Question: How did you first become aware of Loki?
This is actually a question that is asked fairly frequently within Lokean spaces, and it is one that I still not entirely sure how to answer. Mostly because it feels like I have always been aware of Loki, almost like he was just waiting in the background waiting for me to pay attention.
But he came into my life directly when I first read the Poetic Edda – the Bellows translation – for the first time (nearly a decade ago). I had actually sort of looked into the Norse gods before, reading through some of the myths, and I had such a violently disquieting reaction to Odin that I refused to even contemplate the Norse gods for nearly two years.
I don’t remember what I came across that convinced me to change my mind and approach the Norse gods again, but I did, and I realized that the reason I had been so disturbed by my reaction to Odin was that I had seen more of myself in him than I was comfortable with at the time.
In any case, the research I did suggested that I should read the Eddas, so I bought the Bellows translation of the Poetic Edda and began reading. I had seen enough in forums and articles online that suggested Loki was evil, but I have also lived a life where I have heard people call things evil that they do not understand.
I came to Paganism itself after studying with a Jehovah’s Witness who insisted that Pagans were evil, and I did my own research to try and understand why there was so much hatred directed at Pagans. What I found led me to the religion that I would eventually claim as my own, so it is no surprise with that background that I did not immediately accept the claims others had made that Loki was evil.
Instead, I read through the Poetic Edda, trying to understand where that prejudice had come from. Everything I read, every story that pointed at “Loki=evil” read to me as a story that people had badly misinterpreted. Loki wasn’t evil – in fact, he seemed to have one of the strongest moralities of all of the Norse gods. Sure, he was cunning and tricky, using his wit to get out of the most difficult situations, but that did not make him evil.
When I got to the Lokasenna, which many Heathens had cited as being the most problematic as it was the most convincing demonstration of Loki’s evil, I found myself feeling incredibly angry on Loki’s behalf. Here was a deity whose blood brother had failed to invite him to a feast of the gods, a serious breach in hospitality. Here was a deity who laid bare the failings of the gods, telling nothing but truth while being labeled the father of lies.
It was the anger I felt on his behalf that I think finally made me aware that Loki was already in my life and had just been waiting for me to pay enough attention for him to be able to communicate with me. My first impression of Loki was that he was incredibly misunderstood and hated because of that.
I resonated strongly with that, and I still do, because I have always been the kind of person who doesn’t quite fit into any group. Even while fully belonging, I never quite feel completely included, and I think that experience and the understanding I hold of it resonated across and helped me form a stronger relationship with Loki.
While Loki has been – and will probably remain – a god that is misunderstood and perceived incorrectly, I have never viewed him as a god that needs to be defended against those who misunderstand him. He is capable of doing that himself if he feels the need to do so, but I often get the feeling that the misunderstandings people have of him often end up helping him. Sometimes, being misunderstood is an advantage in and of itself. If, of course, you know how to wield it.