Saturday, June 17, 2023

Holding the Bowl

Many years ago, I had a close friend who worked with Sigyn, wife of Loki and goddess of loyalty, compassion, and steadfastness. This level of exposure softened me to her story, since she is mentioned sparingly in the Eddas and Sagas, usually only known to those who are familiar with the tale of Loki's comeuppance after flyting the gods.  

In the Lokasenna, Loki proceeds to sling barbed commentary at the Asgardians in turn for various character flaws they each posses, which wreaks of Christian influence and a way to impart Christian ethics on a pagan culture. Nevertheless, at the end of the tale, the gods have turned one of his sons with Sigyn, Vali, into a wolf who kills his brother, Narvi. The gods use Narvi's entrails to bind Loki to a rock in Helheim beneath a serpent dripping venom on him. It is here he will remain until Ragnarok, suffering the punishment for his scathing commentary. Sigyn, his beloved, holds a bowl over his face to prevent the venom from touching him. The only drops that fall upon his flesh are those that fall in the moments it takes for her to empty the bowl and begin her labor of love anew in an endless cycle. 

Sigyn has been showing up for me for months, first in my studies, then in my internet searches for devotional works published by devotees of the gods. I have purchased a couple of books, but it wasn't until I "randomly" downloaded an audio copy of Lea Svendsen's work, Loki and Sigyn, that I fell headlong into a new relationship with Sigyn and Loki (a relationship with Sigyn comes with a side order of Loki whether you want one or not!). About halfway through the book, I tried to describe what I was learning to my husband, and I found myself in tears, in awe and inspired by the character and presence of Sigyn. After that, I knew I needed to connect more deeply with her. In their work, Svendsen describes a ritual for connecting with Sigyn in which the celebrant enters ritual space and holds Sigyn's bowl for a spell to allow her a reprieve from her labor of love. Today, I performed this ritual, and it is nothing short of powerful. 

I began with a short working described by Dagulf Loptson in his work, Loki: Trickster and Transformer, where the celebrant carves a bindrune into a candle. After making offerings, I lit the candle and sat in meditation while chanting, "I light the flame of Loki, both without me and within me." From there, I segued into Svendsen's ritual in which the celebrant calls to Sigyn and asks her to relinquish her bowl that we may hold it while she rests. I lit a charcoal and made offerings of mistletoe, wormwood, mugwort, and amber resin. While these burned before me, I poured a draught of wine into the bowl and held it aloft. I imagined the drops of poison collecting there, weighing the bowl down with time as it became heavier and heavier. After a while, Sigyn returned to smooth Loki's hair and offer comfort to her beloved. Before long, she took up her place holding the bowl to capture the drops that threaten her heart and held her vigil beside him in strength and love.

Holding a bowl of liquid, no matter how small, is difficult over time. The muscles in my shoulders and arms began to ache with the effort, and I became aware of how strong Sigyn must be to hold the bowl with such care and attentiveness, day in and day out, to protect her partner from the pain and agony of the venom. She is unwavering, never complaining, full of compassion, and full of love for her beloved. I am humbled by her efforts. 

I pulled a rune after this work and received Jera, harvest and cycles, which said to me "keep doing the work." So I have dedicated myself to holding the bowl. We shall see what becomes of this practice in love, compassion, and loyalty with a bonus lesson in not giving one ounce of care to what others think about it--a fine omen to begin building a deeper relationship with deities that are often viewed as controversial. 

I fear I have planned these next few writings out of order, but I am grateful to you for joining me in this journey. There is so much spinning in my mind I haven't coalesced into words! I offer these tidbits to help provide a bit of context for why in all the realms I have seemingly dove head-first into a pool of chaos: She is a goddess of all I described above and more, and her role as the Sacrificer begs to be explored in more depth and breadth (bet that got your attention!). According to Loptson and Svendsen, there is evidence that Loki may have once been a fire deity, a shadow of what we may envision when we consider Agni in the Vedic pantheon, and Sigyn is reverently holding the offerings aloft in her bowl to be poured into the fire. It is the Christianization of the northern myths and the idea that there MUST be an evil figure in their dualistic worldview that has led to Loki being the cognate of their Satan and all that comes with it. I am definitely intrigued by this idea and will be researching. 

For now, I leave you with a short prayer:

Lady Sigyn, she of the staying power, lady of loyalty and compassion,
We call to you this day.
Teach us the way of love, so deep it moves us to action.
Teach us the way of loyalty, so strong it bolsters our resolve.
Teach us the way of compassion,
So powerful that our labors do not become tainted with bitterness.
Lady Sigyn, Incantation-fetter, North Star and Loki's Joy, we honor you.

1 comment:

Creel Unbelove'd said...

Inspiring. Thank you for giving a tangible act, holding the bowl, that captures the intangible offering.