Deities | Loki
Loki, (pronounce "LOAK-ee,") is the well known trickster Norse God. His name is thought to mean "knot" or "tangle". Loki's father was a giant, however he is still counted among the Aesir, which are a tribe of gods (leading many to believe his mother, who is not fully described, was a god). Although he has commonly been categorized as a nominal God, ancient Norse mythology describes him as quite an ambivalent God, who certainly has his place among the greats. Notably, he has taken quite a large place in modern pop-mythology, especially since his characterization in the Thor film series. For this article, however, I will give Loki the respect he deserves as a God much older than the memories of mankind can recall, and leave out the embellishments of Hollywood.
Appearance wise, Loki is described as being handsome and fair of face, but with an unpredictable and ever-changing mood. He often causes trouble of the Aesir, but then again, he often gets them out of the trouble he causes. He is thought to be an ancient figure of Indo-European origin.
Loki was born the son to Farbauti (aka Cruel Striker) the giant, and Laufey (aka Nal). He had two brothers, Hellblindi and Balyestyr. He is historically believed to be a natural red-head, though he is known to transform both her shape and gender as it suits him.
With Angrboda he has three children:
Hel, the Goddess of the Underworld
Fenrir, the wolf who slays Odin in Ragnarok
Jormungand, the serpent who slays Thor in Ragnarok
And with his proper wife, Sigyn, he has one son called Nari/Narfi.
He also had Einmyria and Eisa with Glut.
Loki is also the mother of Sleipnir, Odin's horse. Yes, mother. Loki transformed himself into a mare and courted the stallion Svadilfari. Many of Loki's children are considered villains in Norse mythology.
Loki is notorious for his lack of concern for the well being of his fellow gods. As can be seen from the actions of his children, he makes no effort to reel in the reins and put a stop to their harming of other gods. He is also known to possess fluid morals. In Norse mythology, he frequently changes sides depending on what benefits him or who threatens to kill him if he does not help them.
For example, Loki is threatened by Thiazi to steal him the goddess Idun. Loki complies, but then must return to rescue her when the gods threaten him again to do so. He first steals Idun, and then returns her to save his life. It is not uncommon in Norse mythology, for Loki to cause chaos only to then come to the aid of the gods and help set things right.
One of Loki's darker deeds happens in the tale "The Death of Baldur". In this story, a prophecy predicts the death of the beloved god Baldur. Fearing for her son, Baldur's mother Frigg, obtains oaths from all living things that they will not hurt her son. The only living thing overlooked is Mistletoe - do to it's small and harmless nature. Loki uses this loophole to create a mistletoe spear. He instructs Hod, a blind god, to throw the spear at Baldur. As Hod does not know (and cannot see) the weapon is a mistletoe spear, he throws it at Baldur, who dies. A god, Hermod, rides Sleipnir to the Underworld, to ask Hel to release the soul of Baldur. His argument is that Baldur must be released, as he is so dearly loved by all living beings. Hel replies that if that is true, then all living beings would weep upon his death - and if they would, she would release Baldur's soul. Hermod returns to the living with this message, and every living being does in fact weep for Baldur. With one exception... a giantess named Tokk (who many believe to be Loki in disguise). Therefore, as every living being has not wept, Baldur must remain with Hel in the Underworld.
Ultimately, it is Loki's son Narfi who will pay for all of these crimes against the Gods. Narfi is captured and tied up below a serpent, whose poisonous venom drips onto him. He lies there in agony until Ragnarok. Loki as a Deity
Historically, Loki is not recognized as a deity in any surviving text from Norse, Danish or Icelandic mythology. This is unsurprising, as he is normally painted as a villain - albeit one with flexible morals who sometimes helps those in need.
However, I personally have seen him rise in popularity as a worshiped deity. This may or may not be due to his starring role in the Thor comic, and later film series, where he is portrayed as the mischievous albeit lovable adopted brother to Thor. In reality, however, Loki is not Thor's adopted brother. This was an invention of the Marvel comic series. Loki is, in fact, believed to be the blood-brother to Odin (no actual biological relation).
If one wishes to worship and/or acknowledge Loki as a deity in their spiritual path, one should take great care to discern the true origins/story of Loki (and his true nature, for that matter), from the fictional character in the Marvel comics. Much was invented for this comic series, and the way Loki is depicted here is not necessarily in alignment with the real ancient deity, Loki. For more true information on the actual god Loki, look to The Eddas (transcribed from ancient runes) which tell the ancient stories.
Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019). Loki | Mythology, Powers, & Facts. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Loki [Accessed 15 Jul. 2019].
Norse Mythology for Smart People. (2019). Loki - Norse Mythology for Smart People. [online] Available at: https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/loki/ [Accessed 15 Jul. 2019].
The Poetic Edda. Völuspá, stanza 51.
Simek, Rudolf. 1993. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall.
Turville-Petre, E.O.G. 1964. Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia.
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