Reflections from the Edge

Today I made my very first guest contribution to The Wild Hunt in which I examine the sociopolitical realities of marginalized identities at the intersection of spirituality. I share the impact that those realities have had on my spiritual path within Paganism, up to and including the deities and spirits with whom I work. My  identity as a Black Bisexual Woman is central to my discussion. Respectful thoughts and comments on the piece are welcome.

Reflections from the Edge can be accessed here!

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Sigyn and the Burden of Her Arms

"Loki and Sigyn" by Mårten Eskil Winge.

“Loki and Sigyn” by Mårten Eskil Winge.

Many moons ago, I fell asleep thinking of Loki. It was a Wednesday night. On the edge of dream, I was drawn into the astral. There, in a dank cave – sometime between ages ago and just the other day – I met Sigyn, one of Loki’s wives. The Lady stood worn, on the edge of her hope. Loki was there, bound to a large boulder. Surprisingly, he slept for most of the time that I was with them. He is sometimes able to sleep just after Sigyn has emptied the bowl.

Timidly, I approached Sigyn and the smaller of the two burdens of her arms. I offered to hold the bowl as an offering to her. I could feel the noxious poison accessing my pores and threatening my life even through the bowl. I warded immediately and also projected Elhaz onto the vessel in an attempt to block its corrosive effect on me. Then I attempted to craft a bindrune, both Elhaz and Thurisaz. That one caused the sleeping Loki to stir and the hanging serpent to hiss. Got it. That rune is off limits in this place.

Very soon after that Sigyn gestured for the bowl and she sent me to obtain a glass of water for her from the stream that runs near her hall, which was some ways away. The waters there are incredibly pure and healing. I drank deeply and felt better instantly upon drinking. I brought a cup of that water back and offered it to Sigyn. She drank her fill and thanked me. A strong scent of licorice filled the cave when I asked what offerings she might like.

And then I was gone.

The God Loki: Conversations and Encounters

"Lokasenna" by Lorenz Frølich

“Lokasenna” by Lorenz Frølich

In the early days of my spiritual walk, I shied away from Loki. Many bristled at the thought of honoring him, as did I. I wasn’t ready to venture down that ominous and uncertain foot path. But he was never far from my awareness. In the lore of the Norse gods, Loki often appears alongside Odin. Loki is the Wise One’s blood brother and so I often found myself torn each time I lifted a horn to the One-Eyed Wanderer, because as Odin’s blood brother Loki should have his due as well. Still I resisted the urge to honor him, but it felt increasingly silly to ignore the whisper in my heart. And so I began to quietly pour a libation for him. No solemn words of obligation were uttered. No grand invocations were made. Only a shot glass of something hard and sweet meted out for him, and no more. The more I learned of him the more I wanted to sing, but I bit my tongue and choked down his praises. It was too soon, I thought. I’d only really just tapped my toe on the winding path.

Then there was the dry and desolate land between Midgard’s and Jotunheim’s edge. It was a place that belonged to neither world, and that is where I first met the coyote spirit that I now know to have been touched by both Odin and Loki. Coyote-Loki, with a glint in his eye and a grin on his lips, attempted to sweet talk me back into my comfort zone, the one I could easily die and rot in. Father of Lies my mind screamed. He spoke, sweet and sly, and every word made me want another. I wanted to pay with my soul for the next utterance and the next but I resisted him. I had to this time. I really had to. He stood in Coyote Man form whispering of fear and inadequacy. Destroyer. I stilled myself and listened harder, letting the echoes of fear and inadequacy break against me. It was then that I heard an opportunity to manifest soul might and to deepen my understanding of the worlds and the spaces between. Shapeshifter. Worlds-Traveler.

I poured out still more honey whiskey over the months and years and I saw more of him. When he comes he is charming and clever, and his message is strangely clear. He emerges from liminal places: the borderland between Midgard and Jotunheim, crevices in the walls, sink drains, corners of awareness, and the edge of the wood. I have in fact seen him most often at the edge of Ironwood staring into the dense foliage toward my cave-home or toward Angrboda’s hall. Each time I see him, he lures me toward the shadow and all that comes with it. He draws me toward profound connection, fuller knowledge, and deeper understanding of him, of the Giant-Kin, of myself, and of Jotun-Home. Loki knows what is told of in the lore, and he knows what the lorekeepers chose to leave out. He entices me with clear sight, true words, and necessary action, and with promises of change, transformation, and a fucking good time.

"Loki's Flight to Jötunheim" by W. G. Collingwood

“Loki’s Flight to Jötunheim” by W. G. Collingwood

I have come to know him as mother and father, as well as sister and brother of the teeming hordes of Shadow. Every time he notes a boundary and tests/crosses it, he acknowledges the order and undermines it simultaneously. He moves within mainstream culture when it suits him and he also permeates sub-culture, edge culture, and no culture at all. He is the lie his own culture told about what is, what isn’t, and what should never be. He is the one who can teaches us how to not only survive but thrive on the edge and along the margins of societies and worlds. He is misrule and, just as significantly, the undeniable reality of every rule’s sanctioned exception. He’s the squeaky wheel that betrays the system’s shoddy workmanship. I have only scratched the most superficial layer of him.

Loki often inspires me to reach my full potential and he usually does that by instigating shadow work. I have learned that we maximize our growth and development by facing our inner demons. From my perspective that dangerous but necessary mission is not about conquering them so much as it is about learning where those demons come from and what their agendas are. Humans are nothing if not adaptable. Our demons formed for a reason; they serve a purpose. Some outlive their purpose and wreak havoc by continuing to do what they were originally made to do long after we no longer need them to do it. And so I’ve found that inner demons have to be decommissioned, not bludgeoned with an ego stick, because then they just crawl into a hole, nurse their wounds, and come back with a vengeance! Loki has rapport with things (internal and external) that gum up the works, the ones that gum things up on purpose and the ones that gum things up accidentally!

When things get sticky it is not unusual for him to send as messenger a creature that I despise in order to convey an important message. For instance, I have a vehement hatred toward bettles (which is what I have to call cockroaches in order to keep from wanting to claw my face off) and he has insisted upon sending that abhorrent creature three or so times over the years. He has raided my life in other clever and unexpected ways too and each time it was when I had grown bored and complacent with (unsatisfying and unfulfilling) business as usual.  My demons often encourage me to freeze, avoid, or play possum and when that happens Loki whistles in my direction to stir a changing wind. Each time I get these rude awakenings, I redouble my efforts to live in a way that manifests the full range of my gifts and that ignites my desire to live fully. Loki does not tolerate devotees who shrink away from their wyrd. We are often verbal and vocal people whose reflections and insights can be of use to others. Somewhat ironically, Loki suffers no illusions or delusions among his devotees. On occasion we may see fit to project a few but we are strictly forbidden from believing our own lies, or our own self-serving hype for that matter.

Hail to you Loki, Mighty Father of Truths and Lies. Hail to He Who Is Flame-Haired, Sly, and Wise.