My morning began with the following question, which got me out of bed faster than any alarm could have. After responding and going back and forth with my correspondent a bit, I asked permission to share the question and my response here.
My correspondent begins:
“Hi I’m sorry to bother you. I’m just struggling to figure out what this movie character Loki marrying all these really lonely, isolated women is.
I could see taking advantage of the films to get followers but I’m not sure if what clients are dealing with is a deity.”
My correspondent then goes on to describe behavior of this wight that her friend is describing as Loki in ways that are bizarre, violating, and manipulative.
…(I’ve made some edits for privacy, even with permission to share.)
“He wanders around my room looking at my stuff and doing dramatic David Bowie poses.
The “wife” never promised to be his wife forever, just until she finds a human. “Loki” doesn’t like it and says, “We’ll see.” She can’t worship Set because Loki is scared she’ll fall in love with Set. There’s a spirit “Green” who comes (and was coming before the movies got her into the Northern Tradition) and makes love with her, especially if she feels neglected by Loki.
Loki dresses up in clothing from her favorite TV show and they act it out.
She’s never had friends because illness hit young so she’s been living with her parents her entire life without any relationships like friends, boyfriends, work, and she’s socially delayed, like a child I think from it. She’s completely alone aside from her mother and “Loki.”
At this point I was seriously alarmed. This is not Loki. This is not Loki. I’ll say it again for those who may find this difficult: This is not Loki. If this is what is happening to you in your relationship with what you think is a Holy Power, you may want to consult an elder or specialist. This is not the way a God behaves. Godspousery is a thing, a binding, lifelong commitment (that may or may not rule out human relationships) but it does not function in any way, shape, or form like what this person is describing, nor do healthy devotional relationships.
Part of the problem is pop culture specifically how it teaches us to view and approach the Divine and what it teaches us to expect from such exchanges. It opens a door toward incorrect behavior with the Gods and spirits, in ways that seriously and negatively impact discernment. There is an undertone in so many movies, television series, comics, books, etc. of the Gods being childish, vain, immature or otherwise behaving in ways that allow for the human characters to gain the upper hand in relationships, to put Them in their place, most of all to dismiss Them as Powers in favor of human supremacy in the grand cosmic hierarchy. The cultivation of this attitude is bad enough but what is worse is that it entrains us to think that Gods will behave this way, and the way described above – They don’t—which in turn opens the door for any bottom feeding, parasitic hanger-on spirit to masquerade and someone raised on a steady diet of pop culture pabulum all too often lacks the discernment to tell the difference.
At any rate, my morning’s email continued:
“I wonder if she made it up, but I’ve experienced him, this spirit she calls Loki, as how she described. My health gets much worse after reading for her every time.
I’ve never done spirit work where they’ve ever behaved like this, especially deities. Usually they are more … dignified and have meaningful messages that the client needs. “Loki” just tells her what he wants her to do and offer to him. It’s a very sulky bitchy vibe.”
Folks, read that last paragraph again please. It’s right on the money. This is simply not how Deities generally behave and that includes Loki. This is one of the key things to watch for in certain interactions: are you being told only what you want to hear? It’s a huge red flag.
My client continued:
“So something IS there, but I think it’s something else (abandoned thought form by some coven, incubus, I have no clue). When I said I couldn’t work with them anymore, “Loki” immediately jumped on me, trying to stimulate every “You’re my true love, 100% perfect” sexual thing. I ended that in a second. But if this thing is giving “You’re perfect, dedicate your life to me” romance novel intensity to lonely, kinda imbalanced women – it feels dangerous. It’s taking advantage of the movie Loki form.
Maybe. I don’t know. Freya and divination say I’m right, it’s a low level predator spirit preying on vulnerable Pagan women.
But you know the real Loki and I think I recall you had opinions about this. I rarely know what pop culture or Paganism (another pop culture too much of the time to get anything of value from it) is doing, so I didn’t pay attention. I had no idea Loki was in movies and people were worshipping movie characters and saying it’s the deities.
Since I had someone else contact me who also became a Loki wife where he always treats her like a queen and it sounds like escapism – the opposite of every deity or ancestor or land spirit I’ve met and all their messages and none wander my space, terrible with boundaries and then wanting me in the exact same time of relationship – all consuming love/lust – I just want to know if there’s something like this people are experiencing. It’s like a … virus. A needy virus who takes over people’s lives.
Sorry to bother you again about this. But in a world of Loki wives this is obviously going to be happening more.”
My response was rather terse:
I think that what you’re describing is, on the part of your friend, delusional. In many of the cases where one sees this, it’s fanfiction gone awry. I think it’s a case of people who want the Gods to be their best friends instead of the Powers that They are. Can Loki choose to take the image of Marvel Loki? Yes, absolutely. He is a God and this can be a doorway for Him. However, the behavior that you’re describing is simply not how Loki is, not how any Deity is. It is, however, precisely how certain bottom feeding spirits behave however.
What you’re describing is concerning, and I would be more inclined to say this is someone who A) needs to get off tumblr or other social media and B) needs good firm spiritual direction and possibly C) Therapy. Lots and lots of therapy.
I would agree with you actually: it’s very likely a low level predator spirit but I also don’t think your friend is going to hear you. She’s most likely too invested in it being Loki. You describe it like a ‘virus’ and I think that is an apt metaphor and the virus is going to defend itself. I don’t think your friend is going to be willing to have her delusion challenged because it makes her feel good (despite what you’ve told me – which for privacy reasons I did not quote the specifics here—about it damaging her health).
I detest the Marvel movies. I find them deeply impious (which doesn’t mean that the real Loki can’t use that image– i do not want to sound as though I am limiting the power of a God!). 99% of the people that I see claiming their Loki looks/acts like Marvel Loki have one of the following happening: 1. low level predator spirit fucking with them, 2, they’re delusional and incapable of telling fiction from reality – or unwilling to do so– (and often live more of their lives online than in actual in-person social interactions 3. they’re deeply confused. In all cases they lack spiritual discernment. The desire for it to BE Loki and for themselves to be special is the only thing driving the interaction.
I have seen devout Lokeans put an image of that character on their shrines for Loki because it is a pop culture representation of Him but in those cases, there’s a clear understanding that “this is something that reminds me of Loki as trickster” not “this is Loki and he’s dancing around my bedroom.” I am always deeply suspicious when Gods no longer behave as gods but are reduced to being someone’s playmate or best friend — unless that someone is a child in which case I’ll make allowances though even then I would do serious divination and investigation.
I know very devout Loki’s wives. I don’t know a single one of them who can’t tell the difference between the fictional marvel Loki character and Their divine husband.
I’m sorry but your friend is either being harassed by a low grade spirit or delusional. The behavior you describe from the thing when it jumped out at you is NOT Loki, and yes, I think your comparison of it to a virus is very apt.
To get rid of a bottom feeding spirit, you’d have to cut the cord it has with your friend — it’s probably feeding on her– cleanse her, shield her, and banish it, warding her home. Then she has to not invite it back. She’s not going to cooperate with that. I would instead make offerings to the real Loki and your own patron Goddess Freya and maintain continued prayers for your friend’s well-being and protection. I think, however, that she is far too deeply invested in the emotional umph she gets from these encounters to listen to you.
I do rather consider it a collective insanity.
I would, by the way, given the interactions you describe with your friend and this wight, suggest major cleansings for yourself. If you don’t know how to ground, center, and shield, I recommend learning. The book I usually recommend for my students is Sophie Reicher’s “Spiritual Protection.” Understand that when you are in your friend’s presence as she is now, and when this wight is present, you are engaging someone and something deeply polluted spiritually. You will need to cleanse yourself so that you do not become impacted by it or open to its influence.
All of this, my readers, highlights the importance of proper spiritual discernment. There is a difference between engagement and wish-fulfillment and it’s important to know the damned difference.
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After running about making various offerings to Hermes, I spent the rest of the morning redoing my Hermes shrine, and my Loki and Sigyn shrine.
Hermes’ place. ^
Loki and Sigyn’s place.^
The icon above is by Grace Palmer, and belonged to my mom Fuensanta.
A colleague posted this image on facebook and it got me thinking and I’m going to share some of those thoughts with you now. The statement in the image implies that since at some point Loki was bound, He cannot now be an active part of the pantheon. The corollary to that of course calls into question the integrity and veracity of those who claim devotion to Him. That’s what this meme is clearly stating.
Loki is a polarizing figure in contemporary Norse and Germanic traditions. Some denominations venerate Him, some don’t, some excoriate Him, and some will pour out offerings to Him when Odin is given offerings but only because of a single line from the Lokasenna.(1) They pour them out, but they don’t like it. I think it fair to say that no other commonly recognized God evokes such strong feelings (one way or another) as this one. (2)
Assuming however, that because Loki was once bound, that He is always bound, or that in being bound, He loses His capacity to act in our world is a bit problematic from a theological point of view. It makes for nice apologetics for those who detest His veneration and want an excuse to mock those who hold Him dear, but theologically it doesn’t quite hold up.
Firstly, to make the assumption described in the photo is to assume that the Gods are bound by substance, corporeality, and temporality in exactly the same way that we as human beings are bound.(3) We know that the Gods are outside of these things because They created them, existing before these substantive things ever were. This is all the more so if Loki and Loðúrr are indeed the same Being. While not all Gods may have been involved in that particular moment of fixing the materiality (and by extension temporality) of the worlds, there are Three Who were: Odin, Vili, and Vé or Odin, Hoenir, and Loðúrr, the latter of Whom I hold with the skalds to be Loki. If temporality then has no hold on Them, in the way that it does for us as human beings, if Their nature as Holy Powers is by necessity different from ours (which I’m going to assume for sake of this discussion it is. If you want a proof, I can play Anselm later), then it follows that Loki, like Schrödinger’s Cat can be at once bound and unbound. Time would not be a mitigating factor here.
That is the key to something called ‘mythic time.’ Perhaps part of Loki is always bound as part of Odin is always hanging on Yggdrasil –but here we veer into the realm of Mystery. He is bound and not bound. Loki devotee Kenaz Filan says, “For me the binding of Loki is one of the greatest sacred Mysteries of our cultus, and Sigyn’s loyalty to Her spouse one of the greatest examples of piety the Nine Worlds has ever seen. It’s not something to be joked about.” (4)
In the Eddas, Snorri, writing as a Christian two centuries after conversion carefully euhemerized the Gods. In other words, he presented the stories he was telling as though the main figure, the Gods, were at one ancient time, people. He stripped the sacred from our tales because he was not Heathen. He was writing a guide for poets who were, having been Christian for two hundred years, forgetting the meaning of the various kennings employed in Norse poetry. He was not a devout man and though we owe him a debt for preserving what he did, it would have been better had we never been exposed to Christianity in the first place. We have fragments of what was once invariably complex and nuanced body of regional practices. Snorri reduced our Gods to human. Why are we so eager to do the same? Mythic time is not our time. The Gods are not people.(5)
Nor are our stories morality plays. So much of medieval Christian literature served as morality plays for the listeners, readers, or viewers. That is not the case with our sacred stories. They were never intended to be taken as a guide to life or to inculcate values.(6) They were intended to teach us something about the Gods. They were keys to the Mysteries of the Gods.
Loki is, whether some Heathens like it or not, a key figure in our cosmology. He is a catalyst – the enemy of entropy. He is a helper to the Gods, essential in acquiring for Them Their primary attributes (Odin’s spear, Thor’s hammer, Freyr’s boat, etc.). If He is indeed, as the skalds maintain, Loðúrr, then He likewise has a powerful cosmological role in re-ifying creation within our mythos again and again and again. He carries the holy, the numinous into our world and along the rainbow bridge to all the worlds, traveling with Thor, Protector of Midgard. Given the strength with which His cultus has grown over the past decade, across denominations, even across religious boundaries, it may be that the question of whether or not He is still bound, is effectively moot. Res ipsa loquitur.
- Lokasenna, stanza 9.
- To the point that some Heathens even question whether or not He is a God. The most common refrain along this line of thinking is “He’s nowhere called a God, He’s a Jotun!” Actually, for those who need a reference from the surviving skaldic materials, Loki is actually referred as ‘Ás’ in Gylfaginning, chapter 20. (The cry then goes up from some Heathens, ‘well, Snorri didn’t mean that!” And thus interpreting out of the material all the inconvenient facts that would make your religion something other than polytheistic Protestantism begins. * sarcasm *) Ás of course, refers to a member of the dominant pantheon of the Norse, the Aesir. We could say that it means ‘god’ but that’s not exactly its primary translation (there are other words in Old Norse that one could use for that). It implies one of the holy Powers, specifically one associated in some way with the Aesir, that tribe of Gods responsible for ordering the cosmos.
Of course the question of the difference between a Jotun and a God is a curious one. The Jotnar were the primal divine race. Until the moment Odin and His brothers decided to create the worlds, the beings that sprang from Ymir’s body were Jotnar. At no point in the surviving creation story is there a single moment where suddenly some of them are transformed from Jotun to Ás’…unless it be the moment that Odin and His brothers (of Whom Loki may be one – more on that in a moment) decided to slaughter Their ancient kinsman Ymir to create the worlds. That is the only defining period in the creation epic where differentiation occurs. Suddenly these three Gods Odin (frenzy), Vili (conscious will or desire) and Vé (the numinous, the holy) decide to act in a way that transforms everything that comes after. If ‘Aesir’ refers specifically to a clan of Powers focused in some way on creating and maintaining cosmic order (and there’s enough in the surviving myths that scholars like Dumezil certainly thought so), then membership into this clan might be somewhat mutable (all Aesir having begun as Jotnar perhaps?) and we likewise know that there are other clans of Gods like the Vanir, Whose cosmological focus is different. One wonders at the mutability of membership in these divine clans.
In the creation story, Vili and Vé are sometimes called Hoenir and Loðúrr. The identification of Loki with Loðúrr is not universally accepted but there is skaldic evidence. As Dagulf Loptson notes in his article here:
Þrymlur I-III 21
“The identification of Loki as Loðúrr is one that has been highly debated, though in reality becomes perfectly blatant if one reads the Icelandic rímr, which are epic ballads from the 14th century. One of these ballads, Þrymlur (which was written roughly between CE 1300-1400) follows the same basic storyline as Þrymskviða. Both stories are an account of how Þórr’s hammer Mjöllnir was stolen by the giant Þrymr, who demands Freyja as his bride in exchange for it. Þórr is then persuaded to disguise himself as Freyja in order to reclaim his hammer, and Loki accompanies him disguised as his bridesmaid. In the Þrymlur account of the story, Loki is directly referred to by Þrymr as “Lóður” when he comes to visit him.”
- It is also to assume that we possess the full canon of sacred stories. We know that we do not. We likewise know that the stories we do possess were, to one degree or another, Christianized. This has been an ongoing problem within Heathenry. Because most of us grow up in religions bound by “scripture,” I think there’s an instinctive desire to have the same type of written authority and written legitimacy in our polytheisms. It doesn’t work that way though and for our ancestors never worked that way. One may use the lore to provide something of a scaffolding for one’s practice, to keep one from going off the rails (see here or here) but to assign it the authority of the Bible or Koran is stupid, anachronistic, and ultimately deleterious to the traditions. It is a source of information, information that must be carefully picked apart and analyzed. It is not the word of the Gods.
- We don’t, I think, see the Gods interfering with and specifically undoing the work of another God. That would be a violation of Their sphere of influence, a breach of cosmic order. The question may be thus raised of how much of Loki’s power to act is bound when He undergoes this ordeal, as well as for how long. In Greek mythos we have one story of Apollo violating cosmic order to avenge His son. He is banished and has to serve a mortal for a specific period of time. The banishment and service is temporary however which raises the question of the imbalance that might be created by permanently binding a God’s power, as well as the question of whether or not such a thing is even possible for the Gods to do.
- To reify Snorri is the equivalent of treating some fanfiction on tumblr authored by someone who can’t tell the difference between a marvel character and a Norse God as scripture; or let me correct that, perhaps it’s better to say the equivalent of treating Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” as scripture since Snorri did , unlike most on tumblr, have talent.
- Almost without exception in polytheistic cultures that role was taken by philosophy. We don’t know what type of philosophies the Northlands would have developed, had they been left unmolested by Christianity. But we do have the examples of Greece and Rome, as well as the Celts with their Druidic class, not to mention Indian traditions, that point to a differentiation between religion which is about relating to the Gods, and wisdom traditions like philosophy which are about developing oneself as decent human beings. There’s no reason to think that the Norse, amongst all the extant IE traditions, would have differed in this regard.
In the blistering furnace of our hearts,
may You be hailed.
In the fierce rantings of mind and memory,
may You be hailed.
In the tumultuous storm of our senses,
may we gasp, and chant, and sing Your praises.
May our lips burn with whispered adorations to You.
May our bodies shake in the onslaught of Your presence.
Where You are honored, there be in all of Your glory.
Where You are reviled, there also be,
and work Your cunning wiles.
May You ever be the unquiet thought,
the unruly impulse, the unwary stirring
of holy cravings, the longing for internal revolution,
the descant-mad, dervish-driven
prophetic-spewing roar that drives us
ever and always, unceasingly, unmercifully
into the arms of our own liberation.
Hail Loki, Liberator,
cunning, wild, and wise.
May You ever be hailed.
Keep the Mask On…
On the other side of space a star is exploding.
Your fire got under it’s skin:
expanding, transforming, destroying.
Your brothers reshape the dust of disintigrated worlds.
You are the keeper of all secrets of destruction,
Destroying in the name of creation,
You unlock all doors of change…
Is that why you talked me into dying my hair red, silly friend?
Millions of years ago, a dim ape grasped a torch
born from the bright serpent of the sky
crashing lustilly against your mother: the leafy one.
It changed the ape forever, it changed you forever.
You opened his eyes, he made the ancient giant a god.
You are the enemy of ignorance,
You are the light of gnosis,
Burning bright within our skulls…
But what I really want to know is, what’s your favorite icecream?
As we walk unremittingly to your daughter’s door
ou fill us with the mad fire of life.
Every aching minute savored,
Every pleassure experienced,
Every risk taken,
Madly laughing all the way to the grave
Because anything less is a waste of time.
Your joy is wild, manic, terrible, wonderful…
So do you want to play Skyrim with me?
The chaos of revolution is your breeding ground,
Your spirit thrives in the fire and gunshots.
You give power to the the voice that has been silenced,
You shine light on our shadows of lies and corruption.
For good or for ill, transformation for its own sake.
Exposing every hypocricy,
Laying us bare before our harshest judges:
But I love it most when you tell me I’m right.
Loki, of course I know that you are all these things and more…
But it’s easier to love you when you’re wearing my favorite mask.
When they paint their nails
And gush about how sweet He is
And how He looks like that movie star
(you know the one)
how He soothes their egos
what pretty little snowflakes they are
that He stood with His brothers in that gasping gap
and slaughtered his own ancestor,
a sleeping giant who never did harm to anyone
(never did any good either, or so I’m told).
(tumblr makes forgetting easy)
that this is a God who rolled up His sleeves
whet the point of His spear,
took an ax
with forty whacks,
helped hack old Ymir up.
He split that oafish bastard’s skull
And sucked the marrow from His bones
and went about the bloody work
of making the worlds run.
When He was done,
He licked that ancestral blood from his lips
With a hearty smack.
People forget that.
They forget to Whom He is bound–
One –Eye bloods Himself for no one…
Save One as ruthless as He.
But Loki is pretty
And can be tender
And seduction is …
an entertaining pastime.
Gods wear masks.
It’s only when They remove them
That true devotion starts.
In terror and blood
In awe and trembling
Ecstasy is a crawling spider
Pouring wyrd from its ass
With glittering emerald eyes.
Tattered mask held in its claws.
Glamour is a game
Especially for this God
This Poison Eater
And one day
He might just show you
All those things You forgot
While buying tickets
To the next Marvel show
Or Spielberg wonder,
And gushing over
How beautiful He is.
Beauty is as beauty does
And Loki’s beauty
Is like a poisoned ax.
It glitters and cuts
And sears and burns
And through it all
I’d murder my own ancestor
To hear its cadence.
(but you won’t see me posting about it
We praise You, Lođur, Who blooded our souls, shaping the suppleness of our spirits.
We praise You, Liars’ Bane, spitting forth the gnawed upon truth that burns illusion away.
We praise You, Vé, God of the sacred enclosure, Holy fire, cleansing, breaking, breeding monsters to scour our world clean.
We praise You, Loptr, unwearying Sky-traveller, journeying forth, bringing initiation to the unexpected.
We praise You, Gammleið, Who consumes the body on the bier of victory, cremation’s fire, bringing the soul home.
We praise You, Inn Bundi Áss, Bound and fettered, heaving beneath the worlds, spitting venom, bound with the viscera of Your son.
We praise You, Inn Slægi Áss, cunning thief, stealing and restoring, burning with creative fire, libertine, free of every chain.
We praise You, Hveðrung, Roaring world breaker, destroyer of all, cleanse us free.
We praise You, Læva Lundr, Old spider in the Tree of deceit, weaving Your web, forcing our hand, demanding that we dance for glory.
We praise You, Ver Sigynjar, Husband of Sigyn, sacramental flame, protector of all who are fragile, broken, and small.
Oh Blazing Hearth-fire.
Oh Scarred lipped Glory.
Oh Inescapable Net.
Oh, ever and never Bound.
Oh Seeker of Heights.
Oh Bitter Edge.
Oh Sigyn’s Treasure.
Oh Ymir’s Bane.
Oh Brutal Destruction.
Oh Incandescent Rebirth.
Ever and always do Your people Praise You, Loki.
For a brilliant explication on these various heiti of Loki, I highly recommend this article here.
Several years ago I began dedicating the month of July to the Norse God Loki. During that month, every day I would post something specifically for Him. Almost immediately, the idea took off amongst those who venerate Him (which fills me with delight—it has always been a joy reading people’s posts about Him for a solid month!. It’s like daily veneration).
Sadly I won’t be able to do daily posts this July – I leave tomorrow for a month long residency and pilgrimage. My computer access will be limited (my poor partner is staying home, minding the house and we’re hoping to be able to Skype at least a couple of times, but I really don’t know what kind of access I’ll have at the residency) but still, I wanted to at least start the month off for Him, and then post as I am able throughout even if it’s not everyday.
Loki enabled me to survive some of the worst times of my life, right after I stopped dancing. He watched over and protected me, helped me come to Odin, helped to bring me a wonderful adopted mother and so many other things. All the good things in my life, bar none I think, have in some way, shape, or form, flowed through His hands and I am grateful. Each and every day of my life, I’m grateful.
I may choose to write more about that over the course of the month, but for now I want to share a prayer that my adopted mom said almost each and every day for twenty plus years, years devoted to the Gods, and to Loki and Sigyn especially. She said it was a hard prayer for her to write, and some days an even harder one for her to say but loving the Gods means loving the Gods, not just when They suit us, not just when They choose to make us comfortable.
I love You powerful, and I love You powerless.
I love You young as flame, and I love You
decrepit as the dying ember.
I love You in Your greatness, and I love You
in Your meanness.
I love You in Your beauty, and I love You
in Your hideousness.
I love You changing, and I love You changeless.
I love the force that drives You, and I will love
You if You lose it.
I love You famous; and I love You unknown.
I love You kind, and I love You cruel.
I love You sane, and I love You mad.
Because I love You, show me how to love You.
That is all for today. My posts may well be sporadic throughout July, but every day I shall be hailing Loki.