Over the Autumn, Winter and into Spring we had an open fire every night. Lighting and tending to the fire brought me closer to the element of Fire itself, and to Deities associated (and I associate) with Fire. Not only that but it brought me into a better understanding of the hearthfire, and how important tending that would be. The expression ‘hearth and home’ became something that had more meaning to me than it had before.
Where we lived previously we had a log burner, and I loved seeing the fire through the glass window, but I didn’t realise that even that was keeping Fire ‘contained’ and ‘removed’ somehow. When we moved to where we’re currently living and the seasons turned, having an open fire was a kind of revelation. Here Fire is not shut away, it’s a part of the room, and feels more a part of the home. Our open fire became the hearth fire, the home-fire. Even my parents said how much of a difference it made, how it made the house feel different; how coming together by the fire and tending to it as a family made the house feel more homely.
On the 24th May I attended an author talk and book signing by Chocolat author Joanne Harris. Her new book, The Testament of Loki, is a sequel to the popular novel The Gospel of Loki, and acts as a continuation of the time period preceding her Runemark stories. The talk took place at Lincoln’s Collection museum, and also included a book signing.
Joanne started off by telling us how she was first introduced to Norse mythology when she was seven. Her first book borrowed from the library was a retelling of the Norse myths, and she borrowed it every week for some time, so enamoured was she with the stories. But as she continued her explorations she found herself unsatisfied with the ending. Ragnarok didn’t seem a fitting end to the story of the Gods, so she started writing stories for them herself. When she was 18 she tried to get a 2,000 page book published which was continuing the story after Ragnarok. She was turned down by publishers and put the book away. But she never forgot her love of the Norse myths.
Four years I’ve been dedicated to You.
I’m glad You’re still here,
(c) Michelle, Northern Tamarisk, 2018
Loki is master of the grey-zone. In the Norse myths He walks a fine line between helping and betrayal. For the most part He’s the Retriever, the Gift Giver, the genial Companion. But He is also the One Who arranged Balder’s death (if you go solely by the Eddas – in Gesta Danorum it’s purely Hoder), the One Who understands that all cycles must come to an end in order for new growth and life to begin. In order for Change to be brought about sometimes we have to learn to let go.
Loki is behind every decision for growth that involves radical change and letting go. In both the metaphysical and literal sense, some things we know and love become what keeps us from stepping into a more transformative phase of growth. To move onto the next stage we have to learn to walk without them.
I’m finally back reconnecting with my Beloveds. It has been a lonely time without Them. I took someone’s mis-representing words to heart. It plunged me deeper into my Underworld journey and brought me into my Dark Night of the Soul, where my channel went virtually silent.
Despite the assurances of two spirit workers concerning my connection (with Loki in particular) in the intervening months, I still let fear win.
Things started to really shift last month, though, and on the day of the Autumn Equinox I did a lot of releasing work, as well as Shadow integration. The following day I was recovering in bed (releasing tends to bring the pain into my physical body so it can then be worked out and fully released) and I just felt Loki and Sigyn there. I cannot describe how beautiful that certainty was; knowing it was Them.
They told me it’s time to get back on the horse and stop allowing someone else’s misunderstandings to hold me back. They were understanding of why I shut down the way I did, but also very clear that I have to move on from feeling the way I do. I have work to do.
Sharing the end of a poem I wrote early this morning, dedicated to Himself. In some ways Loki reminds me of elements of Shiva, with His divine dance of destruction that leads to renewal, the fire that burns away and leads to new, stronger growth.
Must fall apart
To reach the truest
Depth of heart,
And there He’ll stand,
Loki: Light Bringer.
Even back in childhood I loved reading about witches and magic. A number of years ago I started researching the witch trials and Medieval magic, but most of it was so far removed from the forest and nature that I put it aside. That longing for connection remained, however, and it became a part of my spirituality. It’s why she doesn’t show much on the surface, but dig a little deeper and my Witchy nature is there. She called to me in February, but other things took over. I had a dream at the beginning of June where I discovered a powerful Witch in a tomb, and when I looked at her face she was me. I am rediscovering this part of me.
Despite the more obvious practices of Seidhr, spells, enchantments, divination and shapeshifting, there is another powerful magic in the Iron Wood: the women Themselves.
The women are the fiercer, more powerful sex among the Jotnar – think of Angerboda and Skadi, of Groa and Gerda. But this strength isn’t just physical, and nor is it purely ‘magical’. Their true power lies in Their personal power, Their Sovreignty, Their sacred expression of Their Selves. They are empowered women, the Ones Who stand up for Their needs and desires, standing Their ground, asserting Their boundaries.
To the writers of the time these powerful, self-assured women must have been seen as a real threat to the ‘way of the world’. These are independent Goddesses who know Their needs and magics and are respected for it. How much of the ‘terrible and terrifying’ description of Them is really true, and how much is the filter of the writer?
While these amazingly strong Goddesses can be fierce and awe-inspiring, is there a chance They have been somewhat misrepresented? How much of Their true nature has been rewritten or lost? Just as Sigyn is reduced to the long-suffering wife of Loki in the Eddas, with the gift of her magic as galdr fetter hinted at in just one epithet, how much of the Jotnar and Iron Wood has been lost?
In being drawn back to the ways of nature, the Earth and the crystal, plant and animal kingdoms I feel my inner ‘wild woman’ calling. This is part of me I have been too afraid to claim, but now I’m tentatively curious. Whereas Angerboda used to terrify me I can now be in Her presence with a great deal of respect for Her power. I know She values physical strength, but She also values strength of will and heart.
Beside Her more obvious Iron Wood connections, to me She is a Goddess of empowerment. Part of Her gift is bringing us into our own power. While this manifests differently in each of us – due to different personalities, abilities and paths to follow – She is the embodied Powerful Feminine.
Although Hers can be a tough love, She does love… and fiercely. She is loyal and true to Her Self and to those She loves. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
I would like to address something I’ve seen crop up a few times since I started my devotional journey: the disdain for, and derision of, those who came to Loki and the Northern Tradition after seeing Marvel’s Thor movie(s). I have been on the receiving end of this myself, so this is my perspective as someone who generally enjoys reading and watching other peoples’ interpretations of the Deities.
This does not mean, however, that I identify those literary or film adaptations with the Gods Themselves, and I believe this is important to stress since that is the ‘argument’ and assumption some people seem to have. I also love Stargate SG-1 but it doesn’t mean I see Apophis, Ra, Hathor or Anubis as Goa’uld. Likewise when I watch the Thor movies I do not see Loki or Thor (on the two occasions I’ve had the pleasure of being in Thor’s presence) as Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth, or as the comic book’s versions after reading comics/graphic novels.
For me there is a difference between character and Deity, just as there is between an actor and the character they play. Daniel Radcliffe is not Harry Potter, but there will always be something of Harry in him, and having played the role many people will now ‘see’ his face when reading the books. He has become synonymous with the character but he is not actually Harry Potter.
Likewise I believe a Deity can appear in the form of a character if they choose to – it may be the best way to connect with someone. There is also the question of how ‘alive’ a character is, as many writers can understand. What energy is then built up when a character becomes beloved of so many? And what about when that character is inspired (however loosely) by a Deity – do they then carry some tiny piece of the Deity’s own energy out to new readers or viewers?
But Pop Culture Paganism is another path to mine and I understand little about its workings so it is not my place to speak of its beliefs, only of my own. Instead I now move on to how a movie helped pull strands of my past into the present and gave me a Gods-filled future.
Loki and Sigyn by Michelle, Northern Tamarisk
If Sigyn is the Goddess of holding space (see previous post) perhaps Loki is the one who takes our hand and let’s us know it’s safe to open up. He is the one who encourages us to express our most vulnerable selves. All the while Sigyn holds the bowl, catching any poison and throwing it away. Together They are the ones who support us through the deepest levels of healing.
If there was ever a Deity suited to helping us heal our own Shadow it is Loki – He who knows His own, Who loves all His children; knows how to love the seemingly unlovable. He is also the one who calls out hypocrisy and the Shadows of the Gods Themselves. He is the one who helps us heal our deepest wounds.
When we are in our own caves, bound by things once dear to us, upon rocks of our own shame, Loki is there with us. He knows the agony, the torment, on a whole other level. But knowing the cave as He does He can help us through our own time in the Underworld. When our own Shadows, our own repressed selves, drip down onto us, tearing us apart, He is there.
All the while Sigyn, compassion personified, holds us steady. She takes us in Her arms like She holds the bowl, letting the Shadow poison spill out, helping us to heal. She lets us know She’s there whenever we need Her again. She will always return to hold the bowl when needed.
What we need to hold on to during this process is that, somehow, Loki made it out of the cave. Somehow He was freed from the darkness, and Sigyn could finally rest Her strong but weary arms and heart. That means we can make it out of the darkness too. We can start to reclaim our lives, go out into the world and do what we’re meant to do. We are all the stronger for having been through our trials.
They are a partnership for deep healing. For how do we heal the Shadow? With understanding acceptance and compassion. Loki and Sigyn.