Fire, Smoke, and Steel

Photo by: Earthfirearts@gmail.com

The turning of the year and I found myself ill. Stomach and body angry and full of pain, cause unknown. Yet deep down I think that I knew.

You see, my mind and life had been occupied for over a month by the needs of the mundane world and of family. Daily devotional had slipped to every few days, to once a week. The spirit, my spirit was lacking the nourishment that it needed and that helps my body stay healthy. A lesson I should have learned long ago, but I am rather dumb at times and can get wrapped up in only what’s in front of me. Forgetting to care for the Self in process of caring for others even when it’s detrimental to health.

So it was that just days after the New Year I heard the calling from my altar, a pull that had nothing to do with the physical. It needs be said that when it comes to distractions my home is pretty good for it, especially of an evening. A four year old daughter, my wife, and a seven month old / fifty pound pupper and that isn’t even including all the electronics, the noise from living in an apartment complex, etc. and so on. So to feel the pull during that time while not unusual, was too strong to ignore.

My body was weakened to the point of taking all I had to just stand and walk from room to room. Yet the… prodding that was pushing me also gave me strength to stand and do what I felt was needed. I gathered candles for the altar, new incense, and tidied it up. I closed the door to the bedroom (where my altar is), lit the candles, the incense, and laid my hand upon the altar while bowing my head.

The sensation was immediate. It was as a starving man set before a banquet; a ravenous wolf finding a lone and wounded stag. A host of emotions flooded over me at once; shame, guilt, love, acceptance, and mild irritation to name a few. With it all came instructions to take up my personal blade (not my ceremonial) and to lay down in bed, the blade upon my chest, and let myself go.

I took up the steel, stripped down, and climbed into bed holding the blade on my chest over my heart. Beginning four-fold breathing, it wasn’t long before I was elsewhere. Where I do not know. It was a black void and felt as if my body was floating there, no pulling or urging, just floating. I let go of expectations, of hopes and fears, placing myself entirely in that moment with every ounce of will I had left. It was then that I realized a few things. First was that the Void wasn’t at all black, but it was all things, all colors swirling together constantly, blending and moving so that all that could be seen was the culmination of what we see as black. Second, I wasn’t alone in that place. There was a sentience there among and in all the colors and black and shadows. There was my beloved Patron, only hidden from view by a veil as thick as a silk sheet. It felt that if I but reached out and drew aside a curtain I could see anything, go anywhere.

The blade was still with me and glowed with it’s own inner light and had a warmth to it that had nothing to do with the fires with which I had made offering to Loki and the Rökkr. It was a light and warmth that comes from Tribe, of a gift given out of love, of a bond unbroken. It was a person symbol not only of protection, but of family as strange as it may sound for a blade. What makes it all the more “funny” is it was a gift from neither Rökkatru nor Heathen, but from perhaps the most peaceful man I have ever known that walks the Buddhist path and his son. The worth and meaning in this piece of worked steel is beyond words to me, and was reflected in that place.

There was a song there. Wordless and whispered that was felt more than heard, and I knew it to be Ancestors, entities not truly forgotten but lost to history and time. That song was beautiful and while a touch sad carried with it pride, the pride of defiance and survival. It echoed in and through me, I could feel the smile of my Patron even through that veil.

What that place was, where I found myself I do not know with any certainty. There was an echoing fear there that I did not know, couldn’t recognize except to know that it wasn’t my own.

That void was parted in front of me as a simple curtain pulled aside and an old woman stood there. Six foot tall and thin in her raggedy simple brown dress. I could smell the musk of both dogs and wolves (trust me, wolf musk is hard to forget) as she held the “curtain” open and yawned as if she just woke up. Hair unbound and white as snow, skin wrinkled with age, but golden eyes bright and crisp even though they were still drowsy. She looked to me, up and down, and only said “One: About time, but come back later. Takes old folks time to really wake up you ass. Two: You make some pretty babies.”

WTF? Ok…

Before I could respond, my four year old was shaking me asking me if I was asleep in a quiet little voice. My eyes opened to look into her bright blues.

I might have a very low self-image/opinion, but damn my littles are pretty cute. They can be absolute monsters, but they are cute.

This got me to thinking, thinking about many things. About how I was blessed with essentially a large family though not all are blood. About how my own bloodlines and ancestory have an influence on who I am, who my children are. About the trials that I have faced and my eldest child is now beginning to face. It may me look at my parents and the lineages that I come from, wondering how many of my ancestors faced the same trials. Were they thought mad? How did they make it through? Now, we have drugs to help provide what the brain cannot however even 60 years ago between the cultures, ideals, and lack of understanding so many went untreated.

How many who are schizophrenic or bipolar are not only that way because of the way they are wired, but because of a connection to the “Other”? In the United States hearing voices gets you locked up and drugged into zombie oblivion. Yet in tribal communities you are cared for and even respected as hearing the ancestors or the spirits of the land. You don’t get “treatment”, you get training. Medicine Men, Wise Women, Shamans, Herb Women, Oracles, Seers, and so many more names.

My family line, my blood, is strong with this gift and curse. I remembered the stories my own Mother would tell of the family. Saw and read the journals of others long gone. Letters. Mementos. It sometimes takes me a while to get to a conclusion, but I tend to get there eventually and I think I am close to something. Just not sure what.

I do know that I have been not just ignoring a part of myself. I’ve been outright neglecting those needs. Just as the body needs nourishment, so too does the heart, mind, and soul. Some of those aspects inside me where being starved and the rest react to it. When one walks the Rökkr path you can only go so long before they take notice, and at least for me risk of offense. Worse, they start “checking on” you, see what you haven’t been doing and remind you of what your obligations are. For some of us. So I will be going back to my devotions. If even just a moment before I go to bed in order to say thank you for the gifts I’ve been given, the blessings I have received, and those strengths I have found on this path.

I know, so damn esoteric right? That’s a different post, sorry.

Life, Hope, Loki, and Other Four-Letter Words

Well. Been a bit. Life has been busy and hectic here, to the point that some parts have been getting put on the back burner and really shouldn’t.

Life happens. Shit happens. It happens to each and every one of us at different times and in different ways, but it happens. We take the hits as they come and we do our best to roll with it. Hey, part of being Heathen right? Standing and showing our strength to keep going? It’s certainly sounds noble and Heathenish. Yet I’m not Heathen, not really. I’m Lokean and I am Rokkatru. I am also mortal and as such am prone to the entire spectrum of emotions with faces for each mood and thus reflecting the shape-shifter that I kneel before.

You want me to bury my pain? Fuck off. Swim the river of tears or drown in it. I shouldn’t give voice to my anger? Suck it. I will howl my rage to the moon if I so choose. The love and hope I feel should be kept down? I will laugh as I dance over your bones.

For months now I personally have been riding waves of emotion, setting my spirituality aside for personal reason. And that is as unhealthy for me as if I were to stop eating. But I REFUSE to think any of my Gods or Goddesses would want me to suppress any emotion that I have, that burn within my breast. Emotion is the primal in each of us trying to be free. Deny it and you deny all those who came before, so be stoic and unfeeling to the world outside your circle. You say being a Heathen, I say being afraid of yourself.

I can already hear the cries across the interwebs of “I feel! I’m not afraid to show emotion!”, and that’s fine. Everyone is different. However, let me tell you this so listen close, you just might learn something. That random person you see, silently weeping in public? Yeah the one who so many would think of as weak or a loser? I see a soul in pain that is so strong that they aren’t scared to be perceived as weak.

What does any of this have to do with Loki? A great deal, for just imagine if He were to be ashamed to be thought of as weak. Can you? The gifts he has given not only to the Aesir but to mankind as well. To show his pain if front of others, including beloved Lady Sigyn. To be laughed at, ridiculed, used as the scapegoat and still he returns. Glutton for punishment? Not really, but the one that sees the need and does it. The one that stands and says, yes I did it and I will fix it. The one to fix it even when He wasn’t the one to fuck it up.

Life. Hope. Loki. Emotions. All tied together in a beautiful knot with so many other things that it is almost painful to contemplate. So the next time you meet the Laughing Lokean, join their laughter. Next time you see someone in tears, join them quietly. When someone is so angry, howl with them. If you are brave enough.

I Ain’t Dead Yet!

As so very many of us know life can and does get insanely stupid at times, often when we’re far from prepared for it. Well dear readers, you guessed it. Happened to me. A Lokean of all people, right?

I’m not going to go into details as I don’t have all the information at this time, but let’s just say I could almost swear I heard even Hella head-desk. It has been certainly interesting, but on the up side this past weekend was a MUCH needed getaway for the wife and I. Nope, no pagan fest this time. We let our inner geek fly and went to Archon 43. We stayed in a… HOTEL! Gasp! For shame! What kind of Rokkatru are you? One that likes indoor plumbing and climate control, thank you very much.

So what does this have to do with a more or less spiritual blog? Because it fed my mundane joys. The people were also wonderful, so much less judgemental that people at festivals have been recently. Between you and I dearies, I am sick of the ever-loving Witch Wars that seem to constantly take place. It slides is like a shadow every where in the pagan community, everything from disagreements on UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) to sexual predation.

At the con, due to my mental issues, I was afraid I was not going to be able to do it. But on the first trek around the event, my wife was by my side, holding my hand and more than willing to step outside with me if I needed to.

Now I know at least a few of you know about cons. For me, I was able to enjoy, even going so far as to be alone because I was in costume. When in costume I was someone else, it wasn’t me, and for a little while I could be in a different skin and not my PTSD/Anxiety/(list goes here) self. I was a homeless undead, an Unseelie assassin, a steampunk captain, and a Lokean shamanist. And each had their own background, save the last, and I could be me again, touch that part of myself that was tucked away for so long.

At pagan events I couldn’t do that because I was either dealing with my issues or on staff. For years now I’ve had work-cations, volunteering my time and staying so busy that after it was done I was actually MORE exhausted than when I got there. Granted, I felt a great deal of pride and a certain type of fulfillment from the work yet it was still work. Before that is was years of fire performance. Lokean fire performer, big shock I know.

Anyway there is a point to this rambling. We are creatures that spend most of our lives in mundane ways and doing mundane things day in and out. Pagans, Heathens, Wiccans, Druids, Rokkatru, and all the others go to the Pagan gatherings and often save up all year to do so. Supporting fellow pagans in crafting, sharing and learning, stepping outside the mundane. It nourishes and replenishes the soul, reconnects that primal heart back to whatever is a part of your path. Then back to mundania we go, often with teary goodbyes as we drive away not wanting to leave.

Yet for the spiritual, events like a Sci Fi/Fantasy Convention can renew a different part of the soul for some of us. A part that is childlike and too often is buried under layers of embarrassment, shame, or because we have heard too often how mundane things we love are stupid. Fandoms, you know exactly what I mean. Attendance means you can be your other selves. Try on a new skin. I had forgotten that feeling. And if shapeshifting like that isn’t honoring Loki, well, let’s just say I think it does and leave it there.

Also without doubt, there is magic at such places/events. Magic of dreams and creativity abounds and is there to be touched, danced in, knowledge shared. Panels to speak on everything from “Is Star Trek Going Downhill” to “The Afterlife”. Go to a room party, but be aware of the theme trust me. Sit with a stranger and talk about the shared wonder of a common fandom.

It doesn’t even have to be a Con. It could be a SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) event, a cosplay contest, anime con, and so many more. Even concerts and carnivals, sideshows and circuses! I dare you to go to a burlesque show or a Vaudevillian theatre. When was the last time you saw an illusionist in person?

Yes, there is magic at such places without a doubt. Magic an old Lokean/Rokkatru has missed ever so much. Because these events evoke a truly powerful font for those willing to be open to it.

Wonder.

(Insert Catchy Title) or Screw you, brain

Well. I suppose a bit of a CW;TW is fair here. Mental health/illness/problems, suicidal thoughts/ideations, and other bits of personal whining.

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Ok, should be far enough for most previews.

One of the things that I have accepted as a Lokean is that change is a constant. In my life and in the world around me. Situations arise constantly that are changing how I interact with the world and that isn’t a bad thing. Scary for some sure, but not bad. Except when it is.

You see, for some reason that I do not know I went into a major depressive state yesterday afternoon and can’t figure out the why. While life has been far from sunshine and rainbows it has actually been rather good. My family has a place of our own, plenty of food, financially stable, just in a very good place as of right now. So why my brain shifted gears from “We’re Good! We’re Good! We’re Good!” to “We need to eat a bullet!” kinda took me by surprise.

Before anyone goes there, no I’m not fucking seeking attention. I know that I am Neurodivergent and have made peace with that. Then why am I writing this? To help myself work through it. To help others they may face the same thing and know they aren’t alone or going insane for it just happening.

Honestly I’m pissed at myself for feeling this way. What fucking reason do I have to feel like this? There is no obvious reason or trigger or event that has done anything to cause this so why? Why can’t I get my shit together and just move past it? Why is it every ten minutes has me thinking about horrible things? While the logical side of me know the answers, let me tell you folks; it sure doesn’t help the emotional side that is in charge right now. The side that wants to shuffle off into Oblivion. I won’t mind you, and as of right now I’m not in danger, at least I’m pretty sure. Been down this slide before.

What is getting me is that this time there was no obvious reason. It was sudden, hard, and upside the head. No fucking discernible reason. Let me tell you, that’s something that will fuck with you. And it isn’t just depression, oh no. Brought along it’s buddies fear and anxiety as well. I also have no idea how long those three are going to hang out either. Never do.

So what the Hel am I doing writing about this here in a public forum? What does it have to do with being Lokean or Rokkatru? What the fuck, man? Simple. There are a great many who suffer in silence. Who, like me, the moment they step out of their house slip on that perfected mask and will laugh and help and do. This I have noticed especially amongst Heathens, doubly so for Lokean and the Rokkatru. Perceived weakness and all that, even if those around us see it as a fight, we see it as being weak unable to control our own minds and feelings.

Which brings me to that whole “Ask for Help” movement. FUCK. THAT. The average person has absolutely no CLUE what is takes to ask for help, to admit that we feel the way we do because of so many reasons. Fear of judgement, of being shunned like we are contagious, of losing those we love. Shame that we aren’t strong, aren’t in control, that we feel this way in the first place. Embarrassment that will cause lies about reasons to why we can’t go out, or work, or deal with everyday life. Whether true are not we feel like failures.

Writing this, just writing this, I personally feel physically ill. Nausea, light headed, near panic, racing heart, the whole thing because I am determined to publish this. More of us, especially in the Heathen/Rokkatru community need to know that we are not alone, that there are those out here like us. We need to know that we can find a safe place to take off our masks. To shift into ourselves instead of the being that we are expected to be. And a great many of us aren’t even able to do that at our best times.

I fight this every gods-damned day, and recently have kept it at bay with a LOT of help of various forms, loved ones and community not the least among them. Some of you may be asking about that, about how to find an accepting community. I wish I could tell you how to do this, but I cannot because we are each wonderfully different. For me, I made that community. I used social media and formed a group and made a page (both of which this will be posted on).

All I can say to others out there, other Lokeans, other Rokkatru, my Tribe and people is don’t give up. Asking for help is one of the hardest things any of us will ever do, and some of us may not be able to at all. For those I hope that there are those that will ask you instead. If they do, tell them honestly how you are feeling. Please.

Now if you will excuse me I have a voice to go and argue with about some unsavory things.

A bit of Rambling

WARNING: This is a brain dump, heart dump, and a me whining post. Feel free to skip.

I know, been a bit since the last post. Honestly my mind hasn’t been in a frame of mind for a good blog article and that really hasn’t changed. I’ve had no real subject strike me as worth writing about (yet) and after a recent medical procedure I have just been really rather tired. ALL. THE. TIME.

I am making steps along my Path of Ordeals with Jotunheim most recently completed, and honestly still trying to process that. Since that Ordeal dreams have been coming more and more, and while I feel they are important in some way it certainly isn’t the OMG THE EARTH WILL BE DESTROYED IN TEN DAYS type of important.

Getting lost in one’s head can be a real suck at times, at least I know it is for me. I begin to question things I know are true and real, doubt the things that are rock solid. Yes, nearly everyday. My family, my choices, my Path, all up for grabs in aisle 3: Questions and Doubts.

I’m called Ghodi by some, Elder by others, and some other worse things from a few. However when I am called these things, it is not because I have introduced myself as such or said “this is my title”. Hel knows I have never went through any kind of officially accredited program for Pagan clergy and the one time I did my money was taken and not a damn thing given in return (totally different rant). All my knowledge, all my skills are self taught, traded for, or come from being lucky enough to share campfires with knowledgeable Elders that had access to Mead. (Eyeballs a certain wizard)

So the truth is that when I am called such I am never truly sure how to react. I haven’t undergone any ceremony to be granted such a title. I am 44 and yes, my beard is white and silver, but does that make me an Elder? I have studied a great deal of lore and drawn many conclusions from it about my path, studied writings both old and new, know of rituals and magics and ceremonies, but does that make me Ghodi? When I am called these things it seems rather surreal to me. I ask myself often what makes me worthy of such names? Imposter Syndrome, it’s real folks. Here’s the kicker. I know I am not the only one to feel this way.

Maybe it comes from being Solitary most of my life. Or all the “Witch Wars” I have been privy to. The behind the scenes politics that I have witnessed. I have been looked to as a leader multiple time and multiple times things implode. I will be the first to blame myself and the majority tend to always agree. So now it is difficult to understand why others would look up to me or seek me out for anything. I do however know I’m a GREAT example of what NOT to do, lol.

Maybe it comes from my upbringing and the things I faced there. Or the things that I survived after childhood. Perhaps my time in the military where I know my mind and soul shattered. Maybe all this. Maybe none. I just know that at the end of the day, when the fire burns low and sleep seeks each of us, I do not feel deserving or worthy of such honors. I cannot see the why or the what that others may see. But that is always the way, isn’t it?

Faith, Belief, and Fuckery

So. I often hear people who talk about their “Godphones” and that direct connection to the Divine. Seen this is so very very many paths and in different claims of strength of the communication from whispers to full on conversations as if Deity was sitting across the table. And that is grand for those people, I am happy for them! However, the truth is that most of us do not have that kind of gift, we have no Godphone. Maybe you have heard terms like “Head-blind” or “Heart-blind”, and yes there are so many people that are like this. Unable to hear, see, or perceive the Other and have to go off of pure Faith.

These are the people that despite having very little or no direct feeling to their Deities are still on their path. That is the nature of faith, they don’t need confirmation or proof as they KNOW in their hearts that the path is true for them. From Christian (yes I went there), to Wiccan, to Heathen, and all in between there are so many that have only that faith to go on.

I count myself lucky. While I don’t have a “Godphone” I get feelings and urgings that I have come to recognize as guiding from something other than my own subconscious (my subconscious is a complete ass) guiding me. On occasion during meditation or while dreaming I am granted a vision. It doesn’t make me feel better than anyone else, but I feel blessed in that moment because I was contacted. In my view it makes me neither special or any better than anyone else, just blessed. We are NOT going to get into my self image as that would be a HUGE and depressing bit of writing.

No, I do not have those constant feelings of the presence of Loki, but I choose to believe, deeply believe, that He know and walks with me in a way. As I believe the ancestors walk with me and watch over me. See that is the point of spiritual Paths isn’t it? Belief. Just knowing in your heart that your Divinity is real and with you makes your path as valid as any other, as anyone else’s path.

Which brings me to those just setting foot on their path. Now thanks to the internet and various resources finding not only information and books have become so much easier, finding like minded or other followers is also easier even if it only through a social media site. They don’t have to struggle with fighting to find information, learning through trial and error (as much), and fearing they are going crazy or they are evil, or a hundred different things that so many of us older Pagans went through. They are able to have their faith and beliefs validated and even guided. These new people are able to have a support network, again, even if it is only virtual.

Faith. Belief. These are beautiful things and easy to have when you are able, gifted, or blessed enough to have Godphones. Yet to have them without the access to such things? That is truly astounding to me. Others call it foolish, but I will ALWAYS respect those who don’t NEED the proof. Who know the truth of their hearts.

Onto the last part of the title, Fuckery. While as a Lokean my type of fuckery is part and parcel, the fuckery I am talking about is something I have not only heard about but witnessed first hand. I’m speaking of the fuckery of those who would claim the blessing above to manipulate and use others. I am talking about the fuckery that is the rampant existence of predators in the Pagan (umbrella term usage here) community. People that purposely mislead others, especially newcomers, into doing their will up to and including sexual favors.

Now I am Left Hand Path, Rökkatru, and Lokean. I follow a path that is darker and very primal, and my nature and personal identity is that of a Predator, but in a very different sense. I am speaking of the people who start groups of any path that require the members to give up money, sex, or free will to be a part of “Their” community, and I don’t care what it’s called. Circle, coven, kindred, or congregation. If the leaders demand anything like the above mentioned things, or show any kind of narcissistic tendencies, that is the Fuckery I mean.

These people are praying on the faith and belief of others to their own benefit and as Pagans that should be truly disgusting. Yet, it has happened for years with communities turning blind eyes to the actions of supposed elders. And this goes as far as drug (not the type for just spiritual purposes) use to child molestation.

Now? Awareness is higher, and speaking out has become a much more likely event due to that awareness that what these predators are doing is one of the basest and most foul forms of fuckery. “See something, say something” is the watch words and should have always been.

Consent and knowledge folks. In any spiritual path know that these are real things and for someone to demand you do something in order to be a part of the community that you are against or something inside you says you shouldn’t, NO is the proper response. If some High Priest/Priestess says the only way for you to advance in the community is for your mouth to meet their genitalia all of a sudden, then don’t buy it for a second.

Now that all being said, sex IS a part of some traditions and if this is the case that will be explained and spoken of from the first moments of introduction. Complete transparency and openness about what may be expected, and the requirement of consent of all involved. (Bacchanals are fun)

Faith, belief, and fuckery. Remember, your Truth is yours.

Loss as a Lokean

In the past month my family has lost both of our fur babies, a wonderful cat and a impetuous ferret who were the best odd friends. Seven years ago we took them in and promised “fur”ever homes. Seven years of ups and downs, moving here and there as we needed. Finding a place of our own after the birth of my youngest. Those two were there. The grief is real and deep for my wife and I right now and I don’t know when I personally will get fully past it.

I still mourn for my late boxer that passed in 2010. I miss that floppy face every day, and while I had love for the Rosie (bestest pud-pud) and for Fizgig (Wonder Weasel), it wasn’t the connection I had to Gretchen. I’m not entirely sure if I will ever find a connection like that with a four legged family member again. I don’t know.

However the got me to thinking a lot about loss and grief. I mean honestly mourning is for the living, not the passed. We all have our own way to honor the memories of loved ones, two or four legged. Funerals come in hundreds of forms, simple to elaborate, with just as many customs. But it is the loss of the presence that hits us. Things unsaid, that which was unfinished or not even started.

I, as a Lokean and Rökkatru, look at death as natural and a part of the cycle which is the inevitable conclusion to life. Eventually the meat suit fails and all things go on to the next realm for the spirit that is eternal. And yes, that goes for our animal family as well. I know that when it is my time there will be a menagerie waiting for me, and my joy will be bursting.

Kinsmen, Tribe, Family, all die. Mortals die. That is a Truth, and as Lokean I cannot deny it or fight it. The question is after we are gone from Midgard, and the grief leaves, the mourning is over, what remains of us in this world? Our names will eventually be consigned to some bits of data or a document, and even those that knew us will pass. What is left?

Tales. Deeds. To some I have been a friend, to others an enemy. My own story will fade and I know it. I may never leave a lasting impression and I’m ok with this. Even if I were to start a revolution right now I would eventually be a footnote at best somewhere. However, I know for fact that I have left tales behind, good and ill. I have been called Monster and Angel, Demon and Brother, all these and more. And yes, I will most likely be forgotten, but the tales? The stories? Those will linger.

Just as our loved ones’ stories will linger. The tales that get passed from generation to generation. And if those tales are drunken antics or a secret recipe for a Roast, doesn’t matter. I believe that the changing of the tales, the recipes will grow and become organic, alive as much as any child.

Loki is a God far too familiar with loss. With loved ones taken before their time. I turn to my altar, not to beg or plead for relief, but to look to it and feel that I am not alone. To know that my Patron knows my heart and that gives me solace. To know that grief is fleeting and when it is right, the mourning will come to an end.

Yes, a part of you will always be a touch emptier or a new scar. It never really leaves us. But we choose how to remember, with bitterness or with a sad smile. Loki is many things to many others and even to me, but what He is truly is Resilience personified among all the rest. Perseverance in the face of even the bleakest dread, and finding a way, a reason to keep going. Yes, sometimes that reason is Spite, Anger, or even plain Stubborn and that is absolutely fine! If that is what lets you face another sunrise then do it! Don’t stay knocked down. Rise and Stand. Live. Use whatever tool you need to fight back the despair. Because that is the twin of loss isn’t it? I myself am fighting HARD against the depression right now because the despair and loss that comes with grieving. I will face it with my family and my Tribe. Just as Sigyn faces the screams of her husband, she still turns to offer him relief. So I will persevere, and I won’t do it alone.

For the sake of those who have passed, how can we do any less?

Black Moon A Risin’

So I know this is almost a week after the fact, and truth be told I’m writing this in order to honestly distract myself from another subject which will most likely be the next blog.

So. I know, I know a great number of people argued over the actual new moon, yada yada yada. I don’t care. You have your opinion, awesome. Now the way I chose to see it, it was the second Full Dark moon of the month and thereby a Black Moon. And to me, at least, this would be a sacred time for anyone on the LHP so I decided that I would honor my Patron and the Rökkr that night.

To be honest it didn’t quite go as planned. I am married to a Freya’s Woman and adore her. So when I realized that she wanted to come along and bring the child with, my plans had to change. I was still able to bless my altar sword and sanctify it to Loki and the Rökkr, but due to the change of logistics other things will have to wait until another day when I feel particularly connected to the Rökkr and LHP.

Now, you may be asking at this point why the fuck am I even posting about this experience or lack thereof? You see folks one thing I have learned about the Rökkr and being Lokean is how important Tribe is, and Tribe starts with the family you choose. No, I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do. In return I watched my wife dance with lights at the edge of a spring, my daughter laughing and chasing her all under a gentle summer rain.

Pitch black night, storms overhead, and the sounds of pure laughter ringing off stone walls. As a follower of a Trickster and Primal Deities what could have been better than pure raw REAL emotion, all in the moment and unplanned. I thought about the aspects after and while I was thinking of blood and flesh and fire, there was the other side of the primal side as well. The infectious pure joy of a child. The ability of an adult to truly let go and be in the moment outside of their comfort zone. After the dedication of the sword, and the blessings upon it, I gathered my things, put them away, and joined in the laughter.

The Black Moon gave us the shadows we needed to let go, to truly be in the now if only for a moment for my wife. There were many blessings that night, in many forms. So what if my plans went sideways? It was an amazing evening of spirit and adventure where the three of us connected. People forget that there are positive things to be found in the dark as well as the light.

In the dark we are free to let go. Free to be who/what our truest natures are without judgement. You are hidden, shrouded from prying eyes and uniformed judgements. Solitary seekers can find great knowledge of both the self and the worlds there, but take with you those in your heart. There in that ever present black you will get to know the truth of them.

I have seen the largest masculine men break from fear in the complete dark of a forest. And this Black Moon I saw a toddler so brave she would have taken the hand of the Fey and brought them to meet us. I have seen darkness and silence cleanse a soul like no amount of light ever could. I’ve witnessed it break minds and souls.

And for us that night? The eldritch energies abounded around us in so many ways. In that absolute dark was joy and beauty and power. So take what you will from this writing. If you were expecting some grand revelation of wisdom, or sharing of esoteric secrets; well sorry, not sorry. This is what I was blessed with. And it was wonderful.

Hail Loki! Hail the Rökkr!

Modern Rökkatru Warriors

20 per day. That was the number of military suicides in 2018 (both veteran and active duty). Not friendly fire. Not enemy attack. Suicide. Does the word make you uncomfortable? Suicide. By the modern warrior. That’s 18% of suicides everyday in the US. And yes, I will be making citations at the end of this piece.

Now, what in the name of Hel does that have to do with the Rökkatru? Over the years I’ve been looking into spirituality and the Modern Warrior, for personal reasons at first and growing into more as sad and worrisome numbers came to light. As a ordained minister, a role I do take seriously, I got very curious as to where spirituality fit into this equation for the human state. So I have been looking into that and what did I find? Sadly very very little.

So I question others, talk to people, both BNP’s (Big Nose Pagans) and the solitary practitioners. I have and will still attempt to get my own information, but here and now with the state of the country I feel that something does need to be said on this. Why? Because at least a quarter of the Pagans I know are either directly military (active or veteran) or come from military families. In the Northern Traditions this number is higher by more than a little. So these are people I care about, and they are at risk. I know for a fact that I am. Later for that though.

Add in the LGBTQ+ and Non-binary factors and numbers climb. I was surprised to see the crossover of these factors but they were plain to see. Worrisome is a pale way to describe the sheer chance at suicide among lone and outed Modern Warriors, not just the actual successes but the sheer number of attempts. All the while the modern climate in the US is regressing faster than a Senator with a Diaper and Mommy Fetish (no kink-shaming intended).

What does it all have to do with the Rökkatru? We ARE the outcast, the shunned, the lost, the Other. We alone are at staggering risk of losing the battle in ourselves. Add to that factors mentioned above and others like POC, and the risk becomes staggering. Waves of hopelessness crashing down on a spirit, crushing despair. Even the strongest can only stand for so long. “What can I do to help this?” I asked. What can WE do?

Here is what I have found. Faith and spirituality, belief can be a rather important factor because it makes us feel less outcast. To find a Path for the heart and soul that we feel called to and belong on is a huge thing in and of itself. To walk that path and KNOW it is the right one for you can be a shield certainly against those horrible waves, holding you upright for longer. And you still slip and slide because you are fighting your own mind that is actively tearing you down from within.

So the Modern Warrior of the Pagan paths have a touch more of an advantage because for many, they walk with and/or among their Divine. But the battle can still be lost for many reasons. From family disowning you to your friends and community turning their backs on you

, to just a streak of misfortune. Financial, divorce, mental health, all factors in the battle.

What then is the answer, especially for those who are even different from the “normal” societal outcasts? Oh I wondered that for a very long time myself but the answer was always there, around me. Community, but community of YOUR choosing. Accept absolutely nothing less than acceptance and know it is ok not to immediately trust. Even if it is a virtual community, it can still be YOURS.

And for the Rökkatru, there are no covens or circles or kindreds. There is only Tribe. A Tribe that measures you by deed and soul. A Tribe where you are safe to be your amazingly Wyrd and wondrous self! Where the supposed “monsters” gather, where the laughter of giant and troll and Völva ring together around the fires. When one of the Tribe begins to slide, the Tribe is there. Some to hold them up. Others to stand beside and deflect. And more still to stand in front, ready to help fight any demons lurking in the waves and storm. Is it perfect? Hel no. But it is community, and that alone will keep us going sometimes.

“Who would mourn me, miss me? They would be better without me being a chain around them, holding them back. I have no TRUE worth, it’s all smoke and lies. I deserve to be forgotten and left to rot away. I’m a monster for what I think and feel deep inside, I shouldn’t be allowed to live. That thing in the mirror, it’s so disgusting how could any want it? Love is a lie just being used against me by those that want something. I will never be or amount to being truly anything. I am a joke at best and a failure if I’m lucky, for that’s the kindest words for me. Soon they will scream IMPOSTOR and drag me even further down and I will deserve it. I don’t deserve the gift of life with the things that I have done.” Words, each a cut. A blow to the body. A stab in the heart. Words that haunt and tear each of us who fight. How do I know what it is that goes through the mind of Warriors and Modern Warriors alike? Because these are just a few of the thoughts I face everyday.

You see dear readers I face a multitude of mental issues and I fight them. With my Doctor and medication, with my family, with my Faith, and with my TRIBE. The Rökkatru. For I Believe, I believe my Deities walk with me. My ancestors walk with me. Everyday. I have ideations, and I know they aren’t going to go away. So I fight, and when my Will is strained I have Family and Tribe.

Not everyone is as blessed in their fight. Many are lost and alone. Many, too many lose the fight. The LGBTQ+ teen that comes out to their parents expecting love and is thrown to the street. The Soldier who comes home and just can’t stop seeing what they had to do to survive. The non-binary individual that just can’t be accepted for their choice by their church. What is the commonality between them? They are alone. Feel abandoned. How many of us know that feeling too well? Suicide. It’s inviting to just quit, to lay down arms and let it take you when you are so very tired of the fight. Peace. Why fight? Because those voices? Those thoughts? ARE LIES!

You will fight and MAKE a place! My Tribe, the Rökkatru, we have made a place and found each other! Make YOUR place! Whether it is 3 people or 3000 does NOT matter! Gather your Tribe/Pack/Congregation/Circle/Coven what-the-fuck-ever it is that YOU need! Why? Because just maybe they need it too.

Hail the Rökkr! Hail the Rökkatru! Hail the Tribe!

References:

Jaimie Lusk, Steven K. Dobscha, Marek Kopacz, Mary Frances Ritchie & Sarah Ono (2018) Spirituality, Religion, and Suicidality Among Veterans: A Qualitative Study, Archives of Suicide Research, 22:2, 311-326,DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2017.1340856

Amato, J., Kayman, D., Lombardo, M., & Goldstein, M. (2017). Spirituality and Religion: Neglected Factors in Preventing Veteran Suicide? Pastoral Psychology66(2), 191–199. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-016-0747-8

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/06/21/va-reveals-its-veteran-suicide-statistic-included-active-duty-troops.html

Being Rökkatru Today

Before I really get going, if you have any questions about what Rökkatru is or who the Rökkr are I completely recommend that you check out the blog Divine Multiplicity. Specifically Tahni Nikitins’ contributions which can be found here.

The reason that I suggest the above is that I am going to be speaking from more opinion/observation (when don’t I) than from any academic position and may even throw in some (ready the outrage and horrified shock) UPG. It will also be centered geologically from the point of view from within the United States, because that is where I am located.

From an individual point, I am Lokean, 44, disabled vet (not you don’t get the list), and stay at home Dad. My writing and work on various projects will always take a back seat to the need of the Adorable Overlord, my little threenager. So there are times when a blog will take me literal hours to write as I stop to care for my little Jotun-child. She is my primary care and concern, along with my two teenagers. No, I will not go into detail about them in this setting other than to say that this particular blog was inspired in part by worry for them. I am also married to an amazing and beautiful Freya’s-woman, my soulmate and an amazing Mother.

I am currently walking the Path of Ordeals, an outline of which can be found by following the link. Yes the writer of this is Raven Kaldera, a figure that brings a LOT of mixed feelings in various groups. Not long ago I was tasked to do and complete certain things during a meditation, an actual “Honey-Do” list passed to me I fully believe by my Patron. The purpose of all of it was apparently not on the need-to-know list (grumble).

If you have made it this far (because a great deal of the above has been gone over in previous blogs), then get ready. Here is where it is going to get bumpy and more than slightly uncomfortable for some people.

I am White. I am Straight. I am Male. I am Privileged just because of the prior. I am also Pagan, Lokean, Rökkatru, an Ally, and believe that all hearts beat with life. I don’t care what you look like, how you identify, or the path you follow. I will give you respect and I will expect it in return. If I make an error and cause unintended insult or offense, PLEASE take a moment, call my ignorance and educate me!

Rökkatru are by their very nature are outsiders anyway. We should be learning from one another, not fighting with each other. Our fight here in the U.S. is with a much more dangerous threat. Today, RIGHT NOW, in my own home country there are concentration camps where children are dying after being separated from their parents who don’t even have the basic things given to actual US prisoners! Everyone talks (well thanks to digital attention spans not so much now) about how Flint, Michigan has poison water, when a UN investigator came and found worse than 3rd world conditions in the Southern U.S. such as open sewage and tainted water. The number of veterans that are homeless or commit suicide is staggering, along with LGBTQ+ youth. And what do we see on the news? Crap. Ten seconds to tell you that someone got shot and then fifteen minutes on sports where the players make more money in one season than most residents of the U.S. will see in their life.

And so very much more disgusting things. Thanks to so much media picking and choosing it has finally happened. They have managed to put polish on a turd and call it pretty. Convince so many it’s fine when the truth is that no matter how shiny they make it, it is still a piece of shit! And this is where how many live? Bigots and others like them screaming “Send the immigrants home!” and I say, “YES PLEASE! Send me back to Scotland(Mother’s side) or Denmark (Father’s side)!” Get me out of here.

Then I stop. I think. No, I was born HERE. THIS is my home. I am Lokean. I am Rökkatru. And while we are all still figuring out precisely what that means, I am fairly certain that running and quitting is NOT a part of that path. My children deserve to be safe and happy. My wife should NOT have to fear for her health because of corrupt politicians deciding what is best for HER body. No, no running. No hiding my Faith and Path. I’m done with all of that. My Deities are Primal and fierce and frightening for a reason. They accepted me for a reason. Loki accepted me for a reason those many years ago. So fuck them.

Rapists are getting six months in jail, while a teen from the inner city gets sixteen years for having some weed? Farmers crops fail and instead of Federal aid they are bought out by corporations, the government makes deals for the same crops elsewhere and banks get multi-billion dollar bail outs? Fuck that.

We as Rökkatru NEED to figure out who we are, what our Deities would ask of us, and how do we go about bringing the needed CHANGES to this nation? To this world? Yes, world. Why not think big? My own ways are bit… on the dirty fighting side. Hey I am Left Hand Path. The black and shadows don’t scare me. The spirits and entities don’t frighten me. I’ll throw a Hex/Curse with no hesitation if I believe it is deserved. Yes, I believe in more than most realize. But none of that matters as it is personal.

If you are Rökkatru, what does that mean to YOU precious reader? And what are you willing to do to follow that path? I know my answer. I know what I am willing to give and what I’m not. Imagine if the Rökkr had the united front the Aesir have. What could be accomplished? Because for us here in the United States it is only a matter of time. Before the outsiders and the different are the hunted. ICE is already raiding suburban neighborhoods to take natural born citizens into custody and forcing them to prove they are citizens. How long before it is illegal to worship in any way that doesn’t involve the cross here?

I hold a great deal back for my family. If something happens to me, it would send them into a tailspin and would lose too much. I can’t allow that to happen, but I still do what I am able. I protest until my body and mind force me away from the crowds. I write and call government bodies and representatives and demand to be heard. I do what I am able. If I could do what I want… well that is a completely different tale.

So at the end of the day, what does it mean to you to follow the Rökkr, the Deities of Twilight? What does your heart and soul demand of you? We have no need of circles or kindreds. We have Tribe.