Regardless of my eclectic tendencies, I have always preferred being a solitary Pagan. This does not imply that I am an anti-social loner (trust me, I love having friends); I simply feel more at ease handling rituals and spells on my own. I retain a natural curiosity for others’ perspectives, and find that I can even learn from those with whom I disagree (in the sense that it teaches me more about my own beliefs). I keep an open mind, and enjoy learning new things. I go mostly by instinct; does it mesh well with my energy and feelings? If so, it works for me, and I’ve learned something new.
On a personal note, I did not have a strong formal education; as with my art, I am primarily self-taught (and continue to study whatever interests or benefits me). My depression is rooted in my childhood (having been raised in an extremely dysfunctional household), and due to it coming to a head at age 15, I had to receive professional help, and never went back to school (I was not enrolled in high school). I secured my G.E.D. in 1994, at the age of 19. My life did not drastically improve during this time, but at least I was on a road to some recovery.
Education remains important, whether or not a formal institution is involved. I see a part of myself in Miranda, from William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest”; she was raised in exile on an island with her father, Prospero, who himself devoted all of his time to studying ritual and spell work. Though clearly “home-schooled”, Miranda garnered incredible knowledge and insight. Kind and innocent, yet, this girl was not a doormat for anyone! She knew how to assert herself (holding her own against her father’s brutish servant, Caliban, and even challenging her trusted father, when coming to the defense of Prince Ferdinand, who finds his way to Prospero’s island). I keep a childlike spirit within me, yet feel protective of those I care for (I lack the brawn to defend others, but my assertion and devotion are strength enough). I do my best to offer myself the same courtesy.
In early 1993, I rediscovered a fantasy film from my childhood, “Labyrinth” (which debuted in theaters in the summer of 1986; I never saw it on the big screen, but on cable television a year later). I was intrigued with the film upon first viewing it, but at the age of 17-and-a-half, it fascinated me even more. Singer/actor David Bowie played a sly Fae Lord, specifically a “Goblin King”, who resided in a castle at the center of a great maze (hence the movie title). Though meant to be a villain, the handsome character Jareth retained sympathetic qualities (loneliness and misunderstanding) with which I could strongly relate. His other qualities further captivated me: Shape-shifting (specifically into the form of a white owl), scrying into crystal balls, and his uncanny ability to appear and disappear at will. There were so many things about this persona that awakened great feelings within me.
My wise friend Tess would later point out the similarities between Jareth and Loki. Though my Patron Deity has relied on many images in our communication, it was this “Goblin King” image that became the catalyst for strengthening my bond to the God of Mischief. There are also many reasons for me to surmise that Loki had used other images to reach out during my childhood; perhaps his attempts to reach me became more vital in my late teens, simply for the fact that I was approaching adulthood, and still experiencing crises.
It’s wonderful how we can bond with favorite characters, either seeing parts of ourselves in them, or qualities we yearn for. Intrinsically, I believe that if a powerful affinity develops for such personae, there is a deep spiritual reason. My Patron Loki has connected to me through various tales and images in my lifetime, and I am certain he will continue to guide and teach me in this manner for the rest of it. A story specifically about Loki’s archetype (or based on it) need not be the only gateway of communication; many tales (past and present) have much in common, and compatible elements may always be found. I’ve seen him in favorite fantasy films, modern pop culture, and classic literature. Loki does not limit himself; if he reaches out, he does so with a myriad of methods.