I sorta answered this question a few months ago, when I wrote about Loki’s Multifaceted Nature. I discussed six different aspects there – Loki as trickster, as Mother, as a god of the air (Loptr), as shaman, as Worldbreaker, and as Destroyer. He has many more, of course, so for this question, I looked for a few pieces that remind me of his other aspects.
The above image is Loki in his guise as Scarlip, a name he earned when he kept the dwarves from taking his head when he lost a bet by claiming he hadn’t promised them his neck. That led to them consenting, with great displeasure, to the sewing shut of Loki’s mouth instead.
The next image is Loki in his guise as the Bound God, which is punishment for something he has done. Snorri conflates this with the myth of Baldr’s death, but there is no scholastic evidence that the two stories were ever connected – Snorri forced a connection. Due to the myths of other European cultures (and all of them trace back to the original Indo-European mythology), it is more likely that this is a punishment Loki endures in a manner similar to Prometheus – probably for similar reasons.
The above image is a great rendition of Loki, and in this art, I see Loki in his guise as a solar god, responsible for bringing the warmth necessary to cultivate growth. While he is often depicted as a god of fire, the sun itself is the embodiment of fire. It is due to his aspect as a solar god that I associate him with the summer.
That said, I also see within him his aspect as a god of water and ice, and therefore he can also be considered a god of winter. He is, perhaps, best understood as a harbinger of the seasonal changes. The ancient Norse only perceived two seasons – winter and summer – so it makes sense then that Loki would have both a summer and a winter form. The following art is the one I consider the best rendition of Loki in a winter guise.
There are many, many faces of Loki, and none of us will ever see all of them. The glimpses we do get into Lodur’s many facets are the reward we get for the work we do for and with him. To walk with any god is a privilege and an honor, more so when the god is as ancient as Loki is, and it is not an honor that I will ever take lightly.
Question: What are Loki’s aspects and/or regional forms and variations?
Loki has many, many aspects – as he has many names – and it is not possible for one person to ever know them all, or to work with them all. These are the aspects of Loki that I have personally witnessed and/or worked with at various times, so they are the ones I feel most comfortable discussing.
First, he has the aspect of the trickster, which may be the most liminal of all of his aspects. Tricksters are almost always unfailingly honest, although they may not be completely forthcoming. Generally, trickster spirits use your own reasoning against you in order to make you see the truth of a situation. I would say that this is probably the aspect of Loki that people work with most often, as it is the one that essentially forces you to examine your life and work towards the acquisition of self-knowledge.
Then, there is his aspect of Lodur, the god who gave humans flesh and spirit. He is, perhaps, the oldest of all of Loki’s aspects, and is a creative, generative force. This is the aspect that, from my perspective, holds all of Lodur’s ancient knowledge. There is a lot to be learned from working with this aspect, but it is definitely a heavier and less light-hearted aspect.
Loptr, or Skytreader, is the aspect of Loki that is most free. He takes to the skies and rules over the motion of the body – here is the aspect that rules dance and the restlessness of the mind. Here, Loki is most himself in the element of air, which often gets neglected as so many only see him as a god of fire (which he also is). Loptr is the Loki that can quickly travel from one world to another – in some ways, this is Loki at his most shamanistic.
Then there is Loki in his guise as Mother of Monsters, where he is incredibly maternal (and paternal). He is the fierce protector of children of all types here, and it is from this aspect that I have grown to understand that Loki holds a fierce loyalty towards all of those who can call him father or mother. His loyalty to his family is eternal, and it is his grief at what happens to two of his sons that brings us to the last aspect I will discuss today.
That aspect is the Worldbreaker, aka the Destroyer of Worlds. This is Loki in his most violent, angry aspect, and in it, he will stop at nothing to exact revenge for the wrong that has been done to him through the harm that was inflicted on his children. He will end the world to see his revenge through, a telling parallel for the old Norse society that viewed revenge as crucial to the maintenance of strong family ties.
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.