Nov. 23 UPDATE: Link to a blog post signal boosting the leadership of black trans women and other trans and gender diverse POC in the work against violence and for health and vibrancy in their communities. Includes links to several articles in Out Magazine and Essence by Raquel Willis, founder of Black Trans Circles (video here!).
Later today I will light a candle and read the names of all the 369 murdered people aloud, as a reminder to step up my game. My heart is heavy. That is all.
Later: here is the reading below. Listen, or better yet, read the names aloud yourself. It takes about an hour.
They don’t know it, but the Boulet Brothers and three seasons of Dragula have joined my private and exclusive cluster of “writer’s muses” for my fantasy novel in progress, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. (Here’s the Season 1 premiere of Dragula, on YouTube. Season 2 and 3 are on Netflix.) The goal of Dragula is to create “the Next Drag SuperMonster.” Their guiding principles are “drag, filth, horror, glamour” (and “punk” in the first season).
My goal is to complete the first draft of my second novel in the Ornamental Hermits fantasy series. My guilding principles are “magic, punk, art, glamour.” (I’m not so down with “filth” as I’ve changed far too many diapers in my time, and currently empty seven cat boxes twice a day… so there’s that.)
Right now, I’m in the middle of my annual participation in November’s NaNoWriMo. Since November 2nd, I’ve written 30,000 words out of a 50,000 word target. This is a writer’s competition–a challenge to pit my tendency to over-edit in first drafts against raw inspiration and creativity.
Over-editing in first drafts is the result of fear. It’s an unwillingness to commit to the entire plot, to put characters in jeopardy, to give all or lose all in love and hate and war, to race toward the exciting climax of the book. Much like the contestents in Dragula, I deeply believe in my writing, just as the contestents deeply believe in their drag. They create personas, constellations of characters, facets of being, visions, a “world” in which their drag selves are at play–suffering yet triumphant, always rising from the ashes. Damage breeds creation. Yet so often those hidden fears can mute or dim our full commitment, our performance of our art. Dragula challenges its people in just about every way imaginable. The Boulet Brothers’ constant admonishment is “do better, commit fully, show us who you are.” If you don’t, you “die” on the show.
Writing–world and character building–is my salvation, just as drag is theirs. Many of the Dragula contestents could feel right at home in the artsy, queer haven that is my imaginary “Hermitville Farm and Arts (and Magic) Collective”–and if not Hermitville, they’d enjoy “The Realm,” a place where there are at least twenty-nine genders among the Elves, and almost every Elf is capable of shapeshifting and summoning irresistable powers of glamour.
I am writing to create a home and a community for myself, even if that home is not manifest in the physical world and my book friends are all invisible. Drag performers participate in an already created, yet constantly mutating demi-culture of art, but acceptance is not necessarily ready-made. Still, I envy them.
The Boulet Brothers are not in the business of coaching writers, yet I am keeping them before me as inspiration. I imagine them telling me to not be lazy or play it safe, to expand the limits of my imagination, and to bring this into my writing (otherwise, Elimination Challenge!). And I love their witchiness (’cause, you know, I’m witchy and my books are all about the discovery of magic), and I love their mischief (’cause, you know, my divine S.O. is a Trickster), and I love their sex and gender fuckery (’cause, you know, I’m a sexologist–but there are compelling personal and creative reasons besides).
So in a moment I will leave this blog post and open up my first draft, and plunge into my daily word count challenge (about 2,100 words or so). I will light an imaginary candle (though I could light a real one–I have plenty) and summon my muses both inner and outer. And the magic of world and character building will contine. It’s my deepest joy.
Thank you, Boulet Brothers, for shining your dark so that others may begin to sparkle in chthonic depths, clawing their way into the limelight as fully realized creatures of art.
Thirteen days into July’s “Thirty Days of Devotion for Loki,” we ponder this topic: “what modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?”
A deity’s interest in modern cultural issues is assumed and/or communicated based on a devotee’s blend of “personal gnosis” and knowledge of lore, as well as community conversations about a deity’s involvment in a cause. These perceptions and community conversations are valuable as they give clues to types of service that could be performed as an offering to a deity. Of course, devotees may also received direct messages about desired devotional work as well.
For what it’s worth, here’s my personal gnosis take on Loki’s interests.
Child Welfare and Rights
In yesterday’s Day 12 blog, I encouraged readers to attend one of the LightsforLiberty events protesting U.S. concentration camps for asylum-seekers. I claimed that “Loki loves children” and this claim was based on lore that he both fathered and mothered various progeny, appears to have been deeply fond of them all, and would presumably not want them or other children to suffer. And he doesn’t seem to be someone who would approve of caging them or separating them from their parents.
One example of Loki’s concern for a child’s safety comes from Loka Táttur, a story-ballad from the Faroe Islands in which Loki rescues a farmer’s son from a giant after Odin and Hœnir have failed to keep the kid safe. And many modern conversations about Ragnarok speculate about Loki’s desire for revenge on the Æsir after the torture, death, and banishment of many of his own children. (His own torture and banishment seems scarcely considered.)
I also have personal gnosis regarding Loki and his concern for the safety of children, and have seen many comments from other Lokeans who also share this feeling.
This is another area with plenty of conversation and personal gnosis. While you won’t find sexual preference and gender-variance positivity reflected in the old Norse lore (quite the contrary), I think there is plenty of modern agreement that Loki is multi-gendered and queer, and has a special interest and protectiveness for human beings who are in the same boat.
Several years ago, the “Over-Enthusiastic PFLAG Mom” was a popular meme. Of course, she’s a redhead. I catch a whiff of “Loki-ness” in the spirit of these memes. (My favorite reads “Pansexual? Just don’t chip the good china.”) Could “Mr. LokiBot” do any better?
This is one of the main reasons I love him.
Environmental Health and Justice
According to some parts of Norse lore, Loki has been tormented for eons by painful snake venom dripped onto his skin. I personally take this as a metaphor for the challenges of environmental illnesses. One of my first blogs was Loki: A God of Pleasure, Poisoned. I’ve expanded on this theme in My Gods are Fragrance-Free and Loki: Proving the Poison. At times I identify as an “Eco-Lokean.”
(Sadly, when I went to the local Lights for Liberty demonstration in Lakeport, CA yesterday, I had to dodge at least two quite heavily-offgassing fragrance users while standing in the hot sun with other activists. Even protests are not accessible to people like me. And someone tell me why it is necessary to wear fragrance to a protest??? Bitch, please!)
Advocacy for People with Disabilities and Other Life Challenges
A number of people think and feel that Loki is very supportive of people who deal with physical and mental challenges, as well as those who have gone through rough times. He does seem to show up with a hand to hold and a swift kick to the patoosis, if you need it. Many say Loki brings some crazy-ass shit, but that they are better for it.
I would presume that any advocacy for people with disabilities, foster kids who have aged out, prisioners, poor people, homeless people, addicts, etc. would have Loki’s blessing.
Personal gnosis, as well as intellectual speculation, leads me to beleive that most deities and spirits of this planet, not to mention great heaping gobs of ancestors, are quite, quite concerned about accelerating climate change and species die-offs. However, those in charge of conservative Christian fundamentalists are anything but. They’re all like “inconceivable!” and “What–Me worry?” Will the real anti-Christ please stand up?
A Friend of Investigative Journalism?
I could also see Loki as a patron of investigative journalists and columnists who skewer hypocrisy and exposure wrong-doing in high places. He’d probably love Project Censored. Perhaps I should start listening to their radio show again, and invite Loki to listen in. Check out “Rallying Over Balloting: The Origins of Activism of the Millennial Generation” which is also televised.
Fighting Facism, White Supremacy, and Neo-nazism
Now that The Troth has lifted the ban and welcomed Loki back into its Trothmoot ceremonies I think there is even greater potential for Loki to be seen and known for his/her/zir/their opposition to fascism and white supremacy. He can be a potent force for inclusivity. I made a case for this before. Here’s a list of anti-hate resources at the end of this blog from last year.
As for the juggernaut of facism, here’s an excellent article by Fintan O’Toole in Irish Times: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow. Babies in cages were no ‘mistake’ by Trump but test-marketing for barbarism. It was published last summer, 2018. It now forms an eery, prophetic restrospective.
Here’s another article worth noting, from the Southern Poverty Law Center: White Nationalist Threats Against Transgender People are Escalating.
Ultimately, It’s Personal (And That’s My Personal Gnosis)
Generally, whatever kind of humanitarian or social justice activism we’re into, if we’re into Loki too, we will probably be asking him to support us in our efforts. And we’ll likely to feel he will, partly because Loki hates hypocrisy and partly because he wants us to be effective change agents for our own lives and for the larger community. That’s a personal gnosis statement, of course, but I believe it’s in alignment with most if not all in the Lokean community. And it’s in alignment with how I’m communicating with my patron deity.
(This thirty-day devotional format is based on a list developed by someone named Arrin, known as “a Gaulish polytheist.” It can be used for any deity.)
Data collection is closed as of March 18.
Now comes the fun! Please go to the Survey page for a look at raw data charts of responses to questions 2-10. And stay tuned to upcoming blogs where I’ll discuss the question responses in detail, included some excerpts from the open-ended comments sections.
Here’s one of the most interesting charts.
Stay tuned for more!
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.
For example, Jeremy Baer, a Redesman for The Troth, just blogged his opinion on the divisiveness of the Loki/not Loki controversy and pointed to what he sees as the greater challenge for inclusivity in The Troth and heathenry in general: racists and “Nazi scum.” Baer writes:
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.
Loki! Loki! (For luck.)
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!
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.