All twisty-windy paths lead to the same place

Years ago, in college, shortly before I got married, I convinced my soon-to-be husband that we ought to buy this small parrot I’d seen in a local pet store and fallen instantly in love with. “Groom’s gift for the bride?” He agreed.

A few years later, we acquired a second parrot, in the same genus as the first. They became very close. Fortunately for my then-husband, the second bird was generally friendlier, not as territorial or aggressive as her boyfriend/mate. And while I loved her, too, the first bird – well, he was my bird, the way no other bird had been (I’d had budgies in high college).

The husband and I split up, and there was no question that the birds would go with me.

About two and a half years ago, my older bird – who was now quite elderly for his species – got sick, and died a couple months later. At the vet’s office. Maybe an hour after she’d called to say that this time, she knew what was wrong with him. He had heart disease, but later we learned that it was some of the testing that actually killed him.

I really don’t know how to describe the impact this had on me. Saying it broke my heart doesn’t even really touch what it felt like. I’d been mild to moderately depressed for a few years already, due to job and locational problems, and this – this was . . . This was having the last truly bright spot in my life obliterated. No one and nothing else in my life had the ability to bring me the sort of instant joy he did, that he had from the moment I first laid eyes on him.

I fell really hard into a really long epic fantasy series for a while (the Malazan novels), which had a major impact on me spiritually. (They gave me the phrase “patron god,” for one thing.)

Over the next year, I gradually recovered from his death. But even after I left my job and spent a few months doing creative work for myself, hauling myself out of the pit of despair and apathy I’d been in for years, regaining my confidence, and energy, and desire to look for work I cared about – that bright spot didn’t come back.

I knew part of the problem was where I lived. But I felt like it was more than that. I had no idea what to do to find that kind of brightness again.

That was about when I decided I needed to move away from the city I was in, and shortly thereafter got convinced to pay attention to otherworldly entities – and about a week and a half after I first tried talking to Loki, about the time I realized He was ‘talking’ back, I felt like finally, I had my heart back, that brightness, the ability to find and feel joy at something in life.

A day or two after that – the July 4th weekend last year – I was at multi-day event in the woods, and got talked into trying out a “shamanic journeying” thing someone was teaching. This was your basic “listen to drumming, imagine yourself somewhere, look around and find your guide” kind of semi-guided meditation. I thought it sounded kind of silly, but it was the kind of weekend where I was up to trying new things, so what the hey.

I struggled a bit with it – I couldn’t “go through a hole in the ground” for the life of me – but eventually something odd happened. I “saw” something unexpected, and was about to explore it more, when the drumming changed to the “come back” rhythm, so I did.

That nagged at me the rest of the day, so I decided to try going back there, visualize the place again and see what happened. Things got weirder and less expected: the tarantula I’d seen and followed the first time around appeared unexpectedly from the base of a crude stone altar, molted its skin and kind of melted and morphed into a crow, which I decided to keep following, because why not?

Well, shortly later, it landed next to me, and started changing form again, into Loki.

I thought I was only seeing this because I wanted to, so I thought, “No, stop, go back.” And it did – and then it tried shifting again, and again I thought it back. But it tried again, so I gave in, and He was there, and He looked at me . . . not much happened after that; He led me off somewhere vague and gestured vehemently at a sheer stone wall, and that was that, which left me going ” . . . what. Did that even happen? Was that really Loki? I have no idea.” The visualization technique turned out to be extremely useful for later communication.

A day or two ago, He got really excited when I flipped open a weed guide and found the page on mullein. Well, I know where there’s a nice big mullein growing nearby, so this morning, I went for a walk to pick Him a few leaves from the plant.

I decided on a whim to walk home down a street I never take, and found a large, decorative picture frame lying next to the sidewalk, discarded. It had a yard sale sticker on it, and at some point someone had hit it a bit with some hot pink spray paint.

It’s the kind of thing that if I saw it in the store, I’d roll my eyes and twitch at: It’s about 18 inches on a side, black, decorated with some swirly shapes embossed on sheet metal, and with the phrase “Life takes us to unexpected places, Love brings us home,” in large curly font across the upper left and lower right. There’s space in the center for a small photograph.

One of the things that has changed in my life is that I am becoming more sentimental or romantic or some crap, because I saw this thing lying on the ground, and smiled and thought, “Aw, that’s sweet and true and lovely.” So it didn’t take much encouragement from Loki to bring it home and clean it up.

I wasn’t sure at first what, if anything, to put in the photograph place, and then I remembered that there was an art project I’d had in mind to redo with a more Loki-centric theme to it.

A couple years ago, I’d done some digital artwork, a shattered heart with a parrot silhouette overlaid on it. I think I was only able to look at it once after I finished it; there are too many layers of symbolism and meaning there. I later did another version with a raven silhouette, because I liked the general design, a lot, and wanted to show it off – I just couldn’t bear the original.

More recently, I’d started thinking about revisiting that and replacing the raven with a crow.So I did that, and put it in the frame, which is now sitting on the shelf above Loki’s altar where earlier today I had a wire model of Yggdrasil.I made one other change to the original artwork:Crow heart


About Fjothr Lokakvan

More or less Northern Tradition polytheist.
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