Tag Archives: gods

A joint endeavor

Although I haven’t written much in the last year, mostly due to the stress of living in a disease ravaged world, I haven’t stopped honoring the gods or practicing magic.

In fact, in the last year, I’ve done a lot more magic. I have even ventured into the Etsy world and opened a metaphysical shop: http://www.theknottyoccultist.com

I moved to Phoenix, Arizona to start a PhD program and while I’ve been here, I’ve become more proactive with my magic largely because I left behind my group of Pagan friends in NC.

Even then, I collaborated with Blue Huntington, a two-headed doctor (Hoodoo), and with her recipes and my crafting skills, we’ve created stock for my Etsy shop that is unique and beneficial. All of our herbal products are fully charged with the intent they are meant to serve, and I use what I make in my day-to-day life as well (especially the travel charms).

The name for the shop was inspired by Loki (Knotty is obviously a play on naughty!) Loki is also a god of knot magic, and I do a lot of knot magic. Most of my items incorporate knotwork of some sort, and I have specific amulets and talismans that are knotwork imbued with strong intentional magic (I watched one of my spiritual focus talismans trip someone into a trance as soon as they touched it).

So the shop I’m running on Etsy is a joint endeavor with my Hoodoo rootworker partner, a Pagan out here who makes beautiful handmade journals, and the gods.

I’m planning on writing more here now that I’ve finally found a bit of a groove after a cross-country move, and I’m hoping all of you will support me by continuing to read my blog and by supporting my Etsy shop.

Confronting Racism in Heathenry

In a Facebook thread, I came across someone asking who the gods reject and how we know that the gods reject them. He also asked if the gods accept offerings from those with white supremacist ideologies and whether those people can be considered Heathen given Heathen literature, mythology, and history. Basically, he wanted to know who determines this since we don’t have a supreme Heathen authority the way that Catholics have the Pope.

Honestly, I think he answered his own question – given our literature, mythology, and history, as Heathens, we are obligated to stand against racism. The history of Heathenry in the United States is not a pretty one, and it is something we must fight against so that we can improve it going forward.

The first Heathen organization in the United States was created in 1974 by Stephen McNallen, who headed the Asatru Folk Assembly until 2016 when it was taken over by Flavel. The Asatru Folk Assembly is listed as a hate group by the Southern Law Poverty Center. Rightfully so – it is due to McNallen, Flavel, and their volk’s rampant racism that Declaration 127 emerged.

Declaration 127 (http://www.declaration127.com/) is a firm stance taken against those who would use Heathenry to promote racism and other forms of hatred. It has led to groups like Heathens Against Hate being formed, and the most inclusive Heathen organization (and the only large inclusive one), the Troth, often issues statements against violence committed by white supremacists and raises funds to donate to charities that combat hatred.

The reality is that there is a history of racism in Heathenry, and, as Heathens, we are obligated to face that fact unflinchingly and then do something to fix it. We cannot prevent what has already happened, but we can definitely do something in the present to combat white supremacy.

As to the question of literature and mythology, many white supremacists have tried to use our lore to justify race-based hatred. That has always been warped and twisted logic, however, as nothing in the lore justifies racism.

White supremacists will look at the tribes of the gods and say that because the Aesir and Vanir so often fight against the Jotnar that it indicates a race-based problem. They forget that Odin, the chief of the Norse gods, is half-Jotun. Loki, who is included among the Aesir, is full-blooded Jotunn. The Aesir and Vanir gods intermarry with the Jotnar at a fairly frequent rate.

On top of that, the tribes of the gods are like familial clans – they aren’t races. The gods are gods, and gods can all take on whatever shape they need to for the purposes they serve; the very idea of racist gods is an extreme perversion of theology.

The question as to whether the gods take offerings from white supremacists is a harder one to answer – or rather, one with an answer that any anti-racist would find difficult to handle. The gods themselves are not human; they are not necessarily going to involve themselves in the politics of humans. They are not here to solve our problems for us; they are not here to get involved in human problems. It is very possible and probable that the gods take offerings from people of all sorts of violent ideologies – that, however, can be said of all gods.

There are white supremacists in all religions; white supremacy is a rising global threat; it is most prominently seen in the United States because the U.S. was founded on the tenets of white supremacy. That said, however, white supremacist terrorism is the most concerning rising global threat; it is on par with the threat of Islamic radicalism.

What makes terrorism so terrifying is the understanding that yes, there are Islamic radicals but that doesn’t make all Muslims terrorists. And yes, there are white supremacist terrorists, but that doesn’t make all white people terrorists either. The terrifying thing, though, is that terrorist acts serve to induce fear in targeted populations of those who *might* be a terrorist.

Turning back to Heathen lore, none of the gods I honor are ones that I can readily associate with supremacist ideology. This is, of course, just the way I see the gods, and people can and will see the gods in different ways. I always speak only from my own experience and vantage point, and I do not ever claim to speak for the gods. I just want to make that clear.

Odin is a god that wanders the world, seeking knowledge wherever it can be found. Racists often stop seeking knowledge and turn a blind eye to new truths. Odin never does that- he always seeks to know more. Would he accept an offering from a white supremacist? Probably, if he feels that the person can offer him knowledge he doesn’t already have or if doing so aids him in his quest to prevent the end of the world. Odin does what he does for self-gain that is meant to serve the world as a whole, and he has done and will continue to do things that humans find grievously offensive in order to prevent Ragnarok. He is very much an ends justify the means type of god, and that can be hard to digest.

That said, Odin is also a god that enjoys inciting war for the sake of war. It may very well be part of his intention to have the anti-racist Heathens fighting against the racist Heathens. I know that the war I feel called to fight against white supremacy is one that Odin issued to me – I am confident that the aspect of Odin I honor is firmly against any type of ideology that promotes hatred and thereby reduces the chance at gaining knowledge that can then be transmuted into wisdom. I will personally only associate with Odins-people who view Odin this way because I strongly advocate against hatred. To me, hatred for the sake of hatred is the most vile expression of humanity’s penchant for depravity.

The next god I honor is Loki, and I feel like I can say with a large degree of confidence that Loki abhors those who hate others without cause. His devotees, Lokeans, are very often comprised of social minorities and misunderstood individuals. To hate someone for an identity they hold is anathema to who Loki has shown himself to be. In my experience with Loki, he gets upset when people judge other people for arbitrary reasons. In fact, I would say Loki is probably one of the *best* gods among the Norse gods to invite to the fight against white supremacy. He understands what it is like to be hated without cause, and it is difficult to imagine Loki ever standing on the side of white supremacists due to his own backstory.

Freyr is a god of frith and peace, but he is also known as the field marshal of the gods. He is the god who will fight to ensure that peace happens. White supremacists threaten frith; they work to undermine peace in society, and they bring weapons into spaces where innocent people are just trying to live their lives. In the lore that we have about Freyr, he is one of the gods most easily riled to anger when peace is shattered – bringing weapons into his temples tended to result in an explosion of anger towards those who threatened his sacred spaces. Freyr is a god of sacral kingship, and he embodies everything good that is possible for a ruler to hold within them. He will protect his people even from himself. When it comes to the fight against white supremacists, Freyr is a powerful ally to have.

Tyr is a god of justice and honor, and he will sacrifice even himself to maintain the order of the world. When Fenrir threatened the gods, it was only Tyr who had the courage to step forward and do what needed to be done, even though Fenrir was his best friend. Tyr understands better than some of the other gods how hard it is to severe a relationship with a close friend due to the danger they pose to the world. It is hard to imagine Tyr willing to back white supremacists in this fight, as he is the god who allowed his relationship with his best friend to be severed for the good of the whole. He is a god that will easily sacrifice one for the sake of the many and place the good of all over the good of a few. White supremacists are a minority, threatened by the rising reality of a multicultural world – this is and has been true of most terrorist groups. They are comprised of the few fighting against the many. Tyr, then, is also a powerful ally to have in the fight against white supremacists.

There are many more gods and many more ways to interpret the stories, though most of the interpretations will demonstrate that the gods themselves have no reason to be found on the side of white supremacists.

Heathen lore and mythology is firmly opposed to the ideologies espoused by white supremacists – it doesn’t take much reading to figure that out.

The unfortunate and painful reality, however, is that people are notoriously bad at interpreting myth in an accurate way and incredibly good at twisting lore to suit their own purposes. No matter the religion at hand, that has always held true – Christians twist things they read in the Bible to suit their own political purposes. They aren’t the only ones – there are religious adherents in all faiths that do that, and Heathenry is no exception.

Heathenry also seems like it is filled with more racists than other religions because inclusive Heathens confront racism and speak and act against it. The truth is that all religions are packed to the brim with racist individuals, some of whom are radical enough in their views to support or become terrorists. The only reason Heathenry seems to hold more is because inclusive Heathens confront racism head-on. The history of Heathenry’s emergence in the United States requires we confront it, change it, and make the world a better place.

It is an issue that we can’t ignore and don’t ignore the way many other religions do. So far, the white supremacists who have committed terrorist acts have not been Heathen. If they have had religious ties, it has been to radical forms of Christianity. Many of them, however, have been secular or non-religious. This is not surprising, as terrorist ideology tends to replace and crowd out all other forms of ideology. Hatred becomes the driving force; the religion of hatred consumes those who come into contact with it if they are not already shored up against such hatred through strong ideologies of their own.

I will not fall into the trap of hatred because my personal ideology is one that promotes the interconnected nature of all people and the importance of life itself. If I am ever forced into a position where I must take someone else’s life to save my own or to save the lives of others – which is the only reason I would ever act in such a way – then I will do so but I will mourn the loss and the terrible situation which forced my hand. Life itself is far too precious to throw away or steal on a whim. In sum, then, life is my ideology. Hatred is anathema to life. Thus I will stand, forever, on the side of life.

LokiFest Conference

LokiFest is an online conference organized by Amy Marsh, who is part of the production team for Loki’s Torch. It is a 5-day event running from tomorrow, August 5th, to Friday, August 9th from 6pm – 9pm EST (schedule is listed in PST as she lives on the West Coast).

On August 8th, I will be giving a presentation entitled The Importance of Discernment and the Danger of Imposters. I will be discussing what exactly discernment is, how to apply its practice in your life, and how to recognize and deal with imposter spirits when they show up.

Other presenters include Amy Marsh, Dagulf Loptson, Diana Paxson, and Silence Maestas. You can find more information here: LokiFest Schedule and Presenter Bios

Loki’s Torch Available Now!

Loki's Torch, Vol. 1, 2019

By Ky Greene

102 pages, published 7/31/2019

Loki’s Torch is the first annual edition of a collection of Lokean works that includes poetry, artwork, scholastic essays, rituals, and more.

 

Digital Cost: $7.10
Hardcopy Cost: $26.40 (includes a free copy of the digital version)

This collection features multiple full-color spreads and a wide variety of devotional work. It is the first in a new annual Loki-devotional series.

Want to Be Part of a New Knowledge Community?

Over at Divine Multiplicity (https://divinemultiplicity.com/become-a-columnist/), we are looking for more writers to become part of our multi-trad polytheist knowledge community.

We are currently seeking practitioners with at least 2+ years of experience in the following traditions:

Hellenismos
Roman Reconstructionism
Celtic Reconstructionism and/or Druidry
Slavic Reconstructionism
Mexicayotl Polytheists
Polytheistic Wicca
Traditional African Polytheistic Religions
Any Eastern Polytheistic Religions (esp. theistic Buddhism)
Abrahamic Polytheists
(Others not covered or mentioned are also welcome)

What we already have covered by columnists includes:
Heathenry
Kemeticism
Hinduism
Christianity (Henotheism in Catholicism)
Mesopotamian

If you are interested in contributing, please reach out to us. All that we ask of our authors is that they commit to publishing one blog post a month with a length of between 500-1500 words.

Also, if you know of someone who might be interested, please send them this information and/or reblog this post. We have 12 writers currently and are looking to grow this diverse and inclusive Polytheist community.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 21

Question: What music makes you think of Loki? 

I actually have a couple of playlists full of music that make me think of Loki, but just linking to those lists seems almost like an answer that is too-easy and requires no thought. So, instead of doing that, I’m going to post a few of the songs and explain why I find them relevant.

For me, this song is perfect to describe the kind of people that Loki tends to be interested in – those who don’t fit in, the ones who exist on the fringes. All of the Lokeans I have ever met are misfits in their own lives, in one way or another, and that is, oddly, something that allows us to come together in our worship of Loki.

This song, for me, is a reflection of the way Loki stands beside us even when he comes to us in his Worldbreaker aspect. He reminds us that we have the strength to get to where we want to be, even if that means walking alone through the crowds of people that surround us. He is the one waiting for us to get there, though, and he is the one who helps us find the strength to walk down his path.

This song reflects how I imagine Loki would view the people who walk through life never questioning anything around them, content to embrace the status quo rather than ever speaking out or trying to change the world around them.

This is perhaps the best song I’ve found that reflects Loki’s Worldbreaker aspect. He comes into our lives to remake them into something better, to show us that we have a say in the way we shape our lives. Often, that means letting go of the things in our lives that aren’t serving us, even when we think they are what we need and try to cling to them. Eventually, though, we will let go of the pain we hold onto, and we start to work with Loki as he brings the fire of change into our lives.

To round it out, I’ll end with another Icon For Hire song – most of their songs are pretty Loki-like, in my opinion. This one, though, I like because there are two ways to look at this song when it comes to Loki. The first is that it encourages people to stop being afraid to act and just get out there and do something, even if it ends up being wrong. With another experience, you gain the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in a situation because you’ve gone through enough similar ones and tried enough things that don’t work to know what will. That is Loki’s style of wisdom – experiential knowledge.

The second way of viewing this song is to think of it as Loki himself talking to those in the wider Heathen community who view him as some sort of Satanic or evil figure. This isn’t Loki speaking to them, of course, but it is amusing to imagine it that way. Sort of a “sure, you want to look at me that way and stay frozen in your life, go ahead; I’ll be over here, actually living.” To me, that’s a pretty Loki-like way to phrase things, but that comes from my personal experiences with him.

I have a lot more songs that I could add to this list – like I said, I have two playlists. You can find the first of those playlists here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrgRUGA8GxIDiwlnafNlbeD0Er4gKiuxj  and the second one here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCzpggNZDgRq2YBaNv9BFWLpmk4KQuz-M 

There may be a couple of songs that overlap – I have two different YouTube accounts, so videos end up added to whatever list of the account I happen to be on at the time. Anyway, enjoy the music, and let me know of other songs you think should be on my playlists for Loki.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 20

Question: What art reminds you of this deity?

I sorta answered this question a few months ago, when I wrote about Loki’s Multifaceted Nature. I discussed six different aspects there – Loki as trickster, as Mother, as a god of the air (Loptr), as shaman, as Worldbreaker, and as Destroyer. He has many more, of course, so for this question, I looked for a few pieces that remind me of his other aspects.

Man with the Tattered Smile by Cinder Rose

The above image is Loki in his guise as Scarlip, a name he earned when he kept the dwarves from taking his head when he lost a bet by claiming he hadn’t promised them his neck. That led to them consenting, with great displeasure, to the sewing shut of Loki’s mouth instead.

The next image is Loki in his guise as the Bound God, which is punishment for something he has done. Snorri conflates this with the myth of Baldr’s death, but there is no scholastic evidence that the two stories were ever connected – Snorri forced a connection. Due to the myths of other European cultures (and all of them trace back to the original Indo-European mythology), it is more likely that this is a punishment Loki endures in a manner similar to Prometheus – probably for similar reasons.

Loki’s Punishment by Nathie

Loki by Natasa llincic

The above image is a great rendition of Loki, and in this art, I see Loki in his guise as a solar god, responsible for bringing the warmth necessary to cultivate growth. While he is often depicted as a god of fire, the sun itself is the embodiment of fire. It is due to his aspect as a solar god that I associate him with the summer.

That said, I also see within him his aspect as a god of water and ice, and therefore he can also be considered a god of winter. He is, perhaps, best understood as a harbinger of the seasonal changes. The ancient Norse only perceived two seasons – winter and summer – so it makes sense then that Loki would have both a summer and a winter form. The following art is the one I consider the best rendition of Loki in a winter guise.

Sacred Dance by Develv

There are many, many faces of Loki, and none of us will ever see all of them. The glimpses we do get into Lodur’s many facets are the reward we get for the work we do for and with him. To walk with any god is a privilege and an honor, more so when the god is as ancient as Loki is, and it is not an honor that I will ever take lightly.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day Six

Question: Who are the other deities and/or entities related to Loki?

At first glance, this question seems almost jarringly like the one from day five, but I am going to take a more cross-cultural approach to it to prevent repeating myself.

I’ll start with the entities related to Loki from the Norse pantheon – the Jotuns and the trolls. He is, of course, a full-blooded frost giant, which gives him a strong connection to the Jotnar. That is one of the reasons so many people in the Heathen community struggle to work with him, as the Jotnar often fight against the Aesir.

It’s important to remember, however, that most of the gods themselves have Jotnar blood – Odin himself is half-Jotun, so there are some pretty complex family dynamics at play between the Aesir and the Jotnar. Let’s not pretend that it’s as clear cut as Aesir and Vanir = good while Jotnar = evil. That’s an overly simplified dichotomy, which doesn’t fit with either the ancient worldview of the Norse or the modern-day understanding of complexity held by most polytheists.

Outside of the Jotnar, there are a few other entities to which Loki bears relation. It is said that he ate the heart of a witch woman, and the result of that was him becoming the mother of all ogres, trolls, and witches. That’s quite a collection. Loki is a very creative god, whether you look at him through his guise as a fire deity or his guise as the mother of witches. (As an aside, I’m not switching pronouns because I still utilize “him” as a neutral article in English, as it originally began. I think it allows for more clarity in writing than constantly switching pronouns, but that’s wholly my own opinion).

Moving on to cross-cultural deities, the ones I have chosen are similar to Loki in the functions that they fulfill within their pantheons. They are not just stand-ins for Loki, as they are their own individual deities with their own agencies and agendas. These are just gods that are reminiscent of Loki in different ways.

First, there is Prometheus, a god of fire from the Hellenic pantheon. He is said to have given fire to man, and there may be myths of Loki lost to time that are similar. Both of these gods are daring and cunning, so it is fairly easy to see the parallels.

There is also Coyote, who can be seen as an even fuller trickster deity than Loki, and it may be that the two of them converse and Loki learns from Coyote. They may both learn from each other, which makes for a pretty interesting visual!

Another trickster spirit that reminds me a lot of Loki is Eshu (aka Elegba), an Orisha of the Yoruba religion. He is also a trickster, and some of his stories are pretty amusing. One of the most memorable is that there were two men who saw a stranger with a hat walking down the lines of their property. The first man insisted that the hat was red, the second that the hat was blue, and this nearly caused the two neighbors to come to blows. The reality of the situation was that Eshu was the stranger wearing a hat that was red on one side and blue on the other, so the value of the story is the knowledge that perspectives change depending on which side of the hat you can see. (I’ve only heard this story a couple times, so some of the details may be a bit off, but the point of it remains the same).

While there are Pagans who do not like to view any of the Abrahamic gods (and yes, there are many more than one) as belonging anywhere near Paganism, the truth is that the Abrahamic gods belong to their own pantheon – the Canaanite pantheon. That suggests that Lucifer originally served as their trickster deity until time passed, and he became seen as the ultimate evil.

Many people do not want to see an association between Loki and Lucifer because of the extreme difficultly modern-day Heathens have seeing past the dichotomy of good and evil and painting Loki as an evil god (which, by the way, is impossible – gods cannot be evil; that doesn’t even make sense).

While I do not see a large connection between the two of them, other than the fact that Loki and Lucifer seem to get along, there is the fact that both of them are light-bringers in their own ways. After all, Lucifer’s name means light-bringer, and it alludes to an ancient past where he wasn’t simply portrayed as the devil.

Loki’s illumination is that of knowledge, and that is a trait shared. Lucifer brought knowledge to humans – Loki does the same. Except, in the Norse pantheon, knowledge and wisdom are highly sought after and respected, and that affords Loki a position of honor that Lucifer has not been granted in eons.

I’m aware that such a connection is uncomfortable for many Heathens and many Lokeans, due to the difficulties Lokeans face because of how people label Loki as an evil god. Like I said before, however, the gods are not evil – they cannot be, as it is anathema to the nature of the divine to be evil. Evil, after all, is a human construct, not a divine one.

There are plenty of other gods and entities related to Loki, but I think I’ll stop there for today – after all, there’s plenty of information to digest and consider.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day Two

Question: How did you first become aware of Loki? 

This is actually a question that is asked fairly frequently within Lokean spaces, and it is one that I still not entirely sure how to answer. Mostly because it feels like I have always been aware of Loki, almost like he was just waiting in the background waiting for me to pay attention.

But he came into my life directly when I first read the Poetic Edda – the Bellows translation – for the first time (nearly a decade ago). I had actually sort of looked into the Norse gods before, reading through some of the myths, and I had such a violently disquieting reaction to Odin that I refused to even contemplate the Norse gods for nearly two years.

I don’t remember what I came across that convinced me to change my mind and approach the Norse gods again, but I did, and I realized that the reason I had been so disturbed by my reaction to Odin was that I had seen more of myself in him than I was comfortable with at the time.

In any case, the research I did suggested that I should read the Eddas, so I bought the Bellows translation of the Poetic Edda and began reading. I had seen enough in forums and articles online that suggested Loki was evil, but I have also lived a life where I have heard people call things evil that they do not understand.

I came to Paganism itself after studying with a Jehovah’s Witness who insisted that Pagans were evil, and I did my own research to try and understand why there was so much hatred directed at Pagans. What I found led me to the religion that I would eventually claim as my own, so it is no surprise with that background that I did not immediately accept the claims others had made that Loki was evil.

Instead, I read through the Poetic Edda, trying to understand where that prejudice had come from. Everything I read, every story that pointed at “Loki=evil” read to me as a story that people had badly misinterpreted. Loki wasn’t evil – in fact, he seemed to have one of the strongest moralities of all of the Norse gods. Sure, he was cunning and tricky, using his wit to get out of the most difficult situations, but that did not make him evil.

When I got to the Lokasenna, which many Heathens had cited as being the most problematic as it was the most convincing demonstration of Loki’s evil, I found myself feeling incredibly angry on Loki’s behalf. Here was a deity whose blood brother had failed to invite him to a feast of the gods, a serious breach in hospitality. Here was a deity who laid bare the failings of the gods, telling nothing but truth while being labeled the father of lies.

It was the anger I felt on his behalf that I think finally made me aware that Loki was already in my life and had just been waiting for me to pay enough attention for him to be able to communicate with me. My first impression of Loki was that he was incredibly misunderstood and hated because of that.

I resonated strongly with that, and I still do, because I have always been the kind of person who doesn’t quite fit into any group. Even while fully belonging, I never quite feel completely included, and I think that experience and the understanding I hold of it resonated across and helped me form a stronger relationship with Loki.

While Loki has been – and will probably remain – a god that is misunderstood and perceived incorrectly, I have never viewed him as a god that needs to be defended against those who misunderstand him. He is capable of doing that himself if he feels the need to do so, but I often get the feeling that the misunderstandings people have of him often end up helping him. Sometimes, being misunderstood is an advantage in and of itself. If, of course, you know how to wield it.