What’s better than one mozzarella stick? Thirty-seven mozzarella sticks.
-Ancient Tumblr Proverb
So I’ve had Thor on my mind this summer and I blame that on two things. First, I’ve started dating a Loki kid and where the deity of one pantheon goes, there goeth Others, or something like that. And second, thanks to a friend of mine in chat one day, I got clunked upside the head some weeks ago with a clue-by-four involving Thor and relativistic physics. Add to that the dawning realization that Thor and Brighid share some interesting purviews – justice, community, hammers, booze – and I’m finding myself with more and more interest in a certain Odinson these days.
(Is that with one or two S’s? Odinson looks better to me but Odinsson is a literal contraction for Odin’s son. Can I get away with calling him Thor MacOdin? What about Odinovich?)
If it’s not obvious from the title and quote at the top of this post, this is a very lighthearted entry to my blog. That’s because my brief interaction with Thor has left me with a very quiet, very unexpected joy and good humor in my heart. Even when I started my Pagan/polytheistic journey by finding Asatru, Thor never was a deity I considered working with. For a variety of reasons I thought He wasn’t for me, not least of which being the fact that mainstream heathen spaces and I tended not to get along. I had an image in my head of Who Thor was supposed to be, and since the joy of being a polytheist is that there are so many Someones out there, I never really took the time to look past my first impression.
Yesterday I asked for Thor’s help, along with the help of my Akhu, in confronting fear I had regarding a particular issue in my life. In confronting this issue and speaking my truth I am also confronting injustice and putting myself in an emotional crossfire. It’s scary. It’s really, really scary. And after my initial burst of righteous anger died down I found myself sitting with these feelings of fear, shame, and isolation that have been nipping at my heels for over five years. So I lit candles and I prayed. I told my ancestors and Thor that I was scared and felt willing to run back into hiding with my tail between my legs because I didn’t want to hurt anymore. Part of it felt very much like a confession and in many ways it was a relief; in avoiding this issue and ignoring my fear, I only allowed it to flourish and take root.
I think Thor gave me courage. It’s not that fear is a bad thing, or that Thor has never experienced terror Himself. Of course He has; one does not simply face down scores of Jotuns in defense of one’s home and people without fearing for their safety. Fear is not the issue. There is no shame in fear. Nor is there shame in having been hurt, of feeling angry and confused and overwhelmed, of wanting to crawl into a hole and let the earth swallow you up. Courage isn’t not having these feelings; it’s taking action anyway. It’s acknowledging the lizard part of my brain that is concerned with my safety, thanking it for its purpose, and choosing to act in the face of fear. It’s not that I think Thor doesn’t feel fear as that He just doesn’t care if it’s there. He’s got people to defend and justice to mete out and unholy ass to kick. Fear can take a number. And I had that realization last night, taking further steps toward addressing this big scary issue in my life and feeling afraid, but also feeling proud of myself for the work I was and had been doing.
Which brings us back to the topic of mozzarella sticks.
I really, really love mozzarella sticks.
I don’t think there’s a single food item that I prefer on the face of the planet, and I say this as someone who is intimately familiar with amateur cooking, several regional and ethnic cuisines, and has slurped down milk from a freshly opened coconut on the streets of New Delhi.
So in appreciation of the bolt of courage yesterday, and in further appreciation of the storm system brewing over my mountains this evening, I went out of my way to drive to the next town over specifically to find a Sheetz so I could order my favorite food in the whole world (the aforementioned mozzarella sticks) and share them with Thor as a thank you.
Thor surprises me as a warm presence, friendly but more importantly kind. He’s just a good guy all around. There’s this quiet sort of joy and contentment as though He couldn’t imagine anywhere else He’d rather be than hanging out with you in your car parked in front of a gas station, chomping on overheated fried cheese while rain pours down and thunder streaks overhead. Thor isn’t just about defending His home and ensuring the continuation of justice; He cares about the good things in life that make his home worth defending and justice worth pursing. Friends and warmth and good food and community and eating mozzarella sticks in the middle of a thunderstorm.
Thanks, big guy. I appreciate it.