The night before: three of us sat down to play “Cards Against Humanity” with Loki as our “Rando Cardrissian” fourth (as per the CAH rule book). Loki ended up winning 21 rounds (but came in second). I set his winning cards aside, to laugh about them later. Then I went to bed.
As many people know, CAH calls itself “the party game for horrible people.” But this was the first time I’d played with my fave trickster. In the past, my (adult) kids and I would just blow up a balloon or a condom, drew a face on it, tape it to a chair and call it “Rando,” drawing Rando’s cards at random, just like the rule book says. But playing the game with Loki was decidedly a “leveling up” or at least a “leveling sideways.”
The next morning, in moment of near-fatal whimsy, I decided to invoke my trickster god and do a Celtic Cross divination shuffling the 21 cards that he’d won the night before. The reading, which I hoped would shed light on a troubling group situation, is weirdly appropriate…
Signifier (drawn at random): “Profoundly handicapped.”(Me: Well, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity HAS disrupted every aspect of my life…)
1. What covers me:“A micropig wearing a tiny raincoat and booties.”(Me: better that than roaches.)
2. What opposes me: “Men.”(Me: ‘Nuff said.)
3. What crowns me, the best I can arrive at:“Frolicking.” (Me: I’ll take it!)
4. What is beneath me, what I have to work with:“The wrath of Vladimir Putin.” (Me: Shucks. The Wrath of Khan would have been more fun…but, whatever!)
5. What is behind me, the influence that is passing away: “Gandhi.”(Me: With a patron deity like Loki, I suppose this is understandable.)
6. What is before me: “Harry Potter erotica.”(Me: I can hardly wait. Dibs on Snape.)
7. Me in the future:“A man on the brink of orgasm.”(Me: Will I find him on Fetlife?)
8. My environment in the future: “White-man scalps.”(Me: Could have an influence on public policy in this country. What say all of you?)
9. Hopes and fears: “The Pope.”(Me: Definitely a fear.)
10. What will come: “Getting naked and watching Nickelodean.”(Me: Netflix is more likely, but whatever. Guess that’ll be my Wednesday nights then…)
The brand new bottle of new-to-me meds is set before the altar. Offerings have been made. The candles are lit. Several consecrated pendulums are beside me. And thus the ritual begins.
“Beloved Loki, this medicine has been prescribed for me. Do you sanction its use?”
Pendulum swings yes. “And will you bless it for me, helping it to be free of any side effects?” Yes again.
“Thank you, my Lord Loki.”
And so on through my pantheon: Lord Freyr, Lady Freya (and her namesake cat appears at my knee to also add her blessing), Lady Gerda, Lady Brigid, and the Peerless Bastet. Ancestors too. One by one, via pendulum divination, they all accept and bless this medicine. I know they want me to be healthy and resilient.
And then I address the beings of the medicine itself–an artificial creation of “big pharma”–asking it to cooperate with me in a healing and resiliency building process. (Notice the animism in this approach?) I also ask my body to collaborate with the medicine. I pledge to continue taking care of my health in general.
And then I take the first dose, confident in the love and blessings of the spirits who are my family.
Caution: Never discontinue or avoid using any medication without first and always consulting with your doctor and health practitioners.
What would I have done if one of my deities had said “no” to the “will you sanction its use” question? I would have replied, “Thank you. I am going to follow doctor’s orders, as I made a vow to do so, so while I understand your concern for me, will you please bless this medicine anyway, so that I can safely fulfill my vow?”
Spirits understand vows. And doctors understand that you will call them if side effects arise.
Better yet, I would have just asked for a blessing on the medication, without using the first question. That’s what I recommend for anyone reading this article. Just ask for the blessing. (And follow doctor’s orders.)
Why Did I Do This?
I’m a hypnotist (among other things) and so I know a little hypnosis history. One of the “greats” was a French psychologist and pharmacist, Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie. He’s the founder of autosuggestion. You have probably heard some variation of the saying, “each day in every way I am getting better and better.” That’s from Coué.
He realized his patients often did better when he offered a positive remark while handing over the medicine, such as “Oh, this is exactly the right thing for you. You’ll do very well with this” (imagined examples). Here are two key paragraphs from the Wikipedia article:
Coué noticed that in certain cases he could improve the efficacy of a given medicine by praising its effectiveness to the patient. He realized that those patients to whom he praised the medicine had a noticeable improvement when compared to patients to whom he said nothing. This began Coué’s exploration of the use of hypnosis and the power of the imagination.
Coué believed in the effects of medication. But he also believed that our mental state is able to affect and even amplify the action of these medications. By consciously using autosuggestion, he observed that his patients could cure themselves more efficiently by replacing their “thought of illness” with a new “thought of cure”. According to Coué, repeating words or images enough times causes the subconscious to absorb them. The cures were the result of using imagination or “positive autosuggestion” to the exclusion of one’s own willpower.
So with my ritual, I have gone one better. Instead of creating a hypnotic autosuggestion ritual, which of course I could have done easily, I wanted the full blessings of my divine pantheon and my ancestors. They are deeply rooted in my subconscious and their participation means the world to me.
Also I had a curious incident a few weeks ago. I was in a crisis state triggered by a family situation. I prayed fervently to all my deities, but to Bastet in particular, for help. There is a line in the supposed “ancient prayer to Bastet” that you find on the internet:
“…slay the evil that affects our minds as you slay the serpent Apep.”
And so I begged her to slay the evils of depression and despair that blight my life. Weirdly, the persistent feeling of being bogged down by a constant state of depression and anxiety actually lifted by the next day and I felt light and free, much better than I have in years. This lasted for a few weeks. It’s like I knew I had been wounded but no longer felt it. “The edge” was definitely not just off, but gone.
Dude! I almost didn’t keep my appointment with the psychiatrist!
But though the deities grant grace and boons and blessings, we mortals are the ones to do the heavy lifting. Loki would rather teach magic and mischief and inspire my writing. Bastet prefers to focus on pleasure, beauty, and dancing. Gerda wants me to water the garden and talk with plants. Freyr reminds me that even toxic relationships can be composted for a new harvest. Freya and Brigid bring me back to explorations of the sacred feminine. In other words, there is more to explore in life and magic and if I want to step up my game…well then! My deities and ancestors are quite willing to give me a boost now and then, and blessings too, but I can’t waste my time in tears.
So I kept the appointment. And this morning I lifted the now consecrated tablet to my lips. I washed it down with tea and set the bottle on the altar, to remind me that the medicine is now sacred.
This approach could work for anyone, monotheist or pantheist, no matter who or what you call upon for assistance. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Because I am willing to write and talk about the unknown, the unseen, and the inexplicable, many people in my life have told me tales of transformative incidents–often spontaneous, often happening outside a specific spiritual context or structure. Things happen. The clouds part, the rock speaks, the ancestors beckon, the spirit descends…or erupts! Yesterday I sat in a homey Lake County cafe–nothing pretty or upscale about it–eating (rather greasy) hashbrowns and one egg. (The salsa was good, though!) I was with a new friend and collaborator and we began to tell chicken-skin stories. Originally our topic had been the Norse gods, specifically Odin and Thor, but we soon branched off into personal epiphanies and occurences.
All over the world, people have these experiences. Some talk about them, some don’t. Some, like me, blog about them. But it took me years to get the nerve to do it.
Several years ago I began to see certain incidents in my life as signposts, perhaps planted by me before I was born. (I know, sounds weird). But there have been too many incidents, too many coincidences, to not have developed this odd little personal philosophy. Trouble is, do the signposts mean “go thataway” or “make a U turn, now?” Do they appear at entries or exits? Or both? This is a problem in discernment.
As a self-proclaimed witchy person, I have to admit I just haven’t been drawn to Goetic demons. I’ve been more interested in other categories of beings, mostly in Celtic and Northern traditions. But I know people who work with the demons, like them, revere them, and who are respectful of them. And I am respectful of the knowledge and advice of these friends.
In the U.S. and elsewhere, the word “demon” has instant negative connotations of evil. They are imagined as horrifying, malicious, and perilous. But the original meaning of the word was more often positive or neutral. In Ancient Greek daimōn meant spirit or genius, or a kind of guardian spirit. In Latin, daemon or daemonium could mean deity or a lesser spirit (sometimes evil).
Now, there are forms of peril probably attached to most kinds of magic, just as there’s peril associated with all aspects of life in general. It doesn’t do to be stupid or naively romantic about motorists, food expiration dates, or unseen beings. I look both ways when I cross the street, so when I stumbled across this Goetic signpost in the middle of my Lokean life, I started looking both ways (as well as four directions, up and down, and inside and out). And of course I utilized my trusty search engines and pendulum to discover more.
So, I found info like this: Amy is number 58 in the roster of Goetic demons, is a fallen angel (therefore in Lucifer’s camp), and is an Earl or President of Hell. Amy also rules mediumship and possession, other forms of trance work (I’m a hypnotist), and likes snakeskin offerings. (I immediately thought of my gold snakeskin ankle boots from the 80s, carefully preserved, worn on stage during an Iggy Pop concert at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco…). And there was a bunch of other stuff I don’t understand, not being familiar with this tradition.
And here I pause to giggle to myself. I never liked the name “Amy.” My mother said she named me after Amy March in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But now I dig it. I much prefer the idea that my mother was unconsciously and mystically prompted to name her firstborn after a Goetic demon–one who is sure to share my taste in boots–than the rather spoiled little sister of the peerless Jo March. Actually, the above could explain a lot about my dysfunctional upbringing and social difficulties.
Though I now have some information about the Goetic Amy, I have no idea yet what it means in the context of witchery, my mostly Northern devotional practices, and my life. Of course I check in with Loki (via pendulum and divination). The response is cautious/positive about my learning more, but the pendulum swing says they “get along.”
And there may be an ancestral connection as well. My context is the Ancestral Medicine practice from Daniel Foor. In his teaching, one of the discoveries we can make about our lineages are the spiritual traditions which were/are important for those ancestors, including those from pre-Christian times. For example, my father’s father’s line seems connected to Norse traditions and even to Loki. Another example: I recently started working with my father’s mother’s lineage. The Irish/Celtic Brigit showed up as being important here, which makes sense because this line brings my Irish ancestry. As a result, I’ve begun to add Brigit to my daily devotions. So it may be that the Goetic Amy was important to one or more of my ancestors. I’ve got some divinatory indications for that but they are too vague to say any more at this time.
So I’m giggling again. “Amy? It’s a family name.” And honestly, if this demon is known as a “president from hell,” he can’t be any worse than the one that’s currently seated you know where.
I give up. I should just spread the deck all over the floor or table, and do a reading based on which of the four cats sits on which card. I could also assign a divinatory meaning to each cat, perhaps corresponding to the court cards. Niblet, the tuxedo cat, will be king and will signify the past. Popoki will be queen and will signify the present. Freya, the fluffiest cat, will be princess (aka knight) and signify the outcome. And tiny Varda, still such an alley cat, is the page and will signify additional factors, the famous “fourth card.”
The cats, however, will probably foil this scheme and either sit on several cards at once or hide under the bed, and so what will I make of this? What if Freya washes herself while sitting on The Tower — could this indicate a reversed card?
Varda-Black cat, sideview.
Freya-Black and white cat in blue wood chair. Red cushion.
Popoki-Black cat on white rug. I justed wanted my cat to be in this blog post.
Niblet-Black and white cat staring.
L to R: Page Varda, Princess Freya, Queen Popoki, King Niblet.
Today the cats strolled over the Thoth deck as I attempted to set out a reading. They did not stay put however, so I was able to come up with a four-card spread in response to a rather intense yesterday.
I seldom use the Thoth cards. They’re beautiful but also confusing (there are so many symbols which have little to do with my mostly Norse-ish practices) and harsh (if I pay attention to the subtitles, which is not recommended anyway).
The card I drew for the past was Seven of Disks (subtitled “Failure”–argh! I already felt like one).
The card I drew for the present was XX The Aeon (Judgment). Aeon also contains references to a family relationship, so seeing it side by side with “Failure” was difficult. And yet, I’ve lived with the knowledge of certain broken things for years.
The card I drew for the outcome was the Princess of Swords.
The fourth card was 10 of Swords (subtitled “Ruin”), probably the real outcome.
I confess, my initial response was sheer dismay, though The Aeon looked hopeful-ish. And a sword-wielding princess is not a bad thing. But I always do this. I emotionally respond to the images then sort through layers of meaning.
Thanks to a Lokean friend, online, I was able to shift my initial reactions of doom and gloom to something more positive. After all, even the first card indicates that new growth is possible. What had happened involved some very intense feedback that was personally devastating, and yet the fact that I was even getting the feedback, and accepting the truths spoken by the person, meant that perhaps we would be able to one day unravel the dreadful snarl of patterned behavior that so does NOT put the “fun” back into dysfunctional.
Delving deeper into the cards and their positions I see the pattern of past failure, present judgment (and I’m found wanting), a vivid slashing away of old concepts (with a sun rise emerging from the storm), and the final card of broken patterns, with a heart stabbed through the middle. This last sounds grim, but is actually what we want and need in this situation. A heart “stabbed” can also be a heart–or hearts–cracked open to new possibilities.
In addition to my friend’s remarks, I am also guided by The Ultimate Guide to the Thoth Tarot by Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger.
I’m going to share what struck me about each card in the book.
The Seven of Disks (Pentacles) card (for the past) was likened to the cover of “a book with seven seals” full of “riddles that concern the progression, the success, and the destiny of your life.” The blue-black color of the card is said to be “vegetative” and indicates a “partly unconscious nature.” True enough–all the big issues were grounded in the damage done by my own unconsciousness, and my own unconsciousness of my unconscious (and down we go through the hall of endless mirrors…yikes.) The card also carries Saturn and Taurus correspondences symbolizing “the long journey of experience.” The authors used the phrase, “time heals all wounds,” and though I don’t know if complete healing is possible, perhaps softening of suffering is–eventually.
The Aeon as the card of the present definitely refers to judgment or Judgment Day. This is different from justice (or what I might term “a fair hearing,” which I will probably never receive but that’s okay. The other person involved has already heard too much.) The card symbolizes “revelation, transformation, and resurrection.” Gods, let’s hope so! There are some thoughts I have regarding the appearance of the sky goddess, Nut, and the “old and new Horus,” but they are very personal, so I’ll keep them to myself.
The Princess of Swords is probably me, charged after acknowledgment of failures and the judgment upon them, to slash through “mental fog” and “erratic ideas”–preconceived notions and ideas which are not grounded in reality. The card contains an invitation to experience “profound recognition” and “fresh inspiration from outward.” I can hardly wait. This card is also a sort of “ball’s in my court” challenge–how do I react to what I’ve heard? Do I circle the wagons around my own cherished notions or respond genuinely and lovingly to the messages I’ve been given?
Now I am writing very calmly about what was a very painful experience. And my emotions are going to be tumultuous at best as I integrate what I’ve heard and felt. But thinking is indeed my friend, and if I can bring the unconscious material to awareness and regard it with some degree of clarity and honestly, perhaps I’ll do okay in the end and be able to do right by others too. This is what the Ten of Swords card brings. Swords are intellect and thoughts. The swords in this card are now broken (even one topped by a tiny set of scales and a symbol of the sun, a simple circle with a dot–also standing for birth). These broken swords may even fall from their original formation into the “windmills” of confusion in the background. But they haven’t quite yet. There are questions here. Should the swords be reforged? Or allowed to fall? How much of the old pattern could be saved? Or should it be saved at all? What potential lurks in this suspended chaos?
There’s irony here, as I have another situation where I stand in relation to another person in a very similar position that the other person in yesterday’s conversation stands to me. I’m in the middle, torn in two, and yet I know I will never get the satisfaction I crave (justice again?) should I ever broach a similar set of grievances to that other one. That is a person who is calcified, will never cop to anything, will never really hear me or acknowledge my right to pain.
I can’t pat myself on the back at all, but I do hope that yesterday I at least gave a little more satisfaction by taking it on the chin than I’ve been given in the other situation, where I long to dish it out but know it will be futile to even bother. We’ll see what evolves.
In the meantime, I at least know I can do right by my cats, whether or not they want to serve as agents of divination.
Yesterday was Imbolc and I consulted the Norse Runes. Yes, I know. Imbolc is a neopagan and witchy holiday, originally “a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring” and runes have nothing to do with it, really. But it was also Friday (Freya and Frigga’s Day). This is the day I make offerings to all my deities. I often do divinations on this day.
Frankly, I’m more experienced with Tarot, though still a beginner. I use the Rider-Waite deck designed by Pamela “Pixie” Colman Smith, a woman of color who is only now beginning to get the credit she deserves (see this article about Colman Smith and listen to this Missing Witches podcast). However the Norse Runes are fascinating and I want to learn more about them. For rune interpretation, I am currently using Nordic Runes by Paul Rhys Mountfort, though I also have a few other rune books.
So I had a burning question concerning the future of my private practice. I want to reinvent and freshen it, and incorporate more of my intuitive and witchy skills before I give it up altogether. Working in this way would be closer to my heart and passions but I want to know if this is advisable. There are some professional risks involved. I asked Loki to assist me in the divination.
Gebo (gift/exchange) was drawn for the first position, which signifies “the issue.” When I pulled this rune I thought immediately of my own “gifts” and how they are not being utilized in my present professional life. This rune holds the importance of equal and fair exchange (compensation) as well as warnings against being taken for granted. I do give away a lot of my time to friends and community, or to people who don’t have much money. Even if it is “a trade,” I seldom end up with my share of the bargain. I have to admit to being haunted by a line from the song, “Some People,” in the musical, Gypsy: “Some people got it and make it pay, some people can’t even give it away…” You’d think sexuality counseling and wellness hypnosis would be in demand ‘purt near anywhere, but right now it seems like I’m living inside an endless loop of Ethel Merman’s brassy voice of doom.
According to Mountfort, the meaning of Gebo can also include “exchanges” within sexual relationships and friendship, as well as rules of hospitality and largesse (pp. 101-105). A great deal of my counseling work addresses disrupted or inadequate exchanges during sexual intimacy, so this rune in this position seems apt on many levels.
Mountfort states that “Odin and his brothers (really aspects of the one All Father” gave humanity “breath, blood, and senses” (pp. 124). However other scholars assert that it was Loki in his aspect of Lodur who gave “blood”and “good color” to the first two humans (Dagulf Loptson, Playing with Fire–An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson, pp. 22-23). FYI, Loki is Odin’s blood brother. So though Loki is not named in this section he is significant behind the scenes.
Isa (ice/danger) was drawn for the second position, the “roots of the issue.” Mountfort interprets Isa as “stasis, emotional frigidity” or “a deadlock, bound in the coils of a crisis of the soul” and even “unrequited love, separation” (pp. 121-126).
Yep. I am the epitomy of the “wounded healer” when it comes to sexuality. Not only are there #MeToo incidents, but my last two long-term relationships were with men who refused all my efforts to salvage the relationships via better communication, transparency, and honesty, and even invitations to go to couples counseling! In fact, it seemed that the more skills I acquired, the more I was pushed away. Perhaps at the core I feel fraudulent, as I was unable to save my own marriage and the other major partnership. I do admit to feeling stuck and uninterested at this point, as well as lacking in confidence in spite of my education, training, successes, and years of practice.
I have also been demoralized by sexual harrassment from people posing as potential clients. At times I’ve been given reasons to fear.
So, yes, Loki, you have offered me some keen insights here with Isa. And yet ice can melt and bring new life. Heat is what is needed and I currently have more “heat” around magic, spirituality, and metaphysics than I do about sexual concerns. What would happen if I combined these elements in my professional practice and drew from deeper intuitive sources, including my guides and my gods?
Mountfort links Skadi, the frost giantess, to this rune (pp. 124-125). But he does not mention the story where Loki makes Skadi laugh by tying a goat to his testicles (a real icebreaker!). Mountfort also does not mention that Skadi sets a poison-dripping snake over Loki as he is bound and tortured. As a person with chemical injury problems who has a lot of fear about toxic exposures (see Loki, A God of Pleasure, Poisoned), that story is especially upsetting. So though Loki is again not mentioned in connection with this rune, he is significant behind the scenes.
Jera (year/harvestime) was drawn for “present events.” We’ve just entered a new cycle, a new year. I could harvest fruits from my spiritual efforts, if I wanted, and put them to work in service to others.
Mountfort mentions Freyr and Freya as those “who bestow favor and plenty upon the matter at hand” (pp. 127-133). Freyr and Freya are Vanir deities of the land, fertility, and pleasure. Freya is also a shamanic practitioner and teacher of magic, including trance magic used in oracular rituals (Seithr, Seidr). As a hypnotist, I can relate to this! My most recent hypnosis sessions have been increasingly intuitive and transformative. I already offer Freya and Freyr daily devotions and feel that having their blessing and guidance in my work could be fabulous!
I think that Jera tells me that I can own this side of myself, professionally, and that I could be confident of a good harvest if I plant these seeds within my practice.
Since I cast these runes on Imbolc, which celebrates the rebirth of The God, I note the association of this rune with Freyr (the corn god who dies and is reborn each year). In addition, the Celtic Brigid (Brigit), is a goddess who has just emerged as important to my spiritual life. Imbolc is very much a day for her celebration as well. So here I have the joining of cosmic male and female energies (sorry to be so binary) and the fruitfulness that can arise as a result.
Ehwaz (horse/movement) is the “likely outcome.” This rune signifies a “vehicle” for movement and change (pp. 165-169). When citing the lore associated with this rune, Mountfort brings up the story of Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir (p. 167-168). Loki is the colt’s mother. (Loki the shapeshifter sometimes gender-shifts and has been both a father and a mother.)
Mountfort also associates working in partnership (horse and rider) as well as boundaries. In considering my private practice as a vehicle for partnership with my gods and guides, as well as with my clients’, this rune seems auspicious.
Additionally, I’m a Wood Horse in Chinese astrology so this rune has extra bonus points for me.
My sexological journey actually began with a spontaneous spiritual combustion (a ten-month kundalini surge) and triggered my study of tantra, so it seems odd that I would have such hesitation about working more deeply and spiritually. It may be that a sense of privacy has held me back, as well as uncertainty.
This reading exceeds my expectations for insight and encouragement to move forward. However, I intend to do several more divinations, asking for advice from Freyr, Freya, Gerda (Freyr’s wife), Brigid, Bast, and perhaps also from the ancestral lineages that I work with. I may use a pendulum and Tarot for the other divinations as Loki’s runework leaves very little (if anything) to be desired.
I believe that working in partnership with my gods, guides, and ancestors will bring additional depth to my client work and will counter the “imposter syndrome” baggage that troubles me. Perhaps the “wounded healer” in me will also benefit from feeling supported and protected by spiritual collaboration.