Baby Steps

I’m feeling a bit better about Hailing Skadi and Jack Frost after doing it for several days. It’s a bit like desensitization therapy only I don’t have a phobia, I have a life long brainwashing to overcome. Baby steps. Plus, I’m developing a surprising connection to the Winter Lady that I didn’t realize would be quite so pleasurable. Bonus!

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My Serious Self

Sometimes I see things on the interwebs that I want to kill with fire. This website is one. Also, here is the response my serious query received. Thank you, anonymous internet people for making me realize I shouldn’t give fucks about you.

http://fubarotherkin.tumblr.com/post/68073436159/you-do-realize-that-legitimate-members-of-the-pagan

#letsallusehashtagsbecausetheyarecool

It’s Time for Jackie Frost or I’m Not Cheating on You, Babe

I live in the snowy depths of the North. I love Winter. Every year it arrives, blowing and roaring, or silent and gentle, to fill me with chills and mental acuity. Nothing jogs my mind quite like a frigid winter day. Winter makes fires seem cheerier, hot cocoa more pleasant, and soups of all kinds a must have. I love to go out for a few hours and come home to my cozy little nook. Skiing is a must do activity each winter, and nothing makes eating, sleeping, and warming yourself by a fire more satisfying than a day out on a snow pelted mountain, the sun hiding behind a blanket of gray, frost filled clouds. 

Last night I sent up a Hail to Lady Skadi and Jack Frost while doing a mental happy dance and I immediately felt…well, bad. Yes, absolutely horrid.

I felt like I was cheating on Loki?

Why? Oh, I agonized on this for a good long while, and why it was stupid, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. Why?

Well, it may be because Loki has come to me in the guise of Jack Frost before, but I’m not sure on that one entirely. Loki made good use out of the guise of Peter Pan with me, so sometimes it is hard to say when and where Himself actually entered my personal picture. Last February, after a mighty shove from Himself, is the first time I copped to “hard polytheism” and began to think of the Gods as truly separate entities and not different faces of ONE male spirit, as it were. Aspecting versus…well, true beings in their own right, though that isn’t necessarily true either. This subject is as jumbled for me as it is for a lot of pagans, and to some degree I don’t think finding a solid answer to the Aspects vs. The Gods question is entirely necessary or even helpful, but that is the fodder for a different article. I always thought of certain deities as Themselves, perhaps the ones that I actually had contact with, like Athena and Artemis. I’ve never worried much about worshipping historical figures either, as I spent some time in meditation and worship with Alexander the Great while I spent the latter half of my teen years studying history and the classics.

I love some of the same things about Loki and Jack Frost-mainly Their childlike joyful sides, but Jack Frost is more carefree than Loki in a lot of ways. Less serious. He doesn’t seem to have as much duty weighing him down. He seems entirely lacking that dangerous, dark side that I sometimes see boiling under the surface with my interactions with Himself. This is stupid too-for winter kills as surely as anything does, and Jack Frost is a face for Winter.

Jack Frost may be, for me, what one might consider a Pop Culture deity. Most of what I believe about him was shaped in my childhood through modern mythos and reaffirmed through the limited interactions I’ve had with him. I usually think about him most the first month of winter when snow is shiny and new for me. Jack Frost is the deity of the dawn of winter in my mind. I’m okay with that, really, when it comes down to it because our modern story telling isn’t any less valid than historical myth in some ways, so long as it isn’t a distortion on ACTUAL myth that already exists.

It was completely natural for me to Hail Lady Skadi and Jack Frost while I lit some incense for them and delighted in the snow gently wafting down outside my window pane.

But then, back to the guilt. Why did I feel guilty? I think this has to do with mortal hang ups and the way I view friendship and love and relationships in general. I’m pretty sure, intellectually speaking, that Loki doesn’t give two fucks that I offered incense to Jack Frost and Skadi, but I have taken to viewing him as something more elevated than a Best Friend, even though I refer to him as my Sweetest Friend. I have enough love in my heart to Hail more than one God.

What I’m getting out of all of this is I’ve solidly internalized some of the worst aspects of the culture I grew up in. The whole, one jealous god, idea following hard on the heels of “you can only love one other person completely”, which is bullshit and bunk. Loki CAN be jealous, but I don’t think this is one of those instances, and as I’ve had pointed out to me recently, jealousy is a symptom not a problem anyway. Loki seems to want my TIME more than anything else, something perfectly reasonable for my Friend to request of me.

As I examine my life I see that my guilt-at not having enough time or love to go around-has limited me to an extremely small, exclusive rather than inclusive, group of people in my life. My immediate family and 2 best friends receive the bulk of my time. My local pagan group and select extended family receive the rest of it, and Loki has dibs on at least an hour or more (usually) of my free time each day. Guilt has ruled my life, and I know from whence it originates. My bible thumping upbringing.

This guilt isn’t something that comes from the Gods or Loki, it is something that swirls around in my brain and heart and is my own making. As such, I am looking to squish it myself. Guilt and fear go hand in hand for me. I feel guilty usually when I am afraid. Afraid of losing something. Afraid of being looked down on. 

I feel guilty when I am a step away from fear.  

I feel I need to banish this guilt from existence because it isn’t helpful to my practice. As such, for the next month while I will be honoring my Fulltrui first and foremost I am going to make certain to leave offerings and honor my ancestors and any other appropriate deities each day as well. I need to get rid of this feeling somehow and this seems like a good course of action.

Hail Loki! And of course, Hail Lady Skadi and Jackie Frost!

Hospitality and Life Lessons

Walking into the rec room of the Methodist Church brings some of my worst memories of childhood crashing forcefully to the front of my consciousness. Churches always smell a little funny, but then again so do large groups of people. It doesn’t help that I think alcohol based perfumes smell like chemical warfare. There are 60 or so people already milling about the room when I arrive and everyone is waiting to take home some free food. Monday nights are the food bank at the church. It took me a while to come here and accept the charity after I learned about the place from a friend who is also on hard times. As I stand there and chit chat the people I am talking to seem like the need the handout more than I do, but the parking lot is packed with new(ish) cars that are in the same or better condition as my own, so I think maybe I am just projecting my guilt at needing help. I argued with myself and talked about coming here in meditation, but it all came down to one thing. My family needs this food to make it right now. Finding work to sustain four people hasn’t panned out and my husband is still looking for work after we moved this past summer. Nothing has worked out the way I thought it would, but we are all happier now, oddly enough, even though we’re not as financially stable as we were where we were living before.

Everything I do comes down to my family and what they need. All of my work, mundanely and spiritually, ultimately allows me to be a better person for myself and for them.

So, I go to the food bank, run by Methodists and I bitch and grumble under my breath about it the entire way there and the whole way home. I think I would have fewer problems with going if it weren’t for the fact that they are the branch of Christianity I ran away from full tilt when I was a teenager. I feel like I shouldn’t take help from people who would condemn my way of life, but needs must. I go there and I feel Loki at my back.

Loki while I go down the line with my grocery bag collecting food off long tables: “Smile. Stand tall. Be gracious. This is fine. Things will be fine. Things are going to get better. Smile, damn it! I don’t care if that man is condescending, take notes. Never make others feel the same way.”

It took me until this past Monday-maybe my fifth trip to the food bank to realize that one: Things really are getting better for us financially. Things are not as horrible as I thought they were even though I lost my job, again, recently. And I’m learning a lesson in all of this. And two: This is a lesson. This is a BIG lesson for me. Something I swore I would never, ever do-stand in line at a food bank because I grew up poor and I was hell bound and determined to never need to do this-is exactly what I am doing now and perhaps what I need to be doing. (Here’s a hint, you probably shouldn’t do that-say you’re never going to do something arbitrary- because the Gods have a twisted sense of humor). I’m ripping out some of my elitist attitudes by their hair. I didn’t even realize I had elitist attitudes-I’m better than some people-rolling around in my head, but they were there. They aren’t so much anymore.

Hospitality and kindness is what this lesson is all about for me. Hospitality is a strange beast and something that is important in all realms. Kindness to strangers and friends alike is extremely important socially and interpersonally. If I can accept graciousness from people I don’t like, some who actually are condescending, I can learn to be gracious to everyone. I am changing the way I feel about these people on an individual level, which is bringing down my overall ire at Christianity, which wasn’t healthy since I live in a society surrounded by Christians.

When Loki came to me originally He told me, through guise as my muse, that He was looking for someone Queenly and Kind. Gracious and Kind. Graciousness is something I’ve never even thought to aspire to before in the dog eat dog world of academics I’d lived in. Academic living is very insular both thought wise (I tend to thrive on semantics and conjecture) and monetary wise (no one who is in school has much money, so everyone is okay with being half broke). Not that I am unfriendly or unkind, but I really wasn’t an open person on all levels. I would share the gift of my time and friendship, but in the end guard my heart rabidly against all comers. Over the years I have unwound and begun fixing this flaw in myself and now I’m getting that I need to be able to cross that bridge into the land of the non-pagans with my real self, as well as show my real self to those close to me.

It’s scary to think about talking about paganism or being a Lokean with a dyed in the wool Methodist. It’s scary to think about being truly, on all levels, kind to people I don’t know because who knows what they may do with that? Opening my heart and home is scary. I am swallowing this lesson and trying not to treat it like a bitter pill while honoring Loki, the god of thrift, with my continued acceptance of help when I need it and plotting how I will one day pay forward any kindnesses that I can.  

Safety Inside the Community

I would wager there probably aren’t more than 10,000 Lokeans on the planet. There may be more people unknowingly paying homage to or holding council with Himself, but my completely unscientific estimate of people knowingly working with Him lands there. There are lots of blogs and places online for people to gather from what I understand where people can talk about their experiences or read about the experiences of others with Himself and the divine in general, but how much can one share in such a public forum? How do we know who to trust?

It’s hard to know who to trust, even when you are meeting someone face to face. My initial reaction is to trust everyone in the community because we are all on a different version of the same strange journey into the spirit world. I want to trust that everyone I meet will be a good person and try to treat me as well as they can, and I will try to do the same. In doing this, I sometimes forget there are people who are incapable of treating others well or keeping trust. Over and over again I have been shocked at the behavior of some others in the general pagan community-both online and locally-that I would not have ever, not in a million years, expected.

I’m not sure where I am going with this, other than I want to be able to trust people. I really do, but I’ve seen others who are helpful and trusting have absolutely horrid experiences recently. So, if you’re part of the online Lokean community you may want to consider this:

  1. How well do you know a person before you give them identifying information? Someone unbalanced could actually interfere in your real life if they know who you are. There is a reason I’ve kept this blog relatively anonymous. I suppose someone truly dedicated to being a creeper could find out who and where I am without my input .
  2. How much of your energy are you willing to expend on people you don’t know? I am a helpful person and I’ve found myself spending hours thinking about questions I’ve been asked by people I’ve met online and then get back to them. Is this worth my time? I feel it is part of my path to help people, so yes, but for some people maybe not.
  3. If you know someone is unbalanced, it is perhaps best to cease all communication with them. You can try to help someone, but in the end you can’t fix another person. They have to fix their own problems.
  4. If someone makes it clear to you that they don’t want you in their life, be it online or in real life, don’t keep bothering them. What could you possibly have to gain from it?
  5. If someone spews crazy, and I’m not talking UPG but, real, honest to gods CRAZY, tell them you think they need to get help locally and unplug. Protecting yourself is of utmost importance.
  6. We’re a community of magic users, mystics, and shamans-to scratch the tip of the ice burg. We all have varying ethics. Before you toss your own energy in on a working you may want to have a clear understanding of the personal ethics of the other people you are working with, especially if you have never met them face to face.
  7. Practice good common sense. If someone says or does something that gives you pause or sets off your spidey senses in some way you can’t put your finger on, there’s probably a reason for it. Practice common safety. Don’t give out your phone number on first meeting. Don’t give out your address on first meeting. Common sense!

There is a real need to protect ourselves, but how do we do that while not losing our sense of community? I’m sad today, and I just don’t know. I fully intend on continuing to help others and continuing to interact in our online Lokean community and the pagan community at large, but I think I will do so more wary and less likely to share as many personal details as I once did.

Keeping faith with, keeping the trust of, those who have kept yours is important. I believe it affects our wyrd, our souls, every time we break the trust of others. I believe we are making our own lives harder if we do such things, in mundane or magical ways, but ultimately every person still gets to choose their own path. I hope everyone chooses their own best path and it is one of light and love.

All of you please be safe and be well.  

 

 

Loving Me

I’m getting older. It’s inevitable. Time marches on and all that jazz. I’ve always wanted to age naturally. Since I was quite young I’ve had an image in my head of myself becoming a wizened, regal old crone who can still have a good time. In my head I always saw a woman (my best self, really) with long silver hair and a crooked smile going about her day with zero fucks to give and a smile for everyone.

The reality is I’ve been finding everything wrong with my body. Every tiny thing. Blemish on my face? It’s small. No one else notices, but it wasn’t there 5 years ago. Varicose veins? Thanks pregnancy. Gained five pounds? I’m a terrible person. Lost 5 pounds? It’s not nearly enough, so I can’t feel good about it. I don’t feel good about myself therefore I’m not always the most pleasant person to be around.

I was listing my faults to my husband-a patently unsexy thing to do if you’re a woman and not aware. Guys will gloss over a lot of flaws in their minds if you don’t drag their attention to them, but anyway I was on a roll. Really laying on the self-hate. And I get this from Lord Loki:

“Shut the fuck up. Either fix it or carry it with fucking dignity. I’m done with this shit.”

I stopped whining to my husband and retreated on all fronts. I had never gotten Loki’s “bitch face” before, but it seems hating on myself is what will do it. I wasn’t going to share this, but for anyone else that tends to be a type A personality in the real world I thought this might be something worth telling. And honestly, I really do feel better about the problems I can change now and I’ve been working on (getting back to a healthy, pre-baby weight…It’s been years at this point.) and the things I really can’t “work on” (varicose veins), but I may be able to do something about medically at some point if I ever get health insurance again.  I already knew all of my harping on my worst qualities was at best unattractive, but I was really putting myself into a funk over everything too, and Himself doesn’t enjoy that at all especially since I’m one of His.

I think we all have those flaws and faults we stare at in the mirror as we age, but I’m not going to look like a baby faced twenty-something forever, and I thought I was fine with that. Now I’m really working towards being fine with it. Something like this may seem topical, but in our society where so much is based on looks and youth is a cult worship I think it is especially hard to attain a graceful cronehood. I’m sure the people who know me in the now are laughing their asses off. I’m not “old”, but I’m certainly past the point in my life where I’m considered truly young. I thought I’d already had my quarter life crisis, but I guess it popped back up for round two. Maybe I’m just going to live to be 120?

Sometimes I forget that having a friend means They love you, and having a Friend who can hear all of your mental garbage means digging deep and really shoveling all the shit off the ledge and out of your mind. I think mental discipline is an overlooked aspect of Spirit Work, potentially, or I just haven’t read/heard as much about it as it is utilized.

Offerings and Renewals

Yesterday somewhere between my offering of some dark chocolate and beer to Mr. Fabulous and realizing that my bank account was overdrawn I fell more in love with my Sweetest Friend. Yes, my life is sucking, but He is still there. Yes, my kids were tearing down the house, but while I was wrangling them I could feel His love around us all. Yes, I don’t have a job right now, but I’m getting a serious possibility of going back to school and I’ve never gotten more writing done in my life. My husband may have a full time job offer this week as well.

When I am at my lowest Loki is always at His best. He’s the most amazing crisis management expert I’ve ever met. I got an overwhelming, “You’ve got this, babe,” and I do. I know in the end everything will work out because it always does. I always hit the floor running. I feel better today thanks to relentless love from Him yesterday, even though He’s off doing whatever it is He does when He’s not around me at the moment. 

Sometimes I wonder where He goes. The possibilities are endless. I have a sense that time doesn’t flow the same for Him. Maybe He is off visiting His children or Wives or just generally getting His hand in on this or that project He’s taken an interest in (and I use that word loosely, since apparently I’m a project, according to His Blood Brother).

Oh, well. I’m off to start another day. I’m trying not to let the grind get to me and I’m trying to look to the shining moments and small victories rather than wallow in defeats.