“Sigyn’s Joy” is one of Loki’s kennings, just as one of hers is “Loki’s Joy.” I’m particularly fond of those names because of what they say about their relationship. Loki is the trickster figure with a quick wit and wry, infectious grin, and Sigyn is the steadfast companion whose love brings comfort. They each inspire joy in each other in their own way and it’s something we desperately need these days. One of the easiest ways for me personally to find joy is by honoring the gods, whether it be through offerings/meditation/mindfulness, making art, or collecting art to adorn their sacred spaces. Sacred spaces are everywhere, and they’re invaluable for feeling connected, feeling comforted, and feeling joy.
Over the weekend, I was writing a post in which I described my mounting struggle to reconcile my tremendous faith in the gods with my rapidly declining faith in humanity. It’s a tricky prospect given the way our gods are so thoroughly entwined with humanity, but hey, when I’m dealing with foolish customers all day at work who aren’t taking pandemic precautions seriously, it’s hard to stay positive. More than anything, I’m supremely frustrated with the owner of the dealership group for keeping us open and trying to lure people out of their homes for non-essential services. I’m on standby to help local funeral homes when they get overwhelmed in the next few weeks (living in an urban area halfway between NYC and Philly means my colleagues in funeral service will get overwhelmed), and the constant exposure I’m getting from bored customers wheezing in my face is making it less and less likely I’ll be in any shape to help my fellow funeral directors. So, I’m irritated. That post’s draft is best summed up as “If I’m to be a sacrifice, I’d rather it be in service to the gods and my community rather than as a lamb to feed an already overstuffed corporate overlord.”
But there’s enough rage and frustration in the world right now. So I’ve scrapped that post, and would much rather write about things that make me happy, reminders that joy has not been sacrificed. This is mostly inspired by the package I received while I was writing the panic-attack-induced draft. I mean this quite literally – as I angrily tapped away in my living room on Saturday, the mail carrier came and left a box at my door. Inside was a highly-anticipated gift from a friend: a Sigyn god post. I met this friend at ECT last year, and in return for my swinging up to Brooklyn to carpool to ECT with him and my Lokean bestie E, he designed a post for Sigyn to accompany the Loki one I’d bought from him. She arrived right when I needed her the most, right at the height of my anxiety.
[Allow me to shamelessly plug my friend’s Etsy page for those of you who want to get god posts of your own: Loki is up on the shop page, and Sigyn will eventually join him as a regular offering. Go check out his work and support him, because he’s wonderful and talented and his art for the gods is an absolute delight (didja notice the fish head torque Loki’s sporting? HOW AWESOME IS THAT?): GrafesEndPyrography. His work can be found on a number of altars and ves throughout the Northeast Heathen Community. Fun fact: he’s a co-manager of The Troth’s Heathens Against Hate organization, and 10% of his profits are donated to the Life After Hate programs to help remove racism from heathenry.]
The moment I unwrapped Sigyn’s idol, I burst into tears. Gone was the anxiety and fear, replaced with overwhelming love and compassion. This is the power of the gods, and this is why I’ve devoted my life and entire being to them. Such a simple moment, a chance to refocus on their presence and get my head right again. As I write this now, I have to laugh at myself over a brain dead moment I’d had when Eric was asking for my input on Sigyn’s design. He’d asked if I wanted her to have a headband and rune like he’d included for Loki. I said of course, but I had to think about which rune would suit her best, and I’d get back to him. Almost immediately, I messaged him back with a “DUH!” reaction, because it was obvious without any kind of reflection that hers would be Wunjo, the rune of joy. That’s what she brings: comfort and loyalty and devout love brings a quiet, reassuring kind of joy in knowing we haven’t been abandoned. It’s the gift she gave to Loki, and it’s the gift she gives to us.
In the isolation and uncertainty that plagues us these days, it’s important for us as heathens to maintain sacred spaces and connections with the community. We’re a social religion full of people who rely on our families, our kindreds, and our friends to survive. So many of us benefit from gathering together – even those of us who are highly introverted find themselves feeling “recharged” and boosted from spending time with one another, no matter how large the crowd. So there’s a definite sense of feeling psychologically and emotionally starved right now. We’re lucky, though, to live in an age where communication is easier than ever. Take advantage of video calls and group chats, and use social media for things that will feed us in the communal sense.
This is why I decided to trash the other post lamenting the failing faith in humanity. Fuck it. We need a sense of togetherness, not more anxiety. Sigyn reminded me of the simple, reassuring joy that comes from knowing we’re not abandoned: she didn’t abandon Loki, and she’s not abandoning humanity. She’s helping us to bear the weight of this uncertainty. She’s quietly reminding us that we’re not alone, that compassion hasn’t gone missing, that connection with the gods and with each other is still possible. We have the internet, so while we may not be able to gather physically, we can still connect and support one another. We can still make places sacred, we can share pictures and videos of the altars and ves we maintain. We can share videos of songs and chanting and dancing and art.
I’ve lived in my house for 11 years now, and I never had a dedicated altar until 2018. I always considered my whole house to be altar space, a hof, a ve. As I’ve mentioned in countless posts, I’ve always held my religion and spirituality at the absolute center of my life, and everything I do and say stems from that faith and my relationship with the gods. When I formalized my oaths to Loki in 2018, I made an altar for him (at his request) to serve as a focal point for my daily devotions (even though I had long used the fox statue in my backyard as the place for offerings to him prior to this). As my relationship with Sigyn developed, his altar became their altar, and it’s overflowing to the point that there’s a secondary altar for them in my living room, too. Now that the weather is getting warmer, the tulips in my backyard are coming back to life, so Sigyn has her own corner of my outside space while Loki’s fox keeps watch over my home.
I tell you all of this to remind you that sacred space isn’t something that’s confined to a patch of woods or a corner of a bedroom. It’s everywhere, it bleeds out from the altar to encompass us. We carry it with us, we see it everywhere. Even though our ability to gather as a community and honor the gods and ancestors and wights together is halted, we can still create and maintain sacred places and share them with one another. There is still joy that we can find and feel and spread. Loki and Sigyn bore the burden of a terrible kind of isolation, and they can help us cope with ours. They were — and are — one another’s joy. They’re ours, too. It’s not always a tangible gift, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s vital right now, just as crucial as anything and everything else we’re praying for and hoping for and working for.
I guess the point of all of this subject-hopping and rambling is condensed to this: create and share sacred space to feel connected to the gods, the wights, and each other. Use them to remind yourself that despite being physically isolated, we’re still part of a greater community. We have so many options for communication and virtual gatherings, for making and sharing art. Use them. We’re not as alone as we feel. Call each other, video chat, do virtual wellness checks because a lot of us are seriously struggling. Mental health conditions are deteriorating, fear and anxiety are running rampant, and frustration abounds. Take heart in the lesson Sigyn offers: we are not abandoned. We still have each other, even in isolation. And when we commune and reach out to one another, joy is sure to be found and felt.
I am dedicated and bound to Sigyn’s Joy, and I am a priestess of Loki’s Joy. At the heart of it, just as at the heart of their kennings, I am devoted to sharing the joy they inspire. The world has gone mad, but there’s still connections to enjoy and community-building to be done. A smile amidst the chaos, the gentle reassurance that we’re not in this alone: this is what they offer, and I for one will gladly accept it.
Love you all. Be safe. And find joy.