Loki’s Torch Design Marathon

What a difference four days makes! On Friday, I sadly had to cancel the public park portion of LokiFest CA (but the online portion is still “go!”) and to ease my disappointment, promptly set to work doing the layout and design for Loki’s Torch–A Lokean Collection (Loki University Press). It’s one hundred pages in all, so you can imagine that I worked like a madwoman obsessed, to get this done in just a few short days. (I even spent most of Sunday volunteering at a music festival, which really interrupted my work flow… ). It was both fun and nervewracking to combine the written and visual submissions, wanting each piece to shine as well as the entire publication.

(Huge kudos to Rose Moon Rouge for her fantastic logo and cover!)

Loki's Torch PRODUCTION UPDATE


Post-layout snarks: Those writers who add two spaces between each sentence? Here’s some advice: if you don’t want to be cursed for all eternity by a bleary-eyed editor — Just. Don’t. Do. That. And artists? Please send decent photos of your artwork, positioned straight up and down so that I don’t have to crop the heck out of your work in order fit it into the publication without showing (1) the edges of your desk or altar space or (2) the paralax distortion of your image.
Post-layout blessings: To those who sent decent images of your art and bio photos that were already square, I love you. People who spell correctly, I love you too.

Now today, on Tuesday morning, the publication is largely complete, except for a few contributor photos and bios. We are definitely ahead of our August 1st publication date!

Loki’s Torch is an eclectic collection of art, poetry, fiction, articles, prayers, rituals, and recipes. Some contributors are well-known, others–not so much.

Kyaza, Dagulf Loptson, Rose Moon Rouge, and I make up the publication and founding contributors team. It’s an honor and a pleasure to collaborate with them. And, of course, it’s an honor and a pleasure to work in service to Loki Laufeyjarson and to help perpetuate Lokean culture and community.

We think you’ll find Loki’s Torch a welcome addition to your library, either as a PDF or as a “print-on-demand” paperback through MagCloud.com. We’ll let you know when it’s available!

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Summer Solstice — Not Feeling It?

Summer_Solstice_Sunrise_over_Stonehenge_2005
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. Photograph by Andrew Dunn, 21 June 2005. Website: http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/ Creative Commons.

I woke up with a foul taste in my mouth, sweat-soaked from the heat, and aware that a long, possibly grimy day awaited me, cleaning up the last bits of “canceling LokiFest CA” debris. So many details to construct even a modest event, particularly one involving vendors, insurance companies, city officials, potential volunteers, etc… and so there are so many details to thus dismantle.

Fortunately I set about these chores first thing this morning, even with only half a cup of black tea and a protein drink to fuel my focus. So it isn’t surprising that Solstice completely escaped my mind–until it began to show up on my Facebook feed.

Happy Solstice!

Shit…

I have no idea what I’ll do to observe it. I’ll be alone except for cats, most likely, and what do they care about the longest day?

I’m a bad neopagan… a bad, bad, neopagan… 

Yesterday I listened to our local pagan show on our local community radio station. There was a good bit about Summer Solstice as a time to weed out evil, but I feel some sense of futility, what with the current administration and all. Maybe I should have “ickle talk” with my namesake, the Goetic Demon. As a fallen angel, maybe he’d/she’d have some ideas about weeding out evil. (Goetic Amy apparently can appear as whatever, just like my patron deity, Loki. Maybe they trade wardrobe tips.)

(Oh, that “ickle talk” thing? It comes from E.F. Benson’s Make Way for Lucia books, a series which I’ve re-read at least a dozen times or more over almost thirty years. They never fail to amuse. But I digress… Where was I? Oh yes, bad neopagan…bad, bad neopagan…)

But actually, I don’t really feel bad. I feel gloriously unburdened at the moment. And last night, my meditation session went to places I hadn’t been before. There’s a lot of “personal gnosis” going on right now, but it all feels pretty positive. I’m a bit surprised.

So this might be a day of going off to buy some geraniums for my yard, and watering things, and maybe sipping lemonade in the patio, or taking myself out to lunch. And I’ll light the usual candles for my daily devotions, and it wouldn’t take much to add an extra one for Solstice. And I’ll trust today in our spirit-drenched world and its capacity to right itself one way or another, with or without the dubious contributions of humans.

I probably don’t need to seek out a ritual labyrinth though. The one I’m walking in my own life feels like enough for now.

And if Loki wants a special Solstice Donut on his altar, heck, I’ll spring for it.

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Bumps in the LokiFest Road

Update: park event cancelled due to prohibitive insurance costs which were added on later, as per city requirements. Online portion still on.

First, an offering…

Hail Flame Hair, Consumer of Modern Desserts!

Grant us your alchemy of dough and desire,

Sprinkle us with blessings even as this donut is adorned

With multi-colored sugary goodness.

Dip us in the sweet heat of the moment,

Allow us to savor life even as you savor this goodie.

Hail Silver Tongue, may this edible monstrosity grace your tastebuds,

May it provide complete satiation for your infinite appetites.

Please accept this crisp and creamy offering as a token of our devotion.

Hail Loki!

Dough-Donut-Lemon-Ginger

Please look favorably on our preparations for LokiFest CA in your honor!

Then the narrative. Frustrations first.

Event insurance and city bureaucracy. The City of Lakeport wants ONE WORD removed from a policy document that runs over 300+ pages for an event lasting less than twelve hours. If the insurance company declines, the event is cancelled. The city won’t approve it. I’ve made the appropriate request for policy revision. Now I guess I wait.

I’m not good at waiting…

Food vendors. I haven’t secured any yet. I keep getting “no.”

Retail vendors. Though I have secured several “yeses,” I don’t have applications or checks yet to let me know they are really committed. Emotionally, I’m chewing my nails as I send out reminder emails.

Sound system and sound person. Still elusive, though I have a lead or two.

Musicans. Still attempting to confirm. They are limited to original or public domain music.

The good news.

The online portion of LokiFest CA. This is a free event which will run for three hours a day, from August 5-9, is shaping up nicely. So far, our presenters include Diana Paxson, Dagulf Loptson, Kyaza, and Silence Maestas. I feel honored to have their participation in this new effort. (And I’ll do something about the results of my spectrosexuality/god spouse survey.) There is space still for a presenter or two!

Local volunteers. They’re starting to emerge from the Lake County community. Thank goodness! My co-producer, Verge Belanger, co-host of Pagan World Views on KPFZ 88.1 FM, and I can’t do this alone! (Catch Verge’s show via live stream on Thursdays from 11 AM – 1 PM.) Verge’s friends and contacts are the people who are volunteering, so that’s amazing and great. Thank you all!

Raffle donations. At least two people from the Lokean community are donating prizes for the gift baskets. All money earned from the raffle will go to the new safe house for transgender youth, run by Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco and The Troth Red Hammer Fund.

And so it goes. As crazy as this all feels right now, it’s an honor to be in service to my patron deity in this way. Weird how my heart lifts even as I write these words!

More news soon! Hail Loki!

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Seeking Loki’s Mysteries

A moment ago I typed “what are Loki’s mysteries?” as the title of this blog. The question brought tears to my eyes, along with an inner shiver. My breathing even changed as I typed those words. You know that feeling on the edge of a cliff? It was just a little like that, but subtle. I decided to re-write the title.

Beyond, behind, underneath, and through the veils of everything that’s been written or portrayed about this potent being, or what I think about him, that’s where I want to go. Yes, I’m attached to my framed Skeith-A portrait of Loki, to my weekly purchase of sacred donut offerings, to the daily cup of cinnamon and honey tea placed on the altar… I’m attached to this blog and to writing about Loki. I’m attached to the work I’m about to do on Loki’s Torch (the anthology). I’m deeply entrenched in making LokiFest CA happen–both the online “conference” and the local park street fair. Daily ritual, devotion, and service have formed a great deal of what’s meaningful in my life this last year.

Hidden_Mandarin_fractal_Sterling2_3365
Public domain. September 2008. Author: Soler97

But this morning I noticed that the gingerbread house that I made for Loki last Yule is crumbling in all this summer heat. It’s been on the altar all this time. I tried white glue to reattach the sugar squiggles and candies, and it was fairly futile, and so I was also aware of a lesson: nothing stays the same, no matter how much we–or even a god!–may love and enjoy such trifles.

And I’m aware of the passage of time. I’m 64. I don’t have much of it left. And so as serious as I think I’ve been this last year, it’s time to get really serious and step up my game by stepping away from my preconceptions and patterns. I think… I’m really writing with much more surety than I actually have. Right now, I’m between, and I think my Lokean readers can smile at that. We’ve all been there. A lot.

I do sense deep mysteries with Loki. Was there ever a long-ago mystery school that taught and maintained a tradition of Loki magic, or magic of his under some other name, some other deified persona? Or were his people only found in ones or twos or threes at most? I sense that the gatherings now, via the internet, consist of unprecedented interlocking devotional energies, but I don’t feel this clustering is particularly potent yet. Few of us are adepts, as far as I can tell. I know I’m not.

I had a dream once, when I was in my early twenties. In the dream I sat on the edge of my bed and watched all the objects in my room begin to dissolve into a fog of unassembled molecules. It frightened me. I shouted, “Stop!” and the objects began to reassemble themselves, into their familiar shapes. And then I woke. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I’d just let the dream continue.

I know that as this “reality” continues, I myself will eventually dissolve into a smear of unassembled minerals and molecules. In the meantime, what clues can I find to the true mysteries of this deity associated with shapeshifting, fire, creative “chaos”, liminal states, and more? I’ve speculated on Loki’s “tantric” aspects and others have mentioned his connection with sex magic. I’ve also pondered Loki as a deity of epigenetic shapeshifting (among other things).

In my daily practice, I try to allow a meditative and energetic connection with his “template” for growth and transformation. It’s hard, as I have an intellectual bent and I’m easily distracted by speculation. At times I “try” too hard. I also “spectator” a lot, which is (ironically) the very thing I try to get people to NOT do during sex (in my other life as a sexologist). I’m probably one of those people who is in great need of fabulous sex, a brilliant love affair, and/or a psychedelic journey right now (all favorite activities of my formative teen years). Except for how much I love my cats in the most tender-hearted, unbearably emotional way, I’m awfully dry-minded right now, rather grim and fell. Getting OUT of my head, or at least shifting my brainwave patterns, seems to be a necessity.

Loki’s template seems more fractal than anything…

I know that question about Loki’s deeper mysteries won’t be answered by intellect, though intellect can help with discernment, later.

There’s a change coming. Changes never stop coming. The trick may be to hang-ten on the yellow line (my metaphor is drawn from bus surfing) and ride what’s coming. Or it may be to jump off the bus altogether and push through the shrubbery to something beyond.

We’ll see.

Dear Readers, may there be peace between us for all of our days.

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LokiFest CA Online!

LokiFest ONLINEFree! Web conference limited to 100. Sign up soon!

You are invited to a Zoom meeting, LokiFest CA Online.
When: Aug 5 – Aug. 9, 2019 3:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Register in advance for this meeting:
https://zoom.us/m…/register/f1a6411238d0a0e5c5b9141539e44ee6
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Hail Loki!

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Loki: Proving the Poison

The fragrance industry, known to be irresponsible, has dared to name a toxic fragrance after Loki, a deity whose lore includes a horrific story of his sufferings from poison. Apparently independent perfumers on Etsy are following suit. Sigh… As a Lokean and as a person with environmental illness, I’m thoroughly appalled. My UPG? Loki, the arch foe of hypocrisy, would not be a fan of any of this.

Loki's Torment

For an ecological and spiritual take on this, see My Gods Are Fragrance Free.

And if you’re not convinced that fragrance chemicals equal poison, here’s some science. These are just a few of the studies and articles out there.


Fragrance and Essential Oil Toxicity: Recent Articles and Studies

List Under Construction. Check back often for new articles and studies. 


Early Articles, Information

Wallace, L., W. Nelson, E. Pellizzari, J. Raymer, AND K. Thomas. Identification of polar volatile organic compounds in consumer products and common microenvironments. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/D-91/074 (NTIS PB91182865), 1991.

Wallace, L. Human exposure to volatile organic pollutants: Implications for indoor air studiesAnnual Review of Energy and the Environment, 2001 26:1, 269-301

Kendall, J. Health Risks from Perfume: The Most Common Chemicals Found in Thirty-One Fragrance Products by a 1991 EPA Study. 1995. [Flyer based on Wallace, L. 1991 EPA study above and material safety data sheets.]

Wilcox, P.P. Addendum to Julia Kendall’s flyer, above. 1995.


More Recent Studies

Steinemann, AC. National Prevalence and Effects of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Journal of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Feb. 16, 2018. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001272

[Quote from abstract] “Results: Among the population, 12.8% report medically diagnosed MCS and 25.9% report chemical sensitivity. Of those with MCS, 86.2% experience health problems, such as migraine headaches, when exposed to fragranced consumer products; 71.0% are asthmatic; 70.3% cannot access places that use fragranced products such as air fresheners; and 60.7% lost workdays or a job in the past year due to fragranced products in the workplace.” 

Steinemann AC, et al. Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 2010. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2010.08.002

Steinemann, A.C. Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 29(1):32-38 · January 2009.
doi: 10.1016/j.eiar.2008.05.002

[Quote from Abstract]  “Fragranced consumer products—such as air fresheners, laundry supplies, personal care products, and cleaners—are widely used in homes, businesses, institutions, and public places. While prevalent, these products can contain chemicals that are not disclosed to the public through product labels or material safety data sheets (MSDSs). What are some of these chemicals and what limits their disclosure? This article investigates these questions, and brings new pieces of evidence to the science, health, and policy puzzle. Results from a regulatory analysis, coupled with a chemical analysis of six best-selling products (three air fresheners and three laundry supplies), provide several findings. First, no law in the U.S. requires disclosure of all chemical ingredients in consumer products or in fragrances. Second, in these six products, nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were identified, but none of the VOCs were listed on any product label, and one was listed on one MSDS. Third, of these identified VOCs, ten are regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, with three (acetaldehyde, chloromethane, and 1,4-dioxane) classified as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). Results point to a need for improved understanding of product constituents and mechanisms between exposures and effects.”


Public Health Advocacy Reports

Chemicals of Concern: Fragrance. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.[Long list of study references at end of article.]

Not Too Pretty–Phthalates, Beauty Products& the FDA. Environmental Working Group. July 8, 2002. [Long list of study references at the end of article. Download PDF of entire report.]


General Articles

The Addictive Power of Toxic Perfumes and Colognes, John P. Thomas, Health Impact News, May 29, 2019.

The article above references the 1991 L. Wallace/EPA study. The 1995 Julia Kendall handout based on the Wallace/EPA study names the narcotic chemicals commonly added to fragrance ingredients:

(1) ETHYL ACETATE (in: after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid) – Narcotic. On EPA Hazardous Waste list; “…irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract” …”may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)” …”defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking” …”may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys” “Wash thoroughly after handling.”

(2) LINALOOL
(in: perfume, cologne, bar soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant) – Narcotic. …”respiratory disturbances” … “Attracts bees.” “In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression … development of respiratory disturbances leading to death.” …”depressed frog-heart activity.” Causes CNS disorder.

Scent of Danger: Are There Toxic Ingredients in Perfumes and Colognes? n/d. Scientific American. 

New Data Reveals One-Third of All Fragrance Chemicals Linked to Human, Environmental Harm. Women’s Voices for the Earth. Sept. 26, 2018. [Press Release.]

Is your perfume making you ill? Science finds growing evidence that the scents in chemicals and cleaning sprays are causing cancer, headaches, and harming unborn babies. DailyMail, 2/22/18.

Meyer, R. The Air Pollutants in Your Medicine Cabinet. Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 21, 2018.

More to come.

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Loki and Cards Against Humanity Divination

The night before: three of us sat down to play “Cards Against Humanity” with Loki as our “Rando Cardrissian” fourth (as per the CAH rule book). Loki ended up winning 21 rounds (but came in second). I set his winning cards aside, to laugh about them later. Then I went to bed.

As many people know, CAH calls itself “the party game for horrible people.” But this was the first time I’d played with my fave trickster. In the past, my (adult) kids and I would just blow up a balloon or a condom, drew a face on it, tape it to a chair and call it “Rando,” drawing Rando’s cards at random, just like the rule book says. But playing the game with Loki was decidedly a “leveling up” or at least a “leveling sideways.”

LokiDivinationCAHThe next morning, in moment of near-fatal whimsy, I decided to invoke my trickster god and do a Celtic Cross divination shuffling the 21 cards that he’d won the night before. The reading, which I hoped would shed light on a troubling group situation, is weirdly appropriate…

Signifier (drawn at random): “Profoundly handicapped.” (Me: Well, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity HAS disrupted every aspect of my life…)

1. What covers me: “A micropig wearing a tiny raincoat and booties.” (Me: better that than roaches.)

2. What opposes me: “Men.” (Me: ‘Nuff said.)

3. What crowns me, the best I can arrive at: “Frolicking.” (Me: I’ll take it!)

4. What is beneath me, what I have to work with: “The wrath of Vladimir Putin.”
(Me: Shucks. The Wrath of Khan would have been more fun…but, whatever!)

5. What is behind me, the influence that is passing away: “Gandhi.” (Me: With a patron deity like Loki, I suppose this is understandable.)

6. What is before me: “Harry Potter erotica.” (Me: I can hardly wait. Dibs on Snape.)

7. Me in the future: “A man on the brink of orgasm.” (Me: Will I find him on Fetlife?)

8. My environment in the future: “White-man scalps.” (Me: Could have an influence on public policy in this country. What say all of you?)

9. Hopes and fears: “The Pope.” (Me: Definitely a fear.)

10. What will come: “Getting naked and watching Nickelodean.” (Me: Netflix is more likely, but whatever. Guess that’ll be my Wednesday nights then…)

“Frolicking.”

Indeed.

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