Question: Has worship of Loki changed in modern times?
I would say that it has, considering the difficulty of locating historical evidence of a Loki cult – the little evidence we do have does not tell us anything about how that cult, if it existed, would have worshipped. It is highly probable that Loki did have a cult, but unearthing that evidence has proven to be a fairly difficult task.
That said, even in modern-day Heathenry, the worship of Loki has changed and evolved – at least in American Heathenry. When I first came to Heathenry, about ten years ago, it was close to impossible to find an organization or a kindred who did not restrict the honoring of Loki or view honoring him as an insult to the gods. From what I understand, this is not true in other countries – it is only in the United States that Heathens have had difficulty reconciling Loki as a part of the Norse pantheon.
When I first began working with Loki, I used to frequent different Pagan and Heathen forums, reading through them to try and figure out how to work with him and what it meant to be devoted to him. I usually found one of two things, both of which disturbed me. The first, of course, were those who viewed Loki as evil incarnate, the Norse equivalent of the Abrahamic Devil. These were people who, even then, I understood were too caught up in their Christian baggage to be useful.
The second type of people were those who defended Loki at every perceived slight, being obnoxiously loud in their defense of a god. These people bothered me because they were, albeit unintentionally and through a pure-hearted desire, painting Loki as a weak god incapable of fighting his own battles. I was not comfortable with either of those two approaches, as I never felt that Loki was a god that I needed to defend against pithy insults. That rang too much of the emo culture to me, so I turned away from both approaches.
I have spent many, many years as a solitary practitioner – I still am, to a large degree, but I do perform and work within larger group rituals of nearly all polytheistic traditions (if offered the chance to attend) – and through those years, I came to know Loki on a personal level. I got to know him through the myths, through the stories I saw on blog posts from those who did not approach him as a Norse Satan or a god incapable of fighting his own battles.
Eventually, that relationship turned into him calling me into his priesthood, a mantle that I took up gradually because it was one I was originally reluctant to wear. Being clergy is a heavy responsibility, no matter which god you serve. At the time I took up that calling, there were only a handful of Lokean priests across the community – probably no more than a dozen.
As part of my calling, I helped create the Loki’s Wyrdlings Facebook community, which was intended as a platform to bring Lokeans together into a safe place where they could openly discuss their worship of Loki without the harassment typically leveled at us by larger Heathen groups and organizations. A few other Lokean Facebook groups emerged, and now there are four strong groups that Lokeans can choose from. Even three years ago, those choices were limited.
Because of those community connections, Lokeans were able to come together and offer a strong rebuttal to the piece written in the Wild Hunt that painted Loki and Trump as mirrors of one another – a response you can read here. That also led me to submit this article about the Lokean community to the Wild Hunt, which hopefully helped further dispel some common myths about those who worship Loki.
The most recent change to the worship of Loki in modern times is that the Heathen organization the Troth repealed their ban of hailing Loki during Trothmoot rituals. In addition, they have instilled a ten-year period where they will hold rituals to Loki in a prime-time spot in the Trothmoot program as a type of weregild for the harm they have done to Loki and his devotees by their previous ban.
The lifting of that restriction came early this year, and I can only hope that other Heathen organizations will follow in the Troth’s footsteps. As Paganism and the understanding of polytheistic religions grows, I hope that the worship of Loki will continue to evolve as well. He is far more patient than those who do not work with him will ever understand, and it takes far more than most realize to push him to a point where he is willing to seek vengeance. In my experience, Loki understands humans far better than many of the other gods do, and that makes him more approachable. It is nice to see that he is finally starting to get the respect he deserves from the wider Heathen community, though that is respect he has always had from those of us who call ourselves Lokeans.