From Wayland Skallagrimsson’s essay on Loki:
The Lokian who is a mystic must give up all thoughts of self control. Such a Lokian must also not make the mistake of thinking of this as a giving up of all self-determination. What must be done is to allow the god to affect the Lokian as he will. The god must be allowed to wreak whatever changes his reason or whim requires in the thoughts, emotions, and fortunes of the Lokian, at all times. Indeed, one of the primary practices for the mystic Lokian is to seek to ever increase his or her awareness of the god at all times, and to lay him- or herself ever more open to his influence. [emphasis mine] The effect this will have is to prevent the Lokian from ever carrying out or implementing a plan from start to finish, to be sure. But this has a flip side, and it is this flip side that is particularly advantageous to the mystic. Being eternally thrown off of the path the mystic is on forces the mystic to be ever searching for side paths, alternate routes. It encourages an eternal open mindedness that is free from all discriminating thought, all thought that sees that a thing definitely is this and is definitely not that. (After all, such discriminating thought is hardly consistent with the goal of the mystic. By pigeonholing everything one sees, one can hardly learn to see beyond that thing’s external appearances.) In short, it forces the mystic to adopt just that frame of mind that will bring him or her to the ultimate goal of transcendence of the self and the world of Midgard, the world of appearances. After all the Lokian is not forbidden a goal… just forbidden attempting to approach it by a single route.
Although Wayland’s entire essay is worth reading, I particularly like how, in this passage, he has voiced a lot of my own thoughts about how one can pursue a life of mysticism (and, by extension, monastic practice) while still being “owned” by a trickster god who brings change wherever He goes. I’m slowly learning that there are things about being both a Lokean and a nun that set me apart in some ways from monastics of other traditions. For one thing, the inability to predict where I’ll be and what I’m doing next year, or next month, or even next week, is one that I’ve grown used to over many years, but have never considered as a challenge until fairly recently. (Loki is not exactly known for His careful planning — read the Eddas, if you don’t want to take my word for it.)
I feel that the part of Wayland’s essay I’ve emphasized above is the true goal of the Pagan monastic in a nutshell. Living in solitude or cloistered community, abiding by a Rule or a set of devotional precepts, and spending great chunks of each day in prayer or contemplation are all means to an end, not ends in and of themselves. The quest for an intimate understanding of the Divine is at the heart of being a monk or nun, and without this primary goal in mind, it would be unwise to pursue monastic life as a vocation. There are be other options, however; in the book I’m currently writing, I plan to address the concept of being an oblate — a lay person who does his or her best to follow an order’s Rule (or similar) without giving up life in the secular world. I suspect that, until such a time may come when there are more monastic Pagans around, and perhaps the infrastructure or other means for monastic communities to be self-supporting, most of us interested in monasticism will choose to pursue this option. I am fortunate to be able to do it full-time, even if my life looks a lot different than those of other contemplative folk.