Tag Archives: heathenry

Confronting Racism in Heathenry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LokiFest Conference

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

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

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

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day Six

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”

 

 

Devotional Poem: The God I Know

The God I Know

If only you could see the god I do,

See the way he shines with the radiance of the sun

And the kindness of its warmth in spring

 

Maybe then you would understand why

I have chosen to follow the path he has

Laid before me and asked me to walk down.

 

He laid a mantle before me and asked me,

His voice gentle and his eyes kind,

If I would be his priest, his friend.

 

I told him yes and the work began,

and then he showed me where to start.

 

He showed me people all mixed up,

Unable to find a place to call their own,

Hated simply for loving him.

 

They found themselves hated for their worship,

Because all anyone else saw in that choice

Was a choice to honor cruelty and hatred.

 

They saw Him as a coward; a cruel devil

Who deceived his way into the ranks of the gods

Only to murder the one they most beloved.

 

They tried to paint him as a figment,

A scholarly invention of a terrific villain,

And failed to read between the lines.

 

It is between the lines that I found this god,

The god whose friendship I cherish,

Whose path I walk with love and pride.

 

Loki lives in the in-between places,

Swims through the liminal as he shifts

Shape into the forms he holds dear.

 

In those liminal spaces, I see Him,

Caught between life and death,

Magnifying all opposites.

 

He is the laughter through tears,

The sanity in madness, the clarity

In confusion, the order in chaos

And everything in reverse.

 

He has many names and many sides,

And he brings many gifts to those

Who dare to walk beside him.

 

He shows me who I am and

Where I am going and why I matter

And reminds me how to be human.

 

He is the one who asked me to build,

And so I built a shelter for those who

Needed a place they could call home.

 

A place they could escape the judging eyes

Of those who refused to see Loki except

Through the lenses of hatred and fear.

 

I tried to build a refuge for those who

Needed a space to just be themselves,

To just breathe without fear.

 

Even now, that such space exists,

I know my work is not done –

It may never be done.

 

Because there is too much hatred,

Too much pride, and too much fear

In the eyes of those who hate a god.

 

They hate a god they do not know,

Make assumptions they cannot prove,

And criticize those who dare to trust Loki.

 

Few gods inspire as much fear as Loki

Which is ironic considering how much love

He holds for all of those who come to him.

 

He is one of the gods closest to people,

One that understands humans better

Than some of the other gods I know.

 

He has more patience and love than

I can ever express, and he is willing

To wait for a person to learn to trust.

 

Those who come to Loki, who really

See him, know that he is a god of self-truth,

And that he will not let you lie to yourself.

 

There are people who cannot abide that,

Who would delude themselves instead of

Face themselves – these are not Loki’s people.

 

Loki’s people are full of love and passion,

A zest for life that cannot be matched, and

A fire that burns for truth and revelation.

 

We are the spark that lights the match,

That sets the wheels in motion, that keeps

The world turning around us.

 

We take our inspiration from the world,

Even as the world tries to break us down,

And we keep rebuilding, hoping that,

One day, people will stop knocking us down.

 

Hoping that, one day, people will see

The Loki that we see. The Loki that

We have all come to love.

 

The Lokean Stigma

The last time I gave an offering to Odin, I asked him for some advice on my path. I used the runes to divine the answer to that question, as Odin is one of the gods I have a harder time hearing through a godphone. I pulled Ansuz and Perthro, a rune I associate with Odin followed by one I associate with Loki. Through that, I got the message – the work I do for Odin is the work I do for Loki. Or, put another way, the work I do for Loki is the work Odin has set before me – set before us both, perhaps.

The other work I do for Odin mostly comes from people asking me about him and informing those people of his path. Most of that happens in the form of emails that I receive. I don’t receive many emails from people who visit this blog, yet those who email me almost always ask me about Odin. It only took a few emails of that sort to realize that communication was the work that Odin had set before me.

The work I do for Loki comes through the communities I have helped build, including the Loki’s Wyrdlings Facebook page, the creation of Loki University, and the publication of Loki’s Torch. Since I started my work for Loki, I have seen the Lokean community expand ever outward, with more and more Lokean communities forming and Lokeans in general gaining more acceptance among other Heathens. I have seen the Troth lift the ban against hailing Loki at Troth-sponsored events, and I have witnessed the defense of Lokeans in many organizations.

For all the growth, however, there is still more work to do. Not all Heathen organizations are accepting of Lokeans, nor are all kindreds or all Heathens. Even though we all practice the same religion, the fact that we worship Loki serves to set us apart from our communities. We are still forced to live on the fringes of Heathenry, as if Loki himself was never considered part of the Aesir (despite evidence to the contrary).

In the wider American Heathen world, especially in communities where Lokeans are barely heard of or discussed, there are several dominant beliefs that hurt Lokeans – some of which are based in truth, though that truth is often distorted. Some of those distorted beliefs include the following:

  1. Lokeans are just Marvel fan-girls looking for attention
  2. People just worship Loki so they can have an excuse to become a god-spouse
  3. Lokeans worship an evil god so they must also be evil
  4. Lokeans are naïve because they only see the “good” face of Loki and never deal with his darker aspects

With the exception of #3, the Lokean community itself contributes to the wide spread of these misinformed, distorted beliefs. The 3rd one disproves itself, as anyone with an understanding of Norse religion would understand that Loki was never viewed as evil, and that the Norse didn’t actually have a concept of good vs. evil.

The other three, however, are perpetuated because many people in the wider Heathen world generally end up interacting with Lokeans who fit into one of the other three categories – Marvel Lokeans, godspouses, and Lokeans who refuse to deal with the harsher aspects of our god.

From what I’ve seen over the last few years, as the Lokean community has grown, there are two types of Marvel Lokeans. There are the ones who view Marvel Loki as another guise of Loki, another tool he uses to get his message across to the world. These are the Lokeans who willfully and dutifully engage with the lore and learn more about Loki and expand their understanding of the god they follow. These are the Lokeans who see Marvel Loki as a potential form Loki assumes rather than seeing Tom Hiddleston as Loki. These are the Lokeans I respect.

The other set of Marvel Lokeans are exactly what they are accused of being – fans of Marvel who are attracted to Tom Hiddleston and have warped their understanding of religion to make it work. These are the ones who refuse to engage with the myths, who refuse to see past the character of a comic book to the truth underneath it. I cannot stand this type of Lokean because their practice is anathema to everything Loki represents – dispelling illusions, grasping deeper truths, illuminating the reality behind the falsehoods presented.

So many people talk about how everyone has a right to their own path to deity, their own path to their religious truth – and yes, that is true. There are millions of right ways to reach the gods, ways I cannot even pretend to understand. But if there are millions of right ways, there are also millions of wrong ways. This idea that there is no wrong way that has been perpetuated in Pagan circles for the last decade is ridiculous. More right ways mean more wrong ways, not fewer.

I’m sure that, eventually, some of the second types of Lokeans find their ways to the myths and become the first type of Lokeans – if they really are dedicated to Loki and not the comic universe, Loki will get them there himself if he feels the need to do so. I have no doubt that Loki will find the followers he needs, and that he will do what he needs to in order to procure them.

It is, however, not Loki I am worried about. I do not need to worry about the gods – they have their own agendas, their own methods. They do what they need to.

No, what I worry about is the state of Lokeans and their acceptance in the wider American Heathen community. Because we will always be fighting a battle against prejudice to be accepted into it, especially when we live in a world where so many people rely on text rather than experiences to find their truths. And so many of those texts paint Loki as evil, so Lokeans get the same label.

There are actual obstacles to being accepted by the larger Heathen community, and one of those is the fact that we have Marvel Lokeans of the second variety. That creates a stigma about the Lokean community, and it isn’t one we can get rid of because so many Lokeans of that variety seem determined to prove that their religion is as valid as everyone else’s.

It’s also interesting that we live in a world where we proclaim so much acceptance for each individual’s interpretation, despite the fact that most religious understanding is communal, historically speaking. Old Norse society was communal, and many Heathen organizations have tried to imitate that. That’s one of the reasons that Loki and Lokeans gaining acceptance has taken so long – beliefs don’t exist in a vacuum. How a community believes affects what that community experiences.

When I talk about how Marvel Lokeans – and I mean only the second variety – hurt the Lokean community, I’m not talking about a couple of people who hold delusional beliefs. That is easier to handle; those people tend to be pushed out of societies altogether. No, I’m talking about a sizeable portion of the community –what seems like maybe a 5th – that truly believes Tom Hiddleston and Loki are one and the same. People who refuse to deal with myth, who refuse to learn to see Loki through any other lens than that of the MCU version. These people are hurting our community, and yet so many people leap to their defense that it’s almost impossible to say anything against them.

Well, here I am, speaking out against them. Because they are one of the reasons that Lokeans have a harder time gaining acceptance in the wider Heathen community. I’m sick of being asked, every time someone learns that I’m Loki’s priest, the same question: “Do you mean Marvel Loki?” I’m sick of that being the first question that someone asks about the work I do for the multi-faceted god Loki truly is. It makes me feel heart-sick, that question.

I’m tired of having to correct people and explain the difference between Loki and MCU Loki. Every time someone meets a 2nd-variety Marvel Lokean, and then meet me, I have to untangle everything that person has heard about Lokeans and explain what it really means to work for Loki, all over again. It’s a lot of work, and I do it, because I am devoted to Loki and the work he asks of me, but it is a ridiculous amount of effort. The community damages itself, and then I have to work even harder to undo some of that damage.

Moving on to the second reason that Lokeans struggle to find acceptance, many Heathens assume that Lokeans are only Lokeans because that allows them to be god-spouses. That is a faulty assumption, of course, and god-spousery is 100% a valid relationship to hold with a god.

That said, it’s clear to see where that assumption comes from because there are more Lokean god-spouses than non-Lokean god-spouses. It’s hard to know if that is because Loki just really likes having god-spouses, if it’s because people lack discernment and think they have a relationship they don’t, or if Lokeans are more willing to engage in personal relationships with deities that other Heathens aren’t. The only thing I can do there is speculate, so there’s no real answer to give.

The most problematic thing about Lokean god-spouses is all the damned in-fighting I’ve seen. I’ve seen god-spouses say that Loki prefers a particular body type to another, that Loki likes one person better than another, and all other sorts of insidious jealousy. It’s the in-fighting that makes the god-spousery within the Lokean community seem so toxic and unhealthy to the wider Heathen community. The Lokean community is also the only one I’ve seen where god-spouses will make their own smaller community, which seems unwise to me considering the level of jealousy we’re capable of towards other people. It takes a special type of person to be comfortable in polyamorous/polygamous relationships, and very few people have that mindset. Honestly, if we could get rid of the in-fighting among god-spouses, the Lokean community would probably have an easier time in the wider Heathen community.

Anyway, moving on to the last distorted belief – the one about Lokeans refusing to deal with the darker aspects of Loki – is one that is true and false at the same time. Because there are a handful of Lokeans, myself included, willing and able to engage with the darkest sides of Loki.

There are other Lokeans who refuse to see him as anything but a fun prankster or a friend to joke with. That is understandable – there are also people who refuse to see Odin as anything but a grandfather-like figure. Some people cannot handle the darker aspects of their gods. I can respect that.

That said, however, Loki is a lord of the liminal, a god that resides in the in-between spaces. He is light and dark, order and chaos, all the opposites commingled. It is not possible to grasp a deeper relationship with Loki without engaging with the harsher aspects. His light is only possible because of his darkness. The order he brings comes from the chaos he wreaks. His kindness comes from the pain he’s experienced. His cruelty comes from the love he holds. These are things that can only be understood by engaging with the myths and reflecting upon them, meditating about his complexities.

That is why Lokeans need to do a better job at engaging with the myths. That is why we need to work on shifting the 2nd-variety Marvel Lokeans to the 1st type – the ones who read the myths. Because Loki is a complex god, and Lokeans are complex people. When we speak to people in the wider Heathen community, we must speak both of Loki and his followers. Because, at the end of the day, a Lokean is a representative of Loki. We are his eyes, his ears, and his voice – though we must never claim to speak as Him, never claim our interests or causes as His. We may ask Him to bless our events, to champion our causes, but we must never assume that He has done these things. To do so is to speak for a god, and our gods speak for themselves. They speak through us in our actions, and we do not need to claim they do so for it to be so.

That is the Old Way – to live in imitation of the gods you follow. So, let us imitate Loki in dispelling the illusions around our communities about what it means to be a Lokean. Let us dispel the falsehoods that we find in our lives every day. Let us offer healing to those who think themselves broken, and harm to those who think to break others. As Lokeans, let us walk through life the way we believe Loki would and never dare to say that we speak for Him. We can never speak for the gods – but we can live for them.