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On April 28, 2014, I was reading reading a novel in bed. My eyes closed and my Kindle slipped from my hand onto the pillow. Instead of drifting off to sleep, I drifted into hypnogogia, that dreamy state in which I am awake and aware but can't move and can see images as if I were dreaming.
Loki appeared, and I expressed anxiety that he and the other gods would stop talking to me when I was done writing the book they were inspiring me to write....
I've been reading Warhammer: Trollslayer. And today's google doodles have many alternate versions, but one is a fox. What do these two things have to do with each other? Read on.
Tom N. lent me his copy of Trollslayer because there's some transparently heathen content in it. Aside from the things copied from Tolkien, like the dwarf warrior character, which are ultimately derived from Norse mythology through the lens of Tolkien, there is also the point of view character's religion. Felix, the narrator and Gotrek's sidekick, worships Sigmar, a Thor-like god (whose worshippers have a few structures borrowed from Christianity, but not enough to obscure the meaning of wearing a hammer symbol around one's neck for protection.)...
A yellow rose bloomed on my red rose bush. One year ago today, April 1st, 2015, Loki and Sigyn sent me this message. Roses are usually associated with Freya, but it was Loki's Day in my particular branch of heathenry. In the traditional Language of Flowers, yellow roses mean friendship. I took this as a message of friendship from Sigyn.
Over the previous year, I had struggled with reconnecting with her, and she had worked hard to keep giving me signs of approval (mostly in the form of butterflies) and help me reconnect with her after I partly lost the connection (I'll post more about that when I return to telling the story of my journey chronologically.) I've reconnected since then, but I will always treasure this memory. I dried the petals of this yellow rose and put it in my Spiritual Souvenir wall shrine....
Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path: On Loki’s Day 2014, for the first time, I held a blot specifically for Loki. April 1st had become my traditional Loki's Day a couple of decades ago when I participated in Ostara festivals that overlapped April 1st. That was back when I was a member of the old Ring of Troth. Ostara was a campout with an indoor sleeping area which was a World War I era bunker, and the grounds also included an outdoor campfire and a trail down to the beach. The women who gathered around the campfire in the morning chill with our coffee started throwing our hair combings into the campfire spontaneously, and because it happened to be April 1st, and people at the festival were already observing April 1st as Loki's Day, a day to tell jokes and play pranks, we came up with the idea that throwing things into the fire on April 1st was a sacrifice to Loki. It was not a really serious ritual, just a spontaneous moment of fun, but I think Loki likes spontaneous fun. Throwing hair combings into the fire for Loki became a tradition at that festival among the early risers.
So, when I decided that I should hold a ritual to thank Loki for inspiring me to write Some Say Fire, and for all the help he gave me through that medium, I went with the tradition of throwing hair combings into the fire on April 1st. It was what I had done year after year when I lived in California in my 20s, so to me it was tradition.
I lit both a bonfire and a barbecue fire, just like I did at Yule when I engaged in that duel. At the time, I still had the burn scar on the side of my right foot. It disappeared about a month later, when I accepted another sort of symbol, but that's another story which I'll tell later. I had been saving my hair-combings, each time I combed out freshly washed, clean, dry hair. I had spun my hair combings into one continuous ball of yarn, and placed that in the bbq fire along with expired spices and various types of woods and charcoal. But I lit the bonfire first, which contained only wood and twigs and brush from my yard which I had saved after the fall chopping and had dried in the side yard. I first made a short, formal statement of thanks to Loki, “I burn this for Loki,” and listed my gratitude for his inspiration for my novel and his literal inspiration of air in my lungs. It did not light. “OK, not good enough,” I said out loud.
The only other heathen there was T. N., who is a Heimdall’s man. I had told him exactly what I planned to do at this blot and given him an opportunity to decide not to participate, but he was there. I met his eyes and we both smiled uncomfortable little smiles.
I next made a slightly longer formal statement of thanks and tried to light the fire. It did not light. “OK, still not good enough.” I realized I was going about it wrong. I had to relate to the fire first and foremost as fire. “OK, I’m going to be smart and stand blocking the wind.” I moved to a new position and realized I was now pointed due north as I should have been from the beginning. “OK, you like this better? Light, you.” I was irritated and I said nothing of gratitude or supplication.
The fire did not just light. It whooshed out in a ten foot horizontal gout of bright orange flame. It continued to burn like a flamethrower even after I put the iron lid on it.
Like when I’m writing, he spoke through me. Unlike when I’m writing, it came out my mouth instead of my fingers. “Don’t talk to me like I’m [expletive] Odin.”
I added, “he says.” I realized my own voice is actually deeper than Loki’s.
If T. N. had any particular reaction to hearing me abruptly turn medium and let a god talk through me, he did not make it obvious. Of course, I had been talking to him about my book a lot because I was in the middle of writing it. I had told him the gods spoke through me into my book, so perhaps he was not really surprised. I certainly was, though.
I went on to light the barbecue fire too, and then hold a normal blot, and then cook the post-ritual feast. There were no more surprises that day. The big surprise came later that month. I plan to blog about that soon.
Image: Loki by Miguel Regodon
On Friday April 18, 2014, there was a barbecue at the Bundy Ranch. I was being pressured to go by my political friends who had been my campaign volunteers when I ran for office the previous year. The woman who had been my campaign manager called me and asked me to come out and lead everyone in singing Bring It Down, the Leslie Fish anarchist ballad, which we had sung at a New Years' Even party after the end of my campaign.