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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Fireverse Part 2: When I Challenged Loki to a Duel

Why? Because apparently I possess the common sense the gods gave a honey badger.
 
I had just run for office for the second time. I was exhausted and disillusioned. I had seen how the political sausage was made and felt that the system was rigged. I read an essay on Popehat, “Burn the [expletive deleted] System to the Ground,” and agreed wholeheartedly. That opened me to Loki in his aspect as Breaker of Worlds. I didn’t realize that until much later, though.

In November 2013, I went to see Thor: The Dark World. I enjoyed it, but I left the theater thinking, “I could write a much more authentic story about the heathen gods than that!” That opened me to Loki, too, and to Odin, though I didn’t realize that until later, either.

“Yes, you could,” purred that voice. Loki appeared in my mind as a fictional character, talking and making story. I didn’t think it was really him, though. For one thing, I was used to hearing fictional characters talking in my head; it’s how I’ve been writing fiction for decades. Like many other authors, when I get an idea for a story and the characters start talking to each other, it always feels like the characters are banging on the inside of my head trying to get out. For another thing, he didn’t look like I remembered him. I had met Loki as a child, in a dream, without knowing who he was, but by the time he showed up again, I had identified the Lord of the Monsters as Loki (see my previous post Lord of the Monsters for that story.) Now he was coming around my mind cosplaying as Marvel-Loki. It took me a while to realize, “Duh, shapeshifter.” Of course he can look like anyone or anything he wants.

Scenes played in my head. I saw chemtrails create the Fimbulwinter, and the Well of Worlds on fire because it was full of fracking fluid, and Sif lying dead in her temple, poisoned by her own worshippers who accidentally sacrificed unlabeled GMO grain. I saw myself die in a zombie apocalypse with a Smith & Wesson Shield in my hand – weeks before I actually was given one for Yule – the dead rising because the Rainbow Bridge was out. I heard Heimdall say it broke under the weight of dead cats and dogs.

“Look, there is dialogue, there are scenes, write.” His horns of flame tickled the inside of my skull, giving me a headache.

I told him, “Shut up in there or I’ll write a scene in which you get bitten by the Midgard Serpent.”

His eyes twinkled and he laughed at me, and—well, I wrote the scene. It is now in the book.

He was delighted. “You wrote something!”

Yes, I did, I wrote something. You win. Score one for Loki.

So, when I realized, “Holy *^(&^ it’s really Loki!” what did I do? I challenged him to a formal duel, using traditional Old Norse fighting words. I wrote a horrible little fanfic story in which the very worst thing that could ever happen to anyone happens – what I thought was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, that is. I wasn’t even aware that was what I was doing. It only became glaringly obvious in hindsight. At the time, I thought I was insulting him.

“Ha, ha! Look! You wrote more things about meeeeeee!”

He reacted as if I amused him, but months later, I realized that when I tried to insult him, what I was really doing was revealing my deepest unhealed trauma. Being a god, he saw right through me, and saw what I could not see myself. He resolved to help me heal it through writing, though I didn’t realize that at the time either.

I also realize now that reacting as if he was amused was the “laugh so you won’t cry or scream” phenomenon that I’ve seen so often before, particularly in myself. He deflected me with humor, and I didn’t realize just how very seriously he was taking my unconscious cry for help until much later. I also didn’t realize until much later that often the being who showed up to inspire my writing insisting that I call him Loki was really Odin, although I had a sneaking suspicion of it for months before it became really obvious.

Every night I dreamed of Ragnarok. Dreams in the twelve nights of Yule are supposed to be prophetic. I saw Thor’s head on a pike. Loki boiled tea from the flowers left at the graves of the dead, and held a tea dance. It was absurd and terrifying.

Finally I had my outline done and I started writing. The pressure eased. Dialogue poured out my fingers, into the keyboard, and when I saw it on the screen, I thought, “I just wrote WHAT about WHO?” I was afraid what I had written might offend Thor. When I went outside I expected a lightning bolt between the shoulder blades. I was mortally afraid to walk beneath the sky, until I raised a cup of coffee to the Thunderer and asked for a sign of approval if he wanted me to keep writing this story this way, and an out-of-season rainstorm arrived, a blessing from Thor.

On Yule 2013, I laid two fires, a bonfire for the ceremony and a barbecue fire for cooking the feast for after the ceremony. I lit both fires. The bonfire shed fire all around it and required much work to contain, and when I set the leaf-design iron lid aside to toss burning branches back into the fire, I burned my foot on the lid. I stood in the cold bucket of water. It was time to concede. It was time to admit that I could not win a duel against a god. Like the cup of coffee I had offered to Thor, I had to make some small gesture toward Loki. So I threw my hair-combings into the barbecue.

At once the fire popped and spat and threw off a great light in acceptance of my sacrifice. Not the fire I threw it into, but the great Yule bonfire, which suddenly stopped trying to get out of its metal confines and started burning merrily and throwing off a great white-yellow pyramid of herbal smoke straight up into the air. The rest of the ceremony went off perfectly, and the cooking did too.

That was when my head cracked open and I started hearing the rest of the gods, too. They inspired my writing. Loki’s laughter echoed down trunk of the World-Tree and shook dry rot from its heart. His voice moistened the dark between the stars, shivered through all the worlds and waited for me every night as I closed my eyes. I no longer heard it in dreams, but now, in that half awake, half asleep state as I drifted off to sleep. As I slipped into the state of consciousness called hypnogogia, I saw Loki standing in my room, and a large snake slithered into my bed. Nervously, I told Loki his snake was getting too close, but he laughed and told me it wasn’t his snake.

“That is my blood brother, Bolverkr, the mead of poetry in his mouth, here to help you birth a new world.”

Image credit: "Loke by C. E. Doepler" by Carl Emil Doepler (1824-1905) - Wägner, Wilhelm. 1882. Nordisch-germanische Götter und Helden. Otto Spamer, Leipzig & Berlin. Page 255.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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Pagan News Beagle: Watery Wednesday, September 2

Witches build a temple for Hathor in Wisconsin. A new Tarot deck celebrates icons of black history. And debate consumes the Pagan community over what it means to be a real polytheist. It's Watery Wednesday, our weekly segment on news about the Pagan community. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Shake your tree!

One of the issues we face when working with modern Paganism based in ancient Minoan spirituality is a practical one: we can’t read what the Minoans wrote. Their two writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphs and Linear A, are still undeciphered. That leaves us with lots and lots of images from frescoes, pottery, seal stones and seal rings. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but figuring out exactly which thousand words are the right ones can be a problem.

Lately I’ve been working on some art projects that involve enlarging photos of some of the Minoan seal rings, and I’ve had occasion to examine the artwork closely. Most of the time this has been an enlightening process, but I have run across one bit that bothered me a lot. You see, there’s a particular ritual scene that’s repeated over and over on the seal rings. The archaeologists have interpreted it as a ‘tree shaking ceremony’ but they can’t manage to explain what it might actually mean. As I was examining a closeup of the seal ring from Tholos Tomb A at Archanes (the main blog image above) it occurred to me that the branch-type object the male figure is shaking might not actually be a tree. I had a look at a few other seal rings that include similar ‘tree shaking’ rituals and I think these images may be something far more specific to the Minoan goddess than trees.

...
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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Seasons of Dreams

For some, winter is the time of dreaming. The long dark night, the glow of the fire, and much of nature seeming to be inactive or hibernating, can be suggestive of human sleep and resting. Winter can be the time of storytellers. It depends a lot on your way of life though, as it can also be a time of hunger, cold, struggle and death.

For others, spring is suggestive of dreams because it is the time of new beginnings. Everything is growing afresh, new life is coming into the world and this suggests possibilities. We can throw away the old, make something new and dream big.

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Pagan News Beagle: Fiery Tuesday, September 1

In Indonesia moderate Islams demonstrate the power of religious pluralism. Across the world sex workers unite to celebrate Amnesty International's decision to work towards the decriminalization of their profession. And in Europe the refugee crisis tests the region's dedication to its ideals. It's Fiery Tuesday, our weekly take on political news. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fire Kim Davis Now

Rant Alert

If a Mormon barrista suddenly refused to serve coffee because caffeine is "against her religion," she would be fired.

If a tattooist converted to Orthodox Judaism and refused to tattoo anyone because the Torah forbids it, he would be fired.

So a county clerk in Kentucky refuses to issue marriage licenses because her form of Christianity forbids same-sex marriage, and they send the matter to court?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Goddess bless separation of church and state. It really is the best idea anyone's had in the last 500 years.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks for the clarification, Raven, and shame on me for not doing my homework. Life is so much simpler with easy answers. Too bad
  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers says #
    I'm not certain they were prepared for this outcome, but the Supreme Court has denied her any grounds on which to continue this pr
  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers says #
    I wish it were as simple as firing her. As an elected civil servant, the choices are: jail and impeachment, compliance, or resigna

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_A-Christmas-Carol.jpgIf I could reach through the folds of time and explain a few things to new-Priestess me, here is what I would say about who I might want to re-consider letting into the Coven:

The woman with the brassy-sassy personality who called you at work crying because it looks like she'll be getting fired wants to know because if it's because the Gods rejected her offerings...and gets rancid-offended when you suggest it's probably less about the offering and more because she slapped a co-worker that morning...she's going to be a bit tough to work with.

...
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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Naya Aerodiode
    Naya Aerodiode says #
    I, too, work in a closed coven with a strict vetting process. Though my path is an initiatory one, I've experienced a lot of the

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