Sweets for the Dead

While I’m not Rokkatru, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Loki’s kids. When I was younger, I felt bad for his older three being cast out and for his younger two for the cruel role they were forced to take on in their father’s punishment. As an adult with the capacity for better ruminating on the nature of prophecy and Odhinn’s decisions being reactive to (and contributing factors toward) said prophecy, I still think they had a raw deal in the stories. Really, Sleipnir is the only one of his children who had an okay go of things. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Of the elder Loki-spawn, the only one I’ve actually honored and celebrated is Hel. As a funeral director, it’s only natural to call on her at work, and to give thanks for the comfort she can provide. She’s something of an old friend, in a way, and I was beside myself with joy when I learned just how beloved she is in the community. Her vé at ECT is thing of wonder and a place of peaceful reflection. Well, peaceful to me, anyway. Sone people are still a little scared of her, and I can understand that. Death is frightening. But my background as one who works with the dead, caring for the bodies they’ve left behind and helping their survivors to memorialize them in stories and shared memories has made Hel a very special goddess in my life. In fact, at this past ECT, I was overcome by grief and tears during the time I spent in the ancestor vé, and my impulse was to run across the field down to Hel’s vé because I needed a hug. And she was there, and she comforted me, because that’s what she does. I’m not as close to her as I’d like to be, especially now that I’m on medical hiatus from mortuary work. Her duties and responsibilities are vast, and our time for visiting is brief. But my experiences with her have always been a balm to the parts of my heart and soul that ache, and I’m glad for her presence when she grants it.

A few months ago, I had a half-trance, half-dream in which I was in a forest with Loki, Fenrir, Jormungandr, and Hel. I wasn’t asleep, but I wasn’t actively engaging in meditation, either. But there I was, and there they were, and it was brief, an “I’m so very glad to meet you” kind of thing. He was introducing me to his children, to the two I hadn’t “met” before, and Hel was there among the trees. The next day, I’d added some of the infamous peanut butter cookies to my deli lunch order, and instead of the usual one, two, or three I’m given, there were six cookies in the bag. One for me, one for Loki, and one for Sigyn, as I’m accustomed to for the surprise bonus treats… and one each for Fenrir, Jormungandr, and Hel. Loki’s a good papa, wanting his children to indulge in treats as well (of course, I share with Narvi and Vali as well, particularly when I’m giving offerings to Sigyn). I wasn’t surprised at getting six cookies for the price of one because it was so soon after “meeting” the wolf and the world serpent. Just another day in the life of a Lokian, I suppose.

Tonight is Halloween night, when the dead are remembered and the ancestors hailed in modern society. Not a heathen holiday, but our religion is a dynamic, living thing that adapts to the society in which we live. I wasn’t planning on anything beyond maybe a scary movie to while away the dark, rainy night, so I swung through Dunkin for iced coffee and a donut on my way home. The bag they handed me was heavy, and of course my donut had mysteriously multiplied into three. “Ah,” I thought. “One for me, one for Loki, and one for Sigyn.”

“One for Hel,” Sigyn replied gently, and Loki echoed.

“Oh,” thought I. “One for Hel.” Silly me. I should have known better. I’m just so used to the third bonus treat being for Sigyn that I just assumed. Muscle memory, and all that.

So tonight, I hail Hel alongside her father, who is so very, very proud of her and her place in the community. She is so dearly beloved, and while I miss working alongside her when preparing the dead for where they need to go, I am and will always be grateful for the quiet comfort she offers her honored dead and the families they’ve left behind. Her realm houses so many we have known and loved, and so many our ancestors have known and loved. There, under her care, they are granted rest and protection from the pain and suffering and sorrow of the living world, and she is dedicated to those who have been entrusted to her. She is not a goddess of death, but rather the goddess of the dead, and she is brilliant in her work. She, like her stepmother Sigyn, is quiet and doesn’t make a fuss, just does what needs doing in patient, steady devotion. She didn’t choose to be the ruler of the dead, but she has accepted the job she’s been given and does it without complaint.

Beautiful Hel, I hail you, and I’m grateful to you. You have always been a comfort, and I am ever in awe of you. Thank you for watching over the long lines of my family.

Hail the ancestors! Hail the dead! Hail Hel!

One thought on “Sweets for the Dead

  1. Your tales of visceral, empirical experiences with Loki’s family fascinate me.

    Late last night, I listened to the Samhain winds howl and thrash outside my window like some great primordial creature. The power went out and it was good to be well snuggled under the comforter. I felt peaceful not worried… half expected Other to whisper words in the darkness as I drifted off to sleep.

    If there was conversation in dreams, I don’t recall it… alas.

    As always, thank you for sharing. 😊


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