Submitted by Myriad Hallaug Lokadis.
The following post was originally written as a contribution for 2013’s July for Loki. My devotional project in July was called At Loki’s Hands; it consists of four drawings, each representing roughly a quarter of the past year—my first year as a devotee to Loki—and how I experienced Him during that time. In the first post, Tapped, I described my first awkward forays as a newly-tapped worshipper. The following two pieces, Weaving the Net and Truceless, explore how I connected with Him on a more personal level, and the very slow, very reluctant forming of trust. The piece below is the last in the series, picking up around mid-February of this year.
My decision to submit it was inspired by the Godsmouths 2.0 project “A Day In The Life” that encourages us, the readers, to write about our everyday devotional practice. This is my account of how my devotional practice started becoming what it is today.
At Loki’s Hands, Pt 4: Closer
This post didn’t go as planned. The first thing that you may notice is that July has been over for almost a week now. The primary reason for that is that I’m currently in the last six months of completing my dissertation, and my workload has increased horribly in the last two weeks of July. In case anyone is interested, I’m getting a PhD in computer science. In case anyone’s interested, I am, at this moment, prevaricating on the topic of this post.
There’s another reason why I didn’t finish my last Month for Loki post in time, and that’s because I had something else planned entirely. Something more myth-based, more intellectualizable, more… general. This? How it ended up? Is none of the above.
It was a request—it started with a vague feeling that something was wrong with the last part of my series as I had planned it. That feeling didn’t go away, but grew stronger and stronger, until it culminated in a visual “counter-proposal”.
Loki wanted me to draw something more personal… and I had, and am still having, a very mixed reaction to His request. I am really pretty private about my devotional life. I don’t know who’s been reading my blog, but you may have noticed that what I post could—maybe not easily, but definitely possibly—be of value for people that are not me. And while my posts do contain information about me, this information is usually formalized to such a degree that I feel comfortable about sharing it. So yes, I’m wary of this post: for one thing, I don’t particularly like the thought of sharing much about the more intimate aspects of my devotional life. And for another, I’m uncertain if I am even capable of doing so if I want to.
But here I am, as requested by Himself, and I think it’s best to start where I left off: the cave, and singing for Loki Bound.
I went to the cave often, for several months. And then came the day when Loki took me away from there, and from all the online places I was frequenting at the time—which was around mid February. From one day to the next, I was barred from interacting, but most importantly, from reading online. I had been absorbing too much information, acting as an information sponge even as some of what I was reading was raising my hackles to no small degree. I didn’t act on most of what I saw, nor did I let the vast majority of things get to me: this wasn’t an emotional problem, or a question of indiscriminate or unreflected handling of information. No, the problem was the information itself.
It is a myth that we can read and come into contact with information without said information creating expectations. This is especially true of other people’s UPG and/or spiritual, mystical, or otherwise religious experiences. You build expectations, and this process is entirely subconscious. No one is exempt from this, not a single person with a brain, because this is how brains work. It is hard-wired into our biology as human beings, and so, unless you’re some kind of android, you do this, too. And once such an expectation is planted in your mind, it is so very hard to not have it interfere with what is your very own experience.
At some point, I was experiencing what I, unconsciously, expected. It takes some familiarity with the workings of one’s own mind to even recognize that it is happening. Why? Because this is essentially group-think, with the perfidious difference that the group is hidden in the background instead of being at the forefront. But in essence, it is the same thing that happens if a group starts collectively experiencing, say, a spirit entity, even if this entity is fictitious or a significant part of its nature is strongly misrepresented. This may sound oddly specific to you, and there is a reason for this. Which is, basically, that I’m not talking out of my backside on that issue.
On a related note, I had begun to not only experience according to expectations I wasn’t even aware I had built, but also to shape my devotional practice according to what I had been reading. I wanted to incorporate everything, from prayer to meditation to regular and frequent offerings, divination and magic, astral travel, and among many, many other ideas, a vague notion of channelling. It wasn’t so much the idea of channeling that did it, but the interest in magic. You see, I had never been interested enough in magic to actually practice it. Up until a couple of weeks prior to my withdrawal from all online activity.
So, from one day to the next, I was cut off—not only technically by eschewal, but also spiritually. Religiously. I was left with the task of figuring myself out, one step at a time, and let me tell you, it was hard. In the beginning, there was only silence. I stopped all the things I was doing on a regular basis, including meditation, divination, and training/practicing to astrally project via trance-work. I radically kicked out all the ideas that I had in my head that I hadn’t yet started to follow up.
The only aspect of my devotional practice I kept doing was altar work. I continued to maintain Loki’s altar in my flat, cleaning it every day, burning candles and incense, as well as offering foods or drink every other couple of days. In the beginning, there was only silence, and after being in interaction to the degree that resulted in my tending Loki in the cave, the silence hurt.
Still, I kept doing what I was doing, alone with zero community to bolster me, and after a while it became something I was looking forward to for its own sake. Shortly after that—in hindsight unsurprisingly—Loki began to engage with me again. It was different. He touched me in a way no one had touched me before, including Himself. He touched my very heart, and today, this touch is so much stronger and so much more present than then, but at the time, I figuratively burst into flames.
I discovered what it means to kneel to a God out of nothing but love.
And Loki showed me just how much He cares. It isn’t always a pleasant experience, and in my case, it included disciplinary action in one notable instance. Yes, that is to say punishment. And that, dear reader, is the extent of my sharing of it.
The important thing is that I knew why, and that that I knew it ultimately served my relationship with Him. And that Loki gave it to me because He cares.
I know how disturbed or even mentally unwell up this may sound to some of you out there, and I’m sorry. But the naked truth is that I found I can accept and even cherish things from a God Whom I love, that I would otherwise find ludicrous.
The altar has never lost its importance in my devotional practice. It became the starting point from which I rebuilt my devotional life from scratch, according to nothing but mutual agreement between Him and me. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me, bar none.
And so, today’s drawing shows something more. Something more intimate than I had ever expected it to become, and that little fact, maybe, is quite poetic.
Hail Loki, Closer than ever Imagined, Burning Flame and of Many-layered Word
About the drawing: photo reference courtesy of a timely post on tumblr by Kin Wintermaiden (thanks, dear!). Coloured pencils on paper.