Lokasenna Time!

Loki_taunts_Bragi

The Columnist shook his credentials and raised an outcry against Loki. There was a “Wild” ruckus in the Comments section, so Loki found the Editor without. Loki greeted him and said:

1] “Say thou, Editor,     nor before set thou

One foot forward:

What the Columnists speak of,     at their laptops sitting,

the website here within.”

Editor said:

2] “Of their credentials speak,     and of lofty deeds,

the glorious Pundits,

Of neopagan readers     who click their bait

not one speaks well of thee.”

Loki said:

3] “In I shall, though,     into the Hunter’s Hall—

fain would I hear their boasts;

brawls and bickering      I bring the goods,

their typos I shall mix with truth.”

Editor said:

4] “If thou goest     into the Hunter’s Hall,

and fain would’st hear their boasts;

if hate and mocking     they heap upon you,

be sure to Twitter me.”

Loki said:

5] If with words we war,     I and your Pundits,

then full well thou wotst,

Editor, that I    will uppermost be,

if foul of me thou fallest.”

Then went Loki within the hall, but when they who were there saw who had come in, the Pundits all were hushed.

Loki said:

6] “Thirsty cometh     to the Hunter’s Hall,

burdened with glorious purpose,

To ask the Pundits     if that anyone

would pour him the mellow mead.”

7] “Why are ye closed,     in your comments section,

Allow me not to have a word?

A space on your Disqus     in your weblog give me,

or else unleash my bloggers!”

Pundit said:

8] A seat on the bench,     our banquet to share,

will this Pundit not ever give thee;

for well I wot     what Pagans at the feast

it behooves me to have.”

Loki said:

9] “Art mindful, Pundit,     how in olden days we

watched thy strain at interfaith dialogue?

Thou doest much better     amongst Ancient Astronaut

Theorists opining on alien craft.”

Pundit said:

10] “Arise then colleagues,     let the Wolf’s father

be benched at our banquet;

lest that Loki     demand a retraction

in the Hunter’s Hall.”

Then arose the Pundit and snatched a laptop away from Loki.

But before he sat, Loki hailed the Columnists:

11] “Hail to you, Pundits,      hail, Columnists,

Hail to all would-be bloggers,

but to one Pundit only,      who with you sits,

Serves grevious slander to my name.”

Pundit said:

12] “My byline art most precious,     I beseech thee, Loki,

Call off thy bitter bloggers,

Lest to pagan hosts     my wits show slowest:

beware my trump comparisons!”

Loki said:

13] “Of trump comparisons    small store, ween I,

hast, Pundit, thou to boast!

Of all the pundits     within this hall

thou are most inclined to make

assertions with no merit.”

Pundit said:

14] If without I were—     as within I am—

Hunter’s hallowed hall:

in my hands would I have     thy rep full soon

for your crimes are as of trump.”

Loki said:

15] “Thou are swift to cry trump,     but slow to examine,

Pundit, thou spurious claims;

I offer critique,     if bold thou art;

not a whit would a brave brain stay.”

A Reader said:

16] “I beg thee, Pundit,      to bear in mind

That of Odin’s kin he is:

Diss not Loki     with taunting words

in Hunter’s weblog hall.”

Loki said:

17] Right on, Reader:     of neopagans

this oft contentious lot,

rains foul words     and fouler deeds,

upon my mortal friends.”

Reader said:

18] “I tease not Loki     with taunting words

in Hunter’s weblog hall;

I but soothe Pundit     with theories crazed

lest Lokeans go to battle.”

Editor said:

19] “Ye Bloggers all     within this hall

why do ye war with words?

We knoweth well     the drag this is,

let’s love all merry things!”

Loki said:

20] “Right on, Editor     I have in mind

the way to make amends

For weregild take     the apology make

and Loki hate forswear.”

And from that day forth, all were welcome in the hall. 


Based on the “Lokasenna,” The Poetic Edda, translated by Lee M. Hollander.


Please also check out these thoughtful rebuttals:

Dagulf Loptson, Loki and Trump: My Thoughts

Kyaza, Analysis of Seigfried’s Comparison of Loki and Trump

Sonya Odinsdottir, Rebuttal to Article: Loki in the White House

Sarenth Odinson, Loki is Not Trump (Neither is Odin)


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Dude, I Call Lokiphobia! Check Your Bully Pulpit.

Yesterday I woke up perplexed and annoyed. Today I woke up pissed. Maybe it was that nightmare of the horse falling from out of the sky, missing one leg (who knows what this means?) and that part later where I had to flee with a frightened family to a place of numerous birds in cages and eerily pleasant people behind the counter, checking us in.

All I know is that I deeply resent the psuedo-Satanic Panic import of Karl Seigfried’s Wild Hunt opinion piece, “Loki in the White House.” Yesterday I didn’t even want to write his name, today I think it’s important to do so. Because I think his intentions are to further ostracize–and demonize–a group of religious people already existing in the margins of neopaganism: Lokeans and those who Hail Loki, among other deities.

Two days ago, I never knew this guy existed. But I understand from another Lokean that at one point he wrote a denunciation of racism. I haven’t seen this article or essay myself, because I haven’t gone looking for it, but assuming this is true, why is it that a person who is seemingly capable of speaking out against the negative impacts of prejudice and systemic racism can then turn around and deliberately weaponize his own prejudices by whipping up resentment against a group of religious practitioners, equating their deity with a sort of “satanic” purpose and intent (e.g. Ragnarok)? Don’t all decent people deplore the ugliness and hatred of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and the like?

I invite you to read more about Satanic Panic here. There are parallels to what Seigfried is doing.

Seigfried’s Call to Action

I’m going to quote again the “call to action” at the end of Seigfried’s diatribe, a little more fully than I did yesterday. Let’s examine what he says. Here’s the last two paragraphs. I am inserting brackets and numbers, to make this easier.


[Beginning of Quote] By examining Loki in the light of Trump, we can realize that there is a way to understand the mythic figure as [1] neither a “Christian influenced” Satan inserted into the lore, nor a [2] misunderstood anti-hero who should be elevated to a [3] near monotheistic pinnacle of devotion. Instead, he can be seen as [4] a figure who represents the worst aspects in ourselves, who embodies all that is harmful to a community of positive intent. [5] Trump shows us the real-world results of an objectifier of women, a betrayer of community, an opposer of law, and a bringer of chaos being set loose to work his will upon the world. [6] Is this really what we want? [7] I believe that the idea of Loki as the bound giant who finally breaks free to destroy the world is [8] the root element of his character. [9] I suggest that maybe we should support those who seek to bind the beast [10] rather than cheer on his rampage.

Finally, I would like to make the simple request that, following this article, [11] lovers of Loki and partisans of the president [12] refrain from making death threats against me. I know that these are two figures who inspire passionate devotion, but I think it is possible to have differences of opinion without threatening lives and livelihood. [13] Thank you for rejecting fundamentalism. [End of Quote]


Before I begin to break down these statements, line by line, keep in mind that elaborate sociological theories exist which describe the manifold ways in which those who hold themselves up as representing a “norm” always need a group of “deviants” to “other.” It’s essential to be able to point to “Those guys over there, they’re responsible for our problems! Not us! We couldn’t possibly make any mistakes! We’re good, we’re normal!

That’s why in 45’s Reign of Error we have an upsurge in public hate against Muslims, immigrants, people of color, trans and gender variant people, LGBQ folks, women, etc. Twump exploited this human failing from the very beginning, effectively demonizing Hilary Clinton (not my fave either, but c’mon!). He organized his supporters around a common enemy (an uppity woman and her followers) and held himself up as their savior.

You can’t boost your status with an implied victory unless you have a threat and an enemy. Gosh, just like what Seigfried is doing in his article! He’s going to save us from all those deviant Lokeans who want twump to bring on Ragnarok! Frankly, Seigfried’s taken more than one page from the playbook of the presidential figure he purports to abhor.


So, let’s calmly pick apart those last two paragraphs, shall we? Seigfried’s content is in italics. My comments are in bold. The paragraphs begin with:

By examining Loki in the light of Trump, we can realize that there is a way to understand the mythic figure as

[1] neither a “Christian influenced” Satan inserted into the lore, nor a…

Seigfried asks us to set aside all consideration of academic and popular discussions of the impact of Christian writers and thought on Norse lore in general, and Loki in particular. He wants us to just ignore all that scholarship. It gets in the way of his pitch. Here’s a little clue: “Christian influenced” is in quotes, but no source for that phrase is cited. He wants the quotes to undermine the influence of that descriptive phrase.

[2] misunderstood anti-hero who should be elevated to a…

This is a dig at modern Lokeans. It implies that his understanding should trump ours as religious practitioners. (Pun intended.)

[3] near monotheistic pinnacle of devotion. Instead, he can be seen as…

A generalization which serves to polarize public opinion among polytheistic neopagans because now we’re not just Lokeans, we’re (gasp!) monotheistic Lokeans–and devoted to boot! The subtext is: “What wouldn’t such deviants do on behalf of their one true god? Save us from such zealots! Circle the wagons! Hide the women and children!”

You may think I’m exaggerating, but I am not. Because it gets worse.

FYI, this monotheistic thing? This is also a blatant untruth. There are plenty of people who hail Loki, among many other deities and ancestors (and not just Norse ones either), and there are also those who are more focused on Loki than on other deities, and there are some who actually refer to themselves as Lokeans or some other related term and yet may or may not focus exclusively on Loki. So what?

[4] a figure who represents the worst aspects in ourselves, who embodies all that is harmful to a community of positive intent.

So here’s the Big D Demonization, right here. After making a very threadbare case by linking Loki with 45 through cherry-picked comparisons, Seigfried just flat out states that Loki is everything that is bad. This implies that his followers are unfit for a “community of positive intent.” The subtext is: “Cast them out, I say!”

The sad, sad irony is that I’ve found more positive intent, kindness, and patient, ethical acceptance among the groups of online Lokeans that I am getting to know, than almost anywhere else. And my experience with the vibrant essence of the being who has identified him/her/zirself as “Loki” has been quite positive and multi-layered. 

I think this is what unnerves Seigfried, actually, that many of us are having actual mystic and religious experiences with a larger being. It’s not just a bunch of us sitting around with Marvel Loki dolls imagining “UPG”–stuff really happens. 

I’d also like to point out that there seems to be a rather large percentage of female, LGBQIA, and trans and gender diverse people who are Loki devotees–as opposed to cis-het men–and that Seigfried is leading a charge to marginalize those who are already marginalized due to these statuses, in addition to already being shunned as Lokeans. Is he going after the white supremacists who wear Thor hammers, those who are truly 45’s supporters and who would like nothing better than to nuke brown people in other countries, thereby bringing on a semblance of Ragnarok? No! Seigfried’s a bully. He’s going after those he perceives as weak and unorganized. 

(And we are unorganized, compared to other neopagan groups. But I don’t believe we are weak.)

[5] Trump shows us the real-world results of an objectifier of women, a betrayer of community, an opposer of law, and a bringer of chaos being set loose to work his will upon the world.

Yeah. But twump is what happens when you combine white, male, upper class privilege with immense greed and lack of ethics, total unconcern for anyone else, politicians beholden to corporations, rigged elections, and probable collusion with Russia. And let’s not forget systemic racism, misogyny and rape culture, trans and homophobia, Islamophobia, grudges against immigrants, etc. Then acknowledge that most of our media are owned by a handful of companies and that 45 was given “star quality” by CBS.

Loki has absolutely NOTHING to do with the present state of our eroding, so-called democracy. We brought this on ourselves.

[6] Is this really what we want?

Here’s where Siegfried becomes as sly as the deity he purports to despise. He asks the question. Because we want to be part of that “community of positive intent” that Seigfried references, we answer: 

“Wow, no, gosh, we don’t want all that! Eww, no! Take it away! It’s the fault of a faulty god! Let’s blame him! And his followers!

Seigfried weaves his false equation, Loki=Trump, and then asks us if we really want this shit-fuck stack based on centuries of racism, chattel slavery, genocide of native peoples, and the immense cluelessness of white people who persist in clutching their privileges about themselves to ward off the ultimate reckoning for their deeds (not just their ancestors’s deeds)…our deeds, our collective failures to address any of this in an effective way). 

See? There’s no need to do any hard work examining our own privileges and deeply entrenched prejudices, no need to be organizing against this stuff in any real way. It’s all the fault of that Norse Satan. He did it. Not us.  

[7] I believe that the idea of Loki as the bound giant who finally breaks free to destroy the world is…

Again, remember, this is Seigfried’s “belief,” and it discards not only all the other attributes of Loki that can be found in the the lore but also disregards the lived experiences of contemporary neopagans who have Loki in their lives. But Seigfried wants you to believe that HIS belief and perceptions have far more value than that of the religious practitioners actually engaged with Loki.

[8] the root element of his character.

This guy just won’t give up, will he? I actually don’t care that he believes as he does. He’s welcome to whatever. What I do care about is that he is turning a popular neopagan platform into a bully pulpit to portray a particular god as a dangerous being, and his followers as not only unworthy of consideration and also as an active threat to others.

[9] I suggest that maybe we should support those who seek to bind the beast

Meaning him of course. He wants to be your champion against bad, bad Loki and the bad, bad Lokeans. That’s one hell of a bondage fantasy, Seigfried!

[10] rather than cheer on his rampage.

Meaning those of us that he deems as unworthy of support because we worship (among others) a god that he doesn’t like. 

Also, I don’t know any Lokeans who are cheering on 45 and his policies. Not a one.

[11] Finally, I would like to make the simple request that, following this article,

Actually, there’s a lot to unpack in this supposedly “simple request.” Siegfreid invites us to join with him–“following the article”–thereby slipping in the suggestion that we are following him now when we do as he asks.

[12] lovers of Loki and partisans of the president

Once again hammering home that false equivalency.

[13] refrain from making death threats against me. I know that these are two figures who inspire passionate devotion, but I think it is possible to have differences of opinion without threatening lives and livelihood.

The implication that Lokeans and those who hail Loki would actually make death threats is a staggering statement. I can scarcely imagine the self-centeredness, the hubris, of a man who would imply such a thing. He aches to be a martyr, so that he can prove how worthy he is to be our champion, or some other self-serving agenda.

And again, he continues the false equivalency. Can someone please tell this guy that “correlation does not equal causation?” Thanks ever so.

And by the way, did you notice the amazing plethora of tags at the end of his article? This guy is on a crusade and he wants search engines to be his bitch. He’s tagged everything from J.R.R. Tolkien to rape. He is clearly desperate for readership and followers. Here’s his tags:


Culture, Paganism, Perspectives, Politics #MeToo, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, abduction, Access Hollywood, allegory, apocalypse, applicability, Asatru, Asgard, Attorney General, Baldr, Bill Zanker, border, Brett Kavanaugh, chaos, chaos magick, China, Christianity, Christine Blasey Ford, CIA, comic books, community, conspiracy theories, death threats, deicide, diversity, divorce, Donald Trump, duality, Edda, Eric Trump, family separation, fandom, FBI, Fenrir, Freyja, Freyr, Fundamentalism, Geirröd, genocide, George W. Bush, Germanic mythology, giants, goddesses, gods, Hatice Sengiz, Heathenry, Heimdall, Hel, henotheism, History of the Danes, Idunn, Iran, Ivana Trump, Ivanka Trump, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jack Kirby, Jamal Khashoggi, Jeffrey Kaplan, Joanne Harris, John Roberts, Jörmungandr, Jr., Justice Department, Kim Jong Un, Laufey, LGBTQ, Lokasenna, Loki, Loki Laufeyjarson, Mar-a-Lago, Matthew Whitaker, Mexico, millenarianism, Mjolnir, Mohammed bin Salman, monotheism, murder, Nazi Germany, nepotism, new religious movements, norse mythology, North Korea, nuclear war, Old Norse, Paganism, Paul Ricoeur, Poetic Edda, polytheism, prophecy, psychoanalysis, Radical Religion in America, ragnarok, rape, Reykjavik, ritual, Robert Mueller, Roland Paris, Rudolf Simek, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Saxo Grammaticus, Seeress, sexual assault, sexual harassment, Sif, Skáldskaparmál, slut shaming, Snorri Sturluson, society, Stan Lee, Steny Hoyer, thanksgiving, The Lord of the Rings, theology, Think Big, Thjazi, Thor, Thor’s hammer, Tom Hiddleston, transgender, Trump, Trump Tower, Twitter, University of Ottawa, Völuspá, White House, Wicca, witch hunt, World Serpent

[14] Thank you for rejecting fundamentalism.

This last is a whopper! In what way have followers of Loki ever espoused any form of fundamentalism? We’re the oddest, most eclectic lot I can imagine. Our forms of worship and engagement are quite, quite diverse. 

And again, the false equivalency…

Lokiphobia as the New Satanic Panic?

What exactly is Seigfried trying to unleash here, with his frantic bid for attention to this topic? By scapegoating a scattered band of Loki enthusiasts, and dissing their god to the max, he seems to be doing his best to create an easily targeted enemy within the large tent of neopaganism and the smaller tents of Heathen, Asatru, and other Norse Traditions. Those of us who have already commented publicly on his hit piece are now flushed out and identifiable (if we weren’t before), ready to be excommunicated from that “community” he talks about (if we haven’t been already), and if we don’t behave and give up our devotions to our “Norse Satan,” perhaps roasted over the slow flame of public scorn. Meanwhile our fascist oligarchy grinds on…

This is a dangerous thing, what he’s doing. In a country where the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s cost many innocent people their lives, livelihood, and liberty–a panic which is still simmering in many communities across the country, including fundamentalist Christian denominations and neonazi groups–do we really need Seigfried to fan the flames of a new, trendier pseudo-Satanic target? I mentioned in my previous blog that neonazis and white supremacists are already equating Loki=Jewish=Satan. Their arguments include the fact that Loki takes his mother’s name as a surname, which is also a Jewish custom. And I am sure there are reasons even more bizarre than this, and perhaps even more bizarre than Siegfried’s comparison of Loki to 45.

That man who just shot up the temple in Pennsylvania? He flat out stated that “Jews are Satan” in one of his online profiles. That’s part of why he decided to murder everyone. What’s next, who’s next? Who is going to get their white supremacist knickers in a twist now and perhaps decide to murder Loki cosplayers or attendees at neopagan festivals, “because they are Satan?”

Believe me, I write this now and part of me says, “Don’t say it. Don’t write this. Don’t give anyone any ideas.” But those ideas are already out there, folks. And Seigfried has just given a certain class of nut job carte blanche to “prevent” whatever wacky conception of “Ragnarok” that they may hold. And remember too, a lot of people hailing Loki are already at risk due to their queerness, gender variance, or other marginalized statuses.

What Do We Need to Do?

In the larger neopagan communities, we need respectful interfaith dialogue, not hit pieces and hate. We need to understand ourselves what respectful interfaith dialogue consists of, and we need to insist upon it as rules of engagement in all forums and gatherings.

We need to call out Lokiphobia for what it is–unwarrented discrimination against a group of religious practitioners.

And among those who hail Loki, perhaps we need more self-organization, to make public statements of our values so that others know where we stand, to continue writing if that’s what we do, to do everything we can to counter the perceptions that we are somehow unworthy or lesser beings by attaching our devotion to a controversial deity.

One the one hand, we shouldn’t have to prove anything to anybody. But the gauntlet’s been thrown, and we have to not just “defend” our faith, but also through civil discourse  to communicate it, pro-actively. We cannot afford to be the targets of a public smear or a public panic, and I’m afraid that’s what Seigfried intends.

And we’re not the only ones with a controversial deity, for heaven’s sake (no pun intended)! Humanity’s history is full of them. But why us? Why now? That is my question for Seigfried and his ilk. I wanna know. What’s in it for him?

P.S. One of my kids is a Luciferian, and you can bet I’ll go to bat for those folks too.


Please also read these thoughtful rebuttals by other bloggers:

Dagulf Loptson, Loki and Trump: My Thoughts

Kyaza, Analysis of Seigfried’s Comparison of Loki and Trump

Sonya Odinsdottir, Rebuttal to Article: Loki in the White House

Sarenth Odinson, Loki is Not Trump (Neither is Odin)

John Mainer, Loki, Discord and Deep Lore


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FireSnakeTemple

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Dude! I Call Unverified Political Gnosis!

Yesterday I read a lengthy piece in a well-known pagan blog which was comprised of Unverified Political Gnosis–a rather labored comparison of Loki–a Norse god–to the current Lord of Misrule in the White House, a comparison that seemed to indicate the author’s contention that Loki is “behind” our current democratic conundrum, hand in glove with the president, you bet!

If so, I’ve got to say that’s one hell of a rigged election! Collusions with Russians and a Norse god too! Someone, please let the Mueller investigation know! But perhaps the blog author is less well versed in political science than he claims to be in mythology. He does seem to take great pains in constructing his own.

The author presented a rather unique view (to say the least), given that the president’s most ardent supporters–Red Hats, Neo-nazis, the Christian Right, and wealthy oligarchs–would be completely opposed to all the things that Loki represents to modern devotees, if they gave the trickster god and his devotees any thought at all.

Red Hats–in the absence of data from a national survey, I’ll venture to say, anecdotally, that most of Loki’s followers don’t support the president, whose destructive policies threaten civil life and liberty in this country and who takes special aim at every oppressed and at-risk minority you can mention. Red Hats may very well deem Loki and his followers as “special snowflakes” anyhow.

White Neo-nazis–because Loki is not “manly” in a cis-het way like Odin and Thor, plus, “he’s like Satan, dude, and therefore probably Jewish.” I kid you not. Upon reading somewhere that there was a period when artists were depicting Loki as Semetic for ideological reasons, I googled the phrase “Loki is Jewish.” The top two hits are neo-nazi posts affirming this very thing.

So I ask the author of “Loki in the White House” to note that Loki is not one of the Norse gods co-opted (sadly) by white supremacists. He’s too queer and they think he’s Jewish.

The White Christian Right–they’d be so bummed. They think Jesus put Trump in the White House. (FYI-speaking of deeply troubling gods, the Old Testament God’s body count in the Bible is 2,038,244 dead humans to Satan’s 10.)

White Wealthy Oligarchs–the president, though a loose cannon, is a convenient distraction (for now) as they continue to consolidate wealth and power at the expense of the 99%. Nothing in the lore (and I’m no expert, still learning) indicates to me that Loki favors such people–in fact, he takes pains to skewer them (e.g. the poem, Lokasenna).


The essay’s premise is bizarre to begin with. It consists of an apples and oranges comparision of the lore of a Norse God with the present-day actions of a mortal political figure. And though it contains a blistering recital of the current president’s egregious actions, I question the author’s motives in linking the president and his actions to the deity of a marginalized group (e.g. anyone who acknowledges Loki as an object of worship or veneration). The essay seems more interested in fanning resentment or ridicule against contemporary devotees, and perhaps creating a nice, juicy controversy, than it does anything else.

In fact, the article’s ending is disturbing and provocative:


“Finally, I would like to make the simple request that, following this article, lovers of Loki and partisans of the president refrain from making death threats against me. I know that these are two figures who inspire passionate devotion, but I think it is possible to have differences of opinion without threatening lives and livelihood. Thank you for rejecting fundamentalism.”


By suggesting that Lokeans (who are by and large rather sane and thoughtful people) will now threaten the author with the kind of violence more commonly documented among incels, Neo-nazi trolls, and rabid Trump supporters, the author seems to invite our consideration of him as a martyr, rather than as someone whose writing can be critiqued in a dispassionate manner.

This statement also seems unnecessarily inflammatory: “I believe that the idea of Loki as the bound giant who finally breaks free to destroy the world is the root element of his character. I suggest that maybe we should support those who seek to bind the beast rather than cheer on his rampage.” Does the author actually mean to suggest that those of us who hail Loki are cheering on the Trump tantrums and “rampages?” If so, this is very wrong.

The author also dismisses the lived experiences of contemporary people who connect with Loki as a divinity. He lists all the qualities that modern worshippers detect in their interactions with Loki, and though he acknowledges that Loki “…can be particularly important to members of LGBTQ+ communities who find deep meaning in his ancient and contemporary tales and aspects,” the author gives more weight to his own flawed pseudo-spiritual/pseudo-political meanderings than he does to the experiences and attributes of contemporary worshipers.

Please note that the current administration is brutally hostile to LGBTQIA etc. people. If there was any resonance between Loki and Trump, I’d expect such mortals would drop their god like a hot potato, sooner than you can say the word “impeach.”

Though the author takes great pains to cherry pick attributes of Trump that he can then match up with lore concerning Loki, I think this methodology is deceptive. Human history is full of troublesome deities, from many cultures and historical periods. One could probably sift through the lore of Greco-Roman gods, for example, and make similar comparisons. Using the author’s example, we could probably “prove” that Ares is in the White House. How about Moloch–he ate children and there are plenty missing from those concentration camps Trump set up for immigrant kids! Or hey, how about Caligula, the bat-shit insane ruler of Ancient Rome? He and Trump have much in common, including a love of expensive spectacle, and Caligula was even deified. Why not prove the God Caligula is in the White House? There’s even a physical resemblance!

220px-Cropped_color_calligula
The Roman Emperor Caligula–compare with pix of young D.T.

Now let’s briefly address the author’s comparison of Loki to Trump on four key areas:

“Objectifier of women”–Dude, everyone objectifies women. Back then, as well as now. You can probably say this of just about every masculine deity ever known. So I argue that the use of Loki as the perfect god to compare with the president’s propensity to grope, assault, and harass women is disingenuous at best. I’m not saying that objectification is good, or that I like it, but as a woman, it’s a fact of life that I constantly must either oppose or ignore.

FYI, the author wonders how women can even deal with Loki, due to the “slut-shaming” that takes place in the Lokasenna (mostly directed at his ex-lovers, who are refusing to acknowledge him). This has troubled me too. But as a Lokean, my UPG experience with this particular deity is actually quite egalitarian and very respectful, completely different from the “toxic masculinity” that I encounter almost everywhere else. (For the record, I also regularly offer devotions to Frey, Freya, and Gerda. Frey is also refreshingly non-toxic.) Next!

“Betrayer of community”–Actually Trump’s true community is that of wealthy, white, prejudiced people. He doesn’t seem to be betraying HIS community at all. Next!

“Opposer of Law”–We are waiting to see if criminal charges will be brought against this seated president. In the meantime, there’s a vast difference between a fascist mortal oligarch who is bending the laws for his own advantage from a position of great power and the actions of an outlier trickster like Loki. Very apples and oranges. Next!

“Bringer of Chaos”–As the Lord of Misrule, whose Reign of Error has unfortunately not been limited to only one night of the year, the president is not so much engaged in creating chaos as he is in creating his own personal fantasy of Big Brother-esque ultimate rule. And that’s control Trump’s after, not chaos.

I will leave it to others, who are better versed in lore and religious studies, to critique the article’s claims from a more scholarly vantage.

Where I Think Loki Really Is in All This Mess

If I were to detect the presence of Loki (or any other trickster god) in the current sad state of affairs, it would be in the glorious flowering of political lampooning, in the song stylings of Randy Rainbow, the Saturday Night Live sketches, the giant balloons and floats of bloated baby twump, and in every searing political cartoon that’s emerged since the election of 2016. I would detect it in Pussy Hats, witty signs held in marches, and in the recent results of the mid-term elections.

Loki, to me, is the god of resistance and a foe of hypocrisy–not a god of chaos, but a god of deep transformation.

As for the current Lord of Misrule, he’s purely a mortal phenomena–the last gasp grasp of brutal, power-hungry, greedy, racist capitalists and the result of rigged elections.

As the late, great Stan Lee used to say, “‘Nuff said.”


Please also read Dagulf Loptson’s response to the absurd article: Loki and Trump: My Thoughts. It’s on his new blog, Loki Cult.

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Loki, Deity of Epigenetic Transformation?

Hail Loki, Of the Transformational Telomeres! Hail Loki, Lord of Epigentic Shape-shifting!

Okay, have I just gone of the deep end? I dunno. Maybe. It’s only 7:47 AM and already it’s a funny day. I’m trying to figure out if my dishwasher is broken, if I dare to try to find a roommate, and should I venture out later for more milk? At the same time, I have a novel racing toward the NaNoWriMo 50,000-word milestone and I should start working on it again in a few minutes. And then I get this friggin’ epiphany regarding Loki-as-Shapeshifter, the new science of epigentics, and the power of our imaginations.

Let’s bounce this around.

I’ve written before about the idea that gods, goddesses, and deities of all genders provide us mere mortals with transformational templates. This absolutely not my original idea. It comes from the context of tantric and meditative practices which involve imagining yourself as a deity that has certain aspects you’d like to acquire or strengthen (very oversimplified, please note). That’s the template idea. The deities have attributes. We want to resemble them. We attempt spiritual growth and transformation by meditating these qualities into being, within our own selves. And we have to make sure to not confuse our own selves with the template we want to…inhale, absorb, and make our own. (That way lies hubris and madness. Common sense and discernment are key.)

With me so far? Good. (Because I think my dishwasher really IS broken. Bloody hell.)

Here’s a Scientific American article about a study that demonstrates that mindfulness meditation can affect the structure of telomeres in DNA. The study itself is published in the journal called Cancer.


Quote from Scientific American (Bret Stetka, Dec. 16, 2014) article:

Lead investigator Dr. Linda E. Carlson and her colleagues found that in breast cancer patients, support group involvement and mindfulness meditation – an adapted form of Buddhist meditation in which practitioners focus on present thoughts and actions in a non-judgmental way, ignoring past grudges and future concerns — are associated with preserved telomere length. Telomeres are stretches of DNA that cap our chromosomes and help prevent chromosomal deterioration — biology professors often liken them to the plastic tips on shoelaces. Shortened telomeres aren’t known to cause a specific disease per se, but they do whither with age and are shorter in people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high stress levels. We want our telomeres intact…

…In Carlson’s study distressed breast cancer survivors were divided into three groups. The first group was randomly assigned to an 8-week cancer recovery program consisting of mindfulness meditation and yoga; the second to 12-weeks of group therapy in which they shared difficult emotions and fostered social support; and the third was a control group, receiving just a 6-hour stress management course. A total of 88 women completed the study and had their blood analyzed for telomere length before and after the interventions. Telomeres were maintained in both treatment groups but shortened in controls.


Telomere_end_replication_problem
The end replication problem causes telomeres to shorten over successive cell divisions. Date 1 August 2015 Source Own work Author WassermanLab Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International

Epigenetics, Meditation, and Hypnosis

Google dictionary definition for epigenetics: “the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” Here’s a website with more of an explanation.

So I am not sure if the above study qualifies as a precise example of epigenetic change (gene expression) as it demonstrates improvement in the structure of the telomeres rather than switching off one gene and switching on an inactive one. Still, these findings are intriguing because they show that our DNA, which we typically view as written in stone (except for random mutations) is actually responsive, not just to medicines or environmental factors, but also to our thoughts. 

(I wish my dishwasher was that responsive…)

One of the things I do for a living is hypnosis. Hypnosis is a “kissing cousin” to meditation and the sometimes unacknowledged “parent” of guided imagery, though brain scan studies show it lights up slightly different areas of the brain than meditation. Even so, it’s not a stretch to imagine that it too could trigger epigenetic expressions and perhaps even improve telomere lengths. That’s speculative, but not too far out, given what’s going on in science these days. And hypnosis has a pretty good track record for efficacy in a number of areas, in the scientific literature.

Books like The Biology of Belief–Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles, by Bruce Lipton, make intriguing reading and I always wonder where the use of hypnosis can make a contribution. People are doing studies on this! Unfortunately, I can’t afford a subscription to The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis and I don’t have access to a university library where I can find such studies, but here are a couple I’d like to read:


David Atkinson, Salvatore Iannotti, Mauro Cozzolino, et al. (2010) A New Bioinformatics Paradigm for the Theory, Research, and Practice of Therapeutic Hypnosis, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 53:1, 27-46, DOI: 10.1080/00029157.2010.10401745

Ernest L. Rossi, Mauro Cozzolino, Jane Mortimer, David Atkinson & Kathryn Lane Rossi (2011) A Brief Protocol for the Creative Psychosocial Genomic Healing Experience: The 4-Stage Creative Process in Therapeutic Hypnosis and Brief Psychotherapy, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 54:2, 133-152, DOI: 10.1080/00029157.2011.605967

And I’d love to have a copy of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Vol. 57, 2015 – Issue 3: Mapping the Domain of Hypnosis. (Yeah, this is more about neuro-plasticity, but still…)


So where is Loki in all this?

First, shape-shifting! We assume through myths, legends, and lore that shape-shifting always means an actual transformation into a salmon or a fox or a raven. And I am not going to argue with or about shamanic and magical practices where these kinds of  transformations are said to have happened.

And yet I wonder, could these stories and practices also point to the potential for genetic and cellular changes as well? Let’s call this internal shape-shifting (epigenetic expression?) to distinguish it from external appearances. Turning on and off genes does affect cellular function and “shape,” does it not?

And again I insist the investment that some cultures have made into thousands of years worth of meditation and esoteric practices, including those in which deities have been used as meditative templates, would not have happened unless there were real, vital, practical results.

Secondly, Dagulf Loptson suggests that Loki in his aspect as Löður, who gives blood and “good color” to the first humans, can be called upon for healing (Playing With Fire-An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson, pp. 23-26). This makes me wonder if the epigenetic healing could also be said to be among Loki-as-Löður’s attributes.

We Lokeans glory in the often challenging transformational attributes of our beloved deity. We tell funny (and not so funny) stories about how our lives have been turned upside down and inside out once we opened the door to this charming iconoclast. Generally we seem to feel we come out okay. The challenges were good. We grew. Those who love Loki at all, seem to really love him a lot. There’s no doubt we can find something very positive about our connection with this deity.

But I continue to wonder about deeper, esoteric, and yes, even epigenetic meanings and possibilities that may be discovered through this particular god. I sense that the template of Loki contains a lot that has yet to be explored and that if we ask nicely, the way into that template could be opened. We could, perhaps, begin to experiment with and experience healthy, internal shapeshifting.

We already have the time-honored tools of meditation, hypnosis, and self-hypnosis. What might happen if we regularly went into a light trance and worked with images of health, telomere repair, positive gene expression, and so on, using Loki as our template and facilitator? The fact that many of us experience deep feelings of love in connection with our devotions makes me feel that even that alone could be used advantageously in meditation. Just…feeling…the love.

Just a thought. But for heaven’s sake use your common sense if you decide to explore in this way. It’s a fast-track to UPG Land, obviously. Discernment is key. And please don’t use such practices as a substitute for medical or mental health care. We’re talking wellness and spirituality here, not medicine.

(Meanwhile there’s the matter of my dishwasher. Please send love and light.)

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More Than Apples, We Need Frith

I ache to experience it. And I long for a kindred where frith is central. It seems in short supply in my own family.


From the Urban Dictionary entry for Frith:

Frith is an Old English word that means Peace and Freedom; but means so much more. It is an important concept in the religion of Asatru. It might be described as a combination of loyalty, honor, hospitality, and support. It is the obligation to one’s community, friends, and family to consider their welfare in your actions, and not to set out to harm them.

[And this example which shows the use of the word] Our forebears valued frith almost more than anything else.


But why do I say we need “more than apples?” What do apples have to do with anything?

Ilja_Jefimowitsch_Repin_002
Ilja Repin, Apples and Leaves, 1879.

I recently watched an extremely sad documentary, God Knows Where I Am, the story of Linda Bishop, a woman in her early 60s struggling with severe mental illness who ends up living on rainwater, snow melt, and apples for four months, during an extremely severe winter in New Hampshire, with no power, no running water. She broke into an unoccupied farmhouse for shelter and eventually starved to death as the apples ran out. She kept a journal until she was too weak to write.

Apples were essential to Linda. And that apple tree was probably the only bright and generous being in her universe, during those last months of her life. It feed her through most of the winter until all the apples were gone. The apples were essential to her survival, but that fabled milk of human kindness was more important yet, and of that, there was none.

This poor woman was not miles away from nowhere. There were neighbors just across the street. People drove past this unoccupied farmhouse every day. You cannot tell me that no one in that neighborhood ever saw this woman wandering to the nearby stream or the apple tree, while the weather still permitted. Or that they never saw her in the attic window where she looked out upon the world and read the cast off books she’d found there.

What kind of people, what kind of society would allow this woman (and others) to live and die in such a manner?

A people without frith, that’s what.

I imagine that Linda–as a mentally ill woman–had been rebuffed, scorned, and mistreated enough so that she was unable to reach out to other humans, even as her situation became dire. Yes, she dreamt of rescue by an imaginary lover, but when he did not appear by Christmas, she seems to have given up hope.

Remember that quote from Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire? She says, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” This is her last line as she’s carted off to an institution after having been abused and raped by her brother-in-law. Linda Bishop had probably given up on any expectations of “kind strangers.” She was clearly afraid of people and there may have been a good reason for that.

We all hope that acts of violent abuse are at the further end of the spectrum of human cruelty and we hope that they are rare. But great damage can be done, especially to someone who is vulnerable, by an sequence of dismissive, uncaring, or callous actions. Put-downs, dismissals, writing someone off, not listening or paying attention to the emotional truth at the core of a confused narrative–such things can lead a person to back off from the hope of kindness from others. In fact, it hurts too much to hope!

But if there were a greater emphasis, in all of us, on cultivating and enacting social values such as the kind contained by the word “frith”–loyalty, honor, hospitality, peace, support, freedom (with responsibility)–perhaps fewer people would fall through the cracks and perhaps more people would feel they had a respected and dignified place at the community “table,” even if they were damaged, broken, or had been cast off or cast out in some way (too old, too disabled, too poor, too whatever else). For me, frith has a resonance with “aloha,” a word that means much more than just “love” or “good-bye” in ‘Olelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian language).

It would seem to make common sense that in order to receive frith, you would have to extend it to others–and so I do. But that only works when there is a shared set of values, the possibility of reciprocity. Otherwise, all such efforts may be doomed.

And so I ask, where are those who are doing their best to inclusively (as in The Troth, Heathens Against Hate, and various stray Lokeans) live by frith, to establish and cherish familial and chosen kindred? And is there anyone out there in these here parts? And can I have some of what you’re having too?

Apples, I’ve got.

I can share.

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Transphobia Not Welcome at Neo-Pagan Conference

A handful of activists have ensured that Max Dashu, now known as someone who holds certain transphobic views, has been disinvited as a PantheaCon presenter. And I’m glad.

Here’s why.

Here’s a bit of the background.


From PantheaCon Website

“Theme for 2019: Unity, Respect for our Diversity, and Connecting Webs to Heal the Earth What are we doing to heal our mother, our selves? What are we Willing to do for the Earth and for our Community?

This year we especially want to emphasize that PantheaCon is a Safe Space for all. We tolerate no harassment of anyone by others. This is called Pax Templi where differences of opinion are set aside for the duration of the Sacred Space.”


Community/Activist Repsonse

When events and organizations make statements about safety and inclusion it is reasonable to take them at their word. So, when a few people spotted this problematic speaker on the program, they protested on behalf of their communities.

(By the way, “TERF” means “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” in case you don’t know. I’ll be using the term below.)

One of the activists who alerted the conference to the problematic speaker is Colin Davis, who blogs at Patheos. I have their permission to quote from their statement posted on Facebook.

“…a laurel: the PantheaCon staff with whom I’ve interacted around this issue have been absolutely spectacular, supportive, and committed to the kind of inclusion and acceptance that this community has every right to expect. They have been incredible allies for the trans community, and continue to do so. I am honored, humbled, and proud to be able to say I stand with them.

In closing, I want to point out that standing up for my trans and nonbinary siblings is not misogyny, no matter how often some say it is, and that stating safety concerns is not libel… especially given the outcome. If we are to have a truly safe and inclusive environment, we cannot give any platform or discursive space to the voices that call for exclusion and hatred based on identity.”

Davis’s last point about the importance of not giving a “platform or discursive space” to exclusionary speakers is another key point. Please hold onto it.

Regarding the Ousted Speaker

I mostly want to focus on actions and statements in this post, not personalities. Others have covered the qualifications, merits, and deficits of Max Dashu and have tracked her comments, positions, and noted her associations with others who take TERF-type positions. But in case anyone is wondering if her TERF reputation is deserved, here is a quote from Dashu, which I have lifted from the comments section attached to “So-Called Predators in the Bathroom… Again,” Lady Idos, May 3, 2016, Ms. Blog. There are many problems with her assertions below. Trigger warning… transphobic vitriol.


Max Dashu says:
May 6, 2016 at 10:11 am
When are people (feminists, yet!) going to get that the main issue for women is not that trans women are sexual predators, which the vast majority are not, but that the laws are being rewritten in an all-encompassing way that allows male predators into women’s spaces? As if no issue of female safety exists, as if only trans women face an issue of safety. When under these new rules, just by pretending to be women, dressing in female guise, saying they are women, *any* man can gain entry into bathrooms, locker rooms, saunas or whatever, and perv on the women in those spaces. When did feminists forget that straight men like to transgress and violate female boundaries, put cameras under stalls and up women’s skirts? that they do commit rapes in bathrooms? Yet all over the place, we see this reality being denied, by feminists! in the name of defending trans women. Looking fixedly past the reality of male violence, denying that any problem exists in the rush to make new laws: what kind of feminism is this? Safety in bathrooms is a female issue, not just an issue for trans women. (And sex and gender are not the same thing.) So incidents like the guy in Seattle who came into the women’s room and took off his shirt, and when challenged, told the pool officials, “The law has changed, and i have a right to be here.” He didn’t claim to be a woman, nor dress as one, he just wanted to intrude because he could. Male entitlement is bottomless, don’t think this won’t be a problem.


Please see this page on Transgender People and Bathroom Access if you are even half-tempted to consider Dashu’s position as reasonable. Plus, there are already laws to protect people from sexual assaults and other crimes. The Seattle guy? He’s an outlier and a kook (see section below). It would be just as ridiculous to base local, state, and federal public policy on the Seattle example as it would be to base policies on the fact that a man I dated once (sadly) followed me into a community college bathroom to scream at me for not wanting to date him a second time.

I first learned of the PantheaCon’s issue yesterday, in an esoteric social media group. There was a vigorous conversation in the thread and I threw myself into it with my usual polite passion. I tend to include links and sources when in this mode. I was particularly keen to address points made in one person’s “I can see all sides of this” posts, which seemed to focus on click-bait about men “pretending” to be women to game the system for perks, as if these kinds of outlier incidents justified TERF attitudes about transgender and gender variant rights.

I added the following links to the thread: United Nations Foundation statement on trans rights, and the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. I also posted the Transgender Day of Remembrance website so that people could understand the kind of violence that many trans people face. I asked people reading and posting in the thread to educate themselves about trans issues using this material. (I think this request actually came before the other poster added click bait.)

I am Wondering About Knee-Jerk Reactions and Weaponized “Fears”

I woke up this morning with this thought. There’s something about the way that TERFs react that reminds me of how some racist white women (and a few men) have been captured on camera, weaponizing their “fears and discomfort” by calling 911 on people of color doing ordinary things. (Here is a good post about why we should not give the racist 911 callers cute nicknames.)

By broaching this subject, I am emphatically NOT comparing the experiences of POC in the U.S. with that of trans and gender diverse people in the U.S. (though many people are both). I DO  want to examine similarities between the knee-jerk responses of TERFs and the white 911 callers. I think there are some. And there are differences too, of course.

In the last year especially we’ve seen a lot of viral videos of white women calling police on black people and other POC for having barbecues, waiting for AAA, trying to get into their own apartment complex, babysitting, etc. We can easily see how distorted and ugly these actions are. We can see the racism. We can see the over-reactions. We can see that the automatic assumption of criminality is unfair and unwarranted.

We can also see how wrong and dangerous it is to call in authorities with guns–because “we” (meaning white people here–people of color have always known) now also have a greater awareness that police often shoot black people, often for no reason. For no damned reason. (Black people shot by police in 2018.) And there’s now some discussion on the internet of how white women (in particular) absolutely have to manage their own “discomfort” and fears instead of calling the cops. Read “White Women Weaponize Their Fears and Femininity to Assert Their Power Over POC,” Cameron Glover, May 18, 2018, Afropunk.

What’s less visible are the very real dangers to trans people when inflammatory public figures and scholars also “call 911” by whipping up public fears and resentments. Brutal people, criminals, and even everyday bullies use the inflammatory statements to justify their right to do very bad things to anyone who does not conform to their notions of “proper” gender presentation. The Transgender Day of Remembrance documents this very thing in stark terms that we should all be able to understand. But there are also other forms of violence, of micro-aggressions, and these do damage too.

(I want to note there that people with intersex variations are also at risk here.)

The most unreasonable of the TERFs persist in denying all reality of trans and other gender experiences. To them, a trans woman is always going to be an entitled man in disguise, a “perv” as Dashu says, someone presumed to be dangerous and/or criminal. I wish someone would write an article called “Radical Feminists Weaponize Their Fears and Femininity to Assert Their Power Over Trans People.” We must see that the automatic assumption of criminality–especially as it impacts trans women–is unfair and unwarranted.

TERFs seem to refuse the opportunity to examine their own “discomfort” and “fears” with regard to trans people and their own intersections of cis-privilege and female oppression (intersectionality is a term invented by black scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw). The “privilege” of using one’s own discomfort and fears to affect public opinion, discourse, and policy must be examined. Academics have an even greater responsibility to do this, frankly, as they have educational privilege and supposedly also have critical thinking skills.

Some of what’s needed are facts, the ability to understand those facts, a dollop of empathy, a desire to become better educated about issues, some self-knowledge, and tools to manage our raging sympathetic nervous systems.

However, because TERF reactions to a trans presence are generally distorted, we can’t count on them doing much of the above. So to deny them platforms, then, is perfectly appropriate as they have not “done the work” IN THIS AREA to make them fit to speak to a wider public, like Panthea.Com. (I put that in caps because, yeah, some have done other kinds of work elsewhere.)

Please note similarities to our seemingly national “discomfort” with immigrants, Muslims, you name it–and to our dangerous, knee-jerk reactions to these “threats.” We ALL need to learn to manage feelings of “discomfort,” fear, and perceptions of threats where none exist. We really, really do. And when we’ve got histories of abuse ourselves, and are likely to be triggered, the necessity for self-awareness in this area even more crucial.

We must realize that the automatic assumption of criminality is unfair and unwarranted, no matter what our nervous systems are screaming. React to real dangers, yes, but not to imaginary ones.

Outliers, Con-Artists, and Kooks

Finally, here is my response to the person (sadly, an academic) who posted the three “click bait” news articles in the thread (for reasons which remained largely murky for most of the duration). One had to do with a trans woman who assaulted fellow inmates; one was a screenshot of some fool who wanted to know if he could qualify for a STEM scholarship by pretending to be female; and the third had to do with someone who changed the gender of his driver’s license to get a cheaper car insurance rate.

I said:

“Hey, are there jerks, con artists, and abusers in every subgroup imaginable? You betcha. White cis female imposters like Rachel Dolezal pretended to be black in order to game the system. White cis female Andrea Smith pretended to be Cherokee and boosted her academic career until exposed. But no one who is reasonable uses these examples to argue against affirmative action in universities, or against welfare. TERFs, however, inflate stories like the above to justify their ‘fears’ and ‘discomfort’ and then promote and inflame these fears in others. The result is violence and social and economic injustice against trans and gender variant people. However I’ll take your sparse selection of outlier examples and raise you with all the names of all the dead on the TDOR site–people who have been shot, stabbed, mutilated, you name it–often for being in the ‘wrong’ place. I do not believe that posting what is essentially click bait advances this discussion. A much more robustly insightful examination of prejudice and entrenched systems of oppression is in order.”

There is so much more to say on this topic. But at the moment, I’m spent.


Disclosure: I am a 64-year old white, cis-het woman with a hidden disability. I am the mother of two adult children. One is trans. As a sexologist and writer I have been vocal in support for trans and intersex rights. My pronouns are “she/her” but gender neutral would be fine as well. To borrow a phrase from a friend and colleague, “I am reluctantly gendered” as female. I’ve also experienced sexual assault and coercion as well as physical violence, and have sometimes been afraid as a result. For most of my life I’ve identified as a feminist (of sorts) but certainly NOT a “radical feminist.” 


 

Toy Witchery Part One

When my kids outgrew the Bionicles, Polly Pockets, Playmobils, and menageries of tiny plastic turtles and foxes–and all the other fossil fuel conjurations of consumerism which had been saturated with their power of their imaginative lives–I couldn’t quite bear to give them up. And that turned out to be a handly thing, because I eventually privately trained in what is known as “sandplay therapy,” and these cast-offs became the nucleus of my therapeutic collection.

My teacher was a poet and a Jungian-infused therapist who worked in the field of addictions, mostly. Her house was overrun with her collection of toys and figures, which was a gazillion times larger than mine. Every horizontal surface, except the stove, was strewn with three-dimensional talismans and invitations to the subconscious.

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A small part of my collection.

I do not use my collection in the usual way, however. As a hypnotist and sexologist, I use sandplay as a kind of imaginative “lube.” My clients would create a tray (silent and swift selection of figures, arranging them in the sand tray) and I would make notes of the figures, order of placement, and so on. After, we might talk and I would learn something about why certain figures had been selected. Often a meaningful story would emerge and that story would be part of our hypnotic session. This is a great way to work with adults who are not actively imaginative. They engage with the childlike play and the creation of their miniature world in context of therapy and are often surprised by the results.

It’s a magical process, really, and I was always impressed by the insights that would emerge from the sand tray.

Now that I am exploring witchery, it occured to me that just as I repurposed these toys for sandplay, now I could repurpose them again, consecrating them for spell-casting. This thought came to me as I grabbed a tiny metal wizard and placed it in a spell jar for extra “oomph.” Then I had my “aha!” moment.

I have so many toys that could go in witch jars…Boom!

By combining the rich symbolism and subconscious appeal of these toys with the usual candles, herbs, and minerals (and other ingredients and aids to magic) it should be possible to create a rich and potent scene of my desired outcome.

For a magical worker and/or animist, the possibilities are truly intriguing! Already I can think of several ways of doing this. Toys can be used as a “home” for thoughtforms (if not already inhabited). They can represent obstacles, desires, and outcomes. Our subconscious can be invited to select the appropriate toys for a spell or ritual via a pendulum or other form of divination. And the unleashed potency of dinosaur remains, the endocrine-disrupting petrochemicals from which our modern plastics are conjured, may spark or fuel the workings of our will.

There is more to come on this topic, including some ideas for “how to.” Just understand that this is new, there is no tradition that I know of (except for poppets, I guess), and I haven’t seen anyone else talking about the use of small plastic toys and action figures in magic–but that doesn’t mean others aren’t doing this too. Ideas often emerge in several places at once.

Stay tuned for more!

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Some of the mythic and fairytale figures in my collection.