Honoring the Dead: An Interview with Laura Patsouris

It was interesting! I learned very quickly that there are a lot of Heathens who freak out at any hint of Afro-Caribbean influence. That being said, Loki has made it really clear that He specifically had me "fostered" with the Orishas to learn useful skills.

There are a lot of instances with Norse Gods (particularly Odin and Loki) swooping in on folks from African Diaspora traditions like Santeria, Vodoun, Umbanda, etc., maybe because there is so much resistance to certain types of ecstatic, esoteric practices and possession within mainstream Heathenry.

Their own folks won't do what They want, so why not drop in on someone who has a context for what They want done? Very utilitarian. In some ways the experiences I had after decades practicing Santeria was very good training and it was able to translate smoothly; in other ways it was a big paradigm shift. The hardest part was finding and connecting with community at first. Once I was put in the path of the right people who weren't squicked out by my background and practices, everything clicked.

I know from our previous conversations that you have a devotional relationship with Loki. Could you tell our readers a little bit about that? What does that mean for you? How did it come about?

He popped in one day and claimed me. It surprised me, but it made sense. And, after having run into dead ends and being told "no further than this" in Santeria so many times, I was just so relieved to figure out why! I guess He had an "owned by" sign on me; I just had no clue. Once I knew Who I belonged to, things progressed rapidly. Almost immediately He wanted me to cement things by having His name tattooed in runes on my thigh. I did this within a month of His first contact with me. He came in so loud and clear and there was such an intense emotional (and physical) connection; I just loved Him wholeheartedly from go. I have to say that, for me, it was unusual to have communication come that easily with a Deity. Usually my signal clarity is far more attuned to the Dead.

Since my "aha" moment with Loki, things have progressed quickly and well. He is my patron and I feel Him with me in everything I do, every day. What that means for me in practical terms is that He has final say over nearly every aspect of my life. I find that the things that do not meet with His approval are cleared away. He wanted me out of psychiatric nursing and I left the field and went into medical nursing. He did not approve of my spouse and the marriage had to go. Here I have to say that, as part of my being sworn to Him, Loki wanted a ritual marriage, which occurred last year. He is willing to share me, but not with someone He considers unworthy. I honor that sacred union by serving with an open heart, withholding nothing. He responds by guiding and supporting me and giving me the love I need to thrive.

I am asked this all the time about my relationship with Odin and it's always a difficult question to answer. I'm afraid I'm now going to turn the tables on a fellow spiritworker: what is it like to have such ongoing direct contact with one of the Holy Powers and how do you know that you have truly been claimed?

All I can say is, when it happens, it is undeniable. It is a powerful, intense, and ecstatic event that leaves one totally changed. It can also be rather scary.

Well, that's something surely our ancestors would have understood. I think it's only our post-Enlightenment contemporary age that has forgotten that "holy" almost always goes hand in hand with "terror." Speaking of our ancestors, a huge part of your spiritual work involves honoring the dead and teaching others how to do the same. As part of that, you've just written a book on honoring the ancestors. What prompted this?

I had been asked by so many people about the Work and there is such a need out there for the information. But I didn't have the guts to even consider being the one to write it until I got a strong push from my ancestors and Loki to do it. There is such a desire on the part of the Dead to be acknowledged and claimed by their living kin. And there is such a need among the living for the strength, blessing, and protection the ancestors bring.

How did you become an ancestor worker?

I was born to it, I guess. I come from a family with a lot of mediums, practitioners, and ancestor workers. I come from a culture where the Dead and the living interact and impact one another daily. My grandmother was my inspiration in this Work and I am so grateful for her. I was born a medium and without her guidance and example I'd never have made it. I was blessed to be born into a family where talking to dead people was pretty normal. My grandmother died when I was 10, but she never left me. I took up the mantle, so to speak, to retain my connection to her. Over the years my practices evolved and deepened as I began to connect with more of my ancestors. My grandmother guided me and I learned. I guess it was my Wyrd.

4/5/2011 4:00:00 AM