I was never raised in a specific denomination. My father was raised Catholic, and my mother Baptist, yet I was for the most part, “in limbo” during my childhood. I attended church services with family members and friends, but it would take many years for me to find some semblance of spiritual identity.
In 1992, a friend of my brother’s mentioned that he was a “Pagan”. At the time, I was not sure what it meant, but it was explained to me (basically), as a form of nature religion, which actually has ancient roots in various parts of the world. This intrigued me, but it would be later in the decade when the need arose to study more of the Pagan Path.
Lamentably, I had a troubled childhood, and in my adult life, I remain estranged from many of my relatives. I was not well-treated, and much of my upbringing involved severe psychological abuse, which carried over into my adulthood. Despite this fact (and a lack of specific religion), I never considered myself an atheist or agnostic; it seemed that something (perhaps, someone), was there, though not always in tangible form.
In 1998, I began reading various books on paganism (Wicca, Celtic Tradition, Animal Totems), and though I still lacked a specific direction, my life began to make more sense spiritually. What contact I did have regarding Christianity was negative (a hypocritical, abusive father), and though I did not consider this more “acceptable” religion in itself bad for me, I was relieved to find that it was not my only alternative. Magic and ritual were no longer the mere stuff of fairy tales; there was basis in reality, and I found a way to delve further into my existence.
In 1999, I met some Pagans at a local pop culture convention, and we hit it off quite well. Not only did I find like-minded souls, I was introduced to a Wiccan High Priestess, who preferred the nickname “Tess”. Sadly, Tess was elderly, and not in the best of health, but she had a strong resolve, and much wisdom. In her, I found a friend, teacher, and guide. When she passed away around 2004, it left an indelible mark on me, but I am comforted by her insight and encouragement.
As an artist, I am mainly self-taught (relying on personal study and practice), and my approach to Paganism is no different. For years, I considered myself strictly eclectic, but I have found myself drawn to aspects of the Northern (Nordic) Path. Life is a continual learning process; no matter how much knowledge or experience I garner, I still perceive my world through an almost childlike innocence. I want to see things differently, and make change wherever it is needed.
It was through recent study of the Northern Path, and recollection of some insight from Tess, that an entity I regarded as a guardian spirit indeed had an identity: Loki. My guardian appeared to me in various forms throughout my lifetime, and though there were notable differences, there remained a common thread to link them. I described to Tess my love for a fictional character. This was not a simple “crush” on an image; the feeling was dynamic.
During another visit with Tess at a Gulf Coast convention in 1999, she mentioned a strong sense of who my guardian spirit was. She asked, “Have you ever heard of the Norse God, Loki?” His name seemed vaguely familiar; though Loki remains misunderstood in modern Pagan circles, I knew that there were pop culture references to him for years (though ironically, it was not specifically one of Loki I had been drawn to at the time). Tess noticed marked similarities between the entity reaching out to me via a favorite character, and traditional tales of the Norse God of Mischief.
“He’s mischievous, and a shape-shifter. I’m sure that’s who he is.” I gave this assumption a lot of thought, but due to studying Celtic Paganism so much for the past year, I couldn’t fully make the connection. Despite this Celtic affinity, I remained eclectic, and used Nordic Runes in some of my rituals; this did not escape Tess’ attention. “It’s interesting that you use Runes a lot.” I merely thought that the usage of Runes simply came with my eclectic nature.
One thing was certain: My guardian used various guises, and names in our communication. I kept an open mind, but I would use other images as tools (including the airy spirit “Ariel” in William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest”), before I would come to know my patron guardian in his true form. I never believed that fictional characters were coming to life; they were simply gateways of communication. With his malleable powers, Loki can be, as my friend Tess explained, “Anything you want him to be.”