Different but not: an interfaith experience

Loki-SutekhCheck out  Myriad’s amazing blog and read the post on “Weaving the Net”

Myriad and Sati, a Norse polytheist and a Kemetic. We met on the internet and decided to spend a few days together and share this experience.🙂

1. Which tradition do you follow?

Sati: I am Kemetic. I am not too happy about using labels because they cause a lot of confusion but I think I can say I am pretty much reconstructionist and hard polytheist. I like to use the term “HIP (=historically informed pagan)”. I am not connected to a temple or organized community. I worship mainly Sutekh and Ma’at but also a few other gods which can vary depending on what is going on in my life and whom I feel connected to. I used to be an Amun devotee for some time, I have a good connection to Sekhmet and despite being a Sutekh devotee also to Isis and Osiris. And I do a small but daily practice for Anuket and occasionally one for Imhotep and my cat has her very special relationship to Bast.

Myriad: I’m a Norse Polytheist, a reconstructionist, universalist Heathen with close ties to the Norse God Loki. Other Gods and Goddesses I worship include Baldr (yes, Baldr… that would be that Baldr), Odin, Laufey, Frigg, Sigyn, Njördr and Bragi. The degrees and modes of interaction vary from Deity to Deity; my relationship with Loki is the closest of them.

 

2. What does your daily practice look like when you are by yourself?

Myriad: The only God Who is invariably the focus of my daily practice is Loki. I have devotional relationships with other Gods as well, but those are more intermittent, or I worship Them when the situation calls for it. Location-wise, my practice revolves around my home altar. [Since we know today that the Gods were worshipped both outdoors and indoors (in so-called hofs), as well as in private, I do not feel that this is contrary to historical practice.] The altar is sacred and given to Loki, Who is the spiritual centre of my daily practice. My altar is open – it is not an enclosure but an open surface that is decorated for the purpose.

For someone as focused on (allegedly opposed-to-all-rules-and-formality) Loki as I am, I have a fairly regular practice with some fixed parts, and some ad-lib parts. Usually, I get up early. After washing, the first thing I do is to remove the last day’s offerings from the altar, clean the altar if anything is not as it should be, and replace burnt down tea candles. Then, I prepare my daily offerings for Loki. In the morning, I generally offer only to Loki; I may give offerings to others during the course of the day, depending. But Loki is the one Who gets my undivided attention during the mornings.

After that, I make my offerings to Loki and share my morning coffee (and breakfast) with Him. For this purpose I invite Him to take part if He wants – which more often than not is the case. Fairly often, I use this time for prayer, meditation, just talking with Him, telling Him what is going on in my life, if nothing else of interest pops up. Sometimes, I end up visiting Him in the course of journey work/vision quest. Sometimes, He tells me a story. Sometimes, we just sit with each other. Sometimes, I fail and am too wound up to even really make contact. Sometimes, He doesn’t show up at all, but takes the offerings nonetheless.

A lot of my daily practice during the past months was centered around the fact that I was completing my doctorate degree. Whenever I would feel helpless, anxious, stressed, or exhausted – and that was a lot of times – I’d talk to Him, sometimes just unloading, but more often than not He’d end up working with me and helping me to get through to the next step. In case you’re wondering, it wasn’t always pleasant. But it was amazingly effective, and there were so many times when His help actually was pleasant after all.

At any rate, there’s familiarity in this part of my practice. It is not a familiarity among equals. I find comfort, joy, awe, and sometimes great bewilderment in the fact that Loki reciprocates my feelings (at least as far as I understand His).

During the day, I go about my business. That’s a mostly secular affair.

When I have time, I study my Gods, the mythology, the historical practice, et cetera. As I said, I’m a reconstructionist, and I take that seriously.

In the evenings, I light Loki’s altar, and whatever shrines are appropriate, and worship my Gods – depending on the situation – mostly by making offerings to Them. Offerings, as far as the other Deities go, are mostly either given in gratitude for something, or to ask for a favour. Some, like Baldr and Laufey, and sometimes Sigyn, (and of course Loki) I just offer to without any specific reason other than to cultivate my devotional relationship with Them. Small, daily rituals are a very important part of my practice overall.

shrine3

Sati: I think my practice is not very different from Myriad’s. We are both using shrines, we both have our daily rituals and we are both closely connected to one deity and loosely to others. My regular practice is very simple. The main things is the daily offerings in the morning both at my bigger shrine for multiple deities and my Sutekh shrine. I offer food and water and I usually connect that with consuming the offerings of the day before or keeping them for later, which is part of my ritual since it symbolizes the cyclical aspects of the creation. I do not waste offerings. I offer the gods but I also receive from them. In the evenings I sometimes share some more casual time with Sutekh. I offer wine or food and chat with him, meditate in his presence if I feel he wants to tell me something or just go about my business while he is there.

I read a lot and do a lot of research when my time allows it. I am quite a busy person because I am self-employed and studying osteopathy at the moment which is rather demanding, too. And I also consider the internet communication with my fellow kemetics as part of my religious practice so I spent time in our groups and virtual meeting points as much as I can. My kin is very dear to me and I want to stay informed what is going on in their lives and if they are ok.

 

3. What did it look like when you spent time together? What was different?

Sati: The amazing thing was that I didn’t feel much difference. Ok I had put up a Loki shrine in my apartment which is rather unusual since I am not Asatru but it felt so completely normal that there were suddenly two people doing basically the same thing in honor of their gods. Like Myriad was my guest Loki was, too, and the thing that impressed me the most was Sutekh’s hospitality. While I had noticed that he occasionally has terrible issues about not receiving enough attention in relations to other Egyptian gods he was even generous about Loki. He did, however, still act like the man of the house which he is after all. I was very glad he welcomed Myriad so friendly because I am used to him being rather aloof about people who enter my apartment (which doesn’t happen very often, but that’s mostly about myself because I am not a social person).

It was interesting to me to be able to witness someone else’s most intimate moments with a god. And it felt amazingly natural to me to share the things I usually never share with people. I didn’t feel weird at all talking to Sutekh loudly or tell Myriad what he would let me know.

The new thing was of course the Myriad & me time. I am not used to living with a person. I have my daily rituals and little compulsions as an aspie which I am mostly not even aware of but I tend to feel unstable when those are somehow disturbed. But Myriad was so considerate and respectful about adjusting to my habits that there was not one moment where I felt uncomfortable.

Myriad: What was different… well, for one thing, I didn’t get up as early… no seriously, I had to adapt my sleeping schedule quite a lot because Sati was pretty nocturnal during my first visit. Other than that… it was different, while at the same time somehow, it was the same.

It was different in details: I didn’t spend as much time just sitting with Loki as I was used to doing – my meditation schedule got upset a bit, too. Of course, it was different in that there was another person around, as well – as I am usually solitary, especially where my veneration of Loki is concerned. And that’s maybe the most striking difference: the fact that someone else was there. Sati and I talked a lot about our respective Gods, our religions, our practice. We talked about some of the very private aspects that our relationships with our Gods have, and the most wonderful thing was that even though we are very different personalities with very different backgrounds, we could really relate to what the respective other had to say.

Like Sati already mentioned, the intimacy between a devotee and their Deity is remarkable, and it’s not usually something easily shared. However, the difficulty of sharing this – just by living it, and “doing the thing”, was something that was completely absent when we were together. It seemed only natural that I should do the things that I usually do during worship, with Sati being around.

I feel it was due to that aspect of not being alone, that the entire time while I was visiting Sati, we each were focused on our Gods in a way that was new to me. It was as if we were amplifying each other’s devotion… or whatever it was that happened; it resulted in a monastic experience, I think for both of us.

 

4. How did you feel about the presence of your gods? Did they take notice of each other?

Loki by MyriadSati: They definitely took notice of each other. In fact I had this very weird feeling that they kinda knew each other already. I had set up a Loki shrine in my apartment before Myriad’s arrival because I wanted her to feel “at home” and Loki immediately took notice of it and I felt him around before she came. It felt surprisingly normal to me. I’d describe myself as 100% Kemetic but I definitely have a connection to Loki as well. There was one pretty mind-blowing incident when Loki showed up and communicated with me. He made me understand his role among the other gods and left me deeply impressed and touched. I was very glad Myriad was there to hold me and confirm my experience because it was an extremely emotional moment for me. I felt honored to be shown how I know she experiences him as someone who is not part of Norse heathenism at all.

Myriad: That was… emotional, indeed. Loki had shown Sati some things about Himself that I do not see talked about often. Not among His worshippers, and much less even in wider Heathen communities. Loki… tends to open up quickly, but it is never meaningless pleasantries with Him. Much to the contrary, actually; what He shares, He shares. And it made me so happy (for Him) to see that Sati completely understood the exchange for what it was.

Sati: I will admit, however, that I also had some trouble with Loki which even ended in a complicated situation between me and Myriad. I don’t think it is necessary to go that much into details but basically I felt a little “used” by Loki for something which is not really my nature. He is way too “funny” and cheeky for me. I am a rather serious person and I am pretty used to Sutekh’s rawness and Sutekh is very concerned about me keeping up some amount of dignity and toughness. And Sutekh didn’t seem too pleased about the whole thing I felt pushed in by Loki either, so he urged me to Set a clear limit. I found myself torn between being tolerant and soft towards Myriad and Loki, and fulfilling Sutekh’s expectations. But luckily we managed to sort out the situation and I clearly felt this was the work of four and not just two. The really amazing experience was that Myriad and I realized that we can’t have a one-to-one relationship. It will always be a relationship of four and if there are things to communicate about we cannot leave out Loki and Sutekh.

Myriad: *laughs* Loki and dignity… just briefly, here’s the thing: dignity can have a very different meaning for a worshipper of Sutekh than it has for a worshipper of Loki. I mean, if you’re famous for tying a she-goat’s beard to your testicles, and then have her drag you around, it may or may not show in what you expect your worshippers to do. Whoops, that came out weird. But here you have an example of what Loki expects of me in terms of dignity: not to take myself so seriously all the time. There is more, of course, but the point is, dignity and dignity are two very different things here. And that, of course, does have its conflict potentials.

For my part, I didn’t really notice Them taking notice of each other until my second visit. And when that happened, it wasn’t exactly pleasant. My short version of the tale: Loki didn’t like a situation I was in, for reasons that I understand. He wanted Sati to play a certain part that didn’t go over well. The situation escalated while I was over at Sati’s, and the way it did was… rather Sutekh-like, and not exactly according to His (Loki’s) plan; that wasn’t anyone’s fault really. However, the damage was done. The situation hit critical when I felt that something was wrong between Loki and Sati over the way things had developed. When she later expressed this to me and confirmed what I’d feared, it freaked me out and saddened me utterly, because… well, I saw myself confronted with a choice that I never want to make. And ultimately, I didn’t have to, because we did eventually manage to sort it out. On His behest, I dragged Sati to Loki, and she pushed me to Sutekh – because there were some issues on my side, too. It was basically a four-way “We need to talk”.

Sati: Hell, yeah, Sutekh-style interventions usually come like a thunderstorm and leave a mess behind he doesn’t care much about to clean up. He rushes in and just sets the whole place on fire – of course never without a good reason. But that is also pretty much what it looks like when I feel I need to take over and… let’s say… point out one or two things to people. I am a very tolerant person, I’ve seen a lot in my life, but there a few things I simply cannot accept because they are against my ethics and then I speak up. And I speak up loudly compared to being rather quiet and introvert. I am terribly bad at sugar coating so I tend to offend people with my unexpected directness. I felt a bit sorry, Myriad had to witness this “storm”. I know I get rather erratic and unpredictable when I act like that and I was worried I might have scared her. And surprisingly I also noticed that Sutekh seemed to care about her feeling comfortable. I guess that’s why we managed so quickly to sort out the situation.

Myriad: What Sati and I both learned then was how important our Gods are to us both, and how much They each appreciate us as Their respective devotees, and that this only works as a four-way relationship, or not at all.

But back to the original question about presence… They were very present. Strong, incredibly beautiful, both of Them. They were there, a lot of the time. I remember in particular one evening, where I was goofing around for fun with some boots that Loki liked a lot on me. Mainly, because I was literally a prancing pony in them, and looked cute. There was much hilarity, but I had to break it off eventually because… well. If Loki likes something, He’s not exactly shy when it comes to expressing this.

Sutekh by Sati

Speaking of shyness – I felt shy around Sutekh; He’s very different from Loki in a lot of ways, not only with respect to dignity. One of them is that Sutekh doesn’t exactly like humans, whereas Loki… is Loki. I found Sutekh intimidating, but not unfriendly; as a matter of fact, I was rather surprised that He seemed to appreciate my being there. So, after a while, I loosened up enough to do things around His shrine – like tending to offerings and/or candles.

Other than that, They made Their presence felt a lot of times – I was awed by the whole of Sati’s main shrine when she opened it; especially by Amun. He was very golden, in a very attractive way. But not like Baldr, who is both golden and attractive in His own right, by the way. When we went to see the exhibition at the Egyptological museum in Munich, there were two statues that had something more wow going on – one was of Sekhmet, and the other one was… black, with very nice legs and no head; Sati and I both thought Sutekh, although that was probably not Who it was supposed to be. None of us cared though.

Regarding Them taking notice of each other – that is a difficult question. During my first visit, there was such a sense of overwhelming joy about all of it. I am very sure that some of that came from Loki, but also a lot from myself; beyond that, it is difficult for me to say, really.

But there certainly was some one-upmanship going on. Offerings… oh, yeah, those were a thing. I don’t think Sutekh used to be interested in receiving coffee before Loki got some (… coffee!!) while I was over.

Sati: *laughs* No, I offered coffee before and I wasn’t much appreciated. But when Myriad did her offerings I got this “I want what he is getting” so I found myself offering things I wouldn’t normally offer. Coffee with cardamom and cinnamon it was then.

donkey goat

5. Do you feel you influenced one another? If so, how?

Sati: Actually the main influence I feel from the days we spend together is strength. It strengthens me in my own faith and practice to see a person I love and respect being just as loving and devoted to her gods like I am to mine. I mean let’s face it, religious devotion is kinda awkward today. People who are religiously devoted are either considered “extreme” or somehow naive, immature, unwilling to take responsibility, and all that dull prejudice about religion.

Myriad: Yeah, a lot, I believe. To me, it was the greatest surprise that I could actually talk to someone else about what was going on and what I was experiencing. One of the best things that happened was a discussion we had about doubt and fears, and what makes reality real. That was a real eye-opener for me, because it had happened (and it still does, though less and less frequently), that I faced crushing doubts regarding every last little thing in my religious life. Sati has been a great help in these regards, having been a Polytheist for far longer than I have.

Sati: Another thing is that dealing with another pagan religion does sometimes lead to a better and deeper understanding of your own one if the conversation about it is respectful and open which it definitely was. The fact that we are both hard polytheists avoided any doubt about Sutekh and Loki being both actual beings to worship and not some weird philosophical concept or archetype. It made me realize once again how important it is to adopt multiplicity as a state of mind, as comforting as “one source theories” or universalistic concepts may seem.

Myriad: we encourage each other to study, and that also includes study by comparison. Don’t get me wrong. These are different, separate traditions. Neither of us is syncretistic. But we both do acknowledge that nothing ever happens in a vacuum, and that religious traditions evolve according to the cultural situation – and if our cultural situation is that we’re in close quarters with people from a different tradition, then it would just be ridiculous not to look at each other’s plates.

Sati: One very personal thing which was pretty important to me was the experience of being liked in my religious identity. I mean I do have my Kemetic kin on the web but as a Kemetic Sutekh devotee you don’t get too many fans in the German pagan scene. Firstly, there is hardly any Kemeticism and secondly, Sutekh is mostly known in some ritual magic or occultism context, which is absolutely not my cup of tea. So basically I am used to being alone, and I am not a very social person anyway. And of course I am aware that Sutekh’s influence makes me a little erratic and unpredictable. So it was an amazing experience to me to feel Myriad’s trust to actually stay with me AND Sutekh at my house, her care for me and her respect for Sutekh.

Myriad: we both appreciate each other’s devoutness. We’re devoted to our Gods and we appreciate how rare that is in a person.

 

Myriad

Myriad

Sati: And apparently Myriad and I have some pretty impressive effect on people. I got asked if we are sisters by a few people when we went out together. We are so different from each other. Myriad is extrovert, funny, smart, eloquent and insanely beautiful. She is wearing colorful clothes. Laughing and smiling a lot and her red flaming hair is a real eye catcher in the crowd. She will start dancing spontaneously with people or sing (she is an opera singer so she REALLY knows how to sing). I feel like the complete opposite. I am mostly wearing black and I am that quiet, kinda mysterious, dark, closed up woman in the corner watching people but for some reason still dragging a lot of attention. I am ASD so I have my problems with socializing but being with Myriad made things a lot easier for me. I feel safe and calm next to her and could even enjoy being among people.

sati LA bw

Sati

 

Myriad: We bring out each other’s “shine”, so to speak: we went out together twice (three times if you count the party to celebrate the completion of my doctorate). Each time, we were hands-down the most beautiful people in the room, and that’s not because the room was empty or the people were exceptionally ugly. It’s because somehow, we make visible about each other, how we’re influenced by our Gods. [LOL this sounds ridiculous, but there you have it.]

 

6. Did you miss anything or feel limited in your practice?

Sati: Not much to be honest. When I visited Myriad I did of course miss my apartment because basically it is my temple. I have all my shrines there like the big multi-deity shrine, my Sutekh shrine and my Akhu(=ancestors)/friends and heka(=Egyptian “magic”) shrine. But when I travel I always use my travel shrine which Myriad allowed me to put up on her Loki shrine, so there was really not much to miss. I terribly missed my cat though. What I missed a little, too, was spending time with my fellow kemetics and talking about our faith, AE history or just joking around in Facebook. It might sound weird but as I mentioned above it is very important to me to dedicate a large part of my attention to my Kemetic friends even if it’s just having some fun.

Myriad: I missed my meditation and extended prayer when I first visited, but that was made up for (and then some) by all the other amazing things happening. During my second visit and during Sati’s first visit at mine, I got around to everything a lot better.

 

7. What ideas/inspirations did you gain from this time together?

Sati: A lot of creative stuff. We are both crafts people and Myriad inspired me with a whole load of great ideas for offerings and crafts work in honor of Sutekh like this devotional necklace. I am a tailor but I haven’t been sewing for a long time and now I have a long list of clothes I want to make for Myriad. She tried on a late Middle Ages bliaut I had made and that really inspired me to get back to making medieval clothing. I even learned tablet weaving with her.

Myriad wearing my Late Middle Ages "bliaut"

Myriad wearing my Late Middle Ages “bliaut”

medieval tablet weaving...

medieval tablet weaving…

Myriad: Sati was the one who inspired me to learn tablet weaving – an activity that was altogether well received by my Gods, and that I might actually have some talent for.

Of course, I was inspired by Sati’s devotional practice also. After I came home, I absolutely wanted more shrines, and I wanted statues; lots of statues. The problem is that I really do not like the aesthetic of most commercially available statues of the Norse Gods, so I have been using my own depictions – acrylic paintings on canvas. They work well, and my Gods appreciate them fine (although I keep noticing the millions of perspective errors). Anyway, when I came home, I wanted statues, and sculptures, and closed shrines. I actually still do want some of those things; although I’m no longer sure how well closed shrines are going to work for the Norse Gods. But sculptures… I still want those, and I’m probably going to make my own. Lately, also, two small portraits of Sutekh and of Ma’at have found their way into my living room.

tablet woven bandSati: And we actually felt that we should somehow share our experience and started to work on seminar concepts to talk about polytheistic religions and practice. Since we both take care of being historically informed in our practice and well-educated in our tradition I am positive that we will be able to offer a decent insight in what it means to be pagan in the center of society. Both Myriad and I, we are not “peripheral figures” of society or some antisocial freaks (apart from my Aspie issues). Myriad holds a doctor’s degree in computer science, and I am in the middle of my education in osteopathy taking care of my patients, doing my medical research and hopefully in the end finishing with a Master of Science.

Myriad: it is out of our “interfaith temple” situation, as well as a shared passion for our Gods, that we developed an idea to offer workshops about polytheistic religions for people in our area. At the moment, we each have a lot to deal with, but we found it important to do this. I think it’s important to show – that is, demonstrate by example – what Polytheism entails, how religious practice can look, and to show that people exist who actually worship the Gods as God-People.

 

8. What was different from what you expected?

Sati: Basically I expected things to be more awkward and us to be kinda shy about our practice and devotion. But in the end it turned out unexpectedly easy and great. It was amazing to sit by our shrines and share some wine and food with our loved ones or do the morning offerings together. And I am pretty sure Sutekh and Loki enjoyed this too.

Myriad: They absolutely did. Funny how one sometimes just knows.

Myriad & Sati

Myriad Hallaug Lokadis & Merit Sutekh Sat-Ma’at

This entry was posted in English, Gods • Götter, Practice • Praxis, Thoughts • Gedanken and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Different but not: an interfaith experience

  1. Pingback: Different but Not: an Interfaith Experience | Weaving the Net

  2. G. B. Marian says:

    It seems like the four of you make an awesome team. Great post, and here’s looking forward to reading more of your adventures together in the future!🙂

  3. Pingback: Anders und doch nicht: eine interreligiöse Erfahrung | Kemetic Insights

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