Ragnarök and Lava Flows

LadyOfTheLake

Earlier today, Sunday, I spent time in an online group with a number of people arguing that Loki shouldn’t be hailed because…Ragnarök: “Twilight of the Gods,” Loki riding in on a ship made of “dead men’s nails,” and all the rest of that “evil” stuff. Sigh…

Pele_by_David_Howard_Hitchcock,_c._1929 Pele, by David Howard Hitchcock, c. 1929. Public domain.

And in the course of these discussions I began to mention my previous association with another “difficult” deity, namely Tutu Pele, the volcanic goddess of Hawai’i. And how people in Pele’s country, Hawai’i Island (aka “Big Island”), show her much respect and love. Even many people who are otherwise Christianized will acknowledge Pele. Especially in Lava Zones 1 and 2 in the Puna district, many people will clean their homes and make them beautiful for her, as an honored guest, if she is on the move.

I moved away from the Puna district in September…

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A Lokean Group Response to Karl Seigfried’s “Loki in the White House”

Note: Feel free to reblog and/or copy/paste this in its entirety on your own blogs and websites.

We are concerned about the religious bigotry and intolerance against our community and religious practices, as conveyed in Karl E.H. Seigfried’s recent column “Loki in the White House,” The Wild Hunt, Nov. 24, 2018. 

Those who cultivate a relationship with the Norse god, Loki, are a minority among neopagans. Our individual practices are eclectic, nondogmatic, and individualistic.

By equating Loki with certain cherry-picked actions of the current president of the United States, Siegfried suggests that we who cultivate a relationship with Loki do not understand our own god, our own spirituality, and our community, and what we should understand is that our god is evil. This is no better than an evangelical Christian telling Pagans that our lack of understanding about Jesus and our own gods is leading us to worship demons. This is not only condescending but also inappropriate for an interfaith chaplain. 

While we are individually and collectively offended by Karl E. H. Seigfried’s comparison of Loki to the current president of the United States, we understand his right to his opinion, no matter how ill-founded it may seem to us. However, Seigfried’s article crossed an important line from eccentric opinion to bigotry. 

What concerns us most of all are Seigfried’s final two paragraphs, which are essentially “a call to action” to discriminate and further marginalize all who hail Loki in their religious and devotional practices, whether in a polytheistic or monotheistic context. The opinions he presents in those closing paragraphs are that Loki is bad, therefore we who hail Loki are also bad and undeserving of support.

“Lokiphobia” is a word we wish we did not need to coin, and yet many members of our spiritual and religious community have been dealing with prejudice for years. In Heathen circles, many people who hail Loki have been excluded, bullied, and threatened. We can supply examples of this claim if needed. So it is particularly dangerous to fan the flames of such paranoia and bigotry against an outlier group when things are already so volatile nationally and worldwide.

To be clear, Lokiphobia, in the context of neopaganism, is discrimination against the religious practices and beliefs of people who hail Loki and/or identify as Lokeans (or a similar description). We, the authors, (1) call out Lokiphobia in Seigfried’s column and (2) insist upon respectful, interfaith dialogue in public forums and events where we and our faith are referenced, discussed, or questioned.

While we understand that the Wild Hunt is a platform for many different spiritual views, this article has crossed the line from being an opinion piece to promoting religious discrimination and the expulsion of an already vulnerable subgroup within Heathenry. Many of us are women, LGBTQIA, have disabilities, or hold other identities that on the whole have made us targets within the larger Heathen community which has consistently held much more traditionally conservative views. For our own safety and well-being, we are requesting that Seigfried either amend the portions of his article that are a direct cry for the expulsion of Loki worship or that the Wild Hunt remove the article entirely. 

To do otherwise is to sanction discrimination against a religious minority. 

Whereas in the past we as Loki devotees have largely been disorganized and kept mostly to ourselves, we’re no longer willing to keep quiet and suffer discrimination and verbal abuse in the name of “different opinions.” We have reached a tipping point where we refuse to continue being a punching bag for the American Heathen community’s frustrations or used as villains in its own paranoid fantasies.

We hope that in the name of true inclusivity you will choose to be our allies instead of contributing to years of unnecessary division. This has never just been about how people feel about Loki: this is about how people choose to treat other people. 

Signed:

Dagulf Loptson

Ky Greene

Amy Marsh

KveldúlfR Hagan Gundarsson (Dr.Stephan Grundy, Ph.D., Norse Studies)

Amy Brown

Sae Lokason

Marina Bocuzzi 

Nyki D’Elia

Hilda Gullveigsvän

Aiyana Assata Amare Ashen 

Terra Akhert

Tara Aparicio

Carrie Bertwistle

Susa Morgan Black

Lauren Buhr

Sara Cochran

Moira Hawthorne Copeland

Heathir Dhomhnaill

Amber Drake

Kriselda Gray

Ailim Hazel

Elizabeth Hefner

Alex Iannelli

Mischa Kvashninenkoff

Jennifer Lesko

Roxana García Liotta

Michelle Lord

Tom Mayernik

Jude Melvin

Lindsay Moose

Katherine Morgan

Draca Nightweb

Tahni Nikitins

Katie Oden

Lillian Sara Pink

Jenna Porterfield

Denise Marie Radcliffe

Logan Riley

Emily Sabin

Olivia Sweat

Tedri Liudan Thorne

Kyra Pandora Weaver

Lindsay Wiles

Setwas Buccaneer

Loraine Canaday

Allen Reeves

Scott Mohnkern

Sydney Moore

Stef Potter

Ari Kirk

Timothy Adams 

Leticia Andreas

Jennifer Lawrence

Michael York

Devotional Primer

Some of the questions I have heard lately have centered around devotion. In particular, I have heard questions about how to offer devotion to the gods in everyday life.  

I usually focus more on the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of my practice, so I could easily go into a long discussion about why libations and offerings are the mainstays of polytheistic religions because of the way they allow us to maintain reciprocal relationships with the gods.

Rather than do that (though I certainly can if there is interest in that), I’m going to provide a brief sketch of how to get started and then list a few different activities people can undertake as devotional acts.

Getting Started

  • Choose tradition/religion to study.
  • Study that tradition/religion for a year before dedicating yourself to that path.
  • Set up an altar to the god/s that calls to you
    • Note: Figure out whether the god/s that call to you are actually interested in working with you. If they aren’t, don’t force yourself on them. Just like how we aren’t compatible with all people, we aren’t compatible with all gods. If a god comes to you that makes you uncomfortable, you can ask them to back off and leave you alone. You are not required to work with every spirit/deity that shows up. Same goes for the gods – they aren’t required to work with every human who takes an interest in them.

Altar Essentials

  • Altar cloth – this can be as simple as a bandana or as complex as a tapestry.
  • Image of the deity – there are tons of options for this one
    • Printed picture from a Google search (if money is tight!)
    • Carved statue of the god (check Etsy)
    • A hand-drawn rendition of the god (either self-done or commissioned)
    • Etc.
  • Offering dishes– there are also tons of options for this one
    • Any extra small cups/bowls that you happen to have sitting around
    • Buy a small cup/bowl from a thrift store or Etsy if you can afford it
    • Etc.

As you get more familiar with the god/s that you’re working with, you’ll start feeling pulled towards certain items that the deities want on their altars. Whether or not you can afford it – well, if you can’t, ask them to help you get it for them. If a god wants something badly enough, they will make it happen.

Daily Practice Options

  • Prayer
    • You can find tons of pre-written prayers for most deities on the internet. It is okay to copy a few down and use them. Generally, you kneel (or stand, if your ability makes kneeling too painful)before your altar and offer the prayer to the god by reading it out loud. You can also write your own prayers.
  • Libation
    • Generally, libations are alcoholic. It might take some research to figure out what the god/s that you’re working with like to drink. It might take trial/error. To do a simple libation, you simply pour the drink into the offering bowl, invite the deity to partake, and then drink afterward and offer a brief word of thanks or hail the god. What you do with the drink afterward is tradition-dependent, but it is fairly standard to simply take it outside and pour it on the ground. If you have absolutely no other option, pouring the remaining liquid down the sink drain is okay – but this is if you live in an area that makes pouring the libation on the ground unrealistic and/or if your physical ability prevents this kind of moving around.
    • If you cannot afford alcohol, water is always an acceptable libation. After all, water is life. I have never heard of a deity that would reject water, and I have never experienced the rejection of such a libation.
  • Divination
    • Do a daily rune or tarot reading related to your relationship with the god/s in question.

Long-term Devotional Acts

  • Continuously reading all the information you can on your religion/tradition and the gods you honor
  • Creating art for the gods
  • Dedicating a particular event or community service to the gods
  • Taking an oath in the service of the gods
  • Becoming a devotee, godspouse, or clergy

I hope this has given those who needed it a basic outline that will allow them to move forward with their devotional practice.

Loki, Discord and Weak Lore

mainer74

Loki II

There is a particular type of Heathen, call them Nokeans, who have deep philosophical objections to honouring Loki Laufeyson as part of Heathen ritual.  This is something that I discovered when I began having more dealings with American Heathenry, and it is almost purely an American issue.  I get how those who are part of American Heathenry can have trouble seeing that it exists beyond their shores and experiences, but for those of us far from their own journey, some of their communities deep and bitter battles are just hard to understand at all.  The Lokean/Nokean feud is one of the bitterest and strangest for outsiders to grasp.

Lets acknowledge the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room and admit that American Christianity is different that most of the rest of the worlds, and its baggage was not left at the door when conversion to Heathenism was embraced by many…

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Analysis of Seigfried’s Comparison of Loki and Trump

Okay, so I definitely responded in the comment section to this latest travesty of an article from Karl E.H. Seigfried, Column: Loki in the White House, where the author compares Trump to Loki, but I think I need to do a more in-depth analysis than the short overview I provided the other day. Fair warning – this is going to be long.

Since the piece starts with the author’s credentials, let’s review them, shall we? Once that’s done, I’ll examine the meat of the article itself (if that’s the part you’re interested in, just skip down to where it says “Article Review”). 

Credentials Review

“Today’s column comes to us from Karl E.H. Seigfried, goði of Thor’s Oak Kindred in Chicago. In addition to his award-winning website, The Norse Mythology Blog, Karl has written for the BBC, Iceland Magazine, Journal of the Oriental Institute, On Religion, Religion Stylebook, and many other outlets. He holds degrees in literature, music, and religion, and he is the first Ásatrú practitioner to hold a graduate degree from University of Chicago Divinity School.”

So, Thor’s Oak Kindred began in 2016 and is part of the Troth Kindred program. The Troth Kindred program requires that all kindreds abide by the Troth’s inclusion statement, which is as follows:

“I stand with The Troth against any use of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, ableism, or any other form of prejudice.”

Hmm. Comparing Trump to Loki does seem to violate that statement of inclusivity since the last time I checked, Loki belongs to the realm of Germanic religion and culture. Just a thought.

Moving on, the Norse Mythology Blog is a website dedicated to Karl’s own writing. There’s nothing wrong with that – we all have our own websites. The claim that the website is award-winning is a bit misleading, considering the only awards the website has won have been weblog awards.

When someone claims to have an award-winning site, I expect to see awards that originated from professional organizations. Not awards that came from a few people on the internet getting together and nominating a website with content they enjoyed. That’s great for getting people to read your stuff – it isn’t great for convincing people that you have solid writing credentials.

Looking for his other writing credentials, this is what I have found.
For BBC, he read a radio essay about the appeal of Norse Mythology.

For Iceland Magazine, he wrote an essay entitled, “Heathenry in Iceland, America and Germany: The Mainstream and the Fringe.”

He claims to have written an article entitled “One Crime over the Line: Śiśupāla in the Mahābhārata” for the Journal of the Oriental Institute, but I cannot locate that article anywhere. If anyone else can find it, please let me know. In any case, it deals with Hindu mythology, not Norse mythology, so it seems a bit odd to use that as a writing credit for a piece based on Norse mythology.

I cannot find any evidence of an article he wrote for the UK On Religion Magazine, so, again, if someone can find it, please let me know. The same is true for the Religion Stylebook.

As for the degrees he holds, I visited his LinkedIn profile to get a better picture of what his education credentials are. He has taught as an adjunct professor of humanities at the Illinois Institute of Technology for the last year, and he teaches religion, mythology, and literature with classes like “Religion and Social Movements,” “Norse Mythology and Religion,” and “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.”

He graduated with a Master of Arts in Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and he was the first Asatruar to enter the program and graduate from it.

Let’s consider this for a moment – he obtained a degree in divinity from a school that had never had an Asatruar in the program before and somehow considers that valid. Being the only person in the program means he had no graduate professors who could actually guide him in his research about Asatru, as divinity degrees are typically sought by Christian scholars. Let that sink in.

He has a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Music from the University of California in San Diego.

Okay, if I want to know anything about music, I’ll hit this guy up. He obviously knows music – those credentials I’ll accept. The master of divinity from a program that has never had another Asatruar in the program? I don’t view that degree as credible – he had no Asatruar mentors in that program, and he essentially would have designed the program himself.

Some people can be successful doing that – this guy is not one of them, and this article on the Wild Hunt demonstrates exactly why his religious credentials are suspect from the start.

Article Review

Moving on to the article itself, he seems to start out fairly well. He talks about how people in the past have viewed Loki as evil and then discusses how people today, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community, have found Loki to be a more inspiring figure and a deity worth veneration.

This is the first of many problematic statements he makes:

“If the literary and cinematic character appeals to a person, that is their truth. If the mythological character speaks to someone as a spiritual model or appears in their personal gnosis, that is their truth. It is not anyone’s business to attack those experiences.

My own approach to Loki, however, is quite different. I believe in a theology that turns to the ancient myths for guidance, first attempting to understand them in their original context and then bringing them into our own cultural moment.”

At first glance, this doesn’t seem to be particularly problematic. It seems he is saying that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, whether they base those beliefs off personal gnosis or myths. But he quickly turns to say that he bases his beliefs completely off the myths, as if the people he mentioned previously do not engage with the myths. For the majority of polytheists, that is a generally untrue statement – we engage with the myths because the myths explain who the gods are.

“I do not believe that we should reconstruct every aspect of ancient worldviews situated in a time and place of normalized slavery, entrenched homophobia, and celebrated violence. I do not believe that it is even possible to reconstruct the detailed internal worldviews of a plurality of peoples who left behind no second-level theological discourse.”

I agree with him here. Reconstruction-derived practices are far better than pure reconstructionist ones. We live in a new world. His tone changes rapidly, though, as the next section reads:

“That said, I am bothered by approaches to myth that brush aside any elements of ancient sources that readers don’t like or find problematic as “Christian influenced.” Academics and practitioners alike are guilty of this rhetorical turn. Too many elements of today’s version of Loki come from nineteenth-century misunderstandings (Loki as god of fire) or postmodern rewritings (Loki as the “real hero” of the Norse myths). Again, I do not deny the personal meaning that many find in Loki. I simply can’t follow them to a place where the sources of our knowledge are read in ways that sometimes seem parallel to conspiracy theorist readings of today’s news stories.”

Okay, first of all, why? Christian influence is actually problematic when you’re dealing with ancient religions and the reconstruction of them. Christians read a lot of things into the myths and stories of multiple cultures that never existed – to deny that is to deny the veracity of academia. Academics are “guilty” of this so-called “rhetorical turn” because the research they have done support the conclusions they have reached.

Loki as a god of fire or hearth-god has been pretty well-researched, so to call it a “misunderstanding” is to downplay the difficult etymological reconstruction those academics have done. I don’t see Seigfried here going out and reconstructing ancient Icelandic etymology, so to call it a “rhetorical turn” is a fancy way of saying “I don’t like it because I don’t agree but I don’t have a good way to rebut it.”

I’m not really going to touch on his comment about postmodernism because he clearly has no idea what postmodernism theory even is, considering it is mostly compromised of the post-structuralism and deconstructionist schools of thought. Suffice it to say, postmodernism is far more complicated than the idea of “Loki as hero,” so this piece of drivel is best regarded as a misinformed comment.

Moving on, this next point is one I can agree with.

“I hope we can agree to not be dominated by the surviving sources, to avoid slavishly treating them as holy writ that must be applied to our lives as commandment and law. But I also hope we can agree that it is possible to both engage with the texts as received and apply them to our modern situations: mutatis mutandis.”

The lore should not be treated as the end-all, be-all of any religion. Yet, right after saying this, he spends an inordinate amount of time explaining how the lore itself helps to conflate Trump and Loki.

“There are at least four major characteristics shared by Loki Laufeyjarson and Donald J. Trump. Do the other gods of Norse mythology have negative qualities? Yes, they do indeed exhibit them at times. Loki, however, embodies them as no other deity does.”

Okay, so we’re getting to the meat of the article now. We’re 800 words into his article before he even makes his main point! Are we sure this guy knows how to write? Last I checked, the thesis was supposed to come at the beginning of the piece, not nearly 1,000 words into it.

Now, what are these four characteristics that Loki and Trump supposedly share? Here’s the list: 1) Objectifier of women 2) Betrayer of Community 3) Opposer of Law 4) Bringer of Chaos. Let’s take each of these in turn.

Objectifier of Women 

“Loki is quite willing to place women in harm’s way in order to help himself. In the first myth recounted in Snorri Sturluson’s Skáldskaparmál (“the language of poetry”), Loki wins his freedom from the giant Thjazi by luring the goddess Idunn out of Asgard and into the woods, where she is abducted by the giant and made a prisoner in his home. Loki makes no mention to the gods of his role in the abduction of the goddess and only agrees to help free her after his actions are discovered by the godly community and he is ‘threatened with death or torture.'”

Okay, so this is, unfortunately, a pretty standard way of reading the Idunn myth.

What Seigfried neglects to mention, however, is that Loki swears an oath to kidnap Idunn in order to save his life because he is on the verge of death when Thjazi manages to extract the oath from him.

Loki never breaks an oath. That is the most heinous sin a mortal can commit, next to killing kin, and Loki never breaks an oath he swears in any of the myths.

Does he kidnap Idunn? Yes, he does. He lures her out of Asgard. Once his deed is found out, Loki borrows Freya’s falcon cloak and rescues Idunn. On the way back from the rescue, Loki manages to evade Thjazi by flying through fires lit on Asgard’s wall that he knows how to navigate. The giant, however, does not know how to navigate them, and he slams into the wall and dies.

In the end, the gods claim victory because Thjazi was one of their most well-known nemeses. Sure, Loki kidnapped Idunn to keep an oath he made under duress, but he also ensured that Thjazi died.

Myths are meant to be read as moral lessons. There are tons of moral lessons to be learned from this myth. First of all, Loki is caught by Thjazi because he is too stubborn to give up on trying to cook a piece of meat that refuses to cook. That’s a lesson right there – too much stubbornness is a bad thing.

Another lesson? If you have to swear an oath to save your life, then do so but have a backup plan so that you can recover whatever it is that you have to give up in order to escape the terrible situation of the moment. This is a lesson of how to survive against terrible odds.

It’s also a story of revenge – if someone tricks you into making an oath you would never otherwise make, then do whatever is necessary to get revenge. Loki got the ultimate revenge – he killed Thjazi for the insult of the oath he was forced into making.

No myth is as simple as Seigfried seems to want it to be – there are at least five levels of myth, according to Sallustius. If we’re going to interpret myth, let’s do it at more than the superficial, shallow level that Seigfried employs.

And here’s his comparison of Trump to Loki:

“Trump has shown a similar disregard for the safety of women who stand in the way of his objectives. After Dr. Christine Blasey Ford made detailed allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and following his own escalating statements questioning Ford’s integrity, the president made intensely inflammatory remarks about her at a campaign rally attended by thousands and broadcast widely in the media. After openly ridiculing her testimony, he called those who supported her “really evil people.” Due to the “continuous stream of death threats” Ford and her family continue to receive, she has still not been able to return to her home. Like Loki, Trump doesn’t seem bothered by what happens to the women he places in harm’s way; all that matters are his own goals.”

This is a huge leap in logic. Loki kidnapped Idunn – he did not sexually assault her. He did not call her evil or claim that he was in the right. He fulfilled an oath he made, and yes, that meant he had to put someone in harm’s way. That’s the nature of oaths – they aren’t all love and light.

His next example? The cutting of Sif’s hair.

“Also in Skáldskaparmál, Snorri tells the tale of Loki cutting off all the hair of the goddess Sif. The assault may be referenced in the poem Lokasenna, in which Loki brags of cuckolding Thor by sleeping with his wife and calls himself “malevolent.” The supposedly anti-Loki Snorri downgrades the motivation for the shaving to “love of mischief.” If the two sources connecting Loki and Sif are indeed related, then the act of shearing can be seen as a trophy-taking designed to mark Loki’s sexual humiliation of Thor. Sif herself is merely an object in Loki’s attack on Thor’s masculinity.”

Does Seigfried at all realize that the cutting of Sif’s hair is an allegorical metaphor for the reaping of the harvest? Sif is a grain goddess. Loki is a catalyst. It makes sense that a catalyst would be required for a seasonal change. This is a cyclical seasonal myth, and the fact Seigfried cannot recognize that? Utterly preposterous, especially for someone who claims to be a priest.

The comparison to Trump?

“In her sworn divorce deposition, Ivana Trump describes a 1990 assault that occurred after she had recommended the plastic surgeon that performed a “scalp reduction” procedure on her then-husband Donald Trump. According to her sworn deposition, the real estate mogul was angered that the surgical attempt to reduce a bald spot was so painful. In fury, he ripped out a handful of Ivana’s hair before raping her and – the next morning – mocking her own pain. As with Loki, there is the idea of violating a woman’s bodily integrity as a way of gaining revenge for perceived wrongs from a man with whom she is associated. Loki is really aiming his fury at Thor when he assaults Sif, and Trump is thinking of the doctor when he violates his wife.”

Okay, Trump is a scumbag. We all knew that. In the story with Loki and Sif, Loki is never angry. He cuts her hair off while she is asleep – i.e. the change of season as the summer turns to fall – and then Sif is afraid Thor won’t recognize her with her shorn hair. Again, this is a metaphorical allegory, not proof Loki objectifies women.

On top of that, Loki is consistently gender fluid in the myths. Someone who objectifies women would never willingly turn into a mare to lure the giant’s stallion away from the wall to protect Asgard. Someone who objectifies women would never suggest dressing up in women’s clothing to retrieve Thor’s hammer nor wear women’s clothes himself.

This is just so far off base it’s appalling.

Betrayer of Community 

“In the myths, Loki repeatedly privileges his personal desires and needs over the well-being of his community. In addition to the tale of his willingness to aid the abduction of Idunn in order to save himself, Skáldskaparmál tells of Loki delivering the unarmed Thor to the giant Geirröd in exchange for his own freedom. Given Thor’s stated role in myths as the defender of deities and humans, Loki is willing to sacrifice the safety of entire worlds for his own personal benefit.”

Yet again, this is another myth where Loki was forced to swear an oath that he could not avoid making. And, yet again, this is a story that ends with the death of one of the gods’ fearsome nemeses. Thor wins the day. Loki’s oath is upheld.

“Over and over, Trump has shown that he privileges his own desires over the safety of the nation he leads. Whether openly examining and discussing documents on North Korean missile tests in front of paying members of his golf resort, renting space in Trump Tower to the Chinese government for millions of dollars, or charging the entourages of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman so much for a five-day stay at one of his hotels that the income boosted its quarterly revenue by thirteen percent, the president has made clear that his personal enrichment trumps the security of the United States.”

Yeah, Trump does do this. He does it out of his desire for wealth. The only reason Loki has sworn oaths in myths that have negatively impacted the gods is because his life was at stake. That’s generally an understandable reason to, ya know, make a crappy oath. Life is viewed as sacred – the Havamal tells us that, considering there’s a verse that says it’s better to be lame or blind than dead!

Oh, and of course, the Baldr myth gets brought up. Go figure.

“Loki lets imagined insults to his ego drive his role in the killing of both a praised servant and a praised god. By driving the murder of Baldr, he causes the gods “great deprivation and loss.” Would the presence of Baldr – a leader of warriors in both the Poetic Edda and the History of the Danes of Saxo Grammaticus – have swayed the outcome of the final battle and given victory to the gods at Ragnarök? Whether or not the answer is ultimately knowable, Loki makes doubly sure of Baldr’s absence during the conflict by guaranteeing that the god cannot return from Hel before the mass destruction of the final battle is complete. Loki’s dedication to avenging supposed insults knows no temporal limits.”

I don’t really think Seigfried read this myth. Loki doesn’t catalyze the death of Baldr because he was insulted – he catalyzes the death of Baldr because Frigg ignored the mistletoe when gathering oaths. It is an entire story about exploiting loopholes to prove a point, and it also demonstrates that death is a natural cycle that even the gods must adhere to. Also, by ensuring that Baldr is in Hel during Ragnarok, Loki ensures that the cycle of the world continues, as Baldr is the only god who survives the event. There is also circumstantial evidence that suggests Baldr held the power of reincarnating other deities, so Hel would be the absolute best place for him during Ragnarok.

The Trump comparison:

“During his presidency, there are constant reminders of Trump’s deep dedication to revenge for perceived sleights. In addition to wanting to order the Justice Department to prosecute his political adversaries, Trump has repeatedly used the presidential pulpit to attack media outlets that he feels don’t show proper deference and business leaders whose successes he feels eclipse his own. He has shown himself fully willing to trash relationships with America’s long-term allies around the world when he is either jealous of their leaders’ popularity or feels affronted by their independence. Like Loki, he places a greater importance on his own easily bruised ego than on the priorities and needs of his society.”

There’s not a lot to say here considering Seigfried completely misread the Baldr myth. On top of that, there are actually two versions of the Baldr myth – the one by Saxo Grammaticus does not involve Loki at all. Instead, Baldr and Hod fight to the death over a woman. Which of these is the right myth? No one really knows.

Seigfried ends this section with the following:

“Don’t Loki’s actions redound to the benefit of the community, though? Throughout the myths, Loki only performs actions beneficial for others after his harmful acts are discovered and he is threatened with grave bodily harm. There is a pattern to his myths: Loki does something intended to benefit himself; the act causes harm to the wider community; he is forced to make it right under pain of death; his externally mandated act of restitution results in some benefit – the gaining of treasures, the death of powerful giants, and so on.

Should we celebrate that his willingness to save his own skin by helping his captor abduct a goddess eventually results in the elimination of the giant when the benefit only arises after the gods discover his act and force him to make amends? Aren’t the gods the ones we should credit for the positive outcome?

Don’t Trump’s actions also sometimes help the community? He kindly agreed that family separationat the Mexican border was inhumane and took steps towards ending the policy, but only after his own support for the policy seemed destined to cause the loss of independent votes during the midterm election. Even then, he denied his own responsibility for the separations and put the word heart in quotation marks when claiming to care about the children.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s response to the situation could also be applied to myths of Loki: ‘I don’t applaud the president. He created a crisis. He said he solved the crisis. He has not.'”

Really? Through all the myths Loki only does something to benefit himself? What about the myth where he ties a goat to his balls to make Skadi laugh? Doesn’t that benefit the community at an expense to himself?

Loki, as many scholars have deduced, is a trickster, and tricksters in myth are deities that demonstrate extremes. Yes, he acts badly at times. He acts goodly at times. He is a complex being, just like all other deities. Just like all people, for that matter.

And no, to answer Seigfried’s question – Trump’s actions never actually benefit the community. They are like band-aids thrown over bleeding wounds.

Loki actually solves problems, actually brings benefits into Asgard in the form of weapons and gifts and the deaths of giants. These aren’t band-aids; they are bonafide solutions to problems. And not all the problems are ones Loki causes – after all, Thor loses his hammer and asks Loki for help. The gods understand that Loki is the best at solving problems. He is a problem-solver.

That is, emphatically, one thing that Trump is not. 

Opposer of Law 

Alright, so now Seigfried brings philosophy into the equation.

“Although there are hints in the surviving myths of rivalry and enmity between Loki and Heimdall, the poems and tales that we have show Thor as the god in strongest opposition to Loki. It is Thor who is called on to capture Loki when he seeks to escape righteous punishment, to drive him from the hall when he attacks the goddesses present, and to deliver him into bondage for his role in the murder of Baldr.

It can be argued that Thor’s hammer is a symbol of community – a symbol of belonging to a community and of protecting it from harm. In The Symbolism of Evil, the French philosopher and theologian Paul Ricoeur writes that myths are “a species of symbols,” that they are “symbols developed in the form of narrations.” If Thor’s hammer is indeed a symbol of community, and the hammer is repeatedly raised against Loki, what does Loki symbolize?

I would argue that he represents all that is harmful to the community itself, from the placing of self over others to the objectification of women. The opposition set up in the myths between Loki and Thor shows the son of Laufey as a figure who seeks to escape punishment for breaking the norms of the society, who indeed seeks to mutilate the very instrument of the enforcement of the law, as he interferes with the forging of Mjölnir and causes it to be made with a defect in the handle – the very place where the hand of the enforcer grips the instrument of justice.”

Okay, so, first of all…Thor is the guardian of Asgard. He is an agent of order, and the symbolism of his hammer? It’s protection. That’s why so many Asatruar wear the Mjolnir pendant – it acts like spiritual protection in the same way that the Christian cross does or the Wiccan pentacle does.

Where did Seigfried even come up with the concept of Thor’s hammer as representative of community? He says it can be argued that it is one, but he doesn’t provide any evidence whatsoever as to how he came to that conclusion.

Also, he makes an erroneous statement about Loki and Thor being oppositional figures. Loki and Thor often journey together in the myths. Take the story of when Thor lost his hammer or the story of the visit to Utgard-Loki. Where’s the oppositional piece in that? There’s no good-evil dichotomy in Norse mythology – that’s an Abrahamic religious construct.

Then he compares Trump’s investigation by Mueller to the supposed Thor-Loki dichotomy? What is this nonsense?

“The president’s greatest foil in the legal system has been Robert Mueller, currently serving as special counsel leading the investigation of “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Trump has consistently insisted that there has been “no collusion” and that Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt.” If Mueller is playing the part of Thor in this story, serving as the dedicated challenger of the one who flouts the rule of law, then Trump is acting out Loki’s part in mucking about with the handle of the hammer as he endlessly obstructs the investigation, obfuscates his relationship with Russia, and promotes those who publicly attack Mueller’s credibility – such as Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has echoed Trump’s portrayal of the investigation as a “witch hunt” and ‘political fishing expedition.'”

Where exactly does Loki flout the rule of law in any of the myths? When Odin orders him to do something, he does it, no questions asked. He does not evade. He does not dodge the accusations – he returns fire with fire. When he is accused of acting unmanly in the Lokasenna, he responds to Odin by reminding him that he, too, has performed unmanly acts. That is nowhere near the same as dodging accusations. Loki does not deny the accusations hurled at him that are true – he owns them and says, “Yeah, and?” In fact, he always owns up to his actions. That’s a far cry from Trump’s inability to be honest.

The irony is that Loki is known as the father of lies and deceit, yet he never actually tells a lie. Does he let people assume his identity at times? Sure, so he is guilty of deceit. But lying? That’s not his mode of operation.

Bringer of Chaos 

Okay, so Seigfried starts this part with a question:

“I’m not sure exactly when and where the concept of Loki as a beneficial bringer of chaos entered modern Pagan and Heathen discourse. Did it come from a grafting of chaos magick concepts onto Norse lore? Is it an adaptation of Wiccan dualism to Germanic myth? Whatever the origin and entry points, the idea that Loki brings needful chaos to the otherwise stifling order enforced by the Norse deities isn’t borne out by the surviving myths.

It is difficult to view Loki positively when he helps a giant abduct the goddess who brings health and life, when he calls any woman who speaks out in public a slut, when he attempts to lure the unarmed protector of the worlds into a giant ambush, when he does any of the things detailed above. How do his specific actions in the actual mythology counteract negative actions by the gods and goddesses in a way that is beneficial for humanity? What I myself see as negative behavior by the gods – misogyny, violence, betrayal – are exactly the core elements of Loki’s character. So what are the ordered behaviors that he is supposed to bring into harmonized balance by injecting chaotic elements?”

The concept of Loki as a beneficial bringer of chaos originates with the academic understanding that Loki is a trickster figure, and tricksters introduce chaos into an otherwise orderly world. Chaos and order are opposites, and one cannot exist without the other. That’s a fundamental universal truth – opposites require the other to exist. Without heat, there can be no cold. Without wet, there can be no dry. Chaos and order both have to coexist for the world to exist.

As for the other questions asked here, Seigfried fails to acknowledge how tricksters operate within myths. He would really benefit by getting his hands on a copy of Lewis Hyde’s phenomenal book, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art. 

Seigfried goes on to say the following:

“Even beyond the bringing of chaos to disrupt quotidian existence, Loki is a leader of the forces of destruction at Ragnarök. He breaks free from his bonds, steers the ship full of doomsday troops, stands with “all Hel’s people,” and kills the god Heimdall before being killed himself. In addition to the deaths of the major deities, all of humanity but one couple are killed as “heaven and earth and all the world is burned.”

It’s hard to see Loki’s role in all of this as laudable, but some have asserted that he is generously destroying this world so that a better world can arise. This idea is bit too close for comfort to the ideologies delineated in Jeffrey Kaplan’s Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah.

If the Heathen ritual of blót is indeed meant to – as its etymology suggests – strengthen the god who is its recipient, then worshiping Loki is meant to provide aid to an agent of earthly destruction and human genocide. I just can’t do it. Call me a square, but I’m more interested in increasing the peace and working for positive change than in doing works, as Kaplan writes, ‘in the belief that the apocalypse is imminent and thus that some immediate action is incumbent on believers.'”

First of all, there’s a LOT of contention around the Ragnarok myth. There’s not even solid proof that the myth of Ragnarok originated from Norsemen rather than Christians. There’s some evidence to suggest it’s a Northern tale, but it’s circumstantial at best.

Assuming that the tale is true, however, it is just another old Pagan myth about the continuous cyclical rebirth of the world. It isn’t meant to be an end-of-days doom-and-gloom kind of myth, though it can be taken that way on the surface. It is a reaffirming that life and the universe itself exist in a cyclical way; seriously, has this guy ever read anything about mythological interpretation or does he interpret everything this shallowly?

As for whether or not Seigfried performs a blot to Loki, I highly doubt anyone cares. I certainly don’t. If you’re afraid of a god, it’s usually a good idea not to try to work with that god. I can’t imagine that many deities would find a person approaching them out of fear to be anything other than offensive. Maybe amusing, depending on their personality. But it’s rather offensive to offer a drink to someone you’re terrified of, and Seigfried is obviously terrified of Loki.

He’s also terrified of Lokeans, if his ending statement is anything to go by:

“Finally, I would like to make the simple request that, following this article, lovers of Loki and partisans of the president refrain from making death threats against me. I know that these are two figures who inspire passionate devotion, but I think it is possible to have differences of opinion without threatening lives and livelihood. Thank you for rejecting fundamentalism.”

Like, this is so ridiculous it’s almost hard to take seriously. I know of -ZERO- Lokeans who would ever issue a death threat to another person. Seriously. Why the fuck would we do that? That’s insane.

It’s pretty obvious Seigfried knows nothing about the Lokean community, which is, by far, a group of some of the nicest people on the planet! I say that as one of the founders of the Loki’s Wyrdlings facebook group, which currently houses 431 members. Our number one rule? Respect each other.

Loki does not inspire fanatical devotion – in fact, I’ve never known him to ask for it. I think he might feel insulted by it, though I don’t dare claim to speak for him. He can speak for himself. I get the feeling, however, that he would much rather a person figure out their beliefs for themselves and question him incessantly through their doubt. I have never followed Loki blindly. I don’t know many Lokeans who do.

This entire piece is yet another insult from the wider Heathen world against Lokeans, which, these days, are pretty much par for the course.

Some people expressed surprise that the Wild Hunt allowed such an article on their site. I don’t know why – it’s just another person bashing on Loki. Nothing new to see here. Same old story, different tune.

Other Lokean Responses 

Dude! I Call Unverified Political Gnosis! by Amy Marsh

Dude, I Call Lokiphobia! Check Your Bully Pulpit by Amy Marsh

Lokasenna Time! by Amy Marsh

Loki and Trump: My Thoughts by Dagulf Loptson

Loki is Not Trump (Neither is Odin) by Sarenth Odinsson

Rebuttal to Article: Loki in the White House by Sonya Odinsdottir

Analysis of “Óðinn: A Queer týr?”

Analysis of “Óðinn: A Queer týr? A Study of Óðinn’s Function as a Queer Deity in Iron Age Scandinavia,” a Master’s Thesis by Amy Franks

First Chapter Analysis
Her comparison between mana and hamingja is a pretty big stretch, considering they are vastly different concepts from two very different cultures. The way she tries to tie mana into the spectrum between gods and humans makes no sense, especially when mana has nothing to do with Scandinavian religion. Here, she really should have worked harder to understand the concepts of wyrd and hamingja.

Second Chapter Analysis
She is using queer theory, which is a particular theoretical lens. This, by itself, is not problematic. She is also correct in stating that queer theory is “inherently distrustful of categories.” It is well-known within sociology that gender is a social and historical construct, so this argument on its own is fine. Her citing Ghisleni’s argument to say that studying third genders/sexes someone ignores the nature of personhood is a huge stretch, and it also makes me question how well she vetted her own sources. That argument is logically fallacious from the beginning.

I’ll agree that analyzing Odin through his semantic center is a good methodology, and I can buy that Odin’s semantic center is that of knowledge and its acquisition. Her conclusion is that gender was never a key part of his semantic center, which is an accurate statement. The insertion of her personal belief that he has elements of queerness does not really belong in an academic paper.

Third Chapter Analysis
One of her arguments in the conclusion of this chapter, that warrior groups don’t exist in a male vacuum, is a solid argument. But the evidence she offers is incredibly weak and reaching. As for her main argument, that battle-oriented spirits like the einherjar/valkyrjur are linked to Odin’s presence and gender is problematic only because of the “and gender.” Obviously, battle-oriented spirits are linked to Odin’s presence. His gender has nothing to do with his orientation to battle or anything else, generally speaking.

Overall Analysis
I mean, I honestly feel like this entire thesis rests on a very shaky assumption that gods have a gender to begin with rather than being ascribed a gender. Considering that the gods themselves are not beholden to human concepts like morality, it makes no sense to make an argument based on the concept that a god has a gender in the first place. In addition to that, stating that a god’s perceived gender puts that deity into a particular gender/sexual category is another fundamental misunderstanding about the separation that exists between the nature of the gods and the nature of human beings.

In conclusion? This is an atrocious paper founded on, at best, a very flimsy argument.

For those interested in doing their own analysis, here’s the link to the paper:
Óðinn: A Queer týr

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