Our last Deity Devotion question is: “any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?” Yes, I do have a few.
Don’t do what I did–which is immediately plunge in wholeheartedly. You’ll want to, but it is better to go a little slowly at first. My experiences have not been negative at all–though they have been intense–but I’m an aging Scorpio with a tremendous range of life experience. I tend to think I can get away with being reckless, even at my age. (Hubris, I know…)
Do read the lore, The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda and others. As you do this you may become frustrated by Christian attempts to cast Loki as an evil “Norse Satan” (this comes up in The Prose Edda and modern myths), but these are still important literary references. (These are not sacred or religious texts.)
Kyaza’s blog on the same topic today is a tough act to follow–there’s so much covered. Loki is immensely versatile and controversial. Do read it! I do have some additional thoughts, though. But first, a fractal.
In my opinion, the following misconceptions are not exactly “the worst” but merely the most limiting.
Misconception 1: Loki is not real.
Oh my droogies! The entire history of our sad species is one of collision with and confusion about those mostly (but not always) unseen beings we call gods and goddesses, demons, angels, fey folk, ghosts, ancestral spirits, and so on.
A departed friend of mine, Michael Rossman of Free Speech Movement fame, was a mathematician and naturalist, as well as a social historian, poet, player of flute, and science teacher of children. His inner world was filled with numbers and mathematical equations, as well as a pronounced empathy with plant life. Yet he’d had his own brushes with “the strange” from quite early on, including his experience with the first weeks of the Free Speech Movement as a collective possession by the spirit of Liberty. Literally, spirit possession. Micheal knew what it was to be spirit-touched, and changed.
In Rossman’s book, New Age Blues–On The Politics of Consciousness (E.P. Dutton, 1979), he recounts bizarre twists in the ’70s pop phenomenon of Uri Geller (bender of spoons) and his patron impressario, a scientist named Andrija Puharich (physician and parapsychological researcher). Their combined wyrd soon became weirder and weirder, ending with servitude to a group of spirit beings called “The Nine” or “Hoovans.” Michael writes: “like many more sober investigators I have come to take seriously the notion that there are discrete intelligences at hand other than those housed in fleshy bodies, and that they interact with us in quite complex ways.” For the rest of his life, Michael would pursue his own investigations via entheogens (so not all that sober) and later in our joint exploration of “the gossamer realms” (his words) via tantric gazing.
Just one more word from Michael, “Weird things are abrew…and I think it is much the better part of intellectual humility to recognize what we have no way of knowing, and to confess our guesses as projections of our wishes.”
Well, yes and no to those “projections,” Michael. There’s intellectual knowledge, true, and we need it for discernment, but there’s also spontaneous gnosis, which sometimes slams into us with the force of a truck. I have this and that and this Loki thing too. And other incidents as well. Until recently, I didn’t want or shape what happened. I didn’t go looking. It’s only in the last four years that I truly stepped into my rightful state as a witchy polytheist animist and have intentionally courted a select few of the gossamer realm.
Loki was a surprise. I’d been courting Frey, Freya, and Gerda via daily devotions, but not getting much back. Then Loki arrived with the force and allure of a shiny red sports car, immensely present. I could have said no but I didn’t.
You bet he’s real. I am also a sober investigator. I don’t oath myself to fantasies. But I understand, it sounds really bonkers if you’ve never had a similar experience.
He is known by his/her/zir/their faces and attributes and our community’s shared gnosis is confirms quite a lot of what we come to as individuals.
Misconception 2: Loki is male.
I do feel and respond to Loki as “male” most of the time, but lately I’ve begun to find my way to the other gendered aspects. I’ve always known these other aspects were there, and that intellectual knowledge is part of Loki’s appeal for me, but actually feeling into this, that’s new.
You know, being a polytheist is even weirder than it sounds! There I was, solidly in the middle of my Thirty Days of Devotion to Loki–something many Lokeans do in July–when I was switched over, like a train on tracks, to an intense focus on Mauna Kea, plunged back into service to a pantheon I thought had released me. But this isn’t the first time something from Hawai’i has claimed me abruptly, and I guess it won’t be the last.
It’s been immensely healing this last week to have been been of some small use to the Kia’i (protectors) of Mauna Kea: sharing and signal boosting on social media, writing, blogging, and doing some amateur sleuthing. In addition, I’m back in touch with people and a community I always adored–the activists of Hawai’i nei–and so it’s all quite inspiring.
But today, just as I finished my latest blog post on the adverse impact of the TMT project, Loki quietly reeled me back. “Ssshhhhh,” he seemed to say, “you’ve done what you needed to do, for the moment. Now rest, come back to me, realign yourself with your daily practice. Come back to your deities and your ancestors. And when you’ve got more to do and write, I’ll be with you.”
It felt lovely. It felt like coming home from a strenuous business trip. I began to take care of myself. I actually cooked food for lunch (instead of living on chips, ice cream, and artichoke tapinade as I did yesterday) and took a nap. Ahhhhhhh…
Who knew that Loki could be such a gentle advocate for grounding and balance?
Today is Day 26 of my Thirty Days practice. Let’s catch up.
Here’s what I did the last few days.
Day 21: “Music that makes you think of this deity.”
There are many pieces of music I associate with Loki, and his many moods and aspects. But here’s one piece of music, Sign of the Times, that I overplayed in the first days of “getting to know” Loki, which caused him to disappear the CD from my car until I promised to not play it too often. I couldn’t find it for two weeks, then I was driving one day and said out loud, “Hey Loki, how do you do it? Do you really disappear things or just make it so we can’t see them?” I asked the question and then bam, the CD bumped against my feet while I was driving. Honestly, I’d looked everywhere. Three or four times!
I love this song. The video is somewhat ridiculous, though…
Day 22: “A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with.”
Hmmm. A quote that Loki might resonate with? How about this one from John Water’s Polyester?
Lulu: I never wanted to use macramé to kill!
Day 23: “Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity.”
I’ve written so much for and about Loki. Most of the blogs on this website, for example. But here are the limericks I’ve written for him. And Loki’s Torch-A Lokean Collection is coming out on August 1st! It contains a couple of pieces of mine.
Day 25: “A time when this deity has refused to help.”
I don’t think I’ve experienced an outright refusal. There are times when it’s clear he’s doing something else, or the problem is not in his purview, or he’d rather I handle it.
Today, Day 26: How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
How hasn’t it changed?! I am not prepared to unpack this right now. But I am pondering it. The biggest surprise was when the “god spouse” option arose (it happened after dedicating Lokabrenna Tiny Temple).
So, there. I’m caught up. Now to do my temporarily interrupted daily practice: lighting candles, reading poems, giving thanks…
I once had dreams of becoming an art historian (specializing in erotica), so today’s devotional topic is tantalizing: “art that reminds you of this deity.” Note: it doesn’t say art that IS of this deity, so here’s where we’ll have fun.
Loki as a deity of creative chaos doesn’t just inspire representational art of him, he can also be sensed in art, music, literature, and drama that was not originally produced as about him. Art that evokes passion, conflict, liminality, eroticism, and transformation can all be read as having something to do with Loki.
For example, the photograph above reminds me of Loki because of the fiery colors of the flowers and the suggestion of a portal to another world (the green leaves). Though it is a photograph of plants, it becomes abstract through cropping and the close-up detail. The composition suggests liminal space. It is not an emotional image of Loki, but it is an evocative one.
Almost all fractals remind me of Loki. In my personal gnoso-sphere, Loki IS fractal. That’s how his shapeshifting happens. (And I had a vision of Loki once that was very dynamic, very fractal. The static nature of the image below can only suggest a nano-second of it.)
The two videos below (the first one invoking the sacred names of lipstick), also remind me of Loki. Can you guess why? (Hint: gendershifting, darling!)
Styling in the video below is by Jean Paul Gaultier.
With regard to emotions, I have always loved this painting, Fighting Forms (1914), by Franz Marc ( 1880-1916). This too reminds me of Loki.
This detail from an 18th century Tibetan thangka reminds me of Loki’s “skywalker” name, as well as my personal gnosis belief that Loki’s mysteries may have something to do with “sacred sexuality” practices.
Loki is an arch-foe of hypocrisy and adept at “calling it out.” I can detect the spirit of Loki in political cartoons and satire. Here are two examples. The first is a French cartoon regarding censorship (nothing has changed, has it?).
This meme below, by an unknown wag, was launched earlier this month when a certain so-called “head of state” claimed that American Revolutionary War soldiers were defending airports.
And as for Randy Rainbow–the God of Musical Political Satire with a devastating knack for lyrical pyrotechnics–I want him and Loki to have a baby. Immediately. Remember, Loki has been a mom. It could work…
Finally, Loki in his “Mr. LokiBot” guise, often provides his own visual social commentary.
Today Mercury goes retro in my Ninth House of writing and publishing (waaaah!) and the Moon is in Pisces, in a transit that also opposes my Venus, according to today’s Astrodient prediction. This transit is termed “indiscriminate affection” and is described thusly:
“This influence can lead to rather indiscriminate affection, because your desire to love someone overrules your normal sense of discretion. This is not especially dangerous, although a certain amount of discretion is still desirable.”
In other words, it’s a PERFECT day to blog without restraint (or discretion) on today’s topic: “what quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?”
Caution: This transit also pertains to “Erotic desires. Are you feeling emotional at the moment but don’t know what to do about it?” (Well, I wasn’t until I read this and started thinking about it…)
Loki Laufeyjarson! The qualities I admire? For simplicity’s sake, I’ll use “he/his” as I generally do experience him in that gendered way. However, I’m just now coming to connect with other gendered aspects, which is great. I am sure it is my programming that has limited me up to now.
Let’s take a personal gnosis plunge. Ready?
First of all–I like that Loki’s here, here with me for the long haul (which, seeing as I’m about to reach medicare age, isn’t all that long…). That doesn’t mean I always feel him hanging about or being all bad boy and tricksy as some people report (and that’s fine, by the way–I kind of envy those folks), but that I know he has my back.
I admire Loki for his willingness to “speak truth to power.” For his intelligence and insightful ability to dismantle hypocrisy. For his unholy glee and madcap humor (yes, I do get to experience the light side now and then). For his intrinsic creative force and ability to spark it in mere humans. For his honor and resolve, no matter how weird his wyrd. For the kindness and tenderness he can sometimes show to his families, as a parent and as a lover. For his beguiling appetites for… whatever! For being “close up and personal.” In short, for being a complex subtle being who isn’t afraid to mix it up a little with troubled humanity here in Midgard.
I admire Loki’s hidden agenda. I don’t know what it is, but I sense it as part of his function as a catalyst of creative chaos and transformation. He’s not raw chaos (usually), he’s strategic, even when looking as if he’s got no impulse control whatsover.
I love his complexity. I love being challenged by Loki, learning from him.
I admire his shape and gender-shifting versatility. His curiosity. His restlessness.
Loki is a good listener as well as a master of direct communication (including barbed witticisms). I admire that too. And if he’s displeased, it’s a clear “no, don’t do that” or “no, I don’t want that.” He’s never passive-aggressive. He asks pointed questions to trigger learning rather than ‘splaining, as I mentioned above.
I admire Loki’s generosity. I benefit from it. He makes his “template of transformation” available. You have only to ask, then to work hard to understand and absorb it.
I admire Loki’s ability to be accepting of all kinds of people while at the same time being perfectly willing to offer a deft kick to the patoosis, as needed.
I trust him in all ways, but not like a fool. He likes me to keep my mind sharp and my eyes open.
And I adore feeling his energy when he’s “around.” I love his readiness to be delighted.
Sometimes I consider the above with a trace of wistfulness. Loki has inadvertantly spoiled me for other manifestations of masculinity (not that Loki’s always “masculine”). He never “mansplains” or “godsplains.” I wish I could meet a human love with even a 100th portion of Loki’s qualities. It would be nice to grow old(er) with one or two such people, especially if they also shared my faith. That’s one of the problems with spending too much time with the divine. You get used to a certain expansiveness and depth. It makes you “nice” in the old sense of the word–particular, choosy.
Qualities I don’t admire? There really aren’t many. At one point I was troubled by slut shaming in the Lokasenna. And I get the sense that Loki can be malicious at times, but only when really pushed, and even then, not for very long. Based on what I know of the lore (and I am still learning), he is far less cruel to others than others have been to him.
As for Loki’s involvment in “the Death of Baldr,” I don’t trust Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda version of Baldr’s death. It’s not the only one. In older versions, Loki is not involved at all, or if he is, he’s most likely acting on behalf of Baldr’s father (Odin) in a sacred rite that ensures Baldr’s return after Ragnarok. I also don’t trust Snorri’s front- and back-end prose additions to Lokasenna (which is an anonymous human composition). They are too pat.
Loki is above all a keeper of certain mysteries. He’s a guardian at the threshold, a deity of all kinds of crossroads. Human lore and literature, whether ancient or modern, is a reflection of human attempts to explain or chronicle the bits of cosmic mysteries we are able to perceive, all based ultimately on someone’s personal gnosis. I feel Snorri had an literary agenda that overrode any sense he may have had of touching on “mysteries.” He was not a mystic, nor did he have a mystic’s intuition.
As for Ragnarok, meh. What we humans are doing to our planet and its climate is more real, devastating, and disturbing than any mythic account of the world’s end. For all I know, we ARE in Ragnarok right now, and from where I sit, I don’t see Loki as an agent of this destruction. In fact, I think he’d rather we wised up and did something about it while we still can. This wasn’t what he wanted for the descendants of Ask and Embla. Or for cats and wolves either.
Today’s topic is actually never far from my mind. The question is: “how does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG).” Well, Loki as a deity of liminal spaces “stands” pretty much everywhere, honestly. Consider this fractal as a map of how Loki could shape and gender-shift anytime, any place.
Reproductively, Loki has both fathered children AND birthed ’em. Yep. Sometimes he’s been Mom and sometimes he’s been Dad to some of the most powerful and challenging offspring you can name, including an eight-legged horse. Just…think…about what it takes to actually give birth to something with eight legs and hooves. Shapeshifting certainly came in handy then, I betcha.
Loki is a fabulously fertile deity. Even the consumption of a burnt heart caused him to become pregnant with an uncounted number of witchy “troll women.” This is one reason I count him as a spiritual ancestor.
Loki also gender-shifts beyond mere reproductive function. Loki is most frequently referred to as “he,” but his/her (their/zir?) female aspect is potent as well. Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to an audio book called Worshipping Loki–A Short Introduction by Silence Maestas, available for a song on Etsy. I highly recommend it. One of the great features of this valuable book is the appendix concerning Loki’s female aspects. This contained insights which enabled me to connect meditatively with this aspect of my patron deity, in a way that I hadn’t before. I am so grateful for this!
Silence Maestas has also created a “Virtual Temple to Loki Herself” which you can find here. Maestas’s blog is called The Road, The Walker, and What Comes Next.
Usually Loki’s gender-shifting is presented as fairly binary–either male OR female–but I don’t think Loki is limited in that way. I would love to hear from Lokeans and other Loki-friendly people who have experienced Loki as otherwise gender-diverse.
A Queer Deity
As a sexologist, if I were to sit down with Loki and take a sexual history ala KinseyI’m betting the data would pretty much shout “pansexual” often expressed through “non-monogamy.” In the old Norse lore, Loki is shown to have quite a number and range of partners. (He is portrayed as outing quite a few in the old poem, Lokasenna.) Among modern humans, there are anecdotal accounts that are pretty much the same. You might want to check out the results of my Spectrosexuality and God-Spousing survey.
And there are rumors, of course, about the (shall we call them) “complexities” of Odin’s and Loki’s relationship. But even Frigg (Odin’s wife) would rather not know the details. In the Lokasenna, after Loki and Odin have accused each other of “unmanly” behavior, Frigg pleads for discretion in stanza 25:
“Of the deeds ye two | of old have done Ye should make no speech among men; Whate’er ye have done | in days gone by, Old tales should ne’er be told.”
In Asgard, what happens under the World Tree, stays at the World Tree?
These days, Loki is cherished by many as a queer deity and champion of LGBTQIA+ people (as well as a champion deity for other categories of people who have been outcast for being “different” from the mainstream). It’s one reason why so many love him, including me.
This aspect of Loki is reflected in many modern works of art, both of Norse Loki and his “Marvel Loki” pop culture incarnations (based on Hiddleston’s portrayal of the Loki character in the Avengers movies, and the comic book “Lady Loki”).
Loki is the wild child, the consummate outsider, the charming iconoclast, the “everywhere but belongs nowhere” guy, a shapeshifter, a sky walker (“you can’t catch me!”)… So today’s question seems easy to answer at first: “how do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?” Snap! “He opposes them!” And then I pause, “but not entirely.”
Personal gnosis: I see and feel Loki more as a source of revelations than a figure who represents values or even anti-values. Though he does have a narrative function as the irritant, the villain, the anti-hero, the outcast, and even as a tragic figure–he holds up a mirror to the deities. Just by being who he is and doing what he does, he can throw their hypocrisy and cruelty into stark relief. If they continue to be obtuse, he’s willing to tell them to their faces. As we observe him in action, Loki reveals often ugly truths about the others (and sometimes unpleasant things about himself). He seems to say, “Watch and learn, O Midgard!”
And yet, as a Jotun “giant” adopted into the Æsir as Odin’s blood brother, he also seems to have been complicit, collaborative, and obedient–willing to serve as a functioning member of his new family. The bonds of kinship–including “blood brotherhood”–were very important in the culture of the old lore, but Loki is often troubled by family conflict. Dagulf Loptson says it very well: “when the two sides of your family are battling each other, which side do you align yourself with in order to fulfill your family responsibilities?” (Playing with Fire, p. 14). Loki’s family values are also challenged when his children are deliberately harmed by other members of the Æsir. And no one seems to have offered him weregild, either, as seems to have been the custom for making amends. (Personal gnosis: I feel no amount of that would have made it right for Loki, anyway.)
Another “value” that seems reflected in the old Norse lore, is what Dr. Jackson Crawford calls “hyper-masculinity” in his Lokasenna video. (I do think subtitling this “truth-telling” poem as “Loki’s Locker Talk” is somewhat superficial, however.)
Crawford translates one perjorative as “sissy” and Loki and Odin trade this one back and forth in the poem. Though Odin and Thor have both taken on the clothing and identity of women at times, Loki is the one accused most often of having a versatile gender repertoire, including a more subtle and nuanced masculinity. (Gender-shifting is one reason so many Lokeans are drawn to him, including yours truly.)
Lokasenna also seems to present sexual fidelity of women as an Old Norse value, as Loki exposes love affairs of the goddesses, including their love affairs with him. Therefore, Loki would seem to be subversive of this value, rather than an upholder of it. It’s obvious some of the other gods also subvert this value–via seduction or worse–not just Loki.
There is certainly much more that could be said on this topic of “values,” but I feel constrained today by lack of time. Perhaps I’ll revisit this again when these “30 Days of Devotion” are over.