Today started on the most horrific of notes when I found myself in conversation with someone who had the gall to defend slavery to my face. I was at work, so I couldn’t act on the instinct to flay the bitch alive, both verbally and physically, but I did make it clear – in the most professional manner possible – that she was a disgusting human being and that she needed to leave. Once she was out of sight, I commenced raging. But that’s not the point of this post.
The point is that after that soul-shakingly awful encounter, every other person with whom I interacted for the rest of the day was an absolute goddamn delight. They were kind, and patient, and funny, quick with a smile and quick to laugh. My coworkers shared in my rage and upset at the racism when they heard about it, but we’re a shockingly great team, and we backed each other and supported each other throughout the long, surreal hours that followed. After an evening Dunkin run, during which the lady at the drive thru bantered with me and let out the most beautiful laugh when I shouted through the window to her boss that she was the best of all time, I realized that humanity is pretty fucking awesome. We just don’t realize it because the individuals who are miserable, hateful fucks are loud about it, and their venom blinds us to the myriad gestures of quiet kindness from everyone else.
When I gave my little presentation about Sigyn at ECT, I remarked that she’s quiet in her devotion to her husband. She suffered just as much as Loki: they witnessed the brutal murders of their sons, and stayed in that dreadful cave together, one bound in punishment, the other bound by love and loyalty. Throughout her ordeal, she didn’t – doesn’t – complain. She doesn’t draw attention to what she does. She sees something that must be done, and she does it, simple as that. She’s quiet, but that doesn’t mean she should be ignored, overlooked, forgotten. The same should be said about all of the small, simple acts of kindness and joy we encounter in our daily lives. The little bits of beauty and unity we experience are so easily overshadowed by the burning fury ignited by the bellows of awfulness. We need to remember that we can’t give hatefulness power over the good we see. Misery is loud and demands forced company, but the good we do deserves our attention and gratitude.
I’ve been meaning to write about what this year’s ECT meant for Sigyn and for myself. So many of my stories focus on Loki, because he is the center of everything I do. But Sigyn is there with me, too, in everything, helping me to keep him the focus of my life as he is of hers. And it was with tremendous gratitude that I could help to bring her back into the community’s consciousness this year, with her vé, with her ritual, with her presence. She calls me “sister-wife,” has done so for a long time. Last week, she called me her priestess. It was she who told me what to do for her blót when the time came. She told me that instead of passing the horn, I was to pour the offerings into her bowl, and pass the bowl around the circle. As people offered their thanks and hailed her, each drink would lessen the weight of the bowl, lighten the burden of her arms. I was awestruck by her instruction – I could never in a million years come up with something half as clever, appropriate, or meaningful. It was a tremendous honor to carry out the ritual as she’d requested, and afterwards I was overwhelmed by the intense euphoria – both hers and Loki’s, who loves her so – and broke down sobbing. That’s when I felt her wrap her arms around me and whisper to me that I was her priestess, bringing her back from the cave. This, of course, made me weep even harder. Thankfully, many of my friends had stayed after the ritual and swooped in to join in the group hug. Oh, I was a mess, but it was a mess born of ecstasy. Sigyn was finally getting her due, and there were so many people there to help hold the bowl.
As we all recover from ECT Hangover and flood each other’s Facebook pages with excitement and stories, many people have told of the sight of Odhinn at both his ritual and at the main ritual. I, of course, didn’t see him – after his blót, I was treated to a moment with Loki, finally getting to see the grin I know so well on an actual, physical face. And at the main ritual, I had Sigyn. Because Loki was still excluded from the big shindig this year, she of course stayed with him in the vé stead. But I had the extraordinary opportunity to honor her regardless. I had been in the procession, carrying some of the offerings for Forseti, the patron of my kindred. Because of this, I sat in the innermost ring circling the fire to which our offerings were given. A few minutes into the prayers and echoing “hails!”, two little boys, 4-5 years old, found their way to sit beside me. One of these little boys was the son of Shadow Spouse and Shadow Sister Wife; he doesn’t know me well, as they don’t live locally to me, and he’d been shy with me through ECT. However, this night, he climbed into my lap as we watched each round of offerings be given to the fire and to the gods. He held my hands in his, this wonderful little boy with the fox-colored hair, and let me hug him and cover his ears when 200 heathens screamed their praises. His friend, a little blonde boy, scooted closer to me, and grinned at me throughout. I admit I couldn’t tell you much of what was said at ritual, for I was too entranced by these two sweet little boys, my thoughts too wrapped up in my earlier pleas to the community to remember Narvi and Vali. And I felt Sigyn, her knowing smile, and I held my friends’ son closer, leaned over to whisper to his friend that the really loud “hail” for Odhinn was coming. And after the ritual, when we celebrated with the gods, I danced with Loki around the sacred fire. His joy at the love for his wife as everyone hailed her was palpable, and his pride at the remembrance of his two little boys was just as great. He’s known as a trickster, a mischief maker, a nuisance, but he’s very much a family man, and his family, large and wild though it is, is everything to him. And he is everything to his family.
I may not have seen the Allfather as so many present did, but I had the absolute privilege of being with Loki and Sigyn and their sons. And I have that privilege still.
The voices of hate are loud and demand attention. But the good that people do is quiet and unassuming. It’s so easy to overlook the little bits of love and kindness when we’re so distracted by the ugly side of humanity, but they’re there, and they outnumber the bad whether we notice them or not. It’s important to silence the hate and give attention and gratitude to those doing what’s right, those doing what needs to be done without complaint. Sigyn reminds me of this, and instead of brooding over the horror of this morning, I can take comfort in knowing I made my views clear (though I didn’t get to really tear the customer a new one as I’d have preferred to do) and focus instead on the genuine smiles and teasing laughter and pure happiness of the encounters I had with everyone else for the rest of the day. There’s some shitty people in the world, but overall, we’re pretty awesome and worthwhile. We just need to give our attention to the good we do, because the small acts of kindness are what’s going to persevere in making life better for everyone.