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The Identity of Lóðurr

In the beginning, when materiality had been ground into existence by the conflicting forces of Niflheim and Helheim, when the great cow, born from that primal ooze had nourished the proto-giant Ymir and the first race of what would eventually evolve into our holy Beings was crawling from out of His mass, there arose three Brothers: Odin, Hoenir, and Lóðurr (or to use Their other heiti, Odin, Vili, and Vé). These three Brothers slaughtered Ymir, Their eldest ancestor and set the worlds and the cosmological order that binds us all into being. It was a defining moment in our theogony, the moment when those proto-beings, from Whom our Gods evolve, stepped up, looked far ahead, made choices that shaped and defined Their existence and everything that would come after it, and took necessary, decisive action. It was at that moment that existence truly began.

Of course, we know Who Odin and Hoenir are from the surviving lore, but the identity of that third brother, the one that gave us our rushing blood, and goodness of hue (healthy, living color i.e. vitality and life force), has been a bone of contention for years. Yet it shouldn’t be. It’s quite clear from [albeit later] sources that Lóðurr is in fact Loki.

Dagulf Loptson discusses the relevant passages in his article here and I encourage everyone to read this marvelous piece. He notes that the Eddic reference to Lóðurr helping to forge the worlds occurs in Völuspá 18. There is, however, a later c. 14th century ballad, Þrymlur, most likely drawn from earlier oral sources, that have Loki clearly addressed as Lóðurr (the relevant sections are Þrymlur I-III 21). We know that our Gods have many heiti. Odin, for instance, has hundreds. He may be called Yggr, Hangagod, Runatyr, Sigtyr, Oski, Gangleri, and so on and so forth (pun probably intended lol). Freya may be called Syr, Mardoll, Vanadis, etc. Likewise Loki has His bynames too.  With regard to the name Lóðurr, one thing that we do know is that He is a figure strongly associated, as Hoenir is, with Odin. That in itself is telling, given that of all the Gods with Whom He dallies (take that word as you will), it is Loki that is recognized as Odin’s blood brother. Perhaps there is more to that tale than has come down to us.(1) What we take as ‘lore’ after all, is hardly a complete record of what our ancestors believed and the stories they told about our Gods. It’s reflection of their worldview is partial at best and while a good starting point, it is not a complete map.

As Loptson suggests in his article, Loki as Lóðurr is Loki as a creator God, but as with His brothers, that moment of creation is born of blood and violence a theme which recurs throughout our cosmology. It is through these Gods, Loki included that such conflict is transformed into something fruitful.

Our Gods have so many different facets. It is easy to say, when one has only known a playful or gentle aspect of Loki, that the hungry, violent, driven nature that shows forth in Lóðurr could not possibly be Loki, just as one might opine that the kindly gift giving Oski could not possibly be Odin, but we should be cautious in doing so. The Gods have histories of which we cannot conceive and are far, far greater than anything we can imagine. My mother used to say a prayer to Loki almost daily, one that sums up how to approach the Gods without attempting to bind them to the limitations of either our experience or awareness. I’ll end with that prayer now:

“For the life that brought me to You, I thank You.
For the rapture of knowing You, I thank You.
For the heartbreaks that open me to You, I thank You.
For the hunger that goads me to You, I thank You.
For Your kindness and Your harshness,
For all You give and all You take away from me,
I thank You.
For the death that will legitimate my life, I thank You.
For all You were, are, and shall be, I thank you.
My beloved God.”
(–F.A. Plaza)

Notes:

  1. See here for an article by Þorgeirsson that discusses the debate around this name and Loki, as well as the reasons for giving credence to the attribution.

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Othala is Not a Hate Symbol

1200px-Runic_letter_othalanI saw someone on Facebook today opining that the tattoo they’d gotten so proudly to honor their Gods was now being taken over by a neo-Nazi group. No. Many things can be corrupted and coopted but it doesn’t change the inherent nature of those things. It may alter our perceptions, yes, but othala remains othala, a conduit to a rune spirit of tremendous power, one that has nothing to do with our contemporary politics. It is only lost to hate groups if we allow it to be.

This rune is the rune of lineage and tribe, of tradition, of connection to our forebears, of right order. By that latter, I mean sacred covenants (with Gods, ancestors, land) in place and active. It is a rune of protection, of nurturing and nourishing the family, community, and all tribal bonds. It is that which keeps a community healthy, hale, and whole.  Those are all good things. We should be working to keep our families, our communities, our tribes if we had them anymore, safe and secure, healthy, we should be maintaining healthy boundaries and working for overall abundance and well-being. Othala is the transmission of knowledge and in a sacred context mysteries from one generation to another. It is one’s active connection to one’s ancestors and lineage, complete with all the obligations that entails made manifest. I think this is perhaps why it is a favored rune for white supremacist groups. It speaks to tribe and culture, tradition and lineage but what they miss when they co-opt it, is that it speaks to that for each group of people. It doesn’t just speak to that for those with white skin. It speaks to the goodness and necessity of connection to one’s forebears, and protection of one’s family for every tribe and people. That is contained in its nature, encoded in its DNA so to speak. This is what it holds, what it is. How do you make a people strong? How do you ensure that the next generation will be healthy and hale? How do you ensure clean transmission of tradition from generation to generation and what does it mean to do so? All of this is contained within this rune.

Generally, when I work Othala, I find that it connects very strongly first to the ancestors and then to Odin. For the former, it is very much about the active relationship with one’s honored dead, the give and take now as it immediately impacts one’s daily life. It’s about healthy transmission of knowledge, and daily maintenance of those sacred covenants. When it is more Odinic in its manifestation, it speaks to the obligations of sacred hierarchy, of kingship, of sovereignty, and the give and take between king and vassal, or in modern parlance, the necessary work to keep those covenants healthy and functioning properly. It speaks to the need for good boundaries, for self-knowledge, and for being able to look ahead – like Odin on Hlidskjalf— beyond the morass of daily emotions and Sturm and Drang of living to the problems that may face a family or community or tribe down the road, it speaks to the necessity of preparation, and of conscious piety being part of the best prep.

Most importantly of all, Othala is our connection to our folk. I hate that term ‘folk’ because of how it’s so often used, but it is our connection to those ancestors who were functioning polytheists. It is the bridge between what we have now as we work to restore, and what once was and as such it is a reminder of our obligations to be vigilant and strong in our work toward restoration. It reminds us that our ancestors hold the wisdom we need and with their help we can bridge the gap between what was, what is, and what we very much wish to create. Othala is the citadel, under protection of the Gods and dead that has never fallen and will never fall so long as we continue fostering right relationship with the Powers, including our own communities.  

I too grow angry when I see hate groups mis-using our sacred symbols, all the more so when it is people who clearly have no devotion to or veneration of the Gods and spirits in question. It angers me greatly. It is not theirs by right. It is not theirs to corrupt. It is not theirs to smear their pollution upon. (I feel the same way when I see Wiccans or Pagans handling the runes without any thought to the Mysteries behind them. I feel the same way when I see Marvel misusing the Valknot or other symbols. It’s appropriation. It’s disgusting. I do understand very much the anger and disgust such misappropriation can evoke). But that they do this does not change the inherent nature of the rune or the rune spirit itself and I think it’s important to not let people’s mis use cause us to abandon these things that are in fact the right of all those steeped in the Northern Ways, or bound to its Gods, or called by its spirits. To abandon that which is ours by right is as great an error as to claim that which is not. We simply have to be louder in proclaiming our traditions, in showing the rune in the proper context, in working as we have each been called to work for the restoration of our traditions. In the end, if the Gods will and our work is successful, those traditions will stand and their ignorant usurpers will be nothing more than a pathetic blip in the march of history. Othala is about preserving and building, not tearing down and not hate.

 

 

 

 

Third submission to Hoenir Agon

For Hoenir
by C. King

Brooding hostage, silent God
Muddy throne, Your hall of reeds-
Sway and twist like feathers falling
Mossy hued, those slender spears-
Chime and shudder from Your spirit.
Wordless, primal prayers sung
That ripple and tug the vault of heaven.
There amidst the marshy bank,
With Ymir’s blood smeared as mark-
The dappled Crane nests and watches
Before the countenance of Man becomes it.
You that roused urge and longing,
With rune-song sang up and awakened.
Wise He who saw the first and sees the last, what will be the after?

Gray Song, may the riverbanks ever be Your treasure.
Demure Council, may wisdom ever consider all avenues.
Knowing Maker-strengthen our people against those coarse to the Holy Powers.
Long Foot, ward us against the profane and arrogant. Where our clumsy feet trail Midgard-strengthen our resolve to be worthy of the Gods that shine brightly.

Clever God, of mist and wing-
That briny fog your cloak and down.
Whom appears at will to mortals few-
And whispers wisely second thoughts.
I thank You, Vanir Captive.
I praise You, Vili of Odr
May Your name ever live on the tongues of Ash and Embla’s progeny.

Second Submission to Hoenir’s Agon

For Hoenir
by Dr. E. Kelly

hoenir image

(the birds pictured are sandhill cranes)

First Submission to Hoenir’s Agon

In Praise of the Marsh King
By Victoria Morelli

Swift You come, Helper to All,
Gods and men alike.
Silent yet sharp,
Sharp as a knife’s keen edge,
from You we gained the gifts
of wit and wonder.

High and Holy, the Marsh King walks,
strong of will and wisdom.
Storks and swans, cranes and ducks,
Your sacred messengers all,
and they herald the numen of Your passing.
Where You step, there is enchantment.
Where you wander, there is power.
The eldritch things that live in the mist
whisper fairy tales to hapless mortals
of red gold and blue fire and the pale God
weaving magic in the misty fen.

The strength of Your mind,
helped carve worlds into being.
The implacability of Your will,
helped drive the spear deep
into old Ymir’s guts.
Liminal places, bogs and marshland,
foggy groves, and dank swamps
are Your favored doorways,
and what comes out of them is hallowed.
You I praise, and I seek Your blessing,
Who ended a war with His uncle’s head
because He knew:
some sacred places are hungry.

Hail Hoenir.
Hail Vili.
Hail to the Marsh King.

Submission to the Loki Agon

Wisdom of the Fool Prayer
by Sparrow

Hail Loki!
Flame haired Trickster
Silver tongued God
Clever Jotun
Please hear my prayer.

Please teach me the wisdom of the Fool,
Teach me to laugh at myself when I …

Fall on my ass both literally and figuratively
Smile at my current infatuation while I have spinach stuck between my teeth
Get drunk and disorderly at the company Christmas party (hey! Someone had to do it!)

For only Fools know true wisdom
Because they have lived life to the fullest.
Since they have been laughed at and mocked,
Fools are more compassionate and tolerant towards others.
And only Fools may speak the truth to Kings (oh, how well You know this!)

Please teach me to love life like You do
To laugh out loud without wondering what others think
To love passionately without fearing a broken heart
To embrace others and life with a furiousness that matches Your own fire.

Hail to you Loki! You who are the patron God of Fools!

 

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(remember, folks, the agon ends 9pm EST tonight).

Submission to Loki Agon

To Loki
by Amanda Forrester

My head is on fire.
I can see it all –
The threads of destiny, of wyrd, coming together,
I see the ghastly fate of my sons,
I feel the bindings tying me to the boulder
I see the red, weeping eyes of my loyal wife
Holding the bowl above me.
And I see all the worlds consumed in fire and ice
When I (at last!) make my escape.

My head is on fire.
I can feel the venom even now.
Still, I do not try to avoid that future, but do what must be done.
And so a dart of mistletoe seals my fate
As surely as it did Balder’s.

My head is on fire.
I saw it all, knew it’s coming,
But also that it must be done.
I told my blood-brother so.

My lips were sewn shut not because I lie,
But because I tell the truth,
(at least, when it matters)
And even the Gods cannot bear to hear it.

New Submission to the Loki Agon

For Loki
By S. Hintz

Loki, I love your daughter Hela
And it was her association with me
That first piqued your interest
In my humble doings

Flame hair, you watched witness to struggle
I underwent with the shadows
Of Christianity cutting bindings
Long rotted away

Sorting meaning from unmeaning
Seeking truth from lie finally burning
To ashes those things withholding me
From the inner fires

Sated I sought in seeking found
My family of Gods Woden in the wood
Compassion in the heart of the Death Goddess
Wondering I wander

Idea to idea never quite still
Mental restlessness sympathetic to your own
Until Gifu in kindness you gave
Me to meet Sigyn

Sigyn told me of the dance of light
On the waters the dance of shadow
Within the wood until I remembered
To hold my balance

Between extremes light and dark the polarity
Things you learned in the wandering days
With Gangleri in the wood of the world
Brothers galdr kin glad met

Tonight I sit in struggle forming
This poem no poet I yet expression seeking
Gratitude for the Trickster tricking me
Into right relationship

With self in the world I have come to love
Sigyn’s Beloved first loved by Angrboda
In the Ironwood Laufey’s son
Dancer of forms

Wise in experience Nimble of thought
Bringer of troubles remover of obstacles
Once the lesson learned has made person
The wiser.

Loki, I pray to remain ever humbled
By the great truth of the ordeal suffered
You and Sigyn endured worm venom
Stronger together than apart.

On Miasma in Heathenry and the Northern Tradition

Here’s a sneak peak at an excerpt from my forthcoming book on Miasma and Pollution. This is taken from chapter 1.

I’ve had push back from Heathens and other polytheists for using a term that is specific to Greek polytheism but miasma as a word exists in English and it is a perfectly serviceable word to express a concept of spiritual pollution that is common to nearly all polytheisms. If Heathenry did not have a concept of pollution and cleansing, it would be quite unusual amongst the family of Indo-European religious traditions to which it belongs. We know the Norse and Germanic tribes had clear ideas of the holy and where there is a sense of the holy there is likewise a sense of pollution as a matter of course.

Norse words pertaining to holiness and pollution include:

Helgan (f): sanctity,
Helga (v): to appropriate land by performing sacred rites, to hallow to a deity, to proclaim the sanctity of a meeting,
saurr (m): mud, dirt, excrement (defilement?),
saurga (v): to dirty, defile, pollute,
saurgan (f): pollution, defilement,
saur-lifi (n): lewdness, fornication, lechery. Its opposite is Hreinlifi, which means chastity. Hreinn is the opposite of saurr. It means clean, bright, clear, pure, sincere (as a noun the same word means reindeer, interestingly enough).
Hrein-hjartaðr (a) means pure of heart,
Hrein-látr (a): clean, chaste,
Hrein-leikr (m): cleanliness, chastity,
hrein-liga (adv) cleanly, with purity.
We also have Hreinsa (v): to make clean, to cleanse, to purge, to clear and hreinsan (f): cleansing.


Then there is the word vé, which means “holy place,” (shrine) and which is such a powerful and important concept that the three creator Gods (Odin, Hoenir, and Loður) may also be called Odin, Vili, and Vé.

So when Heathens complain that this is not relevant to Heathen practice, I strongly suggest they think again. It’s not just in the lore, but in the very language our ancestors spoke. (Thank you D. Loptson for your help in hunting up these etymologies).

Winner of the Nerthus Agon Is….

Congratulations to Dr. E. Kelly.  Your submission won the agon. I’ll email you shortly to sort out the prizes. 🙂 

Everyone who submits receives a prayer card of Nerthus (if you already have Nerthus’ card, you can get a different card ) as a thank you. Please shoot me an email with your mailing address. 

And remember, folks, May’s Agon is for Hermes’ Mother Maia. Let’s give Her some prayers and poems — you know She had her hands full with Him! lol.