The Utterly Ridiculous Fanfiction Which Resulted in Me Becoming a Lokean

You may recall my post in which I described the very weird sequence of events that resulted in me becoming Heathen, which I often point out happened by accident. Or a series of small accidents and weird decisions which, if not necessarily HAPPY accidents, were at least entertaining.

Bob Ross would be so proud.

You may also recall that I said I never finished it. At the time, that was true. But in August, while checking my Facebook memories and seeing my contextless post about throwing a composition book out of a window, I was reminded that, holy shit, I set out to write that ridiculous trollfic TEN YEARS AGO. I became a Heathen by accident TEN YEARS AGO.

So, against all better judgement, I finished it. I have kept the kinkshaming. I have kept the thing about Beck (as in, the loser scientologist folk-singer slob) living in Loki’s closet. I have kept the stitch-n-bitch and the baby shower and all of the other absolutely ridiculous bullshit and–the stupidest decision of all–decided to publish it.

Notes on content: Because this is literally based on Loki getting knocked up by a horse, this is kind of unavoidably an mpreg fic. I have pointedly kept it goofy. Also, holy shit, this is over 4,000 words.

An edit of a page from the Frog and Toad books. The illustration used shows Frog handing an envelope to a snail. There is a text box on the image reading "here is an insurmountable amount of garbage. It disgusts me as well. I apologize in advance."
Abandon Hope, all Ye Who Click Here

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”

The Utterly Ridiculous Tale of How I Became a Lokean

Picture it: the Delaware Valley, 2012…


It was during the roaring Marvel Cineverse Zeitgeist. I didn’t really care for Tom Hiddleston’s face, but damn if an angry scapegoated child (ugh, the horns) didn’t eventually get to me on some profound level. I also had a bad habit of reading fanfiction involving…uh. Really specific tropes. That are mythologically canon.

I’m talking about How is Horse Babby Formed.

Fight me, you greasy bitch.

Between really creepy fangirls and bad fic research, though, I decided I was going to write a well-researched but absurdist fic for the purposes of trolling the fandom. I had nearly boundless options, but, because I’m a one-trick pony, I apparently just had to go and choose How is Horse Babby Formed.

Thor fought an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. Odin and Loki kinkshamed each other for a full page, as is the time-honored tradition. Beck–yes, that Beck–lived in Loki’s closet, because he liked the acoustics. Also, he had stitch-n-bitch sessions with Thor. They knitted Sleipnir a soccer jersey. Odin gave Loki a bit gag at the baby shower. It was glorious.

…and I never finished it.

In between brainstorming horrendous puns and dutifully checking the actual mythology, I had picked up an even worse habit of trolling Omegle, roleplaying as Sleipnir in the “Loki” tag and yelling “MOM IT’S ME” at every single match. This usually either made people extremely mad (mission accomplished!) or led to becoming Tumblr mutuals. (Awkward!)

I’d been aware that Ásatrú was a thing for a while, but had some serious baggage to unpack about it. I was also vaguely aware that Lokeans were a thing, but this was the week following Spongecakegate, so the Tumblr tag was…in a strange state at the time.

I definitely remember someone posting pictures of a horse penis in the tag, is what I’m saying.


So, in the process of Slippytrolling, on a day where my dad said out loud that he hoped I would drop my interest in Norse Mythology as soon as possible (HAH. HAHAHA.), I eventually stumbled on a real live Lokean! On the internet! I had a lot of questions. Specifically, “Why is everyone trying to bone Cosmic Hiddlesypiddles, and also, why is there horse dingus in your tag, you frickin’ weirdos?”

Turns out that had been a troll, and horse jokes were a subject of debate. Alright, so maybe these Lokeans weren’t so weird after all. I mean, as far as people who quarrel about pastry go. But foodies pick bizarre fights too, no big deal.

Omegle conversations led to me ending up on that Spongecake Chat, and after realizing this religion had a built in community where everyone was at least kind of odd, I got a boost of confidence. Kinda like what my ex said Rave culture was like when it was good, except nobody was thizzing (hopefully) or smearing Vicks on each other. I figured, fuck it, I’ll make my first offering. Loki likes sweets, right? It’s 3 am, but I’ve got some brownie mix.

This is also sort of the story of the time I almost fell into my oven in the wee hours of the morning.

Brownies were finally finished, and I suddenly realized I had no idea if this deity I was literally inviting into my kitchen was particular about them. Corner pieces? Edge pieces? Or the weird gooey middle part? I stuck out my hand, hoping some Weird Pagan Shit would happen. I got some vague vibe in favor of corner pieces, but I just plated a little bit of each and set them on the table by my laptop, since there was no altar set up yet. How do offerings even work? Do I just let the food…sit there? Someone recommend contemplatively eating them. Really, really slowly. So I did that.

I had never eaten a brownie slowly in my life. It was weird.

3AM rolled around, and upon realizing I had stayed up all night doing Weird Pagan Shit, I decided to go to bed. I stuck the remaining brownies in the fridge so other people could try them, packed up my laptop, and was in the process of stepping out of the kitchen when I heard a CD fall.

It was 2012 and I’m a bit of a Luddite. Stay with me.

The boom box was across the room from me and the CDs had been stable in their stack on top of it, I thought. But this seemed exactly like the kind of thing Loki would do, to my limited knowledge. It was one of my albums, so I picked it up to flip it over and make sure the case didn’t crack.

Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes.

Well that’s weird, considering I was thinking about Sigyn on my way out of the room. But it wasn’t damaged, so I put the CD back on the boombox, willing it to stay in place, and headed upstairs.

And then somehow, despite Astral Babygate, and the Mjölnir Panty Raid, Ruining Polytheism and a bunch of other overblown, weird controversies that escaped my attention, I somehow stuck around for 7 whole years other than the fugue that ended with a lot of–to me–proof that the gods were very much real. And then got nudged into a positive in-person community, and rapidly expanded my practice. And then swore a whole damn pledge. And I’m not seeing any signs of stopping. Not that I am allowed to, anyway. Because pledge. But I’m not planning to, either.

Happy Heath-a-versary to me.

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Heathenry Changed Me–For the Better

Obviously, all religions come with certain expectations about conduct. There will probably always be disagreements about the finer points, but there are still overarching themes. There are certain rituals and observances with traditions you’re at least implicitly expected to use. Or to find a sufficiently similar approximation.

But major lifestyle changes? Heathenry doesn’t have a whole lot in the way of dogma, and explicitly didactic stuff like Havamal is mostly common sense, so I didn’t expect any major changes. They happened anyway.

When I swore my pledge in preparation for a lifelong oath, one of the requirements I set for myself was that my oath ring had to be on during waking hours, and other religious jewelry should ideally be worn, especially if I was leaving the house.

For the first two weeks, I didn’t wear my oath ring to bed. The natural chemical balance of my skin runs acidic and salty, so it tarnishes every metal I wear, except for stainless steel. (Probably purer gold alloys, too. But I don’t wear gold. Sorry, Gullveig.) My oath ring is made of copper, so I kept it on the altar to prevent my skin from damaging it, and because I was paranoid about rolling over on it and snapping it. This meant climbing out of bed as soon as I was alert, so I could put everything on.

I used to wake up at a pretty normal time, but then spend several hours catching up on social media, sneaking naps, and collecting myself before finally making coffee around 11AM. Putting myself in a situation where I had to get out of bed the instant I realized I was awake has forced me to start my day earlier. I may still crawl back into bed to stay warm and check feeds, but I definitely start my day a few hours earlier and catch myself looking for ways to get a head start on being productive. I suddenly have so much more time to get things done.

And considering I have ADHD, which often comes with bizarre sleep issues (more on that here) this was a feat. I have struggled for years to keep myself up at a “normal” time. Now that I’ve managed it, I crave it. Melatonin and coffee are still useful things to have on hand, and I’ll throw in the occasional nightcap, but these are all in pursuit of a functional relationship with sleep and daylight.

Religion has also nudged me into being more active. When I didn’t have the budget or the craft skills to dress up my shrines to my liking, I relied on found objects picked up on walks. I was walking upwards of 7 miles a day to collect cute rocks and offerings. I’m out of shape at the moment, but now that the weather’s a little kinder I’ll be right back to that level in no time flat.

There’s also a lot more emphasis on trying to be self-sufficient and resourceful. Part of that was downsizing to identify a manageable workload. The rest of it was picking up new skills and advancing the ones I already had. If you can cook well enough for yourself when you were used to prepackaged food, that’s an achievement on its own. But when you cook for the gods, the pressure is on to make more exciting choices and expand your repertoire.

And when idols are pricey to buy, and the ones on the market don’t suit your style, the next logical step is to figure out how to make your own. Which, incidentally, made me far more motivated to tidy up the yard in search of workable wood and finally learn how to properly work an axe.

Being a heathen has also drastically altered my relationship with alcohol. I was never an alcoholic (thank the gods) but I had a horrible tendency to binge and get blackout drunk on the rare occasion that I did drink. If I bought alcohol, it was a matter of finding the balance of a tolerable flavor, good price and sufficiently high %ABV. If someone else provided it, and didn’t intervene, I’d just grab whatever they permitted. I didn’t drink for pleasure. I just drank to get drunk.

You’d think, from the outside, that heathenry would encourage drinking, since it’s frequently included in our group rituals and we take our cues from the supposedly very sloshy Vikings. The Hávamál suggests something pretty different, though:

[12] Less good there lies | than most believe
In ale for mortal men;
For the more he drinks | the less does man
Of his mind the mastery hold.
[13] Over beer the bird | of forgetfulness broods,
And steals the minds of men;
With the heron’s feathers | fettered I lay
And in Gunnloth’s house was held.
[14] Drunk I was, | I was dead-drunk,
When with Fjalar wise I was;
‘Tis the best of drinking | if back one brings
His wisdom with him home.

Bearing in mind that alcohol snatches your wits has made me more likely to refuse, even when the opportunity is right in front of me at no apparent cost. Faceplanting on walls isn’t a good look. And I’m sure the gods find it funny, but what’s funny once is just really sad when you do it regularly. The real cost is a lot higher than what’s immediately obvious.

Which is something that having my fingertip crushed in a door during a bender put into painfully sharp focus.

So, I take the apple juice instead of the wine. Make instead of buy. Try to sleep and try to be mindful of my consumption and be generous with what I have. Try to be whatever it is the gods seem like they’re nudging me towards.

Wild goose chases aside (tricksters gonna trick), they haven’t really led me astray so far.

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Tough Love Exists

I think one of the weirder things I have learned from Loki is how to accept tough love.

Tough love is a weird and unwelcome concept for a lot of people. A lot of people hide malicious intentions behind the idea of tough love. People with agendas, or a sense of selfishness they refuse to rein in, are often needlessly harsh and fall back on claiming to mean well to avoid consequences. In retaliation, other, better-meaning people want to claim that love shouldn’t hurt, ever. Under any circumstances. Even this crowd hides its own creeping agenda, as a refusal of negative experience is also often a refusal of consequences. All these people do is sour the concept.

Tough love in its true form is best known in the context of addiction recovery, as that’s where the concept originates. While I’ve never grappled with substance abuse, trauma recovery brings out many of the same symptoms, carries much of the same baggage, and results in similarly bad behavior.

I’m a traumatized person, and I need tough love.

The way I have managed my trauma before receiving professional and divine help…didn’t work. Recovery just isn’t something you can do by feel, when the entire problem is that your brain has betrayed you. What makes sense does not necessarily have any genuine logic to it. Just because something feels dangerous or impossible doesn’t mean it really is. Alternately, just because something feels justified in your fear, doesn’t make it so.

I threw hairbrushes at people and screamed unthinkable insults at the love of my life over the stupidest things. It was not sustainable, and I needed a change that I was unwilling to make.

Loki’s a pretty well established boundary-violator. That is terrifying when your trauma comes from violated boundaries to begin with. And you can always, theoretically, say no. Low-value efforts will not be pushed farther than you allow them to be. Our relationships with the gods are a mutual investment–and our gods have things to do, they’re not going to invest in something pointless.

But always saying no doesn’t get you places. You know this. Your therapist knows this. Your gods know this. Someone in this team has to give you a hard time when something is important. If Loki’s on that team, it’ll most likely be him.

And I needed to be used to the idea that other people are smarter than me and have a valuable perspective. A power dynamic is great for making you accept that. It’s hard to believe it with other humans, because we’re all theoretically on the same level and a lot of us are really stupid. I say this on the grounds that am a human who is really stupid.

And part of distinguishing tough love from malice is recognizing that there is a difference between fearing and being afraid. To fear is to know that there can be consequences if you step out of line, and trusting that these consequences will be survivable and done for a good reason. To be afraid is to fear consequences and to refuse them by any means necessary.

I fear Loki. But I am not afraid of Loki. He is often annoying, and kind of a dick. But he acts with good reason.

And when you are throwing objects at people because you refuse to take a joke, lashing out at strangers on the internet and dropping commitments, torching bridges for petty reasons and sabotaging yourself when you really need to cut someone out, refusing to leave your house…you can’t live like that. You need a loving kick in the ass.

And Loki is more than happy to oblige.

If I had not been pestered into doing some pretty heavy shadow work, I’d be in worse shape than I already was. By contrast, I’m a much more functional person who can recognize when the Bad Brains are acting up, and who has the skills to start addressing the problem and dig up the root.

Religion isn’t a substitute for therapy. But it makes a great supplement.

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A (Bus) Token of Appreciation

So I mentioned how (I’m pretty sure) local landvættir gave me bus tokens one time. That probably warrants a story, even if it’s just to illustrate how much flailing and guessing and silliness is involved in religion.

I was at a music festival and was inevitably under the influence, because that’s…just what you do at a music festival. I was the kind of Under The Influence that demands buying a chili cheese dog. I’m not naming the intoxicant or verifying any guesses, but that should be enough to guess. Gotta maintain plausible deniability, yanno?

The land this festival is on is a really nice place to wander through in the off-season, when it’s a hay farm. I suspect that, despite how trashed the place gets, the landvaettir feed off of all the loose energy, spilled food and drink, etc. that all the hippies leave in their wake. It seems like leaves start falling off the trees the day everyone packs up and goes home, even though it’s only halfway through August. But it feels nice to be there year-round, so I’m really fond of the spirits that represent it.

Which is why I pick up trash if I’m in the area. Hence, also, why the owners don’t mind me wandering through. Who else is going to be that enthusiastic about retrieving shrew skulls?

So, wandering up to the food stall, very much not sober, I tried to be a responsible person and count out my money in advance, down to the cent. But when trying to hand over my change, I ended up dropping a ton of it into the grass.

It was super late at night, the lighting was terrible, and the ground was so saturated that I had no hope of recovering my change without being caked in mud. And, being as not-sober as I was, I didn’t feel like I stood a chance at recovering any of it.

“Well,” I said. “I’ll let the Landvættir have it” and bought my chili cheese dog with a bunch of paper bills.

And then forgot about the loose change entirely, because chili cheese dog.

The next day, while walking the long way down the festival grounds (which are basically a small vale) to reach the correct entry gate, I saw something glinting in the grass by the bridge that connects the two fields.

I certainly have some magpie tendencies, given that my first thought was “shiny!” I assumed it was a small puddle, since it tends to be a very soggy field, but upon parting the grass to investigate, I found a bus token.

It was for Philly’s mass transit system, which meant at the time it was worth about $1.80. I had dropped far less money than that into the grass the night before, but I figure now it might have been intended as both a thank-you for loose change and for visiting regularly. I knew it was extremely rude not to accept something from the Landvættir, so I gratefully put it in my pocket.

There are thousands of reasons it would have been there. But nobody else noticed it, and the timing was odd enough that assuming it was meant for me seems reasonable.

That bus token has remained in a special spot for safekeeping, and unspent. It will never be spent. Unlike a crowded trip on the Market-Frankford Line, that token is special.

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The Rumbling Cart and My Dog’s Anxiety

My dog had a storm phobia.

He is kind of afraid of some things, like children–because one fell on him. Or horses–which are objectively spooky anyway. He’ll behave defensively, but it never gets beyond a growl and making room. He’s made amazing progress on the child fear, and he even lets kids pet him now. Not happily, but he’ll do it.

By and large, he is laid back to a fault. Masks don’t bother him, emergency vehicles merely annoy him, and he has almost no reaction to fireworks or the vacuum cleaner. He has absolutely no fear of other dogs, and he loves postal workers.

But if he were to hear thunder or heavy rain, he would shake like a leaf and hide under the nearest piece of furniture. We tried deep pressure, Benadryl to make him nap through the storm, improvised doggy panic rooms to muffle the sound and hide the lightning, and politely ignoring his behavior in the hopes that he would stop reacting and learn to cope by chance. (I hated this approach, but we had to rule out unwittingly teaching him to be fearful.) Nothing quite helped, except for maybe music to cover the noise.

My dog’s favorite song is “Never Gonna Give You Up.” I wish that was an elaborate joke, but we all get rickrolled when Thor comes a-calling.

Obviously, because doggy-Xanax is an extreme treatment, and the pre-doggy-Xanax methods were exhausted, I decided to take my chances with less scientific approaches. Specifically, spiritual.

I don’t even know what religion my dog is. He could be Bhuddist for all I know.

Actually, definitely not Bhuddist, with the way he guards bones. Definitely not Jain, either, because he’s way too enthusiastic about carrots. I don’t think he knows what Hellenismos or Religio Romana even are, and he wasn’t thrilled when I tried to include Epona in my practice early on–so Celtic Paganism is right out.

Either way, I usually don’t deliberately include him in my practice. He’s a clever little dude, so I figure he’s smart enough to be spiritually autonomous. Or whatever. Maybe he’s agnostic and stays up late wondering if there really is a dog.

But because of the lack of mundane options, and because dog is man’s best friend and man is Thor’s best friend, I figured I could try and mediate between the noisy joyrides and my very stressed out dog.

I think, partly because our dynamic with the gods is a lot like the one between us and our pets, it is easy for them to empathize with the love and concern we feel for our companion animals. Indeed, Thor himself is fiercely defensive of his goats. It also wasn’t the first time the gods came to my aid in helping my dog.

So I took the Stein I’d bought for Thor years ago and set up a little space on the first clear surface I had. When another loud storm came through, I would pick up my dog, take him over to it, and drop a coin in. I would then point at my dog and say “please drive carefully, you’re scaring my fuzzy child.”

I’m, uh, not eloquent with prayer.

There was no miraculous breakthrough. My dog was not cured overnight. But I did find, little by little, that if we bribed Thor and went back to playing Rick Astley, he did slightly better. The storms seemed quieter. He would even nap through less intense storms, without having to take Benadryl first.

There’s millions of explanations, like desensitization and…yeah, Rick Astley. But my dog eventually calmed down enough that heavy rain didn’t cause him distress. If he hears thunder, he’ll still seek me out to make sure he has protection and 80s pop. But he doesn’t cry and run for cover until the thunder shakes the house.

And by that point, I figure it doesn’t count as anxiety and is just a normal level of fear. Even the humans are bugging out, and this is part of the idea behind praying to Thor in the first place. So I consider that as good as cured.

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Counting My Feathers, as the Bells Toll

I hated the people in Austin, but I loved the birds. So with the exception of the loons, the big, shiny grackles and the feral parrots, I was relieved to get out.

I was also delirious from lack of proper sleep, and overwhelmed by the feeling that my heart was going to explode, which had stuck around after angrily pulling at my pashmina tassels for lack of prayer beads. No amount of study, prayer and trying to space out in the overly spacious bathtub at my disposal managed to shut it off. (Instead, this happened.)

It’s not a bad feeling, but it’s exhausting and extremely difficult to pass for a normal person when these feelings flare up. (And I’m already weird. Too weird for Austin, apparently.) I felt like a mistreated show dog any time I had to rein it in to shield my sister’s sensibilities.

But she’s never really grokked to my personality, so whatever…I guess.

After an encounter with a wonderfully helpful stewardess, I was staggering around my designated terminal, desperately trying to find a way to take the edge of the sensation of pulling apart at the seams. I wandered past a gift shop, and realized I hadn’t bought any souvenirs. I had lofty plans about Stetson hats, but I knew damn well I’d never be Dr. Crawford (or Dr. Quinn?) and the price of food in Austin had blown a hole in my budget.

But a collection of copper cuffs caught my eye, marked at around $12. That wasn’t going to kill me, and they looked like they were stereotypically Texan enough at first blush. I rushed in to get a better look, circling the rack for something that was bland enough for me to take home, when one snapped into focus.

Go figure.

I’d been eyeing bracelets like this to swear my oath on, and I no longer have the luxury of coincidence. I dug out my wallet, snatched it off the rack and tried to approach the till casually, even though my seams were ripping and I thought I was going to die.

The cashier did not pick up on this in the slightest.

“Whoah,” he said appreciatively. “This thing is gonna give you, like, plus-one-thousand coolness points.”

Don’t fucking DO THIS to me, I thought. I stopped talking like this in 2011. Was this person younger than me? By how much? What is it like to live as though Diablo Cody writes your lines and Edgar Wright fine-tunes the delivery? I was fascinated, and in my ridiculous state I was so oddly offended.

“Thanks! I think so too,” I said.

I left the newsstand-sized store, shaking off that weird and involuntary throwback to being fresh out of high school. I didn’t have the energy to be confronted with being in my early late twenties. Not right now.

Doing Weird Pagan Shit isn’t like in the movies, especially not ones that feel like Wes Andersen called the shots. The cuff didn’t glow, or vibrate, or tingle. I couldn’t worry about whether something had gone wrong because of my failure to pay attention, though in my floppy and highly suggestible state that was unlikely.

I got my first answer in Houston, when my jacket went missing after changing my shirt and changing my mind about washing the mustard off of my pashmina. It was the first week of January. The entirety of Texas was freezing. Philly is already like the surface of Mars this time of year, especially so when you’re landing there at night. I needed all four layers to survive.

There was no time to eat, drink, or nap, and definitely no time to go searching for the interfaith chapel. (Austin doesn’t have one.) I would have to find that jacket real damn fast.

After wasting valuable time walking around in circles, I eventually ran back to the bathroom to find it still by the sink, untouched. Given my strict time limit, I sprinted back to the gate, nearly bumping into people, to find that my flight had been delayed.

Cue a very loopy Sally Fields moment:

By now I was running on about 3 hours of atrocious sleep, dehydrated, and sweating like a racehorse. There’s a joke in there, somewhere. I stumbled getting onto the plane, and when a flight attendant saw me limply fanning myself, she handed me a cup of water. She even came back to check on me when the drink cart came around to make sure I was feeling better. I’m not sure if having my sleeves rolled up and the air conditioning on full blast was a ringing endorsement of my state, but it made her feel better.

After 5 hours of clutching the little leather pouch that held my pocket altar and new oath ring, I deplaned in Philly and walked right into this:

Never in my life would I have predicted feeling personally attacked by a Paul Santoleri mural.

The thing about signs is that they are always, at least superficially, mundane. Falcons hang out in trees because they’re birds. Airport stores stock bracelets because they make good gifts–with feather motifs, because it’s the Southwest. Planes get delayed for all kinds of reasons. There are murals in the Philadelphia airport because it’s Philadelphia.

The key component is that you notice them, or that the timing is suspiciously convenient. It’s often not the object of your gaze being manipulated, but your gaze itself. It is far easier to commandeer a vehicle that you already have permission to drive. (And, yes, Baader-Meinhoff phenomena factor in, too.)

Either way, as I was being sent on a detour around a glitchy exit gate, it all seemed like approval to me. When I finally got home, I awkwardly placed the cuff on Loki’s altar, and climbed into bed.

Part of my brain was still revving, thinking “what have I done,” but the rest of me was just relieved to be somewhere familiar, where my gods and I had personal space, and to have this step out of the way because my recon side called for a piece of metal on my arm. I would worry about that once I had some actual sleep.

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Sometimes Prayer Just Looks Like Prayer

I’m a little ashamed to admit I haven’t been as observant lately as I wish I were, and haven’t really taken the time to approach my altars longer than it takes to put on devotional jewelry before I leave the house.

And that does count as devotional behavior, because I almost always remember to do it, specifically with the idea that I am marking myself as a Heathen and carrying a reminder that what I do reflects on my gods and coreligionists. But it’s not the same as lingering by my altars and carving out time specifically for prayer.

I’ve allowed myself to get too sucked into the idea that indirect methods of devotion are equivalent to the direct, forgetting that these alternatives are alternatives, for when the direct isn’t an option. It’s good to gain knowledge in preparation for my oath, and for becoming ordained. It’s good to find ways to help marginalized and rejected people. It’s good to go into the various communities who consider me a member and try to be useful. These are all things that honor Loki. But they’re equivalent to sending a postcard when you’ve been meaning to visit. It’s not like I have to hide my faith from the people I live with, either. They think I’m a big ol’ nerd, but they’ve seen the good it’s done for me.

I had let the altar sit and collect dust, and recognized I needed to clean it. There was booze from Jol still sitting there. Altar cloths had to be shaken out. Cups had to be cleaned. I put it on my to-do list and watched that task migrate for several days in a row, being stupid and letting myself say I just didn’t feel like it, until a fly dove for my neck and I took it as a sign to get up and clean it. (That fly was…weird.)

The altar is dusted and the cloths are shaken out, and I lit apology candles, but that damn cup is still sitting on the dresser. It’s off the altar, but it still hasn’t been cleaned. What is my deal?

Aside from ADHD problems, probably fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of commitment and changing my mind. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of the consequences of lapsing, even though this is nowhere close to the first or worst time. (Remember that time I was incredibly stupid?) You’d think, 5 years in, I’d get used to this and get better at working past it.

I should give myself at least a little credit. I’ve gotten significantly better. Shadow work has done wonders for my anxiety. But I still let myself get roped into ridiculous trains of thought and tie myself in knots, acting like if I ignore the problem it will just go away.

(Stop trying to make that happen, me. It is never going to happen.)

I could do better. I should do better. An oath, especially one I offer, is not something I should keep making excuses about and prolonging. A date and time has been set to cut off any further excuses. The torc has been purchased and is sitting on the altar. I still have to work out the terms. This requires sitting down at the altar and having an actual conversation. Hopefully a looming time limit (eight weeks away) will get me in gear.

Loki can easily get by without me. He’s got plenty of other people to keep him busy when I’m not there. Ultimately, I just screw myself over when I don’t let myself relax and give in. But man, it’s rude. I’ve been rude. I’ve been playing a game with something bigger than me and an awful lot more clever. It’s foolishness. I have to get up off my tuchus and fix it.