Musings on Loki

This is something I wrote some time ago but it continues to be true in my experience and I wanted to share it with others. As I’ve stated on multiple occasions I have a deeply devotional but also sometimes chaotic relationship with the god Loki.

Loki can be a very hard god but He is so worth it. He is an individual so sometimes He is all smiles and laughter. Other times He is deep and thoughtful. Sometimes, He is Worldbreaker in all His terribleness. He frightens us, shaking the ground under our feet and tearing at the illusions we have built up about ourselves. He smiles as He rips apart our walls, not because he is sadistic or evil but because He genuinely cares about us and He knows it is for the best. After the deed is done we shake with relief because we have seen divine fury strike out around us, rending and gutting our self doubt. We have seen the fires of Muspelheim reach out to devour that which we had for so long devour our very minds. Memories, doubts about ourselves, irrational fears, they all melt and twist in FlameHair’s fire, till we rise out the other side, stronger and more sure of ourselves.

Loki can be a hard god because He points out our flaws, not to be mean but to show us that no one is perfect. We must work on ourselves but we must not be deluded into thinking we will ever reach some arbitrary benchmark of perfection. Loki wants us to grow as people but He also wants us to love ourselves how we are because if we are constantly waiting until we are good enough to love then we will never love ourselves. We are already good enough to love and loved all the more because we try.

This is why Loki can be a hard god, He genuinely cares about us as individuals.

©Terra Akhert 2019

Harm None?

In my time on the Pagan part of the Internet I’ve seen plenty of posts about whether or not you have to be vegan in order to be Wiccan, or whether or not it’s OK to euthanize a critically injured animal. I’ve even seen people go as far as to say non vegans practicing Wicca aren’t actually Wiccans at all. What it basically all boils down to is the true meaning of “harm none”. It’s actually impossible to go through your life without causing any harm.

You harm microbes when you wash your hands and when you clean. You squash ants when you walk. If you eat meat then an animal had to die. If you are a vegan then a plant in many causes had to die. They are living things as well. Vegetables and other crops must be planted, the equipment used for this kills mice and bugs who live in the fields. Bugs hit car windshields, animals accidentally hit by cars and so on and so on.

My point isn’t to be depressed or upset by this harm. Animals can’t go through their life without harming others either, it’s just the world we live in. The Rede is very important but it’s not the be-all end-all. It’s not our version of the 10 Commandments.

It is extremely good advice, something to strive for in our lives. Do not however expect perfection, do your best to be a good person and to minimize the harm you cause but realize that you will cause harm to someone or something just in the course of living. This doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad Wiccan. This makes you human. The world isn’t black-and-white, it’s filled with shades of gray.

I remember a couple years ago a person had started a thread in a Wiccan group I was a part of on social media. Essentially the woman was interested in taxidermy and crafting jewelry out of bone, claws and other animal parts, all humanely sourced from natural deaths. Inevitably someone started a second thread about this talking about how shocking and “unWiccan” this was. How “disgusting” this person must be and how they are wannabes for “enabling this behavior” and that they should “go read some Wiccan books”.

To be quite blunt? It struck a very raw nerve with me.

Honestly this narrow mindedness and absolute refusal to acknowledge the natural world (which includes death) while proclaiming to honor it is why other Pagans bash us Wiccans. People of different traditions have always used animal parts in jewelry and sacred ritual, our god (The Horned God) is even a hunter! Heck, The Goddess is often portrayed as one too.

By judging others for engaging in practices that are not causing undue suffering and are in accordance with their own traditions people like that are the ones who aren’t acting Wiccan. Other disrespectful and insulting comments on threads such as this one? How about “Read some Wiccan books”? Which ones? Just the ones that agree with your thinking or any of the hundreds published by different authors with different opinions?

What of people whose ancestors are Native American and  have used animal products in jewelry and sacred rituals since the beginning of their people? I am in no way comparing any form of Wicca to any Native tradition but that kind of Puritanism towards other belief systems makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.

Yours, Not Theirs

I have always been very interested in religion and spirituality. When I was just a kid I even had a little girl’s bible that I read cover to cover. As I grew up I started asking questions and exploring my beliefs. I don’t remember exactly when I discovered Wicca but I devoured everything I could find on it. I also began studying comparative religion. The rest is basically history.

I consider myself Wiccan though I take inspiration from many sources. These include but aren’t limited to New Orleans Style Voodoo, Rokkatru and some Christian beliefs. I also call myself a witch. My path puts an emphasis on the Faerie Realm.

I believe in one all powerful source Whom I call God. To me God has a masculine side (The Horned God) and a feminine side (The Triple Goddess), like two sides of one coin. I see all the gods and goddesses as being manifestations/aspects of Them while also being individuals at the same time. It’s like shining a light through a prism. It’s all one light but it shines through as a rainbow of different colors. I try to live each day being the best version of myself. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. I like to do practical things to honor nature like putting up bird feeders, growing plants, etc.

I celebrate the phases of the moon as to me they represent the phases of The Triple Goddess and of the changing cycles of the earth. In a similar way I celebrate the Solstices as different points along the lifecycle of The Horned God. I’m very much a “Circle Of Life” type of person.

To me magick has to do with the flow of the universe. Some of this energy comes from within us, some from all around the universe and some from the gods. Magick is basically working with the rhythms of the universe to accomplish changes. It’s every bit as natural as as, the force of gravity.

This is my Wicca, but it may not be yours. Our beliefs and practices are heavily affected by our experiences and perceptions of the world around us. That’s the reason why there is no “One Size Fits All” situation here. Don’t through rules and traditions headlong out the window for no reason but don’t be afraid of your practice, your beliefs looking different from the person next to you. Yours isn’t their’s.

The Black Bird Buffet

There is a fast food place not terribly far from where I live, which I suppose can be said for most people living in the United States. Around the side of the establishment is a fenced in dumpster area, usually overflowing with leftovers from the buffet. Recently I’ve begun noticing a large number of black birds swarming the area and feasting on the morsels within. In the days after I first saw  the avian feeding frenzy I’ve had trouble getting it off my mind. My initial thought was a lamentation of just how wasteful our species can be, followed shortly thereafter with “well I’m glad someone is eating it”. Neither of those thoughts are what this article is really about though.

Those birds out there exist within the same space as us but still in their own world, separate and alien from ours. The two are of course related, completely interdependent on one another. What we do effects them and what they do effects us even though our worlds are different. As someone who practices two traditions that both put an emphasis on the spirit world and the connection between theirs and ours, it was impossible for me not to see a resemblance.

In my own faith and practice I believe that there are two main divisions or worlds in which we exist, the physical world and the spirit world. These worlds exist side by side and influence one another. In Wicca or Wiccan inspired beliefs we often refer to the existence of a “veil between worlds”. The terminology is interesting here because it heavily implies that these worlds are not as far from one another as they may appear. A veil is a very thin cloth, basically porous. This reflects the idea of spirits passing from one world to the other and back again in a constant loop.

The tldr here? Your house is haunted. Everyone’s is, some places are just way more active than others.

Now back to the birds. They have their own complex behavior, pecking order and forms of communication. Heck, who are we to say they don’t have their own form of culture as well? Throughout history, humans have been fascinated with the idea of a culture for wild animals and we see this reflected in the extensive mythologizing of them. Mythology and folktales are told throughout the world of animals speaking,  living in tribes or other societies, having laws and codes of ethics. This fascination hasn’t stopped in modern times either, just look to the wildly popular Warriors series by Erin Hunter for evidence of that.

I suppose what I’m really trying to get at in this rambling mess is that those birds served as a reminder that more exists in this world than what we see in our daily lives. It’s easy to get stuck in this rut of doing the same thing over and over and missing the bigger picture. Kemeticism and Wicca help me to see glimpses of this grand scheme (whatever it is exactly) in the small everyday things. All you have to do is look up occasionally.

 

©Terra Akhert 2019

How I Got Here

All great journeys have a beginning.

Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated with religion and spirituality. With what people believed and how that belief influenced their lives. I began my spiritual life as a nominal Christian from which point I moved onto to Wicca, then more generic Paganism and finally back to Wicca before discovering Kemetic Orthodoxy. I’ve always been the type of person to ask questions and want to learn more, to have my current understanding questioned and changed based on evidence. I left Christianity because it stopped making sense to me, though I love the fellowship aspect it can have.

Being Pagan helped me to explore my faith freely but I needed a bit more structure in my spirituality. My experience with Wicca was absolutely wonderful and I love its emphasis on balance. Unfortunately, I often didn’t see that balance play out as it was described. It often seemed to me that books on Wicca tend to devote multiple chapters the religion’s concept of the Feminine Divine (The Goddess) with a paragraph on the Masculine Divine (The God) tacked on the end. I want to make it clear before I go further that it isn’t my intent to convince others how they must believe, frankly I have no interest in the idea. Rather it seemed to me that perhaps there was an important aspect of my beliefs that were not being served by the broader Wiccan community.

Throughout my long and at time tumultuous travel through my own faith there has always been one constant: my pull towards Ancient Egypt and its gods. I wish I could provide a better answer as to why that is, I really do. The truth is though that I have no idea why these unbelievably ancient, vast deities decided to pluck me out of my spiritual confusion and fireman carry me into Kemeticism. Even from the days of my childhood, I remember spending hours under the open skies rambling innocent prayers to Ra as I daydreamed.

For many years I found myself wandering through the sea of Paganism ungrounded and unbalanced. “I’m eclectic” I would announce to myself with a forced finality I most certainly didn’t feel. An eclectic path is valid of course, powerful and meaningful for the person who walks it. It just wasn’t for me. I would look to the sky when the lightning struck, utterly moved by the power and sentience I felt in it and I would be moved to prayer and adoration. But to Whom? Lists of storm deities from pantheons across the planet would scroll through my head like some kind of high school power point presentation. But it didn’t feel passionate, alive, from the heart. Something inside of me needed to know for sure: Who am I praying to? Whose power am I acknowledging? 

At the same time, I continued to struggle with my Wiccan practice. I loved The Goddess with all my heart but the same could be said of The God. Seeing Father Nature essentially ignored in mainstream Wicca was deeply saddening to me. As someone who met The Antlered King long before coming to face The Great Mother, I felt a primal need to worship Him as Her equal. I began to seriously reevaluate my spiritual life, do I really belong in this community? Do I really fit? As I wrestled with my beliefs I found myself coming closer to the Egyptian gods or Netjeru. They felt so familiar and comforting, so utterly alive. Embracing Them came easy because They felt like home.

In those early days of walking this path I completely submerged myself in all of the information I could find, delighting in learning more about these gods that felt like family and the people that worship Them. I’ll admit my Wiccan practice found itself parked to the side as I tried to figure out just who I was. I actually went back and forth quite a bit: Am I Wiccan with Egyptian gods? Am I wholly Kemetic? Which do I choose? My heart ached at the idea of leaving Wicca behind but my soul could not tolerate the prospect of turning my back on my newly found Kemeticism. That’s when I finally started to figure things out.

It probably seems obvious to anyone reading this now but at the time it hadn’t yet occurred to me. As I thought and searched and questioned it slowly dawned on me that the only one who expected me to “pick a side” was myself. Why should I choose between the old friend that has always been by my side or the destiny that I was in some way returning to? My journey as a dual-trad Polytheist has helped me to accept and understand myself and the differences (as well as similarities and fellowship) between my beliefs and others. I no longer feel a strange sadness, the odd feeling of something being missing in my spiritual life. It isn’t always pretty or easy to manage the two halves of my path but then, polytheism itself isn’t always simple or easy either.

©Terra Akhert 2019