Twenty Years

I’m always laughing about how weird my life is, and my friends and colleagues enjoy whatever wackery abounds in my presence, but let’s be honest: it’s not my life that’s so odd, it’s the world itself. It’s the history I’ve lived, seeing everything change after a few strange events. I’m not that weird, I’m just responding to the absurdity around me.

I grew up in West Germany, surrounded by the remnants of and memorials to the war and the Holocaust. This was in the ’80s, during the Cold War, and we were so very close to the demarcation point. We ventured through Checkpoint Charlie and saw East Berlin; since my father believed he was James Bond, he took 6-year-old me past the “public” parts that were designed for Westerners to see, and we wandered through the parts where real Communism left its scars.

I’m old enough to remember Pan Am 103, the terrorist bombing over Lockerbie. We were supposed to be on that very flight that very day. My father was on holiday leave, and we were originally going to visit his parents in NY. After our plans were made and the flight booked, he decided he couldn’t bear dealing with his mother over Christmas, so we cancelled the second part of the flight. We flew from Frankfurt to London, and stayed in England instead.

I remember Waco, vaguely, and the Oklahoma City Bombing, watching the news and crying. I was a preteen, hormones just starting to kick in, so the tears were intense, and to this day the image of the firefighter carrying the bloody body of that little toddler breaks me in half.

I remember the first time terrorism struck the World Trade Center, the truck bomb in the lower levels in ’93. And as a young adult in college close to D.C., I sat in my friend’s dorm room and saw the second plane hit the tower in 2001. I then had to go downstairs and wake my roommate, whose father was ex-Army, active CIA, and tell her the Pentagon had been attacked. He was supposed to be there that day. Thankfully, he hadn’t yet arrived, and I held her as she wept with relief when she finally got to speak with him late that afternoon.

But with all of these flashbulb “where where you when…” moments I grew up in, the one that impacted me the most and stands out the strongest in my mind is Columbine.

Unpopular opinion: 9/11 didn’t have quite as profound an impact on me, as I grew up on military bases, I understood war and the symbolism of the targets far more easily than I did Columbine. I even remember a few of the school shootings that happened before April 1999, but they were such strange anomalies they never really registered with me. They still don’t. But Columbine… That’s the one that truly shakes me, even now. I never really spoke about how it hit me, because I never had the words. I still don’t have the words, but I’m ready to talk. I need to talk.

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Mazel Tov!

I’m easy to describe. In fact, I can offer the perfect summation of who and what I am in two words: Chipper Idiot.

The stories I have to back this up are infinite (remind me to tell you about my adventure buying coffee with kroner in Iceland sometime), and I’m sure everyone who has ever actually spoken to me will absolutely agree with this assessment. But for now, I’m only going to share with you the most recent example, assuming I can stop laughing long enough to write it out.

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The Gods, They Are A’Changin…

You know, there’s nothing as refreshing as having a good old-fashioned existential crisis at 1:30 am on a work night. Well, I exaggerate just a little; it wasn’t really a crisis, as I wasn’t doubting the veracity of beliefs or experiences or my own existence and purpose. My faith is horrifying in its strength, almost enough to make me slap myself and be all, “get a fucking grip and just try to be normal for an hour!” No, I was just mulling over the question of what came first: the gods or the stories? Have the gods always existed, or did humans create them and give them their power? It’s something I ponder a lot, and ultimately, it doesn’t matter because regardless of their origin, they exist, and they amuse me. Yes, I frustrate them because instead of the idea that humans exist to amuse the high holy beings, I tend to think they exist for my own entertainment. They’re cute when they’re frustrated. Shrill, but cute. But I digress.

Just because it doesn’t matter doesn’t mean it’s not fun to discuss.

The super fun part about all of this is the inspiration: yesterday, I fell down the rabbit hole of Snape Wifery, thanks to Reddit. For those who were blissfully unaware, I’m glad to burden you with this knowledge. Evidently, in the early Aughts, there were middle aged women who claimed to be married to Severus Snape (do I even need to explain who he is/where he’s from?). They said he existed in the astral plane, and they could channel him and have sexyfuntimes with him, and so on and so forth. He was their Master. Awesomeness all around.

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It’s Loki Day, Bitches. Take a Sticker.

Like others who are passionate about Tricksters in mythology and religion, April Fool’s Day is my High Holy Day. So much so, that I always want to schedule the day off for observance, but can’t because I’ve usually been out sick around that time (don’t get me started on seasonal allergies, or the surgeries I’ve had the last few years). This year, of course, I was away for a week traipsing around Iceland, though PA has welcomed me back with sinus issues of a truly hellish nature. I of course am doubling down on my constant complaints that I’m allergic to PA and should move to Reykjavik.

Anyway, I made an offering to Loki this morning as I headed out to work, and upon our arrival, my coworker/friend/co-conspirator surprised me with a packet of chibi fox stickers she’d ordered from Wish. Thus, a new tradition began: I laid them out all nicely on a black background and every colleague to walk past my desk was greeted with a chipper, “Happy Loki Day! Would you like to celebrate with a fox sticker in honor of the Trickster?” Poster child for professionalism in the workplace: that’s me!

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Pilgrimage to Iceland

In the weeks leading up to my trip to Iceland, I couldn’t stop thinking about Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It’s been my favorite book ever since an amazing friend loaned it to me in the fall of 2001, and it was heavy on my mind as I prepared for my excursion to the glaciers and the lagoons. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it muses about the effect that America has on the gods of the old world. It tells tales of immigrants who brave the colonies and the young new country, and the gods and spirits they brought with them. In the modern era, the focus is on a war between these Americanized old gods and the new gods created by society: Media, Technology, etc.

The epilogue stood out in my mind these last few weeks: after the war, the protagonist Shadow goes to Iceland. While in America, he knew Wednesday; in the old world, he meets Odhinn. It’s a powerful and poignant scene in which the reader gets to see the disparity between a god who has changed and adapted to a new world and new society and the old god, the original being, the god of the mythos who still draws power from his native soil.

The month before the trip, my mom asked me what I was looking forward to the most: the Blue Lagoon, glacier hiking, ice cave exploration, wandering around Reykjavik? No, I was most eager for the feel of the land itself. I grew up in West Germany, and my childhood was spent traveling around western and northern Europe. The land feels heavy there, weighted with history and ghosts and inhuman spirits, while in the United States, the land feels a bit sterile, if not jumbled and confused. Thankfully, my mom knew exactly what I was talking about; she’d started traveling when she was in high school, and the first time she went to France, she noticed the difference in the air and the land and became obsessed with it, chasing it every time she traveled. I warned her, my formerly Catholic mother, that this trip would really bring out the crazy obsessed heathen in me. This was akin to a journey to Mecca for me. She reassured me that she figured as much when she suggested the trip in the first place. She’s used to crazy heathen talk as she’s been listening to it for longer than I’ve been alive. My grandfather was heathen, as was my father, to a degree. She made sure I grew up knowing the myths and folklore of my paternal family, and she has always embraced my spiritual path, even though she doesn’t practice herself. I think she was a little curious about what she’d experience or witness in Iceland.

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Oh, Okay Then. . .

This marks my descent into stranger territories, which oughta be good because I haven’t exactly been trying to pass myself off as a stable, normal, well-adjusted creature in the first place. I mean, Lokian nun on the path to becoming a Gyðja, etc etc. I’m pretty normal for a religious nut, but, you know. Borderline fanatical AF.

I’ve written before that Loki has expressed attraction and interest due to my energy, whatever the fuck that means. The other week, I had a sit down with him and asked Himself about it. His response? “Bitch, you’re a witch. Learn to focus yourself.”

Hmmmm?

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To Love Him is to Love Her

Anyone who’s read the lore knows that Loki doesn’t travel alone. The myths and sagas are full of tales of Odhinn and Loki or Thorr and Loki or all three wandering around together. I’ve written before that during my time as an Odhinnswoman, I never had one-on-one experiences with Ol’ One Eye since Loki was always lurking around, watching, poking, waiting. Now that I’m dedicated to Himself, I know what it’s like to get solo time with a deity; he certainly enjoys spending time with me, whether it’s providing wry commentary on what I’m doing when I’m out or about or just settling in for some companionship, coffee, and cigarettes. He comes and goes, and his presence is always welcomed. As I’ve said before, he’s a neat dude to have around.

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Hairy Situation

Veiling is a fascinating concept, and it’s one that’s always tickled at the back of my mind. As I’ve written many times before, my time in Catholic school inspired a strange fascination with nuns, and as such I consider myself a Lokian nun, so complete is my devotion, so deep is our relationship. I’ve often joked about wearing a nun’s habit fashioned out of a fox pelt, because I’m just a little insane and weird things amuse me.

The concept of veiling has a somewhat practical appeal to me, as well. My hair is a thick, heavy mass of chaos, so much so that I wear it with the sides shaved in a death hawk style. Even with half of my hair shaved away, I’ve got more than I can control and manage. Not that I’ve got any talent whatsoever with actually styling my hair beyond a messy bun or pony tail. Of course, at work, I have to at least pretend to be careful about not being too deathhawky. Ask my boss how that’s going. He’s lucky that my hair’s too heavy/thick/long to tease up into a proper ‘hawk, and that I’m too lazy to attempt it anyway. I really, really don’t put any effort into my appearance, is what I’m getting at here. Good thing I’m just naturally cute in my potato-faced chaos.

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Oh, Rite…

In anticipation of delving into the Troth’s Clergy Program, I was reviewing my not-so-little library of lore and heatheny tomes. I found The Troth’s printing of Book of Blots, and I was perusing it, looking for ideas to use for upcoming events. It didn’t take long for me to realize why this book was forgotten in the back of a bookcase: it’s awfully formal. Like, really formal. Proper, solemn, and other adjectives. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t jiving with me, like, at all. Which is funny since one of the things I enjoyed about Catholic school and funeral service was the super structured, ritualized nature of the Mass. The chanting, the prayers, the readings and iconography and incense; it’s soothing and lulls you into the half-sleepy state of rote participation. For some reason, however, reading the chants and prayers and formats of these published blots was unappealing. I had kind of an uneasy, nagging sensation as I skimmed through, looking for a nice turn of phrase or bit of prayer that I could incorporate into my own practice.

I found a few things that I can work with, but overall, none of it felt all that right to me. But really, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, least of all me. Hi, have you met me? I’m an absurdly devoted Lokian. I talk with Himself and the other gods on a regular basis, and I poke fun and tease and goof around. So do the other heathens in the kindreds I do blots with. Stiff rote prayer seems (to me) like a way to detach from the gods rather than draw them closer. But again, that could be because Loki would give me hell if I tried to be so proper.

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