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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No Blood, Saliva Will Have to Do

Sadly, there was no bloodletting. That meant that my blood, smeared into the white, rune-carved candles, would not have a chance to dry in the crevices, creating a stark contrast with the smooth, pale wax. I could have been down with that, but alas, it was not to be.

You see, I had dutifully bought lancets at the local drugstore in preparation for this nine day ritual, created by Dagulf Loptson (an author and blogger who has become my favorite and most respected guide to all things Lokean), but when I got home I realized I didn’t know how to dispose of the used lancets, which are considered medical waste. And I was too exhausted*  to research the matter. (Here’s how. I know this now.)

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I performed this ritual, “Breaking Loki’s Bonds,” from Nov. 4 to Nov. 12, beginning immediately after completing the “Eight Days of Loki” ritual created by Loptson and found on pp. 240-251 of his book, Playing with Fire: An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson. I had also just completed 93 days of consistent devotional and meditative practices, a self-created routine I ironically dubbed “Loki’s Spiritual Fitness Challenge” (ha!). I did this to prepare for certain magical learning that I had requested from “my most trusted one.”

So far, November has been a month “crowded with incident,” as Lady Bracknell would say (Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest**): the back half of Samhain and my birthday, the start of National Novel Writing Month (and my second novel), voting in the mid-term election, several intense days of smoke-filled skies from the tragic Butte “Camp Fire” two counties over (the smoke is still settled in the Lake County CA basin), and the unwelcome onset of a painful condition I endure a couple times a year. Plus there were two very unsettling contacts from ex-lovers–one being a real blast from the past (under sad circumstances), and the other sending me straight towards a “survivors of malignant narcissists” Facebook support group.

All this, and Loki too! (Lokeans, please don’t guffaw… I know. I know…)

So all that’s the background to my account of what this ritual has meant to me so far.


Preparation Comments

Aside from buying lancets and forgetting to buy or make a proper disposal container, I also prepared for the ritual by making GarageBand recordings, reading aloud the meditative portions of Loptson’s ritual. I didn’t do this when I went through “Eight Days of Loki” and I wish I had. However I should have made a separate small recording for each day, as scrolling through the previous days to find the start of the current one was a bit of a mood breaker. I also didn’t note start times for Days 1, 2, etc. on the recording, which also would have made things easier. [Note: it was an emotional experience to read these meditations aloud, for recording.]

It was important to have a rune book handy, particularly one which gave Roman alphabet correspondences.

I substituted saliva for blood rubbed on the candle runes, as mentioned above. It’s a personal fluid too.

For Day 3, I made a red paper “ribbon” to write on, as I didn’t want to inhale smoke from burning cloth.

For Day 9, I didn’t use my drinking horn as I had no stand and the ritual instructions are to fill the drinking vessel, then leave it to do something else before getting back to drinking. So I used a goblet instead.

Overall, my feeling is that my execution of ritual was clumsy though heartfelt. I mention the above to be helpful.


 Spiritual, Emotional Impact

Johari_WindowSelf-knowledge is a bitch! (Lokeans, don’t guffaw!)

I just turned sixty-four. I thought I knew myself pretty well. But no, there’s always more surprises lurking in that bottom right hand corner of the Johari Window. (Interesting that Loki’s hideaway cottage had four windows. Metaphor, anyone?) I was not prepared for the entrance of a discarded part of self whose name was unmistakably “Daddy’s Girl.”

[Note: Loki’s kennings for each day and the pronunciation keys below are taken straight from Loptson’s blog.]

Day 1 hails Loki as Inn Bundi Áss (in-boondy-ows), bound god. It is an invocation and contemplation of that horrible story of Loki’s torment. Loptson evokes it well: the dank cave, the screams, our beautiful god bound with the entrails of his dear child, poisonous snake venom dripping onto him every time his wife, Sigyn, has to empty the bowl. No one likes that story. We all hate the torture and gratuitous cruelty that our god suffered. The question during this preparatory meditation is “am I really up for this?” In spite of the caution implied in the above horror, I thought this was a question with an easy answer: “yes, of course.” (And again, “ha!”)

Day 2 hails Loki as (vay), the illuminator. The meditation is a request to reveal a hidden and scorned part of self. And that’s where “Daddy’s Girl” comes in. Poor thing! Her (my!) mother’s own hurts and anger prevent the five-year-old from mourning the departure of her beloved but “worthless” father. The child’s grief is devalued and thus hidden away. The experience of being a treasured daughter is diminished, as one parent is missing and the other is foolish and over-extended, caring for four small children under the age of five. Decades later I would learn that which was hidden from me: my mother had given birth to two children (twins) who were not actually my father’s, thus providing some excuse for his exit from the marriage (even though he was basically a narcissist and a cad and a deadbeat dad). But aside from the foibles and failings of the adults involved, the appearance of the small child (me) who deserved to have her grief honored, not dissed, was like a psychic sledgehammer. “Oh shit” was pretty much my first reaction. “Daddy Girl,” in runes, was written on my sealed bottle of elderberry*** lemonade (my mead substitute). (For some reason I wanted to leave the “‘s” out of the rune spelling.)

Day 3 hails Loki as Læva Lundr (lie-vuh-loon-der), spider. The meditation asks for help in discovering how one has ensnared oneself in “the web of fate.” The word that came to me was simply “Pinned.” That was written on the strip of red paper standing in as a ribbon. I was reminded of a line from a favorite Leonard Cohen song, “Sisters of Mercy:

Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, I think I can see how you’re pinned:
When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.

Ouch.

Day 4 hails Loki as Ver Sigynjar (vehr-sig-in-yar), Sigyn’s husband. The meditation asks for help in revealing the source of one’s support. The answer came quickly: Loki. His rune was carved into the first candle.

It’s not for nothing that he is my “most trusted one.” Tears…

Day 5 hails Loki as Lóðurr (low-thur), creator. The meditation asks for a revelation of allies. Strangely, the word that came was “Hunger.” Huh! There’s a lot to unpack with this one, but it makes perfect sense, especially when paired with Daddy’s Girl. Hunger for love and acceptance, being seen… those qualities I thought made me weak…but also paired with my hunger for justice, knowledge, growth and transformation. So, runes that spelled “hunger” were carved into the second candle.

Day 6 hails Loki as In Slægi Áss (in-sly-ee-ows), sly god. The meditation asks for the final ally. “Me” was the answer. No valentines here! No one to the rescue, that’s for sure! The runes for “me” are carved into the third and final candle.

I could grumble, but I don’t. Loki provides insight into what we need, not what we want.

Day 7 hails Loki as Loptr (lof-ter), “serpent of fire.” Now, I had some trouble with this meditation. I briefly registered a mental, quasi-visual “image” of fighting when asked to look into the shiny surface of a mighty sword blade (meant to be a kind of scrying), but for some reason I didn’t want to accept that message. But it was the only thing that came, so “Fight” was written in runes on my “ritual blade” (an old kitchen knife–didn’t want to use my athame).

Day 8 hails Loki as Hveðrung (Kveh-thrung), roarer, “mighty harbinger of Ragnarök.” Shit’s gettin’ real now… This meditation is where we release Loki from his fetters and release ourselves from our own. The ritual blade slices through the red paper ribbon in three places.

Day 9 hails Loki as Gammleið (gam-layth), “vulture’s path, lord of cremation.” In the meditation the dross is burned away and all is transformed. I was unexpectedly moved to tears by Loptson’s guidance to see Loki and Sigyn released and restored. I drank my “transformed poison” in the cup of victory (elderberry lemonade in the goblet), burned the scraps of red paper, and let the three white candles burn down all the way in the fireplace. (I hadn’t done that on the earlier, specified day.)

As I watched the rune-carved candles burn all the way down behind the glass window, I had the impression that Loki wanted another altar of sorts right there in the fireplace, which I seldom use.

I also meditated on the flames and found I could look at them in such a way that streams of light came toward me. I reached out and imagined these streams flowing into my hands. I imagined the warmth and energy of the fire invigorating me. Why not? Though based on a trick of the light, it was as good a meditation as any.

Thus ended the nine days of Breaking Loki’s Bonds. Huge thanks, yet again, to Dagulf Loptson, for creating a very valuable ritual. I learned more than I expected. My challenge now is to celebrate and accept Daddy’s Girl and welcome her back where she belongs. With me. Only me. The one who will fight.

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* Chronic fatigue.

** The best film of this play, ever. Nothing else can touch it.

*** My wand is of elder. I associate this tree and elderberries with the Fae.

Solitary, Eclectic Witchery

Baba_Yaga_by_I.Bilibin_(priv.coll)

I want to describe what I like about solitary, eclectic witchery. I just had a lengthy text session with a very old friend, where I was attempting to describe the how and why of what I’m doing now. Texting is inadequate for that kind of conversation so now I’m thinking, why not just write a blog about this? (As if I needed an excuse to blog!)

I was a weird kid, and a weirder teenager, okay? I read widely in occult and Eastern metaphysics literature when I was a teen, and at various points in my later life. But I had to admit that as a teen, the closest I ever got to working a spell was taking a piece of spearmint gum, shoving it between two banana halves, wrapping it all in foil and burying it in the back yard for two weeks, then digging it up. No incantations. No nothing. I was solely in pursuit of intoxication (chewing the banana infused gum–hey, the next artisan delicacy!) because one of my best friends assured me all the kids in Berkeley did this to get high.

And even with all the years of all sorts of woo weirdness (some of it chronicled elsewhere in this blog), I didn’t approach a determined study of magic and witchcraft until 2016, when I was living in Hawai’i and I began my first fantasy novel, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. In my elevator speech, this is “a tale of mid-life magic.” It’s what happens when a bunch of Elves show up at a post-hippie/post-punk commune in Hawai’i and a group of middle-aged (and older) people discover they are heirs to a magical legacy. They have to learn magic real, real quick too because (surprise!): bad guys. So because I was writing about magic and witchery, I had to learn about it. And to learn about it, I had to plunge myself into it, as any good Scorpio would.

Yes, magic has become a consuming special interest. No one who knows me well is surprised by this. I am always consumed by one thing or another.


“Magic is the art and science of influencing change to occur in conformity to will.”– Jason Miller.

This is one of my favorite descriptions of magic. I think the source is this Down at the Crossroads interview with Miller. I have two of his books, The Elements of Spellcrafting: 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery and Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic. I recommend them both. Here’s his website.


Turns out learning the rudiments of magical theory and practice was a lifesaver as well. So good for my mental health, which was seriously eroding in the aftermath of a divorce, a sadly souring love affair, separation from my children, and the election of 2016. I began my research with a Magic in the Middle Ages course from the University of Barcelona and offered through Coursera.

My first actual “how to” witchcraft education came through Ariel Gatoga’s online Witch’s Primer and DCW lectures. Ariel, with his delightful personality and well-organized wisdom, got me through some very bad moments and helped me to muster the courage to move back to California from Hawai’i. However, all his podcast links on the internet have been corrupted or have vanished, so you can only find working links to his material here. This is a treasure trove for beginners. I am not kidding.

The Down at the Crossroads podcast, hosted by Christopher Orapello and Tara-Love Maguire, has also been a fantastic source of information and inspiration. I’ve bought many books after hearing interviews with authors on that show. I also cannot wait to get my hands on their first book, Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape. I pre-ordered. Release date is December 1st.

Daniel Foor’s Ancestral Medicine work has also been profoundly influential for me (go here for free access to lectures and podcasts).

Of course, I now range widely through books and the internet in pursuit of tips, tricks, lore, and history, but as a witchy autodidact, my larnin’ is sketchy on such topics as Crowley and the OTO, variations of Wicca, and so on.

However, I’m a solitary practitioner, partly by nature and partly due to disability, which is really a bore. I haven’t gone to a single Northern CA spiral dance (don’t wanna suffer from airborne essential oils) or a Reclaiming Witch Camp (camp=woods=mosquito repellent). I haven’t even made it to a PantheaCon! (It’s not just the multiple chemical sensitivity/environmental illness stuff that gets in my way. I also need a good cat-sitter.)

So what do I do all by my lonesome? Here’s a general outline.

Daily and Weekly Routine: a daily “energy” exercise and meditation practice for health and will power, plus devotional practices and offerings to my deities (Loki, Freya, Frey, and Gerda), ancestors, and guides. Food offerings to ancestors and land wights take place once a week, usually.

I’m pretty much a slacker when it comes to witchy celebrations, except for Samhain. If I had some other folks in my life who did this stuff, I’d probably enjoy this.

Divination: Learning Tarot and Norse Runes (very much a beginner). I use the pendulum often for certain kinds of check-ins.

Current Studies and Magical Interests: Ongoing ancestral lineage healing, as per Daniel Foor; cultivating relationships with unseen beings and ecologies (Aidan Wachter and his book, Six Ways-Approaches and Entries for Practical Magic, is a good influence here); and “charming” daily life, infusing it with magic (you can listen to Ariel Gatoga’s A Charmed Life podcast here). I’m currently learning practical spellcraft techniques such as sigil magic, witch jar spells, and solo sex magic. Plus, I’m an avid learner with regard to Loki and my other deities.

Imaginative_tales_195501So, that’s the basic gist. Does this make me a bad or delusional person? I think not. It’s actually quite a wonderful pursuit for my declining years. Since I’m no longer a “young chick” (a term I never embraced, but ex-lovers have used), it’s kind of great to be transforming into an “old witch.” Especially if I could find a spell that would let me rock a spangly red costume like the one at right.

If you’re a fellow practitioner, would love a comment!

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A Lot to Unpack

[Revised Nov. 11] Just when we all thought we were done with wildfire season… It’s now the third day of the Butte Fire two counties away–now called the most destructive wildfire in California history. I can’t even imagine the trauma endured by folks leaving their cars, trying to outrun a fire that consumes 80 football fields a minute! The fire’s thick smoke has blanketed Lake County. We can barely see more than one or two blocks away. The smoke does creep indoors so my big HEPA-filtered air purifier is running night and day. So here I am, coping with (1) cabin fever because going outside is a big “no” and (2) trying to  understand and identify abusive and manipulative behaviors when they impact personal and spiritual life. (All that, and make my daily NaNoWriMo word count!)

Plus, I’m on Day 7 of Dagulf Loptson’s nine-day ritual, Breaking Loki’s Bonds. (More on that in a future blog.) So yeah, it’s been a heavy week. And all these topics seem to be intertwined.

The Breaking Loki’s Bonds ritual calls to a different aspect of of Loki for each of the nine days. I have been especially struck by two of them, in this last week.


“Hail to Vé (vay) holy exorcist and illuminator of truth. Shine light into my dark places, so I can see that which I hide from others, but most importantly myself.” –D. Loptson, Day 2, Breaking Loki’s Bonds.


Truth into dark places indeed! Loki as has been quite active in all this! I won’t go into all the details, but this week I was given the opportunity to review the impact of certain posthumous “Daddy issues” as well as the impact of two former romantic relationships on my life. I was surprised by contact with both ex-lovers, and while the initial trips down memory lane at first focused on pleasant scenery (and in the more recent case I was even tempted to resume a new and revised incarnation of the relationship), I also had occasion to remember numerous damaging incidents with both men. In both relationships there were patterns of ongoing “malignant” behaviors that hurt me deeply. (It doesn’t matter at this point whether the perpetrators  are actually diagnosable with a personality disorder.)

Due to these contacts, I also had to examine my own gullibility and admit that my present deep loneliness may keep me vulnerable unless I check my knee-jerk tendencies to give, love, devote, nurture, believe… And some of this rolls back–oh how I hate to say this!–to abandonment issues concerning my father (who was quite possibly a narcissist as well as an alcoholic).

But working with Loki, in any aspect, seems to involve a lot of multi-layered,  fast-track processing and transformation, so it’s no wonder that the above issues exploded onto my radar within a few short days.

The ritual appeal and invocation to yet another of Loki’s aspects, Gammleið (below), seems to be already in progress, even though I’m only on Day 7. Prospects for a renewal of the more recent relationship quickly soured as the ex-lover’s old patterns flared up in response to my expressing certain needs should we decide to reunite. I received an email which basically called me a slut and also challenged my right to my current spiritual path (which I’d foolishly shared with him) on the grounds that his kids had more Scandinavian DNA than I did. I mean, WTF? So, a final break has now truly occurred. Even “friendship” is now out of the question.

That night, after receiving that email, I had a truly horrible dream [described in the previous version of this post]. It was as if my subconscious was purging the last few somatic traces of him. And I actually felt okay waking up, though thoroughly appalled at what my dreamscape had produced.

So I do thank Loki, as Gammleið, for that rapid-response thing he does–stripping away the garbage, quickly exposing my own and other people’s foibles and patterns, burning away illusions…facilitating ruthless self-examination. Ouch.


“Hail Gammleið (gam-layth), vulture’s path, lord of cremation. Burn away the refuse of my old bondage so that my hidden self may be released and I can be reborn anew.”–D. Loptson, Day 9, Breaking Loki’s Bonds.


 

Switching The Focus Slightly

It’s interesting too that this past week I also started a little research into Lake County CA cults, as my second novel is set here and that’s part of the local background I need to know. Obviously the behavior of toxic cult leaders (as well as certain politicians) are up on the “big screen” for us all to see and deplore (except for those out there who want to emulate them). And with lovely synchronicity, The Lokean Welcoming Committee had at least two recent, detailed posts about spiritual abuse red flags. Here is one, originating from the Grumpy Lokean Elder. When I read something like that alongside an article like 5 Powerful Reality Checks For Survivors Of Narcissistic Abuse by Shahida Arabi it is so obvious that we need to watch out for the same behaviors of manipulation, gaslighting, and even abuse, no matter where we are.

Manipulative and/or abusive lovers can come in all sorts of guises, though their basic patterns are recognizable. It’s the same with manipulative and/or abusive spiritual teachers and leaders. Though we can point to many abusive tantra and yoga gurus, as well as Catholic priests, Pagan communities and circles are not exempt. Right after posting the first version of this blog, I came across Abuse Within Paganism – A Taboo Topic? by Emma Kathryn (Nov. 2018). Kathryn mentions Sarah Anne Lawless’s blog, So Long and Thanks for All the Abuse: A History of Sexual Trauma in the Pagan Community (Sept. 28, 2018).

Back in the 70s, an uncle and aunt of mine suddenly dragged their two small children into an abusive, controlling cult and stayed there for at least eight years. My mother had told me it was a Thelema-based community, but from what I’ve been told by others in the last couple of years, this would have been an aberration, not the rule. (However I know very little about Thelema and OTO because of this family history.)

Given my past history in personal relationships, I also find food for thought in these cautionary tales about spiritual groups. I bemoan my social isolation, but perhaps I am better off as a solitary practitioner?

I feel as if I’m getting intensive instruction right now from two “streams” regarding discernment, my own vulnerabilities, and understandings of past trauma. On the one hand, I am benefiting from general guidance available online from the Lokean community as well as specific advice about “red flags” in spiritual communities and practices.

On the other, I am just beginning to access safe, private online forums where a number of us can talk about relationships that are abusive, corrosive, or at least puzzling and troubling. I really never have shared my own experiences before, aside from a few very old friends, and I think I’ve needed that for a long time.

I am so up for breaking the old bonds, the old patterns! Hail Loki, who provides the transformational fire I need and who points the way toward emotional and spiritual freedom! 

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Urnes Snake. Scandinavian. Source: http://lokeanwelcomingcommittee.tumblr.com/

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