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Gydja (Being One)

By Elizabeth

I have this tattoo on my right forearm that I got about six years ago, at Loki’s behest. It’s supposed to be in Old Norse, but uses Anglo-Saxon runes to spell out the word (because nothing I do can ever be historically accurate, it seems). It says LOKAGYDJA, meaning “Loki’s priestess.” When I had it put onto my arm, I had no idea what, exactly, earning this title would entail.

Yes, I had to earn it, something which I feel I didn’t manage to do until fairly recently. Being a priest isn’t just a matter of doing more devotional work than most Pagans — monastics do that every day, and so do those who are passionately devoted to their gods, but refrain from making a vocation of it. It isn’t just a matter of running a Sabbat ritual or faining every now and then, although some more formal Pagan traditions don’t allow people without the proper training to do those things anyway. It isn’t about one day deciding that you’re going to be a gydja or a godhi or other priestly person, and doling out advice from on high as if merely assuming the title confers your authority and grants you wisdom. Hell, it isn’t even as simple as having your god tell you that’s what He wants you to be, as I learned for myself. What being a priest is about is work, and I don’t just mean reading a lot of stuffy academic tomes or spending an entire weekend making costumes for a May Eve procession.

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