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
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Why? Because apparently I possess the common sense the gods gave a honey badger.
My path has taken a few sharp turns over the years, but I like to think of it as switchbacks on the same path up the same mountain. If I couldn't handle the turn, I'd be off my path.
In the Fireverse series of posts, I’ll be telling the story of how my relationships with the gods changed because of writing the unpublished, overgrown novel Some Say Fire. The book is a healing journey, and writing it opened me to receiving inspiration from the gods and to connecting with my own subconscious. The book is about the length of Lord of the Rings and took me about a year and a half to write. In writing it, I spent many hours thinking about the gods, retelling their stories, and being mentally open to receive their messages. There is more than I can put in a series of blog posts, even a rather long series. I’ll tell the most significant gnosis, and the most important events.
Here on the Gnosis Diary blog, I’ve been telling the story of my personal journey on my heathen path more or less in chronological order, and now we’ve caught up to where I was when I started writing it. I wanted to write Gnosis Diary because I have gnosis to share, messages given to me for humankind in the form of a novel that is at times horrifying, which some other heathens to whom I’ve shown it have found offensive, and which may be unpublishable. How can I share what I’ve learned if the book is never published, or if it’s published and never reaches a mass audience? How can I be sure people will realize which parts are actual gnosis and which are just part of the story?
Here on Gnosis Diary, I can pick out the parts of Some Say Fire that are genuine gnosis, and not only relate what flowed out when I was writing, but also interpret it outside the context of the story and tell what I think the message means. I already did that with the early post on this blog where I quoted part of a scene inspired by Sif and interpreted it as a message to humanity to stop using GMO Roundup Ready grains that poison the land. Hardly anyone liked that post, so I felt I had not gotten my message out enough, and that I needed to do something else to help the earth, and that was what led me to participate in the editing of A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.
I also already relayed a message to humanity to please stop misusing the Rainbow Bridge, and that it is not a destination but the way to Asgard, and if one intends to go somewhere else, to please direct one's companions to where one expects to go, and if one wishes to direct one's animal companions to the Northern gods, to send them to the gods associated with them, such as cats to Freya and dogs to Nehellenia or Zisa. I concluded with a list of animal associations with the Norse gods. No one much liked that message, either, but people did like the list, so I expanded it and worked it into the new, expanded version of Asatru For Beginners that I'm working on.
When I write fiction or poetry, I often hear lines of dialogue or lines of poetry in my head. That’s quite common among writers. Over the decades that I’ve been writing, I have sometimes felt that what I wrote was inspired by Odin. For example, I wrote the poem Skadhi: Water Cycle by hearing it in a dream, waking up, and copying it down verbatim. Like a lot of other writers do, I’ve often heard fictional characters talking to each other in my head. So when I set out to write Some Say Fire, at first I didn’t realize that sometimes I wasn’t just hearing characters with the names of the gods talking, sometimes I was hearing the actual gods. I had never heard them speak before. Some people possess a “godphone,” but I’ve never been one of them. I didn’t even realize it when they started talking directly to me rather than each other. I just thought that meant there was a character that represents me in my book, so I put in a human protagonist. I didn’t realize it was really them until they started doing real things, and then it terrified me, because of some of the things I had written about them by then. In the 25 years between when I became Priestess of Freya and when I started writing Some Say Fire, I had never heard the gods speak to me. Writing this book cracked open my mind to them so that I could hear them. I usually don’t experience automatic writing, either, but I did sometimes while writing this book. I put my fingers on the keyboard and things flowed out.
I call the universe of Some Say Fire the Fireverse. It differs from our own world in some ways. Many of the things in the book are meant to show how messed up that universe is, so as to show why the Fireverse needs to end and be restarted so a better world can come about, which is the goal of the heroes of the novel. Some of the gods are different in the Fireverse, too. For example, Fireverse-Odin is as different from Asa-Odin as Marvelverse-Odin is. Nonetheless, writing the book became both a healing journey and a vehicle for receiving gnosis. I’ll be writing about those things in this series of posts.
Image credit: Francisco Farias Jr. via Public Domain Pictures
Today is the 28th. This date has personal significance for me, which will be explained in a later post. This is the date on which I honor the northern trinity each month, so it's an excellent day on which to begin the Fireverse blog series. Odin and his brothers are separate gods with distinctly different personalities, and yet they also appear in fused forms and borrow each other's powers and appear as each other. In honoring them, I have learned to embrace mystery over taxonomy. I'm learning to be comfortable with paradox. Today, I hail the tripartite god by all of his names: High, Just-as-High, and Third, Odhinn, Vili, and Ve, Wotan, Wili, and We, Odhinn, Honir, and Lodhur, Odin, Honir, and Loki, and by all his other names aspects and all possible combinations thereof. On this day I say: Hail the ninefold Odin!
No Horns On These Helmets is a short story anthology with a theme of Vikings, heathen cultures, and Norse and Germanic mythology. I edited this collection of 20 stories by 20 authors, and also have one story in it myself. The genres included are fantasy, science fiction, historical, urban fantasy, and retold folktales.
I was asked to edit this anthology for two reasons: I write and edit in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and as the author of Asatru For Beginners, I know my heathen material. Right from the selection of the title, No Horns On These Helmets, the publisher (Sky Warrior Books) and I decided we wanted this anthology to have stories that got the historical details and the details of heathen mythology and culture right. There actually is one story in the anthology that has a character who wears a horned helmet, but that story is one of the humor pieces. I selected the stories first and foremost for authenticity. Some of the authors are heathen or pagan, and some are not, but they all know their history and mythology.
Link to the book:
Although they are only breath, words which I command are immortal --Sappho
When I was a younger woman, I wanted to be a Writer; I wanted to be an Author, and I wanted to write literary fiction and poetry. In 2002, that changed dramatically, because my Muse sidled up to me and suggested a romance story. I'd never done that sort of thing before, and while I wasn't morally against it, I wasn't sure if I could do a good job of it. And it didn't particularly match my mental map of myself - I dabbled in romance reading, mostly well-written historical romances, but the genre blending of speculative romance was in its infancy then.
But I jumped in and found that I loved writing romance. There are people who think that writing to that genre is easy and formulaic; I think they should try it themselves and see how "easy" it is to write to the guidelines while making the characters and situations fresh, fun, and invigorating. There's also more than a little whiff of sexism about those who are dismissive of romance entirely; romance is a genre that concerns itself with women's desires and inner lives....
Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin, Masters of Solitude (1978)
After an invasion from China destroys the US, the megalopolis that covers the East Coast walls itself off from the wilderness to the West, where deer-like witches breed for psychic skills and create a genuine American witchery. Part of the fun is seeing what witch vocabulary might turn into in a few hundred years or so. (I don't need lep or a thammy to wish you a happy Grannog.) But those nasty coal-digging Kriss just keep cooking up toxic bugs to kill off the evil devil-worshipers. What to do?
Favorite line: “Who you callin' 'cowan'?”
Gerhard Hauptmann, The Island of the Great Mother (German Edition: Die Insel der grossen Mutter) (1925)
A boatload of women, but no men, are shipwrecked on a tropical island paradise. Together they create a flourishing women's civilization. One by one, by some mysterious property of the island itself, the women begin to become pregnant. Catch: half the children are girls, half boys. What to do with the boys?
A troubling, insightful, and prophetic novel.
Confession: pagan post-apocalyptic fiction is one of my guilty pleasures. You know: civilization as we know it falls apart and it's up to the witches to rebuild. There's a surprising amount of it (for a sub-genre of a sub-genre of a sub-genre), and it offers us as a community a way to reflect on what a pagan future might look like.
I'm currently reading the latest installment in what is surely the most successful of the entire franchise: S. M. Stirling's Dies the Fire series. (Premise: on All Snakes' Day—March 17—1999 all the machines stop. Everything falls apart. The witches—among others—rebuild.) Ignore the title-by-Disney (The Golden Princess, wince. Not to mention the cover art: not just cheese, but stinky cheese. It's hard to be reading a book I'm ashamed to be seen with in public); as popular fiction goes, this is actually well-written, nicely-observed, and thoughtful stuff (on which, more in the future).
Our story so far: It's 2044. Our three principles have been having the same dream for the past three nights. One remarks, as if citing a quotation known to them all, “Once is coincidence, twice can be happenstance....” and her friend finishes, “The third time is either enemy action, or someone sending you a message” (245).