Question: Do you have any suggestions for others just starting to learn about Loki?
The best suggestion I can give to anyone interested in learning about a particular deity is to advise them to read the myths and try to see the story through that vantage point. So, in this case, a person would read the myths and view Loki as the main character, no matter how minor his role, and try and discern the potential motives behind his actions.
Trying to figure out the why behind a god’s actions in the myths is a great first step to really start to understand what kind of god you’re dealing with. Loki is constantly solving problems in the myths, which indicates he’s a quick and innovative thinker. He also really understands other people’s motivations, which allows his cunning to really shine through.
When you’re reading the myths, try to ignore the biases of authors who paint the gods in a particular light. If someone calls a god evil or spiteful, decide for yourself through examining the myths via the lens of that god’s character if that is actually justified or not. Most of the time, bias in myth is not justified – it’s just that the person who wrote the retelling of the myth let their bias sink in. Most myth writers aren’t versed in deep mythical interpretation; they retell the myths because they enjoy the stories and do not necessarily understand or appreciate the deeper religious implications.
Once you are comfortable with the myths and have examined a few of them through Loki’s eyes (as close as humans can get, of course), then decide if you think he’s a god that you want to approach. If the answer to that question is yes, then approach him with an offering and give him a libation and tell him that you are interested in learning more from him and experiencing what he is like firsthand.
If you really want to butter him up and get him interested in seeing what you have to offer, I’d suggest an offering of something chocolate (cinnamon raisin chocolate bread to be precise) and some fireball whiskey. In my experience, those are two things he pretty much never turns down, and if you show up with both, he is more than likely going to show up just to receive the offerings.
One of the most common mistakes I see people make is that they approach a god before they have done any research into them – by research, I mean reading the myths in the manner I have described – and then get upset when that god doesn’t show up or ends up not giving them what they have asked to receive. That is really a dual mistake – it’s not a good idea to approach a god you don’t know and be like, “Hey, could you give me this really important thing?” It’s the equivalent of going up to a stranger on the street and being like, “Hey, can you give me five grand?” It’s that level of rude.
The first time you approach a god, it should be more like going to a new neighbor’s house where you bring a housewarming gift and get to know the person in the first conversation. Subsequent offerings are like going to the neighbor’s house with cookies on every visit, so that they know you enjoy their company but also want to provide them with something that allows them to enjoy your company. That’s how a reciprocal relationship is forged, and that is how you build up a good relationship with the gods – offerings at every visit. Asking the gods for more than just conversation and experience comes way later, after you have established a relationship.
There is also a bit of truth to the idea that the less you ask for, the more you receive when you do actually need to ask for help. I make it a point not to ask Loki for much help, and I do that mostly out of respect and partially because I know that not asking him for help with everyday stuff makes it more likely for him to be willing to help with the really big stuff – like the intercession he was willing to make with the Morrigan that I mentioned yesterday.
I highly suggest solving as many problems you can on your own or with ancestral or wight help before ever turning to the divine. Not because the gods won’t want to help but because the gods are the only ones that can help when a situation spirals out of control.
That said, there are many ways to approach learning about a god. You can read articles and books that discuss them in a more scholastic way if that is your inclination. You can read the myths. You can talk to other people who work with the god you’re curious about and learn more about the types of people who are generally drawn to work with that god. The best way, in my experience, however, is to read the myths and then approach the deity with offerings when you’re ready.
After all, polytheistic religions are living religions. Our gods are very much alive, approachable, and present. The best way to get to know a god is to get to know them directly. Our religions are based on reciprocal relationships, so when we talk to the gods, they listen, and they talk to us so that we may listen. We give offerings so they may give us all good things, so that we, in turn, can give to them again. It is a neverending cycle of exchange, and that makes honoring the gods a beautiful experience.