New Altars, New Deities, New Wights

Though I still haven’t found my stash of tealights in any box I’ve unpacked so far, I’ve begun to put together the new altar space in the landing at the top of the stairs. This “in-between” area is a passage between the two attic rooms and the stairs. Behind the back wall is a cubby hole door leading to a cramped, unfinished area which contains spiders, webs, and probably old rat droppings which have fallen between inner and outer wall spaces. I’ve blocked this area off with a shelf, but it’s still somehow appropriate that it is there. It’s a sort of symbolic “underworld” at the top of the house, the fourth path of the landing’s function as a “crossroads.” Someday I’m going to shove a small bowl of red salt in there, for purification, but at the moment it creeps me out and I don’t want the cats to get in there either. (There are similar cubby holes in each attic room, also blocked, also needing bowls of salt.)

The altars in the landing – works in progess.
Details of portions dedicated to Loki (r) and Freya and Freyr (l).

As readers of this blog know, I’m oathed to Norse Loki. He (she/they) have most of the altar “real estate” in the form of the tall shelf above. I also honor other Norse deities. In this new house I’m pleased to have expanded areas for Freya, Freyr and Gerda. This place, with its micro-orchard of fig, plums, cherries, pears, and mulberries, is already a very Vanir space and we are in full fruit harvesting season right now (so, yay Freyr!). In the spring I hope the roses, lilacs, wisteria, and camelias, will be pleasing offerings to Freya. I also look forward to planting an herb garden dedicated to Gerda. A bit of outdoors will always be brought indoors, for dedication and thanks. And I’m planning a space for Thor…

Aside from the above Norse deities (and my own ancestors), there are other deities/spirits I honor: the Goetic Lord Amy/Avnas, the Celtic Brigit, and the Egyptian Bast. I look forward to expanding their altar spaces as well. And I am now adding personal deification of two fictional characters who have become spiritual “ancestors” to me: Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. I’d been thinking about this for awhile and when I unpacked a forgotten child’s tea set from China and a small plate with two rabbits under a crescent moon, well, that clinched it. In my mind there is no reason that spirits can’t “inhabit” fictional forms, to assist human understanding. (Deification of fictional characters is not without precedence. I mean, some people have been working with Lovecraft’s pantheon of Elder Gods for decades!) However I haven’t yet figured out the practice for honoring Wuxian and Wangji beyond incense and offerings. Asking for guidance is the next best step I suppose.

The beginnings of the Wei Wuxian & Lan Wangji altar space.

I mentioned wights in the title. I mean land spirits. I feel the trees of course. Their protective presence is quite palpable. But there are clearly other beings and other ancestors to acknowledge. I’ve barely gotten started.

Mostly, I am happy. This is an expansive and peaceful time, with many dreams come true. Magic is alive and I live in the midst of it.

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All That Fruit!

This is a time of tumult, clearly. The old tumults (the anniversary of the death of an old sweetheart) and the new tumults (relocation to Oregon and the surprising “loss” of my firstborn) are exhausting and severe, but they are mingled with new joys: reuniting with cherished friends and getting to know this house.

This house! It’s old. There are layers of I don’t know what under the newish sheetrock. I can see the layers of old walls and repairs in the stairs leading to the basement and the exposed step from the backdoor. Yesterday I finally had the courage to open that one (formerly locked) cabinet door in the downstairs bedroom, fearful of what I might find. It was raw, unloved space, littered with scraps of carpet, flooring, and perhaps cans of things I cannot use. I shut the door quickly. Next time I look, I’ll grab a flashlight… Such spaces disturb me (there are reasons). And yet it was a glimpse into the past of this house.

Don’t worry, dear. From now on, I’ll take better care of you.

I knew this house was destined to be mine from the moment a friend forwarded its Zillow page. I seem to be a house-getting witch, as I’ve had uncanny luck over the years finding those places which call to me and are meant to be mine, at least for awhile. This one though, this one is special. I believe it is meant to be my last home, which, like a last love, has a special poignancy.

The ceilings are very low, making me feel rather tall (a first in my life!). My real estate agent thought it might have been a millworker’s house, built with cast-off lumber, wrongly sized. The house is spacious, though, with a sizable basement and two finished attic rooms in addition to the first floor space. The remodeling was cursory, with ridiculous things left unfinished or poorly done (the edge of a new door left unpainted, the bathroom sink fixtures plumbed all wrong, and so on). But I like eccentricity and age in a house. Even the uneven floors don’t bother me much.

I really am giddy with my good fortune here — and so grateful for it. Much as I adored my house in Lake County, CA, I grew terrified by the location. All those fires and only a two lane highway to exit the lake valley… the prospect of having to herd seven cats into crates at a moment’s notice and flee a fire racing through the oaks and pines in the hills behind my house… not knowing where in the world I could go with all those cats… not a good situation for a single, aging person with a few physical impediments! This all too likely danger preyed on my mind. I may miss the turkey flocks which roamed my yard, but I have feathers with which to remember them.

So, back to THIS house. I live now in the middle of a micro-orchard! I have five cherry trees (Bing and that golden kind), at least two mulberry trees, several plum trees (Italian prune, Santa Rosa plums, ornamental plums), several extremely tall fig trees and a few younguns, a pear tree, what am I missing? Oh, I forgot to mention the Concord grapevine which has climbed via the front yard mulberry to fruit above my roof. All the fruit is far above my head and simply crashes to the ground. However yesterday I reached through an attic window and managed to snag two ripe figs! They were glorious.

All my trees are overgrown and stressed by the drought. I don’t believe anyone has watered them this whole summer. An arborist I have hired had much to say on the topic — and scorn for whoever neglected these trees.

I have wisteria too, in several spots, and one bush is actually prying part of the wood from the house! (We can’t have that!) There are lilac bushes by the front gate (the arborist says they are dying) and several rose bushes (not in great shape but managing). There is a simple white hibiscus tree as well as a camelia. I am not a gardener but I suspect I will spend these last years of my life attempting to become one. And I must get a food dehyrator and canning equipment to cope with all this fruity abundance! I see several learning curves in my future.

For several years I’ve been lucky enough to live in places with beauty and ample plant life. In the last 3 1/2 years I lived with the view of Clear Lake and Mount Konocti, among oaks and digger pines. Before that I lived in Hawai’i, on the “Big Island,” surrounded by giant red hibiscus trees as well as coconut palms, ohia lehua, and invasive strawberry guava. Now I live four blocks from the Willamette River, with close-up views of numerous trees and tendrils and fruits out of reach. I feel protected and kindly sheltered by all this plant life, as well as by the house itself. It’s as if this place had been waiting for me all along. It’s very hard to shake this feeling.

Plus, the cats like it here.

This is a house with a front porch and a sheltered yard–part Hobbit dwelling (the ceiling!) and part “Last Homely House”(the feeling!)–whose delights I wish I could share with both my children. Alas, I guess that’s not meant to be.

Here are the figs I snatched through a window last night and promptly devoured.

Figs picked through the attic window. Sept. 3, 2021.

I Once Had a Child…

I once had a child who sang to me from the middle landing of our back porch steps. It was a numinous, luminous moment that I will never forget.

I once had a baby who was so pissed off that he couldn’t crawl yet.

I once had a child who made up a language of combinations of “ha ha, ho ho, hee hee” and he and his best friend refused to translate.

I once had a child who loved horses.

I once had a child who preferred his father, but it was okay.

I once had a toddler who could tell me his dreams at the age of two.

I once had a child who loved endless stories about Cowboy Curtis and Miss Yvonne.

I once had a teenager who despised me.

I once had a child who said, “Puppy, do you know what it’s like to be human? It’s kind of a job, being alive.”

I once had a child who played harp and composed a song I wish I could hear in my last moments on earth.

I once had a teenager who transitioned, and was accepted and loved by all of us, no matter what.

I once had a child who made me sing “Felice Navidad” for at least two hours, in the style of Charo on Peewee’s Playhouse, to keep him comfortable and tantrum-free during a long car trip.

I once had a baby who barely slept. For years.

I once had a teenager who wrote novels, plays, poems, and music reviews. And who played the roles of Cyrano de Bergerac in his (now ridiculed) Waldorf School and Julius Caesar in a teen Shakespeare productions.

I once had a young adult who showed me silly videos on YouTube.

I once had a child who drew, a lot.

I once had a child/teenager/young adult whose thoughts I respected.

I once had a child who bested his teacher in almost any intellectual exchange.

I once had a young adult who loved the same punk music I’d loved in my twenties.

I once had a baby who rode in a snug baby pouch when I walked to 24th Street in San Francisco. He didn’t dangle like a small insect, facing forwards, like so many other children in other pouches.

I once had a toddler who couldn’t tolerate noisy bunches of kids at his preschool.

I once had a teenager who made fun of me for being short, once he grew taller than me.

I once had a young adult who shared some of his occult interests with me.

I once had a teenager who…

I once had a baby who…

I once had a child who…

I once had a toddler who…

I once had a young adult who…

I once had that someone who once seemed to love me.

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Corazón.svg: User:Fibonacci
derivative work: Eviatar Bach (talk)
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Whoa, UNhappy Birthing Day…

For the record, as a parent I have never:

Disparaged my children’s choices of partner, appearance, interests, reading matter, media consumption, diet, etc.

Disparaged or objected to my children’s genders, cis or trans.

Been an embarrassing drunk in front of them or their friends (I don’t drink anyway).

Forced them to go hungry or wear dirty clothes, or otherwise lack the resources for health and hygiene.

Tried to seduce my children’s lovers.

Refused to provide books, art supplies, toys, musical instruments, and a range of outside activities when requested.

Pushed my children to be something they weren’t.

Been verbally, physically, or sexually abusive or deliberately harmful in any way.

Not stood up for them if I was aware of something that needed my intervention.

And so forth.

As a parent, I have sometimes been:

Over-enthusiastic or not enthusiastic enough.

Extremely creative.

A willing reader and teller of bedtime stories.

Social awkward.

Clueless.

Depressed, suicidal, and exhausted.

Disabled and in need of accommodation.

Old and getting older.

Alone.

Involved in my own life and self, perhaps overmuch.

In the grip of transformative processes that defied logic.

In love with someone other than my children’s father.

Sometimes intimidated by the anger of adolescence.

Angry and reactive, but not to excess.

All too human.

As a parent, I was always loving and supportive, kind and generous.

As a parent I would have never imagined:

That not being perfect as a parent would result in being ghosted for several months and then told, via a public blog, that my oldest child (an adult) never wants to see or hear from me again.

Essentially, I’ve done nothing reprehensible as a parent or as a human being, to deserve such treatment.

This lack of courage and courtesy, on his part, is somewhat mind-boggling and deeply hurtful. And it’s so very entitled. His accusations of constant “damage” are something that I cannot understand or address, as they ARE left vague and his readers are left to assume the worst. I feel besmirched and wrongfully accused.

Emotional matricide and erasure. Whee.

“Oh sharper than a serpent’s tooth…”

‘Nuff said.

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Happy Birthing Day to Me

Today I celebrate the birth of my firstborn as well as my recent move from California to Oregon. The first represents the birth of another human being, one who is much loved (even if from afar). The second represents my transition into a life that is now entirely mine–free from many of the constraints of gender, partner expectations, prejudices against aging, and other ridiculous impediments to peace and creativity. In this I have followed my fictional Ornamental Hermits, who in the third and fourth books, land in Oregon on the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon, to work their magic and music with the help of Elves and their ancestors, and one very persistent trickster deity. As soon as I empty a few more boxes, put a few more books on the shelve, and hang a few more pictures, I’ll be working again on the first draft of the fourth book.

But getting back to my firstborn, who is all of thirty-two as of today…

It was an easy birth, but a very difficult pregnancy. While I spent eleven weeks on strict bedrest to prevent preterm labor, I was also internally speeding on round-the-clock doses of terbutaline. Anyone who uses terbutaline in an asthma inhaler knows how jittery it can be. Back in 1989, there was no internet that I could use to research the drug so I had only the doctor’s word that the medication was safe. However it is now known to be hazardous to both birthing parent and baby, with potential for neurodevelopmental damage.

From the above article’s abstract:

Terbutaline has been among the most commonly used -adrenoreceptor (AR) agonists in the management of preterm labor. The research suggests that tocolytic terbutaline therapy carries a significant risk for the mother and the child, which can be magnified by extended exposure, sex of the fetus, and administration during critical fetal developmental periods. This paper highlights the research on terbutaline in treatment of preterm labor, along with the possible associated cognitive deficits in adolescents who were treated with terbutaline in utero.

A search of terbutaline’s use in pregnancy (via Google Scholar) yields many peer-reviewed studies of other negative associations on fetal cardiac function and maternal morbidity. There is also a controversy as to whether terbutaline is implicated as a cause of autism in the children. However as a person who is quite likely part of the “broader autism phenotype,” and who sees traits in other family members, I have mixed feelings about this.

The main point is that I spent a good part of my pregnancy on my back in bed, fearing the loss of my baby.

This period was not helped by daily phone calls from my sister, who had discovered (via a visit from the F.B.I.) that her next door rental tenant was wanted for matricide. He’d apparently murdered his mother with a pickaxe back in Pennsylvania, probably for money. I don’t know for sure, but since he was running an underground “women’s wrestling collective” called the Barbary Bobcats. (in San Francisco), had probably spent much too much money as the impresario on wrestling mats, pink and black leather furniture, video equipment, and the like. Once the man was finally apprehended, my sister (as the landlady) had the job of going through his belongings: dirty socks, new watches, vintage cookbooks, Deco endtables actually finished by my husband but purchased via one of those vintage “20th Century Moderne” stores on Market Street. These daily reports were creepy AF, and forced me to consider the possibility that any gestational parent could birth a child who might one day want to kill her/zir/them/him.

So instead of completing my modern Noe Valley pregnancy on my feet like a winner, with healthy strolls down the hill to 24th Street, Japanese Weekend maternity clothes (I’d worked there briefly and had a bunch of factory seconds to wear), and the odd craving for canned apricots with cottage cheese, I instead endured forced inactivity (only getting vertical to use the restroom) in order to preserve the life of the baby I was carrying. It was okay. It was a necessary action. I wanted that kid to survive. I only wish I’d had a body that assisted me (and the kid) rather than worked against me (and the kid). (It was during this pregnancy that I also began to experience the onset of multiple chemical sensitivity–also felt like and is a no-fun body betrayal.)

However, this day in 1989, the day that my baby was born full term (and then some) was indeed a day of Winning Big. And it was the kid’s win as much as mine. This recent Radiolab podcast on placentas, the organ created by the embryo to ensure its survival, is as enlightening as it is strangely comforting. Even through the weird haze of pregnancy hormones, and their metallic taste, I knew that the soft-focus, pastel hues of commercially sanctioned pregnancies weren’t the whole truth. Yeah, you DO become all soft and tender and blurred and that’s a damn good thing in those early post-partum weeks, when you spend your days moist and mulched by milk, blood, and sweat. You swim through the aftermath of the miracle of birth, rather than walk.

And I was stunned by my realization of the absolute bravery of a soul which launches itself into a mortal body, helpless for years at the hands of its parents and the rest of humanity. It was an act of courage taking place in our studio apartment and it would go on and on and on until the end of that soul’s present incarnation.

Holy fucking shit.

And let’s just put in a good word for those who have birthed–as it is just about the most frightening, foolishly optimistic, and potentially transcendent, fully PHYSICAL initiation around. There’s a bit of bravery there too, though gestation is often undertaken with a blithe incomprehension of the risks and rewards ahead.

With all this in mind, I’ve often wondered by mothers (and other gestational parents) are so often scorned in our sick, patriarchal, capitalist society, as well as by the children themselves (and often the co-parent). Does part of this have to do with that relentless placental battle for survival? Is there a deep, hopelessly atavistic trauma embedded in each successfully birthed human, as birth itself represents the “win” of the baby over the gestational parent whose body wanted to reject it as foriegn and other? (Honestly, listen to that podcast!)

If so, then I am fucked, and so is every other gestational parent. I see now why so many “mother goddesses” are associated with death as well as birth. And if we are not honored for our (totally unconscious) role in this first of all death/birth dances, then we are reviled or at least held at arm’s length by our offspring, who are unable to overcome that primal sense that their birthing parent’s bodies once wanted them gone, even if we spend a goodly number of years afterwards trying to nurture and protect them.

This is a lens or a perspective I turn onto my relationship with my own mother, as well as on myself as a “mother.” I wonder over it and can ultimately do nothing except to bless all involved, for we “knew not what we did.”

Happy Birthday.

Author: Nevit Dilmen. 2000. GNU Free Documentation License.

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Name Changes

To acknowledge and fully celebrate my non-binary self and status, I’ve been privately considering a name change. But I’ve been reluctant to give up a recent revelation regarding the name “Amy” as it represents a connection to the Goetic demon and fallen angel of the same name. (My mother thought she was naming me after Amy March in Little Women, but…ha ha! She was wrong!)

That connection between a demon and my name is a significant “signal flag” for me, particularly as Lord Amy also rules the period of my birthday, which takes place on the back half of Samhain (Nov. 1st). So while I never related to the name “Amy” (too soft) I finally began to appreciate what I could learn from it (and from the personage himself). In other words, I developed some reluctance to jettison the connection that was implied by the name.

However the brilliant solution finally presented itself: retain the connection by taking the name Avnas instead (which is Lord Amy’s other name). I asked “the powers” (including Lord Amy) for permission to use this name, and checked in via pendulum and tarot. The answer seems to be a yes. I feel happy.

As for my last name, I’ve always wanted to drop the “h” from Marsh and use Mars instead because it would be so much cooler and no one could call me “Marshmellow” ever again (oh those childhood wounds!), so this is a perfect opportunity to combine the two.

Avnas Mars.

Who could make fun of that, right? Who would DARE? (Call me “Martian” at your peril!)

The downside is that the legalities of the name change will be annoying and the cost is apparently quite high, but it will be worth it. I’ll do a formal name-change ceremony on my birthday, as well.

Now, the other name change I have to consider is that of this blog. In a couple of weeks I’ll no longer be living beside a lake. Instead, I’ll have the rushing waters of the Willamette River within a few blocks of my new home. Lady of the Lake of course refers to a significant water spirit, not to me, but it seems as if I should acknowledge the river spirits once I move. So far, I don’t have anything picked out yet but a new name will emerge soon.

Thanks to all my readers!

Loki Variants

One of the trailers for the upcoming Marvel Loki series features the intriguing phrase, “Loki variant.” Of course, if there’s one variant, there will be others and I’m not just refering to the series. In fact, Loki “variants” already exist in Norse lore. As a shapeshifter, he (she/they/ze…) appears in the stories as a mare (soon to be pregnant), a salmon, a fly, and more.

Dagulf Loptson, author of Playing With Fire: An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson (Asphodel Press, 2014) and Loki: Trickster and Transformer (Pagan Portals, 2020), writes that Loki is also known by various “indirect bynames” for his various forms and functions (Playing, p.20). Here are just a few of these bynames, known as “heiti” or “kennings”:

Lóðurr (Lodur, Lodurr): who in the poem, Völuspá, helps to animate two humans who were formerly ash and elm trees. Loptson says you’ll find this story in the 18th stanza of the poem (Playing, pp. 22-26). The association of this byname with Loki is still somewhat controversial.

• Vé: a word which means shrine. This name is often associated with a brother of Óðinn, or with Óðinn himself. We can remember that in Norse Lore, Loki is Óðinn’s blood brother (not his adopted son, as in the Marvel Universe). The association of this byname with Loki is also still somewhat controversial. (Playing, p.26-27).

 Loptr: an accepted byname for Loki which means “airy one or lofty one” (Playing, p. 27-29).

• Gammleið: “Vulture’s Path” which may also be a kenning for air (Playing, pp. 29-31). Loptson associates Loki with cremation fire and sees the vulture as “Loki’s bird” (p. 30). He gives compelling and scholarly reasons for these associations.

Inn bundni áss: The bound God, which refers to Loki’s punishment for insulting the rest of the gods by telling the truth about them. (Playing, p. 31-32).

Many more names may be found in Playing with Fire (pp. 36-38), throughout Loki: Trickster and Transformer, and The Grumpy Lokean Elder’s blog. Stephan Grundy, Ph.D. also discusses these and other bynames and aspects of Loki in God in Flames, God in Fetters: Loki’s Role in the Northern Religions (Troth Publications, 2015).

In a recently published essay I write of my own “UPG” (unverified personal gnosis) that as a shapeshifter, Loki may have mystic lessons to teach us about cellular and genetic “shapeshifting” in our own bodies (longer, more youthful telemeres, please!). (“Loki-I’m Game!”, Blood Unbound-A Loki Devotional, edited by Bat Collazo, Troth Publications, 2021, pp. 141-142).

God Loki Variant and Satanized Loki Variant

Loki as a God

Was Loki worshipped in old Norse and Icelandic cultures? Many academics say no. However Stephan Grundy mentions Loki’s centrality in Eddic dramas and cites Dame Bertha Philpott’s theory that the Eddic dramas were actually scripts for religious rituals and mentions Terry Gunnell’s later investigations and conclusions regarding this theory, which is now generally accepted (God in Flames, pp. 32-34).

There’s a scene in Marvel’s Thor Ragnarok that might be a clever nod to this theory. In this scene Thor returns to Asgard only to find a huge golden statue of (the presumed dead) Loki erected in front of an “Asgardian Theater” and enters just in time for the conclusion of a dramatic re-enactment of Loki’s tragic demise. Loki himself, disguised as Odin, is enjoying the audience’s response. The scene suggests that Loki has lost no time in establishing a vehicle for his own worship.

Though we have very little evidence of Loki worship in older times, aside from the ritual drama theory, Loki worship is increasingly popular among Heathens and other modern neo-pagans.

Loki as the “Norse Satan”

The Icelandic writer, Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241), author of the Prose Edda (a collection of traditional Norse poems and stories) and Heimskringla, is frequently cited as the person most to blame for turning Loki into the equivalent of “the Norse Satan” and for otherwise distorting the original Norse and Icelandic material with his Christian perspective. Unfortunately for Loki, Snorri’s slurs stuck fast.

In a further distortion, some American white supremacists not only view Loki as Satan, but also as Jewish, since his second name, Laufeyjarson, refers to his mother (Laufey, a goddess) instead of his father (Fárbauti, a jötunn). A patrynomic, like “Fárbautison,” would have been more usual in Norse culture. (So contrary to the Marvel Universe lore, Loki is not and never was an “Óðinnson.” However, he was and is Óðinn’s blood brother, as mentioned earlier.) What does this have to do with the white supremacist claim that Norse Loki is actually Jewish? Well, in the Judaic tradition, Jewish descent is matrilineal. Such claims about Loki probably predate Wagner’s Ring Cycle operas and Nazism, but Wagner and the Nazis certainly promoted this. (If you doubt this, just type “is Loki Jewish” into a search engine and see what nonsense appears.)

Artists also took up this notion. There was a period of time when Loki was depicted as looking middle-Eastern, clothed as middle-Eastern, or with a hooked nose (a stereotyped “Jewish” feature). Here are two examples from Wikimedia commons. At top: “Loki. An illustration from Fredrik Sander’s 1893 Swedish edition of the Poetic Edda.” Below: “An illustration of Loki with a fishnet, from an Icelandic 18th century manuscript.” FYI, I cringe every time big blond Marvel Thor describes his bro, Marvel Loki, as “greasy.” For shame, screenwriters!

Worshipping Loki as a Gender Fluid, Queer Diety

With regard to contemporary worship of Loki as a god, Lokeans and others who hail and appreciate him, often view him as a queer god and a god of outsiders and oppressed people. Collective Lokean gnosis would easily accept Loki as being supportive of anyone who is oppressed due to religion, gender, and/or ethnicity (and so on). Based on community gnosis, Loki is not likely to be sympathetic to any oppressive cause. In fact, even the Marvel Loki “variant” is widely perceived as a deity who celebrates Pride (art by D.Kettchen on Deviant Art).

Dagulf Loptson has created and shared many Loki rituals with the community of those who honor Loki. Here’s one example, a Lokean Washing Charm. Holidays adopted by Lokeans include April 1st, Lokabrenna (the rising of Sirius in late July/August), Loki Spongecake Day on Sept. 4th, and Dec. 13th as his “birthday.”

Once the new Marvel Loki series appears on Disney, I predict that membership in the various Loki-related social media groups will more than double. For example, Loki’s Wyrdlings on Facebook has experienced enormous growth just since 2018.

Loki’s Pop Culture Variants

As I’ve said before, Loki Laufeyjarson is the consummate muse. He has long been a favorite of artists, storytellers, novelists, fan fiction writers, and screenwriters. And there are numerous ways of portraying him. Below is a screenshot summarizing his appearance in Marvel Comics, which of course resulted in his inclusion in Marvel action movies.

However, the Marvel Universe can’t claim the only recent portrayal of Loki. Spoiler alert: The Norwegian series, Ragnarok, cast Jonas Strand Gravli in the character of Laurits Seier, a teenager just learning of his true identity as Loki, a non-human jötunn (below). Jonas Gravli does an amazing job in this series.

(Photo source: https://www.filmstarts.de/nachrichten/18536004.html).

Cosplayers also perform Loki with zest. My favorite is Casey Triere who is also voice actor and a brilliant artist. Here is one of Casey’s “Norse of Course” TikTok videos. Here is one of her portraits of Loki, used with her permission.

As you can see, there are so many “variants” of Loki to enjoy. Here is an introduction to my own variant, Loki as “Lucky LaFey,” a “handsome drifter” who is actually in search of his missing son, Váli, turned into a wolf by Odin. Loki himself is a fervent muse for this character who appears in two of my four Guild of Ornamental Hermits books, soon to be published online by Futures Past Editions.

Many of these variants are “brilliant, bright-eyed, too beautiful to resist” according to the poet, Elizabeth Vongvisith, author of Trickster, My Beloved: Poems for Laufey’s Son.

Once you learn more about the many faces and aspects of Loki Laufeyjarson, you too might also find him irresistable. And that’s not a bad thing.

Hammer Hurts

I know how the hammer hurts,
How it hurts and is hurting,
When it all goes smash bang
And someone else falls down.
And the hammer can only build
With shiny new nails–(shiny, new!)
Until the new becomes old
And it’s smash bang again…
And again…and again,
Because hammers can’t build mirrors,
And nails just rust when they cry.

A. Marsh. Copyright 2021.

Pearson Scott Foresman, Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

My Nonbinary Coming Out Story

I posted this first on Facebook today, sent it to a few family members, and now I’m putting it here.

So. Okay. Am I really going to do this on social media? Yeah, WTF. I am. Here’s my #nonbinary coming out story, as far as I can understand it to date.


My sense of being disconnected from “being a girl” dates all the way back to early childhood, but I never wanted to “be a boy” either. I just wanted to be me–whatever that was–but as I was assigned female at birth, I tried in many ways to do the best I could with what I was given. But in my imagination I was usually Captain Nemo, Sir Lancelot, or Doctor Doolittle. The most femme I got was “Pirate Queen.” And I did like to draw princesses with huge treasure chests of jewels. My Madame Alexander doll was a “mechanical genius” and inventor–so not your ordinary female doll persona.


Puberty was weird. For a couple of years I wore a woolen peacoat year round in Southern CA, to prevent being harrassed about my breasts. (That shit was non-stop.) I was sexually active in my early teens, thanks to an 18-year old boyfriend, but I do remember really kind of checking out most of the time during sex, even though I did like the attention and physical affection. It was kind of like floating above or outside my body. There were traumatic moments later on, not with him, but with others. I think being on the edge of some kind of neurodiversity also added to the dissociation. At least I grew up in the 60s so that my lack of understanding about how to do girl world was masked by being a freewheeling “hippie chick.” It was okay to break rules, rebel.


But I kept being drawn to the so-called “androgynous” fashions and rock stars of the time, and beings who showed up in science fiction stories, like the Spacers in Samuel Delany’s “Aye, and Gomorrah.” I remember a Richard Brautigan novel where a young girl is freaked out by her developing, voluptuous body but ends up dealing with it by becoming a stripper. And (during my teens) there was the relationship with a boy who was prettier than I was but in other ways I couldn’t tell us apart. He wore my clothes sometimes but I didn’t wear his… There were all kinds of little sign posts along the way that told me I was not completely comfortable in my gender assignment, but there was nothing I could do or change about these very deep feelings.


Fast forward through the relationships which positioned me as female in various ways, through the weird metallic feelings of pregnancy hormones, the challenges (and rewards) of childrearing, and the utter chaos of the menopause. I have a friend and colleague who coined the term “reluctantly gendered” a few years ago and that term struck home for me as a first dim “hey…what if I’m also…?” But I kept those thoughts secret and I kept them safe, kind of like the One Ring that Frodo has to schlep around until he throws it into the volcano. At the time I was in a relationship with someone who would often say, “I’m a boy and you’re a girl” and I’d always recoil inside, having a thought like “well, not actually” though I’d outwardly agree. Like what else was I gonna do? And, deeper still, “who am us anyway?” (A Firesign Theater quote).


It’s hard to move sometimes from the known to the unknown.


I credit a lot of things and people and influences for helping me along: my patron deity, genderqueer Norse Loki; trans, nonbinary, and questioning people I know; internet resources and books; and so on. And writing my Ornamental Hermits novels has allowed me to experience the genders of my characters, humans and Elves, in imaginary ways.


But perhaps the state of not being “partnered” for the last four years and the solitude of this pandemic time has been as important as anything else. Without the demands of gendered performances, I have come to know myself, though without an imagined shape or form to “transition” into. I only know that I’d cheerfully part with my secondary sex characteristics if I could, and perhaps even with some primary ones as well, and have no desire to acquire any others.


I like long hair, makeup, and cleanshaven faces on most people — including myself — so perhaps I’ll always appear “femme.” Or not. I have no idea. I don’t know where I’m going but now at last I know what I am not.
There: consider that “assigned female” thing tossed into the nearest volcano. (There’s one across the lake from me!)


(Pronouns ze/zir but she/her can be tolerable, sometimes.)

Möbius Magic

Right hand path, left hand path…these are useful distinctions when applied to magic and mysticism but they somehow leave me unsatisfied. I have a yearning for the in-between, the liminal. Why not a “Möbius path” as a way to transform the dualities in a magical or mystic way? I am not sure what I’m getting at, exactly, but something speaks to me here and I intend to play around with it.

A photograph of a green paper Möbius strip. David Benbennick took this photograph on March 14, 2005. For scale, the strip of paper is 11 inches long, the long edge of a U.S. standard piece of “letter size” paper. The background is a piece of white paper. The strip is held together by a piece of clear duct tape, behind the top-right curve. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Möbius strip is a mathematical discovery attributed to Listing & Möbius in 1858, however similar images are found in Roman mosaics (c. 200-250 CE). Its mystery is that the simple action of giving a strip of paper a half-twist, then attaching both ends, turns a double-sided object into a single-sided one. If you trace your finger around the strip, or imagine a small insect traveling along it, you notice the path is seemless along all of its surface.

The Möbius strip seems related to the symbols below (left to right): the Ouroboros eating its tail, the figure 8 eternity symbol, the Urnes Snake (often associated with Loki) and related rune stones like the Näsby, even the pattern of this kundalini yoga meditation! At bottom right is a Mobius strip in a Roman mosaic (circa 200-250 CE).

What the Möbius strip says to me is “why pick a side when everything changes with just a half-twist?” It’s a kind of shapeshifting, really. With a simple gesture (physical or mental) you’ve immediately altered reality and your perception of it. How can this be applied to magic and witchery? Or kundalini meditations, for that matter? Some ideas:

Use the Möbius strip as a talisman.

Meditate on the Möbius strip.

Write sigils or spells on thin strips of paper, then half-twist and tape the ends together to make a Möbius strip. Does this change anything?

Find ways to look at situations with a “half-twist.” Does this change anything?

Are there spirits or deities who seem interested in, who resonate with, or who can teach you anything about this symbol? I know I have been associating it (and the other symbols above) with Loki Laufeyjarson for at least a year or so.

Can the spirit of the symbol itself teach anything? What happens if you establish a relationship with it?

Are there types of rituals or practices where this concept is appropriate? Not appropriate?

I have many questions. The Möbius strip itself reminds me of this line from a well-known song: “with a bit of a mind flip, you’re into the time slip, and nothing can ever be the same…” I think it’s the intentional, exploratory “mind flip” I’m talking about here.

We’ll see what happens.

Would love to have comments from readers. Thank you!

☽☆☾