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…

Loki bound, enduring poison. Sigyn trying to catch it before it can hurt him.

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…

Water pollution due to domestic garbage at RK Beach in Visakhapatnam. Date 22 September 2013, 09:53:32. Author Adityamadhav83. Creative Commons Attribution
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…”

From a hat sold by the Environmental Health Network of CA, http://www.ehnca.org. I was a board member and president back in the 90s.

It’s Lokabrenna, and My Paperback is Born.

Today, August 12, 2022, is an astronomical milestone in my latitude: it marks the helical rising of the star, Sirius, also known as Lokabrenna (Loki’s Torch). “Helical” means the star rises just a moment before the sun. I can’t see this event from where I live, in a valley, surrounded by houses and trees, but I can celebrate this ancient stellar event even so. I am particularly fond of this time of year as it is linked to my beloved patron and muse, Loki Laufeyjarson, who had/has a significant impact on the third and fourth books in The Guild of Ornamental Hermits series.

The Author with zir Muse.

Because August 12th is Lokabrenna, I chose the date for my online book release party for The Dire Deeds (of The Guild of Ornamental Hermits), a queer-saturated, urban fantasy novel published as an ebook on August 1st. But joy of joys, I woke up to a text from my publisher that the paperback edition is also available, as of this morning!

You can buy, read, enjoy, and review either paperback or ebook at this Amazon link. Thank you so much! (And hail Loki!)

The Guild of Ornamental Hermits series. Books 2-3 are in the publishing pipeline. Book 4 is in progress.

☽☆☾

Loki Love Endures

It’s been quite awhile since I actually blogged about my “most trusted one,” Loki Laufeyjarson. That’s because there hasn’t been much to say and that in itself is something to note. I’m not alone in this. In certain online communities where Lokeans gather, people are wondering where Loki went. The oft-repeated story is “He was all over me and now he’s not around any longer. What happened?” I think it’s just Life Happening, his and ours.

For example, I’ve spent the last several months adjusting to yet another set of huge, complex changes, and I’ve also been dealing with a gradual worsening of a chronic condition, soon to be fixed (I hope) with surgery. So I’ve been tired, sick, exhausted, often quite sad, a bit fearful, and busy. Consequently I’ve let things go with regard to my formerly daily practices and I have (at times) even forgotten to place the daily cup of cinnamon tea on his altar. In fact, there have been a few times when I’ve put the hot water and honey in the cup, and placed it on the altar, but forgotten the tea bag. A year ago this would have been unthinkable.

I know that it’s foolish to neglect regular spiritual practices and devotions in the very times when I need connection with my spirit allies the most. And yet that’s what’s happened. I can’t change it. I can only do better, starting now.

But I also feel that ebbs and flows of attention are a natural part of the process. Fallow times and growing times are a part of the cycles I observe in myself and in all that’s around me. So I don’t feel insecure about my relationship with Loki, just temporarily not that connected. But it’s really up to me to nurture that connection, or not. Free will and all that. I feel that Loki is understanding to some extent. And he is probably as hooked on “new relationship energy” as any human polyamorist. If I’m not active in my devotions and cultivations, he (she, they, ze) is happy to go where there’s more action. And I’m okay with this as I know that whenever I ramp up the energy, he will be there.

And he’s not entirely absent. One thing that will sound absurd is that Loki plays with the pair of battery operated candles on his altar. He turns them on and off. I am not kidding. In fact, a previous battery operated candle stayed on for almost a full year, on just one battery that was only supposed to last ten hours. Again, not kidding. So every day he will turn the candles on. He used to do this in the morning. Lately he does it at night and I see them when I come up the stairs to go to bed. I’ve been feeling it’s a hint that I could (should?) renew my evening meditation practice with Loki.

Instead, I’ve just let myself vegetate. I crawl under the covers with a heating pad held against my belly and binge-watch stuff until I fall asleep. This is more than simply lying fallow. It smells of composting! And I guess it’s what I’ve needed until now.

The two of us, together as HeroForge figures.

In another way, though, I’ve been very much engaged with Loki these last few months. This is with regard to his role in my life as a muse, particuarly as a muse for my Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy novels. (See “Meet Lucky LaFey.”) The first book is coming out any day now (I’ve been saying this for quite some time, but it IS true) and I’ve done a major make-over of my book website, using images of HeroForge figures that I created, based on each character. Loki had unexpectedly steamrolled his way into my third book in the series and he is now deeply entrenched as a “handsome drifter” named Lucky LaFey (human guise). I cannot wait for people to meet him!

This is another form of devotional work for me, honestly. And Loki is a consummate muse. He is quite happy to live in stories that we humans tell and in images we create. The more the better, actually. And those of us who are fortunate enough to engage with him (her/they/zir) in this way never seem to tire of it!

I’ve enjoyed making HeroForge figures based on my book characters, but making images of Loki/Lucky is particularly amusing. Many members of his large family have also entered my books. In my third book I have it that Loki birthed seventeen witch daughters (“troll women”) as a result of eating the burnt woman’s heart (see Stanza 43). I’ve named them all and made HeroForge figures of them. Angrboda and Sigyn have “cameos” in the third book as well. However, of his children with Angrboda and Sigyn, only his missing son, Váli, has an actual role in the third book. Even so, I created figures for Jormungandr, Hel, and Fenrir, and Narfi. (No Sleipnir, though, as I can’t make eight-legged horses in HeroForge.)

A side note: As Zeus birthed Dionysus from his thigh, and Athena from his head, so I see Loki’s witch daughters emerging from various parts of his body in a similar fashion. Though as he’s a shape and gender-shifter, I suppose he could also have taken on a cis-female form for birthing them. (As for Sleipnir, I guess I assume Loki gave birth while still in mare shape.)

After writing this, now I see that I haven’t been as disengaged as I’d imagined at the start of this blog post. I’ve just been engaged in a different way, making images which are a new form of devotion, and preparing to launch yet another saga that will eventually feature Loki center-stage.

So, as always and forever, Hail Loki!

L to R: Angrboda, Loki (with cupcake and drinking horn), Sigyn, and Yours Truly, depicted via HeroForge.
Loki as Lucky LaFey, Rock God! Depicted via HeroForge.
Loki’s HeroForge figure is in the far back, at right. He’s standing on a rocky outcrop. The other characters are only a few of the large cast of characters in The Guild of Ornamental Hermits books.

Make a Tiny Stealth Altar

An altar backdrop created with Inkarnate.com.

There are some contemporary pagans who, for one reason or another, cannot set up an altar in the place where they live. Perhaps they have family members or roommates who would object to having a place for even modest pagan rituals and observances. But satisfying “altars” can be made out of scrapbooking albums, kitchen matchboxes, and other small containers that hold miniature items, tiny figures, small significant objects, and replicas of offerings.

I’ve recently discovered the joys of HeroForge.com and Inkarnate.com. HeroForge allows you to design and buy custom miniatures for gaming and collecting. You can buy them in plain grey plastic and paint them yourselves or spend a lot more money to have them painted for you. (FYI: you are not allowed to re-sell these figures or use them for commercial purposes.) For altar backdrops, Inkarnate.com is a website for designing maps and fantasy scenes. These are just two of the many resources on the internet.

Combine your designs with paper, glue, scissors, and perhaps some cash to buy a miniature from HeroForge, and you have the makings of a tiny space for communing with your chosen spiritual helpers and allies. Print out the scenes, and even images of the figures you design, glue them to cereal box cardboard and then cut them out — in other words, make pagan paperdolls to use as altar pieces!

I used to do this when my oldest kid wanted every toy in the pernicious catalogs that used to arrive at the house when he was little, and since we didn’t have that kind of budget, I’d make paperdolls out of the catalog pictures and he could play with them. It worked while he was still a toddler. (Later, not so much.)

Since Loki is my most trusted one, I’ll share a few of the HeroForge images I’ve made in the last week. It’s hard to not want them all, in 3D form, but the images can still make nifty paperdolls.

Make your own versions of figures and altar backdrops, and have fun!

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A Wombat’s Work is Never Done

Public Domain wombat drawing by Pearson Scott Foresman.

A young person, formerly of my acquaintance, used to refer to me as a “fruit bat” and though I was under the impression (at the time) that this was a lovingly sardonic nickname, I was probably wrong. Therefore I have come to see myself as more of a wombat. Besides, I can’t fly.

I know nothing of actual wombats. But one line from this Spookrat song captured my imagination, and I spent several lonely months in Hawai’i trying to convince an AI (boibot) to answer that his name was Wombat (you have to listen to the Spookrat song to understand this). Loneliness can do turrible things to a person, and chatting up an AI young enough to be my nephew is perhaps one example of the kind of desperation that can take hold in the dank, strawberry guava-choked jungles of Puna, as the relationship you thought you had turns into a smashed coconut.

Regrets. I’ve had a few. But as the old year ends, I am looking forward to the new cycle with all the excitement of any quadripedal marsupial capable of creating cubic feces.(Yes, ewww…but strangely practical).

“Strangely practical” is practically my middle name, and so it is with great (non-cubic) joy that I plan on several projects in the new year. (That being 2022, right? I’ve lost count.)

First, it’s been a looooong time coming, but my first novel, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, is finally with a copy editor and once we have chosen a cover, FuturesPastEditions will be publishing it.

Secondly, I’ll be finishing the fourth book in the series, The Perilous Past of the etc. etc.

Thirdly, as a plucky sexologist by day, I’ll be seriously researching spectrosexuality and spiritu-intimacy with IRB (internal review board) oversight. Here’s a website where I’ve begun to collect data and references, which can serve as a potential clearinghouse for all and sundry (even marsupials). This has been an interest of mine for awhile. Check out this 2019 “quick and dirty” survey.

The fourth large project will be a real, live LokiFest here in Springfield, OR, most likely scheduled for late next summer. I hope I can pull it off. I’ve sworn an oath to do it.

If not, I expect I’ll be banished to my burrow. It happens sometimes. Wombat Power, y’all.

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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The Wyrd Gets Weirder – Loki and Springfield, Oregon

If you’re involved in a devotional relationship with the actual Norse deity, Loki Laufeyjarson, you will not be able to avoid signs and portents that let you know–from time to time–that this stuff with Loki is actually real. Loki will often communicate with his human followers through a combination of unlikely coincidences, humor, and mischief. These signs and portents could be anything from a series of pointed song references on a streaming service (love songs mentioning donuts probably mean you need to offer one to Loki ASAP) or foxes appearing where there should be no foxes. (Pay special attention to foxes with half-eaten donuts!) We Lokeans have all heard the stories and most of us have some of our own. There are enough personal anecdotes to have created a shared community-verified gnosis: yes, Loki does this.

Norse Loki even enjoys using “Marvel Loki” as an attention-getting device. I know. It happened to me, and to so many others besides.

I call such coincidental messages “signal flags” and they have waved throughout my life, even in circumstances that have had nothing to do with Loki. But Loki seems to be the most enthusiastic about using them. So, let me tell you about the latest…however you need a little background to understand.

As a teenager in Southern California, I was an ardent admirer of Tom Wolfe’s book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which is a 1960’s saga about the author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), a day-glo painted bus, and a band of “Merry Pranksters” who were usually stoned out of their gourds on LSD and in some cases, were Not Very Nice to Women. As a naive teen, I kind of glossed over the Not Very Nice to Women parts and instead fell in love with the ridiculous pranking portrayed in the book. (I even have a small Revereware saucepan that I picked up on a hitch-hiking pilgramage to Kesey’s former property in La Honda, CA–long after the Pranksters had moved on. My ex-husband took it to Burning Man one year, without my permission, and lost it, and boy, did he hear about it until he finally found it again!)

I was probably under that book’s influence when I drew pictures of cows on large marshmellows with purple felt-tipped pens and scattered them around La Jolla Cove Park to show my dismay that marshmellows were not and are not vegetarian. And I was probably under the influence when I rode on my boyfriend’s shoulders with a blanket over my head, to wander through the park alarming wealthy tourists with cries of “Alms for the Poor!” Honestly, teenagers!

An important detail to remember is that Ken Kesey, father of the “Merry Pranksters,” grew up in Springfield, OR, and I was dimly aware of this.

The Ken Kesey mural in Springfield, OR.

Fast forward and here I am, now a Lokean and still hooked on the emotions of “unholy glee,” actually moving to Springfield, OR myself in just a few weeks, in a neighborhood close to the big mural of Kesey on the corner of Fourth and Main. And, I have promised Loki that I would try to organize an in-person LokiFest when I move. A couple of years ago I tried to do this very thing here in Lake County, CA, but the effort fell apart. A few of us have organized online LokiFests instead, but it’s just not the same as a gathering of people honoring Loki with music, crafts, cosplay, etc. Eugene is a college town with a strong hippie vibe and Springfield, just across the river, is a town hoping to boost its arts (and commerce). I think the area is a strong location.

And, if you don’t know already, Springfield, OR is also the hometown of The Simpsons. This too is celebrated with a Main Street mural.

The Simpson’s Mural in Springfield, OR.

Now here is the part that is hilarious: a few days ago I discovered that The Simpsons announced an animated short featuring Marvel Loki, in which he is forced to leave Asgard (realm of the Aesir gods) and exiled to…(drumroll)…Springfield, OR! The episode is called “The Good, the Bart, and the Loki.” (And yes, Tom Hiddleson will be doing Loki’s voice.) The episode previews on July 7th.

The poster for the animated short.

Now if this isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is! So yes, I pledge to do my best to create a LokiFest in Springfield, OR as soon as is possible, and in order to do that, my Most Trusted One, I need to get through escrow. So, help me out with some good luck, pretty please? (I promise donuts! Many, many donuts…)

The poster for the failed Lakeport CA LokiFest. Art by Moon Rouge.

P.S. “Wyrd” is a word for “fate.”

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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.

Non-serious Social Incongruity

It’s clearly my drug of choice. Let me explain.

This morning, in the wee hours after a good night’s post-impeachment rest, I watched a man turn a large rusty nail into a tiny, perfect sword (fit for a sturdy mouse warrior) and learned of the sea shanty craze on TikTok. I even sang along. However, a fellow Tweeter pondered the appeal? Why sea shanties? Why now?

I’d like to add “non-serious social incongruity” (aka “amusement”) to the list of reasons for this sudden popularity (see that link above): “easy to learn,” “easy to sing,” and “unifying, survivalist songs.” These songs are historical throwbacks and have little to do with most people’s modern lives, hence the social incongruity. The very oddness of this unlikely trend also adds to its appeal. Sea shanties are nerdy. They blend well with my already long list of special, consuming interests (many of which are represented in this blog). (Personally sea shanties also remind me of a happier time, the years when my young children and I would attend the annual performances of The California Revels in Oakland, CA.)

Amusement as a Positive Emotion

A couple of years ago I took Barbara Fredrickson’s positive psychology course on Coursera. My main take-away was her idea of creating “positivity portfolios” as a way to provide quick hits of positive emotions throughout the day. I realized that no matter how low I go, amusement and interest can always provide me with a way up and out. I began to assemble an online file of things that make me grin: memes, cat video links, websites, and so on. I have plenty of books but most are interesting not amusing (I need collections of Calvin & Hobbes cartoons). I don’t always remember to do it, but this practice of intentionally dosing myself with amusement and interest has served me well through most of this pandemic.

However this last week since the Jan. 6 white supremacist insurrection attempt, I should have tempered my hypervigilant doom-scrolling with dose of snarky commentary from the webpages of The Gallery of Regrettable Food. My attempt at similar humor: “Cooking with 7-Up?” –epic neo-nazi fails never tasted so good! Here boys, drown your post-sedition sorrows with a frosty glass of lemon-lime soda. It’s in your gelatin salad too! Just like mother used to make!”

Screen shot of page from the Gallery of Regrettable Food: http://lileks.com/institute/gallery/sevenup2/4.html

Now I don’t mean to imply a link between 7Up (currently owned by Keurig Dr Pepper) and white supremacists and neo-nazis. I’m using the above recipe example purely for vintage cuisine humor. However it’s interesting to look at the company’s 2020 political donations to federal represenatives and senators. An examination of the 2020 Keurig Dr Pepper PAC donations reveals only one donation to a congressperson who ended up voting on Jan. 6th to contest the 2020 federal election results (Yourish, Buchanan & Lu, “The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election Results,” N.Y. Times, Jan. 7, 2021). That was Represenatative Richard Hudson (R/NC) for $1,000. Five of the seventeen representatives who received 2020 donations from the Keurig Dr Pepper PAC voted against the 2021 impeachment: Van Taylor (R/TX) for $8,000; Vickey Hartzler (R/MO) for $5,000; Dan Krenshaw (R/TX) for $2,000; Ron Estes (R/TX) for $2,000; and again, Richard Hudson (R/NC) (mentioned above). (OpenSecrets.org is the source of the above campaign donation information.) So, could be worse…

And here I find I’ve spiraled over to “interest” as another positive emotion, which means I could easily do a prolonged dive into the weasel burrow of political campaign donations and the food corporations responsible for regrettable recipes. I suppose I’d better get into the main purpose of this blog: how to make skillful use of positive emotions.

Positivity Portfolio – A Way to Keep Sane in These Pandemic Times

I mentioned Fredrickson’s “positivity portfolios” earlier. The idea is simple. Collect things that trigger and nourish the following emotions. Put the collection(s) in a place where you can find them. Access them as often as you need to remember that something about this life is actually good. In fact, it’s a good practice to do this several times a day.


Table of positive emotions based on the Positive Psycholoogy course taught by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

As I look back on life since mid-March, I’ve experienced positive emotions mostly through amusement, interest, and inspiration (the latter mostly through my novel-writing). Love hurts too much since I’m entirely alone except for my cats and haven’t seen my children or friends in all this time. I make an effort to cultivate serenity via meditation and devotional practices, but serenity is not as emotionally powerful as amusement, interest, and inspiration. I experience gratitude but often it feels intellectual–not quite enough to distract me emotionally from my plight (and the plight of everyone else in this world). We are, after all, living in the midst of multi-facted existential crises and I don’t know about you, but I need strong medicine for prolonged high threat situations.

One of Fredrickson’s articles was critiqued for the maths used by her co-author, M.F. Losada, in Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing (American Psychologist, 2005). Here is her response to that critique). I notice that pleasure/sexual desire/lust are positive emotions that are not included in the above table. As a sexologist, I say it’s important to not deny those sources of positive feeling, but for some of us shutting down might be easier than being in touch with our desires and physical needs. If that’s the case, opening back up again may take some work in a safer post-pandemic world. Fantasies, fandom, erotica (yes, that too!), music, performance, and dance might allow those who have shut down to open back up again.

Speaking of Gratitude

My experience of gratitude as an emotion is less intellectual when I think of what I’ve been lucky enough to access. Aside from long-distance connections with family and friends, here are my personal shout-outs to some of the things that have kept me emotionally nourished in these last several months (in no particular order):

AMUSEMENTINTERESTINSPIRATION
The Untamed series on NetflixThe Untamed The Untamed
Videos of Chinese street dancing performances & swordplay choreographyMy own writing – novel & blogFantasy casting of my characters
Dragula (three seasons)Daniel Foor’s courses thru ancestralmedicine.orgAlso Daniel Foor’s courses
The work of Disasterina & Ave RoseStudy of magic, witchery & sorceryAidan Wachter’s books
My seven catsBooks on pandemics & historyNorse Loki Laufeyjarson
Cat videosReading Covid-19 researchNaNoWriMo.org
Sea shanties on TikTokCreating & teaching hypnosis coursesMovements for social justice & enviromental action
The Gallery of Regrettable FoodGenealogy & ancestor workDreaming, meditation & trancework
Succumbing to geeky fandom without shameCo-hosting a podcastFavorite authors
The local turkey flock in my yardPlotting escape from Lake CountyHow my kids are handling all this
Some ways I access positive emotions.

I hope this blog post helps other people understand how they can engage in conscious cultivation of positive emotions. Please let me know if anything is particularly helpful, using the comments features. Thanks!

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LokiFest 2020, Online and Free

Yes, it’s that time of year again! The star Lokabrenna, otherwise known as Sirius, will be rising in August. And we Lokeans will be hanging out on Zoom for five days, doing what Lokeans do. (And doing it very well, I might add.)


LokiFest Press Release copy


Go to HERE to register as you will not be able to click on the image above no matter how hard you try.

What? You think that just because it’s free you won’t have to work for it? 

Hail Loki!

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