I was still living in Colorado. It was a year or so before I moved to New England. I was having a hard time with the way things were.
Oh, I wasn’t unhappy with having Loki around, nor with the fact that I’d had to quit my shitty job as an office manager. But I was living off my family, and I couldn’t seem to get a new job no matter how many resumes I sent out or interviews I went on. I had few friends in town, and the ones I did have were very busy with a new baby. I hadn’t told my parents what had happened to me, yet — even though I was in my mid-thirties and had been living on my own for years, the prospect of revealing to my mom and dad that a Norse god had sashayed into my life was a dismal one. Even less appealing was the idea of telling them what He wanted of me, and what His daughter, the Goddess of the Dead, wanted me to do with my life. I was also suffering from major depressive disorder, and because I had no health insurance (and hadn’t for some time) I couldn’t seek treatment. So I was not in a good place, mentally or emotionally speaking.
One evening I went online shopping and found a pair of silver earrings for ten dollars, which I could barely spare but which I decided to buy in an attempt to cheer myself up. I waited for them to arrive in the mail. About a week later, a small package turned up in my mailbox. It had obviously been damaged and taped back together with that red-and-blue USPS tape. I had a sinking feeling as I picked it up and shook it experimentally. Nothing rattled inside. I tore off the packaging and opened the gift box — nothing, just empty cotton. Since I had a locking mailbox, someone had apparently gotten my package in their mailbox, opened it, and stolen my earrings, and I surmised that the postman had obviously picked up the abandoned package, repaired it, and put it in my box. Or else someone at the post office itself did the thievery. It hardly mattered. I had bought the earrings on clearance and was pretty sure I couldn’t get a replacement or my money back. That week had been particularly bad already, and that was the final straw. I went back outside to my car and burst into tears.
As I sat there feeling miserable, Loki spoke to me, very clearly and quietly: You’re really upset over this, aren’t you?
“Yes,” I sniffled, feeling stupid.
There was a pause — a long, significant one that practically throbbed with anger and something else I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) identify. Fine, He said curtly. Fine. I’ll take care of it.
Now, Loki had, once or twice, said such things before, but I never paid much attention, unsure of my own ability to hear Him correctly, and aware of the fact that, from a god’s point of view, “taking care of” a situation involving one of Their people might look a lot different than it does to us. I pulled myself together and went home. Later that night, about one in the morning, as I was sitting around surfing the Internet, I heard sirens — what sounded like a lot of them. I didn’t really pay it any mind, since I lived in a part of town where sirens were not an uncommon sound.
The next day, a friend called and informed me that he’d been on his way home from the movie theater where he worked and saw “the fire at your apartment complex.” I asked what he meant, saying that I hadn’t been out of my apartment since the previous night. He told me that one of the buildings near Circle Drive had caught fire and was burning fiercely when he’d driven past. “Huh,” I said, and after we hung up I didn’t think about it again…until I left a few hours later to go grocery shopping. My building was one of about fifteen in that complex, and I lived near the back. As I drove up to the front of the complex, I saw a smoldering ruin where one of the buildings had been.
I stopped the car and stared at it, horrified, a strange feeling of gut-sickness passing through me as I recalled Loki’s words the night before. “Surely not,” I thought. “I’m just being silly. Surely He wouldn’t go so far just because I was crying over a petty theft!” The very idea was terrifying; I did not know if anyone had been hurt or even died in the fire, and the idea that my husband was responsible appalled me. I drove past in a hurry and tried to put it out of my mind, but every time I passed the ruins of the building, I felt sick.*
When I asked Loki about it later, He wouldn’t give me a straight answer. I asked Him again and again, tried everything I could to tease it out of Him, mentioned that people might have suffered or died, but still, Loki wouldn’t say that He hadn’t done it. It passed the point where I could reasonably believe He was trying to fuck with my mind, and I doubted He would be so cruel, not after some of the things He had already done for me — out of love, He said.
Do you doubt that I’d ever do anything like that? Because I’m entirely capable of it, sweet, Loki said to me after the twentieth time I had agonized over the incident. I knew that part, at least, was the truth.
I found out later that, fortunately, no one died in the fire, and the only injury happened to a man who broke his ankle leaping to safety from his third-floor balcony. But that building was one of those in the complex that housed a few families with kids, as well as a blind man on the first floor. People had to toss their babies down to those on the ground to save them from the fire, and learning all this didn’t make me feel better about it. Oddly enough, nobody could seem to agree how it started: I heard that it was a serial arsonist, a meth lab gone wrong, an electrical fire, and even an explosion caused by someone leaving a gas can somewhere they shouldn’t. And to this day I’m still not 100% certain that Loki did or did not have anything to do with the fire…or at least, that’s what I tell myself. The truth is far more unsettling than I would have imagined it to be, as naive as I was then about how He operates and to what lengths He’s capable of going for His people…or against us.
Years later, I relayed this story to a friend, a spiritworker whose abilities I respect very much. “Do you think it’s true?” I asked, not unfearfully. She was silent for a long time, then she said, “Yeah. I think He did it.” That didn’t set my mind at ease, nor did it make me feel proud that Loki would do such a thing for love of me. But I took what she said at face value and filed the experience away under “lessons learned”.
I’m not telling this story to try and brag about how much Loki cares for me, nor to convince you that this admittedly wild-sounding tale is true. I’m telling it because this was how I learned the difference between knowing something in your head, and knowing it in your heart. Before this incident, I had sincerely tried to understand Loki as that mad, bad, dangerous-to-know being that people said He was. I had tried to accept, without really understanding it, the side of Him that is capable of acts of terrible vengeance, violence, and mayhem. But this was the first time I had ever had to acknowledge it in a way I couldn’t easily rationalize. This was my first brush with the Breaker of Worlds, and it wouldn’t be the last time.
* I should mention that I know exactly what the twenty-odd families in that building went through. My family’s house caught fire in the middle of the night when I was eight; we all survived, even the poodle, but we lost everything we owned except my parents’ cars and the clothes on our backs. I found out many years later that it just happened to be the night of the Winter Solstice.