Regarding Loki, Part 8: April Fool’s Day

Hail Loki,
Lord of Hearthfire
Joy of the Føroyar
Mirth Seeker, Truth Tracker, Hammer Dowser

For what we do not know,
There will be answers.
For what we have not heard,
There will be echos.
For what we have not have seen,
There will be explorers.

When holy days are lost,
New ones are found.
When myths are forgotten,
New ones take their place.
When wisdom is misplaced
New wisdom shall recover it.

The fire does not go out,
So long as there are those who tend it.

Hail Asa-Loki!


Regarding Loki, Part 7: More Uncomfortable Truths

On Feburary 13th,  Stephen McNallen made a statement in regards to the AFA’s stance on  the worship and veneration of Loki within their own organization and events.  Let me be clear that I, for one, don’t really care about the stance of the AFA in regards to the hailing of the trickster of Asgard.  I think their stance is closed minded and short sighted to be sure, but I’m not the Asa-Pope the last time I checked so they are free to establish their stances and procedures as they see fit.

What I did take umbrage at was how Mr. McNallen’s words also made subtle, but broad, pejorative assessments about those worship Loki in general.  A true statement of policy has no need to weigh in on the spiritual practices of another, and I found the remarks more than a little bit out of line.  While I might have been inclined to let some of that go, and mark it up to another area where the AFA and I just will never see eye to eye, a look at the comments that followed Mr. McNallen’s thoughts was eye opening.  While some of the comments were reasonably benign, and a handful managed to even be positive, some of what was so was so hateful, miserable, and disgusting that it demand a measured response.

So let us take a look at some of those arguments, and see how what is believed compares against logical consideration.

tumblr_m58bdm9xLH1rrtg4ko1_500What Seems to be Agreed Upon: “Our experience over the decades has been that toasting Loki or in other ways calling him to our side brings – not creative chaos, not constructive change – but ill luck. This is a matter of observation, not theory.” -Stephen McNallen
The Uncomfortable Truth: There are lots of people whose experiences have been that the AFA is an organization where bigotry and racism are acceptable.  For such people, they have a great deal of collected observation…but when they pronounce their feelings as fact?  Your words, Mr. McNallen, are seldom kind.

This is the only comment truly directed at the AFA in general, and Stephen McNallen in particular.  This isn’t a statement designed to attack the organization or it’s founder, but to politely explain where Mr. McNallen may have lost sight of how his statement compares against some of the things said about the AFA over the years.

Despite his experiences, which are no doubt vast, Mr. McNallen more than likely has not met or interacted with a vast number of Lokeans or has meaningfully partaken of a great number of rituals than include Loki.  As such, all of Mr. McNallen’s assurances fall into the realm of the anecdotal account; they represent an interpretation of the events in his own life, in a general sort of way.  Those are fine for him and his organization, if he wishes to use them, but the statement he made pushed outside of those boundaries the moment he made the above implication.  As written, it is at least a bit careless and disrespectful for those whose spirituality called them in that direction.  In addition, it’s a statement which displays a logical inconsistency.

When it comes to anecdotes, you have two meaningful options; you either accept all anecdotes as equally valid (thus making every single thing stated by groups like Circle Ansuz in dire need of a public, candid response) or you can treat them as little more than opinion (making your own anecdotes no better or worse than the next person’s, and thus really not worthy of intense consideration).  To do otherwise is to establish a double standard, and I don’t think such a structure should be welcome within Heathen ethics.  It is possible that this wasn’t mean, as a line like “observation, not theory” is particularly vague.  At the very least, there should have been a greater degree of care taken in the words chosen.

facepalmWhat Seems to Be Agreed Upon: Anyone who follows Loki is doing so as a fad, likely a result of the Marvel movies.
The Uncomfortable Truth: In two minutes or less, explain how that exact same statement can’t be made about the worship of Thor or Odin without equal validity.

This is what we can a logical fallacy.  Specifically, casual oversimplification with a little variation of ad hominem for good measure.  This is aside of the rather obvious issue that any single dismissal of Loki, via the Marvel movies, can likewise be used to slander the modern worship of Odin, Thor, Firgg, and Heimdallr.

Look guys, tumblr scares the hell out of me too; that doesn’t give you a permission slip to weigh in on another person’s spirituality and declare it meaningless simply because a lot of seventeen year old girls and boys are getting all hot and bothered by Tom Hiddleston.

23141-viking-scene-art-designWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Loki is a God of chaos, and to honor him is to honor the forces that seek to destroy civilization as we know it.
The Uncomfortable Truth: Chaos doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Look, if you choose not to venerate Loki?  That’s your choice.  If you refrain because he is a “God of Chaos”(tm), you’ve just displayed that you either don’t understand Loki, chaos, or both.

The word chaos, by definition, has very little relevance to the Loki that is depicted within the lore.  To be plain about it, Loki is no more “chaotic” than Odin, Thor, or Freya.  His actions are deliberate, methodical, and chosen for their results.  Each of these actions represents deeds performed for the interest of a long term goal.  This implies a plan, and chaos destroys plans of all sorts.  Some of these plans are ones that have catalyzed the creation of Mjonir, Gungir, Slepnir, and the Walls of Asgard.  Those are things that, by their nature, have created order in the lore.  It is thus fair to say that Loki is nothing like a God of Chaos; in truth, he is a God who frequently establishes order through unorthodox means or even forges order from chaos.

It would be fair to say that he is duplicitous in some situations. Also unquantifiable, trickster, sneaky, and a bunch of other things.   It is those exact qualities, however, that the Gods called upon in numerous myths and legends.  If they are calling upon, and even proactively utilizing, a “God of Chaos”…wouldn’t that make them chaotic by association?

And, while we are on that topic….

Pimp My RideWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Why would anyone allow Loki into our worship if he was responsible for kidnapping, murder, and betrayal?
The Uncomfortable Truth: Perhaps you should ask a similar question of Odin and Thor.

If we are taking the lore at literal value, and we usually seem to be when it comes to the Loki argument, we must take into account that Odin knew everything that going to go down long before it happened.  If you believe in the Poetic and Prose Edda as an accurate account of our lore, this requires that you view Odin’s actions through that context; he knew all that was to happen, long before Ragnarok came.  We could presume Thor to know the same, yet he asks for Loki’s assistance on many occasions.

If Loki’s existance is to betray the Gods, why does Thor confess to him that his hammer has gone missing?  Why would he accept Loki’s company on the mission to retrieve it, when a single trecherous word could doom their greatest defender and forever put his greatest weapon in the hands of the very enemies he is predicted to betray them to?  None of this makes any sense, and it’s not the only circumstances which reveals itself as curious and inconsistent.

If you choose to unconditionally reject Loki and those who hail him from your house, than you are stating that you know better than some of the greatest and most trusted Gods within our faith.  One is consider a being of nearly infinite wisdom and is the unquestioned ruler of the Aesir.  The other is held up as amongst the greatest warriors that the nine realms will ever know.  Both of them make up beings you shouldn’t really be questioning.

"Hey, gonna eat that?"

“Hey, uh…you gonna eat that?”

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: Those who worship Loki should go back to being Satanists
The Uncomfortable Truths: Those who say nonsense like that should seek the help of Gothi, for such people are having serious conversion problems.

I know this may seem like going after the low hanging fruit, but this statement pops up distressingly often.  It is not the most common rebuttal, but it also parallels the “Loki is the Norse equivalent of Satan, so why would you worship him” argument enough to kill two birds with one stone.

To the credit of Mr. McNallen, he openly addressed that issue and addressed it correctly.

If you have a serious issue with Satanism, as a Heathen, than you are in desperate need of some pastoral counseling.   Even if I give the benefit of the doubt and presume that all who worship Loki were previously Satanists?  Satanism is either a largely atheistic philosophy or focused on the cosmology that comes with a Judeo-Christian worldview.  In either case, you have no reason to care.  Satan isn’t your concern anymore and never will be again.  If you are still bothered/offended by the nemesis of a religion you have supposedly abandoned, that says more about you religious practices than it does about mine.*


“Oh man, if they think Loki’s bad? Wait til they start actually reading some of the stuff I did!”**

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: There are countless actions that Loki takes within the sagas that fly in the face of everything we know about Heathen ethics, both in modern times and in the times of our spiritual ancestors.
The Uncomfortable Truth: The same can be said of almost the entirety of the Aesir and Vanir.

Freyr gives up a weapon that would have defended him and his kin at Ragnarok in the hopes of winning a Jotun bride.  Tyr’s sacrifice was unneeded, for he could have simply killed Fenrir as a pup and saved Odin at Ragnarok in a single stroke.   Than there is Njord, who abandons the Aesir at the twilight of the Gods so he can return to Vanaheim.  Freya prostitutes herself for a necklace, even agreeing to cause strife in the world of men in order to secure it.  Nanna commits suicide, unable to face a world without her husband.  Rather than meet the giantess Skadi in honorable  combat over the death of her father, the Gods avoid the fight and marry her into their ranks instead.  Than there is just about every myth connected to Odin, wherein he does at least one thing that modern Heathenism find absolutely unacceptable.

If we’re going to play this idiotic game, than we can render just about every God in the pantheon as unworthy of worship and there is no philosophy that makes this foolishness make sense.  Somehow, no Heathens seems to have trouble recognizing all of these other deities as being more than just the scarce collection of myths we have retained of them.  We seem them as forces greater than the sum of their parts, and recognize these tales as complex and three dimensional.

Just not Loki.

If these arguments seemed weak or redundant, that is because they are and they’ve been this way for quite some time.  These, however, are the arguments that are put up on a consistent basis.  What’s even more baffling is you don’t even need any deep understanding of the lore to find where these talking points completely fall apart.  No heavy, eldrtich texts need to be translated from a dead language to understand how these things don’t work.  You seem need to be able to read, hear, and think.  Yet, this is the eternally present “Loki Debate”; a collection of barely salient points, almost all of them made by people that would seem to know better in any other situation.  Which says something very disturbing to me.  Perhaps the most uncomfortable truth of them all.

It says that the decision about another person’s UPG was made before the facts were considered.  That no knowledge was truly weighed and measured.  It all suggests that a choice was made to suit someone’s preexisting conceits, and that was that.  No questions asked and no objections entertained.  Loki is Norse Satan; perhaps not in name, but certainly in function.  That says volumes about people who parrot these arguments and raise such loud objections to a spiritual path that doesn’t effect them in the slightest.  What can we say about such a person, who would willing mock what another finds sacred while lack both motivation and understand?

What does it suggest about any other thing they say, for example; are they truly giving their hard wrought knowledge when they speak, or are they simply telling you what takes away from their comfort the least?

This is not about the AFA’s policy, a bunch of it’s members being ignorant on Facebook,  or even  Stephen McNallen having to say something that I didn’t like; at the end of the day, McNallen’s statement is just a more polite, less insulting version of a bigger issue.  If you don’t have the courage and strength to allow others the freedom to experience the joy of our  Gods in their own way?  If you lack the honor to allow another Heathen the freedom to call themselves Heathen, and would alienate them simply because their methods of respecting their spiritual ancestry do not  mirror your own?  If you are so lifeless and dogmatic that you need to toe your own party line before you offer hospitality to the spiritual beliefs of another person?  Well, I got to tell you friend…those aren’t virtues that I would be proud of.**

Bolverk’s Word Brother!  Jotun Bane’s Shadow!  Knotted Goat Dancer!
Hail the Hammer Fly!  Hail the Stallion-Bride!  Hail Asa Loki!

*I suppose there could be some Christo-Heathens out there, who have taken a synchretic approach to both the Christian and Heathen faiths.  If this describes you, I could understand you still having an issue with Satan in that case and only that case…so don’t think that I’m trying to malign you or suggest that something is wrong with you;  I’m not.  It still makes for a horrifically bad anti-Loki argument, but that isn’t a conversion problem is you’ve met it with a real sense of purpose and agency.

**Yes, that was on purpose.

Regarding Loki, Part 6: Why I Care About This At All

While commentary and conversation about my blog has been overwhelmingly positive, I have heard a rumbling of discontent here and there, and it’s usually how “pro-Loki” I am.  Let’s clear something up here about my reasons and methodology.  There is going to be very some very strong language here, so be fore-warned.

Also, this.

Also, this.

I am not, in any way, proselytizing on Loki’s behalf.  What happens at your altar is your business alone, so long as it doesn’t involve little kids in an inappropriate way.  As far I can tell, via my own UPG, I don’t think He cares

how anyone feels about Him.  If you want to feel Loki is evil and refrain from worshiping Him?  I don’t care; His influence didn’t depend on your opinion anyhow, so feel free to feel however you want to.  Pray to him, worship him, ignore him, malign him, threaten him?   When I think on that, I get a sort of sensation that amounts to “same shit, different day.”.

I am not here to “fix” the “perceptions” about him; I’m here to point fingers to a completely different kind of sickness.  The kind that injures our faith as a whole, regardless of individual stances of this God or any other.

I have been made to understand that the argument over Loki has caused many leader’s to leave the Troth, which baffled me.  Than there is the AFA, who doesn’t really see the need to bother censuring or calling to heel members of it’s organization spewing racist propaganda that is completely at odds with their own rules.  They do have, however, a rule against Loki.

40232332That we take time to worry about Loki, collectively, on this scale is mind boggling.  The conversation has become a cancer on our faith that grows by the moment.  We can break professional ties, snap frith in half, and ignore terroristic threats made from within our ranks (sometime across our ranks)…because of how we worship and whom we worship.

Madness.  Doubtful of the point I’m making?  Let’s look at a cross-faith example of the same sort of thing at work.

Pope Sideous was a pretty evil bastard, hunh?  You know a Pope has gone off of the strait and narrow when the fact that they were a Hitler Youth* seems almost quaint.  The man stands accused of sheltering and protecting priestly pedophiles, shipping them from church to church before the legal ramifications of their actions could catch up with them.  Now this is a serious allegation, that demands serious attention.  This is a moral and religious leader, and how the Catholic Church handled such an allegation is important.

So when they did nothing about and continued to argue about petty matters of religious praxis which were, in the grand scale of things, fairly inconsequential?  Well, that’s a problem.

Remember how enraged and incredulous lookers on were when the Catholic Church just seem to drum it’s fingers on the counter, and try to proceed with business as usually like nothing freaking happened?  I  was enraged.  All of us who not yet resigned to the moral failings of Catholicism were.

Yet, here we stand…discussing Loki like it’s the most relevant thing in the fucking work.  Have we lost out minds?

We have organizations that aspire to acts of racially targeted terrorism in our ranks, and even a few who already are committed to engaging in such actions.  We are not a legally recognized religion in a majority of the countries of the world, and many locations have not even the legal precedent to allow Heathen to own churches or perform religious ceremonies.  We are mocked by scholars, and a great majority of the public believes us to be little more than a violent prison religion.

I just tried to look up the number of public, Heathen churches in the world.  Google didn’t even understand the question.  That’s right, Google.  You know, the search engine where “If I eat myself” and “Why does my vagina smell?” are auto-completed searches?  I ask a question about public Hofs, and it gives me a blank stare.

If I am hard on the AFA, the Troth, or any other organization?  It’s because I expect better.  I don’t expect McNallen, Aswynn, Stinson, Abel, Lusch-Schreiwer or anyone else to make their organizations and/or writing match my exact desires; this would make me no better than the people I am trying to call to task.  I do expect us, collectively and individually, the most intelligent and the most dense, to look between issues like “racial hate groups that aspire to terrorism and ear mark the lot of us as prison-bound bigots” and “some people worship Loki” and be able to pick out which one has more reaching consequences.

i1232986517_1Our religion has ancient and venerable roots, but the form it takes today is young and vulnerable.  Our battles should be picked and chosen to be only the most vital, and long reaching ones.  The Loki issue….is none of these things.  One way or the other.  These simply is not an issue that demands the level of discussion that we give it.  This should be a matter of choice at a personal/kindred level, at most.

If you or your organization commits to having an official, group-wide policy to Loki worship and doesn’t have the time, clarity, or awareness to put forth energy to address the wanna-be terrorist organizations that try to subvert our entire faith for their own vitriol and scornful egotism?  If that’s what you want to think is important?  Well, I have news for you.

Your own ignorance is causing more discord, disharmony, and world-breaking than an entire pantheon of trickster gods ever could.  This, and only this, is what I care about in this discussion.  If I was against Loki’s veneration, I would feel the same way.

* Yeah, I know; many Germans signed up with Nazi organizations in spite of having no actually sympathy to the Nazi party.  Considering the extreme gravity of the accusations against him….I can’t really give the former Pope the benefit of that doubt.

Regarding Loki, Part 5: Uncomfortable Truths

It’s taken a long time for me to return to Loki…

Some of it has been due to some other matters on my plate, but by and large?  What else can I say?  How can I say it?  At this point, people who have made strong opinion on this matter aren’t willing to be wrong.  Loki is their Satan, because that’s what they want him to be.  I almost shelved the series indefinitely, until I recalled one of Loki’s greatest tools.

The uncomfortable truth.

So let’s take a quick look at some of percieved truths of Loki’s detractors, and see what they really look like when you stop for a second and read between the lines.

220px-Snorre_Sturluson-Christian_KrohgWhat seems to be agreed upon: Snorri Sturluson’s recounting of our myths and legends shows that Loki is an enemy of the Gods.
The uncomfortable truth: Snorri Sturluson also suggested that they weren’t gods, but mortal men who people thought of as gods.  Also, that they were from Asia.  Lastly, he makes such a sorry  example for a Faux-Heathen Moses, the only way he could have been worse is to have also been elected the Pope.

Snorri Sturluson was not the last great Heathen skald, who wrote down the legacies of his ancestors in some final tribute to them.  The Prose Edda is not a literary time capsule, containing the carefully coded secrets of our ancestors.  He was not a holy man, and his life doesn’t portray him as such.  He was a politician who also knew a great deal about history as written by the Christian scholars who transcribed it.  He we famous in his time as a poet and statesman, and that’s about it.

If you were nice, you’d call him clever and intelligent.  If you were not nice, you’d call him an opportunistic coward.  Seriously, the man left his cousin on the field of battle due to a disagreement over chain of command.  For someone that they treated as the writer of scripture, the man is a pretty piss poor role model.  There is some evidence that he couldn’t read the runes, which makes his status as some unquestionable authority even more laughable.  For the sake of the Gods, he isn’t even our faith!  He is no different than any other Christian historian!  Some of you go on and on about the evils of Christianity, and you take your dogma strait from a Christian scholar.  It boggles the mind.

This isn’t to say that Sturluson is completely worthless, or even a bad person.  He is, however, not the prophet of the Odin or the writer of the Heathen bible.  We are not  a revealed religion, and we do not have any reason to interpret the lore in a “solo scriptorium” sort of way.  Even if our ancestors did have such a holy text, all we have is material scribed by a completely different faith that had no interest  in turning our sagas and legends into anything but metaphors for their own faith.

What seems to be agreed upon: There is very little evidence of any sort of religious practice that surrounded Loki.
The Uncomfortable Truth: There isn’t a whole lot of evidence for religious practice, period.  Many modern scholars don’t take the reconstruction effort surrounding the Norse pantheon seriously simply because so little has survived.  We could be missing entire Deities from the Norse pantheon, and we wouldn’t even know it.

Every ancient text that you have read has been translated and/or transcribed by Christian scholars.  Nothing written in any Saga or in any chapter of the Poetic Edda was recorded by someone who was a worshiper of our Gods.  Even if they had been, it’s almost moot; our religion is not a revealed religion.  There is no evidence that suggests that the Hammer Hollowing is anything but a modern invention, given to us by the Wiccan faith.  Does anyone have that big of an issue with it?  Does anyone storm out of sumble over it?

No, of course they don’t.  Our religion is a living, breathing thing.  If you want a holy, immutable texts…convert to a religion that has some.  Our religion, by necessity, is made up of our best guesses and efforts to honor our Gods.  If someone’s best guesses and efforts offend you, than that speaks volumes about the character of your person.

ISR_LokiWhat seems to be agreed upon: That Loki worship is abhorrent to true Heathenry and/or Asatru.
The Uncomfortable Truth: If you actually say this out loud and mean it, you are showcasing you’re own warped priorities.

We can talk about the roots of Heathenry at length.  That doesn’t change that the Heathenry faith is, in most cases, a young religion.  It has roots that extended to more venerable practices, and a few of us even have traces of this via there own family traditions.  Even those few of us who were brought up with a portion of spiritual heritage, however, will confess that much of our older lore has been lost.  Our religion is tiny and young, and every issue that gains our collective consideration needs to be of the utmost importance.

So why is there any sort of back and forth on Loki?

Take a priority check here, folks.  The path of our ancestors is under assault by racists.  There are very few worship spaces worldwide, meaning the majority of us will never have the opportunity to see the inside of a Hof.  Our most public figures are the ones that  media can connect back to crimes and scandals.  Our national organizations are split over politics, infighting, and hubris.

These are all important issues.  Whether someone chooses to worship or pray to a God you don’t like is not.

You know who else castigates people who their own personal interpretation on religion?  Mainstream Christianity…which a greater majority of us left because we were tired of seeing this sort of stupidity.  If you denounce Loki’s worship and disregard frith and common sense in the process, you are now performing the exact same fundamentalist foolishness that you tried to get away from.

What is agreed upon: Loki is of Frost Giants lineage, thus he must be the enemy.
The Uncomfortable Truth: Take this to it’s logical conclusion, and than every single god of the Norse pantheon is the enemy of the Norse pantheon.  This includes, but is not  limited to, Thor, Odin, Tyr, and Baldr.

That is, of course, as long as you actually consider them Gods…and not just a few Asian warlords that our ancestors were duped into believing were Gods, as Snorri depicted.  If you do consider them divine, however, almost every single divine being we have any history was born of Jotuns.

Of course, this is also a symptom of an even more bizarre problem.  Are we going to demand our Gods march in for a background check before we worship them?  Are we so fucking stupid that divine genetics is actually some sort of valid theological consideration?  That we would think less of someone or malign them by virtue of them worshiping a genetically undesirable God?  This is madness, and yet it’s only a stone’s throw away from where some of this discourse takes place.

DFRG_LokiWhat is agreed upon: Those who worship Loki are liars.
The Uncomfortable Truth: The only way you can effectively demonize His worship is by lying to yourself.

There are better, more historically accurate arguments than I could ever voice that defend the worship of Loki.  They consist of historical scholarship provided by people who have done their homework, researched the subject in other languages, and actually done something more than read the Prose Edda and call it a day.  I’ve seen people bring these intelligent, well researched counter arguments to the table.

They are either ignored or told that they don’t count.  They are told, in a condescending way, to go back and study the words of 12th century Christian historian if they want to see what a “real Heathen believes”.

One of these people is lying to themselves.

There is a Heathen couple that I consider very close friends.  Our families hang out as often as our busy schedules will allow for, and I count them amongst my innangard.  They do not worship Loki.  They know I do.  That is the beginning and ending of it.  We respect each others differences, because we respect each other.  It’s that simple.  Hell, they belong to the AFA…and I’ve had a few unkind words to say in regards to that organization.  I do not make the mistake of judging them as if they were the AFA, and they do not make the mistake of presuming that I speak for every person who venerates Loki.

I judge them as I judge all people; by their deeds, not by their religious convictions.  I presume the first will end up speaking for the second.

Author’s Note: This article is intended to address only those people who see Loki’s worship as a problem within Heathenry.  If you, personally, choose not to hail the Trickster within  your own home or events?  I have no issue with you; I may or may not disagree with your reasons, but it’s not my choice to make.  There are others out there who think they have some right to approve or disapprove of someone’s religious beliefs.  It is to these people alone that I address the above points.

Regarding Loki, Part 4: Sitting at a Bar on the Inside

LokiWe sit at the bar together, him and I.  For once, I’m in the rather unusual position of being the one listen to someone’s rambling; typically I’m the rambler.  I have to concede that he’s far better at it then I.  When I ramble, people’s eyes glaze over.  When he does it, somehow it’s still the most interesting thing in the world.

“…idea what’s wrong with them.” he says, stirring his fuzzy navel.  “If you desire a drink that actually tastes like something you’d want to drink, you’re some milk drinking child.  On the other hand, if you drink something that doubles as paint thinner?  You’re a man and not, for some reason, a fucking idiot.” he sipped.  “This needs something.  Tender?  Put some cinnamon schnapps in there if you please.”  He flashed the young lady a winning smile and almost in spite of herself, she turned away with a light blush to her cheeks.

“So, where do I fit in to all this?” I ask him.  He doesn’t look up.

“Smart man like you doesn’t have that figured out yet?  I’m a little surprised.” he said, in a very neutral voice; I can’t tell whether he’s being complimentary or just mocking me.  I decide on “both”, and leave it at that.  The tender came over and poured the shot into his drink.  He smiled at her again, and she looked away again.  He chuckled lightly.

“I do.  I think I do at least.” I say, voice somewhat uncertain.  I’m drinking soda, and I’m surprised at the lack of flack I get for that.  “I’m not more or less a part of things than anyone else.  However….that’s not how it works with you, is it?”

His lips turn up into a sly smile, slowly, “Why, whatever do you mean?”

I smirk.  “You know exactly what I mean, Lord; you don’t operate on fate or destiny.  Predestination isn’t something you really care for.  It’s what you can be.  What you can make.”

“Very good.  So now let me ask you something.” he turns to me, and fixes his eyes on mine.  “What do you think it all means?”

I pause.  I think.  “I think….” I hesitate.


“I think that we were both, at once, the goal and the tool.” I say at last.

He takes a swig  “Oh ho!  Look at you.  Having delusions of grandeur!  How clever!” again, I can’t tell if he’s mocking me.  I decide that he isn’t; this is a test of my convictions.

“No; it’s just the way it is.” I say, simply, “Without me, she never would have met him…not the true him; she never would have survived.  Without her surviving?  Their hall doesn’t exist.  Her writings about you don’t exist.  All of that goes away…”

He smiles, waiting.

“Without her? I would have never learned how to focus myself the way that I have.  I want to throttle her…but she catalyzed a lot of good changes.  She did some of them in the most horrid way, but it was the only way some of it could have been done.” I pause.  “I actually did mean it when I thanked her for everything…even the miserable and hurtful stuff.  Without that miserable and hurtful stuff, I probably wouldn’t be married.”

“Happily married,” he points out, “Don’t forget that part.  Married is ridiculously easy; happily married is a bit trickier.”

I nod slightly, but I’m not listening.  “There is just one thing I don’t get.” I say, thinking over things.  “She oathed to restore your good name through her actions…but she’s besmirched it more then ever; people are insulting your name due to the stuff she has done….isn’t that…”

He cuts me off.  “Hey, never said I agree with everything she does.  She’s a reflection of me, but that doesn’t make her the same as me.  She’s going through a bad turn; it’ll pass.  She’ll have to answer for some of it; than there are other things that were all part of the plan.” he finishes his drink, “Besides, whose mind did you really think she was going to change?  Some of that apparent chaos will lead to good things…and some of it already has.”

I nod at this, and think over things.  “I…still don’t know what to do though.  Where do I go from here?”

He smirks at me, lightly, as he stands up.  He puts a hand on my shoulder and chuckles.  “You stand up.  You do what you’re going to do.  Don’t apologize.  Don’t play it down.  Be.  Someone tries to stop you?  Show them what the hard truth looks like…but only if you commit to all of it.  No half gestures.”

I pause.  “I should release part four…the real part four…shouldn’t I?”

He smiles as he walks off.  “Only if it’s what you truly want to do.  Not because you’re angry.  Not because you’re hurt.  Not because you said you would.  Not because she originally said you could.  Simple enough for ya?”

I look down at my soda with a smile.  “Yeah, I think so.”

In the end, people may wonder why I continue to pray to him.  Why I continue in his veneration.  Why I don’t see the flyting on the wall, as it were.  It comes down to something simple.

I started writing this as a commentary on issues within the heathen community.  Those issues are, quite frankly, no longer the point.  At the end of the day, my prayers are answered.  My offerings have been accepted.

When I’ve needed him, he’s been there.  It’s just that simple.

Regarding Loki, Part 3 – Flyte of the Concord

In Part 2, I strongly implied that I was going to be comparing Loki against the other gods of the Norse pantheon.  It was my intent to reveal the hypocrisy in certain sects within Heathenry by simply demonstrating how we could use a similar bias and cast any of our gods in a negative light.  It was intended to be a flyting of conservative delusions; a field guide to the pretensions and hubris of those who use poor research to justify what they already wish to believe.

My intentions were good, but I recently realized that I was being an asshole.

To castigate the divine as a means to prove mundane stupidity is, no matter the intention, stupidity itself.  It was a self-serving, self-righteous, and selfish act…and when that realization hit home?  It proved the mother of an even more upsetting epiphany.

I was setting myself up to act exactly like the people I was trying to fight.  All the faux scholars?  All of the wannabe Klingon/Samurai Thorsman?  All of the “intellectuals” who don’t know how to read old Norse, but insist that everyone else needs to in order to make commentary on anything of import?  All of the overly folkish sorts who don’t want any voice in the crowd except the ones that agree with their own opinions?  In my attempt to counter that dross, I was about to take a plunge into the very same stagnation.  I would have hurt the very religious tolerance and equilibrium I was trying to defend and maintain, and my article would have ended up as the same sort of pretentious tripe that I am so staunchly against.

How do any of you manage these opinions?  These attacks?  This hate?  I just existed on the outskirts of it for a moment, and I found it exhausting; I have no idea where you people find the energy.

So let us shift our course, and allow me to be plain here; when you violently deny Loki?  You slander both him and those who worship him without thought. Not only that, you insult Thor (his frequent companion in adventures), Odin (oath-brother and also a companion in various adventures), Slepnir (Odin’s horse), Mjolnir and Gungnir(the greatest weapons of the gods, who he was the patron of),  Freya (he saved her from being married to a Giant), the moon and sun (whom he saved from being the possession of giants), and Skathi (who was pacified by Loki; her father’s murderer).  Even worse, I see that many pronounce these statements with a purposeful exclusions of lore and history as it suits the speaker.

So that is our gods, our folk, and our lore; all battered and badgered with a single stroke.  Is this really what you want?  Is this the truth that you seek?  The religion that your viewpoint creates, in isolation, is one where speculative spirituality must be reigned in by scholarly zealotry…and in history, we see zealotry turns from harsh words to closed fists quite quickly.  Do you want a faith where if the concept isn’t a hundred years old, it must take a majority of it’s material from an equally venerable stance to even be considered relevant?  Where the very notions of personal interpretation and change are seen as attacks, instead of a natural part of religious and social growth?

The Wotanists are often called the Westboro Baptists of our faith; the metaphor has a pretty well worn history.  I’m not sure how much I like the practice of metaphoring ourselves in parody of the Christian faiths.  Yet, here we are, where the obvious correlation is to call these peudo-intellectuals a metaphorical version of Catholicism.  To draw the correlation between parallal lines of semantically obsessed old men, who have more concerns for the letter of our faith then the spirit of it.

Even that comparison is too complementary; at least the Catholics have enough material to work from.  They have entire libraries of scripture, commentary, and philosophy that speaks of their faith.  They have enough material from which to build a “solo scriptorum” framework…and while it’s not for me?  If that speaks to the inner soul, then I welcome them to it.

What we have, however, is a handful of worn documents, transcribed by monks with moralistic conceits and beliefs that cast a stark contract from those of the culture they were writing about.  Is that something we all grasp, or are you only allowed to remind people of that I you can read Norwegian?

I hear a lot of people dismissing the ideas and writing of others; the standard insult is accusing people of trying to be the first “Asa-Pope”.  Come on, be honest; you’re only envious that someone is paying attention to their point of view and not yours.  When I hear the accusation of someone trying to be the chosen leader, I don’t usually hear concern or irritation; I hear envy.

So, instead of saying something worthy of paying attention to?  You build strawmen out of ad hominems, and attack them like any “true” Scotsman would.  It’s all bluff and bluster, because I don’t think you even care about being right anymore; you’re just want people who disagree with you to be wrong.  It seems that some of you no longer care about strong research, backing well written points; it’s about a binary lynch mob, directed toward any opinion that is disliked or said by someone disliked.

I haven’t been blessed with hate-mail of my own yet, but I’ve seen some of the stuff that is out there.  Let me be frank, for one moment, and say that such childish bickering weakens us all.  That is no statement made for a flyte; every one of us ends up looking like children.  Gods, wasn’t this the reason so many of you have said you left Christiandom?  To be rid of pointless egotism and infighting?  Please tell me you didn’t leave all that self-serving braggadocio you complained about, simply on the merit that it wasn’t the stuff that you had personally created/

When I offered a close friend a look at this article in an early state, their advice was to end on a positive note.  At first, I wasn’t sure of how I might achieve this; I felt spitefully sour, angrily acidic, and terribly tired.  However, I recalled reading Gronbech, and feeling moved.  Thusly, I turned to The Culture of Teutons, looking for some solace.  I was not disappointed.

Frith is the state of things which exists between friends. And it means, first and foremost, reciprocal inviolability. However individual wills may clash in a conflict of kin against kin, however stubbornly individual heads may seek their own way according to their quota of wisdom, there can never be question of conflict save in the sense of thoughts and feelings working their way toward an equipoise in unity. We need have no doubt but that good kinsmen could disagree with fervour, but however the matter might stand, there could – should, must inevitably – be but one ending to it all; a settlement peaceable and making for peace – frith.  A quarrel had no lethal point.  Two kinsmen could not lift a hand one against the other. The moment a man scented kinship, he lowered his arms.

– Vilhelm Gronbech, The Culture of the Teutons

We don’t need to agree.  We simply need to get along; nothing more.  I couldn’t care less what any of you think of Loki in the privacy of your own home, at the sacred space of your own altar.  Perhaps it’s time that, some of you, afforded the same respect to the rest of the mead hall.Mead Hall

Sit by me.  Hail the gods with me.  Accept everyone at the table, so long as they accept you.  Share wisdom.  Share respect.  Share frith.  Be Heathen.  Truly Heathen.  Our gods, no matter their name, have the right to expect that much from us.  All of us.

Regarding Loki, Part 2 – Reconstructionism and Chaos

600387_632189110140108_1271502924_nWelcome to part 2 of many!

Originally, I had a disclaimer about how my criticism and commentary are meant when directed at the works of others.  I also explained how I intend to deal with any nonconstructive mud slinging that may end up pointed towards my stuff.  This post is a long enough, however, so I split off those things to a post of their own.

In either case, on with the show.

If we use a reconstructionist approach to rebuilding Asatru/Heathenry, we find that Loki is a minor god at best.  He had no cult of his own, and the tales that established his role amongst the Aesir are infrequent enough to be ignored.

There is the temptation to ask “If Loki’s role should be so small, then why do you have such a big opinion about him?”, but that would be juvenile of me.  Further, there are some much bigger and more interesting questions to ask.

When I left off, I pointed out the difficulties of deciding what is and is not proper Heathenry.  We can easily determine if something is native to Heathen practices.  It’s a pass or fail test, and it takes little more then a second’s consideration.  What can be very difficult, however, is establishing the proper place or role something may have.  To help with this process of identifying the different parts of our faith, some turn to the tools afforded to us by recorded history.  Such people use the sagas, lore, etymology, and first hand accounts to identify what our faith is and is not.  I have no problem with the practice in moderation, but I consider reconstructionist methods to be a dangerous crutch when they are the only methods used.

For one thing, a book is not wisdom.  A holy text is not god.  A love letter is not passion.  Certainly, reading such works may lead a person to those wonderful places.  Books have catalyzed wisdom greater then the contents of their ink.  The writings of prophets have brought people to a state of enlightenment that language cannot properly describe.  Words wrought with emotion have incited passions beyond description in those that have read them.  For an excellent example of all three we need only consider the poet, Rumi.

It is not solely the context of those writing that gave Rumi his wisdom, however.  Nor was it what Rumi considered god to be that gave him his piety.  The words he chose did not single handedly bring the reader to understand his love of the divine.  It was all of these things, combined with his own personal being that gave these matters a vibrant life all their own.  It was his gnosis, his spirituality, his dimensions as a person, and the essence of his own culture that gave his words such brilliance.

Imagine that we examined Rumi’s native culture, politics, and the attendant mythology of his day; would we be able to get to those same stunning vistas he reached?  Is a connection to the divine like a computer program, where all we would need to do is plug in the same variables to acquire the same result?

I do not think so.  I feel that in order for the reconstruction of a religion to have any meaning, we must touch it ourselves.  Place our hands into the wet cement from which the foundation is formed, and leave a permanent impression for all the world to see.  It needs to be infused with our collective spirit as it exists in this very moment ; our own zeitgeist.

Some may question why their exists a need to change our religion at all, as it did not need to change in the times of our ancestors.  If someone would make such a statement, I would say that they need to reconsider a few things; our religion has never been stagnant.  Odin was not always the highest of all the gods; we have proof that Tyr held that position before he did.  We know that Frey, Freya, and Njord were once enemies of Asgard…just as we know that is no longer the case.  Our religion has already experienced major changes, so pointing out that there was no cult to Loki over a thousand years ago hardly seem to have any weight to me.  Things have changed before, just as they will change again.

Let us not forget how much our world itself has changed either; in the days of our ancestors, a snow storm could portend years of hardship at best, dozens of deaths at worst.  In times such as ours, it means we might have a few days where we can’t order delivery pizza.  Earthquakes, volcanoes, and worse still exist of course.  Our architecture and science, however, protect us  from and warn us of their dangers in ways that were not previously possible.

These are the dangerous forces the Jotuns are said to represent, but they aren’t the same danger to us that they were to our ancestors.  I am not implying that they have been conquered; I am simply pointing out that they are not the great reapers of mankind that they once were.  To be honest, I feel that humanity has become a far greater danger to the well-belling of humans that any army of giants could hope to be.

Wal-Mart.  Masanto.  Governments.  Resteraunts.  Poverty.  Gun laws.  Political Action Committees.  World Hunger.  Drinkable Water.  Religious Zealotry.  All of these are things I hear my fellow Heathens talk about in voices filled with concern.  All of these things cause humanity endless problems.  Which Jotun, I ask you, represents these forces?  These forces which, more often then not, inflict greater casualties then earthquakes and tornadoes.

If you still doubt my point, allow me to ask you a question; if a Masanto farm or a Wal-Mart warehouse were suddenly destroyed via an act of nature, would you be gnashing your teeth at the forces of Jotunheim weaving destruction upon the hard won works of men and women?  I think not.

I’m not proclaiming natural disasters to be some great, religious equalizer; it was wrong when Pat Robertson did it and it would be wrong for me to do the same now.  Nor am I not saying that all the Jotuns in the lore are misunderstood; quite a number of them are not.  However, to call them the unequaled bane of civilized life in this day and age makes no sense.

That bane has long been us.

Is it, therefore, wrong to suggest that just maybe the Jotuns have a place in our world?  A place that may have been there all along, or that has only come into being now that the equilibrium between nature and civilization has shifted beyond recognition.   This question becomes especially poignant when we bring up Ragnarok; we still are not certain whether it was a creation of transcribing monks or if it truly predated the rise of Catholicism.

I do not question the validity of examining our spiritual past; it has many answers for us.  There are also solutions in the present, however, and I feel it would be a mistake to forget that.

Loki is a god of Chaos. His actions only yield positive results when he needs forgiveness for his wanton destruction.  Our ancestors were not ones to favor such chancy and uncertain gains, so his worship would make no sense.

I really dislike calling Loki a God of Chaos; it shows a lack of understanding for what chaos actually is.

Humor me for a moment, and look at the definition of chaos.  Now, does that definition sound like it matches Loki’s actions?  Do His actions portray a “total lack of organization”?  Of course they don’t; they are meticulous and crafted, and made with an end result in mind.  Are they “confused” and “disorderly”?  No; each choice is made with awareness of the situation at hand, and is mindful of the goal Loki wishes to achieve.

Could those actions cause chaos in the observer?  Of course…but there is a long space between a God of Chaos and a God whose action sometimes create chaos in the minds of others.  If you think that sounds like a weak distinction, then I must ask you if you consider Odin the God of having issues with depth perception or Freya the Goddess of farting in the middle of sex.  Of course not; to do so would be to purposefully misunderstand those deities and their role in the lore.

Then there is the problem with his positive actions being consider nothing more then apologies and bribes; this is hardly accurate.  It is true that such is often the case, but Loki’s actions are also just as often for the good of all without such a debt being established.  The walls of Asgard and Slepnir are two good examples.  Loki’s appeasement of Skadi via his own public shaming is another.  Loki also journeyed with Thor to Utgard-Loki’s hall, and stood with him before a host of frost giants.

So we can see that Loki is not Chaos incarnate as he is so often thought of.  Further, his benevolence isn’t always repayment for his treachery as some would claim.  Yet, there is another question we must ask if we want to get to the bottom of Loki’s actions; how does he compare to his peers?  If Loki is so vile, shouldn’t the rest of the gods be perfectly respectable?  Wouldn’t they need to be above reproach by the standards and morals of modern Heathenry?  Next time, we’ll look at that loaded question in detail, and we’ll also look at why the damnation of the Rokkatru may not be as one sided as some would like to believe.