A Solitary Path

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.

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Guilty Pleasures

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I am a major comic/movie/cartoon geek,  and I admit to having the hots for the latest cartoon version of Marvel Loki!  He has a lovely British accent  (which seems to suit so many fictional villains),  and he makes sarcasm extremely sexy!  I’m fond of this picture,  because he has his helmet off,  and his long black hair tossed wildly  (along with a delicious  “bitch,  please”  look on his face)!

Multiple Facets

There is likely more than one facet of any deity’s archetype.  Anyone can have his/her own personal version of a deity  (if the 1989 Depeche Mode song  “Personal Jesus”  comes to mind,  it wouldn’t exactly be far-fetched).  The core archetype ensures that primary features and personality traits are present in each facet,  but there will be enough differences to connect more closely with individual devotees.  This is similar to the concept of parallel dimensions  (various versions of the same things).

I found myself intrigued by the existence of  “god spouses”,  and wanted to learn more of what it entailed.  From what information I have gathered,  the most basic example of a god spouse,  is someone who is a mortal representation  (stand-in)  for a Divine consort.  One married to the Norse God Loki,  would be representing his Divine wife,  Sigyn.  In any Pagan practice,  a priest/priestess at least symbolically  “speaks”  for Divinities,  so it would not be unnatural to compare marriage to a Higher Power to this aspect of ritual  (not to imply that one is replacing Sigyn;  such a close bond with Loki would just place a devotee in harmony with that goddess archetype).

As with anything else,  I am certain there are many different types of Divine marriages;  some may only require a strong symbolic bond with a deity,  others may involve far deeper contact.  Considering the strong possibility that there are  “personal facets”  of any archetype,  the marriage vows involved will vary for each god spouse.  This being said,  marriage  (symbolic or more intimate)  is not the only way to show love and devotion to one’s Patron/Patroness,  just as human relationships do not always involve the same aspects.

Just as Loki can shape-shift into many things,  his means of bonding with devotees can also vary.  For those who are more intimate with the Trickster  (usually through  “astral projection”  or meditation),  it need not involve literal reproduction.  Sexual energy in itself is creative,  and can increase a loving bond.  I have heard of  “astral pregnancy”;  realities take on innumerable perspectives in the astral planes,  and there is the creation of  “thought forms”  (entities made from energy raised in the astral).  Anything is possible in alternate worlds,  so I remain open-minded  (though I have not experienced this phenomenon myself,  and am certain that even Loki knows where to draw the line in our interaction).

I previously mentioned an affinity for Celtic Paganism;  upon studying more of the Northern Path,  I find a great deal of compatibility between the two traditions.  This seems logical,  considering that Nordic people traveled far and wide,  influencing many cultures  (especially in Britain).  Though I now call myself Lokean,  I still call upon the Celtic Horse Goddess,  Epona.  As an artist,  I adore horses,  and it never ceases to amaze me how much they revolutionized cultures the world over.  Norse and Celtic tribes greatly understood the potential of horses,  for travel and battle.

One of the most interesting qualities of Epona,  is that she was adopted as a deity by the ancient Romans  (who also found their way to the British Isles).  I think of my Celtic Patroness as a muse,  due to my artistic affinity for equines.  An eclectic part of me remains,  but Loki shall always be my primary Patron.  My facet of Loki fosters my art,  and seems to enjoy horses as much as myself  (which makes sense,  as traditional tales mention his taking the form of a mare to produce Odin’s eight-legged steed,  Sleipnir;  Epona is sometimes known as the  “White Mare”,  as she herself would take the form of an equine).  Perhaps my Celtic studies were a stepping stone to the Northern Path,  and to Loki himself?

Pop Culture Versus Tradition

In regards to the Norse God Loki,  it seems that there are two strict sides in modern Paganism:  Marvel Universe,  and Nordic Tradition.  I say,  why should there be such boundaries?  A Pagan friend once remarked that  “Pop culture is the folklore/mythology of our time”.  Granted,  the Marvel comics and films are not accurate depictions of what is considered  “traditional”  in the Norse Pantheon,  but they are,  nonetheless,  inspired by them.

Snorri Sturluson’s Poetic and Prose Eddas were most likely biased  (considering his stoical Christian roots),  and merely based on fragmented Nordic traditional poems and tales;  though aspects of the Norse Divinities are there,  they are largely based on speculation and imagination.  If the Eddas can be enjoyed as entertainment  (though they are not fully historically accurate),  then I find no harm in taking an interest in modern pop culture interpretations.

I am not implying that one’s belief system must lack serious responsibility;  there should be a sense of play and open-mindedness,  especially when bonding with the Trickster God Loki.  In my personal experience,  he has encouraged me to find humor in everything possible.  An almost childlike quality leaves one open to new challenges and natural curiosity.  If my inner child has affinities for fictional characters,  Loki will play along  (being the proverbial shape-shifter).  He has no  “set”  form,  so he will take on many guises.

This being said,  I have noticed a tendency for pop culture fandoms to be rife with difficult,  even disturbed people  (particularly on the Internet).  In 2002,  I was part of an online discussion forum for a fantasy film I loved since childhood,  which had enjoyed a pop culture  “cult revival”.  All was fine on the forum for the two years I had been on,  until an unstable fan showed up,  and went so far as to stalk me online for a while,  merely because I disagreed with her behavior on the forum.  Fortunately,  the situation went away on its own  (especially after I left the forum),  but it caused me a great deal of distress and distrust;  to this day,  I am extra cautious on any form of social media.

Though there is no harm in emotional attachment to favorite characters in of itself  (and using them to communicate with Patron/Patroness Deities),  it is important to not allow oneself to become too attached.  Loki is an entity in his own right,  and his guises are merely tools.  For those who have had negative experiences with Lokeans relying on the modern Marvel image of Loki,  it may simply be a case of extreme pop culture fandom getting mixed up with religion.  Not everyone is unstable,  or just seeking attention;  I am a Marvel fan myself,  and know that my dear Patron is more than a mere image  (no matter what form he takes).  It is a case of being careful,  as with anything else.

Loki has communicated with me via many images in my life,  and I’m sure he will continue to do so for the rest of it.  As long as I remain true to myself,  and love him for what he is,  he’ll gladly play along with any form I fancy.  He is a God of balance,  not mere chaos;  if he is a catalyst for change  (including extreme life upheavals),  he can also restore order,  and set things right.  My zodiacal sign is Libra,  which is symbolized by a balance  (scales);  this,  coupled with my artistic nature,  make me a classic person born under this sign.  The more my bond with Loki strengthens,  the greater my compatibility with him seems.

Marvel Loki  (in both the classic  “Thor”  comics,  modern films and television series)  is clearly depicted as a villain,  which would seem to contradict his role as a Patron Deity.  Villains are capable of giving cautionary tales,  however;  Marvel Loki’s role as Trickster is still valid.  Even as a classic villain,  Marvel Loki is a catalyst for change,  issues challenges,  and instills discipline in his adversaries.  There is also a sympathetic quality to this pop culture figure:  He is an outcast,  feeling scorned and unappreciated.  I myself have felt this way much of my life,  and in my bond with Loki,  have found ways to overcome many obstacles.  It matters not if he is cast as a villain;  I find much love in my Patron,  and a better understanding of myself.

Chaos needs to be addressed to establish balance.  I love the images I use for Loki  (past and present),  but I know to maintain harmony between these chosen tools,  and my beloved guardian Patron.  There is something valuable in traditional tales,  and modern ones,  which is another form of balance.

Loki Appearances

Loki_tissue1Loki_tissue2closeup_LokiLokiChainedLoki is not without a playful side!  He has utilized many images for me over the years,  and I readily admit to being a comic book/movie fan.  Loki will point me out to shapes that remind me of the Marvel pop culture version of him  (with the horned helmet).  That being said,  there are traditional images of the Trickster with horns.

I’ve been treated for major depression for years,  and after a recent crying spell,  I found Loki’s shape in a facial tissue;  it immediately cheered me up.

The Pagan Path

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.”