Author Archives: greengalloway

The Trouble with Trending Tricksters

By Tess O’Teric

The trickster archetype – and more specifically the god Loki – has cropped up a bit recently in popular culture. But should we be careful in how we treat and portray trickster gods, until we understand their context in a belief system?

In Norse mythology, Loki, Loptr, or Hveðrungr is a god or jötunn (or both). Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Narfi and/or Nari. By the stallion Svaðilfari, Loki is the mother—giving birth in the form of a mare—to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. In addition, Loki is referred to as the father of Váli in the Prose Edda.

Loki’s relation with the gods varies by source. Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. Loki’s positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr. Loki is eventually bound by the gods with the entrails of one of his sons.
(from Wikipedia)

Simply put, Loki is a god of the Norse pantheon. Most would describe him as a trickster or chaos god, or as the god of mischief. This flawed, sexually ambiguous deity has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years, with the rise of popular films like Thor and The Avengers, which depict the Marvel versions of the Norse pantheon, and of television series such as History Channel’s Vikings, in which the mischievous Viking boat-builder Floki is considered to be descended from Loki himself.

In Thor and The Avengers, the Marvel version of Loki is masterfully portrayed by Tom Hiddleston. Loki is the big bad antagonist in the first Thor film and in The Avengers, and then a supporting protagonist in Thor: The Dark World. And while loving this particular portrayal or the actor who pulled it off is perfectly OK, dropping everything and becoming not only a Loki worshipper but a Lokean godspouse without doing any further research/reading into the matter really isn’t.

A god-spouse, as anyakless puts it, is usually defined as “someone who has a longterm/lifetime intimate relationship with a deity that seems to somehow mirror human marriage (although there can be striking and important differences). This is usually a role officially acknowledged by the deity and confirmed by other members of your community in various ways.”

Now. This, in itself? Fine. How others experience the divine is ultimately none of my – or anyone else’s – business, and the various Norse traditions treat human/deity marriages so differently from one another that it’s not really for anyone to say that it is “wrong”, per se. However while there are plenty of arguments for and against godspousery, I don’t really see any merit in throwing yourself into something like this without doing your homework. This is not an anti-Lokean rant: this is me feeling incredulous and somewhat concerned at what has become a very strange situation. That is, that Lokeanism is “trending” just now, and in turn the definition of a Lokean has changed, too.

In the well-known post, 4 Reasons why Heathens Hate Lokean – by a Lokean, American Heathen blogger Sacred Iceland pointed out that “…about 75% of self-proclaimed Lokeans are now also coincidentally his ‘god-spouse’.”

“…in most cases it has been very difficult for me to identify what the purpose of these unions are, outside of serving the spouse’s own ego and giving them full right to shamelessly indulge in their wet dreams about Tom Hiddl- er… I mean Loki. I don’t mean to discriminate against lonely young women by observing that most recent Loki spouses tend to be lonely young women, but really, I have to call a spade a spade; and it seems that their formula for becoming a Loki spouse was:

1. Saw the Thor movie.

2. Thought Loki was hot.

3. Read online that you can marry Loki and there’s a community of people that take it seriously.

4. Has “vision” where Loki tells them to marry them immediately afterwards

5. Marries Loki.

6. Makes a new Tumblr account in honor of the event.”
(From the Sacred Iceland blog)

 

Before anyone mentions it in the comments section, yep, there are plenty of witches in their thirties, forties and fifties out there now who started out as newbies who loved Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, The Craft or even Charmed. But for the most part, schlock like this was just an overly tacky springboard: these fangirls and fanboys, for the most part, went on to investigate, to read, to seek and to learn. This meant they could then make informed decisions about what path (if any) was right for them. I just hope that brand new Lokeans do the same. The Norse traditions are rich with stories and customs, and to limit your understanding of these to what you have seen in a few movies really is selling yourself short.

 

Further reading:

4 Reasons Heathens Hate Lokeans: by a Lokean – Sacred Iceland

4 Real Reasons Heathens Hate Lokeans: by a Lokean – Reading Heathenism

Ask a Godspouse – Fruit of Pain

Discernment for Godspouses – the Forest Door

Lokean Godspouses: Disbelief and Explanation – Myrkr’s Blog

We Can Learn A Lot from Things that Annoy Us, or what I figured out about the proliferation of Loki’s wives online – Sex, Gods and Rock Stars

 

 

 

 

 

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Shove: the internet’s response to a Big Name Pagan


Image supplied by Australia’s Bestest and Supreme Celebrity Psychic Lady McTizabeth Pose.

“As soon as the page was created, we received dozens and dozens of emails from former clients. They offered words of support and encouragement, and sent us evidence and accounts of her dodgy practices throughout the years.”

This came from the anonymous creators of a parody page on Facebook, currently titled Australia’s Bestest and Supreme Celebrity Psychic Lady McTizabeth Pose, when I interviewed them in December.*

This may sound baffling and incomprehensible to Australian Pagans who haven’t already stumbled across this page, or to our Pagan friends overseas. Allow me to fill you in:

In December 2013, the page was created as a satirical look at Melbourne-based BNP Lizzy Rose (aka Elizabeth Collins, aka Lady Elizabeth Rose) who calls herself Australia’s Celebrity Psychic. Lizzy is for the most part unknown outside Australia. Her questionable practices were first drawn to the attention of international pagans in 2010, when she and infamous cop-dragging “witch” Eilish D’Avalon were quite accurately described in this piece from The Wild Hunt as undoing much of the good work that had been done in the Australian Pagan Community.

The McTizabeth Pose (or Tizzy Pose for short) page was created after Lizzy wrote a particularly nasty public tirade against Stacey Demarco, a Sydney-based BNP. Reading through the post, one can’t help but think that perhaps Lizzy had her nose out of joint at not being picked to be one of the faces of witchcraft on The Project‘s story on witchcraft in Australia.

Images supplied by Australia’s Bestest and Supreme Celebrity Psychic Lady McTizabeth Pose.

I have already made my feelings known about those who profit from the craft, and particularly those who prey on the vulnerable. It will come as little surprise to any regular reader of this blog that I found the parody Tizzy Pose, a self-proclaimed “Pogan Psychic”, hilarious. As do many others: the page was an instant hit, and is still growing in likes. Poor old Tizzy has kept Australian Pagans (and maybe Pogans, too!) entertained with fanciful stories of her experiences in the Pogan community, and insights into the life of Australia’s Bestest Celebrity Psychic.

Images supplied by Australia’s Bestest and Supreme Celebrity Psychic Lady McTizabeth Pose.

But surely this is a bit much of a length to go to, all because a BNP publicly slammed another for nothing more than being on the telly?
“It was a bit like the final straw,” the creator/s said. “Lizzy has caused trouble and ripped off too many people over the years. Some of her more famous actions have hugely divided and deteriorated the Victorian Pagan community. She has pushed and pushed away at it all for too long now. Now it’s come to shove.”

These “famous actions”, according to the page’s creator/s, include performing a “cleansing” ritual on the Burnley Tunnel after the tragic crash and fire that took place there in 2007, multiple threats of legal action and a now infamous court case, selling her own brand of Wicca (of which she is a 17th degree) to children as young as thirteen, hassling grieving families and charging top dollar for every remotely “magic” service that she has to offer. The Stacey Demarco sledge, it seems, was just the cherry on top of a fairly questionable torte.


Lizzy’s “tribute” to Heath Ledger, posted shortly after his death. Found here.

And so it would appear that just as annoyed commuters or consumers of Australia Day merchandise can take to social media when they are unhappy with a product or service, so too can dissatisfied “customers” of those who insist on selling the craft. Reading through some of the accounts of dodgy undertakings posted by others on the Lady McTizabeth Pose wall and elsewhere, the lesson appears to be this: when you reduce spirituality to nothing more than a product for mass consumption, you’d better be prepared for the inevitable customer feedback.

Naturally, the page has come under attack from Lizzy’s supporters, and apparently the threats came thick and fast for a while:

Images supplied by Australia’s Bestest and Supreme Celebrity Psychic Lady McTizabeth Pose.

And after these threats dried up, Lizzy herself got involved, first sending nasty messages to anyone who “liked” the page, threatening them with legal action unless they “unliked” it. Then more legal threats were sent to many, many Pagans (including the owner of this blog – oh dear), accusing each one of being the creator of the Tizzy Pose page and demanding they delete it immediately. Given the sheer scope and volume of these threats, it seems Lizzy was trying to cast her net wide to snag anyone she suspected of being the culprit: not a bad idea, but one that cost her even more followers and never actually reached the creator/s of the page until it was passed on to them by amused onlookers.

Up until this point, it could be argued that the events taking place were standard fare in any online flame-war. But what happened next was unanticipated and unprecedented.

A number of letters were circulated on social media and via email. These, it seemed, were emails that had been leaked by someone close to Lizzy. The most prominent of these was a very long and detailed apology letter, in which Lizzy offered a heartfelt apology for a number of very specific wrongdoings. The apology letter named names, and more importantly claimed that Lizzy was suffering from mental illness and would be halting all her “services” while she concentrated on healing and on beginning to make amends with some of those she had wronged.

“That letter really knocked us for six,” the creator/s said. “We were actually ready to pull the page the day we read that, but luckily we decided to sit on it for twenty-four hours and check that she (Lizzy) would make good on what she said.” But in less than twenty-four hours, Lizzy had denied the emails had come from her in a lengthy Facebook post, claiming that her email account had been hacked and accusing the creator/s of Tizzy Pose.

“Naturally, we got the blame. But if those letters weren’t written by Lizzy herself, then they had us fooled, too.” The creator/s admitted. “It was a real pity… We really hoped it was true, that she was taking a step in the right direction morally. Apparently heaps of people got on board and offered her their support before it was labelled a fake, and then were really disappointed. Surely it would’ve been a better career move to own up to it!”

But the writing style and the specific facts in the apology letter have caused some speculation throughout the community. Why, some ask, would someone seek to damage a person’s reputation by writing a heartfelt and sincere apology letter? The jury is still out on this one, and meanwhile the online Pagan community warms some popcorn and watches with interest…

* I “interviewed” the creator/s of the Tizzy Pose page via private messages on Facebook. During this interview they remained anonymous – we still don’t know who they are!

Author’s note: before publishing this piece, I contacted Lizzy Rose and offered her a chance to comment on these recent events. I will post her lengthy response in the comments section. – Galloway.

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Does Witchcraft really need to be promoted?

Last night Network Ten’s The Project aired a piece about witchcraft.

I will endeavour to post a video of this piece online if it becomes available, but suffice to say it was fairly simplistic and stuck to the basics (no, witches don’t worship the devil; and no, they don’t ride around on broomsticks), and featured interviews with the likes of Stacey De Marco, Lucy Cavendish and others.

The piece was not particularly good or bad. While I have many issues with the idea of “Big Name Paganspreying on the naive, the stupid and the mentally ill and profiting from their pseudo-celebrity, not to mention the whole notion that witchcraft is for sale, happily there was no opportunity for any of the “personalities” involved to spruik their overpriced wares.

Rather, the witchcraft it discussed was a fairly homogenised, “mass consumption” PG-13 version of what many consider to be witchcraft, with a focus on oracle cards and spell casting. To Network Ten’s credit, the word “religion” was thrown around more than once, and there didn’t seem to be much glamorising of covens or suggestions that teen witches could turn their ex-boyfriend into a toad or any other nonsense.

The Project’s piece received a mixed response from the Australian Pagan community, but more importantly it brought into light the old argument of whether witchcraft should be “promoted” at all, in this way or in others.

A decade or more ago, I would have said that yes, we do need pieces like this: to debunk rumours of satanic rites, of pointy hats, baby eating and broomsticks.

But we are almost in the year 2014. If there are people out there who still believe all that stuff, I say we let them. They certainly don’t make up a majority of the population any more, and most of them are so set in their ways that a three minute fluff piece on a magazine-style news panel show probably isn’t going to change their minds anyway.

If mainstream media simply must report on witchcraft, then it would do us a lot less harm to do so a bit more impartially, without going in for all the stupid stereotype garbage or interviewing only a certain kind of witch from a certain part of the country… not to mention the dark, sinister music. But hey, it wouldn’t get the ratings they want from mainstream audiences!

The main purpose of pieces like this is to advertise witchcraft as being a come one, come all new-age religion, suitable for everybody into something a bit spooky. The danger here is that no, it isn’t, and to portray it as such just leads to more and more misinformed people spending their hard-earned money on ridiculously overpriced products and “workshops” to become even more misinformed…. Unfortunately, the most insidious and parasitic of our BNPs are always there with open arms to empty the wallets of the naive and vulnerable folk who foray into witchcraft.

I’m not saying that witchcraft should be an exclusive little club (or maybe I am, I haven’t decided yet). My point is that knowledge and spiritual growth are not commodities, and should not be touted as such. Generally if people genuinely want to find out about something, they will look into it for themselves in their own time, and make up their own minds.

Witchcraft does not need “promoting” in this day and age. My religion is not a trend, a fad, a hobby or a spectator sport. Is it really so bad that I just want to go about my spiritual business without it being televised?

– Galloway.

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