I can’t love this enough.
You were the shadow looming over me at night. Now You are the name I call to to chase off the shadows. You were what chased me. Now You patiently wait. You were everything I avoided. Now I search for You everywhere.
How You went from devil to savior is a mystery. You slithered in, a Snake through the cracks. But here You are, some strange creature who pretends to be a man. Sometimes when I’m not fully looking, I think perhaps I see fear in Your gaze as if I’m now the shadow that chases You.
And it makes me wonder who has changed more: You or me?
There’s no devotional poetry this time, or insightful intuitions, or philosophical theorising. Just one small observation i’ve made, that seems worth sharing.
I have anxiety and depression. I struggled alone with this for many years—i used to joke that i was the only person in my family not seeing a therapist. Which was true; but my pride in that truth was woefully misplaced. I come from a long line of broken, wounded, angry people—several lines of them, actually. But somehow i thought if i just pretended i myself wasn’t broken, it would be so. I didn’t seek help until it got so bad that one night i realised, if i didn’t get better, i was going to die. So i swallowed that misplaced pride, and sought help. I’m not ‘better’—often with mental illnesses you never get better; you simply…manage the symptoms. So that’s what i do. I manage the symptoms.
Like many Bothered folks, i’ve found my ‘godphone’ goes on the fritz when my anxiety or depression acts up. In the past, i used to think They were abandoning me—that They couldn’t stand to be connected to someone so pitiful and weak and broken. Which, i suppose goes without saying, didn’t help my situation any. I know now that i was mistaken; it’s not that They leave, but simply that my own mental fog makes a clear connection impossible. I know now that They would not abandon me, and that’s some comfort, even though i cannot feel or hear any of the Powers through the mental gunk.
Any but one.
For reasons i neither know nor understand, i can still connect to one of the Powers, no matter how deeply mired in my own mind-swamp i get. I can always feel my connection with Loki. Even though Odin seems now to have assumed the role of my ‘primary’ deity, His voice gets lost in the fog. Loki’s doesn’t.
I don’t know what i am to Them; i have no name for the ties that bind me to each of the Blood Brothers. It feels right to say that i ‘belong’ to Odin—that i am in some sense His—but there is something that i am to Loki as well, something that He is to me. I have no name for it, but i know that it…is. I know from experience that i can sink far enough down in the dark that i can neither feel nor hear Odin, nor any other Power i know. But there is no despair black enough that Loki cannot pierce through it. As i said, i don’t know why it’s so; but it’s so.
I’m writing this because today is one of those anxiety-depression days, one of those mired-in-the-mental-muck days when working for more than a few minutes at a time is exhausting, when it takes a momentous effort even to move, when i have to be reminded that the sensation of my stomach gnawing on my insides means i need to eat. And Loki is here. He speaks very little on days like this: My discernment is fuzzy at best, so it’s not a good time for any Deep Conversations. But He’s still there, a quiet presence that gently nudges and encourages, that sifts through the mind-silt, picks up the pieces of me, and presses them back into place, and holds them until the glue dries. Until i’m something-like-myself again.
Hail Loki, the Light in Dark Places
Hail Loki, Who Puts the Pieces Back Together
Hail Loki, Who Mends the Broken With Gold
In my previous post, i gave names to some of the facets of Loki that i’ve gotten to know in the couple of years since i first found myself up to my eyeballs in Norse Trickster. But this morning i realised (okay, He nudged me and then i realised) that i’d somehow left one out. Oh, the hazards of hasty copypasta. But this actually works out well, since this side of Loki really deserves its own post.
In my first post of the Month for Loki, i called Loki “Lover of Broken Things, Missing Pieces, and Mismatched Sets”. As Miðjungr (which i translated as “Middle One”), He is the God of the In-Between—places and people both. And it’s certainly not a stretch from the lore to see why He would also be the God of Outcasts. He is the Patron of those oddly-shaped puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit, or the “spare parts” that don’t seem part of the design. He is a lover (and you might even say a collector) of things and people that others might cast aside. He seems to have a fondness for projects. All Powers do, really.
A few years ago, when i was still a Hindu-flavoured archetypal-ish theist, i wrote one night that
When i say that God mends our hearts, what do i mean? I mean that He carefully presses the jagged shards back together, adds the glue that will bind them—and then He holds them together, still and secure, while they take the time needed to knit back together.
(It was about nine months after that when i had my Holy Shit it’s Loki moment. My in-retrospect-not-surprised face, let me show you it.)
I feel i should say at this point that Loki is not unique in His loving care of the broken. I don’t know of any Power who disdains people in their brokenness—and i would not worship such a Power, if there were one. But Loki seems especially fond of broken people, seeming to go out of the way to find and collect them. You have to admit, we Lokeans are a motley crew, full of cracks and holes. We come with a lot of wear-and-tear. But then, in truth, that’s how all people are. Life does not treat any of us gently. To be human is to be born into a never-ending battle that will leave its scars. We are the walking wounded; we are never-not-broken. And, for me, Loki’s lessons regarding brokenness are these:
1. Brokenness, woundedness, these are not exceptions to the rule; we are all of us a little bit broken. That’s what life does to us.
2. Being broken does not detract from the sum of who we are, make us “less” than our best selves. On the contrary, getting broken is a necessary part of growing toward our best selves.
3. Our brokenness is an intimate part of who we are, who we are becoming. So the marks it leaves behind after the wounds have healed—the tender spots and scars—are not meant to be hidden in shame or fear; they should be celebrated. Without these scars, we would not be who we are.
There is a Japanese art form called kintsukuroi, which literally means “gold repair” (or kintsuge, “gold joinery”). It’s the practice of taking broken ceramics and repairing them with lacquer mixed with powdered metal, traditionally gold. But it’s more than just an art; it’s a worldview. Kintsukuroi says that a plate or cup or bowl or vase does not outlive its usefulness when it’s been broken, nor has it become flawed. The chips and cracks and missing pieces are a part of that work’s history—a part of its identity, if you will. It is not lessened by having been broken and put back together again, but augmented. It has Become more than it was before.
He Who Mends the Broken With Gold teaches not to be ashamed or embarrassed by the marks that show how life has broken us in the past. These are not lines of weakness, but of newfound strength. They are not flaws, but a fundamental part of the beauty of our true Being, perfectly imperfect.
I’ve been terribly negligent of my blog the past few months, and this seemed like a good time (and a good way) to resurrect it: by taking up July as a month for Loki, as many others who honour Him are doing.
The idea was floated by my kindred that this might be a good time to “get to know” Loki better—to engage with facets of His that we don’t know well, if at all. But before doing that, it seemed to me that the best place to begin is to remind myself of Loki as i know Him now. So to that end, i present a series of adorations, giving names to some of the faces of Loki that are familiar to me.
A few of these come directly from lore, but most are my own words. But if any of these titles speaks to you, please feel free to take it and run with it!
I adore You, Sly One
I adore You, Cunning One
I adore You, Middle One
I adore You, Silver-Tongue
I adore You, Trickster
I adore You, Truest of Liars
I adore You, Grieving Parent
I adore You, Odin’s Blood-Brother
I adore You, Bringer of Sexual Confusion
I adore You, Magpie Lord
I adore You, Breaker of Boundaries
I adore You, Divine Transgressor
I adore You, Holy Fool
I adore You, Liminal One
I adore You, Sweet Seducer
I adore You, Magnificent Bastard
I adore You, All-Consuming Fire
I adore You, Heart-Eater
I adore You, Shape-Changer
I adore You, Way-Finder
I adore You, Treasure-Giver
I adore You, Web-Weaver
I adore You, Thread-Tangler
I adore You, Light-Bringer
I adore You, Mover of Stories
I adore You, Remover of Masks
I adore You, Who Loves Children
I adore You, Who Brings the Fire
I adore You, Father of Lost Children
I adore You, Breaker of Chains
I adore You, God of Outcasts
I adore You, God of the In-Between
I adore You, Mad God
I adore You, Ardent God
I adore You, Heartbroken God
I adore You, Not-Safe God
I adore You, Bound and Boundless God
I adore You, Flame to My Moth
I adore You, Still Waters That Run Deep
I adore You, Heart of Fire, Heart of Light
I adore You, Lover of Broken Things, Missing Pieces, and Mismatched Sets
I adore You, Stranger
I adore You Loptr
I adore You, Loki
Trans-hate, bigotry, stalking… None of this is gonna fly. Not in my space. Not ever.
Implicit in a lot of discussion about trans people (which, of course, rarely overlaps with discussion including trans people) is this idea that trans people, especially non-binary people, are some kind of peculiar modern fad. As though gender dysphoria magically appeared some time in the 20th century and we’ve all leapt on the bandwagon.
The thing is, people who can be read as trans appear in a whole heap of literature stretching back centuries. Probably millennia. My area of specialism is Viking Age Scandinavia (8th – 14th century), and even in what’s generally viewed as a hyper-masculine, rigidly binarist society, we see individuals appearing to quite gleefully flout the conventions of gender. Said conventions of gender can best be summed up by imagining your stereotypical…
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Reblogging this largely for the selfish reason that i want to refer back to it later. I’ve been intending for a while now to talk about what i see as the most common varieties of relationship with Divinity, and some of the pros and cons of each. This chart is giving me lots of thinky-thoughts about how to structure that.
This post will be brief. I am thinking of the various ways that I have heard practitioners describe their relationships to God, Goddess, Gods, or sacred figures across trads. I notice that there are two basic axises… at least as far as I can tell.
One spectrum runs from Self to Distant Other, with Other somewhere in the middle. On one end of that spectrum, you have people who see deity as shaping their identity in some way. They want to emulate that deity, live up to their ideals, dress in their sacred symbols, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, you have practitioners who see deities as abstract forces of nature.
The other spectrum runs from Independence to Servitude, with Dependency of some kind in the middle. On the one end of the spectrum, you have witches who relate to deities like the postman, those who relate to deity…
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