Tag Archives: pagan

Story-Teller

I am quiet, almost silent
As I contemplate the scale
Of all the worlds around me-
Oh, what stories I could tell!

I could perhaps regale you
With a trial I once endured
I could tell you of the shackles
My captors skillfully procured

I could share with you the horror,
The despair of loved ones lost
I could talk about the agony
Grief demands as its due cost

I am quiet, almost silent
As I contemplate the scale
Of all the worlds around me-
Oh, what stories I could tell!

There are many painful stories
That I might choose to tell
But pain can be addictive-
only laughter breaks its spell

So perhaps instead of quaking
With the agony that I feel
I’ll skim the surface of my stories
Find the one that most appeals

I am quiet, almost silent
As I contemplate the scale
Of all the worlds around me-
Oh, what stories I could tell!

I may perhaps regale you
With a time I spoke too true
Before I knew that honesty
Was respected by so few

I could tell you of the moment
That I saw friends’ faces change
When I shared their hidden motives
In a heated interchange

I am quiet, almost silent
As I contemplate the scale
Of all the worlds around me-
Oh, what stories I could tell!

There are many honest stories
That I might choose to tell
But truth can be quite violent
Unless laughter breaks its spell

So perhaps instead of shooting
Arrows made of honest words
I will rummage through my stories
Find the one that’s most absurd

I am quiet, almost silent
As I contemplate the scale
Of all the worlds around me-
Oh, what stories I could tell!

I might perhaps regale you
With a time I went disguised
As a bridesmaid to a wedding
In a plot that I devised

I could relay to you the horror
the giant wore upon his face
As he realized that his bride
Had been thoroughly replaced

I am quiet, almost silent
As I contemplate the scale
Of all the worlds around me-
Oh, what stories I could tell!

There are many funny stories
That I might choose to tell
But even laughter has a limit,
Even mirth can be dispelled

So perhaps instead of pulling
Pranks that aren’t quite jokes
I will remind you of a maxim
That has never been a hoax

All the stories that you know
And all the ones you don’t
Are all truth and lies together,
Bits of reality uncloaked

I am quiet, almost silent
As I contemplate the scale
Of all the worlds around me-
Oh, what stories I could tell!

This is a song I wrote for Loki for an indie album me and a friend are working on putting together. I’m not going to point out the allusions to the myths here, but anyone who has read the Norse myths should recognize the stories hinted at.

Serendipity and Wyrd

Serendipities have been on my mind lately, and actually have been since I moved to Arizona. Things align in ways that seem random and coincidental, but I don’t and never have believed in coincidences. 

My graduate classes often have books/authors/themes that overlap with each other that are then also somehow connected to the classes I am assigned to for my work as a TA. 

Talks that I attend by visiting scholars or small informal gatherings I attend somehow lead me to information I wouldn’t otherwise have about my current research projects – small moments that interweave in a complex way. 

As an example, I read a book for my borderlands history seminar entitled Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait by Bathsheba Demuth, where she used as her methodology an indigenous one I only recognized because I took an American Indigenous Studies seminar on Indigenous methodologies. Floating Coast was the book I ended up assigned to discuss, even though the book itself deals with the Arctic and I’m an Atlantic historian focused on the Caribbean. 

I wanted to lead the discussion for Sharika D. Crawford’s book, The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making, due to my research interests, but a classmate beat me to the signup for that book, so I had to choose another one. Floating Coast was that book. And, of course, since it wasn’t my first choice, I wasn’t thrilled about it – at first. 

But I read Floating Coast in a very deep way, seeing in it the Indigenous methodologies I had previously learned about, as well as the complex abstractions of temporal imaginaries and the cyclical exchange and transfer of energy. I found myself glad that I was the one assigned to lead the discussion because I knew none of my classmates had any training in Indigenous methodologies and would most likely not see as deeply beneath the surface of the narrative. 

An exceptionally well-received and well-reviewed book, we managed to find it one critical weakness that none of the reviewers had gleaned – the lack of a discussion of the Indigenous politics of the Bering strait in favor of a discussion of the competing temporal ideologies between U.S. capitalism and Soviet socialism – both seeking to create a potential future in the present through the exploitation of limited ecological resources. Both failed to contend with the reality of ecological time, and ecological time prevailed. Ecological time always does.

Of course, that also caused me to think about time and how it is conceptualized through the Norse worldview, a time that weaves the past and present together and does not imagine a future of any sort. What is present now is all we have, and it is here because of the actions taken by those who have come before us – human and non-human. 

That, in turn, has led me to the consideration of serendipities present in my life and the working out of wyrd in my life in complex ways that I can never see because my view of wyrd is very narrow and limited. I can take small steps back and see some of those more complex patterns on occasion, but those are rare moments and I still can’t grasp the full pattern my life weaves in the fabric of wyrd. 

Take, for example, my decision to attend a small luncheon and talk with a visiting professor, Allyson B. Brantley, the author of Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism. Both the time period and geographic area are technically outside my field of study, but socio-political protest movements are interesting to me. Especially right now, as I’m working on a research paper about 19th-century Spain and how Spiritism, in the space of 50 years (it was born in 1848 in New York) had become a critical political opponent of the Catholic Church in Spain by the 1900s.

Spiritism, known more often as Spiritualism in the United States, may seem like an odd research choice for a Pagan scholar. Except it isn’t, once you realize that many of the concepts about mediumship and spirit possession trace directly back to Spiritism. I actually started out wanting to research Espiritismo because it is, today, considered an Afro-Cuban religion and is prominent in both Cuba and Puerto Rico.  

It has been really intriguing, over the course of this project, to see how Spiritualism started in New York, traveled to England and then to France where it became systemized as Spiritism by Allan Kardec. It is Kardecism (Kardec Spiritism) that traveled into Spain and from Spain into the Caribbean. Some scholars have asserted Spiritism played a prominent role in the 1898 Spanish-American War, which is what I wanted to learn more about.

However, due to time constraints and travel restrictions, visiting Caribbean archives was out of the question, so I turned my attention to how Spiritism became such a strong socio-political movement in Spain. I chose that direction because in 1861, Barcelona church and city officials sanctioned the burning of 300 French Spiritist publications in an auto de fé. By 1868, Barcelona was the seat of Spanish Spiritism. Such a drastic turnaround made me curious, of course, and the sources I have consulted thus far suggest that the Catholic Church saw Spiritism and Freemasonry as two its strongest opponents (and often referred to them as satanic). 

For those unaware of the history of modern Paganism/western esotericism, the Golden Dawn had strong ties to Freemasonry, and Freemasonry had strong ties to Spiritism, which in turn had strong ties to the occult. What is really interesting in doing this research is that I am also gleaning information about the slow emergence of modern Paganism, even if that’s not currently the main focus of my research.

So, to go back to serendipity, it was at this small luncheon that someone suggested – when they heard what my research was – that I should consider making it public via either a podcast or as a pitch for a talk. Her suggestion made me consider the paper in a new light and think about what value it might have as a conference presentation. 

Between the luncheon and the talk, I ran into a fellow graduate student who gave me references that may be useful for later research and reminded me of an upcoming dissertation defense about the folk appropriation of Santa Muerte from Catholicism throughout he southwestern United States, which I’m sure will be fascinating. 

So, how does all this relate to wyrd? These are small moments of serendipity, small ripples that connect in ways I cannot fully see. But though my sight is limited, I get the feeling that the connections are present, that there’s an unseen pattern that my presence is weaving in the world. A pattern that I contribute to in meaningful ways when I make decisions that may seem trivial and meaningless on the surface but may be unlocking the potential for a wider variety of patterns for the Norns to use to weave the web of wyrd.

Wyrd is both fixed and mutable, as there are points that can never be changed – a person’s birth and death are fixed points along the weave, but almost everything in-between can be changed. Wyrd conceptually refutes the idea of a dichotomy of free will versus determinism, allowing for the co-existence of both free will and determinism. Some moments cannot be changed, but the amount of fixed points in someone’s life is often directly correlated with how their ancestors lived and the choices their ancestors made. This is because, from the perspective of the Old Norse, we are all our ancestors in a single form- we inherent all their deeds, good and bad. Our opportunities and obstacles are a direct result of the actions taken by our ancestors, who we embody in the present.

Regardless of how many fixed points a person may have in their wyrd, there are always moments of choice. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we can always recognize those moments. Decisions that seem small and insignificant can catalyze a series of events that result in global disasters; conversely, decisions that seem critical can turn out to be insignificant. That is somewhat of a truism within history. Many small things can lead to global phenomena while one big thing may end up, in the scheme of things, not mattering much at all. Historians often chase after an understanding of why things happened at X instead of Y, when Y seemed to be more likely to cause the event that X orchestrated. Life is complicated, people are complex, and wyrd is a mystery that we will never solve.

However, it is good to keep in mind that every decision we make in life has the potential to create a ripple that echoes, regardless of how small it may seem. Sometimes, just replying to an email can catalyze a series of events that, while we may not be directly involved in, only became possible because we chose to reply to it. Small things matter, and they often matter in invisible ways. As a friend once reminded me, we are never truly able to see the impact that we ourselves have on the world around us.

We can never see the impact our words truly have on someone else, can never know what words that someone else will hear us say that they will internalize – in good or bad ways – and we can never know the full impact we make on the world with any decision we make. If we could see further than we can, we would, most likely, be paralyzed with fear. And a life lived in stasis is not a life at all. Such a life is anathema to the Norse cosmos, which takes as its core dichotomy dynamic movement and stagnation.

Being unable to see the potential far-reaching effects of our words and our actions is a blessing in a cosmos ruled by a dichotomy of change and stagnation, a blessing that allows us to live freely but also forces us to contend with the illusion that we make no impact on the world around us. We all impact the world in ways we will never see, catalyze events and moments in the lives of those around us in ways we can never truly understand. This is, I think, both the greatest blessing and the greatest misfortune that we hold.

Readings: Holiday Sale

From today until December 20th, the first day of Yule, I’m offering all readings at a 25% discount. 

Oracle card readings, usually $30, are $22. In-depth rune casts, usually $40, are $30 while the single question $10 casts are $7. Astrology readings ($20, $40, $60, and $80) are $15, $30, $45, and $60. 

Oracle card readings offered: 

Chakra reading 

Past life

Shadow work 

General

Year to come 

Deity-specific: Odin, Loki

Rune readings offered:

Single question

Nine worlds general spiritual guidance

Nine worlds deity specific: Loki, Freyr, Freya, Ullr

*Astrology readings offered:

Basic – big three and inner planets 

Basic + Houses 

Basic + Houses + outer planets 

Full- all planets, houses, aspects

*Must provide birth date, birth time, and birth year

*********************************

All readings come with a digital PDF interpretation. All astrology chart interpretations are done without using automated software – I write the interpretations myself. 

3-5 day turnaround on oracle card and rune readings. 5-7 day turnaround on astrology readings. Turnaround based on time payment is received. 

Payment options:

PayPal: kyaza18@gmail.com

Venmo: @Kyazah 

Please make sure to leave a note with your payment detailing what reading you want and your email address. 

Let me know, if ordering an oracle card reading, if you have a deck preference. If ordering an astrology chart, you must provide birth date, time of birth, and location

Halloween Sale

http://www.theknottyoccultist.com

I previously mentioned that I had started an Etsy metaphysical supplies store with a friend. We’re offering a discount through the end of the month. I’d love for those of you who follow me here to try out some of our products and let me know what you think.

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.

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.

Announcement: New Multi-Trad Blog Community

After gathering a handful of other polytheists, I have put together an online multi-trad polytheist blog community called Divine Multiplicity.  You will find a wide assortment of traditions represented there, ranging from Hinduism to Heathenry to Kemeticism to Voodoo and even to folk Catholicism (yes, some Christians do, in fact, consider themselves polytheists). If there are readers of this blog that may be interested in contributing to that, just use the contact page on the Divine Multiplicity website, and we’ll discuss adding your blog.

My column on Divine Multiplicity focuses more heavily on the theological side of my practice than this blog does, and it is called Relational Religions.

We decided to put the blogging community together to replace the long-dormant Polytheist.com website. It’s also meant to be a place for the most serious of practitioners to come together and exchange important knowledge. It can be difficult for intermediate and advanced practitioners to find a good place to discuss more serious occult and religious occurrences, and that is one of the many niches we are hoping to fill with Divine Multiplicity.

In Contemplation of the Gods

Since my 2nd semester of graduate school is wrapping up – I have one more presentation to give on Tuesday – I have spent some quality time on the Pagan blogosphere in the last few days. It made me realize just how much I have missed due to the busy school schedule I have, and I am a little frustrated and a bit overwhelmed by how much there is to catch up on. Overall, though, I’m glad I have so much to read through because it means I will have a lot to think about – and therefore write about.

One of the blog articles I read today was Ted Czukor’s “A Contemplation on Caregiving and Karma” over on PaganSquare. One particular passage jumped out at me:

The very act of being born exposes us to pain. To joy and pleasure, yes, but also to grief and pain. We purchased the whole package, and it was unfair to keep pestering God to change the rules. In fact…in fact…it may be that the gods themselves are subject to pain. And they have no one to pray to, to take it away.

This is not something that we usually consider, preferring to imagine ourselves hard done-by and taken advantage-of by powers superior to us. But think about it for a moment: If the price of human life is to be exposed to such pain as this – then what must be the price of attaining Godhead?

This passage actually slammed into me, as if opening my eyes to a new potential reality, and I literally had to spend about ten minutes digesting this before I could process it. That is generally the reaction I have to something when I come across new insights that ring as divinely inspired and profoundly true.

The idea that the Gods themselves feel pain is not a new one to me – I have explained before that the Worldbreaker face of Loki seems to me to be his grief transformed into rage, the pain of his loss an unnameable pain that drives him to the edge of despair and forces him into his role of the Destroyer of Worlds.

What actually hit me here was the idea that the Gods themselves have no one to turn to in order to unburden themselves of the pain they hold the way that we are able to turn to them and unburden ourselves. They bear their pain and our pain alongside it, and few of us ever notice that the Gods themselves carry incredible burdens, generally without a word of complaint.

Czukor makes a strong point, too, when they point out that many people who honor deities tend to blame those gods for the wrongs that fall into their lives. Over the years, I have seen many people blame the Gods for the misfortune that falls upon them, thinking that the misfortune itself is divinely inspired when the truth is that their actions have led them to the misfortunes they face.

I have also seen people grow distraught and even angry at the thought that one of their gods has abandoned them, that they have been left bereft of their gods as if being punished for whatever they have potentially done wrong. This is a thought that comes from arrogance, for the Gods are ever around us – when they seem to abandon us, it is only because we have stopped straining to hear them, too caught up in our own pain and blinded too much by the problems in our own lives to properly cherish the relationships we have with the Gods.

The Gods, who I have learned, are incredibly patient, will wait for decades, if not longer, to draw the right followers to them so that they may craft the best relationships they can with the people they feel are best suited to their paths. One of the things that I have been told by the Gods in the past is that my effort to truly hear them does not go unnoticed. How frustrating it must be to be constantly ignored!

The reason, incidentally, that I shifted my thinking from a monotheistic to a polytheistic framework is one evening that I spent at my ancestral home, contemplating the nature of the existence of a singular God. What came from that meditation was the understanding that the existence of such a God would be unbearably, unspeakably lonely – I empathized to the point I almost felt the need to escape that loneliness by any means necessary. That was the day that I realized that there had to be more than one God, and that was when the shift towards polytheistic understanding really began for me.

The question Czukor poses at the end – what is the price of obtaining Godhead – is not a question with an easy answer, nor a question that can be answered with any real degree of knowledge. There is a method of apotheosis in every religion, although some of those methods are lost to time, and it is the aim of many magical practices to eventually achieve apotheosis.

What kind of sacrifice would such a path require? What kind of hardship would a person face if they chose to walk that path? How many of the Gods are humans who simply reached Godhood? We know of a few – Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, the Dalai Lama – that became Gods in their own right. There have been many more, I am certain of this, but their names have either been lost to time or conferred to us as the names of the Gods we now worship.

I have heard as many people praise the Gods as damn them, failing to understand that the Gods themselves have agency and that having agency means that they, too, are capable of feeling. So, the next time you find yourself blaming a god for the problems you face, perhaps take a step back and contemplate the kind of pain you might be causing them.

The Light That Guides Me Through

This may be one of the hardest posts I’ll ever write because I need to discuss some of the happenings within the wider Lokean community that had me so distressed the other day that I went to Loki specifically to ask for advice.

Even as his priest, I generally don’t do that. I do the best I can to respect his agency and autonomy, and when I go to him, it is generally to give thanks through the offerings I give to him. It takes a lot to push me to the point where I go to the gods for help, but I honestly didn’t feel like I had any other path left to me.

As for what got me to that point – well, that’s a bit more difficult to explain. I cannot pinpoint when it started happening within the Lokean groups on Facebook, but I noticed heavier and heavier criticism being leveled against Lokeans by, well, other Lokeans. I saw people constantly getting frustrated because they didn’t feel that the posts they saw in the communities reflected their own experiences with Loki or the type of serious reverence and practice they felt religious practice required.

It becomes more involved than that, but I’m not going to go into more detail because I have no desire to disparage anyone who honors Loki. I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell someone else that how they are practicing is wrong – even those who come to Loki through the MCU have their own unique experiences, and I’m not going to tell them that they’re wrong. It’s a weird path to me, but I haven’t walked in their shoes – I don’t need to judge them to grow into my own relationship with Loki.

Anyway, this continuously building tension had started to really get under my skin. Because it started to seem like everyone was unhappy, that everyone was convinced that none of the other Lokeans in the FB groups – Loki’s Wyrdlings included – were serious enough in their practice and/or their approach towards Loki.

It was, quite frankly, starting to burn me out.

I hated seeing all the unhappiness, all the cries for something “more,” something “better,” something with “more finesse.”

I even witnessed someone take a UPG experience I posted completely out of context, going so far as to claim I had spoken as if my UPG was more valid than the lore in the myths and expected it to be accepted as literal gospel truth.

Anyone, literally anyone, who knows me, knows that I am not the kind of person that states my experiences are more valid than anyone else’s or that they are more “real” than the stories in the lore. My experiences are valid to me and my understanding of the gods – if I share them and they help you, great. If you don’t find value in them, okay. To each their own.

That cut me pretty deeply, and it showed me just how far away from acceptance and understanding that many people within the Lokean community have drifted.

In any case, the burnout I felt drove me to Loki. I needed his advice because this was the work he had laid before me, and I was finding myself struggling to understand what I needed to do in order to keep on the path he had set before me. Especially when so much of me just wanted to veer off the path completely and be done with all the toxicity I had witnessed.

I pushed through that overwhelming desire to just stop, however, and leaned hard on the skill of perseverance I learned through the many traumatic years I faced at my mother’s hands. My perseverance is a survival skill I was forced to learn, and it is a skill that serves me well – it is the reason I can push through days even when I don’t feel like I can get out of bed. It all comes down to willpower and the determination to see this life through, no matter what the day may bring.

So, I brought that hard-earned skill into play, and I consulted Loki. What was I supposed to do about the community and the way so many Lokeans seemed so intent on judging their fellow devotees? What path was I supposed to follow, and what was the work I needed to do? Those were the questions I came to him with, and this is the summation of what I learned he wanted from me, in terms of my work for him.

He told me that the community would sort itself out, that the people who weren’t meant to be there would not linger. He told me that he accepts people on all of his paths, and he thanked me for remembering that humans cannot fully know the gods. To assume what he wants from his devotees, any of them, is arrogance. I got the impression that he found that less than pleasing, but that was *my* impression – just like this entire recollection is *my* experience and *my* remembrance of what I heard. That’s the extent of it – my words aren’t gospel, my experiences aren’t truth to anyone but me. Everyone has their own truth. This is just mine. If we share in it, great. If not, great. Life’s paths are varied; we don’t need to all walk the same one.

Anyway, during this experience, he basically told me that the community would sort itself out and that the people who weren’t meant to be in it would not stay much longer. He also told me to focus on the Wyrdlings group but also start my foray out into the wider Heathen world and to start focusing on environmental concerns. It’s a little scary to me that I had a deity tell me, hey, watch out for the earth, especially one like Loki, because it brings home exactly how much we, as humans, have messed up our world.

The day after that consultation, a group of people left the Wyrdlings group. Quite a few of them were admins. I found myself facing a rather sudden, drastic dilemma – I had three admins (myself included) left for a 600+ person community. Luckily, I had five people step forward to fill the admin slots so the group could continue. Almost immediately, I noticed a lighter tone to the entire group.

I don’t begrudge any of those who have left – they are on a different path, and that is okay. I have noticed, however, a lightness in my heart that has been missing for some time, and I am grateful that Loki stepped forward when I really needed his help.

I don’t know what all the other work he has laid out before me will yet entail, but I feel better equipped to continue down this path, despite the hardships it sometimes brings. If there is one thing I am truly proud of in myself, it is in my ability to preserve, to continue walking down the roads the gods have set before me, even when nearly overwhelmed with despair. It is not an easy path I tread, but the gods I worship are always worth the work I do. If nothing else holds true in my life, let that be the light that guides me through.

 

 

Religion and Worship are NOT Dirty Words

I came across a question about whether Lokeanism itself can be called a religion, and there were quite a few commenters uncomfortable with the idea that Lokeanism could potentially fit into the umbrella category of religions.

I personally find it odd to refer to my personal practice as Lokeanism. To me, that suggests that I only honor Loki and follow a henotheistic path rather than the polytheistic one I actually follow. Being a Lokean, to me, simply means that I am a person who does dedicated work for Loki.

With that logic, I am also an Odins-person, a Tyrs-person, a Freyrs-person… etc, and so on. I’m not entirely sure where the title Lokean originated, but it honestly seems to be a title Lokeans use as identifiers so other Lokeans can find each other.

In all honesty, the question the person intended was more along the lines of “Does working with Loki mean being religious?”

The short answer is yes. Yes, it does.

I do not know when the idea that the very words “religion” and “worship” are anathema to Paganism began, but it is not a healthy way to view relationships with the gods and other spirits.

Religion is a complicated concept, one so complicated that even the longest definition is still too simple to fully define it. One of the best definitions I’ve come across for religion comes from Vexen Crabtree, and their definition of religion is as follows:

Religions are shared collections of transcendental beliefs that have been passed on from believers to converts, that are held by adherents to be actively meaningful and serious and either based on (1) formally documented doctrine (organized religion) or (2) established cultural practices (folk religion). In both forms, there are religious professionals who embody formal aspects of the religion and who act in positions of leadership and governance, and there are certain rituals reserved for them to carry out. The beliefs generate practical implications for how life should be lived.

Religions often include: spiritual explanations of our place in the world in an attempt to answer questions about “why we are here”; worship of deities and/or supernatural entities (including ancestors); conceptions of “holy” and “sacred” activities ideas and objects; set rituals, calendar events based on the changing seasons, distinctive dress codes (especially for religious professionals), codes of morality and action that are given a mandate from a supernaturally great being, from a supernatural force or from the will of the Universe itself; and, a caste of privileged and exalted professionals who have particular claims to be in touch with transcendental forces.

Using this definition as a guide, working with Loki or any other deity falls under the category of folk religion. We have clergy – I cannot be a priest for a god that has no religion. That doesn’t even begin to make sense.

Now, the cultural practices and the codes of morality for those who work with Loki are generally the same as those that guide the religion of Heathenry. It is actually incredibly important to work with a deity through the cultural context of that god, as such a practice lends itself to a clearer understanding of that god and a better relationship.

That said, polytheistic religions are generally a) orthopraxic – based on practice rather than doctrine and b) reciprocal – the gods give to us and we give to them in a neverending cycle of exchange. That’s a severely reduced explanation and doesn’t necessarily apply to all polytheistic religions (there are too many to do that type of assessment).

There also seems to be this impression among Heathens in general, which carries over to Lokaens – that worshipping the gods is a horrific idea. Like, how dare we kneel before beings and supplicate ourselves? That is also ridiculous. Worship literally means “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” That’s the dictionary definition.

That means every time you feel affection for a god, you are offering that god your worship. Every time you are in awe of the sheer strength of the gods you honor, you offer them worship. With every libation you pour, every prayer you utter, every ritual you do, you offer them worship. That is what worship is – what devotion looks like. That is what it means to serve the gods.

If you serve the gods, you are part of a religion. There are millions upon millions of religions. Don’t let the ones that caused you harm in the past keep you from experiencing the fullness of the religious life you could lead now, on the path you have chosen for yourself, where you are surrounded by people who have chosen similar roads.

Religion and worship are not dirty words. Let’s stop pretending that what we’re doing is anything other than what it is – let’s stop lying to ourselves and others about the work we do for the gods we love.

Sources:

What is Religion? http://www.humanreligions.info/what_is_religion.html 

Google Dictionary search for “worship”