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30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 20

Question: What art reminds you of this deity?

I sorta answered this question a few months ago, when I wrote about Loki’s Multifaceted Nature. I discussed six different aspects there – Loki as trickster, as Mother, as a god of the air (Loptr), as shaman, as Worldbreaker, and as Destroyer. He has many more, of course, so for this question, I looked for a few pieces that remind me of his other aspects.

Man with the Tattered Smile by Cinder Rose

The above image is Loki in his guise as Scarlip, a name he earned when he kept the dwarves from taking his head when he lost a bet by claiming he hadn’t promised them his neck. That led to them consenting, with great displeasure, to the sewing shut of Loki’s mouth instead.

The next image is Loki in his guise as the Bound God, which is punishment for something he has done. Snorri conflates this with the myth of Baldr’s death, but there is no scholastic evidence that the two stories were ever connected – Snorri forced a connection. Due to the myths of other European cultures (and all of them trace back to the original Indo-European mythology), it is more likely that this is a punishment Loki endures in a manner similar to Prometheus – probably for similar reasons.

Loki’s Punishment by Nathie
Loki by Natasa llincic

The above image is a great rendition of Loki, and in this art, I see Loki in his guise as a solar god, responsible for bringing the warmth necessary to cultivate growth. While he is often depicted as a god of fire, the sun itself is the embodiment of fire. It is due to his aspect as a solar god that I associate him with the summer.

That said, I also see within him his aspect as a god of water and ice, and therefore he can also be considered a god of winter. He is, perhaps, best understood as a harbinger of the seasonal changes. The ancient Norse only perceived two seasons – winter and summer – so it makes sense then that Loki would have both a summer and a winter form. The following art is the one I consider the best rendition of Loki in a winter guise.

Sacred Dance by Develv

There are many, many faces of Loki, and none of us will ever see all of them. The glimpses we do get into Lodur’s many facets are the reward we get for the work we do for and with him. To walk with any god is a privilege and an honor, more so when the god is as ancient as Loki is, and it is not an honor that I will ever take lightly.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 19

Question: What quality or qualities of Loki do you most admire? What quality or qualities of Loki do you find the most troubling?

I’m going to start by saying that I’m not entirely sure how to approach this question, as I try to keep the fact that the gods aren’t human at the forefront of my mind at all times. Because of that, I can answer the second part first – I don’t find any quality Loki holds to be troublesome because I know that if and when I do, it comes from me slipping and thinking of Loki as more human than god.

I really don’t like this question because it leans too heavily into the realm of assigning human qualities to the gods, and they don’t really possess them. They do have personalities, as they are entities with their own agency, and thus have qualities associated with those personalities. I just don’t know about this question, to be honest.

What I like about Loki is that he exists in the in-between spaces, that he is a liminal being, and that he doesn’t force people into things like some other gods will. He tends to honor the human concept of consent (from what I can tell, the gods don’t really have concepts like that amongst themselves). That doesn’t mean he won’t put a person through an ordeal by fire, but it seems that he usually waits for us to ask him to step into our lives before actually doing so.

I guess, if I had to choose what I admire most about him, is that he is always honest. Sometimes brutally so, and not always in the most appropriate manner – but there is still honesty there. Not that he can’t lie – he can, as shown in the story where he helps Thor retrieve his hammer – but he seems to only lie when dealing with enemies or when the situation does not allow for the truth to be told. He also never breaks any of the oaths he makes – he is loyal to those oaths to a fault. There is a level of integrity that most of the other gods seem to lack – although, to be fair, integrity is a human concept and so not really applicable. This is why I don’t like this question.

I guess some people might find his Worldbreaker aspect troublesome – at least, the larger American Heathen community seem to find this a difficult quality to come to terms with – but it doesn’t bother me. In that guise, it is just him angry about the harm that was done to his children and his willingness to seek revenge, no matter the cost, on those who have harmed his family. That is just another expression of the loyalty he has towards those he cares for, and that, to me, is beautiful.

In general, I have a hard time finding bad things about anyone I consider a friend. I tend to take people as they are, rather than trying to reshape them into who I think they ought to be. Even if I don’t like something about someone, I am not going to try to force them to change. Instead, I am going to try and find a healthier way to view what I dislike about that person so that I can be more fully accepting of who they are. It’s easy to judge others when they don’t fit our standards, but I personally think that we should rework our standards so that we are better able to meet people where they are, instead of where we think they ought to be.

It’s far easier to do that with gods than people, of course, since the gods, after all, aren’t human. I have an easier time shifting my perspective about a god when I read a myth that has them acting in a way that troubles me because I more fully understand that I am only seeing a part of the picture. That is also true with other human beings, but we are all (myself included) terrible at remembering that people are far more complex than the small interactions we have with them often suggest.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 18

Question: How does Loki stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG) 

Of the gods in the Norse pantheon, Loki is perhaps the most genderfluid, as he has no trouble taking on either male or female forms. In the myths, he generally takes on whatever form he needs to in order to accomplish his goals.

In the first myth where he is really introduced – in the myth concerning the building of Asgard’s walls – he intentionally transforms into a mare to lure away the stallion that is doing work for the giant building the wall and is threatening to force the Aesir into a very unfavorable position. Loki couples with Svidalfari, which results in the creation of Sleipnir, the 8-legged horse that carries Odin across the nine worlds.

Loki is thus a very generative force, especially as a mother, and therefore holds the mother and female polarity as strongly as he holds the masculine polarity. This makes sense, given his ability to traverse the liminal almost at will. He is the one that lives in the in-between spaces and stands at the midpoints and extremes of all opposites simultaneously.

That is perhaps the best way to answer the question – he is every gender, every sex, every polarity, all at one time. That isn’t something we can truly comprehend because no human can embody all of those concepts and forms simultaneously. Loki’s ability to do so comes from the nature of his godhood.

That said, Loki today has many devotees who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community, as there are few gods as genderfluid and sexually fluid as Loki. Many refer to Loki using gender-neutral pronouns, such as they/them or ze/zir, and other devotees tend to switch between he/she/they when describing Loki.

Personally, I tend to stick with the pronoun he when I describe Loki for the same reason I use the term god when I refer to any deity – male or female in form. The gods themselves are genderless – they do not have human form, so they are not possessed of any particular gender. Thus, the pronouns we use to refer to the gods have no bearing on the gods themselves.

My personal identification as an agender person derives partly for the lack of care I have about anything regarding gender. Other agender individuals feel differently, so I am not speaking for them. I personally believe that everyone holds both feminine and masculine polarities, so I find the construct of gender to be an arbitrary one that holds no interest for me. I understand that other people spend their lives searching for an understanding of the gender they hold, and that is their choice to make. To me, gender is an illusion, a trap of society that tries to shoebox us into certain roles. I have chosen to sidestep all of those in my own personal life, as I find them tiresome.

So, when I refer to the gods, I stick with the term god. I tend to stick with the pronoun of the forms that the gods most often appear with – thus I refer to shapeshifters in the forms that most often hold. With Loki, the majority of his forms are masculine, so I refer to him in that manner, regardless of the form he holds. From what I can tell, he doesn’t really care how people refer to him, as long as they pay attention to the messages he brings. Since the gods do not, in actuality, have gender, there is no disrespect in referring to a god by any particular pronoun.

That does not hold true for humans, however, and I do want to make it clear that I respect the pronouns that other humans wish me to use for them. I will not insist on using a cis pronoun for someone who prefers to be called by gender-neutral pronouns or pronouns that better describe their understanding of themselves. To do otherwise to another human being is to be disrespectful, and I generally have no reason to disrespect another person – especially on the basis of their pronouns.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 17

Question: How does Loki relate to other gods and to other pantheons? 

In my experience, Loki relates to other gods and pantheons incredibly well, for the most part. He seems to be as adept at creating bridges to other pantheons as he is at maintaining the bridge between the gods and humans. For that reason, he is a god I would not mind inviting to pretty much any ritual, alongside almost any other deity – with a couple of exceptions.

Before I discuss those exceptions, though, I’ll discuss some of the Norse gods and how I perceive Loki’s relationship with those gods. He is very much a family-oriented god, so he seems to get along with all of the members of his family.  He is also a very loving husband, and he constantly returns to Sigyn because, as far as I can tell, she is the one he loves above all others. She is home for him.

Loki and Odin are antagonistic best friends. By this, I mean they are each always riling the other up on purpose, pushing the other to greater heights and into greater and greater dangers. They have mutual respect for each other, but they both approach the world in a very different way. Odin lets his wisdom guide him; Loki sees knowledge through experience. From what I can tell, they have a love/hate relationship, and they both seem to derive great satisfaction from that relationship.

Loki and Thor, on the other hand, are like best drinking buddies. Thor always knows that Loki will come with him if he wants to go giant hunting, fishing, or just down to the pub. Thor respects Loki’s fighting skills (which often go unmentioned), and Loki enjoys the adventure Thor brings into his life. These two make for the best traveling adventures. That’s the impression I have of their relationship, anyway.

Loki and Ullr get along quite well, and both of them have mutual respect for the brand of the other’s wisdom. While it doesn’t seem to happen often for either of them, each will seek out the other’s advice when it is needed. Ullr, as a winter god, has a very different perspective than Loki, who is more of a summer god. They thus look at things in very different ways, and it makes sense that they would seek each other out for advice on occasion.

The Norse gods that Loki seems to hold a level of animosity towards are Freyja and Heimdall. The relationship with Freyja seems to be a rather difficult one, as they seem to move through stages of tolerating each other and hating each other entirely – I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced an aspect of either Loki or Freyja who were closer than toleration. They respect each other, but they don’t seem to like each other very much. That said, the aspects of the gods I experience are not going to be the same aspects other people experience – the gods have many, many faces, and it’s impossible for one person to see all of them.

Heimdall, on the other hand, seems to be the only god that Loki really, really dislikes – close to the point of hatred, if not there entirely. It is a stipulation of the work that I do for Loki that I am not allowed to honor Heimdall – that is the level of dislike that the Loki I work with holds towards Heimdall. The sheer level of the animosity that radiates from Loki makes it hard for me to perceive Heimdall in any other way. Because of that and the stipulation from Loki, I will not honor Heimdall personally (though I have no qualms with others hailing him in my presence), as I think it would be disrespectful to both Loki and Heimdall if I did.

When it comes to other pantheons, Loki seems to know everybody. In nearly every ritual I’ve ever done or been a part of, Loki seems to show up. Sometimes, the other gods get annoyed and exasperated with him, like he’s too eager to be everywhere. Other times, it’s like the gods are relieved he is around or they give him the spiritual equivalent of a high five. He seems to be almost universally liked by gods of other pantheons – from what I have been given to understand, he enjoys hanging out with Lucifer (who he always refers to as Luci) and sometimes with the hippie aspect of Jesus.

Loki also seems to get along with most of the Egyptian gods, although Set seems to find him like an annoying kid brother always causing him trouble. The Celtic gods also seem to have no problem with him – I think him and Lugh have a good laugh about how people try to conflate them, even though they are vastly different gods.

Loki also seems to know the African orishas, as he has shown up in rituals I’ve attended where the focus was on Oshun or Yemaya. He seems to be incredibly well-traveled and well-liked, and the fact that he spends a lot of time traveling makes perfect sense, as he often accompanies Odin on his journeys. Loki would, therefore, by necessity have to enjoy traveling and meeting new people. Unlike Odin, however, he has a great deal of charisma (in my experience, Odin is not very charismatic).

That said, there seems to be at least one Celtic god that doesn’t particularly care for Loki, and that is Brigid. From what I’ve been given to understand, something involving fire happened, and Loki got the credit when Brigid should have, and she can hold a vendetta. That’s the vague impression I have, but I don’t actually know the story. All I know is that something happened that made Brigid angry, and she has not (and may not ever) forgiven Loki for the part he played.

Loki, then, can serve as the intermediary between gods and humans but he can also serve as the go-between for different pantheons. He can create bridges across worlds that most gods cannot, and that allows for a much wider variety of practices and religions for those of us who follow him. He understands how to operate within each cultural system, and he adapts to the necessary conditions to move freely through the pantheons. It’s no wonder, then, that Odin often considers him his right hand. Who else could fill that role?

30-Days of Devotion for Loki: Day 16

Question: How do you think Loki represents the values of his pantheon and cultural origins? 

It’s impossible to know what the gods hold as their own values, but the cultural values of the ancient Northmen definitely give us some insight. Most of the Teutonic people operated through what is known today as an honor culture, which introduces a dichotomy of honor vs. shame in the day-to-day actions of a person’s life.

To act with honor meant to hold frith, to offer hospitality where it was due, and to seek blood revenge when an insult was offered. To fail to do any of these things meant shame for the person who failed to do them, and, by default, shame for the rest of the family to whom the person belonged.

The Teutonic peoples did not view family members as separate from themselves. The actions of each person in the family were, therefore, the acts of every member. If one family member acted outside the bounds of honor, it brought shame onto the entire family, as that one dishonorable act had, in essence, been committed by the entire family.

That is, perhaps, the reason that blood revenge was so prominent among the ancient Northmen. To insult one person was to insult an entire clan, and then that entire clan had to defend its honor or bleed shame for the duration of the clan line. There was no in-between, and the only way to staunch the flow of honor was to staunch the flow of blood from the family who had first offered insult.

When viewing Ragnorak using this cultural lens, it is clear to see that the binding of Loki and his subsequent bringing about of Ragnarok can serve as a metaphor for the honor of the clan. Loki, in a drunken stupor, insults every god present at the feast portrayed in the Lokasenna.

The gods cannot let the insults go, as the insults damage the wyrd of the entire Aesir tribe, and so they are forced to exact revenge upon him. Since, however, he is a member himself of the clan, they cannot outright kill him. The killing of kin was one of the two cardinal sins of the ancient Norse – the other was breaking an oath – and so they could not kill Loki, as doing so would permanently damage the wyrd of the clan.

They did, however, change Narvi into a wolf who, being an animal and unaware of what he was doing, tore his brother Vali into pieces. Vali’s entrails were then used to bind Loki. The Aesir sidestep the problem of killing kin by turning a person into a wolf and standing by as Narvi tears into his brother.

While the Aesir manage to avoid, in a rather odd way, the edict against kin-killing, Loki witnesses this atrocious act, and it is his rage and need for vengeance that allows him to keep fighting against his bonds and eventually free himself, bringing Ragnarok. In a very literal and cultural sense, Loki is the embodiment of the virtue of vengeance. He brings the destruction of the gods for the insult the Aesir leveled against him by instigating the death of two of his children.

There are other ways that Loki represents the cultural values of the Norse, but the virtue of vengeance was one of the foremost – if not the most prominent – of the virtues that the Teutonic people were required to hold. An insult could only be met with bloodshed – to do otherwise was to risk the complete destruction of the wyrd of your family.

Note: The information about the Teutonic cultures came from Gronbech’s “The Culture of the Teutons” – both volumes. It is an essential read for any Heathen. 

30-Days of Devotion for Loki: Day 15

Question: Are there any mundane practices associated with Loki? 

The practices that I associate with Loki are generally spiritual in nature, as he is a god that acts as the guardian of ritual sacrifice and protects and ensures the existence of the connection we have with the gods. He is a divine builder of bridges, and part of me wonders if he didn’t have a hand in the construction of the Bifrost.

That translates into the mundane world, as any sort of community building falls under his domain. Creating connections between people and forging stronger bonds – this is technically a type of mundane work. It can also be viewed as sacred work; it is in the eye of the beholder.

In addition, any type of ceremony that is meant to mark the transition from one phase of life to another also belongs to Loki, as he is a god of the liminal and transitions are necessarily liminal. The rites of passage within our society can thus be viewed as mundane practices that belong to Loki.

The transition from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to adulthood – these are often societally celebrated. In adolescence, a person learns to drive and acquires a license, moving from dependent to independent movement. In adulthood, a person gradually acquires the right to indulge in vices like smoking and the consumption of alcohol, and they are also granted the right to risk their lives in war if they choose. They also move from being financially dependent to financially independent, which is perhaps the most difficult transition to complete.

There are other rights of passage as well – there is the transition from single life to partnered life, unmarried life to married life if a person feels so inclined. There is a more permanent acceptance of the identities a person holds, from the sexuality they express to the religion they choose to follow (or not follow).

There is also the transition that occurs when people move in and out of our lives, and the transition that occurs when we move to a new place and leave the old one behind. As we grow into our lives, we gradually begin to accept the inevitable nature of change.

Loki is, in one of his aspects, the embodiment of change, the force that always pushes action and requires the world to keep moving. He is, in some ways, an unseen mover, and so all motion can be attributed to him. There is a lot in the mundane world that is constantly in motion, constantly in transition, and Loki is one of the gods responsible for driving that ceaseless motion.

The changes and transitions we go through in life are not something we often think about as practices, as they are intangible and not something we often have control over. That is reflected in the macrocosm, as liminality is intangible and not something Loki always has control over either – the liminal, by its very nature, is not a force that can be easily manipulated.

Like a river, the currents of liminality ebb and flow, and we have to step into the right current to find the path to the life we desire. Loki is a god of the liminal because he sees more of the path and can thus more readily determine the one that will get him to where he desires to go. We do not see as much as Loki does, and so we often see paths that look good but lead us nowhere.

It is difficult to talk about the liminal spaces in the world as being mundane, as they are necessarily sacred – transitions have a sacred, otherworldly feel to them. So, in that sense, there are no mundane transitions, yet we celebrate those transitions with mundane rights of passage. Those rites of passage, then, are the closest thing we have to a mundane practice that can be associated with Loki.

30-Day Devotional for Loki: Day 14

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.