Do you want to be my wife? 

The question confused me. ‘What?’ I was annoyed, irritated, a little frightened by this question. I was His wife, had been for quite a while. I looked at him, ‘What do you mean? I am your wife,’ as I’m shaking my head in confusion, brow furrowed.

He looks at me intently. ‘Yes, you are. But do you want to be?’

Oh. I didn’t like this question at all. I’d not been given this option before, I’d not been asked. Within two months of truly meeting Loki (I had known Him in childhood and young adulthood but hadn’t realized the Him of Him then) we had gone through the ritual that wound this lifetimes wyrd of mine with Him, that rewound the eternal wyrd. I hadn’t even known the name He typically goes by at that time, I had had no knowledge of lore or heathenry or the Northern Gods  when He came to collect and had misheard His name. The name didn’t matter- I knew Him. I had known He was deity, had known I was His and I loved Him. That had been enough.

But I hadn’t been asked. I was just told it was going to happen. Oh I had drug my feet, ‘I’m not saying no, I just want to defer. Let’s just wait a while.’ No- it was important to Loki that it happen then, He was adamant. Over a year later He told me that I had already been His wife, had for quite a while, several lifetimes. I just had needed to remember that here on Midgard in this life. But at that time I hadn’t known, all I had known was that I was inexorably, continually drawn into His world, drawn towards this event which frightened me, which angered my pride which insists on choice, yet which admittedly excited me just a bit.

Then the time came and I was sequestered in the hut, prepared with the herbal drink which initially they had to force down my stubborn throat but ultimately I drank by the bottle. Lotions were applied, my hair braided, and I was led to the ceremony, the ritual. I was thrown upon the stone and consumed by He who would have me, witnessed by a crowd of Jotnar, Vanir, Aesir, and I know not who else.

When done He stood and snarled at me- I knew even then it was a ritualistic line just as in human weddings when the priest asks if anyone objects but no one ever expects an objection- He snarled something like, ‘Follow me, find me if you wish. Or walk the other way never to return.’ As He stalked away He snarled at the crowd, ‘No one touch her.’

There was no option here, no thought of trying to take my broken body the other way. I fell/slid off the altar, managed to pick myself up and staggered down the wide corridor lined with the Jotnar clans. It was a difficult journey on broken body and near damaged mind but then I heard to my right, ‘I can’t watch this anymore’ and a gentle hand lifted me and did something, I don’t know what, but something that enabled me to walk better. I looked, Heimdallr, He had always been kind and was not under the rule of Loki as the Jotnar were. 

I made it to the place Loki was at, the hut built for His use during this Gathering. As I approached He held out His hand. I took it thankful for making it to Him with a depth of feeling I’ll never recreate. He guided me over the threshold and that was the first time He healed me, put me back together with velvet and light and softness and bells. Over that threshold and into His wyrd ne’er to leave again in this life, nor the last, nor the next.

No, not the typical wedding that we would expect. Entirely in vision- they even have a different word for it- named after the altar on which most of the ritual takes place. But the Gods will make what they wish happen no matter one’s circumstance.

But that day. ‘Do you want to be my wife?’

Crap. It had been a rough several months. He had seen it coming, He always does knowing me better than I know myself. I was going into a crisis. Not a crisis of faith, but a crisis of trust. Trust in Him, in my relationship with Him, in myself. In what the fuck was I doing with all of this? There was the night I almost quit. I had stripped myself of every damned token I wore, I had removed the cord, and had grabbed the braid. I almost took that out- the braid so very important to Loki that He has come snarling, demanding, insisting it be put back in even if out for only a few moments beyond the occasional unbraiding to wash my hair. At that I had hesitated. Reluctantly with a hollow in my gut I had left it in but refused to take back up the other items till later.

About six weeks before He had come to me at work, suddenly in my office as He does. He had been so serious lately and that day was no different. Stood and stared at me a time, then said, ‘We need some time.’ He didn’t need to say more, I knew He wanted three days, three days away from home, remote. I looked at the calendar at a particular date, He shrugged, ‘If you want to wait that long.’ I adjusted a few weeks earlier. He nodded and left while I filled out my vacation request.

A few days before He told me I was only to take a candle. Oh, I let that process a bit and the next day asked if I could take at least a pad of paper and tea. He looked at me briefly. ‘Ok. Three days isn’t long enough to clear the caffeine and get done what we need to anyway.’

So there I was. Even the journey was a trip out of mundane life. He convinced me to stop at a Celtic event on the way. I wandered around for a while. I used to do SCA events so it wasn’t that far out of my scope but it did provide a sense of separation from typical reality to the isolation I was going into. Then the symbolism of the ferry ride, crossing water to get to the sparsely populated, tiny island. The short drive through the woods to the cabin I had rented. A small cabin without TV or telephone bordering the edge of the wetlands that border the edge of the sea.

I had settled in, unpacked the candles, the two changes of clothes. Put the drinking water in the empty fridge and had wandered around checking out the surroundings. Loki had been around all day. Far more than He had over the last several months. Had I not been so depressed, so on the edge I would have been joyous. But I hadn’t been joyous. I was tired. Sick. Sick of it all. And then He asked me, ‘Do you want to be my wife?’

The question unbalanced me. I was His, no doubt in my mind. But did I want to be? At that moment I had no idea. I couldn’t even think about it. I turned from Him, walked away, walked outside and sat on the cool grass and watched the wetland birds. He followed me out, quiet for a while. Then He said something, I don’t even remember what, a nothing. But it was just sweet enough that I laughed. He looked at me, ‘That’s the first time you’ve laughed for a while.’ It was. He ultimately led me to the bed – I asked if we should talk, ‘No, net yet’ and then I spiraled into love and sleep in His arms.

The months/years before had been rough. First Heimdallr. ‘You need to do this for me,’ Loki had said. ‘But I only want to be yours.’ ‘You need to do this.’ Loki will often negotiate. But not on this.

Then I was handed over again, this time by both Loki and Heimdallr. Now,  in a sense, it was like being in the military. You may have a spouse but Uncle Sam is the boss. You jump here, jump there. You get to see your spouse when Uncle Sam gives you leave and as we all know those times of leave can be rare. I had been essentially blinded to all but the Goddess working with me. I’d been told I was thriving, doing well, exceeding expectations but it had come at a price. Disbelief, waning trust, dwindling sense of self and place.

I didn’t believe I was doing well, I thought I was failing. Felt as though I was being punished. I hated Her and loved Her at the same time. She was and is amazing, but only through making Her happy did I see Loki or Heimdallr. They had both put me there but my anger couldn’t be with Them, only with Her. Not as attached to Heimdallr I primarily felt betrayed by Loki. And so into this confused, chaotic mess of emotions I had gone. Prior to leaving for the island it was She who had said to me very seriously, ‘You don’t trust Him. You and Loki need to talk.’

‘Do you want to be my wife?’

The second day of my solitude was hard. He didn’t ask again but how can one forget a question like that? There is a line between service from joy and service from duty. I had clearly stepped onto the last platform and had been there long enough I had forgotten the joy. I wasn’t finding it there, not yet. I spent hours in silence, staring at the wetlands watching the birds. Drank cup after cup of tea and water. Wandered the yard. Managed my way through devotions as they wanted them- I only offered to the ancestors, Loki, and Angrboda while there.

I’d been allowed to take my basic items but no offerings. Looking back that did provide some small joy- wandering through the grasslands along the edge of the marsh, wandering the old neglected orchard and gardens. Finding offerings- the odd fruit, the interesting leaf textures, the flowers. Making loose bouquets arranged by nature and only carried into the house by me.

That day Loki was in and out of my awareness. He was always around, sometimes sitting on the couch, sometimes just around the corner. ‘Should we talk?’ I had asked. ‘No, it isn’t time yet.’ We talked of other things, we laughed a bit, enjoyed just being. But not the issue, we didn’t broach that.

I arranged and rearranged the runes. The patterns, the correlations rode through my brain exerting subtle influences. I put them all into a beautiful wooden bowl I found there and drew out one asking which I should meditate on. Berkana. In many ways THE rune of healing for me. The rune that I associate with Sigyn. I did meditate and Sigyn came, soft and forceful in a way only this gracious wife of Loki’s seems to be able to pull off.

I followed Her beckon and found myself in Her garden. She put me to work collecting those blue flowers and I should have known. But I didn’t with my mind unused to continual silence and hunger and I stepped up to the viney bush and began picking. The petals clung to my arm, sinking in as they do. I gasped, ‘Sigyn!’ ‘You probably need more,’ She said, instructing me to keep picking. I complied, She always has meant well.

Those petals pulled me deeper into trance and there I found some of my confusion. I had often commented I felt broken, damaged. My sadness, I had felt as though I was failing and She looked at me with compassion and I saw myself through Her eyes. An image similar to a kid with cerebral palsy, grinning and hobbling along as fast as they can go with the leg and arm braces, too young to know how different, how truly crippled they are.

I burst out crying, ‘How? Why? If I’m that broken... I don’t understand?’ I couldn’t even think a full thought and She said to me with such kindness, ‘But you always overcome. You are beautiful. Loki is doing His best to put things right but He can’t do it alone. You have to be patient with Him.’ I cried, I realized we are all damaged before the Gods. That is part of their work, to help pick up the pieces, to help us pick up the pieces and make us whole again.

Later Angrboda checked in briefly, grinning Her grin and then She left. A Jotnar I know well came, ‘Why are you here?’ I had asked. ‘I told you I have your back. I do. Just checking on you.’ He stayed, chatted a while with me and then Loki and then he left. The house was rocked back into silence except for the buzz of hummingbirds. That night, again, I asked Loki if we should talk. ‘Not yet.’

Early in the morning, as the sun was barely tinting the horizon with that touch of grey in the dark, I looked over and Loki said, ‘We can talk now.’ He told me of things long past and things present. He told me of betrayal and forgiveness. He told me of trust, of an oath created between foes over a careless mistake.  ‘Aw shit,’ Heimdallr had said when He saw. The clamping of the hands together, the sparkling glow that radiates out with their spoken bond.

You see Midgard, Earth, it is a place of healing. Many people get into debates over reincarnation, transcendence of the soul. They strive to go to what they feel is ‘up’- a higher level of existence. It isn’t higher, only different. Midgard is special though, and sometimes healing can occur here in that soft amnesiac wash that doesn’t occur anywhere else.

‘I don’t know what to do with that,’ I said. The story really meant nothing to me. The talk I had been told I needed was anti-climactic. I shook my head, rolled over, and went back to sleep. I was too hungry to really care about a story with which I couldn’t really relate.

The next day I got up and wandered the wetlands for a while. My stomach cramping, I noticed the birdsong, the sound of the rustling reeds, the shifting of the waters as nutria swam about eating the cattail stalks. The grasses, the light- it was vivid. I kept looking for the nøkks I had seen on one of my wanders the evening before but I didn’t seem them.

When the time came I entered the small house and began my devotions. When done I rested a time and then began the binding ritual Loki had asked of me the night before. I bound ankles, thighs, hips, chest, and finally wrists lying on the floor. I closed my eyes and cleared my mind. This time, instead of somehow using pain to shake up my peace and love as He has before, He used peace and love to shake up my pain. He took me to a beach, we climbed the driftwood and He spoke to me of love as vast as the ocean. He told me again and again, patiently letting the notion drift deeply into my soul. I don’t need to write of the rest of this vision. It was full of light and love, driftwood and sand, the sea, the sky and His beautiful blue eyes. Then, suddenly as is His way, it was done. ‘Enough. Get up.’

That evening I arranged the bones and caught the runes- Gebo, Othila, Wunjo. It was time. Adorned in only wyrdic cord and braid I sprinkled the water blessed and bathed in mugwort’s airs. I counted my beads with prayers, cleansed body, mind, and soul and then I gave of Him that pearl.

“Yes. I do.”

Picture
The next morning I found this rock, reminiscent of a pearl. It was laying on the front stoop. It had not been there the days before and now sits on Loki's altar.

No matter what our relationship with our God(s), no matter how we came to be with them, there will always be times we just have to revisit Yes. It is a time of healing and grace.
 
Prayer. The word itself is embedded into the US culture via the Christian religion. I've seen resistance to prayer among those who identify as pagan, heathen, or asatru (or any related term) due to the Christian association. I've also seen resistance to contacting the Gods with prayer for reasons such as, ' It's like at work. People don't go to a big boss with problems, they start with their direct supervisors, in this case the ancestors or vaettir' or 'The Gods are busy. I don't want to bother them with small things. I'll only go to them with big issues.'

Among any kind of pagan group (I'm just lumping us all together for brevity) I find the term prayer itself to have gotten a bad rap. People shun the term and the practice because of the Christian ethic around prayer. Pagans want to separate from Christianity and in doing so many have separated from prayer.

Now I'm not talking about prayer as in get on your knees with hands together and recite a litany. You can, I have no problems with that and sometimes I do. But prayer is more than just that. There can be simply mindful meditation which becomes prayer. Prayer can be enjoying a meal or drink with diety or it can be conversational- just talking to your God about whatever is happening at the time. Prayer doesn't have to be only about the big issues, it can be day to day life. My experience is that the Gods, at least those I follow, enjoy being made a part of one's life. You don't go to Grandma with only big issues, you also go to her just for meaningless conversation and a cup of tea. It is a giving of time, thought. and love.

Prayer is beautiful. This was driven home to me the other night in a way I never expected. Some of my devotional practice includes a simple connection exercise. Just getting closer. It accidentally started for me when I woke one morning to the wondrous sensation of floating in/on Loki, feeling Him around me, cradling me. One has to be incredibly open to feel this, the God is also within you. But, being far bigger than I, the overwhelming sensation is of He around me.

So the other night I was working on this connection with Heimdallr. I was floating in this soft, enveloping glow that can be Him when realized there was a ribbon of sound. I gently focused on the sound and heard voices. Several voices, layered on top of each other. Different languages, different rhythms. One voice was male, moderate of tone, and he chanted in a foreign tongue. Another pleading. A high pitched woman talking almost conversationally. Other voices woven together into a ribbon of love. I realized within the instant I was hearing prayers; a ribbon of prayer. I did throw out the query to Heimdallr asking if it was, I felt His affirmative. I pulled away, I had no interest in hearing what people were saying or asking of Him. Not my business.

The event was but a few seconds but was a profound experience. The ribbon of prayer, that ribbon of love and trust that drifts through the Gods, was amazing. I say drifts through the Gods because I have to believe that any sincere prayer to any God will get to that God. May not look like a ribbon of adoration to the God in question but it does get there. I can't believe this ribbon of prayer only occurs with Heimdallr.

There is a saying that one only finds quality time within a quantity of time. This is true. This is also likely true of prayer. If one never prays, how can a quality prayer built of love, trust, and adoration be built, be exercised? Don't wait for a blot, a sumbel, a circle, or a Holy Day to pray to your God.

I turned to Christian apologetics to find what prayer really is. Some of you will turn from this blog merely due to that source but there isn't anything wrong with the Christian faith in and of itself. Also, in many ways, Christians (good ones) do have prayer down pat. So bear with this here. Matthew J. Slick, founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, has a beautiful description for prayer that can be applied to any belief or religious structure. He writes: 
    "Prayer is the practice of the presence of God.  It is the place where pride is abandoned,  hope is lifted, and supplication is made.  Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God.  Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian.  Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope.  Prayer is the privilege of touching the heart of the Father through the Son of God, Jesus our Lord."*

Of course he wrote from a christian perspective, but add a plural to God, change Christian to whatever your faith structure, change Father and Son of God to appropriate diety for you. Listen to the message. Take the time to give of yourself to your God/ess. Speak to them, tell them of your day, your life, your wishes, and dreams. Tell them what you can do for them- make yourself useful in service. 'Prayer is the practice of the presence of God.' Be present with your God/ess.

Just pray- send out those ribbons of prayer. They are received and bring beauty to the Gods. In the doing so, because it is all Gifu, prayer brings beauty to you.

* http://carm.org/christianity/prayer-ministry/what-prayer
Picture
 
I leaned forward and reached under His hair, putting my hand on the scars on the side of His head. 'What happened?' I asked.
'I gave my ear to the Well,' He said with a smile. He then leaned forward and whispered into my ear:
'I hear the weaving of the Norns.
 I can follow the rhythm of the spindle
and hear the has been and should be.'
 
I am a part of every tree
and the root filled ground.
The moonlight fog
and the sun filled sky.
I surround you.
I am in you.

I am the Earth.
                    ~Nerthus