All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine


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Not a poem, but a personal interlude

The first contact that I had with Loki *that I am aware of* happened back in…2007? 2008? Around the same time I joined the Troth. One of the members of the Kindred I belonged to at the time suggested holding a Loki ritual, where each of us sacrificed/destroyed something from an old part of our life that still brought us pain.


We did it; what I got rid of was a thin, tiny silver ring that my first husband had bought for me. The abusive one.


That was really the start of my healing from that marriage. I do not forget what my ex did to me, at this point, and I don’t forgive, but these days I am no longer in a blinding rage every time I think of him, nor is the PTSD quite so bad. (I was very, very broken; it isn’t completely gone, and I doubt it ever will be, but…it’s ebbing, bit by bit).


Shortly after that was when Odin began to move into my life like a tsunami washing over a seashore. The signs were everywhere, and he was very persistent. It took a few years, but I acknowledged after some time that He owned me.


Then in 2013 my second/then-current marriage fell apart. My ex would never tell me why he demanded a divorce, only that he ‘had changed’, but these days, I think it might have had something to do with what I found out a couple years later, that he was seeing a girl on the side who was the same age as his son from his first marriage. She was 19, which means that, since he and I had been together for 14 years, she had been in kindergarten when he and I first met.


I got through it. These days, I don’t know if I could say how, other than one day at a time. I thought about killing myself, a lot. But I didn’t. (I won’t say I didn’t try, though. I just didn’t succeed.)


But here’s the thing: almost from the first, I suspected that a god had had a hand in the dissolution of my marriage. Specifically, I thought one had assisted in its breakup, at the least, because they felt, in some way, it was bad for me. And you know what? It was. I know a lot of things now I didn’t know then, when I was still stupid in love and didn’t care.


At the time, I suspected it was Odin who did the breaking up. I belonged to him, after all. It made sense that he would take steps to protect what was his.


But Loki is not called ‘Worldbreaker’ for nothing. I never would have ended that marriage on my own; I didn’t even see the need for it. I would have continued in that…mess forever, if allowed.


These days, at the least, I suspect that, if it wasn’t Loki on his own, it was him and Odin together.


There’s been a lot of change in my life over the last year and a half to two years. After four years of trying to scrape by on starvation wages in Indiana–and only managing thanks to the generosity of some of the best friends in the world, who gave me a helping hand when I needed it most–I moved to New York, and things have been better here. Not perfect. Not even great. But better, and working on making things better still.


Since accepting that Odin owned me, when asked, I have never been a Nokean. I gave offerings to Loki every time I offered to Odin, because the two are blood brothers, and that’s what it says in the lore that we have that Odin wants. But when asked, I was always very careful to say that I was not a Lokean. I didn’t hate him; I wasn’t afraid of him like some boogeyman (though admittedly I was properly cautious–as I am of EVERY god–because after all, they are GODS, and can destroy our worlds), but I was carefully respectful.


However, Loki has been coming on a lot stronger in the last…year or so?–and I think my times of saying “I’m not a Lokean” are at an end. I hear him in my head–not constantly, but very, very often–and he has helped me work through a number of things that I was having problems with. He is master of coincidental saves. To keep denying him after all the healing and growth he’s helped me with would be the greatest of ingratitude.


This is somewhat demonstrated by how much more I hear his voice, which manifests as all the new poetry I’ve been writing for him. As the title of my first poetry collection–Listening for Their Voices–suggests, I have always indicated that the poems I come up with are not really my own creations, but more of simply listening to their voices and writing down–as elegantly as I’m capable of–what I hear. He has been very conversational, and thus, inspirational, of late.


Can I be a Lokean that is also owned by Odin? I don’t know. Given the issues that lie between them, that’s a question I can’t answer on my own. I’ll turn to divination for an answer, from a seer I know and trust well. I don’t know how clear the answers I get will be–not because of the diviner, but because divination lends itself to multiple interpretations and can be ambiguous, just as prophecy and dreams (which it shares some similarities to) can be.
But regardless of the answers, or who (if either of them) was involved, my days of keeping Loki at arms’ length are over. It’s a shitty way to treat a friend, and he has been that and so much more to me.


I’m just lucky he loves us broken ones so much.

(Postscript: My belief for so many years that Odin was behind the end of my marriage was, in large part, the driving force behind my continued discomfort with Odin, and inability to completely trust him. It’s why I still haven’t taken an oath to him as fulltrui. Even if the marriage was bad for me, I loved my husband, and I was griefstricken at losing him. And honestly, I’ve never found it all that easy to trust people in the first place, not since my first marriage, and the betrayal by a couple of friends.

But contemplating that it might have been Loki who ended it…I don’t feel the same anger and mistrust. And I don’t know why.)


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Worldbreaker

Even writing this is a risk, I know.

It could be seen as an invitation,

expressly to him.

But aren’t all gods worldbreakers,

if they want to be?

When they need to be?

Some of them are just better known

for wearing that face.

I hear his whisper, soft and sibilant,

down near the bottom of my consciousness:

‘Think what you will, what you must.

No, I am not nice.

No, I am not safe.

I am not a cutesy child’s cartoon character,

no matter how some may paint me.

But what I do is necessary.

It is important.”

If not for him, we would stagnate

in our own inertia forever.

We do so love the status quo, don’t we,

even when it is killing us?

We fear that if we move, if we act to change things,

what we end up with may be worse,

even when what we already have

is so bad that we might as well

be dead already.

When he steps in, eyes narrowed,

scarred mouth grim,

his resolve steeled to change what we will not,

we know there will be tears.

We shake in dread at the mere thought

of what havoc he might wreak,

what things he will bring tumbling down

around our heads.

But when the wreckage settles,

when the smoke clears,

We have change,

whether we wanted it or not.

Because even when we don’t want it,

we need it.

When we don’t want it is when

we need it most of all.

Then he leaves us to rebuild,

not always without help,

but sometimes–

when we have to learn to stand

on our own two feet for a change,

when we have coasted along for too long.

I don’t welcome that side of him any more

than anyone would;

I’ve seen my world shattered

too many times to count already:

loved ones dying,

marriages ending,

lost jobs,

homes disappearing before I could blink.

I survived them all.

And it’s not right to blame him for what he does;

if we had the resolve, the courage to change things ourselves,

he wouldn’t have to do it for us.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to take.

All I ask, then,

if the time comes again to make my world collapse,

so that a new and better one might be born,

forgive me if I tremble in terror and anticipation of what you do,

and I ask you lend me the tiniest bit of your strength

so I might survive it once again.

I trust you to know what’s best for me,

because you know I never do.


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Spoiled for Choice

Of course I love the broken ones.

I leave the shiny and the pretty and the shallow

for others who can’t accept anything

other than surface perfection–

perfect tools, perfect people.

Me ,I would much rather have someone

with a broken heart,

a body that betrays them,

a mind others might find flawed;

they understand what it is to be considered

‘less than’ in a world where you are expected to

          fit in,

          fit a mold,

          be fit;

they understand the scorn heaped on your head

when you don’t look or sound or act or think

exactly like everyone else;

they have worked out ways around

what the rest of the world sees as problems

and they only know as life;

          learned patience,

          learned humor,

          learned cleverness,

          learned ingenuity.

How could I not prefer them?

They are my children all,

my brothers and sisters,

my lovers, my friends.

Give me the one whose mind runs along different channels,

the man the world insists is a woman,

the one forever untrusting and heart-scarred

from mockery and abuse,

the boy whose legs won’t hold him upright,

the one who thinks sideways,

the old, the halt, the sick, 

the girl who walks in an eternal cloud of sorrow.

I am nowhere so eager to turn them aside or

throw these away as the rest of my

brethren might be,

even my blood-brother.

Instead, I know these to be the best of the best,

all the more devoted and loving

for having been turned away so many times,

all the more clever for having been derided as stupid,

all the more stubborn for having so many give up on them.

These are the companions I choose,

family not of blood but of love,

who love me despite those who label me as evil,

who pledge their loyalty even when all others warn

I will take advantage of their trust and do them harm.

It’s worth a laugh.

They call me the god of lies,

but what I ask from them is that they never lie to me

or to themselves,

for ours is a relationship built on

the razor edge of honesty,

and if you are to trust me,

then so too must I be able to trust you.

That is all I want, after so long,

an understanding between us,

and once we have that,

we may dance our way back to the edge of the abyss,

but I will never let you fall.


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Loki’s Lost Children

Nobody ever asks me if I loved them.

When people talk about my children, they mention

the mount Odin gained from me,

the serpent that encircles the world,

the daughter who rules over the dead,

and the wolf that will devour my blood-brother

when all things end.

Very rarely do they think of those other children I sired,

laying with love in the arms of my wife,

begetting two sons within her body,

watching them grow up strong and swift and sound.

When they are mentioned, in learned debates,

it is only as an afterthought:

“He was bound with the entrails of one of his sons,

who was torn apart by the other,

after that one was transformed into a wolf.”

Never more than that.

No one talks about me watching the babes

slide from my beloved’s body,

wet with the fluids that they floated in,

watching them take their first breaths,

watching them open their eyes to see me for their first time.

They do not think of the first time I saw them

suckle at her breasts,

taking their strength from her,

cradled warm in her arms,

swaddled in soft blankets and crib-clothes,

taking their first steps,

saying their first words.

They do not think on their growing years,

playing alongside the sons and daughter of my friend Thor,

taking their occasional bruises and tumbles

as children sometimes do,

or coming to me for a hug when they finished their play,

and asking for a story of my travels with him

after dinner, before bed.

They call me ‘Trickster’.

They hardly ever think to call me ‘father’.

They do not think of how I screamed,

when my son Váli’s body began to twist, to sprout fur,

when he was transformed against his will

as I was held captive to prevent me from saving him;

no one thinks of how I shrieked when

they loosed him on his brother Nari,

flesh tearing, blood splattering the ground,

tearing his brother to shreds.

No one whispers about how I wailed

when one of those I had fought for,

worked with, laughed with,

loosed an arrow to destroy the remaining son,

my now wolf-son, covered in his brother’s blood.

No one speaks of how I wept when

they dragged me underground and bound me in place

with the entrails of the child I had created,

the boy who had looked up to me,

          trusted me,

          loved me.

Nor do they mention the screams of my

wife, my beloved Sigyn,

as she watched her babes so horrifically slaughtered.

In a world where there are those

who chose to punish a father

by destroying his children in such a manner,

and those who would honor such vile monsters,

how dare anyone call me evil?


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Revolutionary

Some gods just want to watch the world burn.

Sometimes I do.

And sometimes you handle that quite nicely

on your own.

A friend once said:

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

You aren’t all fools, though.

Some of you understand what is important.

Some of you know what’s worth fighting for.

(Not the things that most of you think are worth

fighting for, though.)

I plot and I scheme, but do not call me oathbreaker:

I leave that for the likes of the one-handed one

and my dear blood brother.

I work to wreck:

I bring down the old,

the entrenched,

the corrupt,

the status quo–

those that would sit surrounded

by ill-earned gold

and stolen power

while others starve;

who feast and run roughshod

over those of humbler means and miens–

as if they deserve their bloody spoils

and lofty towers.

Do my words sting, cut, bruise,

bleed, burn, break?

Good.

Speak truth to power!

You humans love that one, and

so many other well-worn slogans, like:

“Comfort the afflicted; afflict the comfortable.”

Do you think it is my job merely

to caper and prance for your amusement,

to wear a red suit and play the devil

for that other faith you never quite outgrew?

To make a mock of the bawdy and the bloated and the blatant,

the caricatures of other gods–

just not the ones you like?

If so, you never understood me at all:

you can call me outcast,

that much is true enough,

but dare not think I am the only one.

Hundreds flock to take shelter under my banner,

the lost and forlorn,

those whose love or form

do not fit what you think is ‘right’,

the poor, the sick,

the mad, the maimed, the mocked,

all the children you have cursed

with your spite and your greed and your disgust–

they are mine now.

My family, to take the place of the ones you murdered,

and my army.

They—and I—will not sit down and shut up.

We will not be silent.

We will SCREAM!

We will be heard.

And we will win.


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Scar-Lip

I hunger for the chance

to run my fingertips along the seam of your lips

where remain

the holes the needle left behind–

a horrible presumption, I know,

but not, at least,

out of pity

–which would be as stupid as I can imagine being–

but because I long

to read those scars like Braille

and hear the secrets they tell

when your mouth was sealed

to keep you from speaking.

The dwarves thought

a sliver of steel

and a length of thread

would keep you silent.

 

 
Such folly.

They were wrong.

They call you ‘god of lies’,

and yes,

you do lie,

but in those wordless marks

are such truths

as they could never comprehend.


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Conversations (Part One)

Most think You only cleverness and mischief,

if they know of You at all.

Others still get what they know of You

from fiction, thinking You a blue-skinned mini-monster

with bloody eyes and bloody hands.

But ‘giant’ doesn’t always refer to size;

sometimes it indicates the height of Your ambitions,

or the vastness of Your reach;

I do not pretend that I know Your plans,

I only know that they are not for those like me to know.

Jotun You are, blood-brother to He who owns me,

and I pay attention to His demands and desires,

and things laid out in the lore;

at first it was only due to duty

that I poured out offerings to You

when I made them for Him,

but of late there is more to it than that.

I am not seduced by the pretty face worn by the

fictional ‘You’, scarlip;

Beauty cannot be trusted,

it has its own agendas,

is all too often only deep as skin’s surface,

and anyway, I know that is not the real You, though

–shapeshifter that you are—

I know you could wear that mask if You chose.

But why would You choose to?

I cannot think there are things You could not do

without that lie of a smirk;

they call You Lie-Smith,

but You tell the truth when it suits You.

Honesty can be a weapon, cutting, bruising,

killing when wielded correctly,

and I have no doubt whatsoever

that You are skilled in its use.

I will not say You are unknowable,

but the knowing of You is the work of a lifetime—

or two, or three, or ten—

and not something to be gained

in a night’s casual jesting

or the reading of however many books I might buy;

You cannot be found in paper alone,

but only in life.
I cannot call myself Lokean,

not when I belong to another,

but I will confess a fascination with You

the lure a serpent has for a mouse,

a fascination that was not there in the beginning.

I want to know You better,

and I know how disastrous that has been

for some of those I know,

and wonder if it would be worth it.

I do not think myself incapable of accidentally

angering You in my fervor,

and there would be nothing to stand

in the way of Your wrath if I did so;

He who owns me would not protect me,

for He does not value or respect stupidity.

It would definitely be a lesson, of a sort,

though one I do not think I would enjoy.

Still, if I survived it, I could definitely say

I knew You better, afterward.

Understand, such a mistake would never

arise out of disrespect, contempt, or malice;

but I could not say in truth

that it might not come from fear;

given what I do know of You,

only a fool would not entertain

a healthy fear of You,

just as only a fool would not hold

a healthy fear of a tornado,

or a rattlesnake,

or a forest fire,

or a flood.

These things might contain no hatred in them

for those they destroy as they go about their business,

but they destroy and they kill anyway.

You are like that,

a force of nature,

not to be underestimated,

or mocked,

or disregarded,

or dismissed,

or made light of.

I have no wish to do any of those things,

only an overabundance of caution,

and a healthy fear of what You are capable of,

though I do not consider myself a coward.

I would like to learn more of You,

I do not shy away from that,

and I would dare much

and ask for no favors to do so,

but not without His permission,

and not without a plea that You not shatter me

for my presumption.


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Waltz with the Wily One

Sometimes,
it feels like you’re
looking over my shoulder,
watching me
but never there
when I spin to see you.

I can smell something in the air,
the scent of burning,
charred woods and cloves,
autumn leaves dying,
rain turning to snow:
the scent of change.

I sometimes think
I can almost hear you whispering
feel your breath
hot against my ear
and the back of my neck,
a deliberate hiss of air,
as tangible as a kiss.

It almost feels like we’re dancing,
a step closer,
a step away,
whirling until I’m dizzy and ready to fall.

Is this an invitation that you offer to me,
hand held out to take mine,
waiting for my answer?

Are you waiting to see if I accept,
knowing how knowing you
has the potential to
transform or destroy a life?

Or do you think I will back away in fear,
too afraid of what might happen,
too afraid of how your touch might transfigure
all I see and say and do,
too afraid to take a chance?

Let me take this breath,
this final breath,
before I tell you what I have decided,
because I have already made my choice.


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Love Letter for the Lie-Smith

Thank you for clearing away the deadwood in my soul;

Thank you for your tough love and your lessons,

painful as they sometimes are;

Surviving them makes me stronger,

and strong, I believe, is what you want me to be,

strong enough to survive any tragedy,

any catastrophe,

any hurt,

any trauma,

any grief.

I try not to let these torments kill the gentler parts of my soul,

and I dream often of your smile,

though I have only ever seen it in my mind.

Your bright eyes, the smell of ice and smoke,

the gleeful fire of your hair,

your deft and tricksy hands.

These words may be a love letter you do not want;

if so, I apologize, but

after all the dreams in which

you danced through my sleep,

I cannot help but feel a closeness.

Others tell me not to trust you,

that all affection on your part

is feigned, false, a trick, a lie.

I do not have enough sense to know whether I should listen to them;

I only know I want what I feel of you to be true.

If my affections are unwanted,

I expect you will show me this sooner or later

–probably sooner–

in a way that cannot be mistaken for anything but a warning.

But until then,

I will continue to dance with you in my dreams,

enjoying the scent of you,

listening to your heartbeat,

holding your hand.