After last year’s double whammy of intense proportions, I thought that this year’s East Coast Thing would be chill and low key for me. I figured there was nothing that could possibly happen to top the whole “meeting the daughter of the man who saved my life almost 30 years ago in Germany” bombshell. But of course, I was horribly, hideously wrong. Of course I was. And I was wrong in the best possible way. I’ve only just returned home, but I’m still utterly astounded by how powerful the last few days have been. My soul is aflame right now, but my body is exhausted from the constant, unexpected bouts of hysterical sobbing that overcame me more times than I can count. I wept because I was overwhelmed by the love and brilliance of a community that I have boasted of before; this is getting to be a running theme in posts I share, and I’m never going to apologize for the redundancy. It’s a well earned redundancy, because I am truly proud of everyone, and beyond humbled to be counted among them, to have such glorious friendships and kinships with astounding people.
As many of you know, I was raised heathen. My dear Lokean friend E called me a 3rd generation heathen, since my immigrant grandfather was a proud heathen. We’ve always been a pro-Loki family, including my formerly Catholic mother (she’s not heathen herself – that is the religious tradition of my father’s family – but she has Strong Opinions about the American fear of Loki, and she has Sharp Words about the history of bans against him in this country. Her response to The Troth rescinding the Loki Ban last year? “It’s about fucking time. Idiots. It was a fucking stupid policy in the first place. Now go do that Clergy Program.”). It wasn’t until I was in college at the turn of the millennium that I learned there were others in the United States who shared my faith, but I was HUGELY reluctant to meet any of these Asatruar because there was so much vitriol and fear directed at Loki. Even though my dumb ass identified as an Odhinnswoman, it was the community’s hatred of Loki that kept me away from it. Obviously, I eventually began to meet and befriend heathens in the tri-state area, but it took a very, very long time to be comfortable with the idea of communing with Asatruar.
Since my discovery of the community back around 2002, I have been ecstatic about the tremendous progress that has been made in bringing Loki back into ritual. It’s been nearly 20 years of cringing at bans and Nokean policies, but at last, people are starting to listen. They’re starting to pay attention to him, and doing some digging on their own rather than parrot the rhetoric of the 1980s and ’90s. And now he’s finally starting to get his due. And with him, of course, comes Sigyn.
This year, I was permitted to set up a ve for Sigyn to accompany Loki’s, which had only been there for a few years. It’s precisely because ECT had finally welcomed Himself in the ve stead that I attended for the first time last year (even though I still called myself an Odhinnswoman. Riddle me that. Or just go ahead and call me the fuck out on my obliviousness. Fun fact: I learned this week that Shadow Husband had been referring to me as a Lokian in conversation with others for years. As always, I’m the last to know anything). I was so excited when E and I planned to snuggle Loki and Sigyn together on the same table, combining their ves into a single shrine. Loki and Sigyn themselves were vibrating with excitement about it, as well. I made it clear to the committee and the community that if Loki wasn’t included in the main ritual, then Sigyn wouldn’t consent to a place in the procession, either. I was sad to know that once again, his offerings and idol would be left behind, but I took comfort in knowing he wouldn’t be alone in the dark this time. And of course, like last year, I’d bring some of the energy from the dancing and drumming down to him and to Sigyn.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the outpouring of love for Himself and his beloved wife. I was astounded by the turnout for his blót, and again at the ritual I lead for Sigyn. My kinsmen attended both, which made my heart swell with gratitude since they admittedly hadn’t attended Loki blóts before. Extraordinary words were spoken at this ritual, and my kindred sister made me break down in tears and rush across the circle to embrace her when she thanked me for bringing Loki back to her and the rest of my chosen family. The ritual ran overtime because so many people had so many incredible things to say and toast to Loki, and when everyone took their reluctant leave at the sound of the lunch summons, I stayed behind at the ve to have an emotional breakdown. I was so completely overwhelmed by the love given to Himself that I couldn’t even begin to process what I’d just witnessed. The American community is finally giving him the chance he so dearly deserves, and to hear the words spoken by so many touched me so deeply and made me so damn proud of him.
When lunch was over, I was stunned by how many had returned for the Sigyn blót, whuch was originally supposed to immediately follow Loki’s. Some very, very good friends of mine who had missed the Loki blót turned up for Sigyn’s. Once again, I was profoundly impacted by the love and gratitude expressed by everyone present, and once again, I broke down sobbing when it was finished. I stayed at the ve for some time afterwards, because I couldn’t bear to leave when I was still absolutely swept up in ecstasy. I wanted every bit of that joy to be shared with Loki and Sigyn, even if it meant it was offered to them through my tears because I simply had no other way to cope with the intensity of my love for them and the gratitude I had for those who had celebrated them. This, I suppose, is the price to pay for being a Lokian nun: feeling so acutely the rapture of a community’s growing love and respect for him and for Sigyn, who is just as precious to me. I keep saying it was overwhelming, but that doesn’t even come close to adequately describing what I felt. I was bound up so completely with my own love and gratitude, and it’s like I absorbed that of everyone present, and Loki and Sigyn’s incredible joy and gratitude, and I was just so fucking proud of them. I’m so proud of them, and I’m so happy for them, I still can’t process the emotion.
Before retiring for the night, following a special (if not endearingly awkward and clumsy) dance around the ritual fire following the main rite, I went again to their ve to do my customary goodnight devotion (my Loki statue’s presence on the public ve instead of in my bedroom wasn’t going to hinder my daily routines). A handful of dear friends joined me, and upon the surprise arrival of a precious friend, we ended up doing another round of offering. When it was my turn, I again broke down into gasping tears, because I was again completely unprepared for the intensity of adoration for them and gratitude for the community for starting to welcome Loki back into the fold. I was a damn mess, but I was the best kind of mess.
I wept yet again the following morning when E and I went to ve to burn the offerings given to Loki and Sigyn. I was again touched by the small crowd that gathered, especially the presence of some of my kinsmen. Again, my kins-sister J brought me to tears with the decision she had made to keep the flowers I had offered as mementos (in true funeral director fashion) and to include them in the Foresti ve she keeps with our kindred, “so that all strife may be settled.” E declared that some of the offerings to Himself would be spared our little fire and kept in his horde and brought back each year until he is included in the main ritual with the other gods and goddesses honored. When that time comes, we will offer these gifts to the sacred fire.
That time is drawing near. After decades of fear and resistance, the quiet dedication and good deeds of we who adore him are helping others to accept him. E has been serving for years in the community to bring him back into the fold, and she’s the reason he has a ve at all. I hope that my contributions to the community help to bolster what E has accomplished, and that my deeds and devotion contribute to the inevitable restoration of his rightful place with his daughter and his blood-oathed brother. And when that happens, Sigyn will be right there with him, as she always is, quiet though she may be. Her voice, too, will be restored, of that I have no doubt. And when that day comes, I’m sure the ecstasy of emotion I experience will be tenfold what I felt these past few days. And when I feel myself crumbling from the intensity of the joy and gratitude, my beloved community will be there to hold me and sit with me until I’m grounded once again.
I approached ECT this year with the expectation that it would be fun and mentally restorative with no further cosmic bombshells. My gods, how very wrong I was. But while the extraordinary shows of power don’t make for the same kind of story as the impossible meeting of my savior’s daughter, it was far more intense for me, and I was euphoric despite the hysterical sobbing. All week, I kept saying to anyone who would listen, “I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be a part of such an extraordinary community.” My kindred, my friends’ kindreds, and the rest of the people who come to ECT – old-timers and first-years alike – are truly the most brilliant, funny, loving people I’ve ever met. The love they have for me astounds me enough, but the growing love for Loki and Sigyn quite literally floors me. I wish I knew how to properly convey and/or demonstrate my gratitude for their support and their growing comfort with Loki. The best I can do at the moment is to continue to do what I’m doing, because people seem to like having me around (I said they’re brilliant, wonderful people. Never said they had good taste), and since Loki is infused in everything I do, I hope they’ll like having him around, too. And the sense of completeness once he and his bride join their kin in the main ritual procession will hopefully bring many boons and blessings to us all. After all, as E said, if it wasn’t for Himself, we wouldn’t have the symbol of faith each and every one of us wear around our necks.
It has been a hard 20 years, hearing the heated debates and denouncements against him in the American heathen community. But people are finally starting to give him a chance, and I couldn’t possibly be more euphoric or thankful. Our community is making so many strides, and I pray that soon, Loki and Sigyn’s rightful places will be taken among the rest of their kin and companions. It will happen. They’ve earned it, and they’ve suffered an unjust ordeal of exclusion for long enough.
As for me, I couldn’t be more proud of my community. It took a long, long time for me to trust other heathens, but the rewards are plentiful, and I am so very glad to be accepted and be counted among them. Won’t be long before Loki and Sigyn are, too.
To any reader who was at ECT: thank you, and how dare you make me cry so hard and so often! I mean that, of course, in the best possible way. Every tear shed this week was one of absolute joy and gratitude. I couldn’t ask for a better group to call my family and my friends. Thank you, always and forever.