I wish I could be there myself to marvel at how these two will weave together their teachings and their own inate wisdom, along with the contributions shared by the workshop participants, but I have surgery coming up. Instead I will marvel from afar!
Daniel Foor interviews Kumu Ramsay in this video, just posted a few days ago. Please watch it to get a feeling for the two teachers and for a sample of the vast, yet intimate, terrain which may be covered.
Podcasts and audio interviews with Daniel Foor may be heard here.
I am also quite happy to signal boost this event as Dr. Foor is quite sensitive and responsive to issues of colonization, cultural appropriation, privilege, and social justice. He is a humble man and has spoken honestly about the hard learnings that come when approaching another culture or spiritual tradition.
From the workshop announcement and registration page:
“We acknowledge this event is taking place on the occupied ancestral lands of diverse Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) peoples. We encourage participants to become educated on the history of the land, including the illegal occupation of Hawai’i, and to support Hawaiian-run organizations working to support traditional wisdoms and cultural wellness.”
Signal Boost Two: And Now Please Support the Pu’uhonua o Waia’nae community.
The organizers of the above workshop encourage people to support Hawaiian-run organizations. Since the workshop is being held in Wai’anae, a community on the west side of O’ahu, what better place to start than Pu’uhonua O Waia’nae! (A pu’uhonua is a place of refuge.)
From the website: “Puʻuhonua O Waiʻanae not just the oldest and largest houseless village on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu, but a visionary laboratory for community that I think holds significant importance for all of us.”
You can donate to Pu’uhonua O Waia’nae here. Your donation will help to purchase land and other necessary things for the Kanaka Maoli who are creating a “place of refuge” and ongoing community in Wai’anae.
Because I am willing to write and talk about the unknown, the unseen, and the inexplicable, many people in my life have told me tales of transformative incidents–often spontaneous, often happening outside a specific spiritual context or structure. Things happen. The clouds part, the rock speaks, the ancestors beckon, the spirit descends…or erupts! Yesterday I sat in a homey Lake County cafe–nothing pretty or upscale about it–eating (rather greasy) hashbrowns and one egg. (The salsa was good, though!) I was with a new friend and collaborator and we began to tell chicken-skin stories. Originally our topic had been the Norse gods, specifically Odin and Thor, but we soon branched off into personal epiphanies and occurences.
All over the world, people have these experiences. Some talk about them, some don’t. Some, like me, blog about them. But it took me years to get the nerve to do it.
Several years ago I began to see certain incidents in my life as signposts, perhaps planted by me before I was born. (I know, sounds weird). But there have been too many incidents, too many coincidences, to not have developed this odd little personal philosophy. Trouble is, do the signposts mean “go thataway” or “make a U turn, now?” Do they appear at entries or exits? Or both? This is a problem in discernment.
As a self-proclaimed witchy person, I have to admit I just haven’t been drawn to Goetic demons. I’ve been more interested in other categories of beings, mostly in Celtic and Northern traditions. But I know people who work with the demons, like them, revere them, and who are respectful of them. And I am respectful of the knowledge and advice of these friends.
In the U.S. and elsewhere, the word “demon” has instant negative connotations of evil. They are imagined as horrifying, malicious, and perilous. But the original meaning of the word was more often positive or neutral. In Ancient Greek daimōn meant spirit or genius, or a kind of guardian spirit. In Latin, daemon or daemonium could mean deity or a lesser spirit (sometimes evil).
Now, there are forms of peril probably attached to most kinds of magic, just as there’s peril associated with all aspects of life in general. It doesn’t do to be stupid or naively romantic about motorists, food expiration dates, or unseen beings. I look both ways when I cross the street, so when I stumbled across this Goetic signpost in the middle of my Lokean life, I started looking both ways (as well as four directions, up and down, and inside and out). And of course I utilized my trusty search engines and pendulum to discover more.
So, I found info like this: Amy is number 58 in the roster of Goetic demons, is a fallen angel (therefore in Lucifer’s camp), and is an Earl or President of Hell. Amy also rules mediumship and possession, other forms of trance work (I’m a hypnotist), and likes snakeskin offerings. (I immediately thought of my gold snakeskin ankle boots from the 80s, carefully preserved, worn on stage during an Iggy Pop concert at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco…). And there was a bunch of other stuff I don’t understand, not being familiar with this tradition.
And here I pause to giggle to myself. I never liked the name “Amy.” My mother said she named me after Amy March in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But now I dig it. I much prefer the idea that my mother was unconsciously and mystically prompted to name her firstborn after a Goetic demon–one who is sure to share my taste in boots–than the rather spoiled little sister of the peerless Jo March. Actually, the above could explain a lot about my dysfunctional upbringing and social difficulties.
Though I now have some information about the Goetic Amy, I have no idea yet what it means in the context of witchery, my mostly Northern devotional practices, and my life. Of course I check in with Loki (via pendulum and divination). The response is cautious/positive about my learning more, but the pendulum swing says they “get along.”
And there may be an ancestral connection as well. My context is the Ancestral Medicine practice from Daniel Foor. In his teaching, one of the discoveries we can make about our lineages are the spiritual traditions which were/are important for those ancestors, including those from pre-Christian times. For example, my father’s father’s line seems connected to Norse traditions and even to Loki. Another example: I recently started working with my father’s mother’s lineage. The Irish/Celtic Brigit showed up as being important here, which makes sense because this line brings my Irish ancestry. As a result, I’ve begun to add Brigit to my daily devotions. So it may be that the Goetic Amy was important to one or more of my ancestors. I’ve got some divinatory indications for that but they are too vague to say any more at this time.
So I’m giggling again. “Amy? It’s a family name.” And honestly, if this demon is known as a “president from hell,” he can’t be any worse than the one that’s currently seated you know where.
I give up. I should just spread the deck all over the floor or table, and do a reading based on which of the four cats sits on which card. I could also assign a divinatory meaning to each cat, perhaps corresponding to the court cards. Niblet, the tuxedo cat, will be king and will signify the past. Popoki will be queen and will signify the present. Freya, the fluffiest cat, will be princess (aka knight) and signify the outcome. And tiny Varda, still such an alley cat, is the page and will signify additional factors, the famous “fourth card.”
The cats, however, will probably foil this scheme and either sit on several cards at once or hide under the bed, and so what will I make of this? What if Freya washes herself while sitting on The Tower — could this indicate a reversed card?
Varda-Black cat, sideview.
Freya-Black and white cat in blue wood chair. Red cushion.
Popoki-Black cat on white rug.
Niblet-Black and white cat staring.
L to R: Page Varda, Princess Freya, Queen Popoki, King Niblet.
Today the cats strolled over the Thoth deck as I attempted to set out a reading. They did not stay put however, so I was able to come up with a four-card spread in response to a rather intense yesterday.
I seldom use the Thoth cards. They’re beautiful but also confusing (there are so many symbols which have little to do with my mostly Norse-ish practices) and harsh (if I pay attention to the subtitles, which is not recommended anyway).
The card I drew for the past was Seven of Disks (subtitled “Failure”–argh! I already felt like one).
The card I drew for the present was XX The Aeon (Judgment). Aeon also contains references to a family relationship, so seeing it side by side with “Failure” was difficult. And yet, I’ve lived with the knowledge of certain broken things for years.
The card I drew for the outcome was the Princess of Swords.
The fourth card was 10 of Swords (subtitled “Ruin”), probably the real outcome.
I confess, my initial response was sheer dismay, though The Aeon looked hopeful-ish. And a sword-wielding princess is not a bad thing. But I always do this. I emotionally respond to the images then sort through layers of meaning.
Thanks to a Lokean friend, online, I was able to shift my initial reactions of doom and gloom to something more positive. After all, even the first card indicates that new growth is possible. What had happened involved some very intense feedback that was personally devastating, and yet the fact that I was even getting the feedback, and accepting the truths spoken by the person, meant that perhaps we would be able to one day unravel the dreadful snarl of patterned behavior that so does NOT put the “fun” back into dysfunctional.
Delving deeper into the cards and their positions I see the pattern of past failure, present judgment (and I’m found wanting), a vivid slashing away of old concepts (with a sun rise emerging from the storm), and the final card of broken patterns, with a heart stabbed through the middle. This last sounds grim, but is actually what we want and need in this situation. A heart “stabbed” can also be a heart–or hearts–cracked open to new possibilities.
In addition to my friend’s remarks, I am also guided by The Ultimate Guide to the Thoth Tarot by Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger.
I’m going to share what struck me about each card in the book.
The Seven of Disks (Pentacles) card (for the past) was likened to the cover of “a book with seven seals” full of “riddles that concern the progression, the success, and the destiny of your life.” The blue-black color of the card is said to be “vegetative” and indicates a “partly unconscious nature.” True enough–all the big issues were grounded in the damage done by my own unconsciousness, and my own unconsciousness of my unconscious (and down we go through the hall of endless mirrors…yikes.) The card also carries Saturn and Taurus correspondences symbolizing “the long journey of experience.” The authors used the phrase, “time heals all wounds,” and though I don’t know if complete healing is possible, perhaps softening of suffering is–eventually.
The Aeon as the card of the present definitely refers to judgment or Judgment Day. This is different from justice (or what I might term “a fair hearing,” which I will probably never receive but that’s okay. The other person involved has already heard too much.) The card symbolizes “revelation, transformation, and resurrection.” Gods, let’s hope so! There are some thoughts I have regarding the appearance of the sky goddess, Nut, and the “old and new Horus,” but they are very personal, so I’ll keep them to myself.
The Princess of Swords is probably me, charged after acknowledgment of failures and the judgment upon them, to slash through “mental fog” and “erratic ideas”–preconceived notions and ideas which are not grounded in reality. The card contains an invitation to experience “profound recognition” and “fresh inspiration from outward.” I can hardly wait. This card is also a sort of “ball’s in my court” challenge–how do I react to what I’ve heard? Do I circle the wagons around my own cherished notions or respond genuinely and lovingly to the messages I’ve been given?
Now I am writing very calmly about what was a very painful experience. And my emotions are going to be tumultuous at best as I integrate what I’ve heard and felt. But thinking is indeed my friend, and if I can bring the unconscious material to awareness and regard it with some degree of clarity and honestly, perhaps I’ll do okay in the end and be able to do right by others too. This is what the Ten of Swords card brings. Swords are intellect and thoughts. The swords in this card are now broken (even one topped by a tiny set of scales and a symbol of the sun, a simple circle with a dot–also standing for birth). These broken swords may even fall from their original formation into the “windmills” of confusion in the background. But they haven’t quite yet. There are questions here. Should the swords be reforged? Or allowed to fall? How much of the old pattern could be saved? Or should it be saved at all? What potential lurks in this suspended chaos?
There’s irony here, as I have another situation where I stand in relation to another person in a very similar position that the other person in yesterday’s conversation stands to me. I’m in the middle, torn in two, and yet I know I will never get the satisfaction I crave (justice again?) should I ever broach a similar set of grievances to that other one. That is a person who is calcified, will never cop to anything, will never really hear me or acknowledge my right to pain.
I can’t pat myself on the back at all, but I do hope that yesterday I at least gave a little more satisfaction by taking it on the chin than I’ve been given in the other situation, where I long to dish it out but know it will be futile to even bother. We’ll see what evolves.
In the meantime, I at least know I can do right by my cats, whether or not they want to serve as agents of divination.
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!
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.
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.
I’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.
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.
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.