Apparently, it doesn’t die: the allegation that kneeling before Loki is only going to get you salacious remarks, if not overt ridicule. I don’t know where it came from originally, but it certainly spread like a wildfire. This God, we don’t have to kneel to Him. Look at those stupid people who think it’s gonna win them His favour. The idea of not having to kneel must have hit a nerve.
And it is true. We do not have to. I do not have to. Do you know what else hit a nerve? The thought of His mockery.
There are rarely, very rarely, moments that I read something in an online place, posted there by a complete stranger, and what I read makes me sad. Angry? Yes, loads of times. But not sad, not usually. This morning was one of those times. I read about the “… while you’re down there” again, and it made me sad because it is patently untrue, and despite that, it is still around.
There are those of us who do kneel to Loki. I know at least two people in person who do it one way or the other. Who assume a physical position that signals not only respect, but yes, submission, obeisance, a powerful expression of acceptance and acknowledgement that He, to us, is overwhelmingly worthy of receiving any and all worship, including in posture of body. And to us who do this, it’s nothing but natural. It’s not even a question.
Do I or do I not kneel? The question doesn’t arise. I do not always do it, and I’ll come to why in a moment. But it’s never a question. It’s something I sometimes want, no, need to do. It is true that He does not require nor request it. And yet it has nothing to do with some fancy striking me to “be a little subby today”. There is nothing so casual as that about it.
What I feel, what incites me to go down on my knees is a love so intense that it becomes painful. A deep, throbbing pressure that I just literally cannot stand.
Maybe love doesn’t express itself like that for everybody, and that is perfectly fine! I’m not casting judgement on anyone’s ability to love; I’m just some person to whom love, if it grows beyond what I’m capable of holding, makes me need to kneel. I have never knelt to anyone in my life before. I have never felt the need to do so before. And this deep-felt pain, for me, is the only reason I kneel.
The first time I did, there was one moment, when, for lack of a better expression, my awareness shifted. I felt His gaze on me and His presence around me as if He were physically there. And then, without being able to do anything about it, I became self-conscious. I remember thinking, ‘oh goodness, what am I doing..?’ I was suddenly so sure that what I’d read was true after all, and that He’d just laugh and dismiss me for this act that somehow, suddenly, felt awkward, so awkward. That, out of the blue, seemed suddenly not to be about humility but about humiliation.
And then nothing happened at all. He didn’t say a word, and never moved to turn His back on me. And I, too, did not move.
I don’t know how long it went, but I finally plucked up my courage and asked Him, “You’re not mocking me.”. There was another prolongued silence during which my mind started clamouring at me in all the voices that it knows. Then, that tapered off into nothing, and still the silence went on as He waited quietly. Eventually, the part that had hardened to a knot of shame about something that had, originally, come naturally to me, dissolved. It left me feeling ready to collapse.
But there was an un-asked question in my words to Him, and that was, “do You take this love I’m offering, just as it is?”
The response I got in the end is difficult to put into words. Partly, that is because there weren’t many words involved in the first place, and the words that I did hear do not cover the complexity of His answer. But the answer was such that I knew, with certainty, His acceptance of what I was offering, for what it was, not for what some preconceived notion would make of it.
I’m not saying, “kneel”. Because I’d be wrong. And because I’d sound utterly too much like a certain Marvel character in a film adaptation that most of us know. But what I’m saying is, “don’t ‘not-kneel'”. It might be something that you want to do.
As a matter of fact, there are a couple of reasons why one might think to do so, that are, to the best of my knowledge, the wrong reasons.
For one, there is obligation and fear. For most people I know, this has something to do with Christianity and church service. They feel obligated to kneel out of fear of punishment. I have the privilege that I grew up in a household where my father is a non-practicing Catholic, my mother is a monist with strong ties to modern Hinduism, my sister is an agnostic, my brother is an atheist, my late grandmother was utterly defiant of all authority. I, personally, had no reason to ever feel obligated to kneel, but I know that there are others who have been less fortunate in this respect. So yes, if you’re doing it out of obligation and fear, I’d say stop it.
Then, there’s accepted customs and habit. It is custom to kneel to a God. It’s kinda “what you do”. Except that Loki has been known not to give a damn about customs and traditions. So, again, if your only reason to do it is because you’re used to doing so, I’d say stop it. You’re not doing yourself any favours.
Then, there’s one that is a little more complicated, namely instrumentalisation. I fell into this trap for a while not so long ago. Let me take a moment to clarify what I mean by instrumentalisation. Kneeling can have a powerful psychological effect; I’d even say it does have this effect, whether or not you intend for it to occur. I’m no expert on psychology, but I’d say it’s ingrained and primal. The problem of instrumentalisation arises when you attempt to use this psychological effect to get into a certain mindframe that you find desirable. What happened to me was that I wanted so much to feel the way I described above that I committed the physical act of kneeling to Loki in an attempt to create the psychological effect I associated with it. In other words, I tried to turn cause into effect, and effect into cause. If that is the case with you in any shape or form, I’d say stop it. Stop it, stop it, stop it. Because it’s not going to work, and it can become a major obstacle to what you’re trying to achieve in the first place. I had to be walloped upside the head first, to snap myself out of it. There is no harm and no shame in not kneeling. If you don’t feel like it, and I mean deeply, truly, madly feel like it? Don’t do it.
This concludes my personal list of wrong reasons for kneeling. If you can think of more, I’d be happy to hear of them! Just drop me a comment below.
And then there is of course the flip-side of the coin. Reasons why you might think you don’t want to do it, that are just as wrong.
Personal favourite: because it’s not done. “because someone said it’ll only get you salacious remarks ‘n stuff”. Don’t ever not do something just because someone said it’s the wrong thing to do. And that includes Big Names, and it most certainly includes those who insist that real Heathens do not kneel. Wrong. Not only are there contemporary sources (namely Tacitus most prominently) indicating that it was very much a custom to do so, at least in some cults. But there is also this to consider: if there’s one thing I know it is that Loki has no problems with people thinking on their feet, for themselves. And I bet Loki is not the only God with this kind of attitude. Ask Him, ask Whoever you worship. I would be surprised if They told you They wanted a marionette.
Then there is this: because I’m only experimenting. You might think it wouldn’t be right if you’re just experimenting with it. But on the other hand, consider this: You are trying to develop your devotional practice. Something that is yours alone. Why would you assume you’re not allowed to experiment? It’s trial and error. If you want to try it, try it. It might not be all you’ve cracked it up to be. But no one is saying you’re obliged to stick with it if it isn’t for you. (Generally I’d say give everything at least a couple of tries, but that’s just personal preference). See, the thing is: you might be denying yourself something beautiful.
And finally, there is this: because I feel like I shouldn’t want it. Fuck “shouldn’t want”. It’s perfectly understandable to feel this way, given how things like “reverence” are not really high on the list of values that most of us get taught—including myself by the way. Ask yourself only one thing: “Do I want to?” and if the answer is yes, then go ahead, dig some knee-shaped dells into your carpet.