Oh boy! The Rational Heathen gets to weigh in when it comes to sex rites. Look, before we get started, if you’re all for sex rites, orgies, and kink in your life, this post isn’t for you. You can merrily go about your business and have fun. No, this is for those folks who are a bit on the uncomfortable side when it comes to joining in a sex rite that is purportedly Heathen.
A little bit of background: I’ve been doing research on Aleister Crowley, the occultist and sexual deviant who started his own religion, Thelema. His…ahem…antics, are somewhat legendary. So, I thought this is one area I haven’t really touched on (pardon the pun) and I figure it’s something you probably would enjoy reading about.
Let’s Talk Sex
My topic for today’s discussion is no doubt going to get some panties in a wad. I expect that. Everyone has their own comfort level with sex–heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual. Some folks are closer to celibate and some are swingers. Some are into BDSM. What you do in your bedroom and is between consenting adults is pretty much your business. A large number of heathens are gay and lesbian, according to interesting polls. That being said, let me reiterate: what you do in your bedroom and is between consenting adults is pretty much your business. I’m not talking about you. No, I’m talking about coerced sex rights. I’m talking about people who claim you can only know a god or goddess if you perform sex with them or their members.
Anyone Can Communicate with Our Gods
Before we get any further on the sex thing, let me explain. Our gods are not the institutionalized gods of the Judaeo-Christian beliefs. We don’t need priests, pastors, priestesses, gothi, gythia, or whatever to communicate with our gods. Our gods are listening. They are present, but not omnipresent. We do have to make an effort to communicate with them. But they don’t exclusively talk to the local priest or priestess. They may have more conversations with the gods due to their work, but a lay person can establish a relationship with gods, goddesses, and wights. No sex required.
My Own Experience
I’m not a prude, nor am I celibate. That being said, I had an interesting experience once when I was first getting into Heathenry. Tyr had contacted me some time before and I was going on the Internet in search of information. Eventually I landed on a site of a rather well-known Heathen. This Heathen had a website which looked pretty decent. Suddenly, I felt Tyr’s presence and he said flatly, “That person is full of shit. Stay away from them.”
I honestly couldn’t see the problem. The information looked decent enough, but I trust Tyr. It was a couple of years later when Tyr’s words proved spot on. I ran across several conversations how this person used their students for sex rites. Now, I don’t know the entire situation, but when a mentor starts using students for sex, it is a violation of trust. Sure, they might be willing, in the hopes of gaining more knowledge or favors from the fertility and sex gods, but seriously? It is taking advantage of another person. And that, my friend, is where I have a huge issue with it.
And I will call them a charlatan, because if they can’t teach without fucking, they’re not looking to teach you anything other than how they get their rocks off or how wet you make them. Remember: they don’t have the exclusive direct line to the gods and goddesses. In fact, I would state they don’t have a line to the Heathen gods because if they expect something from you that is freely given from the gods, they aren’t in this for teaching people. They’re in it to use and abuse people.
But What About Freyr and Freyja?
Ah, so what about Freyr and Freyja? Aren’t they sex gods? Well, yeah. And yeah, they do show up when you have sex. But they don’t need you to fuck a gothi or gythia — your significant other or boyfriend or girlfriend whom I would imagine you feel something towards works just as nicely. And celibates can communicate with both of them just as easily as well. (I’ll leave that to your imagination.) And both of the Vanir are pretty receptive outside of sex, too.
The tl:dr Upshot
I suspect if you got this far, you did read this piece. That being said, if you feel uncomfortable running around naked (aka sky-clad), having sex with a gothi or gythia, having sex with someone you don’t know or barely know, having sex as a ritual, or having forms of sex you don’t want (BDSM, homosexual, heterosexual, or any sex that might be considered deviant), you should not ever have to do that. The gods and goddesses will hear you just fine and they don’t require sex rites. Anything else is coercion by someone who wants to use you. Don’t fall for it.
Although Tyr is my main god, sometimes other gods step into my life in a big way. It’s not uncommon for me to hear from Loki, Skadi, Thor, and Freyja, but lately Freyr has been making himself known. It’s not that Tyr isn’t important–it’s just that Freyr needs to assert himself in my life. If you’ve ever had one god step into your life If you’ve ever had one god step into your life that wasn’t there before, you may be wondering why other gods and goddesses pop in and out of one’s life at various times. I want to address why and how to work in the new god or goddess into your life.
Our Gods Strengths
Our gods are very good at what they do. Naturally, because they’re gods. But with few exceptions, they’re very good at what they’re known for and not as good outside those areas. For example, although there are many strong gods, Thor is the strongest and the most feared. At the same time, while he’s not stupid, he’s not the most clever god of the Aesir. So, if you want help from an intellectual god, Thor probably wouldn’t be your first choice to help. You might go to him if he is your main god or if you are more familiar with him, but he may act as an intermediary between you and Odin or whomever.
Tyr is the god of law. He’s an incredibly powerful god who gets few acknowledgments other than losing his hand to Fenrir to keep the wolf bound. My own UPG has determined that he’s not only the god of human laws, but also of the Universe. Meaning that while Odin and his brothers created the world, we have Tyr to thank for the laws of physics. Our universe makes sense thanks to Tyr. His laws govern our entire existence and the world around us. That makes him a pretty damn powerful god in my book.
But even though Tyr presides over an awful lot, he doesn’t deal with certain areas that are more human-related, such as growing crops, husbandry, hunting, and wealth. When I need advice or help in my life, Tyr will often refer me to another god, whose purview it is. Sometimes that god will just show up on my figurative doorstep and offer counsel. Hence, my surprise having Freyr show up and advise me.
Good Allies to Have
Freyr is a good ally to have. He’s the son of Njǫrd, which makes him a god of prosperity, something I could use right now. Since Njǫrd is the god of wealth and the sea, Freyr has it “in” with his father. Given that the Northern peoples relied heavily on the sea for trade and raiding, it’s little wonder an ocean god would also be considered a god of wealth.
If you have a problem that is outside of your god’s or goddess’s expertise, you should still ask them for help. Chances are, they may send you to other gods who are more familiar with the situation you are in. You may have a another god or goddess work with you on a particular problem, having had your main god make the introductions. Listen to the god who has more experience in your situation and meditate on whether it is good advice. Some gods, like Loki, are well-meaning, but can give terrible advice. Others may simply give good advice but you’re just not ready to hear it or use it. Nevertheless, thank the god or goddess and make an offering to them. Keep their image or a token of what reminds you of them on your altar and be sure to include them in blots.
Sometimes the newcomer isn’t a god but a wight. The same advice holds true here. They may be good allies to have or they may not be in your best interest at this time. Still, respect the wight and give it offerings. After all. they came to help you at the request of your main god.
One thing to keep in mind is to pay attention to what the new god or wight has to say, even if they simply show up on your doorstep unannounced. Maybe you don’t have a problem that needs their expertise–yet. Maybe they know something you don’t and are there to help you through something which will be going on in your life. Still, other gods simply show up uninvited because you’ve piqued their interest for some reason.
Talk to your main god(s) and/or goddess(es) and find out if this will be beneficial or not. Some gods and wights you don’t want visiting for a myriad of reasons. If this is a god or wight whom your main god doesn’t want you to talk to, you’ll have to make a choice. If your main deities have not steered you wrong, you should politely thank the god or wight for their offer and refer them to the gods you have a better rapport with. However, if your main deities aren’t helping you, tread carefully because you don’t need an annoyed god on top of everything else. You may have to at least listen to the newcomer and see if his advice is sound. Talk to your gods and see if there’s a problem with going a different direction. Chances are, if your original gods aren’t helping, they’ll be glad to have you work with a newcomer.
This is just my advice, and as I often say YMMV or Your Mileage May Vary. Let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks!
It’s been a long time coming: I’ve been working on a novel I need to finish. I supposedly had a finished first draft, but the whole thing had holes and problems with it that I despaired. So, I’ve been getting reminders — some subtle and some not so subtle — that I need to write the damn thing and jumpstart the series again…. …
As a follower of Tyr, I have a grudging respect for Loki. So much so that I even have a place for him on my altar. Loki as a chaos god shows up constantly in my life — and probably your life, too. And despite all the naysayers claiming that no one ever worshiped Loki, I suspect ancient Heathens did acknowledge him at blots and other religious functions. And I believe that people did worship him as much as other gods. Let me explain why.
Loki’s Bad Rap
Loki as a chaos god has without a doubt gotten a bad rap from the whole death of Baldr thing and leading the forces of chaos at Ragnarok. The fact that he had monstrous children with Angrboda seems to confirm it too. Both Fenrir and Jörmungandr are indeed dangerous beasts. Hel, while her followers would argue against her being a monster, some Heathens certainly considered at least frightening, if not a demon-like creature. Seeing a woman half skeleton and half flesh is, after all, pretty creepy in most contexts.
Loki as a Catalyst for Change
That aside, Loki is the gods’ catalyst for change. He plays tricks on them — some tricks not so nice — but in the end, most of his behavior benefits the gods. Cutting Sif’s hair is a prime example. First, you have to wonder what Loki was doing in Sif’s bedroom (something mentioned in Loki’s Flyting). Once the gods caught Loki, he not only repaired the damage by giving Sif new hair, but gained other treasures for the gods.
Loki is the prime mover and shaker in Asgard. If he did not constantly get into trouble, the Aesir and Vanir would have stagnated. They wouldn’t have gotten Asgard for free. Odin would not have Slepnir. The gods wouldn’t have Skadi within their midst. Thor would not have Mjöllnir, Freyr wouldn’t have Skíðblaðnir and Gullin-börsti, and Odin would not have Gungnir and Draupnir.
Loki as a Malicious God
Loki shows his malicious side both in the death of Baldr and in Lokasenna (Loki’s Flyting). It’s interesting that he isn’t bound because he caused Baldr’s death, but because he insulted the gods and goddesses at a feast. As an aside, does anyone else see a disparity here? Sure, he kills Aegir’s servant, but that’s not why his children are killed and he’s tied up with a venomous snake dripping poison overhead. Granted, the punishment may be for all his troublemaking and this might be the last straw, but seriously?
Loki is punished because he speaks the truth, albeit twisted to hurt. But sometimes the truth hurts, and it shows the foibles and failings of even the mightiest of gods. So, even though his actions aren’t justifiable, it fits perfectly for Loki as a chaos god.
Is Loki Good or Bad?
At this stage, you may be wondering if Loki is good or bad. If you take the simplistic route, you look at everything bad Loki has done. Loki killed Baldr through Hodur. He disallowed Baldr to return to Asgard. He sired three creatures which will bring about Ragnarok. Loki then killed Aegir’s servant and insulted the gods. The list goes on and on.
If you’re a Lokean, you might argue that Loki has done good things as mentioned in this post above. You might point out how the Fenrir was set up and that Ragnarok happens because the gods’ actions caused it. Furthermore, you might point out that the Aesir and Vanir brought Ragnarok on them because they threw Loki’s children under the proverbial bus.
So, which side is right?
Loki as a Chaos God
Actually, both sides are right and wrong at the same time. The reason is that Loki is a complex being, although obviously a chaos god and a trickster. He is the archetypal trickster who metes out both good and bad through his love of causing chaos wherever he goes. He takes joy in shedding light where everyone else wants the situation in the dark, and he hates the status quo, whether it is good or bad. He stirs the pot, because that’s what he does. Even if the pot suits everyone else, it tastes bland to him.
Loki can be almost demonic when he is looking for vengeance, due to whatever slight he sees, real or imagined. Ragnarok is as much his doing as anything else. Why? Because it is change. It will destroy what was and will replace it with something else.
Capricious beyond belief, this consummate troublemaker is one that can’t leave well enough alone. He is happy to hand out good and bad, as long as it suits him. With that kind of behavior, you have to wonder if he’s worth bothering with, but ignoring him is the worst thing you can do. He’ll make it a point to stir up trouble.
Not Evil, Just Misunderstood
Oddly enough, I’ve discovered that if you stay on good terms with Loki, he will aid you whenever he can. But his aid is often fraught with chaos, and your life will take a turn toward the surreal should you decide to make him your primary god. It has been my and others’ experience that Loki will help you when he can, but chaos will linger with you as a type of payment. For every good thing, you may have a bad thing happen. In most cases, Loki will help you, but don’t be surprised is there is a catch. (With most of the Northern gods, there is always a catch somewhere.)
My god, Tyr, is pretty much the opposite of Loki. Where Loki is a force of chaos, Tyr is a god of law. It’s interesting because Tyr recognizes that while they are opposites, you can’t have one without the other. Tyr was the only god who took care of Fenrir and paid the sacrifice of his hand to the wolf when the gods decided that Fenrir must be bound. Like Loki, Fenrir is a force of chaos. You can’t have law without chaos.
Did Our Ancestors Worship Loki?
The question of whether our ancestors worshiped Loki is somewhat academic. We don’t have archaeological proof that Loki was worshiped, but then, we don’t have a lot of evidence that certain goddesses such as Eostre existed either. We can speculate that Tyr’s consort was Zisa, but there isn’t really anything that backs it up.
I suspect that because Loki was considered one of the Aesir, he was worshiped in some fashion. After all, many kings traced their lineage back to Jotunn, so Rokkatru isn’t far off from that. At the very least, I suspect that he wasn’t ignored so that he wouldn’t cause trouble.
Isn’t Loki Still Tied to the Rock with a Serpent Overhead?
How can we have people worshiping Loki and Fenrir when both are bound up? This is an interesting point, and I have four possible suppositions as to how Loki and Fenrir can exist bound and yet unbound. Here are my four possible conclusions:
- The Loki killing Baldr, the Lokasenna, and the binding of Fenrir stories are prophetic and have not come to pass. (Unlikely)
- The stories are metaphors for things that have happened already and when talking about binding, it may suggest a controlling of power — or in Tyr’s case, a loss of power — rather than an actual physical binding.
- Ragnarok has already happened at least once. That means that our gods exist, but in newer forms.
- The gods are many faceted and capable of being in several places at once. This, oddly enough, works when you consider quantum theory. So, Loki may be tied to a rock in one place and free in another. (Yeah, quantum theory is fucked up.)
Seeing as I’ve had dealings with the god of chaos, I can say that he is very much around. Plus, we have plenty of chaos in our world — binding him did no good on that score.
Why Loki is a Powerful God
Why is Loki a powerful god? Think about it. He controls chaos and randomness. Without him, the universe would not work the way it does. When things happen by chance — good or bad — that is the domain of Loki. When we think about suddenly finding money on the road while walking, or missing a bus or plane because something held you up, or getting in a car accident when you were not at fault, that’s Loki working in your life.
Loki is the god of entropy as well. That means that as chaos and randomness continues, so order breaks down. That is, in essence, what many scientists predict will happen to our universe as it ends. It goes cold as it dies as everything breaks apart. A powerful god, to be sure.
A Poem to Loki
I found this on the Interwebs and thought I’d share it with you. Not my work, but I do have permission to use it.
The cave is dark, as the one where he bested Andvari.
The gold he got freed the Aesir from bonds.
Now he lies fettered himself.
Pranks and jests
– dangerous, granted –
Showing them life
without masquerade of youth,
or jewels, or hair.
They took his gifts
but they never learned
his secrets of change
and looking at unpleasant truths.
Drip. The bowl fills.
How they put everything
they could not deal with
out of sight, or life:
Ymir. The giants. His Ironwood-get.
They could not face death.
Even some humans did better.
The bowl fills to the brim,
surface taut as a bowstring-
tears of nine worlds
the stream where they caught him
Snake spit burns
like Asgard´s curses,
Tormented, he strains
to break bonds
with prophecy´s force
– maybe this time? –
Will she return…?
Now it´s just the cave, and the darkness,
and three stones cutting his back,
and the memories they share.
A tear Sigyn sheds.
— Full Cycle Poem © 2007 Michaela Macha. This work (entitled Full Cycle) by Michaela Macha (www.odins-gift.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License.
One thing early on in my switch to Heathenism was my discovery that the gods actually had a lot to say to me. As a scientist, my first thought was: “Okay, I’m losing it.” After all, if you’re hearing voices, chances are you’re suffering from something like schizophrenia. That’s probably why my patron god eschews just popping into my brain unannounced. I’d just check myself into the local psychiatric clinic and be done with it. Which is why when I do get responses from the gods, it’s usually in some form I can accept and one that won’t leave me wondering if I need to check myself in for a thorough psychiatric evaluation.
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My last blog was about trying to do too many things all the time. When I looked at it while it was still scheduled (I write these things ahead of time and set the date for publication), I realized that Loki led me off on a tangent again. This becomes infuriating after a while, but understandable. The trickster god is constantly looking for ways to throw my life into chaos — some good, some bad. And sometimes he’ll do it in a heartbeat when I’m trying to write a blog post.
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One thing I don’t seem to have gotten over very well is my Catholic need to martyr myself. (I can just see Tyr shake his head in exasperation when when I do this) — if the Lord of Swords thinks it’s folly to overextend myself, I suspect it is folly.
But the holidays are a great time to overdo everything, including overextend oneself. But as Loki constantly reminds me (and yes, somehow Loki pops in to remind me to self-care– more on that some other day), there’s no way I can possibly care for anyone else if I don’t care for myself first.
(At least, if you’re going to have psychoses, have useful ones where the gods talk some sense into you to do things that are good for you and those around you.)
Anyway, Back to the Holidays…
My mom used to put on a big shindig every Thanksgiving and Christmas. When my ancient Mother-In-Law moved to our town, I channeled my mom and tried to put together celebratory meals. The reality was far from wonderful. My husband and I hunt and hunting season chews up Thanksgiving handily. While I am grateful to Skadi and Ullr for our meals, hunting takes up a lot of energy. Having Thanksgiving later than the prescribed day helped, but by the end of it, I was channeling my inner bitch. I was exhausted, overworked, and feeling overwhelmed.
Loki reminded me to self-care.
I threw something at him.
Sick Critters, and Life Intrudes
To make matters worse, the weather got evilly cold. The Jotun were here to plunge us into temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Skadi granted us more opportunities to hunt. A bunch of my livestock got sick and no matter what I did, they remained sick. So, I finally got a veterinarian out. Blood draws and plenty of medicine.
Then, there was the little matter of butchering the deer we got the week before. Usually I would have it all cut up, but with the amazingly brutal weather, the quarters froze right up. So, I could thaw them out and butcher them at a slightly more leisurely pace.
I still need to take care of the skins, even though they’re salted.
I have writing work and other work to do. My plants in the greenhouse are questionable now. I finally get around to watering them anyway.
Loki reminds me to self-care.
I have this blog and three others to write. I have assignments to get done. I have to make money somehow…
To Drag this Back on Point…
The problem that we as humans deal with is what society constrains us when it comes to things we must do. Sometimes, we take what we perceive as obligations when in fact, they’re simply man-made constructs. We do things because we were taught to do them, whether or not it makes sense for our lives. As much as I love Tyr, he has enough control over my life with physics, the laws of nature, and the laws of men. Chasing after some perceived societal norm around holidays when it stresses me out isn’t healthy. Hence, Loki steps in and whines about my lack of self care.
That’s why when my husband pointed out that doing a dinner thing wasn’t working for me, I needed to step back and rethink what I was doing. I was trying to follow my mom’s style, which isn’t mine. Holidays, as wonderful as they are, need to be something that aren’t done “just because that’s how we do them.”
Whether celebrating Thanksgiving/Harvest or Yule/Christmas, we as humans must make them joyous occasions and not stressors in our lives. Loki reminds me that being human means being fallible. That means that sometimes we can’t do “all the things, all the time.” Tyr agrees. Which suddenly has reduced the stress in my life.
I still have all the other things to get done, but somehow, the gods make them a little less frenetic. Probably because they don’t judge me on what I accomplish in the minutiae of my daily life. Not like the Christian god purportedly did.
Thanks, and hopefully this rambling post made sense to you. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll listen to your inner Loki and remember self care as well.