bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Month for Loki, Day 19: Redhead

 

THE QUINTESSENTIAL (ARCHETYPICAL) REDHEAD

As a self-identified Lokean going on seven years now, I’ve noticed a specific detail about Loki’s appearance that seems to be a rather common assumption that I’ve seen spread throughout the present-day Lokean community; and that is the ‘fact’ that Loki has red hair.

While I do not know if this ‘fact’ began as a bit of someone’s unverified personal gnosis or if there is something more to the story, I do know I have been involved in many heated discussions concerning that supposed ‘fact.’   I’ve noticed that the prevalence of belief that Loki is a redhead has become so widespread that I have seen this single characteristic used as means to clarify many a curious newbie’s spiritual interactions: if that God you dreamed of had red hair – it was definitely Loki.

While there is nothing in the lore which describes Loki as having red hair (though the Eddas clearly state that Thor does(1)), many modern Lokeans claim to have experienced Him as such, to the extent that one of His more modern heiti references this – Flame-Hair.  Though the idea that Loki is ‘flame-haired’ has some detractors, as several Internet Heathen scholars are quick to point out that the basis for Loki having red hair has arisen entirely in conjunction with the mistaken belief that Loki is a God associated with fire. These ‘scholars’ will aggressively maintain that Loki has no connection to fire – claiming that that association was born out from Richard Wagner’s mistakenly conflating the Norse God Loki with the Norse God of Wildfire, Logi in Rheingold, an immensely popular 19th century opera.(2)

But operas and conflations aside (you may read my discussion of one of Loki’s connections to fire here) I believe that Loki may choose to appear as a redhead for a particular reason.

It all began with a discussion in response to a post in an online group for seid-workers. The original discussion regarded racism in Heathenry and how seid-work is seen as work that is performed by those who are marked by ‘otherness.’  With that, the discussion began to lean toward concepts that certain outward characteristics have always been considered ‘marks of otherness’, and as a result, human beings have developed particular superstitions. One interesting point caught my attention was the OP’s assertion that Jews were often depicted as redheads in Nazi propaganda.(3) Following that assertion, the OP then equated Loki’s red hair in terms of an argument for ‘otherness’ – leading hir to wonder if His red hair was the reason He came to be equated with evil intent, and then later, be cast as a ‘Norse Satan.’  What intrigued me was not only the unchallenged assumption that Loki has red hair, but that the discussion had so suddenly veered away from seidr and toward prejudice and superstitions about those with red hair.

As a person who is part Irish/Scottish, I am well aware of the superstitions surrounding redheads. I grew up hearing some of them – redheads are believed to be passionate, promiscuous, ill-tempered, untrustworthy, even cruel and/or soul-less.(4)

As a devotee, I agree that Loki would gladly take on the role as a Sovereign of Other-ness, but it occurred to me that Loki is also a Being often accused of possessing some of the above traits as well – by His haters and devotees alike.

I mean – REALLY.

Perhaps Loki would choose to be a redhead just to mess with everyone’s heads – to take upon Himself the mantle of all that has been feared, misunderstood, or despised about those with red hair – just to work the damned stereotypes, just to mindfuck with everyone.

Just because He can.

Now that sounds like that would be such a Loki thing to do.

Even if Loki isn’t a redhead – I mean, He doesn’t have to be; there’s nothing in the lore that says so – Loki is the quintessential redhead in that He can be the most passionate, temperamental, flirtatious, moody bastard God that you could ever hope to meet. He’s capable of being charmingly sweet and incredibly kind but He’s also just as capable of being relentlessly impatient and disarmingly cruel.

But then again, perhaps Loki is a mirror of us all, isn’t He?

You’ll often get the face of Loki that you think that you will see, and He’ll use that aspect to His advantage.

Hail Loki!  ❤

 

 ~~~

(1)  Jacqueline Simpson, Prose Edda, Þrymskviða (The Lay of Thrym), New Horizons, 1965;  p.67

(2) Dr. Karl H. E. Seigfried, feature ‘Ask a Norse Mythologist’ at webpage http://www.norsemyth.org/2013/01/questioning-loki-part-one.html.  Dr. Seigfried attempts to put the Loki as God of Fire association to rest.

(3) I had never heard of this superstition, though several websites have much to say about the ‘myth of the ginger Jew’:

https://www.judaismandscience.com/ginger-jews/

https://www.momentmag.com/the-biggest-jewish-genetic-myths-of-all-time/

http://jewishjournal.com/culture/food/175017/ginger-jews/

Again, while there is much discussion of the attempt by non-Jews to portray the Jew as a ‘threat’ and an ‘other’ in various cultures, it says more about the superstitions surrounding redheads than it does about whether or not Jews were actually redheads – as often superstitions are applied retroactively to the ones being ‘othered’ rather than to depict reality.  Such as it is, one of these websites makes the error of believing that when an archeologist discovered a preserved skeleton with ‘reddish’ hair – in a Jerusalem tomb from the 1st century AD –  that that may prove that Jews did have red hair.  [Honestly, most mummies have red hair – not because it was red in life, but because the breakdown of melanin (the proteins that make dark hair appear dark) often appears as red in hair that hasn’t entirely decomposed.]

(4) C.J.S Thompson, The Hand of Destiny: Folklore and Superstition for Everyday Life,  (chapter 7) Folklore of the Hair Nails and Teeth, Bell Publishing Co., New York., p. 97-8

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Month for Loki, Day 18: A Sort of Compersion

So, as you may know, I have been working on a ‘Keeping it 100 Project’ wherein I am trying to be more open about my life and practice these past few months – um, years! – and I’m pleased to say that it’s been going well enough.

And just as it had been with my ‘joy project’ – the world will open up to receive your joy – I have realized that people have been nothing but encouraging and supportive of me in this one of my latest endeavors.

As well, I’ve learned that I’ve nothing to lose except my fears.

This is not to say that I’ve become entirely fearless as of yet, but I am making great strides in letting go of some pretty heavy baggage associated with some of my most deeply embedded personal issues.

So, the other night, I was talking with a close friend of mine about the latest developments in my life and the positive changes that I have seen in my relationships.

Then we got to discussing some of the similarities inherent in our spiritual experiences, and she was expressing her wonder and joy at how nice it was to *finally* have someone (as well as several other people) with whom she can share her experiences.  Folks who would listen with an open mind, without judgment or rancor towards her struggles and who could celebrate the successes of walking her path.

Our paths are similar enough but rather than feeling a sense of competition or comparison with me or with others, she was casting about for a word to describe the supportive and encouraging sense of being accepted, supported and celebrated that she had been experiencing lately, that sense of flow between her and the members of her kindred.

She was saying that she finally felt that she’d found the members of her tribe.

And she felt the relief of finally being able to say

So I was telling her about a conceptual term that I had first learned of through polyamory(1) – and that is the concept of compersion.

Compersion can simply be defined as when you experience happiness when you witness another’s happiness.

While the term ‘compersion’ was originally meant to apply to situations associated exclusively with romantic relationships, in some cases, I think that sense of such deeply felt goodwill and supportive encouragement can also be applied to other relationships.

Why should compersion only be felt between lovers?

Why couldn’t such a profound sense of joy be mirrored between those within close friendships and even alliances between co-workers?

Compersion is not just superficial good wishes towards another’s success – it is a profoundly experienced sense of joy and contentment that is felt in tandem with another’s joy.

Compersion is a magnification of joy that flows outward.

Compersion is, in a lot of ways, the polar opposite of jealousy.

So we are feeling compersion when we bear witness to another’s joy, and we feel joy in response.

So that’s what I’m calling it from now on.

Spiritual compersion.

___

  1. pol·y·am·o·ry: noun; the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time.

 

Month for Loki, Day 17: Shaman/Trickster

 

” In referring to Norse God Loki, Rutherford employs the term shaman-trickster….”

(artwork by Susan Seddon Boulet)

“The shaman is a magician in both senses of the term: one who can operate through tricks and deceit and one who can change consciousness at will. The shaman is a sorcerer but one who relates magical ability to the communal welfare as the primary objective. The shaman stocks-in-trade are the ability to fly and to become invisible. Sometimes the specialist is proficient in bi-location, the ability to appear in more than one place simultaneously. Other shamanic ‘virtues’ include a developed aptitude for heightened vigilance as well as the cultivation of multiple perspectives. But whereas sometimes these attributes are intended to be literal accomplishments, the line between the metaphorical and the actual is rarely clearly drawn.”

— Michael York

Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion, New York University Press, New York, p. 41.

 

Month for Loki, Day 16: Change

(no dime like the present, eh?)

Why is there a pile of loose coins on Loki’s altar?

Many devotees see Loki as a God of Change – both in terms of money and in transformation.

Loki has provided me with both forms of much-needed ‘change’ many times in my life – whether it be a random quarter or two to make a call on a pay phone (I know I’m dating myself there) or nudging me towards the Thing I Thought I Could Not Do.

It makes perfect sense to me, on several levels.

As a result, a lot of the loose coin change I find in the course of the day will often find its way onto His altar…especially dimes and quarters.

Month for Loki, Day 15: Lokkr

Lokkr.

I’d seen reference to this term several times in my research for this book.

At first, the word intrigued me, as I’d thought it was an etymological reference to the origin of the name ‘Loki’ so I wrote it down in my notes, as a reminder to myself to research its meaning at some later point.

Lokkr. Saying this word aloud to myself, it felt like a prayer.

And it is a prayer, as lokkr can be considered a form of evocation that leads to invocation:

Lokkr (Old Norse) verb: To entice. To attract, to call out to
From Old Norse lokka; from lokk ; from German lochen .
lokke (imperative lokk, present tense lokker, passive lokkes, simple past and past participle lokka or lokket, present participle lokkende)
1. to allure, entice, tempt, lure
2. to attract, fascinate
3. to call (an animal)

~~~
All words have power, therefore an idea or thought that is spoken (or written) is a form of creation, a form of power – as words make thoughts manifest. Words bring the power of our thoughts and ideas to us, bringing what was once intangible to reality, to the physical realm.

Lokkr is a summons…. Lokkr is the essence of a prayer.

I am listening for You*. I am looking for You.
Help me find peace. Help me find strength. Help me find clarity.
Help me find purpose in my struggle, the meaning within my difficulty.

Lokkr…

I call out to You in my time of wanting

I call out to You in my time of need.
I call out to You despite my fear, amid my confusion.
Come to me. Come to me. Come to me.

Lokkr

Pathfinder**, show me the path through the darkness.
Hvedrungr, bring me Your light, lend me the strength of Your flames…

Lokkr Lokkr Lokkr

I call out to You.

(light a candle)

I light this candle to hail You Traveller

May its light guide You here.

Lokkr

I call out to You…please guide me in my time of need….

~~~~

*insert name of your Norse God here

** ‘Pathfinder’ and ‘Hvedrungr’ are two heiti I’ve used for Loki here

Month for Loki, Day 14: Lightly

Sometimes, the words will come to me; the words that I need to read, to hear, are found.

These words are not meant for me, but when I stumble upon them, they resonate with me anyway.

Oh yes, that is me – ‘so preposterously serious (these) days’ – and so….

See? I tell you…these words are subtle reminders; good advice for folks like me who allow themselves to drown in their emotions far too often.

~~~

Hail Loki ❤

Month for Loki, Day 13: A Prayer for Loki (poem)

Sharing a fun little poem that I found on Pinterest:

 

A Prayer for Loki 

a poem by Victoria Verney

Month for Loki, Day 12: I love Your face…

Per tradition, today’s post features some of my favorite artwork/images of Loki.

Enjoy!

Loki lineart by JarfieArt, as featured on zir tumblr 

I love the stitches on His mouth, and those boots, especially ❤

 

‘Loki’ by Loren DeSore

 

Dat Jotunn by lebzpel 

That smirk and those yellow eyes!

What I like most about Lebzpel’s style of depicting Loki is how zie consistently combines the opposing and liminal aspects of Him – in zir sketches, Loki somehow appears youthful and yet ancient, muscular and yet somehow fragile, infinitely amused and yet also world-weary.

I believe Lebzpel skillfully captures His essence perfectly in many ways.

 

And speaking of capturing aspects, here’s one of my newest favorites:

 

Though this artwork features Odin (as I imagine that is Loki, underneath the grinning mask), it is titled

You, they said, did sorcery on Samsey…’ by lisiakita on DeviantArt.

The artist captions the artwork with this text, translated from the Lokasenna, verse 24-5:

“Loki said:
But you, they said, did sorcery
on Samsey,
and tapped on a tub-lid like the
shamanesses.
In wizard’s guise
you went over the world of men –
and that I thought an unmanly nature.

Frigg said:
“The fates you two met with
you never must
speak about to men –
what you two Aesir acted out in the old days –
one should keep always away from
one’s past.”

Well then…

 

 

 

 

Month for Loki, Day 11: Breathe

Lyrics
Yes I understand
That every life must end
As we sit alone
I know someday we must go
Yeah I’m a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah others they got none
Stay with me
Let’s just breathe
Practised on our sins
Never gonna let me win
Under everything
Just another human being
I don’t want to hurt
There’s so much in this world
To make me believe
Stay with me
All I see
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
‘Cause I come clean
I wonder everyday
As I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
What if I did and I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
I come clean
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me ’till I die
Meet you on the other side

Month for Loki, Day 10: Fools Gold

Inspired by a detail in Northern Tamarisk’s blog associating fool’s gold and Loki the other day, my brain went off on a tangent, thinking about items that some folks associated with Loki.

I was intrigued by the casual reference to her association of Loki with fool’s gold.

As you may have read my experience of that first Dragons Treasure meditation in 1997, I was reminded of how I had participated in another guided group meditation ritual several months later that same year

Except instead of a vision of Hostess Donettes, I received the ‘gift’ of a piece of fools gold.

It strikes me as strange to think now about how that was twice in as many months that I had sought out answers in guided meditations during a public ritual that initially appeared  – on the surface – to be in the form of some sort of joke or trick.

And trust me, no one likes to be made fun of or to be the butt of a joke…least of all, me.

Nonetheless, after that first guided meditation, it became a goodnatured joke in the community I was trying to join: If they couldn’t remember my name, I was that ‘newbie’ that received the doughnut.

And a few months later, I became known as that woman that got the fool’s gold.

And yet, I am amazed to realize how both times these odd ‘journey-gifts’ were read by others – the Pagan elders and the other assembled group members – as a sign that I must be pulling their leg or proof that I wasn’t taking whatever spiritual exercise I was attempting to engage in seriously enough.

The gifts don’t lie, they’d said.

So as we sat in the circle and shared our experiences:

What is that again? some folks snickered in response to my share, that makes no sense.

While others muttered, I don’t understand how you could have gotten that.

Are you sure that that is what you saw? sighed the leader of the meditation.

I was dismayed by this…and at the time, I recall that I was ridiculed for not taking the meditation seriously and the woman who’d led the meditation eventually opined that the presence of fools gold always represents/symbolizes ‘what  is not for you’

At the time, I felt that it meant that the Gods were rejecting me in some way, and I feared that that meant that perhaps the Pagan path was not for me.

And I took that to heart.

And it would seem that a lot of those ‘experienced’ Pagans (‘experienced’ at least by virtue of the fact that they’d been practicing at this Paganism thing a lot longer than I had) had some rather specific opinions about what is and isn’t an appropriate level of piety during guided mediation.

Honestly, I was just trying to fit in…or at least, find others like myself in the Pagan community…and yet, in this small way, I was looked upon as this person who wasn’t taking things seriously enough, whether I was sharing my experiences or I was asking questions.

In short, I began to feel as a bit of an outsider at their rituals, as no one seemed to take me or my experiences seriously.

Because, in their eyes, if I was taking things seriously, I’d be getting meaningful gifts like roses or silver chalices or the feather of a spring robin, or…whatever.

I became discouraged.

I began to question myself.*

~~~

And several years after that, in 2000, I was sitting at a Catholic funeral.

I could have sworn that I had silenced my phone. I distinctly recall turning off the ringer before putting it in my handbag.

And yet, my cell phone rang loudly right in the middle of the priest’s sermon.

Just as he was just getting to the part about how even during times our darkest times of spiritual struggle, we can all find shelter within the arms of the Lord.

It was embarrassing certainly, except for the fact that it was even more so in that my cell’s ringtone at that time was a clip of the chorus from Rage Against the Machine’ No Shelter:

(There will be no shelter here/the thin line is everywhere…)

~~~

So that doughnut must mean I’m not taking this seriously enough.

And yes, that fool’s gold must be a sign that that path was not for me.

And certainly, despite how respectful I was trying to be during a beloved relative’s Catholic funeral…

I took that as a sign that I, for one, am not meant to find shelter in the arms of (that) God.

And so, what did I do?

I ran.

I decided none of it was for me.

Even though it broke my heart to think that any form of spirituality as I understood it was not for me.

But there were more answers in store.

~~~

*In retrospect, I realize that I gave in too easily to the discernment of others, rather than my own discernment. (And yes, I would be presented with that lesson again and again.)