Our beloved Loki is a shapeshifer par excellence! And this shows up not only in the traditional lore but also in our current pop culture and in the ways that devotees perceive and render him/her/zir/them. Day 8 asks us to research and consider “variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.).” Other people have covered the traditional variations with more expertise than I can muster, so I’m gonna come at this from a different angle.
That fractal above? To me, that’s one way I can understand how Loki manifests. The colors are not always so pretty, but multi-dimensional change and shifts in viewpoint are non-stop. But I don’t get the sense that this is exhausting for Loki. He reminds me of what (little) I know of Shiva. It’s all a dance! It can look carefree, but there’s death and transmutation propelling every nimble movement. And, to quote from the grasshopper in my favorite Leon Rosselson song, “Where the dance leads I follow.” That’s Loki, except that he also makes the dance as he goes along, sometimes indulging in the amusing or tragic pretence of just being dragged along by circumstances or his inevitable Wyrd.
Constantly shifting insightful perspective…seeing/feeling it all from a number of vantage points…people don’t trust that. In the old stories, the Æsir didn’t trust it either. Loki, who is so subtle in his perceptions and blunt with his humor, garners a reputation as a liar, a shifty fellow, terribly sly. But it’s that dance that he must follow.
Dear me, but it’s one of the major reasons I love him/her/zir/them.
So today I want to take a look at contemporary depictions of Loki as one form of “regional” variation. Our artists and writers are busy these days. Loki is a compelling muse. He always has been. But his devotees are also engaged with aspects of Loki that personally speak to them. We probably can’t avoid seeing/feeling our gods through our filters, even when we reach enlightenment for the good of all sentient beings…
Loki the Bad Boy and Drinking Buddy
I notice a lot of this on social media. Loki as the annoying fellow (or spirit lover) who makes you buy that Fireball Whiskey or any exotic pink beverage you can pick up at the Dollar Store. He’s the hipster dude with a goatee, and perhaps even a cigarette (See how badass he is? Do gods get lung cancer? Does he care? Hell no!). He throws things around, disappears car keys, and makes you say his name when you orgasm with your spouse.
It’s all good. This works for many. I am not judgy, merely descriptive. And images abound.
Loki the Cultured, with a Better Vocabulary Than Most of Us Will Ever Have
Isn’t it interesting that the voice of Loki on the Mythology Podcast (3 parts) sounds very much like the actor, Tom Hiddleston, who is famous for playing Marvel Loki in the Avengers movies? Cultured, witty, his voice usually quiet but with an edge, an adroit use of language… This is the Loki of Lokasenna. Yes, he’s drunk in that story, and a wee bit over the top, but he manages to verbally flay his drunken chums for their hypocrisy. It reminds me of the scene in Cyrano de Bergerac when Cyrano composes and declaims a spontaneous poem while dueling a witless fool (“and when I end the refrain, I thrust home!”).
And wow, what about Marvel Loki, reading a book in Asgard’s palace slammer? (Yes! A book! So much cooler than a cigarette!) Any variation (whether Marvel or Norse) of Loki with a book suggests a search for knowledge–as knowledge is power, my droogies! To quote from the modern Sherlock series, “smart is the new sexy.”
It works for me, anyhow.
Pensive, Sensitive, Brooding Loki
You see this a lot in Marvel Loki fan art, such as this image by Elena Nekrasova on DeviantArt. Is he reflecting on the consequences of his actions or merely plotting his next move? Who knows! But many people find this aspect appealing–sort of like being in the eye of a hurricane?
This is the Loki of ASMR Hiddleston-soundalike recordings.
Comicbook Lady Loki
She’s hot. She busty. She’s probably wearing latex. She can impale you with her hat. She probably has her own FetLife profile. It works for some. As for me, it just makes me sad I lost my figure after birthing two younguns.
Our favorite shape-shifter gender-shifts too, and to many people, he/she/ze/they is/are wonderfully queer, gender everything, and possibly pansexual. Just google “Pride Loki.” You’ll love it. Images abound. Yay.
Loki the Glorious Heartbreaking Diva
Leaving the Marvel Universe at last, here’s our favorite horned god in all his flamehair majesty. No one depicts Loki like Skeith-A on DeviantArt. This one. Here. You can purchase a print and I encourage you to support this and other talented artists.
Devotional Art and Literature
Now, I want to say a word about images (and written work) that “romanticize” Loki, almost to the point of overwhelming sentimentality. This kind of art and writing is nothing new. Don’t believe me? Think back to images of the West’s impossibly white Jesus and Mother Mary–oozing with sentimentality and yearning–or depictions of various Hindu deities or the tantric avatar, Babaji Naga Raj? Such images are invested with all the love, submerged eroticism, glamour, and desirable attributes that can be imagined by any god-struck artist. They are meant to draw us in.
Even comicbook characters are often drawn as hyper-desirable. In my early twenties I adored Barry Windsor-Smith’s comicbook renderings of Conan, who was not a god of course but he was built like one. (I still have a complete set of Smith’s Conan comic books. Do I look at them much now? Nah. I’ve moved on…) Others might feel similarly about Frank Frazetta’s Vampirella. (I can imagine Vampirella and Lady Loki meeting for lunch…)
Below: Shiva (at left) and Krishna (right).
These images are devotional. Such work has been around for eons. So it annoys me that people diss Loki “fan art.” I take such work seriously. I respect it, even the artistically cruder renderings. The upcoming Loki’s Torch has a number of such illustrations, wrought with various skill and style.
The above list of Loki variations is not complete, of course. We all see or experience Loki in various ways. Some people claim he’s shown up in their dreams in a wide variety of appearances and fashion. Most report seeing him as young, but I’ve got a hankering for an image that shows some wear, some wit, and some wisdom, and yet is still spiritually and visually alluring. But no facial hair, please! My Loki has no goatee.