Except for a few minor details, Loki’s Torch, an anthology, is almost ready for final publication, out on August 1st! Will be available via MagCloud–link as we get closer to the date.
Except for a few minor details, Loki’s Torch, an anthology, is almost ready for final publication, out on August 1st! Will be available via MagCloud–link as we get closer to the date.
Loki is the wild child, the consummate outsider, the charming iconoclast, the “everywhere but belongs nowhere” guy, a shapeshifter, a sky walker (“you can’t catch me!”)… So today’s question seems easy to answer at first: “how do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?” Snap! “He opposes them!” And then I pause, “but not entirely.”
Personal gnosis: I see and feel Loki more as a source of revelations than a figure who represents values or even anti-values. Though he does have a narrative function as the irritant, the villain, the anti-hero, the outcast, and even as a tragic figure–he holds up a mirror to the deities. Just by being who he is and doing what he does, he can throw their hypocrisy and cruelty into stark relief. If they continue to be obtuse, he’s willing to tell them to their faces. As we observe him in action, Loki reveals often ugly truths about the others (and sometimes unpleasant things about himself). He seems to say, “Watch and learn, O Midgard!”
And yet, as a Jotun “giant” adopted into the Æsir as Odin’s blood brother, he also seems to have been complicit, collaborative, and obedient–willing to serve as a functioning member of his new family. The bonds of kinship–including “blood brotherhood”–were very important in the culture of the old lore, but Loki is often troubled by family conflict. Dagulf Loptson says it very well: “when the two sides of your family are battling each other, which side do you align yourself with in order to fulfill your family responsibilities?” (Playing with Fire, p. 14). Loki’s family values are also challenged when his children are deliberately harmed by other members of the Æsir. And no one seems to have offered him weregild, either, as seems to have been the custom for making amends. (Personal gnosis: I feel no amount of that would have made it right for Loki, anyway.)
Another “value” that seems reflected in the old Norse lore, is what Dr. Jackson Crawford calls “hyper-masculinity” in his Lokasenna video. (I do think subtitling this “truth-telling” poem as “Loki’s Locker Talk” is somewhat superficial, however.)
Crawford translates one perjorative as “sissy” and Loki and Odin trade this one back and forth in the poem. Though Odin and Thor have both taken on the clothing and identity of women at times, Loki is the one accused most often of having a versatile gender repertoire, including a more subtle and nuanced masculinity. (Gender-shifting is one reason so many Lokeans are drawn to him, including yours truly.)
Lokasenna also seems to present sexual fidelity of women as an Old Norse value, as Loki exposes love affairs of the goddesses, including their love affairs with him. Therefore, Loki would seem to be subversive of this value, rather than an upholder of it. It’s obvious some of the other gods also subvert this value–via seduction or worse–not just Loki.
There is certainly much more that could be said on this topic of “values,” but I feel constrained today by lack of time. Perhaps I’ll revisit this again when these “30 Days of Devotion” are over.
Loki, darlin’, this one’s goin’ out to you!
7/17/19 Update: People are no longer chained to the cattle guard, but many kupuna (elders) are now being arrested. Some are in wheelchairs.
Kia’i–Protectors–have literally chained themselves to a cattle guard in the Mauna Kea access road, and are blocking it, to prevent further desecration of the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea. The Big Island News video (link below) shows commentary by professor Kaleikoa Kaʻeo and Walter Ritte, both well known activists and cultural practitioners, as they are chained to the cattle guard. They are still there, last I heard.
Want some backround? Watch Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege, a stunning documentary in full and for free. This tells the story of an earlier struggle to protect Mauna Kea from desecration. Many of the same people are still involved, though some have passed on. And younger activists are coming up all the time.
So for the record, I don’t just hang out with Loki and other Norse and Celtic deities, I also stand (in awe) with Poliahu and her people in this struggle, and have since the mid-2000s.
#KuKiaiMauna #SacredMaunaKea #AoleTMT
“Mundane,” in the sense of boring or dull, is not a word one usually associates with Loki. But today’s topic asks us if there are “any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?” Mundane in this sense means “earthly” rather than spiritual.
But I am so not down with this binary: “earthly” vs. “spiritual.” I don’t experience the world in this way. Probably it comes from doing entheogens and reading occult books in my formative teen years. Or maybe I was just always a weird kid, turning rapidly now into a weird old lady. In other words, I am quarreling with the premise behind this question.
That said, I really like the explanations given in Kyaza’s post today on this same topic.
But there really is no such thing as “mundane” in the “vs. spiritual” sense. Every single friggin’ atom of everything is chock full ‘o divinity, we just don’t always perceive it. (Yes, as a wee lass, I admit I was reading Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception…) So the gleaming stainless steel bowls about to receive my cats’ morning rations–those marvels of form and function–could potentially reveal their suchness and numinosity at any given moment, and my world would be unmade.
It wouldn’t be the first time, either. And for me, the potential deliverance of liminal perception and experience, intrinsic to all things, is where Loki dwells. It’s his promise. (He’s not unique in promising this particular thing, of course.)
So when we consciously and intentionally engage in spiritual practices we reflect acknowledge of this. We’re not transforming offerings into sacred objects for deity consumption, we’re acknowledging the sacredness they already have through the act of offering. A “sweets to the sweet” sort of thing. It’s yours anyway, so take it!
I’m yours anyway, so… Surrendering the small stuff. Making room for the numinous.
Of course, we humans dwell overmuch in the mundane as in “Booooring! The cats need to be fed, same old, same old. Fuck, what am I going to wear to work? Why won’t he put the toilet seat back down after he uses it?” That kind of thing. But dwell overmuch in the numinous and you’re one for the looney bin–or rather, these days–the cruel streets or one of those brand new concentration camps.
The balance. One foot in one world (sparkles!) and one foot in the other (meh), except it’s really you doing/being both at once, both feet connected to the rest of your body of electro-magnetic energies and minerals, dancing in the in-between and both. Not wave or particle, but both at once.
So the cure for the boredom that ails you is to wake up to the sparkles (or the horrors, sometimes) that are always there. Just add Loki! (Or any other deity.) You’re guaranteed an experience of something that just might blow your socks off and give you a reason to laugh, or at least feel something other than ennui.
Not looking forward to this year’s dreadfully difficult Thanksgiving Dinner with relatives? Just add Loki! (And duck…because that dish of cranberry sauce might go airborne.)
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. Zest is obtainable. Possibilities are endless.
In this spirit, I offer a link to a google drive page of Ariel Gatoga’s lectures. If you scroll to the second roll from the bottom you’ll find my favorite, A Charmed Life (6/2/17). The message is: “Be a witch. Charm your wallet. Charm your shoes. Charm everything you have and do. All the time. Why not?”
Hail Loki! (And Blessed Be!)
And a huge thank you to Ariel Gatoga, wherever he may be. He’s been an important online teacher for me but he seems to have vanished from the internet.
Today’s “Thirty Days of Devotion” topic asks if there’s a difference between ancient and modern worship of Loki. The answer is a resounding, artisan-grease infused, sprinkle-spattered “YES!”
So far, archaelogical records do not show that the Old Norse had anything resembling the cholesterol-crunching goodie we today know as “the donut.” Cane sugar arrived in Europe by the 1100s, making inadvertant contemporaries of Snorri Sturluson and a key donut ingredient. However, it was incredibly expensive, known as “white gold”, and until the 18th-19th centuries was reserved for the very rich. Simple folk offering baby teeth to Loki via the hearth-fire could not have known that the future held a far more delectable and acceptable offering, one whose very shape invoked the World-Encircling Jormungandr and whose endless variety echoes the consumate shape-shifting of the great snake’s Dad.
Furthermore, two donuts, side by side, approximate the symbol of eternity. Ponder that if you will! And that shape with a hole in the middle is as good as a hag stone for some. (Sadly, they seldom last as long.)
Though a skilled confectioner can spin “white gold” as fine as Sif’s hair, Scandinavia was slow to catch onto sugar. And the rest of Europe was slow to catch on to Norse mythology. However, by the 19th century, suddenly everyone was hot for both. How can we not detect the hand of Loki in this?
Think of it this way: increasing popularity of Norse Myths means more popularity for Loki, which means that in a period of rising sugar consumption, Loki gains more followers who can be prompted to make offerings of sugary goodness (and fewer baby teeth). Quite elegant, if you ask me!
Of course, one might argue that “correlation does not imply causation,” but that’s if one reckons without the influence of the divine. In the words of the immortal Gollum, “we wonders.”
However, well into the 19th century (and possibly beyond), most cane sugar was produced with slave labor, which we all know now included not just “labor” but also torture, murder, rape, imprisonment, tearing families apart, etc. I ask myself if Loki would have been so fond of his surgary sweets, had he known their cost in human lives?
Though we’re now reinventing our donuts as “paleo” or sugar and gluten-free, and can deplore the brutal history of past sugar production, it’s worth asking ourselves if we can also examine some of the other entitlements of modern neo-paganism and Western consumerism. Can we consider such factors as the labor exploitation and environmental damage that occurs in the mining and trade of our “healing crystals”? [<—Read this!] Can we offer goodies made from ingredients sourced from “fair trade” farmers? Can we question ways in which we might still be complicit in cultural appropriation or resource exploitation, without knowing it?
So this isn’t just a blog about donuts, or how modern Loki worship differs from way back when (we don’t even know if Loki was “worshipped” per se), it’s a blog about how Loki worship can continue to evolve, based on our climate-catastrophic times. It’s a blog about examining how our devotional and magical practices and consumption habits can be changed, one by one, to reflect the actual realities of the worlds around us, enabling us to do as little harm as possible in the pursuit of our spiritual practices.
I’ve been guilty of buying supermarket donuts for Loki. It’s a quick fix for offerings and I don’t have much money. But based on what I’ve just written and how I can’t “unsee it,” I may need to change my offerings. And I need to talk with Loki about this.
And if it takes going back to throwing the humblest of offerings into a fire, or placing a simple flat cake on an altar, so be it.
On the other hand, I’m a fan of Loki Spongecake Day and the reasons behind it–so everyone else, offer what you will! I won’t be judgy.
Thirteen days into July’s “Thirty Days of Devotion for Loki,” we ponder this topic: “what modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?”
A deity’s interest in modern cultural issues is assumed and/or communicated based on a devotee’s blend of “personal gnosis” and knowledge of lore, as well as community conversations about a deity’s involvment in a cause. These perceptions and community conversations are valuable as they give clues to types of service that could be performed as an offering to a deity. Of course, devotees may also received direct messages about desired devotional work as well.
For what it’s worth, here’s my personal gnosis take on Loki’s interests.
In yesterday’s Day 12 blog, I encouraged readers to attend one of the LightsforLiberty events protesting U.S. concentration camps for asylum-seekers. I claimed that “Loki loves children” and this claim was based on lore that he both fathered and mothered various progeny, appears to have been deeply fond of them all, and would presumably not want them or other children to suffer. And he doesn’t seem to be someone who would approve of caging them or separating them from their parents.
One example of Loki’s concern for a child’s safety comes from Loka Táttur, a story-ballad from the Faroe Islands in which Loki rescues a farmer’s son from a giant after Odin and Hœnir have failed to keep the kid safe. And many modern conversations about Ragnarok speculate about Loki’s desire for revenge on the Æsir after the torture, death, and banishment of many of his own children. (His own torture and banishment seems scarcely considered.)
I also have personal gnosis regarding Loki and his concern for the safety of children, and have seen many comments from other Lokeans who also share this feeling.
This is another area with plenty of conversation and personal gnosis. While you won’t find sexual preference and gender-variance positivity reflected in the old Norse lore (quite the contrary), I think there is plenty of modern agreement that Loki is multi-gendered and queer, and has a special interest and protectiveness for human beings who are in the same boat.
Several years ago, the “Over-Enthusiastic PFLAG Mom” was a popular meme. Of course, she’s a redhead. I catch a whiff of “Loki-ness” in the spirit of these memes. (My favorite reads “Pansexual? Just don’t chip the good china.”) Could “Mr. LokiBot” do any better?
This is one of the main reasons I love him.
According to some parts of Norse lore, Loki has been tormented for eons by painful snake venom dripped onto his skin. I personally take this as a metaphor for the challenges of environmental illnesses. One of my first blogs was Loki: A God of Pleasure, Poisoned. I’ve expanded on this theme in My Gods are Fragrance-Free and Loki: Proving the Poison. At times I identify as an “Eco-Lokean.”
(Sadly, when I went to the local Lights for Liberty demonstration in Lakeport, CA yesterday, I had to dodge at least two quite heavily-offgassing fragrance users while standing in the hot sun with other activists. Even protests are not accessible to people like me. And someone tell me why it is necessary to wear fragrance to a protest??? Bitch, please!)
A number of people think and feel that Loki is very supportive of people who deal with physical and mental challenges, as well as those who have gone through rough times. He does seem to show up with a hand to hold and a swift kick to the patoosis, if you need it. Many say Loki brings some crazy-ass shit, but that they are better for it.
I would presume that any advocacy for people with disabilities, foster kids who have aged out, prisioners, poor people, homeless people, addicts, etc. would have Loki’s blessing.
Personal gnosis, as well as intellectual speculation, leads me to beleive that most deities and spirits of this planet, not to mention great heaping gobs of ancestors, are quite, quite concerned about accelerating climate change and species die-offs. However, those in charge of conservative Christian fundamentalists are anything but. They’re all like “inconceivable!” and “What–Me worry?” Will the real anti-Christ please stand up?
I could also see Loki as a patron of investigative journalists and columnists who skewer hypocrisy and exposure wrong-doing in high places. He’d probably love Project Censored. Perhaps I should start listening to their radio show again, and invite Loki to listen in. Check out “Rallying Over Balloting: The Origins of Activism of the Millennial Generation” which is also televised.
Now that The Troth has lifted the ban and welcomed Loki back into its Trothmoot ceremonies I think there is even greater potential for Loki to be seen and known for his/her/zir/their opposition to fascism and white supremacy. He can be a potent force for inclusivity. I made a case for this before. Here’s a list of anti-hate resources at the end of this blog from last year.
As for the juggernaut of facism, here’s an excellent article by Fintan O’Toole in Irish Times: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow. Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism. It was published last summer, 2018. It now forms an eery, prophetic restrospective.
Here’s another article worth noting, from the Southern Poverty Law Center: White Nationalist Threats Against Transgender People are Escalating.
Generally, whatever kind of humanitarian or social justice activism we’re into, if we’re into Loki too, we will probably be asking him to support us in our efforts. And we’ll likely to feel he will, partly because Loki hates hypocrisy and partly because he wants us to be effective change agents for our own lives and for the larger community. That’s a personal gnosis statement, of course, but I believe it’s in alignment with most if not all in the Lokean community. And it’s in alignment with how I’m communicating with my patron deity.
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).
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.
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.
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.