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Musings: The Dividing Line

Anyone who has been in the community for any reasonable length of time has become aware that undeniably there is a wide variety of opinion on nearly any topic within the community, even when people agree the details of how they might go about something can vary drastically. To me I see beauty in this. As a religion isn't a heartless law that dictates (at least it shouldn't be), but rather is a personal connection and the outward expression of what lies within someone's heart. Some people may use the word faith here where I used religion, as when they think of religion they see Organized religion with it's hierarchical structures and it's politics and not so much the individual connection between a person and their Gods..

It's probably why I ended up loving and achieving a Master of Arts in the Humanities; To describe that discipline in a nutshell, it's all about looking at life, and trying to understand more about something. In other words, the Humanities lives by Socrates' maxim, "the unexamined life is not worth living." But the Humanities understands that there are too many factors to every and the learn the truth about life, the universe, everything (aka 42 :P), but rather at best we can come closer to the truth, and if our scope is small enough come to some smaller truths which ripple back to the origination.

One of the bigger debates for a while now has been not only where does Loki fit in, but on a wider scale what do we make of the etins/jotuns?

Here is an excerpt of some of my rambling thoughts on the subject. Hey it's late, I'm medicated, and I'm not bothering to check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. .

Actually, I'd argue that the point of contention isn't are the Jotuns Deities, but rather are they considered (if I can bastardize from the Wizard of Oz) "are they a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?" In other words if they're a Good Witch then They're Gods that help us Munchkins against the Wicked Witch of the West and her Flying Monkeys. But if they're a Bad Witch, then they aren't on our side and instead try to kill little girls and there dogs too.

Yes, we know that some Jotuns are definitely considered and honored among the Gods in Asgard. We also know that other Gods have Jotuns as ancestors. In some form or another, Jotuns are very much part of the family tree.

Considering that virtually without exception all of our "lore" was penned by Christian scholars after the time of conversion, *AND* it was customary of European literature of the time so penned to reference the ancient Greek & Romans, I suspect that not only was much lost but that some aspects of the tales were changed to fit not only this convention of literature but also for the sake of politics.

We know that Snorri wasn't above altering certain things to appease those in charge, and we also know that his Edda is tainted by referring to the classical world of antiquity. He says God created Heaven and Earth, and all mankind is descended from Adam & Eve, he also attests that Thor is descended of the historical Trojan King Agamemnon. Snorri was more than happy to mix in and out references to Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as Greco-Roman in his myths.

This paints an uncertain picture. Which is why many today distinguish the dividing line between the Inangarđr / Utgarđr, or if you will the barrier between chaos & order.

"In the landscape of Heathen cosmology the cosmos was divided into Midgarđr (‘the middle yard’ where humans and Gods dwell) and Utgarđr (‘the outer yard’ where giants and non-human/s/Gods dwell). The Gods, though they lived on Midgarđr, lived specifically apart from the humans in the neighboring community of Asgarđr (‘the yard of the Æsir’). The Gods were physically in a between state within this cosmology. They combated the giants and other inhabitants of Utgarđr; in such a capacity, the Gods represented an ambiguous line between humans and the other beings, a barrier between chaos and order."

If you know your Greco-Roman mythology, the Giants were the predecesors of the Gods, and representated chaotic forces. In this way, a similar chasm seems to be present as told in the Nordic myths.

Taking that a step further, is in the world view, the Norse Myths and those languages are usually tied to Indo-European factors, and if you look to India and Hindu you also see Gods in this conflict and struggle between chaos and order. Kali is both a Goddess of Life and a Goddess of Death.

We seem to prescribe Western Judeo-Christian mainstream thought onto the interpretation of these myths, that there is a distinct difference between good and evil. But What we know from other ancient religions, especially pagan ones, is that those attitudes were not always present. The Gods weren't meant to be imulated. Sure some Gods may be scary, but they had a role, and the people of that time gave Them their due.

So what this all boils down to is really based off of the evidence we have (archaeological and written), we simply don't know what is the "truth" or not about the context in which these beings were treated, or frankly any of the Gods were treated, as even when there is some evidence to suggest something, that evidence still isn't free of suspicion. So ultimately, at the end of the day, it becomes a matter of personal choice and belief.

Which I think is fitting. based on what we know of the pre-Christian religion, outside of doing what was proper by honoring the Gods, ancestors, & vaettir and being a responsible friend, family member, community member there really wasn't any sort of "religious law" that said something like suicide is bad. If we look at the time of conversion in Iceland, the National lawspeaker Þorgeirr, came out and essentially said that the nation would be Christian, but whatever happened under someone's own roof, was their own business. Some may argue that this shows a Solomon type solution to a problem. But I think it says a great deal about the nature of the ancient religion versus the new religion, which dictated terms to it's followers.

I can certainly understand why some argue "if they're a jotun on the side that's meant to kill us, then they're no God of mine! If they're on our side, hey I'm all for them." For them the story of Ragnarok becomes essentially the tipping point in the conclusion and choice of belief they come to, and it's certainly understandable.

But for me personally, I look beyond the most literal interpretation of the story we've been told. Ragnarok especially as portrayed in the Edda has to much of a smacking of Christianity to it with an underlying, subconscious tone that "the Gods die, because ultimately there can be only One true God, and that of course is Yahweh." The Edda is structured with a euherimistic process, which makes the view of the Gods go from Divine, to them being little more than extraordinary but mythic men (ultimately in my mind this is also a product of Christianity). Afterall, I hardly think Adam & Eve are our forebearers (it should be Askr & Embla), that Thor is descended from a human Trojan, or that the Judeo-Christian God made our Heaven & Earth.

That is why, I study, I know my lore and use that as a springboard to dive and seek my own truth, and follow the dictates of my own heart. And unfortunately, I think we're too saturated by the prevailing modern mainstream thought that teaches us to think that truth must equate a resolute, undeniable fact. Rather we must come to understand that truth does not equate fact.

So in a nutshell, it's all about personal beliefs and variances in interpretations and approachees to the limited "evidence" we are aware of--no wonder there are so many opinions!

As for me, I honor and love Loki, (and here's some rambling thoughts I wrote ages ago on that topic). My life is rich with the blessings He has brought into my life. While He can be a harsh taskmaster, in the end He forces me to not rest on my laurels, to strive and continue to become a better person. As to the other Jotuns, I've never felt a call to them, in the way I've never felt called by Gods or Goddesses in other religions. As to everyone else, and whatever side of the fence they may be on, I choose not to judge, but rather respect the journey, because who am I to say what is true or not in the scheme of the Gods? I certainly have no eye of my own in the well.

The respect I have for the journey, for the beauty found in wrestling with these things and coming to your own interpretation and beliefs, is why when I am attending sumble elsewhere, if I know the host is uncomfortable with Loki then out of respect for my host and their beliefs I will not honor Him. Because they have the right to dictate what goes on under their own roof. But under mine, rest assured Loki is Hailed, and if people don't care for that, then they are free to leave. I'm certainly not keeping them there against their will.



I guess I'm just Conservative. I "Came Home" and adapted myself to the historical material not take it and adjust it to fit with my preconcieved world-view. As I've said to many folks over the yrs who don't agree with that which their religion teaches, why are you there? While Heathens have more "wiggleroom" than Catholics, Christians, Shinto and so on, there are Those that are in line with the Gods and those Opposed to their Plans. Deciding that you know more than the Ancestors or even those who wrote down the material simply because it disagreed with your preconcieved world view is Alien to me. I'd never consider myself a member of a religion that I didn't agree with it's teachings. If I did disagree, I'd leave and go find one that was more in line with my personal worldview...
My Opinion on Laufey's Childe is very traditional. I'm not a big "Chaos" fan. I know some folks are. WHen I was Wiccan, I had to "deal" with Erisians. Yes, there were folks with an Honest QUestioning but for the most part they were just folks that liked to blow things up just because things going well bugged them. You and Krei are two of the few Lokians that are in the Honest catagory, IME. The VAST majority of Lokians I've EVER met in Cyber or Midgard have just been folks who enjoy stirring things up. "You all are too Serious" is generally the cry, when you complain about them wrecking a Blot or Sumbel. Gee, I'd think your relationship with the Regin and the Universe would be a serious matter but for most it's to f
uk up another's Work...so they don't have to Feel Inadequate, IMO. Like those that don't study and make fun of those that do. It's usually just that, very elementary/high school...
I'm not a big "Fan" of Chaos either. I like my Life, both Physical and Spiritual to run smoothly. I don't enjoy "Drama", though many folks love it. The rollercoaster that the majority of Lokians I've known seem to live(and at the same time like to bitch about, BTW) is not for me....
On Etinfolk:
There are Wealful and Woeful Etins. The Lore presents the majority as being not Wealful to Humanity in general. This doesn't make them actively Woeful, simply Indifferent. An Alligator is not a Woeful Being. It's simply is Itself. Sometimes those actions are Woeful to Humans. I would not Blot a general Etin-blot. Individuals? Sure, Just as I would for Human Heros. I wouldn't do a general Human-blot either...

Re: Traditionalist...

Thank you for the compliment. I have to admit that I've actually swayed some folks through the years to Loki based upon their interaction with me and my friends, versus the so-called Lokeans who give Him a bad name.

I have no problem reaming people a new one who are the shallow-minded dolts who act out just 'because.' In fact I have had to throw someone out of sumbel once (though they weren't a follower of Loki at least). I've even had to correct things before when people said things like "I wish he were dead" over the horn. Gadzooks. *head desks*

I take any ritual seriously. It doesn't mean that they need to be solemn affairs, but respect, care and consideration do need to be present, otherwise something is seriously wrong.

I think the problem is that generally too many people read our lore with only a surface analysis. If you look beyond the first impression and actually ANALYZE it there's tons of depth and meanings that become clear. Most people don't latch onto Loki, and those that do tend to be more of the "hey let's party" types. >_< Don't get me wrong, he knows how to have a good time, and can certainly make you laugh, but he is wise in the ways of wyrd and orlog, afterall he is quite clever at weaving things to suit his goals, be it a wall around Asgard, or something else.

I read this last night and am commenting now that I'm more awake ;P

This is one of the more sane and balanced commentaries I've heard about the whole "To Honor Etins, Or Not Honor Etins?" debate.

Loki is a Friend. Frey is my patron (obviously), but so is His wife, Gerda. When I took Gerda as my patron, She required me to also oath that I would not go to gatherings and organizations where She and Her kin are not welcome. The sad thing is I have met Heathens IRL who believe that Gerda and other "wealful" etins are not even worthy of being hailed in Blot/faining because They're, well, etins. The whole thing with not hailing Gerda usually comes from people who are into Rydbergism and think that "Gerda deceived Frey with evil seidhr". o_O

It's important to realize that the Lore was written by Christians -- not just Snorri's Edda, but also Saxo and Bede, among others. We don't have unbiased material to work with, for the most part, yet we can't completely throw it out because that's what we have to go by.

I agree with you as far as being respectful of others' boundaries. For a time, I was OK with not hailing Loki at gatherings if people were not going to be comfortable with that. At this point in time, the oath I've taken to Gerda strictly limits where I can go in terms of "community events", but that doesn't mean -- much as some would twist my words -- that I have ought against those who don't like Loki or other etins. I think like any God, Loki is not everyone's horn of mead. He will definitely make life, ah, interesting. I have a sense of humor but I try to be respectful of others' boundaries, which means I don't troll e-lists or forums or crash moots and Things and act like an idiot. There is a bad rep attached with Loki because some who claim to be His are more about the "Loki = Satan" chaos-wannabe-scary dynamic, and that's not true for all who honor Him.

If more people took a sane and balanced approach to the matter of honoring Jotuns -- the "live and let live" approach -- we would have less conflicts in Heathenry. Mind you, conflicts and fault lines would still be there. I think there's room for differing opinions, the problem is when people can't just agree to disagree and start messing with others.


Anyway, this was a very, very good post.
One big problem with "Tolerance" is that often those on the fringes of ANY beleif-system mean is for the majority to go against what they beleive and accept the fringe member's PERSONAL "take" on things as EQUAL to that of the Majority. We're not talking about a group of folks within a particular religion with similar beleifs. We're talking about folks that simply choose not to follow thw majority of a beleif-system's Theology,etc. I Know a number of "Lokians" and NONE of them agree on much except they're not like the "stupid Christian-loving nazitrus" as one ex-friend put it...
"Live and Let Live" means as long as you don't Poop in my Living room I won't in yours. It doesn't mean that you get to and I don't;>

I understand that, and I agree with a lot of what you've said, believe it or not. :)

I have decided to stay off most forums and avoid moots and so on, because I don't want to piss people off, and I have other things to do. I mean, I'm actually not *that* controversial in my beliefs. I honor some etins, but mostly I'm a Vanir-worshipper, so Frey and Freyja and Njord mean more to me than Anyone else. That seems to get obscured if I mention the etin thing. I try to do ritual in a somewhat traditional format. I do other things, like folk magic, but I wouldn't say my beliefs veer sharply from the norm, just enough that I try to not step on people's toes.

While I have an opinion and seek like-minded people in places where they would be found, I also try (not always succeeding) to be respectful of those who don't agree. It's not my job to "convert" people to my way of thinking, especially as I think a person can disagree with me and still be an OK person. I know people who will never hail Loki and are otherwise OK in my book. I have a certain loyalty to those who have shown loyalty to me, but I don't think it's my place to infringe on the space of others, if that makes sense.

I do actually see both sides of the issue myself, as I have met some obnoxious Discordian-type Lokeans, and can definitely see how bad experiences can sour one to others (e.g. my experience with many Wiccans), but I have met others who are serious about their faith. It varies from individual to individual. I tend to give everyone common courtesy, but my bonds take more time to form and require a certain amount of trust.

One of my many "pet Peeves" is folks who show up on a list or at an event whose views are not "mainstream", yet demand that their view is given equal Respect and Deference...usually without much explanation. It's not just Lokians. On one a woman got her knickers in a twist when she was pointing out all the Positives of Surtr and how "The Church"(that always useful boogeyman) had twisted things and this mostly FOlkish list, well 'splained things vigorously;>. I don't get it. AS I've said, if you don't Beleive in what a particualr relgion Beleives.....why would you be there? I really don't "get it". 'Course, in the last few yrs certainly public Heathenism isn't the religion I "Came Home" to anymore. This is why I'm considering leaving Heathenry. They are too ALien for my need to be closer to what my Ancestor's did. My ANcestors didn't beleive that Redbeard drove a PRius and used a Tazer instead of a Hammer. My REdebeard doesn't either...
I suppose it's because I'm a Frigga's woman as much as Loki's... so I tend to see both sides of things. But I think we get alot of newbies who get pulled to Loki, not that they are Asatru or even Heathen, but rather because they're looking to party like a college kegger.
OH yeah, I know what you mean. Well, there are people who get pulled to other Gods who think that's an excuse to drink, and be drunk, and be obnoxious. I've seen a few people who would only get into a frame of mind to honor the Gods if the beer was flowing. Mind you, I don't think drinking or even mild intoxication is bad in and of itself, but that's not the reason for being Heathen. It's just not. ;P

I got pulled to Loki for some very complex reasons, but I see His solemn face as well as His fun side -- the face that grieves for His children and family, as well as the mischief that seems to be about, in my case anyway, getting me "unstuck" of old life paradigms that don't work anymore. He can be fun sometimes, but He can also be challenging, and some people want to worship Him to be scary or subversive, and it's just... that's not how it is.