UPG: Loki and the Power of Names

A UPG is an Unverified Personal Gnosis. What that means is that a person has an experience with a god, whether it’s in a dream or in real life, that cannot be perpetuated by the Lore or historical precedent.

It’s pretty difficult to corroborate a UPG as they are unique experiences.

For me, the UPG I had was a physical one.

About a month ago, my sister bought a new puppy and couldn’t decide on a name for him. She bounced ideas for names around between me and her boyfriend.

When she asked me, the first thing that popped into my mind was Loki. Just looking at the puppy made me feel like that name was appropriate, but I couldn’t give you a reason. I’ve gone off gut instincts like that for years.

I suggested the name, of course, and it took her a few days to decide. I made sure to tell her, when I gave her the suggestion, that naming an animal after a god can have repercussions. I’ve always believed in the power of names.

She laughed it off, which is typical for the relationship we have with each other. She’s aware that I’m Heathen, but doesn’t particularly care as she has no religious leanings at all. Her response was that she didn’t believe in names holding power like that and I just shrugged it off.

My sister ended up choosing to name the puppy Loki. That puppy was mischievous and playful but there always seemed to be just a little something other about him to me.

After a couple weeks of having the puppy around, my sister’s friend offered to fly her and her boyfriend out to California to live. He said he’d support them by renting them an apartment and he’s wealthy enough to do it. She decided to take him up on the offer and ended up returning Loki to the Humane Society.

Loki, more than any other god, is the god of change. He is a natural shapeshifter, so it makes sense to me that my first physical experience with him occurred in this way.

My sister’s presence in my life has been a difficult one for various reasons I’ll not share, but the quick in-and-out Loki made has given me the opportunity to change everything.

Some people would write the event off as coincidental or accuse me of assigning meaning to things that I shouldn’t.

As to the first, I don’t believe in coincidence.

And to the second? A pup named Loki blows into my life for a few weeks. While he’s a part of it, my sister’s friend offers to move her to California. She agrees. Change for the better in my life occurs. Loki leaves.

It’s pretty hard not to assign meaning to something that blatant. And for me, it’s the event that has put to rest all of the remaining doubts I had about the existence of the gods.

They are very real, present, and accessible. The gods take care of their own. And that is something to cherish.

My View on the Lore

The Eddas and the Sagas, to me, are stories. Stories written by men in ages long past. Some were written to conserve poetic forms. Others were written so that the knowledge of the gods might not be lost.

And that is great. I love that we have access to the Eddas and the Sagas and that there are people out there who have done extensive historical research into the practices of the days long past.

But I don’t believe in following the practices of the long dead. Not because I feel their ways were invalid– in fact, I’d argue that the methods they used to honor the gods are some of the strongest because they were the closest to the gods.

The truth, however, is that copying someone else’s methods without understanding them just leads to confusion and spirals into arguments about what is or isn’t correct.

Most of the arguments I’ve witnessed in that vein have the same flavor. Person A knows all about the historical evidence supporting the method they’re using and wants to prove to Person B that it’s the best method to use, completely undermining the fact that Person B finds it easier to get close to the gods doing something unsupported by historical research.

Arguing over how to worship the gods is stupid, pointless, and disrespectful. Rather than argue over how to worship the gods, let each person honor the gods in their own way. What works for Person A won’t work for Person B.

I have a personal dislike for following practices based on historical research because historical facts based on archaeological digs come from guesswork. Educated guesswork, sure. But it’s still guesswork.

And there’s no way to prove that the gods want to be honored in the same way today as they did in the past. I’m sure even the gods get bored of hearing and seeing the same thing all the time.

That brings me to the second part of the unconventional view I hold towards the Lore.

To me, the Eddas and Sagas are stories. Just stories. Allegorical stories, perhaps, but still just stories.

I don’t like relying on books to tell me what to do, how to feel, or what to think. I’m capable of making those decisions on my own.

And the Lore, by itself, is harmless. Because stories are, for the most part, harmless. It’s when people start taking those stories and making claims like “Well it says this in this part, so it must be the best thing to do!” that gets to me.

There are a lot of Heathens out there who do this. I don’t know if they’ve forgotten, but the Sagas and the Eddas were written by Christians and therefore have a Christian flavor.

That, to me, makes them even less reliable. I turned away from Christianity when I was 12 years old (I’m now 26) because I couldn’t abide the idea of an exclusive God who punished and played with his “flock.” Not to mention the abject humiliation of being referred to as a “sheep.”

The truth is, I love the stories in the Eddas and Sagas. I love the insight they provide into the gods’ personalities. Their thirst for knowledge, their lust of adventure, their enjoyment of conflict both physical and verbal. It’s a great collection of stories.

But stories are meant to be told in new ways. They are meant to be rewoven, rewritten, respun. The gods have always adapted to the world as it changes around them, so I see no reason to refuse to adapt my practices to fit the world around me.

I’d rather change with the times than be stuck in the past, because it’s in the present that my life occurs. Present events may unfold because of the web my past has woven behind me, but it is still in the present that I must face the decisions I make and the actions I take.

My vision of the Lore is a simple, though unpopular one. The Eddas/Sagas give me a glimpse into the personalities of the gods I follow, but they don’t dictate the way I live my life.

The gods are complex. They are people, like us, on a much larger scale. There is no human being on earth that is exactly the same as another human being. Most humans share qualities with each other and that’s what creates relationships.

Gods are like that, too. They can be similar to each other, different from another, love each other, hate each other…they are people and they are complex.

Trying to limit a god to the personality they have in the stories stored in the Eddas/Sagas is, in my mind, disrespectful. 

Everyone has a life story, but we are all more than our stories. The same holds true for the gods. Stories can only tell you so much about a person. And gods are people.

The gods are our family. We don’t force our family members to exist within the stories that other people tell us about them. And I will never understand why there are so many Heathens out there that think trying to constrain the gods to their Lore personalities is anything but rude.