12 Tinne, 2003

So I had a visitation from Grandpa Loki last night.

I've actually been terrified of dealing with him. I have no illusions about how miserable he could make someone if he took a disliking to them. I suppose I thought that, being Hel's dad, he might be able to override her nobody-fucks-with-him-but-me rule. However, whenever he mentioned her, it was with a strange affectionate reverence, as if he was terribly proud of her. Like the parent who knows that the child has outstripped them, and is glad for it. He won't violate her rules, or at least he didn't. But that doesn't mean that he has to be gentle with me.

I sent everyone away - Bella and Josh - because I didn't want them near him. I didn't know what he'd say or do to them, and I wanted them to be safe. Bella helped me make a fire, and went back to the house. I sat at the fire and waited for him, and waited. Finally he came, slipping into me with a motion so subtle that I almost missed it. Unlike other deities, whose approach has been various forms of shoving, Loki was easy and slick about it. One shudder, and then he was in me. "I came for you," he said, as if I should be grateful that he'd finally given me his attention. I got the distinct feeling that he was there at Hel's request.

I thought that he needed the fire to come through, but he laughed at me. "I asked for a fire because you're scared of it," he said. It's true; after being set on fire twice, I'm fairly nervous when close to it. So he told me to squat next to it, almost in the coals. I did. It was unpleasant but he somehow gave me to understand that what he was going to teach me would be more effective if I could learn it on top of that kind of emotional distraction.

He informed me that my ability to slide between worlds was sloppy, slow, and clumsy. That I needed to be fast and graceful about it. I had no idea to do what he wanted, but he knew. He lined up fat red pillar candles on the rock in front of me, lit them, and proceeded to drag me and my body partway between worlds. Before making a "landing", so to speak, he'd backpedal and come back. Then he said, "Now you do it," and withdrew from the driver's seat.

So I tried, and failed....or at least I wasn't fast enough, I couldn't do it the way he did it. And he smiled that evil smile - I could feel my face making it as he slid back into the driver's seat - and he said aloud, "Wrong. Do it again." And he picked up the candle and poured hot wax on my arm, and although I couldn't move, I could feel it, and I screamed silently in my head.

It took me five tries, like that, and a lot of wax, but I learned. I finally did it right. It felt kind of like the way one motors an autistic kid through something...if they had a really nasty caregiver. "Fool," he said at one point. "Don't you know that this could mean your life if you get it wrong? You can't afford to be clumsy here."

Then, as if it were a reward, he started talking to me. Telling me things that I think I've waited my whole life to hear, waited my whole life wondering about. My blood is in you, he said. My blood and the blood of my clan, the Jotun Gods of the Iron Wood. I wondered instinctively how gods could mate with humans....I mean, really, they don't have bodies like we do, with sperm and eggs and such....and he laughed at me. How can you say that, he asked, poking at me ironically. Oh yeah. The gods do have bodies. They borrow them. And if the humans conceive children while one or the other is being ridden....I got the image of the god in question rummaging through the DNA, rearranging the chromosomes, creating the image of themselves, being even more of a contributing parent to the child than the source of those chromosomes. My blood is in you, he said. More than once, my blood has been in your line.

And I thought about my troll-mother, with her orc-claws and her sadistic hungers, and I thought of Angrboda, the Hag of the Iron Wood whose name means foreboding. I thought of the vampires in our family, the rage disorders, the anger that erupts, and then of Fenris in his chains. I thought of the great alien hermaphrodite serpent.....and of myself, of how inhuman my astral form is getting. It was always more inhuman than my physical body, but now it's even more so. Our family has so many shadows but they all seem to match up with this particular family of Jotun gods. Now I know why.

"You were bred specially," Loki said, and then I had to react with horror. How? Why would anyone want to deliberately breed anything like me....the vampire intersexual mutant with all the medical problems? (Maybe not mutant...maybe throwback?) How could I be anything but a horrible accident? He got angry then, and it was old anger, old resentment that went way back. "They said that all my children were monsters," he snarled, and I realized that the "they" were the ones who have kept his true form chained beneath the earth. "They called them all monsters, my children and grandchildren and all my descendants, but they didn't understand. They were all exactly as they were supposed to be. And so are you."

And so am I. Deformations and all, so am I. It almost makes one want to laugh.


About a month later, Loki spoke to me while I was wandering through the Blockbuster Video. Early that morning, I'd had a bad dream that I was back in my body as it had been when I was 15. I awoke feeling massively uncomfortable and dysphoric, and unable to figure out what to do. We went shopping, me moping about somewhat, and then while staring at videos, he spoke up exasperatedly. He informed me that even a blind man could see what was wrong....I'd inadvertently shapeshifted my astral form whilst dreaming, and I'd gotten stuck. "But what do I do?" I cried inwardly.

Gaaah, he said rolling his eyes. I taught you how to do that.

But you didn't, I said. You taught me how to move between worlds, not forms.

Gaaah, he said, making hair-pulling gestures, his eyes snapping dangerously. Same shit, different day. Just do it.

But I don't have my drum, I began, and then silenced at his mental expression.

There's music playing in here, he said. There's a backbeat. Use it.

So I did. And it worked, using the same technique that he'd showed me. In fact, it was so easy that now I have to be careful not to imagine myself transforming into something, or it'll start, and I worry about the effect that will have on my physical form. But I seem to have passed the first lesson I've done in a long while, or at least squeaked by.