Though I’ve been a devoutly practicing heathen for 18+ years, I’ve never had an altar until August of this year. My collection of statues and things for the gods I honor is extensive and every room in my house has something of or for the gods. Yet it wasn’t until the revelations at ECT that I actually felt compelled to create a space dedicated to a specific deity. It took less than 10 minutes to gather Loki stuff and assemble it on the space he requested. Yes, he showed me where he wanted his things – I’m not clever enough to decide on my own that my old toy chest would be the ideal center for a gleeful little imp like the Trickster.
It’s a mishmash of treasured pieces and things that remind me of Himself, gifts from friends, and food and drink offerings before they’re brought outside. All in all, it’s a comforting and joyful little setup. Amazingly, my two cats are respectful of that space. Anyone who’s spent 5 minutes on the internet knows how cats are intent on destruction and Fucking Things Up. The carpets in my house are testament to that: they’re haunted with ghostly echoes of coffee and meals that have been maliciously attacked. Yet Blue has only hopped on the altar once, and it was to carefully boop the Loki statue. It looked almost reverent. A friend saw this picture and said, “Of course you’d have a cat that honors Loki.”
The little one, the not-quite-kitten but still-really-small-cat, isn’t as devout. She hasn’t hopped up there, nothing’s ever been disturbed up there, but (and there’s always a “but”) Runa has taken it upon herself to be quality control for the offerings I place there.
Yes, tricksters have a legendary sweet tooth. Yes, Loki loves his too-sugary coffee and donuts and candy. But sometimes I share what I’m having for dinner, because even Gods of Mischief need to eat their protein and veggies. And that’s when little miss gets nosy and samples the goods to make sure they’re appropriate. Or maybe Loki goads her into eating some of it the way a child slips something to the dog patiently waiting under the kitchen table. Runa leaves the pastries alone, but I can’t help but notice her chicken breath when she comes a snugglin’.
My offerings are informal, there is no rite happening. But they are appreciated (yes, even the healthy stuff), and I feel his joy when I sit with him. His space is one of friendship and mutual adoration. Though I’ve long been hesitant to embrace happiness because I’ve always dreaded the cost, He’s taught me that a gift for a gift doesn’t mean I should expect suffering for a moment of bliss. He’s made it clear that a gift for a gift can mean a smile for a smile, a joke for a joke, love for love. Joy can be given in return for joy. He teases that I listened to Odhinn for too long, that it’s warped my expectations. He doesn’t expect me to sacrifice, he expects me to embrace ecstasy. I’ve sacrificed enough happiness in my life, now it’s my turn to enjoy being alive. It’s time to stop being afraid of the fall and learn how to fly.
He likes to share in the bounty. He makes sure I get to share his treats with him. Just last week, I stopped for coffee for myself and a donut for him. I only ordered 1 donut, but I was given 3 “to cheer [me] up” as the amazing folks at my usual Dunkin had noticed I’d been a little down lately. Clearly, Loki wanted me to share in the sugarbomb frosted vanilla creme delight. As there were 3, the third was given to Sigyn, because she too has been with me and helping me through the fallout of my father’s suicide. She too has a place on the altar. She deserves as much recognition and love as her husband. It was a lovely, peaceful snack we shared, and it was a moment that proved a turning point in my ability to make sense of the chaos my father’s death has created for me. It’s the little things, the small, sweet gestures of the people I encounter daily and the warmth of the gods around me. Grateful doesn’t begin to describe it, and I’m starting to learn that it’s okay to be happy.
A gift for a gift. A donut for a donut. A shared bit of chicken with a cuddly little purr beast. From the gods to the earth to us, from us to the earth to the cats. A gift for a gift.
Hail the gods!