Tag Archives: relationships

Loki & Relationships: The Godspouse Conundrum

As I was browsing through my Facebook feed, one friend’s post caught my eye. In it, I saw a discussion of how the Lokean community has become so inundated with godspousery that it has become difficult to discuss relationships of a different nature. Some of the comments left on the thread told me that there are individuals out there who currently feel ostracized by the sheer number of godspouses in the Lokean community. Some feel left out and alienated because they don’t have that type of relationship with Loki. Others are distinctly uncomfortable because of traumatic sexual histories.

I find this both frustrating and fascinating. I find it frustrating because I feel that everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. No one should feel like they are being drowned out. People should not feel like they cannot start a conversation because they are afraid that someone is going to take what they say the wrong way or criticize them for not being a godspouse.

The fascinating thing is that the majority of Lokeans aren’t godspouses. Some of the preliminary results of the survey done by my sexologist friend (here’s the article where she discusses the survey) demonstrate that. Out of around 85 surveyed (she posted this in the Loki’s Wyrdlings group), only 14 of those surveyed were Lokeans. That’s a little over 15%, but that definitely isn’t a percentage that screams majority.

In some ways, we can say, as a community, that we’ve treated our minority group incredibly well – to the point that the majority literally thinks they are being drowned out by those who are godspouses. That is more a perception than a reality, and it may come down to the simple fact that a lot of people who are Lokean godspouses are louder about the relationship they share with Loki.

There are various opinions as to why godspouses tend to be so vocal about their relationships, though most of them tend to center around the idea that godspouses are attention-seekers. That’s not very easy to measure, since there are certainly going to be people who fit into that category. There are also Lokean godspouses that never mention that they exist because they remember the level of ridicule faced when godspousery was becoming a concept within Paganism. It’s really not that old an idea in the broader Pagan world, so some of the loudness may also come from the novelty of the fact it is more accepted today than it was even five years ago.

That said, there are a thousand different types of relationships. Every person’s relationship with Loki is unique. No one’s experience needs to dictate anyone else’s. I am not a godspouse to Loki, nor would I want to be. That’s not the relationship we have, and it’s not the kind of relationship I would readily pursue with any deity. Godspousery requires a ridiculous amount of dedication and work, when a person is truly dedicated to their astral partner (in all honesty, I question the amount of dedication I see from many self-named godspouses).

The majority of Lokeans have devotee relationships with Loki. That means they honor him through offerings on the schedule they have arranged with him. Generally, that means getting familiar with the lore and developing the understanding that the Marvel universe is not the mythology. When I see Lokean godspouses talking about how much they enjoy Marvel Loki and base everything off Tom Hiddleston, it’s pretty hard to shake the conviction that they simply have a crush on the actor that they, for some reason, have gotten mixed up with a deity in their head. It’s one thing to appreciate Marvel’s version of Loki and understand where the religious lore and the comic verse intersect – it’s another entirely to worship Marvel’s Loki instead of the Norse one (that’s a long-standing view I’ve held that is fairly regularly found contentious).

The other thing that I find absolutely fascinating about this entire situation is that so many Lokeans who are not godspouses are afraid to speak up in a more public way. That actually amuses me to a degree but I also find it a bit offensive. Because Loki is a god that promotes confronting reality, I do not understand standing back and trying not to offend someone by presenting a view you hold. If it’s a view you hold, and you present it without directly insulting anyone, where is the disrespect?

I personally find it far more disrespectful to stay silent, as that creates the impression – and the illusion – of the existence of what simply is not there. It is rude to stay silent when truth needs to be spoken.

So why not be true to yourself and to what you think? Why not speak your truth? Sure, there are fears to be faced. The fear of rejection, of being told “no, you’re wrong, you cannot believe this way,” is always there, lurking under the surface. The fear of being silenced, of being told, “shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” is another. Fortunately, fears are always greater in the abstract than in reality.

A better question might be, “Is there at least one person who will agree with me?” Some of us need to know that someone will have our back when we say something controversial. That’s a pretty universal human need. And honestly, the chances are high you will find someone who shares your viewpoint. If you cannot convince yourself of this, then maybe ask yourself a different question:

“Who can I help give a voice to if I share my story?”

Worry less about how people will perceive you and worry more about people whose stories are similar to yours. Who knows, you may just give someone else the courage to speak up, once you take that risk. Everything is a gamble; in some ways, life is just a series of risks that have either paid off or haven’t.

Speaking to Lokeans, I’d say we should all be willing to take a risk and speak up. Loki is, after all, one of the greatest risk-taskers of the gods. Just look at everything he accomplished…simply because he was willing to speak up and suggest something different. It’s been said that the best form of worship is emulation. Who else would a Lokean emulate, if not Loki himself?

So, since I’m very much a proponent of practicing what I preach, I’ll start my defining my relationship with Loki.

Loki is the god I serve as a priest. What that means can be difficult to explain, though I do try to do so when asked. Being a Pagan priest, to begin with, is different than what is assumed by the word. Generally, a priest in the Pagan context helps facilitate ritual, and I certainly do that for Loki.

However, there’s also a community aspect to the work I do. The Loki’s Wyrdlings group and Loki University came out of the service that I give to Loki. Those are things I was asked to do. Loki asked me to create a community where all Lokeans could come together and feel safe in their veneration of Him. He did not ask me to provide a community free of conflict – just a place Lokeans could come to escape the persecution faced in mainstream Paganism and Heathenry.

The unfortunate reality is that people create conflict all the time. Put two people together long enough, conflict eventually happens. Even best friends fight and disagree with each other. So, that is an impossible task to begin with, and I’d like to think that the gods try not to ask us to do the impossible.

When I created Wyrdlings with Karlesha’s help, there was no space for Lokeans as a whole. There were small pockets of people on forums that sort of stuck together, but the kind of force generated by the Lokean community when the Trump article came out in the Wild Hunt would have been impossible a few years ago.

Sometimes, I see spin-off groups from Wyrdlings, and I admit, I do wonder a bit why they left and if I did something wrong – I’m only human, after all. Sometimes, I even feel a bit jealous of these spin-off groups, and then I remind myself that I’m being ridiculous. Because these smaller branching off groups are a reminder that the Lokean community is vibrant and alive and growing. The larger a community grows, the more splinters it tends to have. History has taught me that, especially the history of professional communities.

Loki has never been a simple god – I don’t think I’ve ever met a god that was simple – so of course it makes since that as the Lokean community gets larger, the number of groups that have their own way of looking at Loki also increases. The gods are expansive. People bond over different aspects of the gods.

Because of that, the aspects we each deal with means all of us have different relationships with the gods we work with. What I do for Loki as one of his priests is different than what another one of his priests does for him. It’s also different from what devotees do, what godspouses do, and those are all different from familial relationships with Loki. Different doesn’t mean better or worse. It just means different.

Every relationship any of us have with another person is different than the relationship someone else has with that person. It’s like getting jealous of a friend’s relationship with another friend. It doesn’t make sense. Because getting jealous of that relationship indicates that you aren’t content with the one you’re in, and it devalues the friendship you already have. Celebrate the relationships you have and the uniqueness of them. Whether those relationships are with other people or with gods, no one can have a relationship with someone else that you have. No one else can be you.

So, if you’re chasing a relationship someone else has with Loki, stop and think about it. Is that really the relationship you want with him? Or is there a different one that would serve you both better?

Conversely, if you’re condemning someone else’s relationship with Loki, why are you doing that? Why are you devaluing someone else’s relationship instead of pursuing the fulfillment of the relationship you hold with Loki?

Jealousy and/or condemnation aside, the point I’m trying to get across here is this: pursue your own relationship with Loki, your way. Don’t take someone else’s relationship and use it as an example of what the “right” relationship looks like. Stop judging yourself and other people for having the relationships they do.

Simple solution, right? Now if only putting it into action were as easy as it sounds. Then again, nothing worth doing is ever easy. The gods we honor aren’t safe, and the paths we walk are the ones we forge.

Approaching Deity

The Gods have personhood – by which I mean they have agency of their own. They are people in their own right. We often mistake the word people as being synonymous with human, as humanity is the only race on this planet that has been ascribed a level of personhood.

The Gods are of a different race than us, and they don’t normally reside in this world – though I’m sure there are a few who choose to live among us. Because the Gods don’t typically reside here, it is easy to see how people may form the impression that personhood implies being human.

Personhood, however, simply implies having agency. It implies having a mind of one’s own, and thus implies the ability to make one’s own decisions – autonomy is guaranteed. With this in mind, it becomes easier to see that the Gods are people, too. They are a different race of people, to be sure, but they are people.

That is what makes it so important that we don’t approach the Gods using the God Faucet or thinking of the Gods as the Great Vending Machine in the Sky (See Sources). These are two ways of approaching the Gods that have become commonplace, especially among those who are new to Paganism.

The God Faucet is essentially saying, “I need a god that rules x domain, so I will arbitrarily pick a name from a hat and approach that god.” The reason that this is problematic, when dealing with the Gods, is that it ignores the personhood of the Gods. We don’t approach other humans this way – why are there Pagans who believe it’s okay to approach Gods in this way? The Gods are greater than us by their very nature, yet there are Pagans who approach the Gods almost as if they are made for the convenience of humanity. Perhaps it is because we live in such a convenience-based society, as there seem to be among us those who have forgotten that everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Everyone includes the Gods.

To put this in perspective, imagine that you have just gone shopping and are carrying several bags of heavy items, and you have to walk a mile back to your apartment. Let’s pretend you just moved in, so everyone you walk by by to get back to your apartment is a stranger. No one offers to help you, but you don’t expect help from those you don’t know. You certainly don’t turn to one of the strangers you walk by and ask them to help you  – you already understand there is no reason for them to help you, so you don’t ask to begin with.

Now, the next day, you’re walking down the same street, but this time, your hands are empty. You’re simply exploring. You get ready to go into a particular shop when you catch sight of someone staring into the window with a wistful expression, and you decide to strike up a conversation. The two of you start talking, find out you have a lot in common, trade names – maybe numbers – and maybe even make arrangements to hang out in the future. You’ve established a relationship.

The next time you go shopping, you happen to run into each other and start talking. However, this time, you have an established relationship. Perhaps help is offered or asked for, and help is received or denied based on the circumstances of everyone involved in the situation.

This is the way relationships between all people are formed, whether the relationship in question is between two humans, two Gods, a human and a God, two spirits, a human and a spirit, or between a spirit and a God. All relationships require an origin. Even if the only relationship you want with a God is that of patron-client, patrons are often far more willing to help those clients who make an effort to understand the patron than they are those clients who expect everything to go their way.

The God Faucet is picking out a deity and saying, “Hey, do this thing for me even though I have no pre-established relationship.” The Vending Machine works in a similar vein, although it takes it a step further by insisting that the Gods are only around for human convenience. “If I make an offering, then you have to do this for me.”

That’s not the primary purpose of offerings. The primary reason we give offerings to the Gods is so that They may give in return. May does not imply must. We offer prayer, libations, and ritual – among other things – to the Gods in order to celebrate the relationships we share with the Gods. They are the way that we hang out with deity, the same way we go to restaurants, movies, and other venues to hang out with friends. To know the Gods, you must treat them as if they are people in their own right. Not convenient shop-owners who can provide you with what you want when you give them the right coin.

Alongside being asked by newer Pagans how to know that the Gods are communicating, I also often get asked how to approach deity. The question has a simple answer, yet people seem to dislike the answer. If you want to know deity, you have to approach the Gods the way they want to be approached. They converse with us through the means they have told us to use, means that we have known about for centuries. Pray. Offer libations. Participate in ritual. If you want to know the Gods, get to know the Gods through the means they have provided for us to get to know them. If doing so makes you uncomfortable, either get over it or get used to not knowing deity.

This is one area where there’s no real alternative, though there are multiple ways that we can approach the offerings we give to the Gods. But to know deity, we have to make an effort. All human relationships take effort. Why should relationships with the Gods be any different?

 

Sources 

Kin’ani. http://tessdawson.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-god-faucet.html  Explains the idea of the God Faucet.

Kirk Thomas. “Sacred Gifts: Reciprocity and the Gods.” In one of the later chapters in the books, the idea of the Great Vending Machine in the Sky is addressed.