This last month has felt bifurcated. On the one hand, I was finishing up two important acts of devotional service for the Norse Loki Laufeyjarson, my patron deity, and on the other hand I was called into service on behalf of Mauna Kea and Poliahu, its goddess of the snow.
I know. It sounds weird, doesn’t it?
I guess that’s just how it rolls in polytheism, especially when you work with deities from different pantheons. Bifurcation, trifurcation, whatever-furcation!!!
In my most recent work for Loki, of course I’m referring to the LokiFest Online conference and the completion of work on Loki’s Torch, an anthology of devotional work. I’m now experiencing a post-project “let down” (I hear that’s normal) with only vague intimations of what’s coming up next.
In my work on behalf of sacred Mauna Kea, I’m referring to signal boosting and writing, as an ally from afar. And of course I’m not going to stop finding ways to pass along information about the cause. It’s also a gift to connect once again with the spirit of Kapu Aloha, as exemplified by the Mauna Kea Kia’i (protectors). I so want them to win!
The above is background for an unexpected grace that’s emerged in these last few weeks. I had thought that my incongruous relationship with the “powers” of Hawai’i had been severed back in 2017, and I’ve felt a sense of exile, and a vague shame, ever since. Finding that connection fanned into life again, as part of a “call” for everyone to show up for the Mauna and for the Kanaka Maoli, has been healing. All I had ever wanted, really, was to be of use to Hawai’i nei (beloved Hawai’i).
And why is that?
Because, starting the early 2000’s, Maui and Hawai’i islands whammed me with a spiritual epiphany and then bestowed substantial healing for my environmental illness. I have no idea why, but it happened and I benefited. In return, I pledged to do whatever I could for Hawai’i as a “give-back.” I’ve often been clumsy in how I went about this, and have stumbled on the paving stones of “good intentions” as I travel my personal “road to Hel.” But I did try to keep my vow even when looking (and acting) the fool. I guess it feels good to have another opportunity to potentially contribute.
Years later, Loki also saved my life, coming to me during a time of utmost despair and shame. I made a vow to him too, oathing myself to him and his service. However he understands that I’ve also got previous commitments. He graciously stepped to the side as Mauna Kea came front and center on July 15th. (Besides I was still doing his work, as well.)
Come to think of it, I’m no stranger to bifurcation (trifurcation, whatever-furcation!). I’ve straddled worlds and juggled distinctly different viewpoints and approaches as a parent, in my romantic relationships, in my career, and in my creative work and spiritual quests. I’m always in exile, never entirely at home. Yet, there are common themes with all of this. But maybe only I can see, from my own peculiar vantage point, how it makes sense for me to honor deities of both the Norse and Hawaiian pantheons, as long as my offerings are acceptable.
My favorite Loki artist, Sceithailm on Deviant Art (aka Sceith-A), often depicts Loki as shod on the right foot, shoeless on the left, walking between worlds. How lucky I am to be at last with a deity who understands. My own right foot walks the Midgard realm known as Turtle Island. My left foot–apparently–never really did leave the ‘aina.
Cue up your favorite song. I said it was a party! Then click the banner link below to get your copy of Loki’s Torch, officially published today, August 1st, just in time for Lokabrenna (Sirius rising and the “Dog Days of Summer.”)
Update: By the way, in case you were wondering. Here’s a message from Ky Greene regarding the financial aspect of this ALL VOLUNTEER PROJECT: “Everyone who contributed got a free PDF. We only make $5 off every sale, which we are saving to be able to fund other events/products for the Lokean community as a whole. The rest of the proceeds go to MagCloud for their printing service. Since it’s a print-on-demand service, people are paying the printers.”
Our last Deity Devotion question is: “any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?” Yes, I do have a few.
Don’t do what I did–which is immediately plunge in wholeheartedly. You’ll want to, but it is better to go a little slowly at first. My experiences have not been negative at all–though they have been intense–but I’m an aging Scorpio with a tremendous range of life experience. I tend to think I can get away with being reckless, even at my age. (Hubris, I know…)
Do read the lore, The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda and others. As you do this you may become frustrated by Christian attempts to cast Loki as an evil “Norse Satan” (this comes up in The Prose Edda and modern myths), but these are still important literary references. (These are not sacred or religious texts.)
This question makes me grin. Today’s 30 Days of Deity Devotion query is “any interesting or unusual UPG to share?” About Loki? OMFG! When is personal Loki gnosis not interesting or unusual?
I began this blog a few months before Loki arrived on the scene with unmistakable flair and “glorious purpose” (snurk!), quickly taking center stage in my daily devotions. Like so many other Lokeans, I now feel he’s been with me all along–at least since the time that teenage me used felt pens to draw cows on large marshmellows, then scattered them all over La Jolla Cove Park so that people would understand that marshmellows are NOT vegetarian. (As a newbie vegetable person, I was upset that tiny ones melting in hot chocolate were no longer an option…) (This is an issue that no longer concerns me…)
So, not only did Loki take over my spiritual focus, he also began to dominate this blog. The great thing about Loki is that he’s a never-ending source of inspiration. I do have lots of unusual “unverified personal gnosis”–great heaping gobs of it–and I’ve been (over)sharing like mad this last year. (What people think no longer concerns me…)
Here are my five offerings of past gnosis, concerning Loki and epigenetics, positive pyschology, communication theory, environmental health, and tantra (in reverse chronological order).
It’s the 28th day of my Thirty Days of Devotion and the topic is “something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently.”
Well…these larger subtle-bodied beings we refer to as deities, are essentially mysterious to us. That might have more to do with our limitations rather than their desire to be opaque and so this question makes me realize I don’t even know what it is that I don’t know that I wish I knew.
But if I have any question at all about the roles that these various beings have or have had in my life, it’s “why them (in particular) and why me (in particular)?” In other words, I don’t just have this question about my patron, the Norse Loki Laufeyjarson, I have this question about others I’ve worked with, or who have approached me.
An Unexpected Knock on the Door
For example, a few days before July 14th, when the Kia’i (Protectors) were on Mauna Kea to do ceremony at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu and establish their encampment in their sacred place of refuge, the Celtic goddess known as The Morrigan was tapping at my psyche (not for the first time). She is a battle goddess known as the “Great Queen” in Ireland. So I spent a couple of days with a book I have, and some websites, just to see if I should follow up with her. The Morrigan is known for having a fierce interest in social justice issues and I can feel drawn to her on that account. But part of me still felt hesitant. For one thing, I already have a deep, fairly time-consuming commitment to a super-intense being: Loki Laufeyjarson. When I checked in with Loki about The Morrigan, the sense I got was, “I’m not opposed, but just take your time so you know what you’d be getting into.” When I did a pendulum divination with The Morrigan and told her that I was oathed Loki, she drew back a little–odd how I could feel that–and then there was this kind of sense of “oh, well, maybe a limited contract then.” However, I have no idea what that contract might have entailed.
But then I heard what was happening on the Mauna. I have a long history of (mostly long-distance) allyship with the fight against telescope desecration, and I felt an immediate urge to do what I could to help, even from afar (signal-boosting, blogging, etc.). It was obvious this was not the right time to “get to know” The Morrigan, as her ways of handling conflict are so very different from Kapu Aloha. I could not bring her energy with me if I engaged with this matter. And so I drew back from connecting more with The Morrigan.
But Loki, intense as he is, was fine with my sudden deep plunge into service, once again, with the deities of Hawai’i. I was “standing with Poliahu” and though she hadn’t called me directly, it was important to have that sense of “standing with” her in order to stand with her people. I know this can sound a little mad, but it’s just how it is. And then, after several days of active focus on Mauna Kea, Loki reeled me back,not to prevent any more activity on behalf of Mauna Kea, but to now have me “stand with” him, or to stand with this issue from within standing with him, in solidarity with Mauna Kea, its people and its deities, as a Lokean. Again, it is hard to explain these nuances and I am feeling my way into them.
Loki, who stands for family as well as justice, seems to resonate with this issue of protecting Mauna Kea (personal gnosis). At the very least, he encourages my engagement with it (not that he could actually stop me–he knows I’ve got a prior commitment here).
In practical terms, what does this mean to my practice and my activism? Let me see if I can break it down.
Devotions: Since July 15th or so there’s been a candle on my altar to represent Poliahu and Mauna Kea. And it feels pono (correct, appropriate) to once again chant E Homai as an offering to Hawai’i, to the Mauna, and to honor the work of the Kia’i. My first kumu hula (hula teacher) told me it was always appropriate to offer ka leo, the voice in a prayer or chant. E Homai is my prayer. That chant, and E Laka E, have always had a strong place in my heart.
Decolonizing Paganism: I sense that it’s important to decolonize neopaganism in order to stand appropriately in solidarity, via an inter-faith perspective as well as a human justice one. I’ve been looking at these issues already in witchery and neopaganism, but I cannot congratulate myself on being very advanced. There’s a lot of layers to this deeply planted onion. Loki, as a deity who habitually punctures hypocrisy, seems to require this kind of inner and outer work.
Back to the Lore: I also feel moved to examine the Norse lore again, for stories about Loki which speak to me of challenges to injustice and hypocrisy. Loki bound on the mountain with the entrails of one of his children, while his wife Sigyn holds the bowl to capture snake venom, resonates with me here. Perhaps the hypocrisy and cruelty of the Aesir, when confronted by Loki’s truth-telling, leads me to compare them with the pro-TMT guys. But I think there are deeper meanings than that.
Complementary Values: A general task might be to compare Hawaiian values and those held by neopagan Heathens and others in the “big tent” of modern paganism. Neopagans might find commonality in areas of animism, earth-centered spirituality, polytheism, traditions of hospitality and frith, working with ancestors, keeping oaths and acting in an honorable manner, making offerings to nurture relationships with deities and spirits, and so on.
Things to Avoid: What would be totally inappropriate (IMHO) is anything like sorcery curses on TMT, or the kind of gleeful political trolling that I so adore from The Satanic Temple when directed at U.S. government officials.
No–the imperative for this issue is to be in Kapu Aloha, out of respect for the Kia’i, who absolutely know better than anybody what is needed and what is appropriate. Those of us who are not part of the Lahui (Kanaka Maoli community) MUST take their lead and directions and respect their wishes to the utmost, in spite of any clever ideas we might have to the contrary. It’s not Berkeley over there. And it took me longer than I like to admit to figure that out.
Restraint and Curiosity: Loki, the King of Clever, who got himself into trouble one too many times by mouthing off, is actually quite good at counseling restraint in this case. However, he seems to encourage my curiousity for uncovering some of the hidden machinations surrounding the approval and promotion of the Thirty Meter Telescope. This kind of factual investigation, aimed at the foreign authorities and capitalists who want to control Hawai’i’s resources, is perfectly appropriate as long as it is done with restraint and professionalism.
For me, activism has always been part of my spiritual path and vice versa. The questions I have for and about Loki–and other deities–are tied to my wyrd. That I should have such strong ties to Hawai’i, including mystical experiences, has always been a mystery. That I am one of Loki’s “children” is another. But I am not likely to have the answers until I pass from this world. All I can do is roll with what I’m given to do, here in Midgard.
Kyaza’s blog on the same topic today is a tough act to follow–there’s so much covered. Loki is immensely versatile and controversial. Do read it! I do have some additional thoughts, though. But first, a fractal.
In my opinion, the following misconceptions are not exactly “the worst” but merely the most limiting.
Misconception 1: Loki is not real.
Oh my droogies! The entire history of our sad species is one of collision with and confusion about those mostly (but not always) unseen beings we call gods and goddesses, demons, angels, fey folk, ghosts, ancestral spirits, and so on.
A departed friend of mine, Michael Rossman of Free Speech Movement fame, was a mathematician and naturalist, as well as a social historian, poet, player of flute, and science teacher of children. His inner world was filled with numbers and mathematical equations, as well as a pronounced empathy with plant life. Yet he’d had his own brushes with “the strange” from quite early on, including his experience with the first weeks of the Free Speech Movement as a collective possession by the spirit of Liberty. Literally, spirit possession. Micheal knew what it was to be spirit-touched, and changed.
In Rossman’s book, New Age Blues–On The Politics of Consciousness (E.P. Dutton, 1979), he recounts bizarre twists in the ’70s pop phenomenon of Uri Geller (bender of spoons) and his patron impressario, a scientist named Andrija Puharich (physician and parapsychological researcher). Their combined wyrd soon became weirder and weirder, ending with servitude to a group of spirit beings called “The Nine” or “Hoovans.” Michael writes: “like many more sober investigators I have come to take seriously the notion that there are discrete intelligences at hand other than those housed in fleshy bodies, and that they interact with us in quite complex ways.” For the rest of his life, Michael would pursue his own investigations via entheogens (so not all that sober) and later in our joint exploration of “the gossamer realms” (his words) via tantric gazing.
Just one more word from Michael, “Weird things are abrew…and I think it is much the better part of intellectual humility to recognize what we have no way of knowing, and to confess our guesses as projections of our wishes.”
Well, yes and no to those “projections,” Michael. There’s intellectual knowledge, true, and we need it for discernment, but there’s also spontaneous gnosis, which sometimes slams into us with the force of a truck. I have this and that and this Loki thing too. And other incidents as well. Until recently, I didn’t want or shape what happened. I didn’t go looking. It’s only in the last four years that I truly stepped into my rightful state as a witchy polytheist animist and have intentionally courted a select few of the gossamer realm.
Loki was a surprise. I’d been courting Frey, Freya, and Gerda via daily devotions, but not getting much back. Then Loki arrived with the force and allure of a shiny red sports car, immensely present. I could have said no but I didn’t.
You bet he’s real. I am also a sober investigator. I don’t oath myself to fantasies. But I understand, it sounds really bonkers if you’ve never had a similar experience.
He is known by his/her/zir/their faces and attributes and our community’s shared gnosis is confirms quite a lot of what we come to as individuals.
Misconception 2: Loki is male.
I do feel and respond to Loki as “male” most of the time, but lately I’ve begun to find my way to the other gendered aspects. I’ve always known these other aspects were there, and that intellectual knowledge is part of Loki’s appeal for me, but actually feeling into this, that’s new.