Tag Archives: loki

Loki: Guardian of Sacrifice

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.

  • “The character of Loki is apparent in the myth: he is the stirrer up of strife and thus the provoker of victory (p.393).”
  • “This myth turns upon a later moment in the sacrifice and reflects a rite used at the lighting of the fire to ward off the influence of the demon [Thiazi] and to secure the preparation of the sacrificial meat (p.392).”

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:

  • Ambivalence
  • Cunning used as a strategy
  • The stirrer of strife to provoke victory
  • Upholds oaths made
  • Embodies Luck
  • Guardian of Sacrificial Offerings

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.

 

Worldbreaker: The Price of Liminality

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.[1]

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.


[1] 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.

Personal Gnosis: How Humans Came to Be

I asked Loki, in his guise of Lodurr, about the day that the gods made humans. He indulged me, and he told me the following story.

Note: This is 100% my own personal gnosis, so please take it as you will. 


Walking along the coast one day, Odin, Hoenir, and Lodurr came across two pieces of driftwood moored upon the sand. The shape of the wood reminded Odin of the monkeys he had just seen while visiting Tehuti in Egypt. “Perhaps we should create a being to inhabit our world the way the Egyptians have,” he said.

“We cannot recreate the monkeys from Egypt,” Hoenir said, ever practical. “They would not survive the harsh winters of our world.”

Lodurr, always keen to solve problems when they presented themselves, offered a suggestion. “Perhaps instead of recreating the monkeys, we can combine the idea of them with the trees the wood came from. That way, they will not struggle with the climate here.”

“If we do that, we will have trees that look like monkeys stuck forever in one place. What kind of life would that be to give them?” Hoenir asked.

“Then let us give them the ability to move, so that they are not rooted,” Lodurr said.

“It would be good to have intelligent life in our world,” Odin said. “I think Lodurr is right. We should combine the two. By doing that, they will be as mobile as monkeys but as adaptable to the climate as the trees are.”

Saying that, he pulled the pieces of driftwood from their moorings and set about shaping the wood. Lodurr and Hoenir helped and, soon, they had crafted two remarkable beings that looked similar to the monkeys Odin had referenced. Because those monkeys had two sexes, the gods crafted the driftwood into two distinct sexes. If life were to flourish, then the beings would need a way to procreate so that the gods did not have to continuously shape new pieces of driftwood they stumbled across.

Once the beings were crafted, Odin laid his hands on each of their shoulders in turn and blew a note that turned into breath and entered the creatures. Soon, both of them began breathing on their own. Next, Hoenir stepped forward and laid a finger on each head. He traced an ancient symbol across their foreheads and pushed the capacity to think into their heads.

Once that was done, Lodurr placed his palm over each creature’s heart. He sent fire racing down his arms, igniting passion in the hearts that beat within each breath. Inadvertently, however, he also singed away half of the hair that had covered the creatures. Once he had burnt something, it could not be recovered, so the creatures were stuck with a fine layer of hair rather than the coarse layer the gods had originally intended. In apology for destroying the work of the other gods, Lodurr blew color into their cheeks, giving them a rosy hue. He also set blood flowing in their limbs, giving them strength to move on their own.

Hoenir noticed that, when Lodurr had singed the hair off the creatures, he had completely removed it from their palms and the soles of their feet. That uncovered the lines of the wood that the gods had worked so hard to remove. Hoenir started to smooth out the flesh there, but Odin stopped him.

“Let the lines stay,” Odin said. “It will serve as a reminder for them that they came from the trees. As long as it remains with them, this knowledge will keep them in awe of the trees and prevent them from burning down the forest. They have minds of their own, free will, and the ability to use tools. We do not know what they will do, so let us give them as much knowledge as is safe to provide.”

Hoenir, unhappy that he could not ply his craft to the extent that he wanted, removed his hands from the creatures and walked away from the other gods.

Lodurr and Odin stood in silence until Lodurr spoke. “Did you mean that?” he asked. “About providing them knowledge?”

“I did.”

“They will grow to hate us,” Lodurr said. “They will know that they were a curiosity we made on a whim. That doesn’t distress you?”

“No,” Odin said. “Because even though many of them may grow to hate us, some will grow to love us without measure. It is that love that will sustain us, as we sustain them.”

Lodurr snorted. “Now you sound like Freyja.”

“She is wiser than you give her credit for,” Odin said. “Without her teachings, I could not have done what I did today. She is the one who taught me how to use the breath of life and how to both give and take it away.”

“I know she is wise,” Lodurr said. “It is her wisdom that makes it difficult for me to be who I am. She too often looks through me.”

Odin looked at the humans they had just crafted. “Perhaps you should focus on making friends elsewhere,” he said.

“Amongst the humans?” Lodurr asked, surprised by the suggestion.

“You hold more knowledge than the other gods give you credit for, old friend,” Odin said. “It is you who can teach them how to survive in this world. I know of no one better suited.”

Lodurr smiled. “Thank you, brother. I may just do that.”

 

 

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

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

Loki as Thresholder: Loki opens doors, but we walk through them

Thresholds are liminal spaces that exist between two spaces. A threshold can be as simple as the one between two rooms in your house or as complex as the boundary between two worlds. No matter how simple or complex a threshold is, they are liminal spaces.

Liminal spaces are the “in-between” of everything that exists. This is the area where Loki draws his power. He is a god of liminality, and he can always be found in the in-between spaces.

Thresholds, however, are not meant to be dwelled in. We don’t live in our doorways, after all. Doorways, like thresholds, are meant to be used as crossing points from one place to another.

Threshold magic is also some of the most dangerous, as it is impossible to control liminality. Conducting rituals in a liminal space typically means you are allowing wyrd to take over and determine the outcome, no matter what the desired outcome is that you hold. It can be terrifying, and it is not a type of magic that should be practiced by everyone. Giving yourself over to wyrd is difficult to do, as we all, to some degree, want to maintain control over our lives and not feel subjected to whims that are not our own. It takes a lot of trust that we generally don’t inherently have towards the unknown.

In a way, working with Loki is similar to doing threshold magic. Because he is a god of liminality, it is impossible to know what aspect he will show you on any given day. The fact that he is also a shapeshifter doubles the uncertainty, and that pretty much means there’s no guarantee what form he will take.

In my experience with him, he generally takes on his more renowned human form with red hair and green eyes. But I have also seen him appear as a black widow, a black dog, a falcon, a butterfly, and as other human forms. I have never seen him appear as Marvel Loki, as I have a pretty strong distaste towards viewing him in that way.

That distaste originates from the fact that Tom Hiddleston is an actor portraying a role, and while he may be portraying Loki, he is 100% human, which means he cannot actually be Loki. There’s no reason for me to see Tom Hiddleston and go “omg, that’s Loki.” From my perspective, that’s absolutely ridiculous because Hiddleston is human and Loki is 100% deity.

Do I believe Loki can take on the guise of Hiddleston? Absolutely. Loki is a god, and deities can assume any form they want to. It seems to be a trait inherent to deity – assuming the forms that work best to get our attention.

So why do so many people seem to be stuck on the image of Loki as Tom Hiddleston? Honestly, I think this happens because people get stuck on the threshold.

From my perspective, when Loki appears to someone as Tom Hiddleston, it is more because he is opening the only door he can find into that person’s life. If it is the only way he can get someone’s attention, and he feels the need to get their attention, he is probably going to open that door and step through it.

Doors, however, open in two directions. If we refuse to step through the door he opens, we learn nothing about him except that he exists. Those who see nothing but the Loki of Marvel learn only an aspect Loki used to gain their attention. They are not stepping through the door that Loki is opening to learn more about him.

By not stepping through the door, they never learn the real depths that lurk within the god. Maybe they get glimpses, but unless they step through the door, they ignore the glimpses they get.

It is well-known and understood that the best way to gain knowledge about the gods is to research them. Read the myths and stories associated with them. Find the patterns that consistently arise in their interactions with others. Learn to distinguish and discern so that you can trust the personal experiences and UPGs that you have.

Loki is a god of thresholds and liminality. He can and will stay in the in-between spaces. He is a catalyzer of change, not change itself. He may open the door, but we are the ones who have to make the choice to walk through them.

After all, we don’t live in the in-between.

That means we have to make a choice. We can continue to stay on the path we’re on, or we can choose to walk down the new path Loki opens up to us. Change is almost always for the better, but it is almost never comfortable or easy.

So, if you are the kind of Lokean who only sees Loki as Tom Hiddleston, ask yourself if you are willing to go further. Read the myths. Learn the lore. Explore the differences. Get comfortable with the difficult and darker aspects of Loki. Learn to embrace ambiguity and the unknown.

If you want to know Loki, you have to get to know him. Getting to know anyone, god or human, means learning things about them that you might not like. Even our closest human friends are flawed – that doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

If you are the kind of person who refuses to engage with the myths, ask yourself why. What are you afraid you might learn? What truths are you afraid to confront about Loki and/or about yourself?

Loki is a loving and compassionate deity, but that does not make him safe. He is a god of liminality, and liminal spaces are inherently chaotic and dangerous. To expect otherwise is to delude yourself.

We cannot live in the threshold, but we can certainly hold awe for the gods like Loki who not only live in liminal spaces but draw their power from them.