Pledging: Five Years In

This past weekend marks five years since I made my five-year pledge, which means the time limit on the pledge has closed.

I didn’t satisfy the requirements in full, though I did satisfy it partially, and the partial stuff I did, I feel like I did reasonably well. There was no agreed-upon consequences for incomplete compliance. I don’t know what happens next.

To review, as was mentioned in the one-year post, these were the terms I was supposed to adhere to. Italicized are the ones I feel I did well:

  • Oath ring must be worn during waking hours, (leading up to Trothmoot 2019, this became “any time I don’t have a compelling reason to remove it,” and I wore it basically 24/7 after that.)
  • Religious jewelry should also be worn under similar circumstances.
  • Altars must be cleaned properly at least once per month.
  • Celebrate all major heathen holidays with a proven historical basis, plus Lokabrenna.
  • I must make a concerted effort to pursue ordination.
  • I must participate in and contribute to my local Heathen community, to the best of my ability.
  • I must continue studying the lore and language, and do any further research that will improve my service to my gods and my religious community.
  • No cutting hair until ordination. (This was added later.)

I did not get ordained through—my own words—”concerted effort.” I did get ordained through the ULC. Case law has since changed, making my ordination actually worth something in the state of Pennsylvania. Hooray. But I have been ordained neither through the Troth, nor through my kindred, which were the other two avenues available to me.

(I could have also gotten ordained through TAC but lol, lmao, fuck that.)

Did I assist my community to the best of my ability? Maybe? Yes. I should probably say “yes,” because in that time frame was when Seasons of Transition and Jarðarblót (and then later the version that hybridizes it with Sigrblót) came about. But, “my community” and “the best of my ability” are constantly shifting targets, even locally. I think it’s safe to say that the local community was well tended to, at least, though it’s hard to measure that by any metric beyond vibes.

Did I keep studying the lore and language? Uh. No. Yes, but no. I did not keep my nose stuck in books like I had planned and hoped. I did not read starter guides to Heathenry with any real commitment. I dragged my feet so hard with Heathen Essentials that the curriculum was completely rewritten by the time I’d finished unit one. I attempted to read some of those guides, even the ones by people I knew (or assumed) I agreed with based on our everyday conversations, and ended up really…kind of hating them. A lot. So much.

Basically, nobody has any business bitching about recons if they insist on defining reconstructionism as fundamentalism.

What I ended up doing, what has ended up feeling vastly more relevant, was getting into capital-T-theory. You can tell me all you like about what the lore says about Frigg. And you should, because I always need the refresher. (Especially now, trying to incorporate her into my Sigrblót ritual for this year.) But nothing has ever described her, and her function, and her meaning and her relevance to humanity, anywhere near as well as Angela Davis did in chapter 13 of Women, Race and Class. And Angela Davis never mentioned her by name. Angela Davis literally was not thinking of her. The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben spoke to how human trees are, or perhaps to how tree-like humans are, or were, or have forgotten how to be, in a way that put the breath and the blood and the color back into the metaphor of Ask and Embla. This was not lore and language research, but at least it was research that helped me try and serve the community.

Right now, my collar and oath ring are sitting on the altar. The collar came off first, admittedly just for the practical reason that the maille was trapping mineral wool and cotton fluff that fell on me while I was helping friends rip out their old ceiling, and it itched. The cuff came off on the 26th of March, because I realized I had hit the five-year mark and it just…felt like time. Its initial purpose has been served. Soon, I guess I’ll just have to have something resembling an actual conversation with Loki about where we’re at. Even with the pledge, even with trying to maintain compliance, I’ve been distant. I just haven’t felt super motivated to Be Heathen.

I feel very tempted to blame how fucking riddled with influencers the Heathen scene has always been, and how it seems to be constantly getting worse. I feel very justified in this temptation. I basically cannot tolerate interacting with other Heathens online anymore and it’s not a denominational thing. I hate feeling like my practice is a product. Even when I do have things to report, I like to believe that I tend to keep them to myself until I’ve properly processed the sequence of events and have something genuinely helpful for the potential audience to hear.

(“Try it sometime!” I want to passive-aggressively screech, every fucking day.)

That’s not the only reason, though. I’m realizing something while hanging out over in the Tumblr Moomin fandom, in a niche where we are metaphorically gripping each other by the shoulders and somewhat more literally frothing at the mouth about how much of a dad Snufkin is. (Just…read Moominsummer Madness and you’ll understand.)

Talking about Loki simply doesn’t excite me the way it used to. The novelty is gone. The commentary is exhausting. The discourse is repetitive. I have lost my interest in hearing others express their perspective and experience of the divine. (With a notable, loving exception for Lea Svendsen’s Loki and Sigyn, which was a very enjoyable read literally from the first sentence.) I am tired of watching the same arguments continually play out, hearing the same stock phrases used in lieu of ever actually engaging with anything being said. Tired of expressing how fucking tired I am of these things.

The limerence has faded. I have settled in, and I have not learned to settle in as an appreciative lover might—though my dynamic with Loki is emphatically not romantic, and I have insisted from the start that it never will be.

More than once I have contemplated something resembling monasticism, but I think that I have the responsibility to be very much in the world. And what I am craving in that desire for something like operating as a nun or religious sibling is not an outward expression of deep devotion and duty, but rather something far less charming and far more selfish: Structure, importance, absolution from having to make decisions for myself.


Over and over and over what I write in my prayer journal, which I do with less and less frequency, is that I wish I was doing more. I then proceed to never act on it. I am sitting on my ass demanding proof while seeking out fewer and fewer opportunities to have anything proven to me. I am functionally agnostic most days. It doesn’t feel like a tragedy, though I often feel like it should feel that way.

The goal of the pledge was to light a fire under my ass, and it certainly did for at least the first few years. I have gotten a lot done. I don’t know what it all means. I don’t know how much of it counts towards the goals that were set five years ago. I don’t know what happens as a result of what doesn’t count or what didn’t make the cut.

It feels like this ought to be sad. Seeing my bare wrist does feel sad, because I remember how uncomfortably full of love and energy I was when I bought it in an airport in Austin, Texas, back when the only other things I cared about were the loons in the Colorado river and the feral parakeets in the grass and the big, shiny grackles fighting over scraps of food on the sidewalk outside some overpriced cafe, where the only thing I remembered was the sweet potato fries and the complicated trash categories. Feeling the absence of the heavy weight of my collar that Goat made for me does feel sad.

I don’t know where we’re going from here. I feel like it must be standard to express excitement or anticipation for what happens next. But I have so little concept for what it will be, and admittedly, not as much interest as I wish I did. I don’t even know what to expect next. It all feels very formless.

Wealthy in Each Other’s Company

For three years now, I’ve been hosting a ritual to Jörð on the Saturday before Earth Day.

Photo by Robert L. Schreiwer

At first, the motivation behind these rituals was a bit selfish. Finally realizing the severity of the climate crisis was crushing, which should be unsurprising given that it is literally the biggest threat ever posed to living things on this planet. I vividly remember laying face-down in the dry clay, alternately crying when lucid, and dissociating when not. Even a few minutes earlier I would have still found the phrase “dirt-worshipping Heathen” obnoxious, but I couldn’t exactly act like this wasn’t a fair accusation now.

The thing is, this existential fear isn’t new. It was only new to me. And the reason it was new to me was because whiteness and my family’s class status had insulated me from having to actually confront it. I can buy my life off the shelf if I so choose, enabled by colonial government and exploitative industry. This crisis has been ongoing for literally everyone else, for hundreds of years.

This sense of interconnection that the looming threat of climate change brought me should have been intuitive. But the world built on my behalf requires being separated from the earth. The comparatively new sense of a sprawling, tangled web of fate under my feet filled me with cold-muscled fear.

Like most people who crack under the strain of pretending to cooperate with absolute bullshit and feeling like everyone else knows something you don’t, I brought it to therapy. My therapist tried his damndest to instill some hope in me for life on earth—namely Lif and Lifthrasir as a metaphor for plastic-eating, thermophilic microbes, should they evolve in our absence. But none of this took away from the core fear that the world is ending for real.

In part because I already associated the events in ragnarök with the carbon cycle, I decided that the way to cope with my eco-anxiety would be through designing rituals again. This time, something heavily inspired by Völuspá.

Initially, what I had in mind had zero resemblance to the way I do Jarðarblót now. I had originally contemplated something theatrical, angry, and involving fake blood and scorn poles. I still have the unfinished papier-mâché horse head on a shelf in my closet. But eventually, something clicked.

Continue reading “Wealthy in Each Other’s Company”

Pledging: One Year In (or Just About)

On March 20th of 2018 I swore a pledge in which I guaranteed 5 more years of service to Loki.

Within even just the first six months (i.e., from spring to fall equinox) my practice underwent some massive and overwhelmingly positive changes. Which is awesome, because part of my motivation for doing this was to light a fire under my ass.

So here’s my progress report, I suppose.

The terms of my pledge (which I think I might be publishing for the first time, actually) are as follows:

  • Oath ring must be worn during waking hours,
  • Religious jewelry should also be worn under similar circumstances.
  • Altars must be cleaned properly at least once per month.
  • Celebrate all major heathen holidays with a proven historical basis, plus Lokabrenna.
  • I must make a concerted effort to pursue ordination.
  • I must participate in and contribute to my local Heathen community, to the best of my ability.
  • I must continue studying the lore and language, and do any further research that will improve my service to my gods and my religious community.
  • No cutting hair until ordination. (This was added later.)

Continue reading “Pledging: One Year In (or Just About)”

Inclusive Heathenry is Accessible Heathenry

Go figure, stanza 71 of Havamal is my favorite:

A limping man can ride a horse,
A handless man can herd,
A deaf man can fight and win.
It is better even to be blind,
than fuel for the funeral pyre;
what can a dead man do?

From the Jackson Crawford translation.
Continue reading “Inclusive Heathenry is Accessible Heathenry”

Where Heathenry and OCD Collide (and Heathenry Helps)

I have OCD.

There. Done. Official. Out in the open.

I described some of my symptoms in my post on scrupulosity, but that was before diagnosis and beginning treatment, back when I thought I just had subclinical symptoms and no compulsive behaviors.

I was very compulsive. I just didn’t realize it until the OCD kept me from eating. Which I was aware of, but didn’t register fully until a counselor on my campus noted my weight loss and, instead of complimenting me, worked out a bulk meal plan with safe foods.

And I didn’t even properly acknowledge the obsessive aspect before it got that bad, because I’d always had distressing intrusive thoughts, and upon reading the criteria thought, “big fucking deal.”

Which…I mean, it is, actually.

OCD involves a lot of horrible thoughts. You are not in charge of these thoughts. You, with strenuous effort, get to be in charge of whether these thoughts are in charge of you. But you are not in charge of the thoughts. And these thoughts always center around disaster.

Somehow I have it in my head that eating out of a can that hasn’t been meticulously inspected for dents spells instant death for me. Never mind that statistics overwhelmingly favor me never getting botulism. Never mind that modern medicine overwhelmingly favors me surviving if I do somehow get botulism. Never mind that botulism can take several hours or sometimes even days to even become a deadly problem.

Instant death. My frantic little brain is sure of it.

So imagine carrying the baggage of the end of the world as you know it. You put in a lot of work getting things to where they are, and now you find out it’s all going to be ripped apart and set on fire. And, oh, also, you’re going to be mauled by a huge wolf. Who is your nephew. And die horribly. But there’s a vain and frantic hope that you can avert it if you learn every single way you can stave off tragedy, be it ripping labels off of cans and checking for dents, or making sure the door is locked, or learning forbidden magical skills, or fishing for information in riddle contests, or binding the wolf, or, or, or…

Suddenly, ritual suicide to learn the alphabet makes a lot more sense. Odin reads obsessive-compulsive as hell.

This doesn’t show so blatantly in works like Havamal, which is ostensibly written from Odin’s perspective and full of moderate, common-sense approaches to life’s worries. Up to and including criticism of the habit of staying up late obsessing over your problems. (Don’t come for me like this!) This is a man who, while consumed by fear and acting to assuage it, understands on the rational level that the behavior is largely irrational…in other people, at least.

I made a self-deprecating comment once about rational mind vs. emotional mind in therapy. And my therapist explained that neither is superior nor inferior, but rather are two halves of a whole that make up the Wise Mind.

Which, quite frankly, sounds an awful lot like Odin.

But I’m not Odin.

You won’t catch me playing godly hangman because I’m a high-strung bundle of broken nerves who thinks all mistakes are unfixable, permanent stains on my personhood, and who doesn’t trust myself to ensure anyone else’s survival and who is terrified of getting sick.

So that’s the other place Heathenry comes in. Our ritual structure involves a lot of sharing germs. Every single ritual event I go to involves knowingly taking the risk that I will get sick. This becomes doubly true in the middle of winter, or when people bring their kids.

Sharing the Stein isn’t just sharing space and blending our lives together in ritual. It’s a safe, comforting space where I am secure among friends and I’m sharing their germs.


We don’t really talk or think too intensely about the germs thing.

Listen, though. When I went to my first Distelfink event, I was terrified that people weren’t going to like me. I was a stranger to everyone but Rob–who, bless him, drove me. Because I wasn’t driving at the time. Because I was too anxious. Because of course I was.

I was too anxious to share the Stein, overwhelmed with the fear of other people’s microbes and somehow tangling their Wurt with my spooky controversial Lokean-ness.

Now, just over a year into my involvement with Distelfink Sippschaft, I have gotten comfortable enough to use the communal Stein, and go for the high-octane libation. To the point where I was…crying and…flipping bottles…and dabbing at dogs…at Yuulsege.

I’m going low-octane for a while just because my alcohol tolerance is so low. But to even get to the point where I was okay with risking drunkenness, crying in front of people who are not paid to put up with my feelings but still aren’t going to shame me, to get comfortable with driving (sober! Not after sipping too much high-octane!), let alone driving somebody else’s car in the kindred…

That is a lot of progress.

I was so, so sure that nobody in Distelfink was going to like me. I felt like an intruder in their lives. And now I have friends.

Friends! Friends who teach me how to spin, and knead bread, and speak Deitsch, and drive stick. Who are baffled that I would ever think they wouldn’t like me.

The intrusive thoughts, quite obviously, have not gone away. But Heathenry gave me a comforting frame of reference and multiple opportunities to teach myself how to be calm.

…and maybe someone will help me be a little calmer about cans.

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A Collection of Thoughts on the “Loki Ban”

The “ban” has been discussed a lot in the past year. A lot. The Rede was discussing how to handle it long before Seigfried’s stupid article kicked off the public part of that discourse again.

Before I go ranting and opining, let’s cover the facts of the situation.

The history of the “Loki ban” went like this:

  • Hailing Loki used to be a thing that went on, and there were no policies that limited this.
  • Around 2008, a policy was discussed that made Loki, certain Jotnar, and the Rokkr in general off-limits for hailing.
  • Around 2011, a different version of this was voted on by the Rede, which became the policy outlined in the Position Statement.
  • Around 2012, wording was updated and it was outlined in the FAQ.

Here are the problems related to the policy, which make the current discussion necessary:

  • The policy emerged after the hailing of Loki had already been a thing.
  • The policy is alienating to Lokeans and Loki-friendly members of the Troth, and it places an undue burden on Lokeans attending events to which the ban applies.
  • The policy created complications at Frith Forge, due to its taking place in Europe where Loki is generally viewed as a non-issue.

Basically, had another organization not stepped up to co-sponsor the event, the Troth’s rule on Loki would have applied to everyone in attendance. It would have been one American organization setting the standard for a multitude of other European organizations, and would have somewhat defeated the purpose of reaching out.

So, that’s the background.

Now for the fun part.

screencap of a YouTube video titled "here are my thoughts on the bullshit"
Continue reading “A Collection of Thoughts on the “Loki Ban””

Info-gathering Tips for Heathens

Getting your hands on good information for Heathenry is difficult, for a few reasons.

The problem with a lot of easily-accessible sources is that they are heavily peppered with subjective interpretations and put together by people who aren’t, at minimum, well-read. You don’t need a doctorate to know what you’re talking about, but you do need to know how to collect, sort and interpret information. (Which, incidentally, are the skills that get you degrees.) Anyone who doesn’t have those skills is a questionable source.

But resources put together by people with these skills tend to be locked behind paywalls or out of print. So what are your options?

Continue reading “Info-gathering Tips for Heathens”