I believe everyone who regularly practices the rites and rituals of the "Old Religion" will eventually find Loki has come to join their celebration. Whether you are having a nice, quiet esbat with just a few Covenmates, or officiating at Open Full Moon, you can bet your last athame that sooner or later, Loki will come along to see what you're up to. You might say, with pretty fair accuracy, that Loki is the 'party crasher' of the Gods! Here are a few clues that He is present. The more clues you see, the greater the likelihood it's Loki lurking in the astral shadows of your ritual, having giggles at your expense. You may want to add this to your book of shadows, just in case.
Don't laugh, I've seen it happen in more skyclad rituals than I care to count. Some Coven member, caught up in spiritual fever, forgets how close they are to the quarter candles or even those on the altar. Soon their fuzzy bits are ablaze. You'll seldom see more cooperation among Pagans than when this happens, and everyone starts patting out the flame. There was a Coven in Bugtussle, Oklahoma during the mid 19th century where this happened during the Yule ritual. One Coven member was so moved by the experience that he scribed the words to a popular Yule tune still in vogue today. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...."
After Circle is cast, and the Guardians called, the ritual grinds to a screeching halt when time comes for Cakes and Wine; and it is realized both are still in the kitchen. A slick High Priestess will call for an impromptu guided meditation while the High Priest cuts out ot Circle to fetch them in.
Everyone knows that animals are attracted to the Circle. They sense the energy and enjoy being in the cone of power. This becomes disconcerting, however, when the family pit-bull terrier attaches itself to a Coven member's leg and resists all attempts to dislodge him. For this very reason, I suggest always keeping the scourge within easy reach. While is may have no impact whatsoever on the dog, it may serve to enhance the experience for the Coven member.
Have you ever had one of those coals in your thurible that simply will not light? You try everything, including an acetylene torch, until forced to admit defeat. The Coven spares little effort to disguise their amusement as you settle for an incense cone instead.
Sooner or later, a Coven member will show up for ritual having consumed their weight in beans. Aside from noxious vapors, this can actually be dangerous, depending on their proximity to the candles. We once had an entire wall of our altar room blown out when one of our fold accidentally released 23 cubic yards of methane into the atmosphere. The resulting explosion sent seven others to the hospital where they were treated and released. We were forced to build a new altar room after the existing one was condemned as a toxic waste site by the Environmental Protection Agency.
With incense flowing from the altar room and into the hall, we once had the smoke alarm go off. The Coven decided to ignore it and continue with ritual. As the alarm blared, (the damn thing is really loud!) the fellow next-door became concerned that we might be trapped in a burning house. Imagine the awkward moment when the fire department stumbled into the middle of our Great Rite! This brings me to another point...
It can be equally awkward when mom drops by during that skyclad ritual, particularly if she had no clue that you were Pagan in the first place.
Aside from a traditional pre-ritual bath, it's a good idea to slip some Right Guard into the pits. It can really affect the mood of ritual when the High Priest raises his arms before the altar, only to have half the Coven pass out cold. I have personally been on both sides of this transaction and can state clearly, deodorant is a must in your ritual preparations.
They show up for ritual, freshly handfasted, and spend the entire evening in the south quarter doing kinky things. Soon the Coven has lost interest in ritual in favor of watching the couple fondle one another. As everyone settles down for a guided meditation, all eyes closed, heavy breathing can be heard from the south. Depending on their stamina, the High Priestess may need all her creativity to keep the meditation going long enough for the couple to finish whatever they're doing. This becomes increasingly difficult as the sounds evolve from furtive little slurping sounds to the unmistakable fleshy slapping of genitalia being banged together. The High Priest may be led to provide a special anointing of cold water as a blessing to their union.
During the dark-time ritual, in an altar room as dark as any moonless night in a mine shaft, I raised my athame in salute as we dismissed the quarters. A pained whimper came from my wife who was standing directly in front of me in the darkness. We all had a good chuckle over this, once we got the bleeding stopped.
Occasionally, and often when the moon is full, a Coven member with butter fingers will drop her athame, stapling someone's foot to the floor. While it is humorous to see the stricken party run around in tight circles, it is a neighborly gesture to pull the athame out of their foot. Why is it that the sharpest athames have the slickest handles? A related hazard is the accidental Irish vasectomy syndrome. This is very similar to the inadvertent circumcision. "Gee, is that your prepuce lying there, or do you just have a 'part' in the ritual?"
Great care must go into the planning of rituals held outdoors. We attended a sunrise elevation ritual on the shore of a lake in the mountains. We arrived at the site while it was still dark. As our rite got underway, the sun rose slowly and majestically in the east. It was then that we realized we had cast circle only a few feet from the junction of three trailheads. As the ritual progressed, hikers came along in increasingly greater number. They stumbled upon the initiate first, bound and blindfolded, sitting in the woods; while just a few yards away, a dozen people with knives and dressed funny, danced and chanted in true Heathen fashion. Some would ask the initiate, "Hey, pal, are you okay?" The initiate, a quick witted lad replied, "Its a fraternity initiation, don't worry about it." Most were satisfied with that answer and moved along. As the sun rose higher, it seemed there was more traffic on those trails than you'd see at your average metaphysical fair. I'm still amazed that we were not visited by the park ranger.
At the same ritual, as the sun rose over that beautiful mountain lake, so did the mosquitoes. There were millions of them, and all hungry. A prodigious amount of blood sacrificed in that particular ritual. In weeks following, two were treated for anemia.
At another site, in what was thought to be safe territory deep in the forest, our skycled ritual was temporarily brought to an abrupt halt by the unexpected arrival of a Boy Scout troop doing a nature hike. We still believe the behavior of the Scout Master set a terrible example for all those boys. Who can say what emotional scars remain after witnessing their leader strip off his uniform and charge naked in the Circle screaming; "I wanna join! Where do I sign up?"
Then there was my own second degree elevation ritual. After a day that had been sunny and warm, it was time for ritual. As I was presented to the East quarter, the wind came up, (air). When presented to the South quarter, the sky was suddenly filled with lightening, (fire). By the time we reached the West quarter, the rain started falling fast and cold, (water). As I was brought around to the North, I wondered what Mom would do for earth. I found out as I was presented to the quarter. Hail stones began falling on us all. (earth) You might say we all got stoned. The balance of the ritual was completed in record time and we all bolted back to camp.
Then there was a Coven that went into the mountains to locate a site for their Beltane ritual. When they failed to return when expected, Search and Rescue was dispatched to find the entire lot. The Beltane rites must have gone nicely, as two day later a second Search and Rescue team was sent to recover the first. Despite being embarrassed by all the media coverage of their own rescue, all of them were smiling.
These are but a few examples of how the mischievous Loki can turn a basic, traditional ritual into a bizarre, unexpected voyage into weirdness. I have no doubt you have seen similar manifestations of Loki in your own rites.
Once you realize who is actually behind the events disrupting your ritual, His power to create havoc is constrained. Just take a moment to collect yourself, smile slyly, and say in a loud voice; "Loki, we thank thee for attending our rites. Thank your for your mirth and humor. Now cut that out!" Remember, though Loki may leave your ritual a shambles, He is obligated to set things right for those who take his tricks in stride. It's just His way of getting attention!
Published: 1996 in Mountain Oracle Magazine
Source: http://geocities.com/mtaliesin/Lokib.html (Site Now Defunct)