Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, the light has changed, the veil thins. Everything feels liminal… I love it! And there’s lots going on in the next two weeks: the 1st year anniversary of the dedication of Loki’s Lokabrenna Tiny Temple on the 28th–an observance which also represents with a deeper spirtual bond with my “most trusted one”; a witchy ceremony and “Dumb Supper” at my house on the 30th; Halloween/part of Samhain and a good friend’s birthday on the 31st; the second part of Samhain and my birthday on Nov. 1st; and another good friend’s birthday on the 4th!
These are some of the joys of a life lived on the left-hand path, though the term itself means many things to many people. I first encountered it in neo-tantra circles but of course it is used widely elsewhere. I associate it with witchery, tantra and sex magic, and other spiritual processes. I also imagine my last years as a creatively crafted life–something along the lines of the Addams Family meets Downton Abbey meets War for the Oaks, but with a punk rock /Helium Vola/ Hawaiian musicsoundtrack and a Leather Family next door. I suppose this is a topic for a whole other blog. Meanwhile, I collect too many glass jars and lids. (I’m either planning jar spells or storing food against the next zombie power outage apolcalypse.)
The mundane aspect of turning 65 next month has also brought the transition to Medicare. I have already fried more a few brain cells trying to figure out the unweildy assortment of supplemental plans.
I also, like most people in Northern CA, endured the PG&E power outage for three days (some endured it longer). But at least there has not been a fire this year to force me to evacuate my home. There’s a reason I make friends with fire deities and offer them cookies!
What comes after Samhain is going to involve another constellation of challenges. I intend go to “a place quite northwards, it seems”* in the next 6-8 months, to a place that is less isolated and more culturally active than where I live now. I’ve been well-sheltered by this house for the last two years, and have enjoyed my daily view of the lake and the mountain, but Lake County is not right for me. It seems I’m more suited to urban-ish environments than rural life and I need to find a better place to age, to spend the last decades of my life. A medium-sized college town, progressive and arty, will do me just fine. I know a place. I have friends there.
So this time of year involves reflection, liminal awareness, and a deeper opportunity to connect with my deities, guides, and ancestors. I am asking for their help in the coming year, of course, and Loki, my restless guide, is determined to not let me vegetate.
Hail Loki and all love to Freyr, Freya, Gerda, Bast, and Brigit as well! Love to the ancestors.
You know, being a polytheist is even weirder than it sounds! There I was, solidly in the middle of my Thirty Days of Devotion to Loki–something many Lokeans do in July–when I was switched over, like a train on tracks, to an intense focus on Mauna Kea, plunged back into service to a pantheon I thought had released me. But this isn’t the first time something from Hawai’i has claimed me abruptly, and I guess it won’t be the last.
It’s been immensely healing this last week to have been been of some small use to the Kia’i (protectors) of Mauna Kea: sharing and signal boosting on social media, writing, blogging, and doing some amateur sleuthing. In addition, I’m back in touch with people and a community I always adored–the activists of Hawai’i nei–and so it’s all quite inspiring.
But today, just as I finished my latest blog post on the adverse impact of the TMT project, Loki quietly reeled me back. “Ssshhhhh,” he seemed to say, “you’ve done what you needed to do, for the moment. Now rest, come back to me, realign yourself with your daily practice. Come back to your deities and your ancestors. And when you’ve got more to do and write, I’ll be with you.”
It felt lovely. It felt like coming home from a strenuous business trip. I began to take care of myself. I actually cooked food for lunch (instead of living on chips, ice cream, and artichoke tapinade as I did yesterday) and took a nap. Ahhhhhhh…
Who knew that Loki could be such a gentle advocate for grounding and balance?
Today is Day 26 of my Thirty Days practice. Let’s catch up.
Here’s what I did the last few days.
Day 21: “Music that makes you think of this deity.”
There are many pieces of music I associate with Loki, and his many moods and aspects. But here’s one piece of music, Sign of the Times, that I overplayed in the first days of “getting to know” Loki, which caused him to disappear the CD from my car until I promised to not play it too often. I couldn’t find it for two weeks, then I was driving one day and said out loud, “Hey Loki, how do you do it? Do you really disappear things or just make it so we can’t see them?” I asked the question and then bam, the CD bumped against my feet while I was driving. Honestly, I’d looked everywhere. Three or four times!
I love this song. The video is somewhat ridiculous, though…
Day 22: “A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with.”
Hmmm. A quote that Loki might resonate with? How about this one from John Water’s Polyester?
Lulu: I never wanted to use macramé to kill!
Day 23: “Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity.”
I’ve written so much for and about Loki. Most of the blogs on this website, for example. But here are the limericks I’ve written for him. And Loki’s Torch-A Lokean Collection is coming out on August 1st! It contains a couple of pieces of mine.
Day 25: “A time when this deity has refused to help.”
I don’t think I’ve experienced an outright refusal. There are times when it’s clear he’s doing something else, or the problem is not in his purview, or he’d rather I handle it.
Today, Day 26: How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
How hasn’t it changed?! I am not prepared to unpack this right now. But I am pondering it. The biggest surprise was when the “god spouse” option arose (it happened after dedicating Lokabrenna Tiny Temple).
So, there. I’m caught up. Now to do my temporarily interrupted daily practice: lighting candles, reading poems, giving thanks…
On Tuesday, I pulled a weed in my yard, and found this–a baby rattlesnake curled in the warm earth. I placed a flowerpot (no hole in the bottom) over it and tried to find someone to come get it, for relocation. Of course, where there is one baby rattlesnake, there may be others. When the wonderful snake rescue woman arrived that evening, we found that the snake had somehow escaped from beneath the pot which I’d thought was far too heavy for such a little thing to move. We looked around, carefully, but did not find it under any nearby shrubbery or weeds. I hoped it had gone for good.
On Wednesday, as usual, I let Meowington out of Lokabrenna Tiny Temple, where he sleeps during the nights. Days, he wanders the neighborhood and guards my yard against other cats. But he can’t guard it against wildlife. My property backs up against a ridge of oaks and pines and wildness. (We’ve had a mama bear and two cubs wandering the neighborhood this week as well.) Yes, I was worried about rattlesnakes, but he made it through last summer unscathed and so I hoped for the best. I wish now I’d just kept him inside the temple that day.
By early evening I was calling for him, as usual, to come get his dinner. I called and called.
Meanwhile, I fed Grey Girl, the far more feral cat that–along with Meowington and one other–had been left behind on my property last year by a troubled couple who up and moved to Tennessee on short notice. I recall this with some resentment. I already have four indoor cats, and these folks basically dumped three of theirs on me, saying they couldn’t take them and would I feed them and yes they’d send money every month for food. I didn’t count on that money of course. I knew better. But perhaps I should have made them take these three “spare cats” elsewhere? But if I had, I wouldn’t have had the great pleasure of getting to know Meowington.
I called and called some more. And Meowington still didn’t come. I began to worry. And then finally I saw him tottering around the corner of the temple, a cobweb and a leaf stuck to his face. I brushed the leaf away and picked him up. He was shaking, breathing raggedly and hard. He kept trying to meow but couldn’t make a sound. Normally Meowington is an extremely chatty cat. He follows me around when I’m working in the yard. He’s also great at head-butting and adores tummy rubs. He’s also usually anxious for his meal, pushing his nose and mouth into the bowl as I dole out the food. But not on Wednesday evening. He was an entirely different cat, shocky, sick, unable to eat, though he was thirsty. I was worried he’d been bit, but I saw no blood. I set him down on a clean towel and left the temple to get a cat crate. I wasn’t sure who would be open for emergency care, but I was going to get him some.
Had he been bitten? Or had he been bullied by the big black and white cat who occasionally has it in for him? The only other time I’d seen him in something like this condition was after a fight with that cat.
When I returned, Meowington had somehow climbed up to the small storage loft in the rafters where I could not reach him. I tried to coax him down. He wouldn’t come. So I kept the food and water out, and left the temple with forboding, locking him in for the night. I half expected him to be dead in the morning. If was rattlesnake venom, I assumed his death would be quick.
The next morning (yesterday), Meowington was down on the floor again, waiting by the door as he usually does. I was touched that he made this immense effort, though he was still obviously in bad shape. He has always trusted to our routine, to his knowledge that I will always show up in the morning to feed him and let him out. I immediately put him in the cat crate, meaning to whisk him off to the vet at the earliest possible time. Unfortunately, the vet couldn’t see him until 3 PM that afternoon. That was yesterday. I kept him in the crate all day, with food and water, but he only ate a little. I showed up an hour early for our appointment, hoping we could be seen earlier.
When the vet assistant helped him out of the crate. there was a little blood. And when the vet examined him, there was evidence of a bite on his belly, with tissue already going necrotic. The vet explained that a bite on the belly was worrisome–that internal organs may be quickly damaged by the snake’s venom. Still, she gave me reason to hope. Some animals do recover, she said, and she laid out a course of treatment. She did not recommend the antivenin as she said some cats have bad reactions to it. We went for something more conservative (and less expensive): pain medications, antibiotics, laser treatment to improve healing.
I brought Meowington into the house and set him up with towels, food, water, and a litter box, in the shower stall since it was the only small, quiet area away from the other cats. They’ve only interacted with him through the screen door. I didn’t bring him into the household as he is very territorial and I was afraid he’d terrorize the other male cat, Niblet, who has been freaked out for a whole year about the two “extra” cats who joined our post-Hawai’i household. A month or two ago, I had Meowington neutered and got him his shots, in the hopes of finding him a new home–a one cat household where he could be adored and adoring to his fullest potential.
I wish I’d done things differently now. I wish I’d been more aggressive about finding him a new home. I wish I hadn’t let him out of the temple on Wednesday. And I wish yesterday that I’d had the courage to ask the doctor to just put him to sleep.
Because this morning he hasn’t eaten, drunk, eliminated, and he’s clearly suffering. He is lethargic, his breathing is ragged. I’ve been checking on him off and on, ever since I woke up. He wants to stay in the (unused) litter box, not the towel. (He used to love to roll around in the dirt!). I gave him more pain medicine. He vomited it up shortly after. I’ve pet him, stroked him, sang to him, and told him that it was okay to let go–that we’ve loved each other but that now it’s okay… he can go.
Sometimes I think we give our best love to animals, because they love us so unconditionally. We can give to them (if we give at all), without our stupid human complications getting in the way.
I love Meowington. I procrastinated about giving him up to another home even though I knew I should. I hoped yesterday that he could rally, could beat the venom. It was a selfish hope.
Later this morning, I’ll take him to the vet again–he was supposed to get another laser treatment–and then I’ll let him go.
I’ve asked Freya, Bastet, and Loki for the best possible outcome. I ask them now to ease his passage.
As a solitary practitioner of all kinds of stuff, yesterday’s solstice celebrations were also solitary, as least as far as humans are concerned.
However yesterday I actually had more than my usual quota of real human contact.
(1) I went to the bank to cash a check and had a few light words with the clerk. Sadly, the bank trip also included a massive fragrance exposure from another customer. People really pour it on this time of year. Fortunately, I had my asthma inhalers with me.
(2) I had a quick trip to the grocery store. I let someone go ahead of me in line and exchanged a few words of cheer with the cashier. (Unless I cross paths with a neighbor, this is usually my only form of actual human contact during the week.)
(3) I talked to one of my part-time neighbors about the feral cats I’m feeding. Sadly, her house was scented with candles (or air fresheners) so I didn’t stay long.
(4) Another neighbor and I yelled a few words across the street. Yes, she and her husband are coming to breakfast on Christmas day.
(5) The dishwasher repairman came. A pleasant and efficient person. He was unscented. SUCH a blessing. So many repair people wear heavily scented deodorants.
(6) But the biggest deal was a shared meal at the Clearlake Senior Center. I’d gone there with a friend on Thanksgiving, and though wary of fragrance exposures, thought I’d give it another try since I was in the area (twelve miles from my home). This was an interesting experience for me. I forced myself to smile while filling out the intake form: yes, I eat most of my meals alone, yes health conditions keep me socially isolated… Honestly, I wanted to cry just admitting to that on a piece of paper, but I didn’t. I even stifled my impulse to go to a table by myself and instead asked to sit with an elderly couple who looked friendly enough. And they were.
The food was okay. A modest salad bar, ham, canned green beans tarted up with fresh onions, mashed potatoes, and a macaroni salad and a roll that I couldn’t eat (wheat allergy). Two men also sat at the same table, but they were not people interested in conversing. Mostly the elderly wife and I talked, and sometimes her husband interjected. I learned a bit about their lives (married over seventy years!) and they learned a couple of things about mine. When they were younger, they lived on a bit of land with plenty of fruit trees and a vegetable garden. They were known for sharing their bounty with the senior center and other places. Now, they live in a trailer home and the husband, older, worries about what will happen to his wife when he’s gone. She sat and nervously smiled. Her fingers were tangled with arthritis. She was still pretty. Married at sixteen, she must have been stunning.
What will happen? I wondered. And what will happen to me? I have four cats. If I die alone, they’ll feast on my corpse until I’m found.
The shortest day was starting to feel a lot longer than I’d expected. Back home again, once the dishwater repairman left, I could get busy with Solstice observances.
I swept the floor of the Lokabrenna Tiny Temple and brought a couple small offerings to the altar (a candy cane and a cinnamon stick). I lit candles and sat awhile, enjoying Loki’s donut patterned shower curtain and the view out the front door. Then I shut my eyes and tried to connect with my favorite deity. Meowington, the temple cat, rolled on the floor and soon became bored.
Inside my house, where my main altars are located, I made my weekly offerings to Frey, Freya, and Gerda as well as to Loki. Friday is my usual “all gods” day so that was part of Solstice too.
I also did another bit of meditative “journeying” work with my father’s mother’s lineage, as per the instructions of Daniel Foor (Ancestral Medicine). This is the last of the “first four” lineages I’m working with and the focus shifted from a previous (quite distant) ancestor to one even further back. The idea is to connect with the most recent “truly well” ancestor and to ask their help in healing the more recent generations (while also forming a protective circle or barrier for the living as the work is done). It’s quite a wonderful system. Each lineage I’ve worked with so far has a distinct “flavor.” I honor these ancestral lineages daily with poems and weekly with offerings.
When I began trying to connect with my father’s mother’s line, I had an impression of green hills and standing stones, a landscape which suggested Ireland to me. In that first visioning meditation, I came upon an old woman who emerged from a small, stone hut. She seemed to be a no nonsense type who would flick away “the troubles” with a cleaning rag. She seemed to have a sense of humor based on observing human foibles, but was not a grand visionary (which I foolishly expected the most ancient ancestors to be). She was willing to help, though, and I was grateful for that. I realized also that I am not at ease among “salt of the earth” folks–I am too much of a 20th century (and now 21st century) construct. She made me uneasy because I probably couldn’t dazzle her with fancy words or ideas. She had probably lived her entire life more in the moment than I ever have. I don’t think this is romanticizing her–I think her life had been too busy for idle thoughts.
But yesterday I ended up beyond this old woman, facing a taller, younger woman in a long blue dress. Brigid was the name (though probably not the saint) and she had some affinity with doves. I asked her, as per Foor’s suggestions, “how do you see the world?” and her answer was to spin around, to look at all sides. I felt that she was on a hill or a tower, as there seemed to be a lot of landscape around her as she turned. She wanted an offering of water and also seemed to want an embroidered or beaded hanging of some kind, a small one. She is also willing to help heal the lineage.
And there was a message too about “empty nests” which I associated with the dove. I tried to write a scrap of poetry about this, but failed.
I did an eight card “Winter Solstice Divination” reading which was pretty darned interesting, went outside and looked at the moon, and ended my night with the smallest black cat on my lap, doing my usual thirty minute Loki meditation.
It was a good day for a short day that was far too long. I encountered other human beings. I sat with my sadness. I let the tears flow. I busied myself with writing and a bit of cleaning and cooking. I enjoyed my cats. I did ceremony. Such days, stretching to the end of my life, are not such a bad thing to contemplate though I yearn for so much more.
What I don’t like is this seasonal mix of utter despondency combined with perky attempts to foil the utter despondency. Sometimes one wins, sometimes the other. It’s most wearing.
And to make matters worse, “Solvent-based Life Forms” are also out in force. Scented people are everywhere, and scented candles, brooms, and soaps are in every store. As a result, I am even more constrained than usual in my abilty to access just about everything.
I used to like this time of year, as a child, and also when I was raising my own. As a mother, I threw myself into elaborately concocted Christmas stockings, gifts, special breakfasts, annual trips to the California Revels in Oakland, and so on. But that’s all over. One kid is a Luciferian now and the other — well, I’m not sure if I’m even going to see him and his girlfriend over the holidays. I keep asking about their plans, via texts, which are sometimes answered and sometimes not.
But I’m essentially a witchy neopagan and a Lokean who prefers to observe the Winter Solstice and Yule, so why do I even care?
It’s the loneliness. It’s that peculiar holiday loneliness that is suffered when it seems that all the rest of the world is gathered with loved ones, eating, laughing, in rooms full of colored lights and twinkly objects. There are things to do in this county, crafts fairs and such, but I can’t really enjoy the events as it is so depressing to go to them alone.
I do try to be proactive, however. Here’s how:
• Reaching out to other lonely people: Somewhat from a counseling and peer support perspective, I’ve started a Facebook group called “Lonely in Lake County CA” and have revived my BlogTalk Radio show, Love’s Outer Limits, to cover social isolation in four parts, including the last segment on Xmas Day. I’d like to do something to counteract the shame that goes along with being lonely (especially old and lonely).
• As I mentioned earlier, I used to love to make special Christmas breakfasts, so this year I decided to invite my neighbors over on Xmas morning for a breakfast open house. This has the advantage of socializing in a time slot that doesn’t conflict too much with people’s plans for Christmas dinner.
And there’s a bit of socializing. Last Sunday I drove 300 miles, round trip, in order to attend the Revels with three good friends (all Scorpios!) and we had a festive meal and modest gift exchange afterwards. And tonight the fraternal organization I’ve recently joined is also having a holiday meal. I may even try a Senior Center meal or two, on the 21st and 24th, knowing full well I’ll probably have to dodge fragrances or leave because someone starts to use harsh cleaning products to wipe down a vacated table (this happened on Thanksgiving).
I’d volunteer to serve food at a community meal or staff a warming shelter, but there’s that fragrance and chemical problem I’ve got. Other people just can’t help pouring that stuff all over themselves at this time of year and facilities tend to use the harshest possible chemicals for cleaning.
Since I have no partner, no idea if I’m gonna see either of my kids, and as I am without neopagan or Norse inspired kindred (except for online connections with Lokeans), I do feel sad about not being in a cozy hall with a blazing fire, surrounded by Lokeans and others, toasting and boasting and blótting the night away as the shadowy figures of my ancestors look on from wherever they are, nodding sagely, “yes, she is most truly our daughter,” or some such thing.
Instead I will expand upon some dim devotional ideas for Yule offerings and a ritual for Loki in the Lokabreanna Tiny Temple. And I’ll look for other ways to get through this most painful time of year. Suggestions are welcome in the comments section. Thanks!
Last week poison dripped from a poison pen and we Lokeans all felt it. And shook! And now you all felt it too. Thank you all for reading the Lokean Group Letter to The Wild Hunt on this and other blogs, and for commenting, signing, reblogging, and writing your own rebuttal articles.
It’s ironic, but we’ve come together more as a community since Karl Siegfried compared Loki Laufeyjarson to the current U.S. president. And Loki is definitely the talk of the town.
Liz Heffner put it very well in a comment in the Loki’s Wyrdlings Facebook group:
“Much as I detest _that_ article in TWH…I am appreciating some of the after effects upon the wider Lokean community.
We’re never going to march with one step, uniform and fading-to-gray in homogeneity. No. We will always be externally or internally vibrant, diverse, breathtakingly spectacular in all our large ways or small, subtle or grandiose. Quite likely it is that no two of us will be the same. We won’t always agree. We are not each other’s echo chamber.
But! We are now coming together and forging more visible connections. We are finding new like-minded souls and the sense of community is stronger than ever.
We are not burned by this fire. We are forged by it.
Well played, Loki. Well played.”
So all this last week, behind the scenes we were emailing, commenting on social media, drafting that letter, commiserating, sharing, forging alliances, and organizing! We also shared wonderful sick humor to metabolize the poison, such as watching Karl Siegfried in an episode of Ancient Aliens. (Glad to give you a plug, hon, since you’ve done so much for us.) And writing a parody of the Lokasenna was good for my soul, if not my reputation.
Here are some of the specific positive results
• The Lokean Group Letter, which was sent to The Wild Hunt but not published by them, has had over 2,000 views on this blog alone. The readers are from over thirty different countries. Other bloggers have republished the letter, and I presume they are seeing a lot of traffic as well. Also, some people have asked us to add their names to the letter, as posted on the blogs.
• The Troth issued a membership survey to discover if Loki should be hailed once again at Trothmoot. (Results and decisions to be announced sometime in January, I believe.)
• And some of us are having discussions of further ways to organize and nurture our religious community as we’re individually and collectively tired of discrimination and disrespect from so many in neopagan and heathen communities.
I feel so blessed to be part of this community of Lokeans, Loki wellwishers, and allies. It’s lovely. I feel I made several new friends this last week. I feel so privileged to be able to say openly: Loki is my patron god. I’ve got others, but he’s the closest and dearest to me.
Rebuttal Blogs and Columns–In Progress
I am sure there are more. I will add them as I find them. Please add to comments section if you know of ones I’ve missed. Thanks!
No, I don’t wake up the first of every month saying this. I’ve heard about it, of course: a superstition to bring luck in the next month. But I do pay attention to auspicious signs and portents.
This morning (December 1st), my waking up to The Troth membership opinion survey regarding the hailing of Loki at Troth events was indeed auspicious. The hailing of Loki is controversial within the organization, which apparently consists largely of U.S. membership. I have heard that similiar organizations in other countries find this controversy puzzling and unnecessary.
The survey results will not produce a binding vote, but might help influence the organizational leadership’s position on this topic. Currently, Loki is banned from Troth events (a form of religious discrimination we call Lokiphobia.)
There were three options: (1) continue the ban on hailing Loki at Troth events; (2) no ban at all, so that Loki could be hailed at any time; and (3) a compromise position that would allow one hailing of Loki in the main event, with separate bowls and drinking vessels for Loki-hailers and abstainers, presumably for spiritual “hygiene.”
An aside: the one thing I do wish the survey had included was a second question as to how many people in The Troth membership do hail Loki at all, ever. I think this could have been very interesting indeed, as it would provide numerical information as to allies and practitioners as well as abstainers.
For those who don’t know, The Troth is an organization that promotes inclusive Heathenry (as opposed to all the white supremacists running around with Norse runes tattoo’d on their biceps). The stated policy of inclusivity is why I joined, even though I don’t describe myself as “heathen” per se at this point. Here’s a key portion of their policy statement:
From The Troth website: “We are deeply proud of our indigenous Northern European religious, cultural, and historical heritages. We welcome all people, whatever their religious, cultural, or ancestral background, physical ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation, who have developed or wish to develop a relationship with our Gods and Goddesses, and would like to know more about Asatru or other forms of Heathenry. Together, our members practice the moral principles followed by our noble predecessors, including: Boldness, Truth, Honor, Troth, Self-Rule, Hospitality, Industry, Self-Reliance, Steadfastness, Equality, Strength, Wisdom, Generosity, and Family Responsibility.”
Oh, the Irony…
…that such spiritual hygiene should be given such attention when there are a few other more essential topics the organization could address more robustly.
Baer writes: “Whether it is on the domestic front in North America, or courting potential allies in Europe, the Troth does itself a strategic disadvantage in actively alienating devotees of Laufeyson. Most Lokeans I have met, because of who they are and Who called them, are natural anti-fascists who would stand against the racialist scourge.”
(Note: Baer uses “Laufeyson” as Loki’s “last name” instead of the more correct “Laufeyjarson.”)
Yeah, gotta agree on that. We Lokeans also seem to be more supportive of LGBTQIA+ and disability issues and many of us exist in marginalized spaces as a result of our own lives and identities.
(I’d personally love to see a survey on that, including the kinds of activism we’re engaged in outside of heathen and neopagan topics.)
However, in the Loki Wyrdlings facebook group, several people have pointed out that Baer seems dismissive and glosses over the problems of inclusivity that we Lokeans face, and that this must be addressed before unity can be achieved. Also, it’s been pointed out that as grown-ups, we can work on more than one issue, say, addressing internal prejudice against Loki practitioners as well as cultural appropriation and misuse of Norse religions by white supremacists.
But Wait! There’s MORE!
But, Lokean as I am, I want to throw another issue into the “hygienic” mix, that of disability accommodation, particularly with regard to those who have the invisible disabilties of multiple chemical sensitivity and environmental illnesses and respiratory ailments (such as asthma) that are triggered and worsened by the exposure to airborne toxins such as fragrances, scented personal care products, candles, incense, pesticides, paints, etc. Such people, at least the ones who have recovered somewhat from previous toxic exposures, generally do pretty well at maintaining their health and stamina as long as such products are excluded from gatherings and public spaces. I hear the Trothmoot this year is taking place on the West Coast. I would enjoy experiencing such a thing, just once in my life, and to be able to go home from it in relatively healthy shape.
Most people with conditions such as mine are socially isolated and many are longing to participate in faith and spiritual communities, including neopagan ones (heathen, Wiccan, etc.). When I moved here to Lake County, I even tried the local Unitarian Universalist church, as UU’s have a history of accepting neopagans. I had a few conversations with someone in the local leadership and decided to try attending a service. Within ten minutes I had to flee due to one person wearing a heavy dose of sandalwood essential oil. I cried all the way home.
I’ve never been to a Trothmoot, or indeed any public heathen or neopagan event except for that thing the Druids used to do in Berkeley in the park, and that only once. Reclaiming Witch Camps could be fun, but they are outdoors in the woods in the summer and I know the mosquito repellant would make attendance impossible. (I also dodge airborne toxins at health facilities, schools where I’ve taken classes, public transportation, restaurants, grocery stores, senior centers, and so on.)
Good indoor air quality, which is what people like me need in order to participate in events and experience those stated Troth values such as Hospitality, Frith, and Self-reliance, benefits everyone in attendance. Go on over to my Why Fragrance Free page on my professional website and you’ll see links to a study published earlier this year that estimates that 1-4 Americans has some form of environmental illness now. ONE IN FOUR. That’s staggering.
From where I sit and stand, always on the outside, I’d much rather see the vast amounts of attention focused on the pros and cons of Loki worship (so, just get over it and let us hail Loki already!!!!) directed instead toward a thoughtful consideration of a ban on fragrance use at such events, as the toxicity of such products is well documented in scientific literature and numerous anecdotal accounts. (Yes, and as grownups, we can also address the problems presented by alt.right fascists and neo-nazi scum, as well as other challenges.)
Because I have no kindred beyond those I find on the internet, and no place of worship beyond my own altars and my Lokabrenna Tiny Temple, I am probably doomed to spend the rest of my life as a solitary practitioner of just about everything. I try to make peace with that, but even writing about this brings tears. When it’s not too painful, I like to imagine the cheer of bright halls where people like me (aging, disabled, kinky, Lokean) are welcome as full members of the community. I long to toast, boast, recite poetry, and look with love on my kindred. I long to rely on the “kindness of strangers” who soon become my friends. I long to stand up and do battle beyond writing these blogs.
But, yeah, I’m a gonna bring this up. I’m bringing it up now. I’m tossing my respirator on the ground as a gauntlet. Loki is all about pointing out hypocrisy and the hypocrisy in action against those with disabilities is every bit as damaging as other forms of exclusion.
As for Loki–I’ll leave you with the song stylings of Joan Jett, Bad reputation.
I’m a Scorpio sun with three additional planets (and an asteroid) also in Scorpio (fifth house). And with all that plus a Capricorn moon, you know I’m a woman “what likes a challenge!” My birthday, Nov. 1st, encompasses part of Samhain, so by that you can probably guess what kind of challenges I like!
Have I mentioned that I suffer from chronic fatigue along with the environmental illness? Almost thirty years worth? Even so, I feel driven to perform these almost muscular displays of esoteric endurance and concentration. My usual pattern is to drive myself to do as much as possible while I have energy, then collapse. But energy-building practices are part of what this is all about.
Anyway, I’m on Day 7 and the theme is “thinking.” It’s a day I’m supposed to “expand my own thinking and the thinking of others.” I can probably bring the fact that I’ve also just started NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) too, as my second volume of fantasy fiction does contain some mind expanding elements! (I have to get cracking on Chapter One in a minute so I can acheive my daily word count!)
Tomorrow, Day 8, is “war” and, um, I actually will need to pay close attention to the guidance that emerges from this particular theme. Got a situation…
Before I touch on my reactions to the ritual so far, I want to say how grateful I am for it! Loptson’s book is an important guide for me and it’s wonderful to have these prompts and ideas for connecting with various aspects of Loki, who is a very complicated being. I can be scattered and such focus is helpful.
Day 1’s theme is “Pure Magic” and since it took place on a Saturday, the day I typically honor my ancestors, this was part of my awareness of magic. It was a day of preparation for the temple dedication so devotional activities were also a part of this awareness.
Day 2’s theme is “Death” and it coincided with the Lokabrenna Tiny Temple dedication. The temple, transformed from a sparse utilitarian space (it was a woodshop) to a beautiful devotional space, is almost a metaphor of life and death. The act of responding to the call to create this liminal “home” for Loki is also metaphorical as well as practical.
However, I didn’t visit a graveyard as Loptson suggests. I was just too exhausted after the dedication to trek around the lake to the nearest cemetery. Instead, I contemplated the sad grave of two newborn kittens that the vet and I had tried to save. (They weren’t even mine–I was catsitting a pregnant cat for some friends. Her kittens were born while they were away.) The early death of these helpless babies, which I buried in the front yard, is a frequent momento mori. Plus, I’m now sixty-four and recently made my will. That’s a momento mori too.
But one of Loptson’s questions for the day is, “How do you feel about Loki, knowing that he is one of the gatekeepers who will one day remove you from your body?” I want to cry with gratitude just thinking about this, actually! So that’s cool!
Day 3’s theme is “Wealth,” particularly wealth of talents. I haven’t drawn much in a long, long time. I used to be the kid who was always drawing–in school, at home–whenever, wherever. I decided I wanted to make a new portrait of Loki, but was very hesitant to do so. But after several false starts, I let my hand move and create something, even if it is rather minimal. The lesson I learned was that I want and need to draw more, and that I need to get Crowquill pens and india ink, my favorite art tools. Even so, I was satisfied with the rather seductive look of mischief that emerged in this drawing.
Day 4’s theme is “Love.” But instead of having a day of childlike fun and frolic, recapturing the lost innocence and joy of youth (as suggested), I gave several hours of hypnosis and counseling time to a friend who needed to quit smoking and who had some heavy issues to confront in the process.
Day 5’s theme is “Ego.” Loptson suggested breaking a personal taboo “that challenges your current identity.” Well, I ended up making a phone call to someone I’d worked very, very hard to leave and it resulted in a reconciliation of sorts (but on much different terms). I also made a gesture of love and forgiveness to another person who has hurt me very deeply. That was definitely an ego challenge, forcing me to connect with the vulnerable humanity of others, and to be vulnerable myself. So… unexpected, that! And I won’t say I’m comfortable, but I am glad.
Day 6’s theme is “Sex” and it coincided with my birthday! But since I spent the day driving to the San Francisco Bay Area to see my children for a lunch date, perhaps the day for me was more about “Reproduction!”
Plus, as a sexologist, sex educator, and tantra practitioner, there aren’t really a lot of ways to challenge myself about sex these days. Especially since I lack a human partner. I’d say I’m also well aware of Loki as an almost tantric deity who is very connected to the deep, cosmic aspects of libido and sexual energy.
So we’re back to Day 7, “Thinking.” I’ll report on today and tomorrow in my next blog. I also feel as if I want to repeat this series of rituals in the Spring. I don’t know why, I just do.
Hail Loki! And big thanks to Dagulf Loptson for his excellent book!
It was the flock of birds that did it, silhouetted against the sunset, wheeling over the lake, spiraling as if drawn by the gravitational force of something huge in the air, hovering unseen. Evening is often a melancholy time for me, but while driving home on Highway 20 just outside Clearlake Oaks, the movement of the bird flock spiraling around that unseen center made me acutely aware that I was going home to a house empty of everything except cats, gods, and furniture. And this phrase rang through my mind, “the illusion of someone at home.”
Or maybe I can blame this mood on E.B. White, who could have set me up for this. While chowing down on Thai eggplant (spicy) and jasmine rice, I was snickering to myself over a collection of essays in an ancient volume titled One Man’s Meat, particularly his essay, “Clear Days.” But tucked in among the mirthful elements White writes as a city slicker self-exiled to rural Maine during World War II. He fit in with the hearty locals who hunted, fished and farmed about as well as I do here in Lake County. At least he had a wife, child, a *turkey and quite a few chickens.
“It is not likely that a person who changes his pursuits will ever succeed in taking on the character or the appearance of the new man, however much he would like to. I am farming, to a small degree and for my own amusement, but it is a cheap imitation of the real thing.” (E.B. White, One Man’s Meat, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1950, p. 21.)
Is this evening’s melancholy a reaction of anti-climax? For the last three months I’ve focused intently on (1) developing a consistent spiritual/devotional/magical practice and (2) creating and dedicating the first incarnation of the “Lokabrenna Tiny Temple.” (The dedication took place earlier today.) So when I decided early this evening to take myself out to dinner at the Chinese/Thai restaurant three miles down the road, I did it partially to reward myself. I usually don’t mind eating alone as long as I have a book. Sure, everyone looks when I arrive alone and am seated (alone!), but I soon cease to be interesting. I’m too old to be worth much attention. My Jezebel days are over.
I usually order my main course, tea (either hot green tea or Thai iced tea) and a “to go” order of pork satay with peanut sauce to enjoy later. That “to go” order puts a different spin on my situation. Now I look like a woman who may have gotten away for a little while (to save her sanity?) but who has promised to bring something good back to a someone who is waiting for her return. I can’t deny that I kind of like this faux conjugal narrative.
Life after divorce, which now also includes life after breaking up with the lover who disrupted the marriage, does take some getting used to. One could argue that I brought it on myself–and that I made bad choices that now result in my present loneliness. However, I wasn’t in this pickle all on my own, but I decline to diss the gentlemen involved. In a ridiculous way, I still love them both.
But I digress…
I noticed yesterday that I enacted another bit of faux conjugality at the grocery store. It wasn’t an intentional deception but when I bought that bottle of cinnamon-flavored whiskey for Loki, along with a gift bag to hold it and a very large cupcake that looked like a cheerful but modest birthday treat, it looked as if I would soon be celebrating something or other with a (human) friend or partner. To that young man behind me in line, who asked what the whiskey tasted like, I said truthfully that I had no idea, that I was buying it for someone else. I refrained from saying who.
I am not sure what to do with these thoughts and feelings, except to endure them. I certainly do not think that my devotional practices and magical fervor are ill-placed or directed at an illusion. My “most trusted” patron deity, Loki, feels very “real” to me in terms of a specific “energy” that I sense (sometimes more distinctly than at other times) but I do wish that there was also a human recipient in my life. Without the center of family (husband and children) I feel as if I am whirling into the gravitational vortex of an unknown realm, and that if I stopped flapping my wings in hopes of escaping this fate, I would instead drop like a rock into chilly waters below.
It’s these between-times that are so tough to take…these liminal spaces of waiting, not knowing…of becoming but never “arriving”…of not belonging completely to any one place or group… But wait! That’s Loki’s turf and apparently, it’s also mine…
*I have turkeys too–a wild flock strolls almost daily through my property.
Today Lake County had the most spectacular sunrise! Pink clouds were streaming all over the sky (like flame-colored hair) and the silvery moon (waning gibbous) was visible in the West. I felt this was a wonderful omen for today’s dedication of the “Lokabrenna Tiny Temple.” The temple is a small former woodshop that I’m (still) fixing up and have dedicated to my patron god, Loki. Lokabrenna means “Loki’s Torch” and refers to the star, Sirius.
The process of preparing for the dedication was more complex than I anticipated. Yesterday I bought offerings: Maker’s Mark cinnamon-flavored whisky, a giant fancy cupcake with rainbow frosting, and a fancy donut with multi-colored sprinkles. Today I did some heavy-duty cleaning, some purification and protection rituals, and had to clean up myself before beginning the ritual at 11:45 AM.
Let me admit that I don’t know what I’m doing, exactly. I put this dedication ritual together based on online blót instructions (but without any sacrifice, so it wasn’t a blót after all), some other sources, and my own quirky tastes. Basically I hailed Loki by many names (including “Rebel Without a Pause” and “Charming Iconoclast” as well as more traditional kennings and names); read Dagulf Loptson’s Loki’s Stave out loud; read a number of greetings, poems, and limericks collected for this purpose from two Lokean Facebook groups; offered the offerings; drank a toast (I had cinnamon tea–I don’t drink alcohol); and then asked for Loki’s blessing on both the temple and the temple cat, Meowington. I had about twenty minutes of meditation, then I thanked all involved and closed the ritual. It was over by around 12:30 PM.
My “epic fail” moment came when I wanted to pour a drink for Loki. I couldn’t get the plastic off the top of the whiskey bottle. I had no knife or scissors handy, and try as I might, I could not pry the stiff plastic away from the bottletop using only my fingernails. Finally, I leaned out of the circle to grab a screw off a nearby shelf and scraped away with it until I was able to make a dent in the plastic. In all, it took several minutes to open the bottle. During this time I imagined Loki laughing his ass off… (My self-styled “Loki’s Plucky Comic Relief” moniker well earned in those moments.)
During the meditation I felt happy. I might even venture to say that I felt Loki’s happiness and approbation. I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I certainly don’t set myself up as any kind of “priestess” or leader (I’m a newbie devotee, for one thing), but the call to create the temple was and is real, and now I just see what happens next.
Today I am also on Day Two of “Eight Days of Loki” (again, from Dagulf Loptson’s book) and will follow that with nine days of “Breaking Loki’s Bonds” (another Loptson ritual). In the middle of all this we have Samhain and my birthday (Nov. 1). It’s a very intense time for me (and for all of us, really, but I can’t address that right now).
Hail Loki! I feel happy that I’ve completed my promise to you, and now we learn what we’ll do with this tiny temple!