OH WOW. I fucked up. Or at least that was my reaction last night.
The last couple days I’ve been reading lots of blog material from polytheists and heathens. I don’t remember what started that trip (hello 50 tabs) but it was a change of pace from a previous stint of Hindu philosophy stemming from a history class last term. I always fear being a “spiritual tourist”, which is a serious problem in the West stemming from a variety of issues, but I also feel that intelligent philosophers see value in everything (plus it’s related to my major, of course). But anyway.
Yesterday I came across an old post from a prolific polytheist blogger which encourages people to tell their story. I was reminded of why I started this blog, which was a similar reason to what they described: so few of us “confess” to the ups and downs of devotional practice that we are rather marginalized in the pagan world (well, one of the reasons for it).* I am always embarrassed to share the messy stuff, especially in regards to my emotional well-being, because I’m painfully aware of the fact it’s used as an excuse to delegitimize pagan opinions. (And any individual’s opinions, really.) But, if we don’t talk about it, out loud and visible, it perpetuates the problem. So yes, this is one of those posts.
(*Though eclectic ‘hard’ polytheists are often rejected as New Age Woo and mentally unstable, we’re simultaneously somehow held up as being “more real” than a variety of other types of pagans, by dint of being more mystical/spirit-worky. Both of these are aspects of being “othered”. You can see the same thing happen in the Norse tales themselves, of course, where outsides are both reviled as perverse and treated with awe for their mysterious powers. Humans have been the same for a long time. Oh, humans. When will we grow up.)
I also read post elsewhere on being approached by one of the less common aspects of Loki than are often addressed by, and their UPG was quite similar to mine. Always an interesting and validating phenomenon, of course. I get a serious, quiet, inscrutable side of Him, not a jovial nor blunt-taskmaster version. This blogger felt this His Destroyer of Worlds side, which has interesting implications. (I’ll probably talk more about this later.)
It occurred to me at some point that my imagination has rotted. This is, well, kind of a traumatic revelation, even though it sounds like not so big a deal. No wonder I don’t have any ideas any more. My creativity has been beaten down by life for so long that it’s broken and limping. I haven’t read a fiction book in probably two years. I don’t watch TV so there’s no element there. I haven’t written anything creative or fictional in years as well. I used to be constantly in my head, imagining story after story. But I felt that “other people” were telling me it was an immature coping mechanism….so I started resisting it. I am far worse off for that. What I didn’t realize is there’s a difference between trying to mature mentally versus killing an aspect of yourself that others, especially “normies”, don’t like because they don’t like being inconvenienced by the world not conforming to their understanding of it.
Fuck other people, by the way. I’ve reached new levels of “not give a damn” recently. I’m tied of other people telling me how to live — and I’m tired of subconsciously bending to them. No more.
Anyway, I have been struggling for quite a while now to have good visualization , to write meaningful rituals, to work on my devotional art and poetry, and so on. Some of it is busyness + stress + depression, but a big reason is I’ve eliminated the positive emotional skill of dealing with negative emotions via creativity.
It’s also worth noting that last week I had an absolutely awful Tarot reading. I’m still unsure on the details of parts of it, but the general theme was that I was doing something very wrong. It was really upsetting, partly because I didn’t know what the problem even was, but I’ve been so busy with the mundane (packing/unpacking, doctor visits, prep for next term) that I put it aside to address later.
Birch has the greenest leaves of any shrub;
Loki was fortunate in his deceit.
…….So that’s the place my brain was at when something I read pushed me to do some divination. Oddly I was told to use Runes, which are not my main one, so someone wanted something in particular. I thought it would be quick, but it was not. While pondering how to word my question, I was struck how I consider the Runes to be Odin’s domain, but that I never quite “clicked” with the All-Seer. This seems really, uh, odd, given my interests and basic personality, and while it’s certainly possible Odin isn’t interested it’s also clear I have some blocks. (One obvious one is authority figures, but there’s surely others.) For me, Odin and Loki are two sides of a coin in many ways, and my perennial outsider-status obviously should link me with Loki, what of Odin and his mystic, wandering, seeking ways? It occurred to me that perhaps Odin kept his distance because Loki had already called dibs on me. (I hear they’re having a big of a “devotee count contest”.) So I asked.
I don’t have a set spread for Runes, but a list of simple ones I’ve picked up from various sources over the years. I did a 4-rune “relationship” spread I learned from a website (uhhhh link?) which of course I use for supernatural relationships. It is (1) the situation or base of the issue, (2) and (3) are the forces/emotions at play, but I tend to view them as confirmation of the Spirit or Deity, and the current obstacle or direction, and (4) the conclusion or outcome if I tackle the issue. (I never share my divination results here, though I always mean to, so here’s some finally.)
I pulled ᚷ (gebo), ᚦ (thurs reversed), ᚾ (nyd reversed), and ᛋ (sowilo). Gebo is sensible, as I am asking about my bonds to and responsibilities towards the Gods, and theirs to mine. I interpreted thurs reversed as indeed confirming Loki. (Remember I see Him in a dark aspect.) Nyd is not a fun rune to get; there is a lot of painful change here, hard work, and poverty of all kinds. There’s kind of an implication here that resisting wyrd is a cause of problems; that the resistance is caused due to fear, confusion, and emotional deprivation. (In the situation I’m reading for, you may surmise I was disturbed by this.) However, interestingly, my conclusion is blessed sol, persistence and honor. I interpreted this reading as there needing to be something done for Loki that involved a lot of emotional work on my part (and maybe physical work), but is clearly worth the effort. I’m not sure if it really answers my question on Odin, but since He tends to be ambiguous I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.
I think Loki has been trying to get my attention by taking on other guises recently. I need to get better about my discernment there. So I switched to Tarot to get more details on my spiritual growth path. I’m not going to lay this one out here, but let’s just say — it was bad. It confirmed the block on my “hearing”; I’m cowing to the dogmatic, and the outcome is the Chariot Reversed. Loki came up again, and apparently He has indeed initiated something. I am stuck, the Great Work incomplete, my beloved Hermit is currently reversed. Bad. I was given the advice of bearing the weight of responsibility but not taking on more than I can handle, and to focus on my intuition and emotional security.
To find out what Loki is trying to get me to do, I laid a second Tarot spread, another more complex relationship reading. (Tarot is arguably my strongest skill, and this is one of those reading that was eerily accurate.) Short version: it confirmed my side of the ‘relationship’. and that I certainly feel my poor health has lead to my willpower degrading. What was shocking was Loki’s feelings and opinions towards me: the Three of Swords (reversed) and the Devil. Woaaah. He’s upset, to say the least. I’m surprised/emotional about it, I’ll be honest. The Three represents sorrow, heartbreak, and rejection: it’s being let down, deserted, hurt. Reversed, there is the implication of forgiveness, but the idea that I have Hurt him so deeply is, uh, well, I’m reeling. Apparently I had forgotten how deeply the Gods do feel for us. He recognizes I am trapped, despairing, caught up in mundane and avoiding the spiritual, but also blind to or hiding from the truth.
This shit is serious. Errors have been made somewhere. I am missing some big puzzle piece either because it is hidden in darkness or I’m avoiding it. Presumably it’s an answer to the issue in my post back in May (gosh, has it been that long?). Loki did indeed come to ask me for something, and when I was unable to discern what it was, I did not have the dedication or determination to continue. I acknowledge this failure and will act to correct it.
Interestingly, this reading gave one piece of advice: the Ace of Pentacles. While this is a card implying practicality and the tangible, it also implies nature, perseverance, as well as faith and trust.
I asked Loki for one last piece of advice on what direction to proceed in to repair our relationship. I pulled ᛇ (iwaz), the Yew. This is read differently to different people: on the one hand, it’s endurance, defense, purpose. On the other hand there is its connection to death, mystery, and vision. There are some….interesting interpretations here. I mean, it’s obvious I’m supposed to re-dedicate myself, as it were. But this rune is the symbol of Yggdrasill, the needle-ash, associated with Odin, and has “shamanic” implications. Among other things. Certain hermits were noted to carry Yew staves in Britain, I hear. The Icelandic rune poem mentions Loki’s father, Farbauti, as the arrow launched from a Yew bow. Recall that Loki’s parents might represent the act of lighting striking pine tinder to create the wildfire…..What if the needles of Nal are not pine needles, but those of the Yew? Pause to note that Laufey was already on my radar this week (she’s also my phone wallpaper right now!), and toxic plants are always in my circle. Hmm.
An image of the coniferous yew branch, up close, with red berries. I loved these trees as a child playing in my grandparents’ yard.
So yeah, as usual, there’s no conclusion to this post. I have some ideas of what I must “do”, but I need to tread carefully lest my ideas turn into a neurotic need to control everything. If anyone has “Loki advice” to pass on that seems relevant to this particular issue, please do let me know (or if you’re up for a divination trade perhaps). With all the packing/unpacking I’ve decided to rebuild my main shrine/altar area, because the cabinet I obtained originally to be a butsudan-type shrine isn’t doing it for me. I was considering painting some images to hang. I guess I know who to start with.
Oh, and I obtained a couple new fiction books. I need to wake my brain up.
Also “coincidentally”, July is normally Loki’s dedication month for a lot of folks; I consider him more a January fellow personally, but it’s fine. I’m going to try to get a few posts out for it. After all, I have this blog about the Gods and then I never seem to talk about the Gods. Let’s remedy that.
Quick Edit: WordPress apparently isn’t notifying me in the navigation bar when I get comments. Just FYI.