Tag Archives: loki

Signal Clarity

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

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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.


A Month for Loki: Adorations

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

Hail!


Devotional Mindfulness

I’m mulling over this post from over at Gangleri’s Grove. I didn’t directly reblog the piece because this is only tangentially related, but it’s excellent food for thought and i do recommend you go read it.

When i was practicing something-like-Hinduism, a mantra was a major part of my practice. I used to mentally repeat my mantra when i woke up in the morning and went to bathe, during the beginning of meditation (sometimes throughout my entire meditation; it depended on what i was doing), while i cooked or cleaned or folded clothes or brushed my teeth or dried my hair, while i exercised, while i did archery… I also made an effort to mentally repeat my mantra as i went to sleep at night. In short, i structured my day around my mantra. Any moment i could, i brought my attention back to those words.

The only time i specifically didn’t use my mantra was when i was supposed to be giving something my full attention—in a conversation with another person, for example. Part of honouring the Divine is honouring the Divine in other living beings, so that seemed like an appropriate circumstance to set down the mantra.

After doing this for several years, that mantra—that short series of words—became deeply embedded in my brain. It became the background music of my mind, running in a constant loop. Every moment my mind-chatter went quiet, i heard that. It was my go-to internal monologue whenever i felt angry or sad or frightened (or peaceful or joyful, for that matter). I centred myself on those words.

But then i stopped being something-like-Hindu. I stopped devoting myself to one Power to the exclusion of all others. And more than that, i’d completely changed pantheons: A mantra dedicated to a Hindu deva no longer seemed to fit, now that i found myself predominantly devoted to Powers in the Norse pantheon. The mantra—my mantra—no longer fit my practice. After dithering for a while, i decided it was best that i set the mantra aside.

It’s left a hole in my practice, though. It hasn’t entirely gone away, for starters: In moments of intense emotion, my old mantra still sometimes drifts to the forefront of my mind, ill-fitting though it now is. And it’s become something like a drug that’s lost its potency, no longer offering the comfort and anchoring feeling it once did. It’s just…words, words connected to memories that, while the pain of them is softening, they feel ever more distant.

Some Pagans i know like to recite the various bynames of their Beloveds as a kind of mantra; there’s also the possibility of something like lectio divina, or Eknath Easwaran’s method of passage meditation. I do make a habit every day of reciting my own adaptation of Sigdrifa’s prayer, and i’ve dabbled a little bit in writing short prayers of my own that could be suited to mantra practice and/or repetitive prayer. But so far nothing has felt quite “right” in the same way.


Hymn to the Blood Brothers

Hail to Him who drank Gunnlöð’s mead,
and hail to Him who ate Gullveig’s heart.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to Frigga’s Lord,
and hail to Sigyn’s Love.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to Thor’s Father,
and hail to Thor’s Friend.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to Sleipnir’s Rider,
and hail to Sleipnir’s Mother.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Breath-Giver,
and hail to the Blood-Giver.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Wisdom-Giver,
and hail to the Wit-Giver.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Wolf-Feeder,
and hail to the Wolf-Father.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the All-Father,
and hail to the Witch-Mother.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Spear-Shaker,
and hail to the Thread-Tangler.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Hel-Road Traveller,
and hail to the Sky-Treader.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Raven’s Friend,
and hail to the Vulture’s Path.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Rune-Finder,
and hail to the Lie-Finder.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Way-Seeker,
and hail to the Treasure-Bringer.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Wind-Howler,
and hail to the Earth-Shaker.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Tree-Rider,
and hail to the Net-Weaver.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Wolf’s Foe,
and hail to the Watcher’s Bane.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Hanged God,
and hail to the Bound God.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the High One,
and hail to the Middle Being.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Story-Teller,
and hail to the Story-Mover.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Hunter,
and hail to the Horned.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Silence in the Storm,
and hail to the Fire in the Water.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Madness in Wisdom,
and hail to the Wisdom in Madness.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to the Nameless,
and hail to the Formless.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

Hail to Him who drinks with the Trickster,
and hail to Him who walks with the Wanderer.
To Odin and Loki, Blood Brothers, hail!

~ Magpie Mason

N.B.: This is (very) loosely based on the structure of the Ardhanareshwara Stotram from the Hindu tradition.


Surrendering

I had my Holy Shit The Gods Are Real moment just over two years ago. One day i was a monist who believed all deities were man-made archetypes representing facets of a singular Divinity, worshipping Shiva as my “chosen deity” and pursuing life as a Weird White HinduTM. The next, i was getting every last inch of my worldview rocked by a certain Silvertongue.

I can’t say that i was happy about this turn of events. I liked being the Weird White Hindu, having Shiva as my one and only ishta-devata. Loki’s sudden presence messed up everything, and i let Him know it. I told Him he had the wrong address, that i was perfectly fine with things just the way they were, and didn’t have room in my life or my brain for more than one Power. I told Him i didn’t like Paganism (i’d dabbled as a teenager and decided it wasn’t for me), and i wasn’t really the “Trickster” type.

When that failed to convince, i comforted myself by insisting that obviously He and i had crossed paths for only a short while, and that soon whatever shiny-object-ness about me had momentarily attracted His attention would wear off. He’d lose interest; He’d leave. And then i could get back to my life. My “normal” life, the life i liked.

As you can probably guess, that’s not how this worked out.

We found a way to make it work—the Weird White Hindu who also, occasionally, honored Loki. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes awkward, sometimes infuriating. But through it all there was a growing thread of sweetness to it.

When He first made Himself known, i didn’t trust Him as far as i could throw the Snaptun stone. I resented the way He’d crept into my life and added all these complications i hadn’t wanted. While i was grateful that His arrival had triggered my The Gods Are Real epiphany, enabling me to recognize the relationship i had with Actually-Shiva, at the same time i deeply disliked that Loki was inserting Himself in the middle of that. I was trying to be a good Shiva-bhakta, pursuing an ever more single-pointed focus on my connection to my ishta-devata. Loki was an unwelcome interloper in that arrangement, and i resented that. I continued to hope He would tire of His new plaything, and move on to other, more interesting pursuits.

I never wanted to love Him. It felt like a betrayal of Shiva, of my chosen path, of everything i considered important to my spiritual identity. I felt like confessing to Loki that i loved Him was crossing a point of no return—that my life now could never go back to what it had been before. And oh, i hated Him for it.

And then Shiva’s presence grew fainter, until it was made clear that He didn’t want to be my ishta-devata, didn’t want me to be Hindu. There were tears, and there were goodbyes.

“You did this,” i said to Loki, and not kindly. “You ruined everything. I was happy before You showed up. Why couldn’t You go screw up someone else’s life?”

The truth, of course, was that i felt terribly guilty—like an inconstant woman who’d strayed from her husband to pursue some short-lived infatuation with an interesting newcomer. I’d been proven fickle, unfaithful, undevoted. I decided that must have been Loki’s game from the start: to waltz His way into the middle of my lukewarm devotional relationship and reveal that the emperor had no clothes. And now that He’d proven His point, i expected Him to crow about it for a little while, and then leave me with the remaining pieces of my thoroughly broken spiritual life.

When i had encountered Loki in meditation for the first time, my immediate thought had been that i was playing with fire. Now Loki had gone and burned my house down, and i felt i had no one to blame but myself (because you can’t blame the fire; fire just is). I thought He’d done it to amuse Himself, just because He could.

When i confessed that i had grown to love Loki, there wasn’t even a passing thought in my mind that maybe He would ever love me. As i told Him recently, “I’d known You would be clever; i’d never imagined You would be kind.”

But kind He was. When Shiva left (not entirely left, mind you; i still feel His presence occasionally, at the edges of my mind), He was calm and comforting while i slowly sorted through my grief. Even as i ranted and raged at Him, He bore it with quiet patience.

But then He reminded me of a dream from a few weeks before i’d met Him—a beautiful and meaningful dream that i’d come to associate with Shiva, a memory that i treasured—and basically said, “That dream was real, but it wasn’t Him. It was Me.”

I raged again, with renewed vigor. How dare He come in the midst of my grief, dig His claws into the most vivid and precious memory i had of Shiva, and claim it for Himself? I raged and cried, called Him a liar and a thief and a thousand other angry things. He bore that quietly too, even as i felt a twinge of anger growing in Him.

I can’t really say what changed; i’m not sure exactly when i started to believe Him. But together we’ve sifted through my memories, and i see now what i had refused to see before: that He’s there. He’s in my dreams, in fever-visions, in half-written stories and childhood daydreams; he’s been hiding behind favorite characters and overly insistent plot-bunnies for as long as i’ve been drawn to stories. Everywhere i look in my past, i find Him.

Loki didn’t push Shiva aside, usurping His place in my heart (and anyway, as Loki told me two years ago, “the Heart isn’t a finite quantity”). He was there first. I have memories going back two decades that i’d simply assumed must have been of Shiva because He was the first of the Powers i’d recognized in my life.

There are still questions i don’t have answered, pieces to the puzzle that don’t yet fit. I don’t fully understand why Loki couldn’t just “show Himself” from the beginning, or why i got nudged in the direction of Hinduism for years before i found my way to where i am now. I don’t understand why Shiva (and a few other members of the Hindu pantheon) took an interest in me, if They knew (?) Loki was already around—and if They did know, why didn’t Anybody tell me?

I still have a lot of questions, some of which might never get answered. But this morning, Loki just gave me one:

“Do you trust Me?”

The answer is yes. For better or for worse, yes Beloved. I do.


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