Loki’s Multifaceted Nature

Over the last two weeks, I have seen a lot of people arguing for their depiction of Loki over another or claiming that one type of relationship is better than another. I find those arguments both exasperating and amusing because Loki is, ultimately, a shapeshifter. He is a god that can take on many, many forms, and gods are not limited in the type of relationships they can have with us.

Because I have seen so many comments like those, I decided to go on a hunt for artwork that depicts Loki in a variety of aspects. The pieces I have selected are not all aspects that I personally see or work with, but I understand them, to a point.

This first one, Loki the Shifter, by samflegal, captures Loki’s essential nature as a shapeshifter. I love how so many different forms are captured in this picture, and it definitely serves as a reminder that Loki is not beholden to human form.

Loki the Shifter
Loki the Shifter, by samflegal, captures Loki’s essence as a shapeshifter.

This next piece, Mother of Sleipnir, by develv, depicts Loki in her guise as Sleipnir’s mother after she has shifted back to a human form. Aside from the stunning amount of work that went into the creation of this piece, there’s an aspect of Loki that is rarely discussed.

I have seen many Lokeans shy away from discussing Loki and the relations he had with a horse that allowed the birth of Sleipnir to occur. Some people have assumed that the entire incident was nonconsensual; others make awkward jokes about it. There’s a lot of layers to myth, so it’s hard to know where to fall in that spectrum.

In any case, what I really appreciate about this particular depiction of Loki is that it focuses on Sleipnir and Loki in her aspect as Mother.

mother_of_sleipnir_by_develv_d6i960a-fullview
Mother of Sleipnir, by develv depicts Loki in Her aspect as Mother.

I think that this next piece, Loki Dancing, by ejlowell, captures Loki as a god of dance, of knowledge, and of cultural exchange. This, to me, is the social Loki, the one that enjoys being around humans and laughing with friends. This Loki is also the one who likes to show off and tries to draw you into the fun he’s having. This is the Loki of parties, the one most of us love having around. I also have an impression of this Loki in his guise as the god of air, and I am reminded of another of his names – Loptr (Skytreader).

loki_dancing_by_ejlowell_d91qjep-pre
Loki Dancing, by ejlowell, captures Loki as a god of dance, of knowledge, and of cultural exchange

The next piece, Shaman, by LoranDeSore, is the illustration that comes the closest to the aspect of Loki I generally work with. To me, this reflects Loki as a teacher, a friend, and as a battle-hardened warrior who doesn’t desert those who stand with him. To me, this is the aspect of Loki at his most competent, and this is the aspect of Loki that faces the truth without fail.

In this guise, he takes the reality around him in stride, makes decisions, and acts on them with the full weight of his being. This is the Loki who tells the truth, even when the gods and humans don’t want to face it. Again, this is the illustration that comes closest to how I generally see Loki, so I admit I’m a bit biased.

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 Shaman, by LoranDeSore reflects Loki as a teacher, a friend, and as a battle-hardened warrior.

The next aspect I want to touch on is the Worldbreaker aspect, and it took me a bit of searching to find an illustration that wasn’t overly reminiscent of Tom Hiddleston, who is a human and therefore not someone I view as an accurate depiction of Loki nor an aspect of the god.

In any case, Loki, by Oren Miller is, to me, the most representative version of Loki as Worldbreaker that I have managed to find thus far. This is Loki plotting revenge, on the brink of tearing down everything that matters, of rending the universe itself if he has to. This is the Loki that will break every barrier you have to self-knowledge if you are brave enough to ask him. This is the Loki that has no patience for lies that serve no purpose but to avoid the truth. This is the Loki that essentially says you’ve had enough time to get things together the slow and easy way, but now it’s time for the hard and fast way.

I have faced Loki in his Worldbreaker aspect a few times, and it’s always difficult but always worth it in the end. Still, I prefer the Loki pictured above – the aspect I usually deal with – because there’s a lot more patience and a lot more trust. At least, that’s how I feel about it.

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 Loki, by Oren Miller is a representation of Loki in His guise as Worldbreaker

The last aspect I feel a need to discuss is Loki as Destroyer, which I feel is best encapsulated in the piece Chaos Incarnate by OFools. In his guise as Destroyer, Loki brings Ragnarok around. The way I understand this aspect, Loki is the one responsible for ensuring that the current world ends so that a new one can begin. He is the catalyst, the one that keeps the gods from stagnating. In order to create, he must first destroy. To do that, his fire has to destroy him, consume him until there is nothing left but the rage needed to cause the end of one world to make way for the new.

This is Loki at his most destructive, at his most terrifying – and this is the aspect of Loki that non-Lokeans tend to assume is the only one Loki has. This is all they see, but they do not see that the destruction is necessary. The Norse dichotomy wasn’t order vs. chaos or good vs. evil – although those are easy shorthands – but action vs. stagnation. Loki is the god that makes sure the universe never stalls, never stagnates. Order vs. chaos comes close to that dichotomy, but it isn’t quite accurate (I highly recommend reading Culture of the Teutons by Vilhelm Grønbech if you want to learn more).

The reason I insist on discussing this aspect of Loki is that many Lokeans shy away from discussing this aspect, just like many shy away from discussing his aspect as Worldbreaker. They are not the same aspect, as Loki still retains his sanity in his Worldbreaker aspect. He still has enough control to be angry, ruthless, and methodical. Though I have not experienced his aspect as Destroyer, I feel as though that aspect is the one that he embodies only when Ragnarok occurs – when his rage has grown past his ability to control it, and he is consumed by his own flames.

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Chaos Incarnate by OFools captures Loki in His guise as Destroyer

These are only a few of the aspects Loki holds. He is a god of infinite form, and everyone who venerates Him will work with different aspects. Some may only work with one – others with many. These are a few I felt needed to be discussed, as they seem to be the more well-known of his aspects.

That said, I leave you with the customary disclaimer: The views here are my own, and only mine. I do not claim to speak for Loki or any of the other gods. Please take the time to think critically and decide what is and isn’t true for you yourself.

7 thoughts on “Loki’s Multifaceted Nature”

  1. Not only are you precisely correct in your statement that: “He is a god that can take on many, many forms, and gods are not limited in the type of relationships they can have with us.”

    But far more importantly–just as in your daily lives you have friends, family members, classmates, coworkers, neighbors, team members, and a wide range of other relationships that impact our lives–we also have just as varied relationships with our deities. We connect in different ways with Them, because they are unique and multifaceted, just as we are all individually on our own specific journeys.

    It can be incredibly damaging when you have people who forget these things, and try to harp one aspect as better over another.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Whoops, my cat decided to send that before I was done.

      I also wanted to say:

      Something I find myself having to remind people of all the time, is that as you begin developing a relationship with a God, please do so with the understanding that everyone’s experiences will vary. That isn’t because one person is more special than another, but rather that our Gods are opportunistic, they connect and communicate with us in the ways we are most receptive. Sometimes those messages are highly personalized and are meaningless to someone else.

      All of us should be receptive, not limiting. 🙂 You get more out of a relationship when you’re open with someone, and that’s especially true for multifaceted, complex Gods and all their varied aspects. 💛

      Liked by 3 people

    2. It’s hard to reply to this because it’s just like “yeah exactly” which isn’t all that conducive for creating conversation. I will say that I’ve seen a lot of people complain that they can’t discuss their relationship with Loki because of how other people discuss theirs with him, and I’m not really sure how to convey that all of their relationships are valid. I mean, I can *say* that, but it seems so far like people are more willing to complain than to consider the idea all the relationships are unique and valid.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. “… it took me a bit of searching to find an illustration that wasn’t overly reminiscent of Tom Hiddleston, who is a human and therefore not someone I view as an accurate depiction of Loki nor an aspect of the god.”

    I really liked this comment – as much as I love to see the Gods represented in more mainstream media as they have been of late, I am starting to struggle with the way in which the images of the actors then seem to take over.

    Liked by 1 person

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