Bloodlines, Marvel and the path to Loki

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.

As a child I loved reading myths and legends, tales of magic, giants, dragons, heroes, princesses and villains, Gods and Goddesses. One I remember in particular is my mum’s own childhood book – a Jackanory book of Icelandic tales. It included the story of how Thor and Loki dressed as Freyja and her handmaiden to retrieve Mjollnir. Odin and Sleipnir were also in there.
Over time I ‘moved on’ to Tolkien, Harry Potter and historical fiction (yes, in that order), but my love for mythology remained. In fact my appreciation and fascination with it only grew, as my various GCSE and A-Level art projects can attest. I read mostly about the Egyptians but the Celtic tales also captured my imagination.

In my early 20s I researched a number of different spiritual paths, but was always drawn back to the Gods and Goddesses rather than ritual. I’d found the general idea of Paganism to be a better fit than anything else, so started reading more about it. My main focus has always been the Egyptians – since I was eight they have held my heart strong and fast – but I liked the musicality of the Celtic tales, and I love Celtic and Norse design.
I fell in love with longships when I visited the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde when staying with Danish family, and I fell in love with Copenhagen. I was ten when I first visited, and I have been back twice since, though unfortunately not in the last few years for health reasons. I feel at home among the Danish people, even if I don’t understand the language. It’s in my blood. My maternal grandmother was Danish, and I live in Lincolnshire in the UK, a county that was part of the Danelaw. It was here that an old charm, “one for God, one for Wod and one for Lok” originates.

In 2012 I saw the Thor movie on TV. I enjoy superhero movies (the X-Men and Iron Man are my favourites), so even though it looked silly I gave it a go. Yes, it was silly in places (perhaps even irreverent to some) but a little strand pulled at my memory. I remembered the book of Icelandic tales my mum has and read it again but it wasn’t enough. I downloaded as many interpretations of Norse tales as I could find on my Kindle, and then eventually braved The Eddas, and later the beginning of the Gesta Danorum.
It felt like a piece of me just clicked into place, like I was rediscovering the religion of my ancestors. Throughout it all the brightest strand that sung from the pages was Loki. This was not the Loki of Marvel; this was a multifaceted Being who stood out in a way I couldn’t describe. The more I read the more questions I had, and slowly a quest began to unfold. But everything became one massive messy tangle in my brain and I pretty much gave up. Brain tangles plus brain fog aren’t a good mix.

By this point I had started saying prayers to the Egyptian Deities I love so much, finally accepting I was (in broad terms) a Pagan. By chance I came across a book on Asatru in the local library, and if you know our local libraries you will know this book was completely out of place. But there it was, and it opened a window on to the Northern Tradition. Like a number of authors this one expressed the view that Loki should be avoided at all costs and shouldn’t be worshipped. I felt rather offended on Loki’s behalf, but I wasn’t part of the Northern Tradition – my Gods were the Egyptians! – so I just continued as I had been. By this point I had realised that my love for the Deities went beyond the enjoyment of their stories; it was the Deities Themselves that called to me.

Then one night in 2014, months after reading the book on Asatru, Loki made Himself known to me as a golden-bright mist and a very awe-ful presence. For several days all I kept ‘finding’ were articles, pictures and mentions of the God Loki. Suffice to say the Asatru book’s warnings rang in my head. I couldn’t just ignore this flurry of ‘Loki’ however, so I looked online and came across books by devotional Polytheists devoted to Him, and realised I could be wary but I didn’t need to be so afraid. I also came to realise this is what I am: a devotional Polytheist.

After accepting Loki into my life my other devotional practices also grew and developed. Whole new ways of honouring and relating to the Deities opened up for me. I have also been opened up to the wonders of my Beloveds Sigyn and Hella, who I may not have known if not for Loki.
This whole journey has not been an easy one, and I’ve struggled as my health’s deteriorated, but my love and intention to honour the Deities with integrity, and in the way I live my life, has only grown.

That film reconnected me with my heritage and led me on a journey to what has become my bedrock. When all else has fallen apart around me I am back at that purest expression – honouring and praying to Them, doing what I love: devotion.
All because of a Marvel movie.

By the way, if anyone can recommend a book on Pop Culture Paganism please let me know because I would like to try to understand better that path, even if it’s not one I follow.

2nd WordPress Anniversary – Update & Changes

It has been two years since I joined WordPress, and I still don’t quite know where the time’s gone. Since I first started my writing style has developed and I’ve started to share more of my devotional practices, but most of all my connections to Them have grown, strengthened and expanded. That’s not to say that this time hasn’t also been challenging, or that it’s been plain-sailing. It hasn’t. I’ve had many challenges with my health and faith to deal with, but I’ve made it through so far.

As some of you may have noticed I’m making a few adjustments to the range and type of posts on here.  Firstly this is because my interests have widened since starting Northern Tamarisk, secondly because I now feel more able to share personal projects and things I’ve been up to. I started off wanting this to be a more academic-style blog, but I realise after much soul-searching that the academic is just one facet of who I am. I was under the impression that I needed to keep myself out of the blog as much as possible, but since starting my Etsy shop I realise perhaps I need to share a bit more about my personal practices and things I’m involved in. People like to know who they’re buying from and what sort of a person I am. Personally I like to buy from small businesses who have similar ethics to me so I read up about them, and this will help others to do the same with me
I will continue to explore different areas of research and devotional Polytheism, Paganism and Archaeology, and I will still be writing book reviews. I will continue my ‘Out & About’ posts, especially when I see something I think you may like – the ‘Wotan’ light bulb, for instance. ‘Friday Finds’ will keep going, though not on a monthly basis – I will be concentrating on specific themes, seasonal items or an artisan feature. Instead of ‘Fantasy Art Friday’ and ‘Fantasy Photography Friday’ there will be ‘Friday Focus’. This will incorporate artists, photographers and artisans whose work is inspired by Mythology, Polytheism or Paganism. Again, this will not be monthly, just as and when.

I’m enjoying rediscovering my crafty side, learning about traditional crafts, upcycling and natural alternatives, so expect to read more about these ventures too. Finding ways to bring back old traditions in a modern way and helping to lighten my impact on the planet are important to me. Doing this not only helps us and the environment, but can also be a way of living-devotion. What better offering can we make to Them than to take care of this beautiful planet whose care and creatures we have been entrusted with?

In February, May and September I will be sharing photos and experiences from past holidays to Luxor in Egypt, York and Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury. I went on these trips before starting my blog so feel like it would be good to share some of my better pictures.

In the next couple of weeks I will be starting photo shoots for the various pre-loved Deity statues I have found online, in junk yards and charity shops. Aside from my personal collection I have a lot of Gods and Goddesses looking for loving new homes. Once they’ve been cleaned up, repaired or re-painted and had their photo shoots I will be putting them up for re-homing in my Etsy shop. Most are in excellent condition, some need a little sprucing up, and a couple need a bit of fixing up, but they are all beautiful and I feel guilty keeping them packed under my bed when they should be taking pride of place on some adoring person’s shrine. I have quite a few Egyptian Deities as well as a couple of Greek Goddesses who will be looking for that loving new home. I also have a copper wall plaque of an Aztec Sun God to add.

I’m finding my feet on Twitter as well. I give updates on new blog posts and Etsy items as well as Norse, Egyptian, Pagan and Archaeology re-tweets. I’m thinking of sharing interesting Tweets from others in an occasional roundup here on the blog. These will be snippets of information, or even photos from museum collections or artisans.
Because of the work involved in remembering to update Twitter regularly I will assess at the end of the year and see if it is a valuable enough use of my time. Brain power and concentration have to be rationed carefully.

Pinterest board changes:
*Created ‘Northern Tamarisk on Etsy‘ board.
*Created ‘Northern Tamarisk Articles‘ board.
*Merged ‘Egyptian Pics & Inspiration’ with ‘Egyptians‘ – ‘EP&I’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Elves, Fey & Sidhe’ with ‘Elves, Fey & Other Beings‘ – ‘EF&S’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Paganism’ and ‘Pagan Crafts’ with ‘Witchy, Pagan & Devotional‘ – ‘P’ and ‘PC’ will be deleted.
*Merged ‘Research Wishlist’ with ‘Books & Research Wishlist‘ – ‘RW’ will be deleted.
*Created more boards for Norse Deities, as well as a number of boards for Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.

You can see the full list with updated links on my ‘My Pinterest Boards‘ page.

Advent Calendar for my brother

Question: What can you do to make something your 26 year old brother will actually like?
Answer: Advent calendar filled with money!

I saw some pretty ideas for envelope Advent calendars on Pinterest and thought I’d make my own version. My brother is notoriously picky about presents and usually just wants the money so he can buy his own stuff. It makes for a pretty boring gift-giving experience, so I decided I’d make the Advent calendar with money in for each day. That way he could either open up one envelope per day or open them all on Christmas day and it seems like he has more presents. He has opted for the latter, so my board is currently sitting all sparkly and pristine, awaiting the carnage to come on Christmas day. Poor calendar.

I wanted to use materials that I either already had or could re-use. It’s a slightly more eco-thoughtful way to do things, and can save money on costs too.
I started off with a cheap cork board and covered it with brown paper. I then pinned on some jute fabric with glittery red stars, and added some old red cotton ribbon which was my Nanny Grethe’s. I cut lengths of string and tied them around pins and stuck them in the back of the cork board frame.

The envelopes are just the little ‘wages’ envelopes you can buy in stationary shops. I made sure to get the plain ones so I could decorate them. I used some old Christmas stickers that had been waiting to be put to work for years quite some time, and some number stickers I bought from The Works.
I put the money in each envelope, but decided not to glue them shut so they can be re-used in the future. They are attached to the string with little wooden pegs. Just hook the envelope flap over the back of the string, stick the peg on and voila!

The final touch was a money ‘jar’ I made using an old tablets bottle, some of Nanny Grethe’s old ribbon, some stretchy sparkly cord from a previous Christmas, a little holly embellishment, and a label made from leftover brown paper. The peg was a broken one, so now has a use.

I had a lot of fun making it, and you could even adapt the idea with different themes for different people, age groups or belief systems. Most importantly my brother seems to like it. That’s win-win for me.

advent-board_2016_copyright

Why I wear a Poppy

The poppy is supposed to represent the fallen of war. It was inspired by the World War 1 poem ‘Flanders Fields’, and has been the emblem of those who died in the service of the Armed Forces since 1921. Of late many people see it as a political statement, ignoring what it was originally set up to commemorate. The poppy is not meant as an idolisation of war, it is a remembrance of the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to keep our countries safe. The poppy appeal itself uses the money it raises to help veterans of war and their families.
I do not celebrate war, in fact I hope continually for the end of conflict the world over. The reason I wear the poppy is to remember people like my Grandad George, who was in the RAF and an air traffic controller in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, my Great Aunty Margaret, who was part of the Women’s Army in the UK, and her first husband Norman, who was killed only a few days after they married. I’m the First World War my Great Grandmothers worked in the munitions factories.
Being a small island nation with Europe only across the channel, it was a terrifying and very real prospect for people in Great Britain that their countries would be taken over by a hostile force. A number of the larger cities were bombed in WW2. My Grandad Tony has memories of the bombers flying over Coventry when he was a boy.

I wear the poppy because I am grateful to the generations who gave their lives and services to keep the UK safe from the threat of invasion. If it weren’t for the efforts of those men and women the UK, and parts of Europe, would be a very different place now. We value our freedom, and that is what those people were fighting for. 
I honour the fact that the people in our Armed Forces are fighting for a concept I can believe in – freedom – even if I find it very hard to agree with the means.
I wear the poppy to honour those who fought for freedom, especially those who fought in WW1 and WW2. I also see it as a way of honouring my ancestors who were in the Wars.

If you would like to find out more about the symbolism of the Poppy, and also the controversies surrounding it, these two pages have some very good information:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/29848595/remembrance-poppy-controversies-and-how-to-wear-it

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_poppy

Samhain 2016 -Altar/Shrine pics

Last night I had the pleasure of setting up two extra altar/shrine areas, alongside the shrine for my Beloveds.

The first was for family members, including my much-loved and much-missed cat Orlando. I enjoyed setting up this one the most, as it made me look through all my photos and bits and bobs I have as keepsakes. The camera belonged to either my grandad or my Norwegian great-grandad, the dreamcatcher centre was brought back from Canada by my Uncle Tony. The door stop was from my Nanny’s house, and the Little Mermaid statue is a nod to her being born in Denmark. The Aragonite was my Aunty Tina’s. The little clay piece in front of Orlando’s photo is a paw print I took from him about a year before he passed away, and there’s also a lock of his fur. Presiding over the shrine on either side are Hella and Anubis. There are scarabs and a fabric lotus there too, as symbols of the cycles of life, death and rebirth. The lists you can see are names of my family members, and of family friends and pets.  Continue reading

My Love For the Old Ones

  I don’t believe in just one God, I believe in many Beings; Gods, Goddesses, Spirits, Elementals, Angels, even the planets and the universe itself have consciousness to me. In a world where logic and cold hard facts rule it can, at times, seem a lonely place. Fill that world instead with respect for all things, see the food we grow, the planet we live on and the expressions of life as living, ‘breathing’ beings and everything takes on another dimension. You are no longer alone as every inch is filled with life.

Continue reading