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Loki: Super Villain or Trickster??

Updated on March 27, 2013

Loki in popular fiction

With the upcoming release of the sequel to the Hollywood blockbuster Thor, I feel this is the ideal time to explore the truth behind the villain of the action film. Loki the trickster "God" of the Northern heathen religion will play an active part in the downfall of mankind and the misery of the films hero Thor. The trouble is that Loki is not a God to fall into a particular label comfortably, his entire nature is to fight against stereotypes and false labels.

Over the years I believe that Loki has been marginalized, when really he should be seen for what he truly is, he is the force of change and continued movement. Without a deity such as him we would not continue as people to move on. We know that Sharks die if they don't swim forward, I think that applies to us and our code of conduct. Loki is a trickster who forces us to shake up our lives when they are in danger of falling stagnant. He is the same force as nature as the coyote is in Native American tribal folklore, it is only when we question that we can truly grow spiritually.

SIg collecting the venom dropping on the captive Loki.
SIg collecting the venom dropping on the captive Loki.

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Does Loki have a poor and unfair reputation?

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The truth about Loki

I think we have to clear up a few basic facts about Loki, as common misconceptions start to get annoying. Loki is nothing like the devil of Christian mythology, to compare him with Satan is not true comparison. Loki does not reap the souls of the damned, Loki is a deity who cares little for the souls of the faithful. The only connection has to the Christian notion of the Devil is through his daughter Hel or Hella. Her job was to look after the souls of the dead who did not die in glorious battle. She had her own realm called Helheim, which the Christian church possibly used to describe their place for sinners.

Although Hel's realm is not the fire and sulphur of Lucifer's home it does have a "special" place for Murderers and oath breakers. The only characteristic Lucifer and Loki have in common is that they are both rebellious in nature. After all Lucifer is a fallen angel who disobeyed his orders, Loki is a Jotun made God who follows his own destiny and desires. In no part of the surviving lore are we lead to believe or see, Loki as a force craving power or personal vengence.

The firey deity Loki
The firey deity Loki

Loki and his true family

The film will also tell us that Loki is Thor's evil brother, and a son of the leader of the Aesir gods Odin . This is very inaccurate in so may ways. The Edda's tell us that Loki is the son of a Jotun called Farbauli ( His name translates as 'Cruel striker' and we know he would have been a fire giant, the Avengers Assemble and Thor interpret him as been more of a being with ties to the land of Ice). Loki's mother is called Laufey ( Her name means 'the needle' and she is also a fire giant). Loki has two brothers Byleistr and Helbindi but little lore or information survives of them. Loki and Odin are related in the fact they share a bond of blood, they are effectively Blood Brothers. The reasons why Odin shares a blood oath with Loki is unknown, they are essentially the mirror image of each other. I would assume that the bonding serves to balance out Loki's chaotic nature with Odin's order, and I suppose it works vice-versa. You cannot have day without night, good without evil and in this instance order without chaos!

Thor and Loki, Loki's tricks

Although Loki is not Thor's brother they do have a very weird relationship with each other. In some of the saga's and proses from the ancient stories Loki is sometimes described as Thor's sidekick, they often set off on quests together to right the wrongs and injustices against the gods. The root cause of these injustices was usually the responsibility of Loki and his devious and cunning schemes. I suppose this is evidence of Loki's willingness to test the boundaries and accepted rules of the Norse mythology. Loki is responsible through his acts in attaining great power, wealth , prestige and magical gifts for the gods of Asgard . Through Loki's actions Odin was gifted his eight legged stead Slepnir , and Thor received his powerful hammer mjolnir ( translates as crusher ) which became the symbol of his strength.

Because of Loki's jealousy of Baldur the god of light, Loki becomes a captive of the Asgard due to his reckless and malevolent actions. Loki tricks Baldur's blind twin brother Hoor into killing the favourite of the Gods with a mistletoe dart.( This is covered more extensively in other hubs on the subject ). Hoor the god of night was killed by his other brother in vengeance so Loki was ultimately responsible for the death of two of Odin's children. He was hunted down by Heimdal and is imprisoned underground with a serpent dripping venom on him. His wife Sig holds a bowl over her husband face to stop the venom from dropping over Loki. When she empties it and venom hits him, it causes earthquakes.

Loki in modern Heathenry

I think that although Loki is almost godlike from sharing Odin's blood and eating a giant witches heart. It could be argued he has very human like qualities, he shows he can help or hinder and is ruled by his emotions. Loki is a father to five children ( Hel, Fenris, Jormungand, Narvi and Vali ) and mother to Odin's stead Slepnir.

Some heathens choose not to honour him or even speak his name, I for one think he has the ability to be good or evil and don't follow the general superstition of ignoring him. Loki serves a purpose in the greater scheme of things and is hard to pigeon hole as good or evil. He is just a force of nature and should be respected and handled with care.


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