Day 12 of our month-long devotion asks us to consider “places associated with this deity and their worship.” Don’t miss the important Public Service Announcement at the end of this post.
This brings us to place names. It’s difficult to discover information about fixed geographic locations associated with, or named after, Loki or that may be associated with his worship. However, there are other important Norse deities who didn’t have many or any places named after them either (Grundy, p. 32).
But just this morning I saw a post from Sandra Lindholm-Svensson in Loki’s Wyrdlings about “a Swedish town called Loke, and natural preservation area with the same name.” She mentions books by a Swedish author, Jan Ekermann, but unfortunately they don’t seem to have been translated to English. She also says Ekermann mentions hawthorn groves or fires of hawthorn branches as possibly sacred to Loki, but I’m unable to track this down at this point. (I super-appreciate Sandra’s contribution to this blog post. I have permission to use her name.)
It’s also worth noting that the “younger version” of the Old Norse name Loki is Loke in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Finnish. So a search for related place names in Scandinavia could include “Loke” too, as well as “Loka” which I understand is a possessive form of the name as in “Lokasenna” (Loki’s Flyting) or “Lokabrenna” (Loki’s Torch). “Loki” is on the list of approved male names in Iceland (yes, names have to be from an approved registry).
Ceremonial or Household Places
Loki may not have been a god for fixed place or fixed temple worship, but may have been more of a home-based or person-based presence. Modern Lokeans do seem to keep him close to home through personal devotions and altars and many remark how “available” he is.
Grundy says there are Swedish and Southern Norwegian folk-practices that associate Loki with hearth fire, as well as the Snaptun Bellows Stone which links him with forge fire, and the possibility that he was associated with ceremonial fires such as cremation. Such communal or ceremonial fires may have taken place at temporary, unmarked, or unnamed sites (pp. 35-40). (And fire, by its nature, can be everywhere or nowhere, called into being with simply a spark–or not.)
Hawthorn groves could fall into the ceremonial place category too, if they are indeed associated with Loki.
Loki is often portrayed as being neither permanently here nor there, and as a deity of liminal, between-spaces, it would make sense that there’s no “X marks the spot” for Loki worship in the ancient world.
Otherwise, I’d suggest anyplace that has a liminal quality or seems like a threshold, could be a good place to honor Loki. Likewise, in front of any fire. (I have all my devotional candles in the fireplace now, after almost burning down my living room a few months ago.)
I recently did a short, informal Loki ritual with a friend, both of us sitting on a bench that stradled a street over a creekbed, which made this space a “county park” about twelve feet wide, located between two private beaches. It seemed appropriately liminal.
Last night I was watching a PBS special on black holes in space. I became fascinated by the “event horizons” of black holes, where “nothing can be seen and nothing can escape.” On a cosmic scale, they seem so very Loki, at his most awesome, chaotic, “World-Breaker” aspect. I’m just glad I’m not required to get too close to one, any time soon.
I Interrupt This Blog Post to Bring You This Important Announcement
Not all “between places” are sacred, beneficial, or suitable to the worship of any deity, except perhaps the gods of money, power, and fascism. I am speaking of the United States “between-places” most properly termed concentration camps (but coyly named “migrant detention centers”).
It is not against U.S. law to seek asylum, but people are being imprisioned under intensely abusive and inhumane conditions nevertheless. Some are dying or dead.
Here’s a Time article with an overview of the appallingly abusive conditions: “More than 50,000 people are currently being held in ICE facilities, while approximately 20,000 are being held in CBP centers. More than 11,000 children are now in the custody of HHS, which holds ‘unaccompanied children’ for an average of 45 days.” According to this article, at least seventeen adults and seven children have died while “detained.”
In a July 11, 2019 opinion piece published in The Hill, “Keeping asylum seekers inhumanely detained is a policy choice, not a necessity,” Yael Schacher, Ph.D., writes:
Not a week has gone by recently without revelations, frequently from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) itself, of inhumane conditions for detained asylum seekers, including children.
Last week it was a report by the DHS’s Office of the Inspector General documenting “dangerous” overcrowding in U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) processing facilities in the Rio Grande Valley. Asylum seekers, including young children, are packed into these processing facilities for weeks without places to lie down, without access to showers, medicine, clothes or decent food.”
Schacher is a “senior U.S. advocate at Refugees International, where she focuses on U.S. asylum, U.S. refugee admissions, temporary protected status and immigration practices that have refugee protection implications.” She knows what she’s talking about. She continues:
“At Clint, young children were unattended, filthy, hungry, sick and forced to sleep on cold floors without bedding. And as credibly reported, CBP has removed basic necessities such as sleeping mats to punish children for supposed infractions. A doctor, writing about conditions in Ursula, said that failing to provide a mother a change of clothes for an infant or the ability to wash out a dirty formula bottle is ‘intentional mental and emotional abuse.’”
Imagine. Just imagine… babies, children, parents…human beings.
What To Do
Today, July 12, 2019, Lights for Liberty is co-sponsoring hundreds of events all over the world to protest U.S. policies and agencies responsible for these horrific conditions. I’ll be at the Lakeport, CA protest. We will be small, but mighty.
Here is the organization’s Call to Action:
Lights for Liberty is more than a one-day event. It is a commitment to stay in the fight for as long as it takes.
1. Donate to a local host organization in your area that is doing frontline support work for migrants and those in detention. Make it a monthly donation if you can.
2. Call your US representative and senators daily and demand an end to US concentration camps, accountability for DHS, ICE and CBP, and an end to human detention for all migrants.
3. Volunteer with a local immigration rights advocacy organization. Our host organizations (www.lightsforliberty.org/sponsors) are a good place to start.
4. Activate within your community by organizing with your neighbors, your friends, and your colleagues for ongoing action against detention camps in your area.
5. Engage in non-violent civil disobedience for as long as it takes to close every detention camp. Organize local protests, sit-down strikes, and ongoing action at ICE, CBP and local representative offices, and at local detention camps, and support those who do with money, amplification on social media, media access and coverage, and your time. Contact local immigration rights advocacy organizations for leadership and support.
And here are the organization’s Demands:
1. We believe in the rights and freedoms of all to pursue a better life.
Nosotros creemos en el derecho y la libertad, en la cual cualquier individuo puede buscar una vida mejor.
2. We believe that everyone has the right to live, to work and to prosper.
Nosotros creemos que todos tenemos el derecho de vivir, trabajar, y seguir adelante.
3. We recognize that it is the desire for work and for safety that drives immigrants to the United States.
Reconocemos que es el deseo de oportunidades, y de seguridad lo que motiva a los inmigrantes a venir a los Estados Unidos.
4. We recognize that seeking asylum is a universal human right.
Reconocemos que la búsqueda de asilo es un derecho humano universal.
5. We demand an end to the criminalization of migrants.
Exigimos que se termine con la criminalización de los inmigrantes
6. We demand the recognition that every migrant is as human, as worthy, and as important to the fabric of society as any US citizen.
If nothing else, think of this as a chance to perform as a devotional action for Loki. He loves children, his own and others. “Loki’s Torch” can shine here.
Grundy, Stephan. God in Flames, God in Fetters: Loki’s Role in the Northern Religions. Troth Publications, 2015.