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.

A large ceramic vase with a large crack that has been filled with gold

(photo © the artist, David Pike)

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.

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