Tag Archives: paganism

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

Want to Be Part of a New Knowledge Community?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcement: New Multi-Trad Blog Community

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

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

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

In Contemplation of the Gods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Light That Guides Me Through

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Religion and Worship are NOT Dirty Words

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

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

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

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

The short answer is yes. Yes, it does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

Google Dictionary search for “worship”

 

 

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.