Within 10 minutes of hitting “publish” on the article about the old family photographs and the recurring dreams, I got some more pictures from my cousin. The timing was impeccable, because I’d just finished writing about my grandfather keeping us close to the gods, but including the caveat that I didn’t think anyone in the family actually calling themselves Lokian or heathen (well, my grandfather called himself heathen. And I know my father was heathen). One of the new pics my cousin sent was a picture of the newly erected military headstone for my father.
As a funeral director and former military myself, I’m very much aware of the limitations and restrictions for emblems on headstones in national cemeteries. Within the last few years, pentacles and Thor’s hammers have finally been approved as religious symbols that could appear on a military marker. As of last year, I still hadn’t seen the option on the national cemetery forms, so imagine my shock and glee when I saw the picture of my father’s marker:
The very first time I see Mjolnir on a military marker, and it’s on my father’s headstone. A feel a rush of pride and comfort looking at this, knowing his faith is represented, knowing my Christian stepmother didn’t request a cross instead.
She asked me about the hammer on the stone, because ours is a military family, but she’d never seen Thor’s hammer in a national cemetery. She didn’t know that the federal government and the Army recognized Asatru as an official religion, that a heathen symbol was now permitted. She didn’t realize my father was heathen. She remarked, “Huh. My dad always said he was pagan.”
“So did my grandpa, his brother.”
“Well, how about that.”
So I suppose I can say my grandfather and at least one of his brothers identified as heathens, labeled themselves as such. My grandpa’s not the only one who kept the gods close.
I didn’t mention this in the last post, but I’ve been thinking about The Fox Dream a lot over the last few days. The last time I saw my father, in the days before I shipped out to basic training, I told him about the dream, for some reason. We were in his study, he was showing me the valknut he used to wear and the Thor’s hammer he’d donned in later years. We were talking a little bit about grandpa and the gods. I still don’t know why I trusted him enough to tell him about the dream, but I did. He paled and was visibly shaken, which unnerved me because I’d never seen him look weirded out. He told me he dreamt about foxes, too. On regular occasions. It wasn’t the same as mine, but he dreamed about foxes.
So there it is. Amazingly, I’m not the odd one out in the family. My grandfather held true to the old gods, which I’ve always known. Evidently his brother did, too. My father certainly did, and we both dreamt of foxes over and over, linking the family all together.
It amuses me, looking back, at how many things I never really gave much thought to at the time, but put together in context with the things I know now, seem unbelievable and uncanny. Nothing surprises me when it happens, but later on, when reflecting on how it fits into the grand scheme, it gives me chills and makes me laugh. I’d blame it on confirmation bias, but remembering things is what inspires the confirmation. I always thought the fox thing was just me, the Loki thing was just me, but looking at the old pictures and seeing trickster grins made me think of Himself, and looking at my grandfather’s eyes and smile reminded me of the recurring dream about the foxes. Getting the picture of the tombstone and taking comfort in the knowledge that Mjolnir is etched into the top reminded me of my father’s face when I told him about The Fox Dream. And learning that my great uncle, the one with the kind eyes and giant smile, also followed the old gods. . .well, that just wrapped everything up nice and tidy like.
And all the while, I sense Loki with the foxes, standing in their midst, cackling and screeching with glee. He’s been there all along, at my grandfather’s house, waving to me with a patient smile. I don’t know if my grandfather ever hailed him, or my father, but I do. He’s waited such a long time for me to notice him. And he’s brought so many wonderful things to my life since oathing myself to him. I think this, these pictures, these memories, are the best yet.