I’m fascinated by corvids (crows and ravens) but never got to know one. I suppose I should leave bright shiny things around the yard in order to attract their attention. In the meantime, I am enjoying looking at raven artwork on Wikimedia commons. Here are a few images that I’ve found.
Signal Boost: Noa Helelā’s GoFundMe
Feb. 3 Update! She did it! Dollars raised!
Her play, Demigods Anonymous, is invited to a prestigious festival. She needs help raising travel expenses.
Here is a quote from a review of the latest production of Demigods Anonymous from Spectrum News:
“Helelā, a Hawaiian-Asian-European multimedia artist working in filmmaking, playwriting, music and poetry, is also a Hawaii Conservatory of Performing Arts emerging island artist. Fantasy realism and dark humor are themes in most of Helelā’s projects with intersectional themes that include mixed racial identity, diaspora, native issues, racism/racial violence, colonization, feminism, queer relationships, and trans identity.”
Noa Helelā is a brilliant young poet and playwright who has had her play, Demigods Anonymous, accepted at a festival in Las Vegas. Noa lives in Honolulu. Opportunities like this don’t come everyday for young writers, but sadly, such opportunities can be expensive! She’s not trying to raise much–just $1,000 to cover airfare, hotel, and food. Can you help her get to the festival?
Here is what she writes in her GoFundMe appeal:
Aloha! My name is Noa Helelā. I’m a playwright, poet, and filmmaker from the island of Oahu in Hawai’i.
Thanks in large part to the amazing work of our incredible cast, wonderful tech crew, and amazing director Taurie Kinoshita, the show I wrote, Demigods Anonymous, has been chosen to compete in the Kennedy American College Theater Festival in Las Vegas this February 12-17. We’ve been blessed to be chosen out of thousands of shows, and this is a rare honor and opportunity for all of us.
We are all so excited and can’t wait to take part in the festival and share our work!
There are, however, a lot of expenses throughout the week-long festival that I can’t afford, including travel expenses, food, etc. Therefore, I’m calling on my community for some help during this time. If you are able to contribute and it is within your capacity, I appreciate it immensely. Absolutely anything helps, including sharing this post.
Mahalo nui loa!
Please donate a little cash and please signal boost too! Thank you!
Dancing with Loki
Most of my meditations with Loki involve strong sensations of internal dancing, along with a sense (felt, not quite “seen”) of joyous movement through a multitude of forms and environments. So today I thought I’d share how I rendered a vague sense of this via HeroForge.
Cats, and Cats, and Cats
As some readers of this blog know, I have seven. They are family. I am going to introduce them to you in order of seniority and appearance in my household. I want to praise them.
Popoki (aka Cthulhu)
Popoki entered our household when my kids were still young and they–wanting her to be a badass–named her Cthulhu after H.P. Lovecraft’s mythic monster from the stars. I started calling her “Popoki,” the Hawaiian word for cat. As a kitten, she literally bounced off wall, climbed curtains, perched on rods, and at one point I could swear she teleported from the crate where we’d put her for the night. The gate was locked and she was, strangely, not inside. (She must have squeezed through, but I hardly know how that was possible.) She adores my younger son, Paul, and brightens when he visits. She’s a Queen, a beauty cat, an emanation of Bast (even my vet agrees), and somewhat aloof. Though she is happy to receive affection, she seldom comes looking for it.
She is the only cat of mine who isn’t a rescue. We got her from a family we knew.
Popoki is about 13 years old. She has breast cancer. I just received this news last Friday and it’s heartbreaking. She is having surgery tomorrow. [Update: three tumors are being removed.]
An off-center white streak on his chin has always given Niblet the look of a slightly peevish old man. A friend of a friend found him when he was tiny, living between two boards in someone else’s backyard. He still purrs when I feed him–which I think he must have done when catching bugs in the bushes as a baby cat. This habit of his absolutely tugs at my heart, even now. When my friend who was fostering him showed me his picture, I knew he would be my second cat. Niblet was a darling kitten and has grown into a cuddly floof who drools.
Popoki was not happy when I adopted Niblet, but they grew to be chums. I wouldn’t say they are “bonded” however. They don’t cuddle together. For many years they were my only two cats and I think that was just fine with them.
When Niblet sits between me and the computer keyboard I am never quite at ease because of his drooling. Niblet used to run when my older son was around. That kid thought Niblet was jealous in a sibling rivalry way, but I know it was because of that kid’s heavy, Dr. Martens-type boots. Niblet does not like heavy footwear.
Niblet and Popoki moved with me from California to Hawai’i and were somewhat appalled by the multi-generational feral family that I ended up feeding on my porch. I also made it a point to trap them to spay or neuter them at the monthly free vet clinic, then returned them to the colony. I am afraid that the experience of feeding all those ferals made me somewhat susceptible to the “more cats” syndrome when the three of us returned to California. We moved to a rural county about 150 miles from San Francisco. Feral cats were also a problem there. The small town of Upper Lake, fifteen miles from where I was living, had a large amount of community cats. And that’s where Freya enters the picture.
Freya, the Diva
Freya was one of those Upper Lake cats. She was a tiny little thing dying of thirst in the middle of Main Street. A woman named Crystal rescued her. Crystal worked in a couple of shops on that two block shopping district and also fed the ferals. She often trapped them and got them neutared and spayed too. Freya became one of her large family of cats and dogs, but always stayed close to Crystal, getting in the way of her sewing and soap making. She was and is affectionate, bossy, possessive, and not always nice to other cats.
When I happened into Crystal’s shop, the cat-who-was-not-yet-called-Freya was dozing in the glass case. I’d been thinking of getting one more cat “someday” but when I admired Freya’s beauty, Crystal’s boyfriend suggested I adopt her. I talked to Crystal about it a few days later and though Crystal was sad to see this cat go, she knew I’d give her a good home. This was around February, 2018.
Popoki and Niblet were not pleased, though Niblet did seem a bit intrigued at first. Freya wasn’t interested. Eventually they all adjusted. Freya stuck close to me as well and was so annoying when I worked on the computer that I gave her my kids’ old high chair for her throne, so she could sit beside me as I worked.
She is very possessive of me, often chasing the other cats off my bed, and she will sleep beside me with her paw out to touch my face.
It was a bit sad though, when I’d get out toys to chase, Popoki and Niblet played less and stepped back to let Freya play more, even when I tried to engage them. I’ve noticed this pattern with each subsequent cat.
For a brief time, I had an office in an extremely small, one-room cottage in Upper Lake. Two black kittens (ferals) often hid under it. They had orange eyes, very striking. The construction guy who was working on the front cottage called them “Jack and Jill” and fed them. I put out bowls of water and dry food for them too. Later, “Jack” disappeared and “Jill” was on her own. She was not friendly and hid when she saw me coming. I love black cats so I was fascinated by her.
Then there was an extremely cold couple of weeks. “Jill” actually went to Crystal’s place a block away–probably because she’d been eating there too–and let Crystal’s boyfriend pick her up. She was very sick. I knew Crystal didn’t have money for a vet so I told her if she could nurse the cat over the weekend, I’d come on Monday, take her to the vet, and then adopt her. Fourth cat. I named her Varda, another name for Elbereth in The Lord of the Rings.
I had a closed sun porch that was separate from the rest of the house. That had been Freya’s halfway home until Popoki and Niblet had gotten used to her scent, and now that porch was Varda’s.
Now all three cats were miffed, but they got used to Varda, who is small and I think, is a Bombay breed. Varda and Freya may even be related to some extent, as they came from the same cat colony.
Varda wants to cuddle with me when I sit in a certain chair to talk on the phone. Otherwise she is a bit skittish still. Her usual hangout is a twin bed in the living room, where she can watch squirrels.
The Woodshop Cats
Several months later, Crystal and her entourage lost their home in Upper Lake. They’d been living in the back of one of the storefronts and the landlord kicked them out. Crystal asked me if I could let her house four of her cats in a large, clean, workshop I had on my property, if she visited and fed them everyday. I said okay. A couple of months after that, she and her boyfriend and several cats and dogs drove to Tennesee. She took one and left the other three cats with me, without giving me any notice except for a day or two before they left. She promised to send money for food (she didn’t). I was not up for three more cats, even if they were just living in the workshop and roaming outdoors. However, one of them, Chu the Siamese, got adopted by neighbors across the street. The tabby, Meowington, became my garden cat. I locked him in at night and let him out in the morning. The skittish grey female (with no name) was chased away by Meowington, but I continued to feed her as she hovered around the edges of the property. She could down a whole can of catfood in one gulp and she would (eventually) let me brush the stickers from her fur.
In 2018, when I was forced to evacuate for two weeks, due to raging wildfires, I had to take all four cats with me to San Francisco and back. And I had to leave Meowington and the grey cat to fend for themselves (though I left food and wter behind in the workshop, with the door open). The drive both ways was sheer hell. The cats were scared and vocal and it was too hot to leave cats in the car for even a few minutes if I needed a restroom break during the long drive. Fortunately my house and neighborhood did not burn down but I realized how very vulnerable we were and how vulnerable we would remain the whole time I lived there. The huge death toll of people over the age of fifty, in the Paradise fire, was also a potent “momento mori” for me.
I was glad to see that both Meowingon and the grey cat had survived my absence. I had grown very fond of them both, but then Meowington was bitten by a baby rattlesnake. He did not survive. I was devastated. However the grey female was able to take over the territory of my yard and I started calling her Arya because she was so tough and living rough. But she wasn’t yet my cat.
The “Tabby Twins”- Keola and Kia’i.
Just as I start to write this, Kia’i (“protector”), the big tabby male who next came into my life, just walked in front of me for a cuddle. He and his sister, the much smaller Keola (“life”), were feral kittens from a trailer park in K-Ville, on the other side of the lake. A friend of mine was feeding the mother and her brood but the park manager wanted them gone. All the no-kill shelters were full so my friend put out the word that she’d pay for spaying and neutering and the first round of shots for anyone who would adopt them. She posted a picture of the male tabby and I thought, well, he looks like Meowington and another tabby I’d had long ago, so I thought I could take him, at least.
However when I showed up at my friend’s trailer, the male tabby was sitting on the porch rail next to his much smaller sister, who was very sick. I understood immediately that they were bonded and I had to take them both. So I did. And we got the shots and neutering and spaying done. And instead of letting them live in the workshop and outside, I turned them into outdoor cats because I was more haunted by Meowington’s death by rattlesnake than I realized.
Both cats were sick, as it turned out, and Kia’i’s teeth were horribly inflamed. I was told to have them ALL removed and that his sister might have to have that done in the future. Turns out the community cats of K-Ville have a genetic predisposition to this. This was extremely expensive but I got it done. And he’s fine as a toothless cat. However it does mean that he rolls on his belly a lot when Freya bullies him. Last year Keola also had to have all her teeth removed. She too is doing fine.
The tabby twins are brash but sweet and have no manners as far as the other cats are concerned. Keola is incredibly curious and washing the dishes can be tough when she decides she’d like to “help.”
Arya The Grey
Not all who wander are lost, but some who wander into construction sites might get stuck in a basement. I think this is what happened to Arya. She had become very dependable on when she’d show up for food and would let me pet and brush her. Since Meowington was no longer around to chase her off, she was quite comfortable around my place and becoming more demonstrative with me. I began to consider bringing her into my household.
During the time when she lived in the woodshop, she was obviously a frightened and timid cat. She would stay high on the rafters where she could not be seen. When I opened the door for the cats on that first day after they’d been left behind by Crystal & Co., she shot from the place like a bolt.
And then one day she vanished. Now, she’d been spayed thanks to Crystal and has the clipped ear to show it, so she wasn’t in heat. She came back two days later, ate as usual, and then was gone again. She never came back. I was devastated and the thought that a coyote or cougar had gotten her was too much to bear. I would walk up and down the street calling to her, but she was nowhere to be seen. One neighbor had seen her, shortly before she disappeared, roaming around the yard of a house where an old man had recently died. A lot of construction work was going on over there, as the place was a wreck (kind of a hoarder’s situation from the look of it). I wondered if Arya had gotten stuck there, but the construction workers weren’t there consistently so I couldn’t ask them.
Then, two months later, I happened to be taking the trash cans out front and I saw her, skinny as can be, coming up the driveway alongside my house. We both spotted each other, stared as if to say, “it’s you!” and so I called to her and coaxed her into my patio. I opened a can of catfood for her and while she was eating, I popped her into a crate and brought her inside to the enclosed sun porch. She was skin and bones. I got her to the vet, fed her a lot, and she soon regained her health. Then, when she was ready and the cats had smelled her for a few weeks, she was introduced to the rest of the household.
Arya has too many toes and that too is a feature of a lot of Upper Lake cats. She might also be related to Freya and Varda, but they chase her away. Everyone either chases or ignores Arya, though since we moved to Oregon she’s gotten comfortable enough to sleep on my bed at least part of the night. She’s the “upstairs” cat most of the time, and I feed her on the stair landing because she’s not secure enough to eat in the kitchen with the others.
Cats Are Indeed My Family
I would say we have a special and unusual bond. But then, I seem to have that with all my cats and it’s only growing stronger. They are all so different and have their peculiar ways.
Popoki wants to pee on paper towels in her own litter box in the bathroom. Arya only licks the wet food–she likes the gravy (the cats get both wet and dry food). Kia’i barges in and makes sure he is the first to eat, which annoys Niblet very much. Freya cries for the wet food but doesn’t eat much of it. She just wants to make sure she has what everyone else is having. Keola has the habit of dabbing her paws, with her sharp little claws, on my hand or shoulder to get my attention. Popoki goes after the remnants of everyone’s food. If Niblet gets a second helping, he wants it on a counter or low table. He’s the only one who will eat treats from my hand. Varda comes to sit on my lap if I sit in a particular chair. And how and why the cats circulate among sleeping places is a mystery. They’ll spend a week or two sleeping in the same couple of spots, then move.
These seven cats are my immediate family. I’ve said I’ve wanted “frith” and “o’hana” all my life but it seems that the cats are truly my people.
Entrancing: Hypnotizing Your Way to More Pleasure, Intimacy, & Sex!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, or any pagan love fest…a new book on erotic hypnosis.
It’s out! And yes, it’s dedicated to Loki Laufeyjarson, who’s pretty entrancing himself! And yes, it’s written by a clinical sexologist who is also a certified hypnotist and hypnosis instructor (who is also a pagan blogger…) That’s me…
Get it now in paperback and eBook formats. amzn.to/3XDXQYa.
Here’s what one of my colleagues had to say, after reading an advance copy:
“No other sexologist is more qualified or, more impressively, as informative, supportive, and downright entertaining than Amy R. Marsh, Ed.D. to explain why hypnosis can be so effective at gaining greater insights into your sexuality, deepening emotional connections with a partner, reducing stress and anxiety, and opening yourself up to infinite erotic possibilities.
Entrancing: Hypnotizing Your Way to More Pleasure, Romance, and Sex! is amusing, enlightening, and educational in all the right ways – which I enthusiastically recommend to anyone interested in erotic hypnosis or merely looking for an exceptionally well-written, thought-provoking, and sexually-enlightened book.”
—M.Christian, sex educator, erotica author, and sextech journalist
Relaxing, affectionate, bonding, romantic, erotic: this book contains a full spectrum of suggestions and techniques for a natural, relationship-centric use of recreational hypnosis for fun and pleasure.
Based on over a decade of teaching and private practice, this book contains so much for the reader who wants more romance, variety, mindfulness, and fun in their intimate relationships!
This book contains footnotes and a works cited section so you know it’s solid. I had a wonderful time writing it–in a two weeks!–and you hope you’ll have even more fun reading it!
Many Projects in 2023
Professional and Fantasy Writing Take Center Stage in My Life
Yes, I love writing about pagan topics, and Loki in particular, but writing that either (1) pays and/or (2) expresses my fondest queer and paranormal romance fantasies is the bigger focus for me now (fortunately Loki is a big part of my Ornamental Hermits fantasy series). I won’t abandon this blog, but I won’t be pouring ALL my passion into it as I did prior to 2022. In 2022 I was busy launching my first fantasy book and my first hypnosis book, see below, as well as working on other projects.
2022’s Major Accomplishments
I am so blessed to have my first fantasy novel published! And two more with the publisher as well!
Find the first book in my queer, urban fantasy series, The Dire Deeds, at Kindle and in paperback at Amazon. If you read my book, please consider leaving me stars (five are nice) and a few sentences for a review. Thank you! You have no idea how much that helps!!!
Ditto for Sexological Hypnosis. Are there any therapists in the house? This one’s for you! This book is based on the professional training I offer at my Intimate Hypnosis Training Center and also on my 2011 Ed.D. project. Find it here on Kindle and Amazon. Right now it is free on Kindle Unlimited. Reviews and stars will help. Thanks!
I also consider the two seasonal Guild of Ornamental Hermits short stories, also published on Kindle, to have been successful. Both made it into the top 100 of the 45-minute Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Reads category. Mele Kalikimaka, Ginger Croom, clocked in at #30 one day and A Guild of Ornamental Hermits Solstice made it to #60. The algorithm ratings always change, of course, and now that the holiday season is over, they are no longer as popular.
2023’s Major Projects
What follows is not a complete list of projects by any means, but here are the biggest projects that I’ll be working on mostly in the first half of 2023. You might like some of them!
The Guild of Ornamental Hermits saga continues.
The Witching Work, the second in my series, is going to be published this Spring, or so my publisher tells me. Right now it is with the copy editor and my Hawaiian sensitivity reader, for review.
Meanwhile, I continue working on the fourth book, The Perilous Past. I am not sure when the third book, The Queerest Quest, is supposed to come out but it’s the one where Loki first appears and I can’t wait for people to read it. I hope it is out by year’s end!
Professional Writing About Sexuality & Hypnosis
At this very moment, and as soon as I finish this blog post, I’ll be back at work on Entrancing – which I hope to publish on Feb. 1, 2023. Hypnosis for Community Wellness will be out by May 1, 2023. Both will be on Kindle and Amazon.
Sexuality Writer for Hire
I am also actively looking for paid gigs in this field. If you have a website that needs content, please get in touch.
Okay, I am putting all this out into the universe, beckoning opportunity, paid work, and success, summoning the mighty magicks of all who support me, known, unknown, and my invisible allies. Make it so!
And blessed be to you all!
I woke up from falling asleep in front of a so-so movie on my computer. It was about ten minutes to midnight. I check my email and find that a very old friend had taken the time to wish me a Happy New Year. I am touched. Very.
I reassure my cats, who are spooked about the fireworks that erupt at midnight. And get up to eat a small mandarin orange from my former state of residence. I offer a slice to Loki and another to my guardian demon.
Perhaps this year will make more sense.
My New Year’s resolution? I vow to not kvetch so much about personal stuff in this blog.
I wish you all peace, humor, better health, and much joy in our next shared orbit around the Sun.
Fractal by Abysmal. Public domain.
50,000 All-time Views
My humble “woo blog” has had this many readers?!
Allow me to celebrate! Often when I write I feel as if I’m sending my words and thoughts into a “black hole,” and that no one reads or cares. Yes, of course I do check my stats from time to time, and am happy that this blog finds its way to readers in many countries, but I would have never known Lady of the Lake would garner this kind of visibility.
Of course, I don’t know how many of these views are repeat readers or “just stumbled over it” readers. Even so, this notification has lifted my spirits in a personally difficult week.
All I can say is “thank you!” (Thank you… thank you!)
My Gods Are Fragrance-Free Part 2
Hel Hath No Fury…
No, I haven’t mispelled the word for the Christian underworld. I am deliberately referencing Loki Laufeyjarson’s daughter, Hel, ruler of the Norse underworld. (Hint: she’s not what the Marvel Universe portrays.)
I’ve just jettisoned myself from an online spiritual community where I’ve felt generally at home for about four years. I even served as a moderator, helped create online events, and edited and did layout design for two issues of its annual publication. But there was this one thing I just couldn’t take anymore.
Let me back up a minute. For the last 35+ years, my life has been extremely constricted due to multiple chemical sensitivity/environmental illness. My ability to access grocery stores, health care, public transport, education, spiritual communities, and social gatherings has been limited due to (mostly) ubiquitious fragrance use in all public spaces. If I come in contact with these airborne pollutants (volatile organic compounds), I get sick. “Sick” may include asthma, fatigue, spaceiness and brain fog, anxiety and panic, and impacts on various organ systems. Some days I bounce back fairly quickly. Others, not so much.
In spite of this, I’ve tried to live a life of meaning, service, creativity, and curiosity. I’ve raised two children, helped to run a family business, volunteered at my kids’ schools, immersed myself in various special interests, loved and lost (big time!), gone back to school earning two degrees and a number of other college units (thank you, remote education!), and written–written my little heart out, actually, throwing my words into a void which seldom responds. I did all this by building in recovery time, masking my symptoms, and pushing through being sick whenever I had to, if I could. I’ve grown used to life on the margins, preferring to experience being marginalized as a kind of liminal space for spiritual exploration and a unique vantage point for socio-cultural critiques.
However the ubiquitous use of fragrance products has denied me equal access to almost all aspects of modern, Western life: professional opportunities (I can’t network at those fancy business breakfasts because someone is inevitably saturated with fragrance! I can’t schmooze at professional sexology conferences, because, ditto!); and employment (I have so many skills, but finding a fragrance-free workplace? Forget about it!). I can’t even anticipate a book tour as a new author (if such things even exist anymore, post-Covid) because contact with the general public can be hazardous to my health. I can vax against Covid, but there’s no vaccination I know of that will halt the impact of toxic chemicals on my body. I know my chronic illness was a source of resentment and frustration in my marriage and it was boring for other partners. And last year, one of my children decided to cut ties with me “forever,” claiming that I am too much work. Damn, but that was cold! And ableist to boot! (Not to mention ageist and unfair. I threw myself into childrearing, body and soul.)
One of the things that has kept me alive–I mean that literally–is connecting with other people through social media and online affinity groups. Just as some disabled people have written that “internet friends are real friends,” so too is internet space “real” space. As such, it can be made accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities and it can become inaccessible and unwelcoming too. That “one thing” that just caused me to exit from my favorite affinity group was the increasing number of group members posting their advertisements for scented candles and other scented products that are made and sold, supposedly, to honor our deities.
To me, it’s like spraying the stuff in a sacred space that I’d hoped to occupy, if only for a little while. My entire body goes into fight or flight mode just seeing the pictures and reading the blithe postings of people who are making and selling these products. So, seeing that Loki-themed “cinnamon pumpkin spice” smelling candle for sale is like a sock in the gut. And I do mean that literally. My enteric nervous system ties itself in knots.
Far be it from me to get in the way of entrepreneurism, however, does this shit have to be EVERYWHERE? All witchy/pagan spaces seem to be chock full of scented candles and oils for sale: all the actual stores, all the online groups, and probably a lot of in-person rituals. Even my favorite online tarot reader always sprays his reading space first with some kind of cologne and I can no longer bear to watch him on a livestream because of this. I watch the recording later so I can fast forward past that part.
And what about the people and pets who have to exist in the polluted spaces created by witchy sorts who profess animism and spirit devotion, but can’t understand that they are HURTING other people and other creatures with this stuff? That these chemicals add to climate change? I’ve read the studies, folks! Peer-reviewed and everything!
I can’t do this anymore. The grief, the anger, the frustration, the sheer, relentless “Cassandra in a Coal Mine” history of all this is overwhelming. And the ongoing, unexamined stupidity of this seldom acknowledged aspect of ecocide makes me want to scream. I just posted a link to the original “My Gods Are Fragrance-Free” on FB and Twitter today, with the comment that I want this piece read at my funeral (not that I’m planning that anytime soon). I’m serious. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever written. And it’s my longest, most heartfelt cry I can make in my marginal wilderness. Please read it.
Thank you and blessed be.
The Post I Wrote in 2019:
What follows is imagined, an eco-parable. Gerda, a Jotun, smells only of rich soil, bruised herbs from her garden, and luscious Jotun pheromones. This was enough to dazzle the Vanir god, Freyr, from afar. His sister, Freya, adorns herself with amber jewels, but cares for her skin only with salves of honey, clear water, and powdered grains. The dry tips of her hair are moistened only with the tiniest bit of melted butter. She scorns the feckless chemistries, the unwise alchemies, of Midgard’s humans, which propel poison into every living thing. Freya has complained to Odin that dead warriors are no longer what they once were–they are now creatures with flacid muscles, except for their texting hands, and that they die now with withered sperm counts, and distortions in their DNA.
Even worse–“They (the humans) are even going after the roots of the World Tree,” she whispers, “with something called ‘Round-Up.'”
Freyr, the Corn God, nods. He dies each year for the harvest and comes back reborn, but it’s becoming apparent that the humans who once honored him for this would now rather manipulate the mysteries of the grain themselves. Perhaps an extended vacation in Vanaheim is in the runes…let the humans spend a year without him for once, prefereably after an Icelandic eruption, when ash clouds herald global famine. That’d learn ’em, he thinks, but in the next moment he backs away from such thoughts. He will serve as he has always served, all these long eons. “Perhaps Ragnarök will be a blessing after all…”
Freyr smells of rich earth too, and Gerda’s herbs and mead, and a not-unpleasant tang of godly sweat and semen. Vanir pheromones are also rather scrumptious, carrying a faint scent of apples. But humans, drunk on designer petrochemicals, can no longer detect them.
As for Ragnarök, Loki has no comment. What will be, will be, and has been–so many times. Contrary to his bad press, Loki finds no happiness in wanton destruction…but cleansing…the metabolism of poisons when all else fails…sometimes that is something to be desired. He should know. The next cycle has already unleashed forces powerful enough to bake the planet, to scour it of the unwise alchemies of the paltry, money-grubbing humans. Midgard will eventually recover (Gaia is strong) but Loki isn’t all that keen to be the trickster god of cockroaches. However, he recognizes the cosmic joke about to be played on them all. He’ll do his best to find some fragment of mirth when the time comes. But onlookers will mistake his battle grin for vengeful joy, misunderstanding the mask that hides his hot, angry tears. It was all so unnecessary! It always is! Meanwhile, cremation fires are at hand for another death of a too beautiful world. It’s Loki’s job to ensure that creation follows cremation. Somebody has to do it…
Sometimes Loki wishes Sigyn had gone in for systems change, rather than holding the bowl for him alone. He imagines he could have borne his suffering–bound with his son’s entrails and scorched by viper spittle–if he’d known she was battling the powers that be, on behalf of all sentient beings. Sigyn might have known better though, and who really is to say? Her victory might yet be won.
It doesn’t take a völva prophecy to know what’s coming. Freya sheds tears. She and her daughter want to save a cat or two. Freya wants the falcons to be okay, and bees. Freyr puts in a word for boars and grains. Dogs too. Their father wants to save whales, sharks, sea turtles, guppies, and coral polyps, among others. His is a long list. Loki would like to send wolves and snakes and salmon and horses to Hel, for safekeeping. Gerda hides seeds in safe places, and waits. The souls of animals are already reluctant, but plants and fungi have not yet given up all hope. Neither has Gerda.
Loki says, “Don’t shoot the messenger (especially if I’m it!). Don’t ignore the voices of doom, of climate change, or the canary in the coal mine. Invite Cassandra onto your podcasts–she’s still got a thing or two to say! Don’t disregard the muttering sibyl, the trancing völva, or anger of witches and Jotuns.” He’d slap this message on t-shirts, even though it’s not a sound bite, in hopes that humans would pay attention, but he distrusts capitalism–particularly the kind that sells toxic petrochemical perfumes wrapped in bottles that look like Marvel Universe characters, especially his!
This last is a particularly painful mockery–big anime eyes and golden horns on keychains are one thing, but this is quite another–all those bottled endocrine disruptors ending up in the salmon, just so a few fans can pretend they have access to “his” scent.
Product of a toxic industry making a mockery of our god, adding yet more petrochemicals to the planet and its creatures, all in the name of money.
Meanwhile the big money laughs and this makes Loki mad. “Stick to cosplay,” he mutters. “Is nothing sacred?” but he already knows the answer to that question. Rather say that nothing is so futile as the sacred, and nothing is more powerful. After all, Loki knows how to stand with two, four, eight legs, or none, in the spaces between all the worlds you could ever name. (Some say that’s why he drinks so much sometimes. He’s so sick of stupid.)
All matter is alive and aware. If we could hear it, all Midgard is screaming at us right now, “Stop it! Go back! You’re hurting us!” The Earth is our hearth. Hearth fires are lit for warmth and nourishment, not destruction. But we have forgotten this. We have forgotten to extend our hospitality (our frith) and our care to all living things. Loki-as-Lóðurr awoke the first humans with his breath, which was clean and alive and full of strength. He warmed us with his breath and gave us fire to warm our hearths. He certainly did not give us a command to go forth and pollute.
I would like to think that human beings still yearn for that first clean breath, that pure air granted to us by a being as old and as vast as a star, and that we’d do anything to get it back. Instead we diddle with gadgets, toys, herbicides, GMOs, scented candles, and guns. We’ve poisoned our Midgard and every living creature in it. Our own bodies now shit microplastics. We’ve inflicted this same diet on animals and plants. Fragrance chemicals are harming aquatic wildlife. Our reproductive systems are drenched in endocrine disruptors (like phthalates) from deli food containers, Round-Up, shampoos, and perfume. Babies are born with birth defects as a result. Our breast milk contains countless contaminants, including an array of self-inflicted consumer toxins from such beauty products as “Loki-Master of Mischief” cologne. Soon plastic golden Marvel Loki horns from the above bottle will find their way to the Pacific Garbage patch, floating among the discarded grocery bags, to be eaten by starving whales who can no longer find enough krill. I don’t think this (below) was the kind of “mischief” Loki had in mind…
Is there any hope at all? Or do I just put another gaudy, food-colored donut on Loki’s altar and sigh, “fuck this shit, Worldbreaker, we’re doomed. Bring it on…”
But Loki will have none of that. He absolutely refuses to let us dodge this wyrd. He says, “Stop buying this crap, especially not in my name. Use your breath for something decent, like saving the planet, while you still can.”
“Do this,” he says without winking, “and maybe you’ll get a whiff of my pheromones…”
Lovely Reviews for The Dire Deeds!
Gentle readers, I have a healthy international readership on this blog. This is why I am crossposting this image and asking you to please take a look at these lovely review excerpts for my urban fantasy novel, The Dire Deeds, the first in The Guild of Ornamental Hermits series. I hope these reviews encourage you to seek out my book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Available on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle eBook.
These books are LGBTQIA++ saturated, yet the characters (and the plot) can be loved and enjoyed by anyone who likes humor, paranormal romance, preposterous plot twists, and plucky humans learning magic from plucky Elves.
The second and third books are with the copy editors and publisher now. The fourth is in progress. The Dire Deeds is not just a first novel with aspirations for a series. I have already written so much more!