Tag Archives: real life

The Threat of White Supremacy

The biggest threat that the U.S. is facing today is the threat of white supremacists turned terrorists. The attack on El Paso is a reminder that we are dealing with heinous crimes against humanity, spurred by violent rhetoric and white supremacy sympathizers.

We are dealing with the after-effects of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, which are reminiscent of the Charlottesville incident and the white pride rallies that have emerged since the current administration came into power.

Because I am a historian especially versed in media impact, I am going to try and find the articles that discuss the dangers of white supremacy to hopefully help bring home how urgent this matter really is in today’s society.

I’m adding a page to this blog where you can find links to those articles. I am compiling the articles for two reasons – to demonstrate the urgency of the threat and to measure the threat as it escalates.

We are not living in safe times.

For white people who read this blog, educate yourselves. Learn more about anti-racism and how you can help in the fight against white supremacy.

To the people of color reading this blog, I stand with you. I will do everything in my power to help you in the ways that you feel are most needed. I will work to elevate the voices of those who have too often been silenced. I will stand on the front lines, where I am able, and act as a buffer against those who would harm you.

This hatred has gone on long enough. We need to stop hating each other for our differences and start looking for common ground where we can grow together in community.

I am tired of hatred, and I will stand as a bulwark against it.

This is the war Odin has called me to fight, and I will fight this war until it ends or until I am gone from this world. I do nothing in half measures, and this is the side on which I choose to stand.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 13

Question: What modern cultural issues are closest to Loki’s heart? 

This is a difficult question for me, as I personally think that the gods are busy in their own world, dealing with the problems that arise there. The cultural issues that we have facing us in our own societies are human-crafted and, therefore, need human solutions. I try not to mix my religion with my politics, although others may feel differently.

That said, I think that if Loki were to tackle any of the cultural issues here in America, he might start with the issue of trans erasure. The attempts to remove the right of transgendered individuals to serve in the military, to keep them from having families, to even have the right to feel safe simply because they do not conform to society’s standards of gender. These are things that I think Loki would view as worth changing, and it is, then, no wonder that so many nonbinary and trans individuals end up honoring Loki, as he is the Norse god that best embodies individuality and the right to exist as you are.

I also think that he would help put an end to the detention centers on the U.S.-Mexico border that have become little more than modern-day concentration camps for children. The rampant abuse enacted there is terrible and rage-inducing, and with the love that  Loki has for children, I cannot imagine him condoning what is happening on our borders.

That being said, I think that Loki is already present in the U.S. in a large way – I think that he is the one that has helped bring all the issues to light. There is a huge amount of turmoil across the U.S. as the illusions of safety and care that we once held about our government have been casually stripped away. The U.S. is supposed to be a country run by its people, but it has become a company run by the wealthy, with the people forgotten or left on the wayside to contend with meager handouts.

The U.S. may be a first-world country, but that is only true for the elite citizens in this particular eon. The middle class has dwindled down to near non-existence, and there is more poverty in this country than those outside it will ever know. I live in a town where the income gap between the richest and the poorest is over a 75% margin, where the average yearly income of a local resident rests between $8,000 and $12,000 (well below the poverty line) while the richest people here make well over six figures a year. The local income is so low that most residents cannot even afford housing, so they are forced to pool incomes and live in houses sometimes shared with two or three other families.

Because of having grown up in this area and having witnessed this kind of poverty so close by, it has shaped some of my own views on who we need to help as a country. The U.S. is often lauded as the country for other countries to turn to due to the financial excess the state holds – but that financial excess is doing nothing for its citizens. So, when other people around me say that we need to be helping starving children in other countries, I tell them that needs to come after we help the starving children in our own. There is a hunger epidemic in the U.S. that is rarely discussed or just brushed off, as if the country cannot afford to admit that its children are starving. The worst part about it? There’s no reason for it – the U.S. produces so much excess food every year it could feed the world without much effort, and yet so much of that excess food gets thrown away or tossed out – for no real reason. 

So, which issues do I think are culturally closest to Loki’s heart? The ones that involve children suffering, whether it is because they do not have food, they are abused in detention centers (and foster homes, let’s not forget that), or they are trans and do not have the right to feel safe simply existing in this world.

There are a lot of problems in this country, and all of them are reflected in the way we treat our children and our youth.

Worldbreaker: The Price of Liminality

I have been putting off writing this post because it requires me to deal with things that still make me uncomfortable to admit. That’s the nature of life though, and I did say I would write about my experience with Loki in his Worldbreaker aspect.

First, a little backstory. When I was around four or five years old, I was diagnosed with ADHD. At the time, my mother refused to let the doctors put me on Ritalin, as she strongly believed the condition could be managed without it. In addition, she told me (when I was around nine) that the reason she wouldn’t let them put on medication was that our family had a history of mood disorders, and Ritalin can worsen depression. My mother herself suffered from clinical depression and started drinking heavily by the time I was eight years old. By the time I was fifteen, she had died from cirrhosis of the liver, also known as Hepatitis C. She also had pernicious anemia, which the alcoholism exacerbated.[1]

So, growing up, I was given a lot of different tools to help manage the ADHD. Mostly, I was taught self-discipline and self-accountability. From a young age, my parents told me that I was responsible for the consequences of the decisions I made, so I grew up knowing that my actions directly impacted the people and the world around me.

When my mom died, I was a week away from being fifteen. Everything I had ever been taught about the world was swept out from under me. Suddenly, all the confidence I had in navigating my life was stolen from me, and I started feeling like the world was against me, and I started living with that preset notion in my head. My mother was gone, my dad was basically never home because he worked 80 hours a week, and my younger sister treated me like a convenient emotional punching bag. The only person in my life that really seemed to be there for me was my maternal grandmother – if she hadn’t been there for me, I don’t know that I could have made it through high school at all.

When I graduated high school, I ended up moving to Virginia for a couple months with my fiancé. We ended up in a really bad car accident that left me with two metal rods in my right leg. I moved back home shortly after that, and it wasn’t even a few months after that, I learned that my fiancé was sleeping around behind my back. Even worse? It was with my sister. I was so desperate for love that I didn’t break up with him; I put up with it going on in my house for nearly a year before I finally couldn’t take it anymore. The relationship with him was never healthy, but I didn’t realize that back then because I had grown up in an abusive home that made me think any affection at all was better than none.

A few years passed, and I ended up dating a guy online who moved up here to be with me. Except, within six months (we had dated for three years online), we were constantly fighting because he refused to get work and resented me for making him move. We broke up, and not even a week afterwards, he was dating my sister (incidentally, they are still together today). That said, however, I do give him credit in one area – he had the decency to break up with me first. We’ve had a difficult and tense relationship ever since then, but my sister and I have mostly repaired ours. Mostly because she stopped treating me like her emotional punching bag, matured, and actually became a respectable human being. It’s amazing what a decade will do for some people’s personalities.

I started working with Loki between the two horrendous relationships mentioned above, and I had started to really communicate with the gods. The situation at home (where I lived with my dad, my sister, and my ex she was dating) got so bad that I finally petitioned Loki for help. One day, a dog came into our house, and my sister gave him Loki’s name. Two months later, the dog was gone (they returned him to the humane society), and my sister and her boyfriend were living in California.

I chose to petition Loki for help because I felt like I was breaking. I couldn’t get away from the stressful emotional environment, and I didn’t feel like any of the other gods could affect change to the same magnitude I felt Loki could. So, I asked him for help getting them out of the house. I didn’t ask for anything specific, just told him I really, really needed some space from them so I could heal. He essentially sent them to California, where they lived with one of my sister’s friends and worked for two years. Nothing untoward happened to them there; Loki wasn’t cruel about the change he worked into their lives.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I could breathe. I was struggling pretty hard, especially because a few months prior, I’d been told by my ex that I was the craziest bitch he’d ever met. That actually hit me so hard that I decided to start seeing a therapist. Because I thought maybe he was right. I’d spent my teenage years moving from job to job, after all, unable to stay at one more than three or four months at a time (I quit jobs often as a teenager because I got bored). I also felt like I couldn’t maintain healthy relationships with other people, whether they were friends or partners. In addition, I had defaulted on student loans from the online college I obtained my AA in Business Administration from, and I was mired in student debt (still am, as I’m in graduate school). For the most part, I had given up on ever getting anything good into my life. That statement from my ex, though – that broke through my depressive haze, and I decided that I needed to do something about it.

Oh, and as a note? I didn’t start working with the Norse gods until I was in my early twenties. My life before Loki was FUBAR, and I freely acknowledge that. The majority of that was the fact I grew up in a home that was emotionally, verbally, physically, and mentally abusive. I had to unlearn a lot of toxic behavior, and, to this day, I have to continuously monitor my thought patterns to prevent myself from falling back into old ones. I had to become metacognitive to survive my childhood – it is as much curse as gift, as I can never stop analyzing the situations and people around me, looking for where the next threat might come from. I may never experience a life where I’m not hyper-vigilant.

I’ve discussed some of my experiences with combat-tested soldiers who told me my childhood sounded as heinous as some of the war zones they’ve been in. I wouldn’t wish my childhood on anyone, not even the people who put me through the hell that it was. In case it isn’t clear, this is the primary reason I chose to swear the oath Odin asked from me. I was already a warrior, already dealing with the terrors of warfare, when he came into my life. Hell, for all I know, he was the one orchestrating from behind the scenes to ensure my entry into his service. I’ve made my peace with that, for the most part.

Loki entering my life helped stabilize it. Yes, he introduced a lot of change in a short amount of time. I started therapy, and I had an Adult ADHD diagnosis within four months. Once I had the diagnosis and my therapist had suggested I might want to try medication, I set up a meeting with a physician to talk about prescriptions. I chose to see a psychologist rather than a psychiatrist because my mother, along with alcohol, loved popping narcotics down her throat like they were candy. I didn’t want to risk that, and it took a long time, and obsessive research, for me to actually decide to try pills. I decided on Adderall.

The first few months on the medication seemed like the best thing that had ever happened to me. It was like, suddenly, I could actually process what was going on around me in a way that made sense. I started combining the cognitive behavioral tools my psychologist had given me with the medication, and my life seemed to come together. I brought my student loans out of default, had my Title IV rights restored, and enrolled in the local community college. I continued going to therapy and taking medication – for about five months.

I stopped taking the medication because my online friends from World of Warcraft – a game I had played for eight years by that time – told me I was acting aggressive. I was leading a guild at the time – I’ve led quite a few – and that was the one and only experience I’ve ever had where my officers actually arranged a meeting with me to tell me that my aggression was getting so out-of-hand that they felt I needed to step down from the GM position.

That bothered me at a level I cannot express – I have honed my leadership skills over the last decade and a half, and I know that, while I will never be the best leader that I want to be, I am a pretty kickass leader. I generally treat the people I lead like they are my family. The family I wish I had had growing up, I mean, because I really like other people. I genuinely enjoy being around other humans. I genuinely care for other people. To have my best friends telling me that I was getting so aggressive that I was hurting people hurt me. I stopped taking the Adderall.

I continued using the tools I had been given, but I also stopped going to therapy. I focused on my schoolwork, and I thrived in school. I’ve always enjoyed learning, and I find challenging material frustrating but generally worth doing. The only exception to that is physics. It is the one field I’ve found where my brain just refuses to wrap itself around the concepts. Annoyingly, my dad understands physics almost inherently. That still kinda pisses me off.

Anyway, I end up finishing my Associate in Arts (it had been about 8 years since my AA in Business Administration, and I didn’t feel comfortable going straight into university). Once I finished my AA, I transferred to the local university. Once there, I decided I should take Adderall again, and I started therapy again. I only used the meds for about a month before deciding that it was a bad idea. I finished my BA in History without relying on them.

When I graduated, I decided to find a job, and I found one working for a hotel as a night auditor. I remembered how hard I had found working as a teenager, so I decided that maybe what I needed to do was use Adderall for work and not school. I started taking the medication again and resumed therapy – a person who has ADHD needs to be seeing a therapist if they are taking meds; it’s not recommended to just take meds by themselves. Now, this job was supposed to just be a summer job because I knew I was starting grad school in the fall. Just as a note, I was accepted into the graduate program at my alma mater when I wasn’t taking Adderall, and I scored in the 67th percentile (Verbal) and 25th percentile (Math) with a 5.5/6 (Writing) on the GRE without studying – I took 21 credits my last semester in undergrad, so I literally didn’t have time to study. All of that, no meds. Like I said before though, school was never a problem for me because I have always loved to learn.

Anyway, I started this job at the hotel, and I even helped get my friend a job there. It took them under two months to fire me, and I still don’t know why. They never gave me a direct reason, even though I asked them directly why. They just said, “We don’t think we’re a good fit,” which is a terrible reason. I was really upset over it for a good week; I had actually really enjoyed the job and the people there, even though I hated the hours (it was a 3rd shift job). I still remember most of the people there affectionately, and I don’t bear anyone there any ill will.

I ended up working a temp job in the bookstore before school started back, and that went well. Then graduate school started, and it seemed to me like everything was going fine. My classes went well, and I was TAing without a problem. Yet, one day, about halfway through the semester, one of my friends tells me that I have been a complete bitch for the entire semester and that one of our mutual friends had basically become afraid of telling me when he disagreed with me or when he didn’t want to do something. Essentially, I was starting to treat my friends like they owed me their time.

I didn’t really trust what this friend told me, as we had had a huge fight over the summer and were still struggling to regain our feet with each other. I had, however, become uncomfortable with the fact that I could tell that I was hurting the mutual friend she had mentioned (who is my ritually adopted brother and the heir to my familial spiritual tradition). I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I devised a test that was designed to essentially navigate around any of the blinders my brain was throwing up.

I didn’t really trust anyone around me, at that point, but I still retained the absolute trust I have in my best friend in the world, who lives in Texas. So, I sent him a question to see if he could answer it. I figured, if he could answer the question I sent him, it would give me a good baseline to use as the test with my other friend. I had started to genuinely doubt that my brother-friend even cared about being friends with me, so I had to find a way to determine whether or not he cared at all. So, I sent the question to my Texan friend who had no problem answering it. Then, I asked my brother-friend the question. I legitimately expected him to be unable to answer it, but he answered it without pausing.

At that moment, it was like a cold bucket of ice washed over me. I realized that the only thing that had changed since the previous year was that I was taking Adderall. I texted my roommate and told her to find it and throw it out because I didn’t even want to see it again. I spent the next week obsessively researching rare side effects of the medication. Turns out, in about 0.02% of people, the medication can induce persecutory delusions.

The medication that was supposed to be making me better was causing me to distrust my friends. It was the cause – Adderall is a psychotropic drug, meaning it literally changes a person’s brain chemistry. I had worried, from the beginning, that taking a psychotropic drug would change my personality and make me a different person. My therapist had assured me it would not do that; rather, it would just unlock the potential my disorder had kept me from using. He was wrong, but I do not fault him for that. The side effect I experienced happens in 0.02% of people; it is rare, and I did not expect to be one of those people.

Once I realized what had happened, I had a conversation with my sister about it. She told me there was a day where I told her I was genuinely afraid that her boyfriend would kill me if I got in a car with him. I don’t remember this conversation taking place, but I don’t doubt it happened. I was, after all, convinced that one of my best friends, who is literally my ritually adopted brother, was never a friend to me at all and was really just acting like my friend so that he could turn around and hurt me later. That’s what persecutory delusions are. They are insidious and terrifying. I walked on the verge of insanity. It is not a place I ever want to visit again.

Throughout this entire experience, I was continuing to do my work for the gods. I was honoring Loki regularly, and I didn’t feel like anything was amiss. It was when I realized that I had been suffering those delusions that I realized that I had been given a gift. Loki had given me the experience of knowing what it is like to stand on the precipice between extreme opposites. He showed me how hard it can be to resist the pull towards insanity/destruction/disorder and how vigilant a person has to be to guard against that pull.

I’ve discussed elsewhere how Loki can be seen as a god of the in-between, of liminal spaces. The thing about the liminal? It isn’t an energy that can be controlled. When Loki appears as the Worldbreaker that brings about Ragnarok, he is no longer in control of his own abilities. He is, instead, caught up in the force of his own power. In many ways, this greatly echoes how Shiva ends up destroying the world in Hindu mythology.

I understand at a level that I cannot adequately express what it means to be beyond your own control. I thank the gods, and Loki foremost of all, that I found a way to trick my brain so that I could see through, even for a moment, the delusions that the Adderall induced in me. If Loki hadn’t taught me how to find the loopholes, how to look for solutions to problems in places that other people may never consider, I may have been subsumed. There’s no telling who I would have become if that happened, but I doubt I would have liked myself very much.

So, did Loki wreak havoc in my life? Absolutely not. I made the choices. I am the one accountable for the actions I took, and the consequences of those actions are not Loki’s fault nor his responsibility. Did Loki have a hand in showing me how hard it is to live within the liminal? Yes, but I cannot state that experience was one he intentionally showed me or one that I just recognized as a lesson he would try to teach to people, if they were willing to listen. I’m generally willing to listen, so I end up heavily analyzing situations I find myself in.

What Loki really helped me do here was see through the delusions and the illusions around me. He is a god of guile, and it was sly maneuvering that allowed me to solve the problem that threatened to destroy my life. Loki taught me how to see past illusions to the truth. Without that knowledge, I have no idea how that situation would have turned out, but I can’t see it ending well. I have been incredibly lucky that my friends have been so understanding about the entire situation, and I have worked hard to rectify the mistakes I made with my friends during that entire fiasco.

There’s a reason it took me so long to write this post. This is not a chapter of my life that I am proud of; it isn’t an easy thing to share. The hardest truths, however, are the ones that lay the deepest inside us. The ones that hurt the most to expose are the ones most valuable to share. I risk next to nothing by sharing this story on the internet, yet, in some ways, I risk everything because I risk being seen. Really seen. And that has always, and may always, terrify me. Yet here I am, stepping forward.

Take from my story what you will.


[1] Pernicious anemia is a disease caused by the lack of intrinsic factor, which is what people need to properly absorb the vitamin B12. Alcohol prevents absorption of even the B12 shots used to treat the condition. Before B12 was available as an injection and/or supplement (studies vary on the effectiveness), pernicious anemia was a fatal disease.

For Loki: A Lost Reflection Found

So, I found a reflection I wrote back in April when I was going through my notes on my phone. Sometimes, I forget that I write reflections on my phone, but this particular one seems relevant to share here, as it was written on April 1st, which is often considered a particularly good day to honor Loki.

I feel like I’m always dancing on the edge of every group I join, and I wonder what fitting in would feel like – would it hurt? Would it feel like truth, like coming home, like being free? Would I find acceptance? Would someone finally embrace me, with all my faults and imperfections, and tell me, finally, that I’m allowed to breathe? Or would it be just another moment of loss, of self-defeat? Would I have to give up part of myself, sacrifice a bit of me, in order to find a way to fit? 

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what the truth is. I doubt I’ll ever know because the truth is, I’ll never fit. I’ve never fit, and I’ve tried. The gods know I’ve tried to fit in; I have tried to adapt. I have tried to remake myself in the image of the groups I can see parts of me in. But nothing ever sticks, not really. What does stick doesn’t quite take, doesn’t quite mold itself to my skin, doesn’t quite embed itself in my flesh, doesn’t quite mesh with my mind. Always, something holds me apart, sets me aloof – just slightly – so that a life of outside looking in is all I’ve ever been allowed to know. 

Even with my friends, I know I don’t quite mesh, don’t quite fit, don’t truly belong because everything I am is too different, too me to be adapted into something not quite right. I see how my friends try to see me, try to understand, and it hurts the most because I know they never can. They can’t reach down into my heart and pull out the truth of my soul. They can’t see the depth of the emotions running as currents between us, and I can never adequately express myself because what I feel is too deep, too primal and raw, for words to do justice.

I hang on the precipice, grasping the edge over the abyss with desperation, trying to find a way to get more than a finger-hold on the edge. I’m watching everyone else around me, seeing the way they’ve found solid ground to stand on, wishing I had what they have because I am so precariously close to falling out of this world. But I’m not angry they have it when I don’t – I’m too busy trying to figure out how to overcome the predicament I find myself in, too besieged by the problem before me to care that no one else seems to be struggling with this problem. 

Except no one else seems to notice the difficulties besieging me, and they keep asking me to create a bridge for them to cross from one solid stance on the ground to another. I am transition, and I am desperately trying to provide for everyone else and also find my own path out of the ravine I’m hanging over. No one stops to ask me if I need help, but it’s not because they don’t want to help. It’s more that they can’t see that I’m not standing on solid ground. They buy an illusion I don’t have the eyes to see, and they assume I’m standing on the ground beside them with some sort of magic peak from one piece of ground to the next. They don’t see my pain….They can’t. 

Whether they want to or not doesn’t matter because the illusion is all that they can see, so if I speak, I’m silenced because what I see….The reality I live within is an illusion to them, as theirs is an illusion to me. So, we’re always missing the point, the perspective of the other person’s life is ignored, and I find myself serving as a bridge because I can see the desperate importance in being taken at face value. Because for me, I’ve never had it. I’ve never been believed when it most matters, and that is when I am telling the most truth. Because truth doesn’t need to be distorted to be painful, and lies do nothing but enhance the illusion.

It’s no wonder I work so well with Loki….We’re both outsiders who don’t know what it’s like to simply be believed. 

 

 

Many Vs. One – Crucial Paradigms

I had a conversation with a Christian today that didn’t devolve into an argument. I understand enough about Christianity and monotheism in general that I understand that the gods within those systems tend to work with a supremacy clause – either:I am the only god in existence” or “I am the only god worthy of worship” or a combination of the two. For all the Abrahamic faiths, I’d say it’s generally a combination.

Anyway, she was attempting to understand my views and beliefs – after telling me that she didn’t view my religion as a religion at all – which is such a knee-jerk, commonplace reaction that I no longer get angry, but I still roll my eyes at it (if I got angry every time it happened, I’d be perpetually angry, and, as I said to a friend recently, I refuse to invest in anger). She said that she understood that people used to believe in there being gods for everything, that they saw the moon as a god, the sun as a god, the wind as a god, etc. And I give her credit – she was trying so hard to understand, but she was doing so from a monotheistic worldview.

Polytheism is difficult, at best, for even us, as polytheists, to articulate. Because it comes in so many flavors, so many varieties – for some polytheists, maybe the moon is a god. For some of us, there are multiple gods who are associated and/or responsible for the moon. For others, there may only be a single moon god – who knows? The possibilities, the varieties, are endless. To explain those varieties to a monotheist who clings to the Bible as the literal truth (that was expressed during the conversation) is virtually impossible.

The most interesting part of the conversation, however, happened when she asked about the concept of sin. And I tried to explain that sin doesn’t really exist – I mean, there are technically two “sins” in the Norse framework (oath-breaking and kin-killing), but there is no concept of humanity being inherently flawed. I’m not sure that there is a concept of sin at all in the Hellenistic world – I think the closest one comes is in accumulating an overabundance of miasma, but that can be cleansed. And I honestly just don’t know if the concept of sin exists outside of Abrahamic religions at all – which made that a difficult topic. I guess it’s an area I need to do more research in, so that when Christians ask that question, I can properly answer it. I just wasn’t expecting such an in-depth inquiry.

And then we got to a question that illustrates one of the fundamental differences between Abrahamic faiths and polytheistic faiths. She asked, “So what do your gods tell you to do?” Like she expected me to list out a set of edicts and commands that the gods had set forth to be followed. Maybe the gods of monotheism want their followers to do everything to the letter, to be perfect little soldiers, but those aren’t the gods I know. And I wouldn’t – and don’t – follow gods that demand perfect obedience from me.

The gods I honor have never demanded perfect obedience from me. In fact, they have never demanded my loyalty, my friendship, or the sacrifices I make for them. Everything I have done for the gods – and continue to do for them – is done because I made a choice. Odin didn’t ask me to swear an oath to him, to become one of his warriors – he made an offer, and I accepted it. I swore fealty to him on my own, bound myself to him of my own volition. It was never a command.

I didn’t become Loki’s priest because he commanded me to do so. He asked me if I wanted to do it, and I chose. I stepped into the opportunity he offered – I made the decision on my own. I was never forced into the position. Loki would never force anyone into anything – that’s just not who he is.

I have never done anything for the gods I call friends, whom I honor with my offerings, prayers, libations, and rituals, against my will. I have never been presented with an ultimatum from any of them. I have been offered hard choices, and I have always been told that the path I choose to walk is my own.

Perhaps, in this, my Celtic ancestry shows through. I am loyal to the gods who have never attempted to command it, in the same way Celtic warriors were loyal only to the men who proved themselves worthy of the title of warlord. Those men never demanded loyalty from their warriors – they simply earned it. That reflects the way that I have come to know the Norse gods. I’m not loyal to them because they demand it – I am loyal to them because they have inspired me to it.

But to explain that to a Christian who views the Bible as the literal truth, other religions (and therefore other gods) as falsehoods, and cannot envision a god who doesn’t command – well, there’s the crux of the problem. We don’t have gods who lead us through our lives with laid-out commands or promise us impossible rewards. We have gods who will throw us out of nests to teach us to fly and show us that the benefits in life can be reaped only after the ordeals we endure.

To be a polytheist is to embrace a multitude of experience, of perspectives, and of the way life itself is lived. Monotheists can’t think that way – their religions promote a singular truth, a single perspective, a single experience. Tunnel vision is a problem only monotheists have – there’s truth to the statement that polytheism can easily incorporate monotheism, but monotheism leaves no room for anything but itself. Because of that, finding acceptance in the monotheistic society we live within may prove to be close to impossible, but that’s one battle I refuse to stop fighting. That’s the mistake the polytheists of old made, and it’s one I won’t repeat – our polytheistic religions are valid. And I will not back down from any monotheist who tries to convince me that I am somehow less human than them because I’m not like them. If there’s any cause in the world I’ll raise a banner for, it’s for polytheists.

 

A Lokean Type of Courage

One of the biggest groups of people who tend to find themselves interacting with Loki are those who have been abused in some way. The ones who have lost themselves and need to be guided back – who need to learn who they are again. Loki teaches us that it’s okay to not be okay. He teaches us that it’s okay to be wounded and feel the wound so that it can heal properly.

Until Loki came into my life, I had pushed the abuse that I dealt with growing up to the back of my mind. Learned to suppress it, to minimize it, to rationalize it into being less bad than it actually was. To some extent, I still do that. Because there’s the fear that follows me around that people are going to think less of me if they understand what I went through. That they are going to think me weak because I didn’t stop it, that they won’t understand that I couldn’t stop it.

It’s easy to tell people that I grew up in an alcoholic home and let them draw their own conclusions from there. It’s harder to explain the stark terror that I felt when my mother started drinking. The more alcohol consumed, the more violent and unreasonable she became. She would yell terrible things at me, telling me that no one would ever love me, that I was the reason she drank, that I could do nothing right. And I took that all to heart.

Because when my mother started drinking, I was eight years old. Up until that point, my mother had been the most incredible, doting mother that a child could ask for. She taught me how to read. She waited with me in the freezing cold for the bus to school. She made me snacks for when I got home from school. There was no one in the world that I loved more.

And then, like someone had flipped a switch, she became someone I didn’t know. Someone who terrified me because I couldn’t understand where my mother had gone. My life became a pursuit of escaping the terror she inflicted in me. I wanted to be anywhere but near her. Because I took what she said about her drinking being my fault to heart – I believed that I had caused the change.

So I did everything I could to be the perfect child. I performed well academically. I did my chores without complaining. I wanted my mother to be proud of me because I had this idea in my head that if I just did enough well enough that I could fix her. And I wanted to fix her because I missed the woman who had spent hours teaching me to read. Who had cared enough about me to stand beside me in the winter to make sure I got to school okay.

Occasionally, there would be flashes. Moments of sobriety where I would see her. In those moments, she taught me how to keep from being bullied. She taught me how to spot potential threats and how to guard against them. She also taught me how to deal with my empathic gift. And I loved her during those moments because that was the woman who I recognized as my mother. There was her, and then there was the woman she became when she drank.

She became domineering – everything was micromanaged. I had to fetch her drinks and fix them perfectly – eight ice cubes in each glass of water. I had to bring her glasses full of vodka. To this day, I cannot stomach the smell of pure vodka. If it’s in a mixed drink, I can always taste it. I told one of my ex-boyfriends this. He didn’t believe me, made a drink without telling me what he put in it, and I took one sip and handed it back to him. There was less than a thimbleful of vodka in the glass. The reason I can always taste it – the first time I ever tasted vodka, my mother forced it down my throat. I was twelve years old.

When I didn’t do something to her satisfaction, her favorite method of discipline was to use the handle of a broom as a cane. Compliance is pretty much guaranteed when you know that disobedience results in that level of pain. Because of that threat, as well as the continuous emotional abuse she threw at me, I lived in perpetual fear. I learned how to keep my head down and my mouth shut. I didn’t want to risk her ire – it was a matter of survival.

I constantly felt pulled in two directions – I loved her and I hated her. I wanted her to die, I wanted her to be better. She was in and out of the hospital up until I turned fifteen, when she passed away. With her death, my entire world fell apart. I blamed myself because I had occasionally wished for it to happen. I was tormented by guilt, feeling responsible for her death as well as feeling guilty for feeling relieved because she was gone. My beloved tormenter was gone forever.

What I didn’t realize until years later was that she had left me with incredible emotional scars. I couldn’t trust people properly – I went into relationships expecting them to fail. I was defensive, scared that people could see the me underneath – the broken, flawed me. The one who felt like she was falling apart. I pushed people away in a twisted effort to test their ability to handle my brokenness. No matter how successful I was at what I did, no matter what accomplishments I laid claim to, I always felt hollow. Empty. Because being successful meant nothing to me if I wasn’t the most successful. My mother succeeded in turning me into a perfectionist, incapable of appreciating my own success without feeling inferior for not being the best. And I hated it because I knew that other people would be happy doing the things I’d done. They would appreciate them. And all I had was this bitterness towards not being the best, about failing to win the best and most impressive awards.

To say that I don’t still contend with these feelings today would be dishonest. I still struggle with maladaptive perfectionism. I still struggle with the double-bind thinking that was dumped on me by my alcoholic mother. And I still sometimes feel that I will never be good enough. Not for myself, not for other people. But now, rather than have them define my life, they are just the bad days. The ones that fall in-between the mostly good ones.

Because Loki, when he came into my life, he made me face my past. He made me own up to myself. He forced me to stop minimizing the damage that had been done because wounds left untreated tend to fester. Facing my past wasn’t an easy thing to do. Learning to trust wasn’t an easy thing to do, especially because I had to learn to trust the world again. I learned to distrust it as soon as my mother started drinking. Started being afraid that everything I saw and felt wasn’t real, that there was an illusion separating truth from fiction because in no real world would my mother become what she became. I stopped trusting myself.

And self-trust is the first step in self-knowledge. How can you know yourself if you can’t trust yourself to distinguish reality from illusion, truth from deceit? I still struggle to trust myself. I may always struggle with that, but that’s okay. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be perfect. That it’s okay to have wounds, as long as you are actively seeking to close them (festering wounds do no one any good), and I have learned that there’s a strength in me that few people can match because I had to go through hell to get to where I am today.

So when I say that the biggest group of people who are drawn to Loki’s path are those who have been abused, please understand that I say this with the understanding of someone who has gone through hell and come out the other side. You can’t come out unscathed – you come out scarred and battle-hardened. Lokeans are some of the fiercest people, some of the hardiest warriors, on the face of the planet because we’ve all lived through our share of wars.

When other people point to Loki and make claims that he isn’t a god, that he’s a Norse devil, or that he only finds purchase among the weirdest and fluffiest of people, it infuriates me. Because I’m not a fluffy person – no one who goes through what I’ve been through comes out of it and becomes the happy-go-lucky rainbows-and-unicorns kind of person that “fluffy” implies – and none of the Lokeans I know are very fluffy either. Scared, yes. Vulnerable, sometimes. But being willing and able to admit to fear and vulnerability isn’t a weakness – it’s one of the greatest strengths that we possess because being honest about fear? There’s no greater courage.