size of a small puddle, but hey, what’s not to like? (I mean that with the sincerest irony…)

So here’s the skinny. The last three years–after my divorce and the sale of our family home–have been personally and professionally difficult. I’ve been financially and geographically exiled from my beloved San Francisco Bay Area where my family resides. I’ve had difficulty re-establishing my professional practice in both Hawai’i and here in Lake County. Therefore I’ve struggled with a lack of interest AND motivation with regard to my work. The only truly consuming interest, besides general survival in a new region, has been a deepening of my spiritual life and the pursuit of magical knowledge.

I am a creature motivated by special interests. If I get bored with something, I drop it in favor of a compelling new shiny. Due to lack of business and time-wasting sexual harrassment by pretend clients, the field of sexology began to lose its appeal for me. I felt burnt-out. In Hawai’i, while working on my first novel, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, I began to study magic and witchcraft as research for the book. I was soon hooked by everything about it. Whee! Something that’s even more fun than just plain sexology or just plain hypnosis but which can absorb elements of both (e.g. sex magic, tantra, and trance work)! And I’ve always been a mystic anyway, since about age twelve… (FYI, I’m now working on the second in the Ornamental Hermits series.)

I’m also not good at compartmentalization. I can do it, but it always feels wrong and exhausting. Over the last several months, I’ve been longing to combine my spiritual life with my work life with my (non-existent) romantic life. I just want put it all together in one oddly shaped package as so many others have done before me, and then spend that released energy on more interesting pursuits.

That rune reading, done on Imbolc with the help of my patron deity, Loki, encouraged me to take the leap. That’s what Loki’s all about–pushing his devotees out of stuck places and into new terrain. At first I thought he wanted me to leave my sexology practice altogether. Now I realize he wanted me to MUTATE and deepen it. Therefore, I spent parts of yesterday and today re-writing my professional website to announce my new direction. Doing this does feel like emerging from a rather stale crysalis and my wings are still a bit crumpled and soggy. However, my new page,  “FAQ: Out of the Broom Closet”, was actually a lot of fun to write.

Plus, the idea that I’ll be deliberately working in tandem with my deities and guides means I’m not going it alone any longer. I hope this means my clients will benefit from my improved access to insights and energy, gifts of the gods, belike.

Also the sexual harrassment from fake clients has been a source of worry, but I’ll be invoking protection and warding the heck out of my practice from now on. My Norse deities can be pretty hardcore…

So thanks to them, and Loki in particular, I am expanding and mutating once again. And with Freyr and Freya as deities of both sexuality and magic, I’ll also be appreciative of their ongoing guidance. I hope that in becoming whole, I’ll be doing work now that is “holy” in the best and most expansive sense of the word. I feel excited.

LOKI_0031-897x1024

####

 

 

Gebo, Isa, Jera, and Ehwaz

Yesterday was Imbolc and I consulted the Norse Runes. Yes, I know. Imbolc is a neopagan and witchy holiday, originally “a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring” and runes have nothing to do with it, really. But it was also Friday (Freya and Frigga’s Day). This is the day I make offerings to all my deities. I often do divinations on this day.

0
Gebo (top), Isa, Jera, and Ehwaz left to right. Imbolc, Feb. 1, 2019.

Frankly, I’m more experienced with Tarot, though still a beginner. I use the Rider-Waite deck designed by Pamela “Pixie” Colman Smith, a woman of color who is only now beginning to get the credit she deserves (see this article about Colman Smith and listen to this Missing Witches podcast). However the Norse Runes are fascinating and I want to learn more about them. For rune interpretation, I am currently using Nordic Runes by Paul Rhys Mountfort, though I also have a few other rune books.

So I had a burning question concerning the future of my private practice. I want to reinvent and freshen it, and incorporate more of my intuitive and witchy skills before I give it up altogether. Working in this way would be closer to my heart and passions but I want to know if this is advisable. There are some professional risks involved. I asked Loki to assist me in the divination.

The Reading

Gebo (gift/exchange) was drawn for the first position, which signifies “the issue.” When I pulled this rune I thought immediately of my own “gifts” and how they are not being utilized in my present professional life. This rune holds the importance of equal and fair exchange (compensation) as well as warnings against being taken for granted. I do give away a lot of my time to friends and community, or to people who don’t have much money. Even if it is “a trade,” I seldom end up with my share of the bargain. I have to admit to being haunted by a line from the song, “Some People,” in the musical, Gypsy: “Some people got it and make it pay, some people can’t even give it away…” You’d think sexuality counseling and wellness hypnosis would be in demand ‘purt near anywhere, but right now it seems like I’m living inside an endless loop of Ethel Merman’s brassy voice of doom.

According to Mountfort, the meaning of Gebo can also include “exchanges” within sexual relationships and friendship, as well as rules of hospitality and largesse (pp. 101-105). A great deal of my counseling work addresses disrupted or inadequate exchanges during sexual intimacy, so this rune in this position seems apt on many levels.

Mountfort states that “Odin and his brothers (really aspects of the one All Father” gave humanity “breath, blood, and senses” (pp. 124). However other scholars assert that it was Loki in his aspect of Lodur who gave “blood”and “good color” to the first two humans (Dagulf Loptson, Playing with Fire–An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson, pp. 22-23). FYI, Loki is Odin’s blood brother. So though Loki is not named in this section he is significant behind the scenes.

Isa (ice/danger) was drawn for the second position, the “roots of the issue.” Mountfort interprets Isa as “stasis, emotional frigidity” or “a deadlock, bound in the coils of a crisis of the soul” and even “unrequited love, separation” (pp. 121-126).

Yep. I am the epitomy of the “wounded healer” when it comes to sexuality. Not only are there #MeToo incidents, but my last two long-term relationships were with men who refused all my efforts to salvage the relationships via better communication, transparency, and honesty, and even invitations to go to couples counseling! In fact, it seemed that the more skills I acquired, the more I was pushed away. Perhaps at the core I feel fraudulent, as I was unable to save my own marriage and the other major partnership. I do admit to feeling stuck and uninterested at this point, as well as lacking in confidence in spite of my education, training, successes, and years of practice.

I have also been demoralized by sexual harrassment from people posing as potential clients. At times I’ve been given reasons to fear.

So, yes, Loki, you have offered me some keen insights here with Isa. And yet ice can melt and bring new life. Heat is what is needed and I currently have more “heat” around magic, spirituality, and metaphysics than I do about sexual concerns. What would happen if I combined these elements in my professional practice and drew from deeper intuitive sources, including my guides and my gods?

Mountfort links Skadi, the frost giantess, to this rune (pp. 124-125). But he does not mention the story where Loki makes Skadi laugh by tying a goat to his testicles (a real icebreaker!). Mountfort also does not mention that Skadi sets a poison-dripping snake over Loki as he is bound and tortured. As a person with chemical injury problems who has a lot of fear about toxic exposures (see Loki, A God of Pleasure, Poisoned), that story is especially upsetting. So though Loki is again not mentioned in connection with this rune, he is significant behind the scenes.

Jera (year/harvestime) was drawn for “present events.” We’ve just entered a new cycle, a new year. I could harvest fruits from my spiritual efforts, if I wanted, and put them to work in service to others.

Mountfort mentions Freyr and Freya as those “who bestow favor and plenty upon the matter at hand” (pp. 127-133). Freyr and Freya are Vanir deities of the land, fertility, and pleasure. Freya is also a shamanic practitioner and teacher of magic, including trance magic used in oracular rituals (Seithr, Seidr). As a hypnotist, I can relate to this! My most recent hypnosis sessions have been increasingly intuitive and transformative. I already offer Freya and Freyr daily devotions and feel that having their blessing and guidance in my work could be fabulous!

I think that Jera tells me that I can own this side of myself, professionally, and that I could be confident of a good harvest if I plant these seeds within my practice.

Since I cast these runes on Imbolc, which celebrates the rebirth of The God, I note the association of this rune with Freyr (the corn god who dies and is reborn each year). In addition, the Celtic Brigid (Brigit), is a goddess who has just emerged as important to my spiritual life. Imbolc is very much a day for her celebration as well. So here I have the joining of cosmic male and female energies (sorry to be so binary) and the fruitfulness that can arise as a result.

Ehwaz (horse/movement) is the “likely outcome.” This rune signifies a “vehicle” for movement and change (pp. 165-169). When citing the lore associated with this rune, Mountfort brings up the story of Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir (p. 167-168). Loki is the colt’s mother. (Loki the shapeshifter sometimes gender-shifts and has been both a father and a mother.)

Mountfort also associates working in partnership (horse and rider) as well as boundaries. In considering my private practice as a vehicle for partnership with my gods and guides, as well as with my clients’, this rune seems auspicious.

Additionally, I’m a Wood Horse in Chinese astrology so this rune has extra bonus points for me.

Conclusion

My sexological journey actually began with a spontaneous spiritual combustion (a ten-month kundalini surge) and triggered my study of tantra, so it seems odd that I would have such hesitation about working more deeply and spiritually. It may be that a sense of privacy has held me back, as well as uncertainty.

This reading exceeds my expectations for insight and encouragement to move forward. However, I intend to do several more divinations, asking for advice from Freyr, Freya, Gerda (Freyr’s wife), Brigid, Bast, and perhaps also from the ancestral lineages that I work with.  I may use a pendulum and Tarot for the other divinations as Loki’s runework leaves very little (if anything) to be desired.

I believe that working in partnership with my gods, guides, and ancestors will bring additional depth to my client work and will counter the “imposter syndrome” baggage that troubles me. Perhaps the “wounded healer” in me will also benefit from feeling supported and protected by spiritual collaboration.

Can’t hurt, could help. Immensely…

####