Reblog this so we can have an awesome first edition!
Reblog this so we can have an awesome first edition!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last night, I went to Taco Bell with one of my best friends. The conversation we had was pretty interesting, as we went from discussing the Book of Swords series by Fred Saberhagen to the ALS walk he is helping his romantic interest organize. We also discussed his friend’s decision to purchase a Shiba Inu and the complications that has brought due to some unforeseen anger issues. Finally, our conversation turned to Loki and the Lokean groups on Facebook.
I was expressing my frustration with some of the spin-offs from Loki’s Wyrdlings that seem predisposed to trash-talking fellow Lokeans. Those really bother me because it seems immature and disrespectful to me to trash-talk fellow Lokeans who are simply at different places in their practice. In the Wyrdlings group, I have tried to cultivate an atmosphere that is welcoming to everyone, from beginner to advanced, and that’s never been an easy task.
I understand that some of the more advanced practitioners, myself included, sometimes feel frustrated by questions that beginners ask because we’ve already resolved those issues. But the truth is, we were all beginners at some point, and now that we can answer those questions, shouldn’t we? Not all of us – in fact, very few of us – had mentors that we could ask those questions of, so we had to carve out the path we walk in a very clumsy, messy way. Now that we’ve carved those paths, however, we have an opportunity to make it easier for those who follow in our footsteps to find their way to Loki.
I’d much rather celebrate the community that has emerged over the past few years and appreciate that there are so many new Lokeans than indulge in the frustration and exasperation that some of the beginner level questions can cause. I’d rather answer the same beginner’s question a thousand times to a thousand new Lokeans than to scoff at them and tell them they should already have the answer figured out. Elitism is never pretty, no matter where it shows up, and it is never kind.
One of the other things that bothers me about some of these new groups is that they claim to present a space to discuss the darker aspects of Loki. They claim to acknowledge that Loki is more than love and light, to avoid the fluffy side, and to essentially discuss the reality that Loki is a complex god that can be as cruel as he is kind.
That bothers me mostly because the Wyrdlings group has always allowed for a discussion of all of Loki’s aspects, from the cruelest to the kindest and everything in-between. I’ve always posted my new blogs to the Wyrdlings group, and I’ve discussed Loki’s Worldbreaker aspect in detail. I’ve definitely talked about how Loki is not always kind – a broken oath to him, from stories I’ve heard, often results in a person’s being driven insane. I’ve talked about how a person who is unable to handle Loki’s energetic signature may find themselves slowly going crazy, dealing with a divinely induced psychosis.
Those conversations have never been off-limits in the Wyrdlings group, so it surprises me that there are people who think that they are. It also worries me that there are groups who are trying to avoid anything they consider too “kind” or “fluffy” because Loki is a complex god with many, many facets. He can be cruel but he can also be kind. To focus on one side of Loki is to ignore the other sides, and that seems dangerous to me. People are free to do what they want, of course, but it seems unwise to focus on one side of Loki and ignore the others. It seems unwise to do that with any god, if I’m honest.
That conversation eventually turned to the pictures of Loki that I’ve seen in various groups, and there was one that stuck in my memory that I showed my friend. It was a black and white sketch of Loki crammed inside a box. On the outside of the box, the phrase “human expectations” was written. In Loki’s speech bubble, there was this comment: “You realize I don’t fit in this, right?”
That drawing serves as a poignant reminder that Loki is a god complex to the point that He defies human expectations. He doesn’t fit in a box, no matter how much we might want to fit him into one. The gods deserve to be seen as they are instead of how we want them to be, but that’s a very hard thing to do – we cannot ever see all of the gods. They have too many sides.
What we can do, however, is acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. Those of us more experienced can remind ourselves that we have a responsibility to be humble before the gods we serve, as we will always be beginners in their eyes. We can never know them to the point we can know another human, so to judge others for the relationships they hold or don’t hold with Loki is elitist and absurd.
I’m certainly not going to judge anyone for the relationships with the gods they honor, even if I don’t understand them. I am, however, going to judge the people who are judging those relationships. What right do you have to tell another person that the relationship they have with their god is wrong, immature, unfounded, or unrealistic?
Instead of condemning the relationships others have with their gods, maybe you should try focusing on developing the relationships you hold with yours. Every relationship looks different. Every interaction is unique. Sometimes, the gods speak to us directly in ritual, through godphones, through dreams, or through divination. Sometimes, the gods don’t speak to us at all, and we give them offerings anyway.
Because every interaction with a god is a privilege and a pleasure, even when those interactions are sometimes terrifying. We give offerings to the gods in gratitude for everything that they have already done for us – they gave us the world we live in and the lives we hold. Should we really go around expecting more than that?
I’ve experienced the gods first-hand, but it’s not because I asked them to show up or to add anything more to my life. Every instance where a god has interacted with me, it has been a privileged moment, a special moment in my life that I will always hold close to me. To me, they are moments where I know that the gods care – that they have always cared – about those who follow them.
I never expect the gods to show up. I don’t require that to happen for me to honor them. These aren’t incidents that happen all that often, and, when they do, I’m usually not expecting it at all. Loki sometimes shows up through my friend who has a standing agreement with him to allow possession and channeling, and every time it has happened, my immediate reaction has been, “Why are you here? Did I do something wrong? What do you need?” At least internally. Externally, I stammer through a greeting and try to figure out what to ask a god whose presence, even while channeled, is simply overwhelming.
The last time it happened was last night at Taco Bell, which was the first time Loki has appeared through a channeled form outside of a ritual environment in about six months. He didn’t stay for long, either – maybe three to five minutes. The whole world kinda fell to that moment though, so it felt like an eternity and an instant all at once.
I did eventually ask him why he showed up, and his response was that he was excited about the offerings I had bought him. I always give Loki offerings on Saturday, and it was approaching midnight, so that made sense to me. I asked him why he liked chocolate so much since it’s not like he needs it to survive, and his response was essentially that it engenders in him something close to what humans understand as excitement but isn’t quite that. I actually really appreciated that candor because it told me pretty clearly that Loki, at least, is a god that can translate the way that gods feel into a way that humans can understand. Even if we are always bumbling around and getting things wrong.
I also asked him what his thoughts were on the spin-off groups, and I got the equivalent of a shrug. He told me that humans have always needed smaller groups to discuss certain things and that people always fight about things. I had a sneaking suspicion that he was fine with the spin-off groups just so he could watch the conflict unfold, and when I asked him that, he answered in the affirmative. At that point, a fire truck drove by with its sirens blaring, and I could almost physically feel his attention completely swing away from me and towards the fire truck, and I said something along the lines of “You really want to chase that truck now, don’t you?” Which also got an answer in the affirmative.
I also told him I had seen people using his name to create the WWLD kind of acronyms reminiscent of the WWJD ones, except that it was more WWLB with it standing for What Would Loki Burn? His response to that was both hilarious and terrifying – “What wouldn’t I?” My response to that was “Hopefully, your followers.” Then he laughed and left to, assumingly, chase the fire truck.
For me, that is an interaction that will live on in my heart forever. It helps that my friend was with me, and he mostly remembers the possession, which helped with discernment. We discussed it afterwards in-depth because that’s one of the best ways to ensure that what we had experienced was real and not just a delusion.
That said, those aren’t experiences or interactions I expect to have with Loki. Last night, I was actually dealing with some pretty heavy depression caused by the fact that my leg was really hurting me (I have metal rods in my right leg from a bad car accident several years ago), and all I really wanted to do was lay down somewhere and cry myself to sleep with the pain of it. I was in no way in a state of mind where I felt competent or capable of dealing with a deity interaction.
Loki didn’t care about that, though, since he showed up and forcibly made my phone stop working – I was looking for a picture of him to show my friend, ironically enough. Loki essentially forced me to pay attention to him when I was literally at one of my lowest points. Once I realized he was present, I pulled myself together enough to deal with the interaction. Because I’m his priest, I will never turn Loki away when he shows up, no matter how he shows up. That’s one of the things I’m obliged to do – have the conversations with Loki he wants to have, even if I’m not in the best mindset to do so.
I’m sure there are people who read about my interactions with Loki and other gods and get jealous because they aren’t having those interactions. I hate that because I don’t share these interactions to showcase that I have them. I share these interactions to demonstrate the love I have for the gods and to demonstrate that the gods are very much alive, very much real, and very much present. I share them to remind others that the gods do care and that they are around, even in the moments we think they aren’t present. I also ask the gods before I share these interactions to determine whether or not they are interactions I should be sharing. So, I only share the interactions that the gods tell me to share. I assume they want certain things shared for certain reasons, but I’m certainly not privy to why they want some things shared and not others.
I also don’t know how to ensure that a god shows up, even when they are invited. I’d say issuing an invitation probably helps, but there’s no guarantee that a god will show up or that they will stay for the duration of whatever they are invited to. The gods have their own agency, and they do whatever they want, whenever they want.
I make a habit of asking the gods for as little as possible because they already give us so much. I give offerings to the gods out of gratitude for what they do without my asking. I rarely ever give offerings to gods in an attempt to get them to give me something else. I don’t know if that makes a difference in how or when they show up in my life. I don’t know the secrets of the gods; I’m not one of them.
All I can do is the best I can, and I do my best to expect nothing from them. Maybe that’s part of it, but that’s me groping blindly in the dark. I know, myself, that I’d far rather be present in a place where I know the person who has invited me wants nothing from me but my presence than in a place where the person who has invited me wants me simply for the skills I hold. In one situation, I would feel appreciated; in the other, I would feel used. It’s not hard to imagine that perhaps the gods would feel a similar way.
These are my speculations, and the experiences I share are ones I interpret through the lens of my own understanding. I do not expect others to agree with me or to take what I say as the truth for them to chase. In fact, I actively discourage that, as it tends to show a lack of critical thinking. I do not speak for Loki, and even the words I hear from him are ones I know get filtered through my own understanding. The aspects of Loki I interact with aren’t the only ones that exist, and I highly encourage everyone to discern the truth for themselves.
I’m a bit amused – about two days ago, I was thinking, “Ya know, I really haven’t written much in my blog in a while. Do I really not have anything to say?”
Then I started browsing Facebook and the groups that I’m part of, especially those related to Loki, and now it’s like, “No, I definitely have plenty to say. I just didn’t realize it needed to be said.”
It’s interesting how a set of words can invoke a certain set of actions in a person. It’s words that put this post in motion, and it’s words that I want to discuss. Someone expressed concern that people in a Lokean group were offended over words and hurt by them. They essentially asked why people who work with Loki get so offended by words.
I don’t know if it’s a good question to ask, but it poses a good thought experiment, so why not?
If Lokeans do get more offended than others by the way words are used, it may actually stem from the fact that Loki himself is known as a wordsmith. He crafts words as the weapons he uses, so it would stand to reason that Lokeans would understand the power of words in a very clear way.
Words can wound like nothing else. We’ve all heard the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” – at least, I heard it a lot growing up. The reality, though? I’d take the broken bones over the turmoil that cruel words can cause. At least if someone hits me, I know where I stand with them. But words can be twisted into so many different shapes that it can be impossible to know if someone loves or hates you. Words hurt far worse, but we live in a society that tries to claim otherwise.
I grew up in an alcoholic home. My mother was mentally, emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive (though the physical abuse was less pronounced than the other three). To this day – and my mother died sixteen years ago – I still don’t know if she loved me or hated me. That’s how mixed those messages were. I spent the first fifteen years of my life in an environment so toxic I’ve had friends from the military tell me I grew up in a war zone – but there was rarely any physical altercations.
The majority of the pain my mother inflicted on me and my sister came from words. It is the words that she said and the ones that she didn’t say that left the deepest scars. Words are powerful, terrible things. They can also be wonderful healers.
Language itself holds the power of life and death within it, of pain and healing. A single word can issue a command to a soldier to take a life or to stay a hand. A single word can leave a scar or heal a heart. Words are the most powerful weapons we wield.
So why would Lokeans be more offended than others when words are used as weapons? Because Loki is a god of language. One of his epithets is Silvertongue. He knows how to sling words better than any of the other gods. He staid the hands of the dwarves when he wagered his head by reminding them that they did not have the right to his neck.
It is Loki’s quick tongue that keeps Thor from being discovered too soon in Thrym’s hall. It is Loki’s words that draw Idunna out of Asgard and get him into trouble with the other gods. It is Loki’s insulting of the gods in the Lokasenna that serve to bring their ire down on him. It is Loki’s words to Hod that convince Hod to throw the mistletoe spear at Baldr.He convinces Odin that he can keep Freya from being won by Thiazi.
In every myth, in every iteration of Loki, the one thing constant is that Loki uses words as his weapons. He uses words to persuade and to console. He also uses words to wound. Loki is the penultimate wordsmith.
So, if Lokeans are more offended by words, I’d say it stems from the understanding that words are the sharpest weapons we hold. Words hurt. They heal. It is in their power that we all live and die – language is the quicksilver of magic and of thought. Language is the glue that binds us together. It is language, therefore, that can unhinge us.
We craft adages about language to try and take away the power it holds over us. We have idioms that tell us physical pain is worse than the pain of words. But anyone who has ever been insulted or told that their very existence is problematic knows the truth – words hurt more than anything else.
That also means words have an incredible potential to heal. They are life and death, creation and destruction, pain and healing. This is one of Loki’s rawest aspects – the force of language itself. He is a wordsmith. He can grant life and destroy it. He can craft a beautiful existence or destroy the world. He can hit the wounds at the core of even the other gods with the words he speaks, and he can heal by reminding us all of the potential we hold. Loki is as much creation as destruction, as much destruction as creation. So are words. Who else would rule language, then, if not Loki?
As I was browsing through my Facebook feed, one friend’s post caught my eye. In it, I saw a discussion of how the Lokean community has become so inundated with godspousery that it has become difficult to discuss relationships of a different nature. Some of the comments left on the thread told me that there are individuals out there who currently feel ostracized by the sheer number of godspouses in the Lokean community. Some feel left out and alienated because they don’t have that type of relationship with Loki. Others are distinctly uncomfortable because of traumatic sexual histories.
I find this both frustrating and fascinating. I find it frustrating because I feel that everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. No one should feel like they are being drowned out. People should not feel like they cannot start a conversation because they are afraid that someone is going to take what they say the wrong way or criticize them for not being a godspouse.
The fascinating thing is that the majority of Lokeans aren’t godspouses. Some of the preliminary results of the survey done by my sexologist friend (here’s the article where she discusses the survey) demonstrate that. Out of around 85 surveyed (she posted this in the Loki’s Wyrdlings group), only 14 of those surveyed were Lokeans. That’s a little over 15%, but that definitely isn’t a percentage that screams majority.
In some ways, we can say, as a community, that we’ve treated our minority group incredibly well – to the point that the majority literally thinks they are being drowned out by those who are godspouses. That is more a perception than a reality, and it may come down to the simple fact that a lot of people who are Lokean godspouses are louder about the relationship they share with Loki.
There are various opinions as to why godspouses tend to be so vocal about their relationships, though most of them tend to center around the idea that godspouses are attention-seekers. That’s not very easy to measure, since there are certainly going to be people who fit into that category. There are also Lokean godspouses that never mention that they exist because they remember the level of ridicule faced when godspousery was becoming a concept within Paganism. It’s really not that old an idea in the broader Pagan world, so some of the loudness may also come from the novelty of the fact it is more accepted today than it was even five years ago.
That said, there are a thousand different types of relationships. Every person’s relationship with Loki is unique. No one’s experience needs to dictate anyone else’s. I am not a godspouse to Loki, nor would I want to be. That’s not the relationship we have, and it’s not the kind of relationship I would readily pursue with any deity. Godspousery requires a ridiculous amount of dedication and work, when a person is truly dedicated to their astral partner (in all honesty, I question the amount of dedication I see from many self-named godspouses).
The majority of Lokeans have devotee relationships with Loki. That means they honor him through offerings on the schedule they have arranged with him. Generally, that means getting familiar with the lore and developing the understanding that the Marvel universe is not the mythology. When I see Lokean godspouses talking about how much they enjoy Marvel Loki and base everything off Tom Hiddleston, it’s pretty hard to shake the conviction that they simply have a crush on the actor that they, for some reason, have gotten mixed up with a deity in their head. It’s one thing to appreciate Marvel’s version of Loki and understand where the religious lore and the comic verse intersect – it’s another entirely to worship Marvel’s Loki instead of the Norse one (that’s a long-standing view I’ve held that is fairly regularly found contentious).
The other thing that I find absolutely fascinating about this entire situation is that so many Lokeans who are not godspouses are afraid to speak up in a more public way. That actually amuses me to a degree but I also find it a bit offensive. Because Loki is a god that promotes confronting reality, I do not understand standing back and trying not to offend someone by presenting a view you hold. If it’s a view you hold, and you present it without directly insulting anyone, where is the disrespect?
I personally find it far more disrespectful to stay silent, as that creates the impression – and the illusion – of the existence of what simply is not there. It is rude to stay silent when truth needs to be spoken.
So why not be true to yourself and to what you think? Why not speak your truth? Sure, there are fears to be faced. The fear of rejection, of being told “no, you’re wrong, you cannot believe this way,” is always there, lurking under the surface. The fear of being silenced, of being told, “shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” is another. Fortunately, fears are always greater in the abstract than in reality.
A better question might be, “Is there at least one person who will agree with me?” Some of us need to know that someone will have our back when we say something controversial. That’s a pretty universal human need. And honestly, the chances are high you will find someone who shares your viewpoint. If you cannot convince yourself of this, then maybe ask yourself a different question:
“Who can I help give a voice to if I share my story?”
Worry less about how people will perceive you and worry more about people whose stories are similar to yours. Who knows, you may just give someone else the courage to speak up, once you take that risk. Everything is a gamble; in some ways, life is just a series of risks that have either paid off or haven’t.
Speaking to Lokeans, I’d say we should all be willing to take a risk and speak up. Loki is, after all, one of the greatest risk-taskers of the gods. Just look at everything he accomplished…simply because he was willing to speak up and suggest something different. It’s been said that the best form of worship is emulation. Who else would a Lokean emulate, if not Loki himself?
So, since I’m very much a proponent of practicing what I preach, I’ll start my defining my relationship with Loki.
Loki is the god I serve as a priest. What that means can be difficult to explain, though I do try to do so when asked. Being a Pagan priest, to begin with, is different than what is assumed by the word. Generally, a priest in the Pagan context helps facilitate ritual, and I certainly do that for Loki.
However, there’s also a community aspect to the work I do. The Loki’s Wyrdlings group and Loki University came out of the service that I give to Loki. Those are things I was asked to do. Loki asked me to create a community where all Lokeans could come together and feel safe in their veneration of Him. He did not ask me to provide a community free of conflict – just a place Lokeans could come to escape the persecution faced in mainstream Paganism and Heathenry.
The unfortunate reality is that people create conflict all the time. Put two people together long enough, conflict eventually happens. Even best friends fight and disagree with each other. So, that is an impossible task to begin with, and I’d like to think that the gods try not to ask us to do the impossible.
When I created Wyrdlings with Karlesha’s help, there was no space for Lokeans as a whole. There were small pockets of people on forums that sort of stuck together, but the kind of force generated by the Lokean community when the Trump article came out in the Wild Hunt would have been impossible a few years ago.
Sometimes, I see spin-off groups from Wyrdlings, and I admit, I do wonder a bit why they left and if I did something wrong – I’m only human, after all. Sometimes, I even feel a bit jealous of these spin-off groups, and then I remind myself that I’m being ridiculous. Because these smaller branching off groups are a reminder that the Lokean community is vibrant and alive and growing. The larger a community grows, the more splinters it tends to have. History has taught me that, especially the history of professional communities.
Loki has never been a simple god – I don’t think I’ve ever met a god that was simple – so of course it makes since that as the Lokean community gets larger, the number of groups that have their own way of looking at Loki also increases. The gods are expansive. People bond over different aspects of the gods.
Because of that, the aspects we each deal with means all of us have different relationships with the gods we work with. What I do for Loki as one of his priests is different than what another one of his priests does for him. It’s also different from what devotees do, what godspouses do, and those are all different from familial relationships with Loki. Different doesn’t mean better or worse. It just means different.
Every relationship any of us have with another person is different than the relationship someone else has with that person. It’s like getting jealous of a friend’s relationship with another friend. It doesn’t make sense. Because getting jealous of that relationship indicates that you aren’t content with the one you’re in, and it devalues the friendship you already have. Celebrate the relationships you have and the uniqueness of them. Whether those relationships are with other people or with gods, no one can have a relationship with someone else that you have. No one else can be you.
So, if you’re chasing a relationship someone else has with Loki, stop and think about it. Is that really the relationship you want with him? Or is there a different one that would serve you both better?
Conversely, if you’re condemning someone else’s relationship with Loki, why are you doing that? Why are you devaluing someone else’s relationship instead of pursuing the fulfillment of the relationship you hold with Loki?
Jealousy and/or condemnation aside, the point I’m trying to get across here is this: pursue your own relationship with Loki, your way. Don’t take someone else’s relationship and use it as an example of what the “right” relationship looks like. Stop judging yourself and other people for having the relationships they do.
Simple solution, right? Now if only putting it into action were as easy as it sounds. Then again, nothing worth doing is ever easy. The gods we honor aren’t safe, and the paths we walk are the ones we forge.
One of my favorite myths about Loki is the one in which he kidnaps Idunn because it is the myth that I feel best demonstrates his character.
In the most common version of the myth, Loki, Odin, and Hoenir were traveling to Jotunheim and stopped to cook an ox they had hunted. A problem arose, however, as the fire refused to cook the meat.
Thiazi, in the form of an eagle, offered to help cook the meat if the gods would allow him to partake in the feast. The gods agreed, but when the meat was cooked, he took off with both hindquarters and both shoulders of the ox.
That angered Loki, so he struck at Thiazi with a stick (probably large enough to be considered a staff), but Loki ended up stuck at the end of the stick and dragged around until he begged for mercy. The only way Thiazi agreed was to force an oath from Loki that he would entice Idun to leave Asgard so that he could have access to her life-giving apples. Loki agreed.
Back in Asgard, Loki tricked Idunn into leaving the walls of Asgard by saying he had found apples that tasted better and were more life-giving than her own. She wasn’t convinced and insisted Loki show her the apples, which he agreed to do. Once they were outside of Asgard, however, Thiazi showed up in the form of an eagle and abducted her.
Once the gods noticed that they were aging, Odin threatened Loki until he agreed to rescue Idunn. Loki did this by transforming her into a nut while he wore Freyja’s falcon cloak, and Thiazi chased them as they fled towards Asgard. Once there, Loki navigated the fires but Thiazi was caught by the flames, fell to the ground, and Thor killed him.
Now, I generally utilize Sallustius’s five levels of myth interpretation to interpret myths but I just finished reading the last couple chapters of Volume II of the Culture of the Teutons by Vilhelm Grönbech, and he raised a couple of intriguing points specifically about the myth of Idunn’s abduction.
Addressing the first point, one of the most common counterpoints I hear that works to paint Loki as evil generally points out that Loki is the one who caused the problem in the first place, and that he is only trying to save himself. Essentially, Loki gets painted as inherently selfish when this myth is picked apart.
However, if Loki is viewed throughout the myths as the one who stirs up strife in order to make victory possible, that isn’t an inherently selfish behavior. It can certainly come across as selfish or seem self-serving in the moment, but the person exhibiting such behavior generally has the welfare of the entire group in mind.
For example, the gods agree to let Thiazi partake of the meal, but then the eagle tries to take over half the ox. There are three other people who need to eat. Loki strikes Thiazi out of anger, but does he do it because he himself wanted more food or because Thiazi taking so much of the ox threatened the ability of all the gods to sustain themselves in enemy territory?
There’s always more than meets the eye in every myth, and that’s a truth multiplied when Loki is present because he is such an ambiguous character. He defies all attempts at explanation; that’s a common complaint among scholars. Loki’s ambivalence is such a defining characteristic that it tends to make him, well, undefinable. It stands to reason, then, that none of his actions in a myth can be seen as straightforwardly what they seem to be at first glance.
The next action Loki takes is to beg Thiazi for mercy, who refuses and provokes an oath from Loki instead. Loki knows the consequences of the oath before he swears it, but he swears it to get out of enemy hands. He struck at an enemy he could not defeat, and that enemy took advantage of the moment to pin Loki into a difficult situation. Loki then has to fulfill his oath – in every myth where he swears an oath, he upholds it. Loki never breaks an oath. That is another defining characteristic.
So, thus far, the only things we really know about Loki is that he a) defies definition and b) never breaks his oaths.
After Loki coerces Idunn out of Asgard and is found out, he finds himself threatened by Odin to fix the problem. Loki not telling the gods immediately what had happened works to stir up strife; the gods’ ire is piqued – not just at Loki but also at Thiazi.
While the myth never details whether or not the gods strategize together what they will do when Loki returns to Asgard, it is telling that Thor is waiting at the wall when Loki returns with Idunn and Thiazi is unable to penetrate the wall of fire and falls to the ground where Thor slays him. The victory is twofold – the return of Idunn returns the health and vigor of the gods and it also allows the gods to slay one of their strongest adversaries.
Loki thus provokes strife to procure victory – or, put in a different way, he utilizes his own sense of strategy to procure a victory out of what seemed like an untenable starting position. He overcame the odds stacked against him, which indicates how he is involved with the very concept of Luck.
What is really intriguing though is the way that Grönbech discusses the fire at the wall as a fire meant to ward off evil influences from a sacrificial meal. Loki’s attempt to keep Thiazi from absconding with the meat (the sacrifice) is met with resistance. He nearly finds himself foiled in that because Idunn is tempted from Asgard and kidnapped. What becomes interesting there is that Idunn refuses to hand Thiazi any apples, and it is only the apples she hands to the gods that allow them to stay young. She refuses him access to the feast.
When Loki rescues her, he flies her straight through the fires of Asgard – flames through which Thiazi cannot pass, but he and Idunn can. Once back in the safety of Asgard, the gods are able to regain their youth and Thiazi – the giant that threatened the very sanctity of sacrificial offerings – is destroyed. With this understanding, Loki’s connection to sacrifice itself is underscored.
So, having incorporated these two new ideas from the Culture of the Teutons, what the myth of Idunn demonstrates about Loki includes the following characteristics:
Few myths about Loki delve quite this deeply into his character, and it bears continual and constant examination to discover new things about him. All the myths about him do. While it may be tempting for some to paint him as evil and be done with it, stories are never that simple and gods are far more complicated than they seem at first glance. Especially a god who seems to make it his business to evade the very process of being defined.
I have been putting off writing this post because it requires me to deal with things that still make me uncomfortable to admit. That’s the nature of life though, and I did say I would write about my experience with Loki in his Worldbreaker aspect.
First, a little backstory. When I was around four or five years old, I was diagnosed with ADHD. At the time, my mother refused to let the doctors put me on Ritalin, as she strongly believed the condition could be managed without it. In addition, she told me (when I was around nine) that the reason she wouldn’t let them put on medication was that our family had a history of mood disorders, and Ritalin can worsen depression. My mother herself suffered from clinical depression and started drinking heavily by the time I was eight years old. By the time I was fifteen, she had died from cirrhosis of the liver, also known as Hepatitis C. She also had pernicious anemia, which the alcoholism exacerbated.
So, growing up, I was given a lot of different tools to help manage the ADHD. Mostly, I was taught self-discipline and self-accountability. From a young age, my parents told me that I was responsible for the consequences of the decisions I made, so I grew up knowing that my actions directly impacted the people and the world around me.
When my mom died, I was a week away from being fifteen. Everything I had ever been taught about the world was swept out from under me. Suddenly, all the confidence I had in navigating my life was stolen from me, and I started feeling like the world was against me, and I started living with that preset notion in my head. My mother was gone, my dad was basically never home because he worked 80 hours a week, and my younger sister treated me like a convenient emotional punching bag. The only person in my life that really seemed to be there for me was my maternal grandmother – if she hadn’t been there for me, I don’t know that I could have made it through high school at all.
When I graduated high school, I ended up moving to Virginia for a couple months with my fiancé. We ended up in a really bad car accident that left me with two metal rods in my right leg. I moved back home shortly after that, and it wasn’t even a few months after that, I learned that my fiancé was sleeping around behind my back. Even worse? It was with my sister. I was so desperate for love that I didn’t break up with him; I put up with it going on in my house for nearly a year before I finally couldn’t take it anymore. The relationship with him was never healthy, but I didn’t realize that back then because I had grown up in an abusive home that made me think any affection at all was better than none.
A few years passed, and I ended up dating a guy online who moved up here to be with me. Except, within six months (we had dated for three years online), we were constantly fighting because he refused to get work and resented me for making him move. We broke up, and not even a week afterwards, he was dating my sister (incidentally, they are still together today). That said, however, I do give him credit in one area – he had the decency to break up with me first. We’ve had a difficult and tense relationship ever since then, but my sister and I have mostly repaired ours. Mostly because she stopped treating me like her emotional punching bag, matured, and actually became a respectable human being. It’s amazing what a decade will do for some people’s personalities.
I started working with Loki between the two horrendous relationships mentioned above, and I had started to really communicate with the gods. The situation at home (where I lived with my dad, my sister, and my ex she was dating) got so bad that I finally petitioned Loki for help. One day, a dog came into our house, and my sister gave him Loki’s name. Two months later, the dog was gone (they returned him to the humane society), and my sister and her boyfriend were living in California.
I chose to petition Loki for help because I felt like I was breaking. I couldn’t get away from the stressful emotional environment, and I didn’t feel like any of the other gods could affect change to the same magnitude I felt Loki could. So, I asked him for help getting them out of the house. I didn’t ask for anything specific, just told him I really, really needed some space from them so I could heal. He essentially sent them to California, where they lived with one of my sister’s friends and worked for two years. Nothing untoward happened to them there; Loki wasn’t cruel about the change he worked into their lives.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I could breathe. I was struggling pretty hard, especially because a few months prior, I’d been told by my ex that I was the craziest bitch he’d ever met. That actually hit me so hard that I decided to start seeing a therapist. Because I thought maybe he was right. I’d spent my teenage years moving from job to job, after all, unable to stay at one more than three or four months at a time (I quit jobs often as a teenager because I got bored). I also felt like I couldn’t maintain healthy relationships with other people, whether they were friends or partners. In addition, I had defaulted on student loans from the online college I obtained my AA in Business Administration from, and I was mired in student debt (still am, as I’m in graduate school). For the most part, I had given up on ever getting anything good into my life. That statement from my ex, though – that broke through my depressive haze, and I decided that I needed to do something about it.
Oh, and as a note? I didn’t start working with the Norse gods until I was in my early twenties. My life before Loki was FUBAR, and I freely acknowledge that. The majority of that was the fact I grew up in a home that was emotionally, verbally, physically, and mentally abusive. I had to unlearn a lot of toxic behavior, and, to this day, I have to continuously monitor my thought patterns to prevent myself from falling back into old ones. I had to become metacognitive to survive my childhood – it is as much curse as gift, as I can never stop analyzing the situations and people around me, looking for where the next threat might come from. I may never experience a life where I’m not hyper-vigilant.
I’ve discussed some of my experiences with combat-tested soldiers who told me my childhood sounded as heinous as some of the war zones they’ve been in. I wouldn’t wish my childhood on anyone, not even the people who put me through the hell that it was. In case it isn’t clear, this is the primary reason I chose to swear the oath Odin asked from me. I was already a warrior, already dealing with the terrors of warfare, when he came into my life. Hell, for all I know, he was the one orchestrating from behind the scenes to ensure my entry into his service. I’ve made my peace with that, for the most part.
Loki entering my life helped stabilize it. Yes, he introduced a lot of change in a short amount of time. I started therapy, and I had an Adult ADHD diagnosis within four months. Once I had the diagnosis and my therapist had suggested I might want to try medication, I set up a meeting with a physician to talk about prescriptions. I chose to see a psychologist rather than a psychiatrist because my mother, along with alcohol, loved popping narcotics down her throat like they were candy. I didn’t want to risk that, and it took a long time, and obsessive research, for me to actually decide to try pills. I decided on Adderall.
The first few months on the medication seemed like the best thing that had ever happened to me. It was like, suddenly, I could actually process what was going on around me in a way that made sense. I started combining the cognitive behavioral tools my psychologist had given me with the medication, and my life seemed to come together. I brought my student loans out of default, had my Title IV rights restored, and enrolled in the local community college. I continued going to therapy and taking medication – for about five months.
I stopped taking the medication because my online friends from World of Warcraft – a game I had played for eight years by that time – told me I was acting aggressive. I was leading a guild at the time – I’ve led quite a few – and that was the one and only experience I’ve ever had where my officers actually arranged a meeting with me to tell me that my aggression was getting so out-of-hand that they felt I needed to step down from the GM position.
That bothered me at a level I cannot express – I have honed my leadership skills over the last decade and a half, and I know that, while I will never be the best leader that I want to be, I am a pretty kickass leader. I generally treat the people I lead like they are my family. The family I wish I had had growing up, I mean, because I really like other people. I genuinely enjoy being around other humans. I genuinely care for other people. To have my best friends telling me that I was getting so aggressive that I was hurting people hurt me. I stopped taking the Adderall.
I continued using the tools I had been given, but I also stopped going to therapy. I focused on my schoolwork, and I thrived in school. I’ve always enjoyed learning, and I find challenging material frustrating but generally worth doing. The only exception to that is physics. It is the one field I’ve found where my brain just refuses to wrap itself around the concepts. Annoyingly, my dad understands physics almost inherently. That still kinda pisses me off.
Anyway, I end up finishing my Associate in Arts (it had been about 8 years since my AA in Business Administration, and I didn’t feel comfortable going straight into university). Once I finished my AA, I transferred to the local university. Once there, I decided I should take Adderall again, and I started therapy again. I only used the meds for about a month before deciding that it was a bad idea. I finished my BA in History without relying on them.
When I graduated, I decided to find a job, and I found one working for a hotel as a night auditor. I remembered how hard I had found working as a teenager, so I decided that maybe what I needed to do was use Adderall for work and not school. I started taking the medication again and resumed therapy – a person who has ADHD needs to be seeing a therapist if they are taking meds; it’s not recommended to just take meds by themselves. Now, this job was supposed to just be a summer job because I knew I was starting grad school in the fall. Just as a note, I was accepted into the graduate program at my alma mater when I wasn’t taking Adderall, and I scored in the 67th percentile (Verbal) and 25th percentile (Math) with a 5.5/6 (Writing) on the GRE without studying – I took 21 credits my last semester in undergrad, so I literally didn’t have time to study. All of that, no meds. Like I said before though, school was never a problem for me because I have always loved to learn.
Anyway, I started this job at the hotel, and I even helped get my friend a job there. It took them under two months to fire me, and I still don’t know why. They never gave me a direct reason, even though I asked them directly why. They just said, “We don’t think we’re a good fit,” which is a terrible reason. I was really upset over it for a good week; I had actually really enjoyed the job and the people there, even though I hated the hours (it was a 3rd shift job). I still remember most of the people there affectionately, and I don’t bear anyone there any ill will.
I ended up working a temp job in the bookstore before school started back, and that went well. Then graduate school started, and it seemed to me like everything was going fine. My classes went well, and I was TAing without a problem. Yet, one day, about halfway through the semester, one of my friends tells me that I have been a complete bitch for the entire semester and that one of our mutual friends had basically become afraid of telling me when he disagreed with me or when he didn’t want to do something. Essentially, I was starting to treat my friends like they owed me their time.
I didn’t really trust what this friend told me, as we had had a huge fight over the summer and were still struggling to regain our feet with each other. I had, however, become uncomfortable with the fact that I could tell that I was hurting the mutual friend she had mentioned (who is my ritually adopted brother and the heir to my familial spiritual tradition). I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I devised a test that was designed to essentially navigate around any of the blinders my brain was throwing up.
I didn’t really trust anyone around me, at that point, but I still retained the absolute trust I have in my best friend in the world, who lives in Texas. So, I sent him a question to see if he could answer it. I figured, if he could answer the question I sent him, it would give me a good baseline to use as the test with my other friend. I had started to genuinely doubt that my brother-friend even cared about being friends with me, so I had to find a way to determine whether or not he cared at all. So, I sent the question to my Texan friend who had no problem answering it. Then, I asked my brother-friend the question. I legitimately expected him to be unable to answer it, but he answered it without pausing.
At that moment, it was like a cold bucket of ice washed over me. I realized that the only thing that had changed since the previous year was that I was taking Adderall. I texted my roommate and told her to find it and throw it out because I didn’t even want to see it again. I spent the next week obsessively researching rare side effects of the medication. Turns out, in about 0.02% of people, the medication can induce persecutory delusions.
The medication that was supposed to be making me better was causing me to distrust my friends. It was the cause – Adderall is a psychotropic drug, meaning it literally changes a person’s brain chemistry. I had worried, from the beginning, that taking a psychotropic drug would change my personality and make me a different person. My therapist had assured me it would not do that; rather, it would just unlock the potential my disorder had kept me from using. He was wrong, but I do not fault him for that. The side effect I experienced happens in 0.02% of people; it is rare, and I did not expect to be one of those people.
Once I realized what had happened, I had a conversation with my sister about it. She told me there was a day where I told her I was genuinely afraid that her boyfriend would kill me if I got in a car with him. I don’t remember this conversation taking place, but I don’t doubt it happened. I was, after all, convinced that one of my best friends, who is literally my ritually adopted brother, was never a friend to me at all and was really just acting like my friend so that he could turn around and hurt me later. That’s what persecutory delusions are. They are insidious and terrifying. I walked on the verge of insanity. It is not a place I ever want to visit again.
Throughout this entire experience, I was continuing to do my work for the gods. I was honoring Loki regularly, and I didn’t feel like anything was amiss. It was when I realized that I had been suffering those delusions that I realized that I had been given a gift. Loki had given me the experience of knowing what it is like to stand on the precipice between extreme opposites. He showed me how hard it can be to resist the pull towards insanity/destruction/disorder and how vigilant a person has to be to guard against that pull.
I’ve discussed elsewhere how Loki can be seen as a god of the in-between, of liminal spaces. The thing about the liminal? It isn’t an energy that can be controlled. When Loki appears as the Worldbreaker that brings about Ragnarok, he is no longer in control of his own abilities. He is, instead, caught up in the force of his own power. In many ways, this greatly echoes how Shiva ends up destroying the world in Hindu mythology.
I understand at a level that I cannot adequately express what it means to be beyond your own control. I thank the gods, and Loki foremost of all, that I found a way to trick my brain so that I could see through, even for a moment, the delusions that the Adderall induced in me. If Loki hadn’t taught me how to find the loopholes, how to look for solutions to problems in places that other people may never consider, I may have been subsumed. There’s no telling who I would have become if that happened, but I doubt I would have liked myself very much.
So, did Loki wreak havoc in my life? Absolutely not. I made the choices. I am the one accountable for the actions I took, and the consequences of those actions are not Loki’s fault nor his responsibility. Did Loki have a hand in showing me how hard it is to live within the liminal? Yes, but I cannot state that experience was one he intentionally showed me or one that I just recognized as a lesson he would try to teach to people, if they were willing to listen. I’m generally willing to listen, so I end up heavily analyzing situations I find myself in.
What Loki really helped me do here was see through the delusions and the illusions around me. He is a god of guile, and it was sly maneuvering that allowed me to solve the problem that threatened to destroy my life. Loki taught me how to see past illusions to the truth. Without that knowledge, I have no idea how that situation would have turned out, but I can’t see it ending well. I have been incredibly lucky that my friends have been so understanding about the entire situation, and I have worked hard to rectify the mistakes I made with my friends during that entire fiasco.
There’s a reason it took me so long to write this post. This is not a chapter of my life that I am proud of; it isn’t an easy thing to share. The hardest truths, however, are the ones that lay the deepest inside us. The ones that hurt the most to expose are the ones most valuable to share. I risk next to nothing by sharing this story on the internet, yet, in some ways, I risk everything because I risk being seen. Really seen. And that has always, and may always, terrify me. Yet here I am, stepping forward.
Take from my story what you will.
 Pernicious anemia is a disease caused by the lack of intrinsic factor, which is what people need to properly absorb the vitamin B12. Alcohol prevents absorption of even the B12 shots used to treat the condition. Before B12 was available as an injection and/or supplement (studies vary on the effectiveness), pernicious anemia was a fatal disease.