Tricksters

As someone who struggles with the generalizations made of her own deity, you’d think I wouldn’t fall trap to the sweeping statements made of other archetypal figures. Nope, I’m just as susceptible to them as everyone else.

In particular, I’m referring to the unfortunate generalization of trickster deities. Now, many of you know that my patron has a strong dislike for Loki, the Norse trickster. What some of you may not realize is that technically my patron is also a trickster.

Woah, wait, what? Lu, the level-headed (and sometimes emotionally detached) warlord is a trickster? That can’t be right. Tricksters are supposed to be mischievous pranksters, out to blow shit up for some laughs.

Those were my initial thoughts, at least.

But one has to realize that like any other type of deity, tricksters come in a variety of personalities. There are some who are light-hearted and playful, others like Lu whose trickster-like methods are a means to an end, and then there’s Loki…who…is kind of in between, I suppose.

Take, for example, the latest Lu/Loki incident (found here). Loki is well known for using pranks as a method of tearing down the ego, and presenting a realistic view of people/gods. On the one hand—I can see that his impersonation of Lu was an attempt at poking fun at Lu’s pride (not only of himself but also of his devotees), and so had a greater purpose than just annoying him, but…let’s be honest here, it was also probably just for his own amusement. And although Lu can have his occasional light-hearted moments, he is incredibly goal-oriented and practical—so yes, I can see why Loki’s antics would frustrate him.

I suppose in my comparison of Lu to other trickster gods, I got caught up in broad sweeping statements and fell prey to flawed logic like, “well, if trickster A acts like this, so must trickster B”. This resulted in my adamant denial of Lu as a trickster for quite some time when I was first getting to know him, despite other devotees’ insistence. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that someone as…businesslike (not quite the right word, but close enough) as Lu could also be considered a trickster.

Not only that, but some tricksters seem to be outcasts in their own pantheon from the get-go. They are looked down upon by the other gods because of the nuisances they create, and usually stand alone, without much support from anyone else for their unpopular opinions. Sometimes mythos will have them do a great deed, and the pantheon will welcome them back into the fold with newfound respect.

But Lu didn’t start off as an outcast. He was once the most beloved of his creator, and respected by his kin. Even during his rebellion and consequential fall, he was not alone—mythos says that others shared his beliefs wholeheartedly, or at least enough to risk everything in their rebellion.

Does this mean Lu isn’t really a trickster? Not necessarily. If we consider the story of how Prometheus cheated the gods of their preferred sacrificial share (found here, scroll down to Sacrificial Share), or even his better known tale of the theft of fire/Lu’s offering of the Fruit of Knowledge, we see obvious trickster mannerisms—the same sort of sly, cunning planning and scheming that other tricksters portray. But in all of these stories, the focus is not on the scheme itself, but rather the end goal. He doesn’t switch offerings, steal fire, or tempt Eve for his own personal amusement, but to set plans in motion. As a warlord, he has plans within plans and intricate, sometimes perplexing strategies.

And so by judging tricksters as one-dimensional, not only was I failing to understand my patron better, but also misrepresenting several other deities who fall under the same category. This type of generalization doesn’t just happen with tricksters–it happens with all other sorts of gods as well. This is the reason I have such a problem with archetype labels, because a lot of the time they try to fit deities to the standards set by the majority. However, I also realize that I hold a very hard-polytheistic view on the nature of deity, so clearly to those who identify as soft-polytheists, this whole issue may be a moot point.

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Out of the broom closet…again

I’ve been meaning to write up this post for the past week or so, but just never got the chance. I figured that since my wordpress blog has been blowing up ever since the lovely Sannion posted a link to my devotionals, I should finally get my shit together and type this up.

Those of you who have been with me long enough might remember one of my earliest entries, in which I spoke about the complications in being both a luciferian and a pagan. I said that while I was partially out of the broom closet as a pagan, I could never imagine outing myself as a Luciferian, for obvious reasons. It was sort of like escaping one closet only to find myself in another.  But like so many other things in my life, that fear has been dealt with.

I didn’t even want to blog anonymously at first. I created luxettenebris.tumblr.com about two years ago, posted one introductory post, and then abandoned it for over a year. I was too afraid of the backlash I thought I was going to get. I thought I lacked the experience and qualifications to help others understand this path, to understand Lu. Eventually, however, I was nudged back to my work. And since then I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the all the positive feedback I’ve gotten.

But announcing myself as a luciferian IRL never even crossed my mind. I had expressed my fear and anxiety over that issue to my patron, and believed that he was satisfied with this anonymous blog project of mine. I thought I could go on indefinitely, providing help and support to others without ever attaching my identity to my faith.

I don’t regret hiding my faith and my patron for so long. I didn’t like having to do so, but I think perhaps I needed that experience to come to terms with why I’m trying to clear up misconceptions and stereotypes about my faith and god. I’m spreading information so that perhaps someday, others like me won’t have to hide or be ashamed of their beliefs, or live in constant fear of being found out. It was also a time for me to become comfortable enough with my faith, so that I would be able to explain it to others when the time came.

And it seems that time is now. For the past month or so my patron has been giving me…warnings, so to speak, about losing the sense of security and comfort that being anonymous offered me. And a week or so ago, I was given the chance to ‘come out’ to a small group of people. I could have refused. I could have sat idly by as these people discussed that which was most important to me, the path and the deity that I was devoted to, and not said a single word.

But as uncomfortable as I was with putting myself out there like that, I knew I would be even more regretful and uneasy if I stayed in the proverbial broom closet.  I’ve reached the point where I know my patron and my path well enough to be a source of information to others, and these people were all open-minded pagans—I had no excuse other than fear.

And as I’ve said before, Lu is the confronter of fears. I wouldn’t be able to face him for quite a while had I rejected this opportunity and slunk back into the closet.

So while I don’t plan on shouting my faith from the rooftops any time soon, it’s definitely a big step forward in my work.

And I understand that coming out of the broom closet isn’t a valid or even safe option for everyone. It’s not even really necessary for some—if I wasn’t devoted to a god with as bad a reputation as Lu, or was more involved in the witchcraft area of paganism rather than the spiritual side, then I don’t think it would be as meaningful/needful for me to reveal myself. Faith is an incredibly personal thing, after all.

But this is part of my work with Lu. It started off as offering information for those curious and willing to listen. That evolved into dispelling the stereotypes and misconceptions about my patron and my path. And lately it’s been providing help and support for those in similar situations.

But how am I supposed to be a source of support for others when up till now I’ve been hiding my faith too? I’ve been dodging the question of my faith for what seems like forever, and I’m tired of being afraid of others’ judgments. I can’t continue on the path my work has taken while hiding behind an anonymous blog; I can’t turn someone away who has honest questions just because they’re asking me in person rather than on my tumblr or wordpress account.

But I’m curious to hear about your experiences with the broom closet issue, followers!

The Warlord and the Lightbringer

Transferring this conversation from my tumblr, because I think it does a good job on merging different views of Lucifer and his different aspects. It started with this picture, btw :

(source:http://inklou.tumblr.com/post/16557020911/dont-think-for-even-one-second-that-i-am-one-of)

zaquiastorm:

aviewintoyourworld:

luxettenebris:

This gives off such a ‘Lu’ vibe, and not the good kind. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable, because it reflects the side of him that would be willing to go to any lengths, to spill blood, to slay his own kin, in order to achieve his ends. It’s the cold, calculating warlord who doesn’t recognize me as a student or disciple, but simply a pawn.

And yet, I’ve come a long way to be able to accept this as a part of my patron. I may not like it, I may not be comfortable with it, but I accept it. As the Lightbringer, his light inevitably casts a shadow. I cannot claim to be his disciple while forever hiding in his blinding light, for fear of the darkness that follows. Instead, I must learn to balance in the liminal realm between the two.

I actually feel the opposite. It doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable, it gives me a fierce sense of pride. This is the side of him that went to war, despite knowing that he would be labelled a traitor, he would be cast down, and he would most definitely lose. This is the side of him that fought a losing battle, outnumbered, because it was doing what he knew was right.

This is the side of him that makes me want to stand by him, ready to fight any battle that he chooses, to move as a chess-piece in accordance with his plans.

From the start I never saw his Lightbringer side. I’ve always seen this side of him, despite how he chooses to portray himself to me, how “nice” he appears, because it’s always there, under the surface, like a storm. The rebel, the warlord, the fighter.

And it’s okay with me, because I’ve fought losing battles, and I’ve been cast down, and trampled upon. And inside me, there will always be that spark of defiance waiting for the right time to be kindled into flames.

I see it differently anyway. I see this as someone who will do whatever he needs to to get what he wants, and what he needs. A determined being, not “evil” or “dark” in the typical sense, but certainly not some “light bringer”, either. I’ve never thought of Lucifer as a bringer of light, but more as the bringer of truth, and in bringing truth, darkness. He may not be my patron deity, but he is a favourite of mine, especially in this form—the only form I’ve ever imagined him being in. Dark and dangerous, yet not cruel. His face in this is not cruel, but inviting. He looks quite inviting to me, as though he’s saying, “Come. Fight with me. Turn your back on all of the lies of this world, and cast your soul into my oblivion, for it is only there that you will be enlightened.”

I see both of your points, and I see those qualities in that side of him as well, but it may be the remnants of my catholic upbringing and pacifism that nudges me towards feelings of unease rather than pride. Perhaps it would then be best to say that this is a reflection of the harsh truths that need to be faced, whether they be in regard to war or enlightenment. 

He did come to me at first as the Lightbringer, because that was what I needed at the time. I needed to be able to look past the despair and depression in order to accept myself and the world around me. I needed to see hope and potential and beauty, to understand what was so worth fighting for. I needed to fall in love with this world and with humanity to know what was at stake. 

As expected, that didn’t last for very long. Gradually, the Lightbearer began to fade into the Warlord. It was then he taught me about the sacrifices that had to be made for the sake of that glimpse of light he had shown me, and the harsh and bitter truths that turned that brightness into gray. Then the questions was asked—amongst so much sorrow and pain, was it still worth fighting for? Is it worth turning brother against brother, is it worth foregoing mercy and compassion and all sentimental emotion in order to do what is necessary? 

Yes. 

And so I understand the feeling of pride, determination, and inspiration that this evokes. But I also understand the price that must be paid, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me uneasy.