This is the second leg of my Offering post thingy (I’m hesitant to call it a series, but an obviously unplanned third post is in the making); I’ve posted the first one a couple of days ago. Currently, offering practice (mine specifically, but also offering practice in general) is something that I’m learning much about, and Loki is a very good teacher.
As I’ve alluded to before, there’s more than one way to botch up an offering. Loki isn’t exactly known to take offence easily, and tends to allow a lot of things to pass with a lot of His followers. With me? Not so much, actually, but that is simply a part of my relationship with Him, and one I cherish highly. I don’t envy anyone their liberties, even if I don’t have them to the same degree.
In my last post, I wrote about making offerings out of some misguided sense of anticipatory obedience — whatever the motivation for that may be. Today’s post is about selfishness when making offerings, in this case a food offering. And I think I’ll have to go into at least some detail about the aftermath, too.
It really isn’t so much about what is being offered. The offering in question was something I had given Loki on several occasions before, and He’d always accepted it. Little multicoloured sweets wrapped in transparent plastic film, that taste very (artificially) sweet. The kind that the restaurants give you with the bill. They’re nothing special, and given my usual preferences, rather skirting the boundaries of the Dark Realm of The Junk Foods. But when I was given them for the first time, I spontaneously thought of Loki, so He got them. That was a longish while ago.
This time, it was about the exact same sweets, from the exact same restaurant, just… well. I’d gone there because I really couldn’t be bothered to cook dinner. There’s nothin wrong with that (unless you’re really going to nitpick). At some point, while waiting for my food to arrive, I was lost in thought about what an offering really is, and the following thought came to me:
The Gods suffer from hunger. They don’t die of it, but I think (and I know that there are several people who would probably agree) that They do experience hunger. Please don’t ask me how that works, I’m not an expert on “Theobiology”. The thought itself is an interesting one, albeit very unpleasant, considering how long it has been since offerings have been given Them with any kind of regularity at all.
When I came home, took care of Loki’s altar and gave Him the sweets I’d brought with me, a distinct feeling of unease (sorry, that’s the best I can do to describe it) spread in my general intuitive area, a.k.a. the gut. I knew that kind of gut feeling, from when I’d cracked a joke at the wrong time, or taken something too lightly. It was something I had come to understand as a warning, a “No, you went too far there“.
Except that this time, I didn’t know what it was about. All the precedents, I’d always known that, but not this time. So, I first tried guessing that there were too few sweets or something like that — which was wrong. And at any rate, it would have been very atypical, as I only have a very small — teensy tiny really — offering bowl, and there had never been a problem about that before… in other words, it’s not all about size. (I know, I’m silly… but I’m serious).
Be that as it may, at first I made an official statement that to my eyes, Loki is worthy of any offering, and that those few sweets weren’t meant “that way”. Loki wasn’t impressed, or rather, He let me know that He didn’t doubt that at all.
“Why like this?” He asked me, and I couldn’t help but understand that I had disappointed Him. Unpleasant feeling. Very unpleasant feeling.
Suddenly, I remembered the thought that I had entertained while I was in the restaurant, and I remembered how that went on: namely, that it is one thing to offer Loki to share my senses, but that it is another thing entirely to let Him partake of my meal. To let Him take a part of my meal. And I also remembered the nagging feeling that accompanied the thought: my conscience piping up because I’d been too lazy to cook a meal myself.
I was so very tempted to invent an excuse.
Guys, seriously, let me give you this unsolicited piece of advice: Loki is extremely tolerant regarding all manner of, uhm creative and unconventional interpretation of the truth; a little stretch here, an excuse there. Deviating from established morality, He really doesn’t give too many damns about that; however, there are two people that you should never try to dazzle. First, yourself, and second, Him. The former because “Know Thyself” is so very important. The latter, because… well.
It’s really as if someone who’s been given a violin and, with some effort has managed to produce a discernable tune, decides to go up to, let’s say Mozart, and tell him he can now play the violin, and better at that. Loki, in that case, will probably give you an unpleasant smile with far too many teeth, and a very unamused “Don’t even try.” (Or He’ll play along and watch you get ever more entangled — take your pick). Others aren’t as nice. This digression is really digressing a little further than I had planned, but it’s simply generally a bad idea to attempt beating the Gods at Their game. I recommend a trip to Greece for further studies of those issues. Things like that tend not to end well for the challenger. Different topic though.
At any rate, I was very tempted (just for the fraction of a second, but ha, what does time even mean?) to invent an excuse. But at the same time, I was hyper-aware that Loki was listening to every word I was saying (and thinking), and comparing them to the truth of my heart. And I had already disappointed Him, maybe even angered Him. So, I admitted that I had been lazy, and that I selfishly wanted to ease my conscience when I brought home those sweets. I felt… mean and petty, because really, what does it cost me to make Him a proper meal? I mean, compared to what He deserves? Compared to what He’s entitled to be given, by me specifically? My home is His, and how much can it really cost to serve Him in His own house? I asked Him to forgive me my mistake.
The next test (because that is what His first question already was) followed immediately, as I, my conscious, for a couple of moments tried to catch an “Everything’s alright” vibe. Head puppets are something everybody has, including myself, and it’s not always easy to discern them from actual communication. Wishful thinking is one of the strongest motivators for the irritating little beasts, and that’s exactly what I was dealing with. But the point is, you can identify wishful thinking if you’re open to the idea that something might be wishful thinking. There was just that momentary otherness that made me feel uncertain and made me listen up again. It turned out to be a good idea, because Loki wasn’t done yet, and “Everything” was not “alright”.
He demanded the prayer beads. It’s a set of beads I had made myself. I’d given them to Him as a gift, but I often wear them (with His permission), when I’m not at home. They are a pretty thing, and I’ve hand-painted the bigger beads with motifs from His myth and my UPG.
My first reaction to hearing Him was, “no, please don’t”. But Loki insisted that I was to leave the beads on His altar and not touch them for a day. I can’t explain why I had such strong feelings about it. I found that… it stung. Loki was adamant, though, He’d made up His mind.
“It was a good gift“, He said. “Learn from this“. After a couple of moments during which the wheels in my head already started turning, Loki asked me in an unusually formal tone whether I accept the punishment. That, too, was strange and new… up until then, it had always been Him acting and me catching up to what was wrong, sooner more often than later.
Not this time; this time He announced it and it felt official. He asked even though He knew exactly what my answer would be. It wasn’t impersonal, but the whole affair had what I can only describe as another “dimension”. He also expected me to give Him my answer, “yes, my Love”… that I say it aloud and seal it.
“Write about it“, He told me with so much warmth, “right now“. — So, I sat down at my desk and wrote down the things that I had realised/noticed in my journal. (Have I mentioned yet that journalling pays off?)
During all that time, I felt Him smile. Affectionately. Satisfied.
With a couple of days’ worth distance, I have to say, He couldn’t have taught me better: an offering, a real, good offering is something that pleases me, also. The prayer beads are like that, they’re beautiful, and I’m wearing them around my neck again today. If I “meet” some expensive luxury of a chocolate bar, with a chili-whiskey filling, and I spontaneously buy that for Him, to give it to Him, then that pleases both me and Him as well. If that element of devotion, of deliberate “You” is missing, or overlayed by selfish sentiment, then the essence of what an offering is by its very nature, is lacking.
Perhaps it was only fitting that I had to experience the revocation of the joy that comes from a good offering. Very quid pro quo.
I always tend to wax poetic about Loki as a teacher, and this is just another example of why I adore Him and His teaching style so much.
But His lessons, as probably most people who know Him will attest to, are never an end in itself. There’s always more happening than meets the eye, and this was no exception. I was given the opportunity to learn something important about offering practice; but at the same time, something else also happened: a covenant, a bond that hadn’t existed like that, before then. On the suface, it was some kind of expiatory sacrifice (although I’m sure my terminology is a little off here), but that wasn’t all it was: on a far more personal level, I grew closer to Him, and He to me. And I’m unspeakably glad about that.
(Of course, He opted to keep the sweets, too ;-) )