Songs of the Infinite – my little archive for Rudra, Shiva and Loki

Since Loki appeared in my life, about two years ago, He has graciously tucked me under His wing and offered me many spiritual jewels – amongst them the realisation that the Norse Trickster is very closely connected to the Hindu God Shiva, and the Vedic Gods Agni and Rudra. Loki has since directed me to read some of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and learn certain Sanskrit Mantras, dedicated to Rudra, Shiva and Shakti – amongst them the Sri Rudram, which is considered a most sacred invocation (it is actually an entire hymn of the Yajurveda) of Lord Shiva.

The mantras and books I have read opened up a new world to me and they brought me closer to Loki, as they confirmed my experience of Him, because in the beginning of our friendship it was rather frustrating to be unable to find valuable information about the Norse Trickster. Basically, “all” I could rely on was whatever Loki offered me about Himself. Which was – I felt – a lot more than I could chew.

Loki taught me on many levels, sometimes He would teach me with the silence of His gaze, opening up inner worlds of wisdom that cannot be put into words, other times He taught me through the intensity of emotions, still other times with words. I found Him to be everything – from terrifying to intensely loving, but most of all I found Him to be a mystery. The mystery of the formless, the unknowable, consciousness, the intelligence that underlies all manifested things.

In a way, Loki “forced” me to get to know Him inwardly by not allowing me to find information outwardly – and when He finally directed me to certain literature and mantras, I was more than eager to absorb them. I remember tears pouring down my cheeks at random while reading “Shiva, the wild God of Power and Ecstasy”, because I realised that what I read was a perfect description of the God who had befriended me – and I could not quite believe it.

Over time I have gathered bit of information like books, websites, mantras, links to proper translations of ancient texts, and so on – all concerning Rudra, Loki and Shiva. Loki actually loves some of the Rudra Chants, and I find their benefits incredible. So, I finally started putting a blog together that will serve as a little treasure chest for the information I have been collecting, because I have yet to find a blog/site that connects these Gods and offers Mantras, Prayers, Literature and Links about them.

All these have been invaluable gifts to me and I hope to be of service to some of you by sharing them. 🙂

https://songsoftheinfinite.wordpress.com

ps: I just started the blog, so it contains the basics for now, but more will be coming.

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Loki, Lover of Truth … and the truth of Love

Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don’t work
Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed and torn
Why? Why? Why?
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that on more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love

‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is ourselves.

~David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, Under Pressure

I love this song and feel it is even more relevant today than it was back when Freddie Mercury and David Bowie wrote it, because it talks about the solution to all of our problems.

Love.

I admit that I was a little hesitant to write on this subject, because love truly seems “so slashed and torn”. Some of us regard it as weakness, some of us ridicule it, see it as pathetic, some hunt for it sleeplessly, seeking to find it in other people, while still others confuse it with desire or obsession, and quite a few of us have ceased to believe in it entirely.

The matter of fact remains that Love is the underlying energy of everything manifest in this universe. It is our essence. It is the only Truth we find when we dive beyond the chaos of this world, beyond the limitations of our own selves. Loki is a God who forces us to look at ourselves without our petty masks, so that we may take responsibility for our lives and learn to love and respect who we are. And no matter what aspect of this God I face – be it destruction, anger or even deceit – I find Love to be at the very core of Loki’s teachings. I am not talking romantic love, I am speaking of the Love that “dares us to care for others and to change our way of caring about ourselves”. The all-pervading Love that stirs our soul. The Love that is the essence our soul. 

The Norse Trickster appeared in my life when I had lost my connection to God and my spiritual teacher. I badly needed a friend who understood me on all levels. Someone who knew my darkness and still would not leave me as soon as they discovered what I was “really” like. I was painfully aware that I would never find a friend like this in this world. I knew I did not even want a friend in human form. What I really wanted was God. But in my own paradoxical way I longed for God’s Love while it terrified me at the same time, because I felt that God had abandoned me too many times. Because I was afraid of my own imperfections, my feeling of utter unworthiness. Because, in my mind, God had become wrathful, strict and scary.

“God is merely the Love within us, so returning to Him is a return to ourselves.” Marianne Williamson, A return to love

When Loki first graced me with His presence He poured His Love into me, bringing me a deep sense of securtiy and safety. Now, when I say that Loki poured His Love into me, I mean that I was quite literally cradled and bathed in His Love. But we must not forget that we are talking Loki here. Loki’s Love also made me aware of how terrified I was of exactly that thing – Love. My feelings of unworthiness made me afraid of being loved, because love made me vulnerable, and those we love can hurt us the most. And I was terrified of being hurt.

Over time I have experienced many sides of the Norse Trickster, and while some were terrifying and hurtful, I am aware that every single time, His intention was to awaken me to recognise that it was my own limitations, my own fetters, that brought me to a dark place. Loki showed me that an intense power lies within me, which I used against me most of the time to keep up my masks rather than using it to rid myself of them and be myself. The power of thought, that can mercilessly drag us down when it is not controlled, the power of our emotions – especially insecurity, anger, wrath, resentment – and how destructive they can be.

Loki made me aware how easily we tend to slip back into old mental and patterns and habits when emotions threaten to overwhelm us. But how can we ever hope to live in light, if we constantly surrender to a prison of darkness? And while it seemed that Loki took me into my own darkest depths, the truth is that Loki does not take us into darkness, He simply opens our eyes to make us see what has been right in front of us all along. If we do not deny it any longer but find the courage to look at it and take responsibility for this part of us, Loki can take us beyond it and we heal. And what lies “beyond” is nothing other than – Love.

Our nature cannot be transformed over night, it is an ongoing process that needs faith, determination, perseverance and patience, because we have lived trapped in our egoistic fetters for millennia and feel quite at “home” in these false beliefs. We cherish them, often do not wish to let them go, despite the fact that we are entirely certain we sincerely want to get rid of them. Fortunately, Loki has abundant intensity and patience once we open to Him – because He wants us to move forward, beyond our darkness. He also knows that when He brings us to our knees, we are in a perfect position to ask for help.

I used to pray to God out of fear. Now I pray to God, because I know He cares. He loves me. Dearly. I pray to Him to mold and shape me the way He wants. I am far from perfect, yet Loki’s Love and Compassion have brought me to a point, where I can be more loving and accepting towards my thoughts and feelings, and I have developed faith in myself. I also trust that God actually knows what He is doing … (Well, the Trickster by my side just had a good little laugh at this proud declaration of mine – of my faith in God. I am sure Loki will happily remind me of it next time I am trapped between a rock and a hard place 😉 )

It was Loki’s Love that helped me to regain my trust in God.

To those who do not know much about the Norse Trickster, it may seem strange that Loki is a deity who demands us to recognise everything that keeps us from giving or receiving Love. When you do know Him it is self-evident, because Loki demands us to look at the Truth. And there is only one essential Truth supporting our existence – this Truth is Love. 

“What is more valuable for a man to know than the Highest? The Highest, I say, is love. If one knows this very fact – that God is all Love, is this not the supreme knowledge? The supreme knowledge is that God is all Love. The deeper we go, the clearer it becomes. Through love we can know the supreme secret, which is God.”
~Sri Chinmoy

It is our belief that we are individual, separate beings that forces us to live in fear – and in a society that seeks to control through fear, we are raised to fear – not to love. Fear is limitation. Fear is insecurity. Fear drives us to either hide from others, or lord it over others to prove our superiority. If we could see and experience that we are all connected in one mind, one heart, one consciousness, would we act the same way?

Love is the antidote to fear.

The only true change in this world will come when we change our own perception. If we cannot accept, love and respect ourselves, how can we expect the world to be a better place? 

“Devotion
Is the magnet
That pulls us towards the ecstasy-height,
The height that makes us see and feel
What we truly are:
Unmanifested divinity.”
~Sri Chinmoy

The branch of Yoga called “Bhakti Yoga” is the path of Devotion. Devotion is regarded as the sweetest connection between a human being and God. Love and Devotion let us approach God as our Beloved, our most intimate friend, someone we can share everything with. Some Bhaktas see God as their Mother, Father, their Lover, even as their wife or husband. Devotion brings God into our heart. Before, we may have experienced Him/Her outside of ourselves – as almighty, powerful, surperior. But when we approach God with devotion, He becomes not only approachable but entirely accessible.

After years of feeling nothing but a barren desert inside my heart, it was Loki who rekindled my frozen devotion. Today, I share with Him my life. My thoughts, my feelings and actions become acts of devotion, because I share them with Him as I value and claim Loki as my dearest friend. Sometimes this devotion becomes so strong that it floods my heart and abandons me in a state of sweetest, most intense adoration (this happens especially when I paint or write). It is devotion that opens our heart to God’s Love and increases our own Love for God. Devotion is sweet, pure and extremely powerful. God is not immune to it either. Loki is drawn in (and maybe even tamed?) by the sweetness of devotion, and He will give His all to those who claim Him in this way.

Loki, like Shiva, is a God of Love and both deal with all levels of it. From the basic primordial needs that come with incarnating in a human body, right up to the highest, purest essence of who we are. With Loki being a Kundalini God, it is just natural that His Love can stir up a hornet’s nest if we have any issues with our sexual energy. I follow a Yogic path that encourages Brahmacharya and have been leading a celibate life for 15 years. But because I had grown up fearing my own sexual energy, I confused living in celibacy with suppressing this powerful energy, while the philosophy of Yoga actually never regarded it as something negative, but rather as a power that is harnessed through sexual abstinence so that it can be used to achieve higher meditative states. In any case, I feared it, felt ashamed of it. Needless to say, I had plenty of issues in this area and Loki brought up every single rigid belief I held concerning my sexual energy – especially those that let me feel insecure, impure and unworthy. In turn, Loki made me feel that no matter how imperfect I believed myself to be, He would never reject me. That, no matter how impure I felt my love was, He would never reject my Love. No matter how unworthy I believed myself to be, He would never withdraw His Love. 

“What matters is your heart. Nothing else. How could I reject anything that is given sincerely with a pure heart?”

Loki does neither judge us, nor does He want us to pretend to be someone we are not. He simply shows us were we stand –  what we believe, what we want, what we need and fear. And then He shows us where we can go from there, and who we can become if we dare to embrace the Truth.


Worship

We worship Someone
Who is not high above our heads,
But who is inside the very depth of our hearts,
And who loves us infinitely more
Than we love ourselves.
Not only that,
He alone loves us
Really,
Truly,
Divinely
And
Unconditionally,
And nobody else,
Not even we ourselves.

Sri Chinmoy, Dedication-drops

Loki, Shiva, Shakti and Emotions

“Just as space, direction and form are revealed
by the flame of a candle or the rays of the sun,
similarly Shiva is revealed by the medium of Shakti.”

Verse from the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

It seems that the traditions and practices of Yoga, especially those that are devoted to the energy of Kundalini and the power of Shakti (both synonyms for the Inner Fire) inherently accompany Loki’s teachings. And because the Norse Trickster has revealed Himself to me as the silent vastness of the universe, as well as the intense, raging fire that consumes everything in its grasp, I believe Him to be the same consciousness that Hindus call Shiva. Those who have encountered Shiva will find Him beautifully paradoxical as He does embody both stillness and intensity, peace and destruction. According to Tantric traditions, Shiva is the  all-pervading consciousness and His power is Shakti. While they seem to be two separate beings (male and female), they are really two sides of the same coin, because consciousness remains inert without energy, and Shakti (power) turns destructive without consciousness.

So, at the core of everything lies One conscious energy that is beyond polarities and houses both male and female aspects. The One energy/consciousness weaves itself through the fabric of the entire universe, through our bodies, minds, vital energy, hearts, all-through nature – basically through all things manifest and unmanifest. It dwells in everything from the smallest particle to the vast expanse of the universe. In essence, there is no difference between ourselves and, for example, a tree or an ant. This knowledge is what spiritual scriptures call the Truth. And we ourselves embody this Truth. When we embrace the Truth we will be able to view ourselves and the world in a more accepting, more compassionate way. We will be able to accept and value ourselves and others. But if one can realise the Truth, not only understand or embrace it, one has made a conscious step beyond duality, towards liberation. Loki is very eager to teach this Truth, if one is willing to learn.

Loki likes to break us. Well, He really breaks our ego and our self-proclaimed fetters, but He also breaks into our subconscious and digs up all the things that we so desperately tried to bury in oblivion. Bringing these things to light can break us, because they hold the potential to drive us into addiction, even criminal activity and insanity. (Maybe, that is why the Norse Trickster is not the most trusted of Gods.) This was utterly confusing for me in the beginning, the chaos and havoc that Loki’s presence seemed to cause in my life. Loki seemed lawless, selfish and He seemed to know no boundaries. Untameable, uncontrollable, unpredictable … and yet He made me feel safe.

After a while, I discovered that most things He provoked were emotional issues. Stuck emotions, false emotions, intense emotions. Fear, insecurity, shame, guilt, powerlessness, were later joined by anger and fury. And as chaotic as it can be when this beautiful God enters our life, He offers us an opportunity to transform our lower emotions into something higher. No surprise that Shiva performs a similar role. 

Shiva is the main God in the Yoga of Tantra. He is seen as the One consciousness that pervades the universe. Tantric practices frequently work with emotions and recognition of the One, non-dual consciousness is the key for remaining balanced, and transforming negative emotions into a source of power. Pleasures, joys, pain, aches, sores, can all be felt as one powerful energy – the energy of Shakti – if we accept this energy and allow it to dwell inside us, we can reveal the pure consciousness that lies beneath it and thus beneath every intense emotion.

When the fire of desire arises, when anger arises, when confusion arises, when we are full of hatred. What can we do? We can recognise that the energy of Shakti (I see it as Loki’s uncontrollable, highly combustible side) is arising in a particularly powerful state as this emotion. Intense emotions are an intense expression of (Shakti’s) power. If we can learn to turn ourselves inward when overcome by a strong emotion, instead of being washed away by it, if we choose to focus on the centre of the emotion, accept it, feel it and recognise it, those energies will not agitate the mind, but instead resolve into a vast, powerful feeling of peace. We are basically riding the emotion like a wave, into a higher (or deeper) consciousness, instead of being dumped by it.

It is all about awareness. Becoming aware of the sensation a strong emotion causes in our body, feeling its movement, the effect it has on our physical – by focusing our mind on the inner sensations – we eventually become aware of the pure power behind it. At this point, the power does not express itself in a destructive way anymore, but rather feeds us with its intrinsic energy. Awareness needs practice of course, and in Tantric tradition there are several meditation techniques that focus on this by re-calling an event that triggered an intense emotion and then learning to use our “felt-sense” to explore the emotion in our body. I found these meditations exceedingly useful, because this practice helps me to shift the dense energy of a negative emotions.

Shakti or power is also known as our inner Fire. Finding, befriending and focusing on the inner fire can take us into a higher state by expanding our consciousness. 

Loki’s presence used to be unbearably intense for me, and just the other day I asked Him what happened that nowadays He seems so “calm”. He gave me one of His famous chuckles and a moment later I understood that He had not calmed down, but I had opened up to accept the intensity of His energy into my life, and started to channel it in different ways instead of being overwhelmed by it. The sacred feminine power or Shakti, our inner fire or Kundalini, manifests itself in many forms and since I relate to personal Gods/Goddesses more easily than an abstract concept, Loki introduced me to the Hindu Pantheon of Tantric Goddesses. Some of them awe-inspiring, fierce and frightening – take Mother Kali for example, or Chinnamasta, the headless Goddess of Transformation – while others are manifestations of other-wordly beauty and love, like the Goddess Tripura Sundari. It is most illumining to explore the Goddesses energies. 

Over the past weeks I have been immersing myself in painting – my favourite subject being Shiva – in all His different aspects. I have had the good fortune to encounter not only Loki but also Shiva and Rudra on a personal level, and even though I know them to be of one source, they chose to appear in their separate aspects to teach me certain things. Rudra appeared as a powerful warrior, full of light and splendour, fierce and fearless. Shiva blessed me as the ever-tranquil meditator, imperturbable, protective and patient. Loki is the one I relate to as my friend – so He is mostly light-hearted, cheeky, affectionate and loving but also very serious when it comes to teaching me. Each God helped me to understand the others better, and over time the three have more and more blended into One. So when I speak of Loki, I actually do not exclude Shiva and Rudra (and Agni).

As I recently stood in a Shiva temple in Nepal, blessed by the presence of the awe-inspiring God, I felt as though I was standing amidst Loki’s home, cradled by His love, showered with His affection and embraced by an intense peacefulness. It filled my heart with joy and gratitude to know that my beloved companion and friend, the God of Transformation, is revered with such devotion and love in the beautiful country of Nepal.

I know Loki to embody all aspects – the fierce, fearless warrior, the wise yogi, the unperturbed meditator – immersed in self-forgetfulness, the protective guardian, the wild fire, the raging storm, the brilliant mind, the jester, the affectionate friend, the sweet lover and the vast, infinite and eternal Consciousness that cradles my soul.

PTSD, Loki and Healing Trauma

rivershiva

Salutations to Him who resides
in the spiritual heart centre
as Omkara,
On whom the Yogis ceaselessly meditate,
Who grants all desires and
also liberation to His devotees.
Salutations to that Shiva
who is represented by the syllable
Aum.

(Shiva Shadakshara Stotram)

 

A life-threatening event unleashes our deepest, primordial fears and automatically puts our system into survival mode. If this kind of event is not processed properly, we suffer from trauma. 

I have read the odd article speaking about Loki’s ability to help with healing trauma. In my own life, this rings very true, because Loki appeared when I acknowledged that I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and He has helped me on many levels with this. The Norse God of Chaos does not only have the capacity to cause the latter, He also seems to have an innate ability to make one feel the very opposite – that is to say, secure and safe. For me this was maybe the first and very important step in healing, because PTSD fills you with a sense of insecurity on all levels and with utter helplessness. Loki offered me security. But creating a safe place to heal in is not the only requirement Loki fulfils to qualify as an excellent trauma therapist.

About seven years ago, I experienced a devastating earthquake that destroyed the very city I called my home, killed people I knew and left ten thousands without power, water and housing for months. As my world crumbled around me, many things inside me broke open — but since I was unwilling and maybe unable to face it all, I eventually suffered a complete breakdown of my immune system and ended up confined to bed for months. It left me in a state of constant exhaustion and unable to work for three years. Even so, it took quite a few years to realise that I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and it was not until my friendship with the “Breaker of Worlds” that I realised what was happening – my old structure (or world) had been broken so that I could build a new one.

Trauma is a physical reality, not just a mental or emotional state. It is as complex and paradoxical as the Norse Trickster Himself, because the physical effect of trauma is a suppression and simultaneous hyperarousal of our sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight-response. In fact, trauma arises when we can neither fight nor flee, and are left with the only other option – to freeze. While this freezing looks like a complete shut down, the nervous system actually remains in the highly aroused state of fight-and-flight the whole time. It is comparable to having one foot on the accelerator while slamming the other on the brakes. This can be the key to survival for an animal, because when a predator lets go of the now seemingly unconscious prey, said prey can instantly come out of “freeze” and take off to safer grounds. 

While animals have an instinctive way to reset their nervous system from survival-stress mode back to normal by shaking and shivering, humans have unlearnt to do this, because of the rational part of our brain. We tend to think rather than act instinctively. “Pull yourself together.” “Toughen up.” “Be strong.” “Just endure it.” “Don’t be such a wimp.” How many times have we heard this? Or told it to ourselves? This is what can imprison us in a traumatic state, because it can overwrite the instinctive response and therefore the reset from fight/flight/freeze. Consequently, if the nervous system is not reset after an overwhelming situation, we get stuck in “freeze”. Trauma can lead to a number of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, hypersensitivity, muscle pain, allergies, nervous system disorders, depression, psychosis – to name just a few -and this is generally known as PTSD. 

About a year ago, I had a intense bout of PTSD and felt so sick that I had to stay home for a few weeks. I admit that back then I blamed Loki for my misery, because He had started to work on me “hands on” by pulling energies out of my system, cleansing my own energies and feeding parts of me with His light. I feared that whatever He did had triggered my relapse. Loki never tried to convince me otherwise, but during this time I experienced a side of Loki that left me utterly enchanted. Shiva is also known as the God of intoxication – I know now why – no words can really describe the intensity of His love. Loki had made me aware of His connection to Shiva, but this was the first time I experienced Him this way and, needless to say, Loki showed me that He was actually not harming, but helping me.

The following is taken from my diary:

I experienced Him in a trance-like state, eyes half closed, gazing into the Beyond. So incredibly beautiful, tranquil and pure. His gaze teaches the deepest secrets of the universe and my heart longs for nothing else but to melt with Him. Become one with Him. He has become Shiva* – auspicious, benevolent.
I cry, because the yearning in my heart is so painful. I cry, because my love for Him is so desperate. I cry, because His Love for me is so deep.
I loose myself when I think of Him. I am lost when I behold Him.
Everything dissolves and all there is left is – Him.
I worshipped Him with flowers, milk and honey, and He pulled me onto His Lap, gazing at me gently. I felt His light rising up from the base of my spine, a golden energy traveling upwards, until it touched an area of my brain at the back of my skull. “The reptile needs to be illumined.” He stated empathically, while I felt His light vibrating in the back of my head.

Curiously, yet not surprising, I later found out that the part of our brain close to the base of the skull, is referred to as the “reptilian brain”, and it happens to be the part that controls our instinctive processes – like fight, flight and freeze. Loki was indeed helping me heal trauma. The months that followed this experience were a time of great healing. While Loki works with me on inner levels, He did push me to find a therapist specialised in Somatic Trauma Therapy, which works on resetting the nervous system.

To those who may suffer from trauma, I recommend looking into Peter Levine’s books and therapy. It has helped me greatly, and is most enlightening material – if you are desperate to find a way out of the dark pitch of trauma.

Trauma leads us to dissociate parts of ourself, leaving us feeling split and abandoned, maybe this is why we are unable to “pull ourselves together” and cope with life. Trauma is often the cause of confused and repressed emotions, severe depression and the fear to feel anything in general. As a trickster deity, Loki works with our emotions. He makes us face those very things we cannot or do not want to look at to eventually help us break free from these prisons. Loki taught me that all emotions are valid, and should rather be accepted than judged. The fire that burns inside us as life-energy, strength and power, can express itself in various ways which can either be dynamic or destructive. Since in trauma this very powerful energy is being throttled (or frozen), it tends to turn against us and consume us in a destructive way. There are ways to release this stuck energy, that manifests in aggressive emotions, that neither hurt us or others. For healing, it is essential to acknowledge these emotions and  allow them to dissipate.

Traumatic experiences shake the foundations of our beliefs about safety,
and shatter our assumptions of trust.”
~David Baldwin’s Trauma Information Pages

Trustworthy and authentic relationships are at the heart of trauma recovery – starting with the relationship we have with ourselves.

As much as we might long for loving support from around us, I am afraid it will never come unless we learn to befriend and love ourselves. More than anything, Loki has been a true friend to me, knowing me intimately with all my highest heights and darkest depths. He has been a guardian who shelters me and a dear friend who believes in me. His faith in me is rather astounding, and He seems to offer me in abundance all those things I fail to offer myself. Befriending, accepting and loving Loki means befriending, accepting and loving myself.

Healing trauma is about claiming back power – personal power in form of inner strength, courage, trust, peace and love. These are gifts I earned from my friendship with Loki.

Self compassion is another important tool in trauma recovery, as it allows us to open our hearts and minds, which helped me to step out of my perfectionism and lower the extremely high expectations I had in myself, that had led to me constantly criticising myself. Never being good enough. Which leads to another important role Loki plays when it comes to healing trauma, because the God of Mischief works with our inner child. Our innermost, basic, instincts and emotions. Most trauma actually origins in our childhood and as long as our inner child feels lost, abandoned or unloved, we will feel stuck. Criticism and self-hatred hurt and frighten our inner child, and it is Loki who is there to protect and cradle this child inside us, to make it feel loved and valued, because Loki gives us exactly what we need to change.

Ever since the Norse Trickster graced my life with His presence, I know the sweet feeling of compassion. Compassion, not pity. Feeling compassion is the beginning of experiencing ourselves as worthy of kindness, and perhaps the most important outcome of self-compassion is the increased capacity to care for others. We become more aware that everyone is in the same boat, struggling with similar things. Compassion is extremely powerful as it encompasses the qualities of kindness, forgiveness, empathy, lack of judgement, acceptance, care, concern and love, and probably countless more. It signifies not only understanding, but complete oneness with the “suffering” of the other person.

By offering me His compassion, by accepting me with all my imperfections, by loving me despite of my flaws, by not judging me, by having faith in me and endless patience, Loki showed me what I need most to heal. 

http://www.somaticexperiencing.at/peter-a-levine/

https://www.soundstrue.com/store/healing-trauma-4188.html

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm

http://trauma-recovery.ca/recovery/self-compassion/

Interesing to note here is that the Marvel Universe version of the Trickster, even though he does not portray Loki as I know Him, does embody the side of us that has been traumatised, hurt, betrayed, deceived – and while he seems to be a villan, he really is a victim. And while he should be hated and abhorred, he has become one of the most loved characters. Just like us, he yearns for love, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, and he is unable to admit it because he is so trapped in his own drama. So, maybe the “real” Mister Mischief is holding a mirror up for us. Showing us the drama many of us are trapped in, and also what we need to heal – Love, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness. Looks like Loki, in true trickster fashion, has sneakily found a way to reach out to countless human beings who are now willingly offering Him their love.

Makes you wonder? About His intentions, yes?

I see this kind of thing as a “group therapy session”. Really, what better way of advertising could a God (and skilled trauma therapist) find, if He wishes to reach out to millions of “clients”? Loki’s role is to show us what is going wrong on this planet and to get us out of our limited way of perceiving things. He has been known to apply unusual methods, that is why He is quite likely the most interesting and eccentric character amongst the Gods. … And often the most amusing.

 

Loki

God of Chaos, Change, Compassion, Freedom and Transformation.

Trickster and Celebrity.

 

Would you expect any less of Him?

 

*Shiva or siva means auspicious

April Fool’s Day

It’s amazing how you
Can speak right to my heart.
Without saying a word
You can light up the dark.

Try as I may, I could never explain
What I hear when you don’t say a thing.

The smile on your face
Lets me know that you need me.
There’s a truth in your eyes
Saying you’ll never leave me.
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall.
You say it best when you say nothing at all.

~Ronan Keating

Since the first day of April is considered by some as a day to honour Loki, I thought I might just briefly write a little “thank you” note for Him.

Personally, I do not have a special day to honour Loki, but I had Him show up and ask me to dedicate my time to Him a couple of times during the year, and the days fell on Summer and Winter Solstice, which makes sense to me as both are festivals of Light and Darkness. I also honour Him on Mahashivaratri, as I consider Loki and Shiva to embody the transformative aspect of God. Dagulf Loptson mentions the 16th December, another festival of Light, as a day one could honour Loki on. Others connect Loki to the hottest days of Summer, when the star Sirius (Lokabrenna) is high in the sky.

Because I consider Loki not “only” a God, but also my “best” friend and companion, I do my best to make Him part of my daily life. Yes, I have a small shrine for Him set up in my room, but this is more for me, because I like to have a special place for Him, it is not so much because He wants to be honoured this way. Loki prefers to be actively included in my life, so I keep Him with me inside my heart-pocket, as I call it, and I love to include Him in things, because He is smart, creative, funny, wise, compassionate and I find Him very helpful in general. 

Plus – Loki is always there, even when I am unaware of His Presence. This is what I like about Him, that He is not bound to rituals and festivals, but has a free spirit and prefers an intimate connection of heartfelt devotion to a ritualistic one. He keeps it simple. One of Lord Shiva’s names is Ashutosh (one who is gratified easily), and apparently you can offer Him only one leaf and He will grant your wishes in turn. He is there for everyone, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, thief or priest. I found that Shiva does care for sincere devotion, while He does not care much for ritualistic worship. He loves it when His devotees keep Him inside their hearts and include Him in their life. Like Loki. They teach us that God is never absent. God is always there with us. At every single moment. It is us who forget or push Him away.

“I never leave you. I am always here, it is you who leaves me by hating yourself.” Loki once said to me and His words struck a chord. 

It is our own thoughts that take us away from (our) God(s) and Loki very kindly reminds me again and again of how important it is for us to realise this. The Vedic scriptures talk about “Avidya” or ignorance, the misconception of our reality, the illusion that we are separate from our Source. We live behind the veil of ignorance, in the illusion that we are individual entities, which is why we feel alone, hurt, miserable, happy, … whereas essentially we are One with each other, because we really are One with our Source.

While the Gods are more consciously connected to the Source of all there is, Loki also teaches me that we should never feel we are at their mercy. Apparently, it is woven into the fabric of our mind that there are higher or lower forces that have power over us, yet the Norse Trickster has been making it very clear to me that nobody has any power over me, unless I give it to them. Whilst it is wonderful to honour our deities on the days dedicated to them, I feel that the greatest honour we can offer Loki is to include Him in our everyday activities by applying what He teaches, and integrating the values and wisdom He bestows upon us.


One of the greatest gifts we can offer Loki is to realise that we always have the freedom of choice.

That we take responsibility for our life

and search for the Truth.

Thank you, Loki!

“When the veil of illusion is torn,
Each man sees that he loves
Only one Person,
God the Creator,
And serves only one Person,
God the creation.”

~Sri Chinmoy

Loki, Kundalini and the Yoga of Tantra

The darkness was hidden in darkness.
And all was fluid and formless.
Therein, in the void,
By the fire of fervor arose One.
And in the One arose love.
Love, the first seed of the soul.
Rig Veda, X.129

One thing that became clear early on in my friendship with Loki was that He is intimately connected to the Divine Feminine and, as far as I perceive it, He plays an active part in raising the consciousness of the Goddess here on earth. It is as though Loki’s force destroys the old, rigid structure that has been in power for a very long time (well, at least for human standards) to clear the way for the new consciousness to blossom. And it is the feminine energy that is re-awakening and which will bring balance, because the new consciousness is one of unity and oneness.

According to the ancient Indian scriptures, the feminine power is the cosmic energy that runs through all of creation. It can be intense, powerful and fierce, yet at the same time it also embodies compassion, softness, sweetness and peace. In Hindu culture She is known as Shakti, the Great Mother Goddess, and her consort is Shiva who reveres Her in all Her fierce and gentle manifestations. Similar to Loki, who is the consort of Angrboda, Glut and Sigyn – each embodying certain aspects of the Divine Feminine.

The power of Shakti is also known as the Kundalini energy, and it is Shiva who can balance the fierceness of Her dynamic force by uniting with Her. Shakti is seen as energy and Shiva as consciousness, but unless energy is united with consciousness it is ignorant, disordered, aimless and “blind”.

The serpent is often used as a symbol for Loki, so it was no surprise to me to discover that Loki, like Shiva, is a wielder of the “Serpent Power” – the Kundalini, our creative, life-giving energy. Kundalini literally translates as “coiled-up energy” or “power that dwells in a cave” – revealing its intrinsic feminine nature. She is referred to as serpent power, because She is compared to a snake that lies coiled up at the base of the spine while sleeping. When awakened the “snake” travels up through the energy centres or chakras, opening each one in the process until it reaches the highest where it connects with the universal mind – in Shaktism this is called the union of Shakti and Shiva – symbolised by the Goddess who travels from the root chakra at the base of the spine to unite with Her Beloved consort in the Crown Chakra.

Kundalini is a dynamic force, sacred and incredibly powerful. When used with wisdom, She can be channeled into creativity and dynamism, when awakened prematurely or abused, this energy can do great damage on all levels. Once the Kundalini is awakened and flows through the chakras, we can acquire occult powers. She is the essence of magic. Occult powers, like reading people’s mind, making ourselves invisible, heal any disease or travel to other realms may  seem”miraculous” and special, yet they are limited as long as they still bind us to our ego. And when one longs for the ultimate Truth, they can stand in our way because of that very reason. Because to become one with the Infinite, acquire absolute peace within, act without attachment unperturbed by outer circumstances and encounter life with the serenity of a child who knows that somebody looks after him/her is much more difficult to achieve than the gain of occult powers. The ultimate Truth and Freedom lies beyond magical powers, and at the same time it is the real magic.

Kundalini Yoga has gained popularity in the Western World, yet it is seldom properly understood. According to Dr David Frawley, the traditional role of Kundalini is different to what it is viewed as today – especially in the Western world, which is to regard it as a mere force to control or harness. In truth, this sacred energy is a form of the Goddess and should be worshipped as Her power. It is not energy to be aroused, but energy to be revered. Efforts to manipulate it through certain disciplines and practices are not only dangerous but fail to recognise the reality of the Goddess. The Kundalini is the Goddess in form of a dynamic, creative and life-giving force, pulsing through everything in creation – She is in wind, water, earth in animals and insects – everything that moves, lives or even exists could not do so without Her.

On more than one occasion Loki has warned me of the dangers of the abuse of this sacred energy, because Kundalini is an energy that can be dangerous to awaken when one is unprepared. The fire of it rises through the subtle as well as the physical nervous system can burn it and cause great damage if the lower energy centres, which hold our primordial needs and urges, are not properly purified. The emotions and desires stirred up by this powerful energy can literally let you go insane or one can overindulge and get lost in pleasure which in turn can enslave you to forces that keep you in a lower vibrational state. That is why the path of Kundalini Yoga is a path of great purity and discipline.

All this said, the Kundalini is our creative life-force and when we guide it with the love and devotion that dwells inside our heart, it manifests as art, music, dance and many other beautiful things. According to Tantric texts the “natural” arousing of the Kundalini can occur through intense devotion or deep meditation and does not require the use of specific techniques. 

Loki is a sensual deity who tends to stir up issues of suppressed desire and urges that lie hidden deep within us, issues that arise once the lower energy centres start opening. This side of Him made me wary at first, yet over time I came to understand that He knows exactly how to deal with these issues, and can lead us through the somewhat chaotic world of primordial needs – if we are willing to. Since Loki is a wielder of magic, He works with the Kundalini, the sacred fire of the Goddess that burns within us and, inevitably, He wanted me to understand this energy of the Goddess, explore it and learn about the yogic tradition that is closely connected to Her – the Yoga of Tantra.

Traditional Hindu Tantra is a complex system of spiritual knowledge and the philosophy of Tantra is to accept life and turn all ordinary activities, even menial tasks such as eating, breathing and sleeping, into sacred actions or rituals, into acts of devotion.

There is a misconception in the Western World about Tantra, as people usually connect it with sexual practices and books like the Kama Sutra. Being a Westerner myself I have to admit that I too held this very limited belief and was guarded when venturing into the “Tantric world”. When Loki opened my mind to the wisdom within the Tantric scriptures, I admit that I was embarrassed by my own ignorance in this matter.

Like all yogic traditions Tantra is centered mainly around meditation and mantras. Many Tantric texts contain no references at all to any sexual practices, while others mention them as only one line of approach, and still others regard them as mere metaphors. And although Tantra does contain sexual Yogas, it does not promote them for ordinary gratification of the senses and the Tantric philosophy is certainly not characterised by them.

Tantra literally means “book”.

There are three major lines of spiritual teachings in Hindu culture that stem from ancient and not so ancient scriptures – the oldest one being the Vedas, followed by the Puranic scriptures and the Tantric texts.

The philosophy of “Vedanta” is one of the world’s oldest spiritual philosophies, which is based on the Vedas, while Tantra is one the youngest of the yogic teachings. All spiritual teachings (yogas) lead to one goal – liberation from the illusion of existence (basically from our own limiting beliefs) and realisation of our True Self. To become one with our Highest Part. The different scriptures explain everything from the creation of the universe down to spiritual rituals and practices that help one achieve the ultimate goal of Yoga (which essentially means union with God).

The path of Tantra is unique as it has a very universal approach that uses all available methods and rejects nothing, it even includes methods that are rejected in other teachings for being unspiritual.

Even though it is not one of the main aspects, Tantra emphasises the worship of the Goddess and gives Her a special place. According to Frawley, Tantric texts provide verily a spiritual science of worship of the Mother, not merely a set of dogmas or beliefs, but a practical way of developing our higher awareness with the help of Her Wisdom and Grace. For those seeking to understand the Divine Mother, the Great Goddess, following the path of Tantra may be the key.

In contrast to traditional spiritual teachings Tantra affirms emotions but does not encourage mere emotional expression, which would only lead to a stronger attachment to these and to the outer (material) world. Tantra rather regards emotions as trapped energy and seeks the release of that energy, seeks to experience the emotion subside like a wave in the sea of awareness. To help connect with the meaning of emotions, which essentially is just a movement of nature, Tantric Yoga works with different forms of Gods and Goddesses – some peaceful others wrathful deities. Recognising the Divine energy inherent in emotions leads us to discover them as a means of relating to the Divine within us. Through genuine devotion to the Divine, human emotions can be transformed into Divine energy.

Loki is a God who works on an emotional level and also embodies a rich diversity of emotions Himself. Over time He has taught me the importance of releasing trapped emotions and sharing whatever arises inside me with Him – be it anger, hurt, fear or whatever else. No emotion is “bad”, but it is unhealthy to suppress them. He made me aware of the damaging affect suppressed emotions have on us and that guilt and shame block us very powerfully.

One of the Tantric paths, the left handed path, includes certain forbidden practices to overcome and transcend the feelings of shame and guilt – but these practices can be harmful to those who indulge in them rather than taking them as a means of transformation. Yet not even the most ascetic yogic practices encourage to suppress or deny emotion as this will never lead to liberation or realisation, and no yogic practices reject sexual energy as evil, bad or shameful. In ascetic yoga, for example, celibacy is recommended only along with spiritual practices to transmute this energy. Without meditation the practice of celibacy could even be harmful because when sexual energy stagnates it can cause various physical and emotional problems. Yet it is said that without control of sexual energy, there will not be the power necessary to do higher meditation practices.

“Yoga does not encourage to suppress anything that is natural to us, but discover our true nature in which we can naturally let go of all attachments and dependencies. … It is the ego that Yoga seeks to negate, which deludes us to selfishness and therefore to abuse the energies given to us.”

~Dr D. Frawley, Tantric Yoga

There are three major paths in Tantra:

  • The right-handed path
  • The left-handed path
  • The direct path

The right-handed path could be seen as orthodox as it focuses on meditation and spiritual disciplines and requires a high level of purity in conduct and action. It is said to be the path for those of devotional nature.

The left-handed path includes various sexual practices and the use of meat and intoxicants, which are not approved of on the right-handed path. It is said to be the path of those of heroic nature – referring to the class of warriors.

While the right-handed path follows the rules of social dharma* and strict conduct for yogic practices, the left-handed path may include practices that are not part of Hindu social dharma and the rules of yogic practices. On the other hand, the left-handed path may not involve unorthodox practices at all and may only refer to an emphasis of the Goddess, who manifests in the left side of the deity.

*(the Hindu code of life; cosmic law underlying right behaviour and social order)

“… the left-handed path is said to be the way of ecstasy and the right-handed path the way of peace. Along the way of ecstasy we may be inclined to certain extreme actions as we break through preconceptions and as deep internal energies are released. Yet it is only peace that is lasting.”

~Dr D. Frawley, Tantric Yoga

There is a third Tantric path, which is called the direct path and it is regarded as a higher part of the other two approaches. On this path any outer form of ritualistic worship is given up, and even inner forms like chanting mantras are relinquished, as these practices can keep the mind attached to the material world. The yogi turns inward and only through exploration of his own nature, goes beyond the ego – or the small “i” – and eventually becomes one with Brahman (the highest principle, God), which is unattached and beyond the limitations of time and space. This path of Self-Enquiry is the highest Tantric as well as the highest Vedantic path.

I follow a path of yoga and relate to the spiritual philosophies of Hindu culture, yet it was only when Loki entered my life that the wisdom of the ancient scriptures became “accessible” to me, because He somehow opens my mind to grasp it. Loki seems to enjoy my fervent hunger to learn. Over the past year He has directed me to immerse myself in the ancient Indian scriptures and the knowledge I have been blessed with is remarkable, yet I am aware that this is only on a mental level. The real magic starts to happen when we realise it, feel it and live it. Loki never ceases to amaze me with His guidance and as so often I am left in complete awe of this profound, ancient and mysterious being called Loki who I so blithely call my friend.

Fenrir, Loki and Shiva-Bhairava

Spiritual and moral values are often taught through stories and the more I delve into the wisdom that is held within the myths of the Gods, the more I recognise their value. When we read them with our mind they are mere words, but if we learn to see what lies between the lines, the wisdom and truth that is hidden beneath the words as a subtle form of consciousness, we find that even the most ferocious creatures in mythology have their place and value. No doubt, there are evil forces, but not all that is depicted as frightening and dark is necessarily bad.

In Norse mythology the giant wolf Fenrir is said to devour everything in His way, to be uncontrollable, ferocious, and He was therefore bound by the Gods to control His force. Loki pointed out to me once that His three children Fenrir, Hel and Jormungard represent aspects of Time. Considering that the fearsome wolf represents an all-devouring, uncontrollable force, Fenrir certainly represents Time who (at least in Hindu culture) is also known as the merciless devourer of all things.

It was shortly after I encountered Loki in His bound form and was given the opportunity to free Him from His fetters, that Fenrir started calling me, so I asked His father to take me to Him. Seeing the magnificant, awe-inspiring wolf in bondage, I felt overwhelmed with grief and my heart broke as I sensed His rage, His fierceness, His pain. I asked for His forgiveness before I approached Him. When I did, I was able to see Fenrir as a necessary force in creation, a child of the Goddess, no less worthy than any other creature and certainly not malicious or bad – but dangerous, especially if we fear Him. Fenrir’s beauty is just as powerful as the terror He induces. We cannot control Him, even when we try to bind Him, His force is still there only in a suppressed state. I believe that Fenrir represents a power we need to embrace and honour, not fear, if we wish to live freely. 

The great Wolf allowed me to free Him by offering Him my love. And maybe because I was aware that I could not tame or control Him, He also permitted me to bind Him in a new way – through my very love for Him.

In my encounter with Fenrir, Loki showed me that there are many ways of binding creatures and while most fetters aim to control the object of bondage, there is a way that paradoxically binds in order to give freedom. The most magical amongst fetters that can bind any creature (especially God), is unconditional Love. True and unconditional Love renders any God helpless, because God Himself loves us unconditionally. This Love binds God to us – if we would only be able to realise this this world would be a happier place.

Unconditional Love does not bind in a human way, which desires to possess or control. Unconditional Love seeks to expand – it expands our heart, our existence, and allows us to become one with the object of our adoration. Thus it brings two parts together as one.
After His fetters were gone, Fenrir’s appearance changed from a giant black Wolf, filled with agony, wrath and uncontrollabe power to a gigantic, powerful and luminous Wolf with a flaming fur, who was of a radiant beauty that cannot be put into words. He adopted a human form and held me in a tender, but tight embrace for a while. 

When I meditated on Him, Fenrir showed me that He embodies the realisation that our life is fleeting and every second, every single moment is forever gone if we do not use it for something meaningful. We cannot bring it back. Ever. Time wasted, is time lost. Time devours everything, without mercy. Fenrir’s force does not allow us relax or be idle, but keeps us on our toes, because in a way He is threatening to devour us at any moment. Life is fleeting. Fenrir puts that right into our face. He is also the one who encourages us to use our given time wisely.

Transcend the fear of time, transcend the fear of death and learn to seize the moment, that was Fenrir’s message.

I guess He often works together with His sister Hel as the fear of time and death is deeply engrained in living beings, yet it must be overcome if we wish to be truly free. And maybe, as long as we fear the end of our existence Fenrir must be kept bound as otherwise this fear would destroy us.

Shortly after my meditative experience with Fenrir I came across one of Shiva’s fiercest forms known as Kala Bhairava, the one who oversees the march of Time.

Kala Bhairava is a dark and terrible manifestation of Shiva that is associated with annihilation, His mount or Vahana is usually a black dog. (A vahana is a vehicle or the carrier of something immaterial and formless. All Hindu Gods and Goddesses have a Vahana). Bhairava Himself is described as merciless and fearsome, with flaming hair, and several depictions in Hindu and Buddhist culture show Him as black, with large fangs and claws – this description and the connection to a dog (or a wolf?), immediately brought Loki and Fenrir to my mind. Intrigued, I wanted to learn more about Bhairava.

Bhairava derives from the word “bhiru” (fearful, feeling great fear) and it means “terribly fearful form”. His name very nicely describes the effect Bhairava has upon those who encounter Him, and it is said that those who meet Him must confront their own fears. He is also the one who destroys fear, or who is beyond fear.

“Kala” means both time as well as the color black. In many popular folktales, Kala Bhairava roams the city of Varanasi as a black dog and He is also the one who oversees the march or flow of Time.

One of the ancient texts that describe Kala Bhairava’s teachings on Time translates as follows:

“Time is the most precious. Time lost is lost forever. Wise people should use every moment of time effectively. Lord Kala Bhairava helps everyone to make one’s time useful.”

Kala Bhairava helps us to use our time effectively on the spiritual path. The worship of Shiva in the aspect of Kala Bhairava helps one realize the transitory nature of worldly existence and make the most of the rare human birth to realize Brahman, the supreme reality.
If you insult time by idling it away, you will be cursed by Kala Bhairava. On the other hand if you worship time, even a millisecond will matter and bring you prosperity, victory and peace. As a human being you think that nothing is going to happen in one millisecond, but then the divine knows methods to change your life in a millisecond.

If you are endlessly waiting for things to happen and it never happens, this means you have offended time either in this life or previous life All that you need is a worshipful attitude towards time.  

http://agasthiar.org/AUMzine/0014-kb.htm

The fearsome description of Kala Bhairava is not to be misunderstood as He is not only a protector of sacred places (every Hindu temple has an idol of Bhairava), but also protector of women, especially those timid or shy in nature. It is generally believed that worshiping Bhairava gives prosperity, success and good progeny, prevents premature death and gives solution to debts and liabilities.

Bhairava is a wandering form of Shiva. There are 64 Bhairavas in all. These Bhairavas come under 8 categories. Each of these categories is headed by one major Bhairava in that particular group. These 8 Bhairavas, who guard and control the 8 directions of the universe, are as follows:

  • Asithaanga Bhairava
  • Ruru Bhairava
  • Chanda Bhairava
  • Krodha Bhairava
  • Unmattha Bhairava
  • Kapaala Bhairava
  • Bheeshana Bhairava
  • Samhaara Bhairava

All these Bhairavas are controlled by Kaala Bhairava. He is the Supreme Godhead and the ruler of the rest of the Bhairavas.

https://www.dollsofindia.com/library/bhairava/

When I read about more about Shiva’s form of Bhairava, it did not escape me that His story holds similarities to the myths about Loki that describe the Trickster as an outcast to the society of the Aesir (his involvement in Baldur’s death and the Lokasenna). Even though Bhairava’s and Loki’s stories seem to have little in common at first glance, they actually bear quite a few similarities – starting with the killing of a God (Baldur/Brahma), both accounts also include the murder of a servant, becoming an outcast who is driven out into the forest, and speak of the Gods sensuous nature that seduces even the most virtuous women.

Bhairava represents a form of Shiva that is lawless. Learning about Bhairava let me understand Loki’s role as the outcast better and I decided to re-read a few passages in Dagulf Loptson’s Book “Playing with Fire” to confirm my thoughts. According to mythological texts Loki aided in the killing of the God Baldur and later shows up at a gathering of the Gods, where Loki murders a servant and as a consequence is driven out into the forest as violence is not permitted in the hall and murder considered a serious crime. On His return Loki is warned, but nevertheless He is offered drink and entry to the Hall of Aegir, where Loki subsequently “insults” the Gods in the “Lokasenna”. According to Dagulf Loptson, the battle of words that Loki instigated was a custom known as “Senna” (flyting or wrangling) by which Loki attempted to regain His statues amongst the Aesir. He would have probably won the cause, had He not been interrupted and threatened by Thor and was thus forced to leave the hall.

Keeping all this in mind and also that Loki (like Odin) is known as a wanderer or traveler between the worlds, the following story of Bhairava is shockingly similar to Loki’s – apart from the fact that Bhairava expiates His sins, while Loki is punished for His crimes and bound until the end of time.

There are variations of how Shiva adopted the form of Bhairava, a form that breaks all boundaries and conventions. All stories lead to the decapitation or death of the God Brahma/Pashupati. It is noteworthy here to mention that in older accounts it was the heavenly archer, the God Rudra (later also known as Shiva) who slayed Prajapati. Rudra is symbolised by the Star Sirius (a star also known as Lokabrenna or “Loki’s Torch”). So, is it an incident that the God Baldur (for whose demise Loki was held responsible) was also slain by an arrow? 

The murder of a Brahmin (the term Brahmin signifies someone who is good and virtuous) is considered a grave sin, and even though Shiva/Rudra is a God, He has to deal with the consequences of his actions (and thus He establishes ethics and laws through His crime!). In order to expiate His sin, Bhairava became a wandering beggar, carrying Brahma’s skull as His begging bowl.

To atone for the sin of severing the god Brahma’s fifth head, Shiva is said to have separated the body of Bhairava from his own and sent it to wander with the skull of Brahma in his hand, a vow that parallels the Maha-vrata (“great vow”) that a Kapali (a skull-carrier) must undertake to dispel the sin of killing a Brahmin. The expiatory wandering punishment of 12 years is also given to a Bhrunaghna sinner—a learned Brahmin who kills another of great learning and good conduct. The vow is prescribed in the Dharmashastras, a text corpus detailing ethics and conduct. The sinner should live in an isolated place and beg in only seven houses with the skull of the slain. He must use as a staff the bones of the slain and be treated by society as an outcast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhikshatana

It is told that Bhairava roamed the forest as an outcast and became known under the name Bhikshtana, the mendicant. Even though Bhairava’s form is often depicted as terrifying, Bhikshtana is described as youthful and beautiful, yet this does not keep Him from disregarding ethical or moral standards. Several South Indian poets also write about His sensous nature and women who encountered Him were love-smitten and so enamoured by His appearance that they followed Him. In some accounts He enticed women to give Him alms and seduced even the pure and chaste wives of forest sages (Loki seems to have a similar effect on Aesir Goddesses. In the Lokasenna He claims to have seduced nearly every Goddess in Aegir’s hall). Not surprisingly, Bhairava (like Loki) is also said to be cunning and somewhat deceptive.

On His wanderings Bhairava came to the God Vishnu’s abode, where He slayed Vishnu’s doorkeeper before entering Vishnu’s hall and approaching the God with His outstretched begging-bowl. Lord Vishnu deined His own Blood a suitable offering for Bhairava, but failed to fill the beggar’s bowl. He urged Him to go to the city of Kashi, where His sins will be expiated. And so it happened that when Bhairava finally reached the holy city of Kashi, Brahma’s skull fell off His hand and He was redeemed.

While many people believe that Bhairava is a violent form of Shiva, he is indeed a benevolent form to the sincere devotee. The noose in his upper left hand signifies the bonds we have in the world. Family, wealth, desires, and material objects are all things that bind a man to the world. As such, men and all other creatures bound to these objects and relationships are known as “pashu” or literally those bound by the noose. Being unclad, and having no possessions, Bhairava is known as “Pashupathi” or the Lord of those bound by the noose. Devotees who invoke Bhairava in their lives are blessed by him and receive his protection. In some households across India, a statue of either a dog or of Bhairava is installed in the garden or near the front door. Just as he protects the temple, he also protects the house from evil spirits and bad energy.

http://www.lotussculpture.com/blog/bhairava-shiva-protector/