This rant has been building for a long time, and I’m sure I’m going to take some criticism for it and possibly gain some enemies, but I feel like this perspective should be out there for people to take or leave as they see fit.
A few weeks ago, I saw a discouraging post on Facebook, where an individual who had been actively interested in working with Loki as a god said that she was throwing in the towel and having nothing more to do with Loki or the “Lokean” community. Loki isn’t (and shouldn’t be) the primary god for everyone in my opinion, so that’s not what discouraged me. What discouraged me was that the reason she was abandoning ship wasn’t because of any ill effect working with Loki had on her life, but because she couldn’t stand what has become the “Lokean” community anymore, with hoards upon hoards of self-proclaimed god-spouses and Loki fangirls devolving the worship of Loki into pure fandom and silliness.
This made me start to mull over the reasons that I too have found myself offended by this trend, since until recently it had been hard for me to put into words. There have been a loud protests by the individuals that were drawn to Loki because of the recent Marvel Thor fandom, insisting that just because they were brought to Loki through fandom doesn’t mean that their worship practices aren’t valid or aren’t serious. Given, I was seven when I made Loki my primary deity of devotion, with all of the heavy “seriousness” and piety a seven year old can muster, I understand that where we start isn’t always where we end up. Since that time, I would like to think that my worship and understanding of Loki as a god has matured with time, so I understand that if you’re serious enough to work with Loki long-term, your understanding of him will evolve and mature. However, what I’ve been observing ever since the Thor movie came out hasn’t been what I recognize as religious devotion.
In Hinduism, which in my opinion is the closest surviving Indo-European cousin that modern Heathenry has, there is an understanding (built upon thousands of years of unbroken worship and philosophy) that the gods are more than just big invisible people. The gods are depicted as humans with multiple arms, different colored skin, different symbols, etc., as points of symbolic reference for the worshipper, not because they believe that the gods are literally cruising around in chariots up in the sky and look exactly like they’re depicted. This need for symbolism reveals that behind these masks of the gods, there is a deeper, spiritual mystery that is so vast that it can’t be comprehended as a focus of worship without the help of visual cues. For example, Shiva isn’t just some blue dude with a bunch of arms meditating on a tiger skin that’s just there for modern worshippers to telekinetically talk to about their day with. His blue skin is symbolic of the cremation ashes that he is (symbolically) covered with, which points to the deeper meaning of Shiva himself being a manifestation of the mystery that is life and death. That’s a HUGE mystery. So huge that it would be difficult for humans to be able to focus on the spiritual force behind that mystery without a visual aid. I personally believe it is those sentient, spiritual forces that embody the mysteries of nature that we refer to as “gods”. Because Heathenry no longer has access to the philosophy that created the symbolic language of its gods and goddesses, I think that’s why it’s become so easy for the worship of the Norse gods to devolve into “worshipping big invisible people”. Yes, I believe the gods are sentient beings, but are far from being simply big anthropomorphic guys that go about their business like people down in Midgard visiting the grocery store.
Because of that detachment from the proper awe of the mysteries, I have seen the “worship” of Loki devolve into simply making Loki your invisible boyfriend which you can have untold amorous adventures with and then write about it on Tumblr. In other words, you’re more interested in making Loki your invisible lover than you are in discovering and honoring the deeper spiritual mystery that lies behind the symbol that humans have created and named “Loki”. Loki (in my school of thought) is much like the sacramental fire as personified by Agni in the Vedas. He is a doorway between life and death, he is the vehicle through which the gods receive worship and offerings, as Lodhurr he is the mystery of the fire of life that lies the blood, he is the cremation fire which all humans and worlds must pass through to be reborn into new life, he is the spark of genius that was born when man first claimed fire and set themselves apart from the other animals. Loki is an enormous spiritual mystery, and all people seem to want to do is jerk off to his depiction in a movie. That’s really what it looks like when I see all of Loki’s new “god-spouses” doing little more than posting erotic Loki pictures *kawaii blush*, writing stories about sex with Loki, and talking about him as if he’s literally their invisible boyfriend, and then getting pissed off if you make light of that: taking a sacred, spiritual mystery and treating it with all the respect that you would a Playboy Magazine and a box of tissues. Yes, it’s true that throughout human history people have described a union with their gods as a form of (sometimes very sexual) ecstasy, but there’s a huge difference between the ecstasy born from spiritual devotion and getting turned on by provocative pictures of X god. Given, I’ve seen some gorgeous depictions of Loki being drawn lately and I think that’s awesome, but I’ve also seen “Lokeans” passing around pictures of naked Tom Hiddleston on a bed and alluding to what Loki’s going to do for them in the bedroom later. That happens a lot in fandom, but in what real religion does that ever happen?! I’ve never seen Hindus passing around images of Shiva and saying, “Man, his holy abs are making me want to cream my sari! I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me later!” It’s the same frustration I feel when I see pictures that Furries have produced of Horus and Anubis in a circle jerk together: It’s taking someone’s sacred images and turning it into smut.
True, Loki is very sexual in nature and does appreciate a lot of good humor (and is nothing at all like Jesus for the record), but there’s a difference between regarding his power and sexuality with reverence and treating it like a dirty fan-fiction. Treating Loki so blithely (even if you’re totally enamored by the idea of Loki at the moment and don’t see your fandom as blithe) is cheapening him as a sacred mystery and it’s weakening his potential to be worshipped like a real god. Treating him in such a way also (in my mind) reveals that many of the people who are calling themselves “Lokean” these days are doing so as a form of mystical fandom and not as a religious practice, because if these individuals actually believed in the gods as GODS and not invisible friends, they wouldn’t treat them the way that they do. I think this is why in traditions where a belief in their sacred powers has remained unbroken (such as Santeria and Hinduism) you never see this kind of pornographic nonsense. For these people who truly believe that the gods are Gods, it would be considered downright disrespectful to brag about your mundane sexual exploits with Ganesh, or to talk about how Eleggua instructed you to masturbate for him with the magical red and black sex toy you bought in his honor. That kind of behavior would be corrected pretty damn quickly in those communities, and I think part of the reason that Heathenry doesn’t have the same kind of filters is because it is a newly emerging tradition with no solid collective traditions, no agreed upon collective leaders, and therefore no solid boundaries or elders to answer to; In other words, no real personal accountability. Injecting this kind of fandom nonsense into the worship of Loki and Heathenry in general only helps to make it look less credible and less serious as a religious practice, and ensures that we’ll never be back on par with truly established polytheistic traditions such as Hinduism and Shinto, where the gods are treated like Gods and religion is treated like religion, not fandom. Fandom is not, has never been, and will never be religion!
If you are feeling drawn to Loki as a deity, then I highly encourage you to begin to treat him less like an invisible friend for a while and more like a sacred mystery. This doesn’t mean that Loki cannot influence your life in positive ways much like a friend, but he is a god that deserves real devotion and real respect. Take your devotion up a notch and pull yourself out of the dredges of Hollywood and the internet: create and perform real-life rituals for him, do real research about him, try to understand his role in our universe as more than just “that hot dude that gave birth to a horse and was played by that dreamy actor”. Treating Loki like you would a character in a fandom is only weakening his position as a deity in both the Heathen/Pagan and the greater religious community, insuring that the worship of Loki (if this is what you choose to make it) will never be taken seriously by anybody. Loki may not always be serious, but he is serious business. Rant concluded. I hope to have some more positive stuff up here soon.