Tag Archives: margin

Loki’s Path: Essential Marginality

I read an article called “Loki’s Mythological Function in the Tripartite System” by Jerold C. Frakes that was published in the Journal of English and Germanic Philosophy in 1987. I found some pretty interesting excerpts.

“In attempting to come to terms with Loki as a functional element in the mythological system, his essential marginality may well by the key. He is external to the system, but essential to its function, and thus it is as a mediator between the outside and inside, partaking of both, that he operates.”


“Loki manifests his essential mythological function as anti-function. And as such his role is necessary to complete the semiotic structure of the mythological system. For it is only by the means of an anti-function that the functions, and by means of the margin and that which is marginalized that the center, are ultimately delimited and defined. Loki defines the functions in a number of ways – as their tester and usurper, subverter and destroyer. On the margin, he has equally ambiguous ties to the realms both of the gods and of the giants, but is at home with neither. His offspring are also creatures of the margin.”

I really like the line “His essential marginality may well be the key” because it fits. It really does.

Loki is the god of the fringes. Of the margins. Of the marginalized. All of us who stand in the margins of society for one reason or another understand that we are outside of the system, yet essential to the way the system functions. We understand what it is like to be both on the inside and the outside of the system, never quite fitting in one way or the other, but still somehow getting by with what we manage to grab hold of. That’s what Loki’s path really is. The flitting back and forth over the boundary of the inside and outside. And it’s hard to explain exactly what that feels like, but it is a lot less fluid than it sounds, and a lot more difficult to deal with emotionally than those who aren’t part of a marginalized group will ever understand.