Loki has a reputation for being scary.
Sometimes he’s just casually spooky, like when a suspiciously relevant Tori Amos album gets knocked off the top of your CD player even though nothing could have realistically disturbed it, or you blow out a candle and the turtle shell you hung up on the bookcase goes flying. After a while you get used to that and learn to feel the special blend of blessed and annoyed when a statistically illogical number of peregrine falcons or crows hang out in your yard laughing at you.
Then you also get those frightening but not damaging moments where, being cocky and thinking you’ve got this discernment thing down, you stupidly say “prove it.”
And then there’s the existential dread when he starts putting some serious effort into you. Your boundaries start getting pushed, you have to cut out pieces of yourself that have gone necrotic, you have to learn to pick yourself apart and try to put yourself back together again.
Humans are not Ikea tables, so every part of this sucks.
That’s the one this post is about.
About four years ago, knowing that I was slacking off and wondering how bad it was, I decided to ask Loki if he had anything planned like these trials I kept hearing about. All I got was “it starts in March and peaks in May.”
Things were fine at first, and I was excited about this information, until I let my mind wander and reached the worst possible implications for what kind of trial that would be, reaching the conclusion that my life would be destroyed and all the mundane, non-spiritual things I valued would be ripped away from me and I’d be subjected to the whims of some being that I had no control over and still wasn’t entirely sure was real.
I still didn’t have this discernment thing down, clearly.
Around March, I freaked the fuck out. Took apart my altars, slashed my runes, burned all the paper items, and either put all the jewelry and utilitarian items in a box and hid it, or tried to find a way to repurpose it. I ran screaming from faith and from this supposed trial that was planned for me. The shame was crushing, but I decided to be a noncommittal agnostic again and look into Unitarian Univeralism, figuring that the truth wasn’t where I thought it was and I’d try a Whitman’s Sampler kind of approach. I’d kinda fallen into the Heathen thing, anyway.
March went by, April came, and I felt conflicted on bypassing the modern practice of making April First Loki’s Day, but I am a stubborn ass and refused to go back. The woman who had basically been my elder at the time (who I have regrettably lost touch with) was baffled but sympathetic, and did her best to provide me spiritual-but-not-religious resources for working with fear.
And then the falcons started showing up.
Initially I thought it was just interesting when I would go out to the patio with my dog and a cup of tea, and a falcon would land in the ash tree branch that dangles directly overhead. I took my dog inside and stared at that bird from my kitchen sink until it went somewhere else. On day one my concerns were purely mundane. I didn’t want a large (peregrines are shockingly huge up close) and capable bird of prey going after my then-10-pound shih tzu.
After the second day in a row, I started to wonder if it meant something, and decided to talk. I asked –duly embarrassed–for 3 more to confirm this was Loki.
The third day in a row, I was suspecting that I was going to get the 5 falcons I asked for as confirmation, and started emotionally preparing to go back and accept whatever punishment was awaiting me. I hadn’t knowingly sworn an oath, but had done a few things that would easily be interpreted as accidentally agreeing to something, and I had outright broken at least one implicit agreement.
Day four, I took out the items and started rebuilding the altars.
On day five, expecting my fifth falcon and not seeing it in the usual place, I started freaking out again. Clearly, my anxiety-mangled brain said, I had fucked this up. I was not going to be forgiven. I would be shunned, or spiritually outlawed, or whatever.
I stepped outside and saw it in the trees by the street. I rushed inside, filled a bowl with water and ran back to the patio.
“Hey!” I said to the falcon. It didn’t respond, because falcons don’t talk, but I knew that and was more concerned with the symbolism. “Look!” I held up the bowl and wiggled it a little bit, hoping to catch the falcon’s eye, and dumped it on the ground saying “here you go!” It was a little anticlimactic, but official. I was back in the gifting cycle.
I threw myself into devotion, not sure if atonement was really a thing or if I owed anything yet, but journaled and prayed fervently just in case. In doing so I discovered that I’d tricked myself and the whole point of what had just happened was that I was supposed to learn not to jump to conclusions:
Or maybe that was the idea? Giving me something vague and letting me stress myself out? And lie to myself to make myself feel better?
That was the key phrase. “Lie to myself to make myself feel better.” For all his reputation for trickery, Loki vastly prefers sincerity and precision. With that big hurdle out of the way, I assumed I would go back to the simpler days of gathering flowers and watching things randomly move out of place.
Nah. I got dreams instead. Weird dreams. Extremely, ham-fistedly symbolic fucked up dreams.
The one that I was pretty sure was a confirmation, especially after consulting my elder, was so over the top and targeted that I just couldn’t pretend it was happenstance.
But again. Weird. It is extremely uncomfortable to wake up the next day and try to calmly explain to the human guy you know who has Loki as a nickname, that he was in your dream, but also he was Loki the god, but also he was Floki from Vikings, and also he was mpreg, and also he decided to do a waterbirth in a swimming pool in your backyard (I don’t….have a pool?), and also his brother was the midwife, and also it went terribly and you had to go pick peonies for the funeral because this was a very important detail for some reason.
In consulting with my elder she both found it hilarious and incredibly useful, hit the nail on the head in her interpretation because she’s good like that, and there were enough weird coincidences she confirmed before that I didn’t feel any need to doubt her take on it. At the very least, the conflict had been processed, and my return had been acknowledged and accepted.
I wasn’t thrown for a loop for a good long while after this, so that’s where the story ends. The moral of this 1200+ word ramble is: Think, but don’t overthink. Be wise, not smart. Do your research. Discernment is a virtue. Look before you leap.
And what I learned from this is to stop running away from things by default–or at least that this is not a viable solution to anything. The process has to be trusted, even if it’s terrifying, because Loki is smarter than you and is not going to fuck with things without a valid reason.