Hail, Loki!

Let me qualify. I am not a devil worshiper. This God of the Norse pantheon has been mislabeled by the tendency of Christian thought to mark anything challenging to the human race as a devil. Admittedly, the tendency throughout church history to make extremes of those qualities labeled “good” and “bad” is responsible for the extreme polarization in human thinking now. So let me get that out of the way. In exclaiming “Hail, Loki!” I am celebrating His role as Trickster that tricks us into seeing the truth of ourselves. Wanting to see the truth of myself and longing for that self-knowledge was what got me into the Gurdjieff work many years ago, and now that I am entertaining this race of Gods (Aesir as opposed to Vanir or the Abrahamic line up of Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed), Loki is my favorite Trickster.

There is a very good book on Loki called Playing With Fire written by Dagulf Loptson and put out by Asphodel Press. We have learned, by the long way around, that Loki is the third Creator God-brother to have contributed to the Creation of Humanity. The story that comes down to us over the centuries (Poetic Edda and Prose Edda) is that Voden, Vili, and Ve were walking on the shores of Midgard (Middle Earth) after they had organized the Nine Worlds on the Holy Tree, Yggdrasil, and came upon two trees. The trees had neither motion, nor breath, nor will. So Voden (Odin) blew upon the trees and gave them the Holy Breath of Life. Vili did whatever it is Vili does, and gave the trees Will (heart and mind). Ve gave them blood and blooming hue – physical appearance and movement. These first two humans became the first man and woman, named Aske (Ash) and Embla (Elm) after the trees they were made from. “Ve” in the Lore, is another term for “Sacred Space,” as our bodies are the containers for our mind and spirit.

In Chapter 2, under the name Lodhur, of his book on Loki, Dolph Loptson shares some great scholarship on the etymology of Loki’s names. In the 18th stanza of the Voluspa, Voden, Vili, and Ve are also named Odin, Hoenir, and Lodhur, so we have other names for these Gods. In the Icelandic ballad called Thrymllur, written between 1300-1400 CE (akin to the Thrymskvidha, of the Regius Codex, an account of how Thor’s hammer was stolen by the giant Thrymer who wants to marry Freyja) in verse 21 the giant calls Lodhur by the nick name of Loki. Heathens know the tale, as well as those of us who love the Norse. The Aesir disguise Thor as the Bride Freyja and Loki travels with him to go off to fool the giant and rescue Molljner, the Hammer. This tale gives alternative meaning to the name “Bridezilla,” once Thor puts an end to that giant.

Dolph Loptson explains that many heathens have hated Loki and refused to accept his identification as one of the three Creator God-brothers due to traditional thinking about evil, which labels Trickster Gods as “devils.” I propose instead that humans have created “good” and “evil” as concepts to understand their world. What if these beliefs are simply extreme ways of labeling pleasure and pain, liking and disliking, love and hatred? These patterns are how human limbic brains are wired; however, the neo-cortex (the human higher mind) has the potential to rise above this black and white extreme thought to see things in more colorful shades of chiaroscuro (shades of gray). And Loki is a colorful character, whom I believe needs to be seen in all aspects of his character.

My history with the Norse pantheon began in 2013 when I was introduced to the Norns by the Elohim who oversees the West Kill, where I live. For me this became a daily practice and communication that helped me to overcome childhood conditioning that no longer served my life purpose. I talked with the Norns daily as I learned the Runes, and Hela came by out of curiosity, and soon Loki’s curiosity led him to see who his daughter was so interested in. I decided to keep an open mind and not label any of these Beings as good or evil until I had gotten to know them for a while.

Loki as a Trickster is not always a comfortable God to know. He values truth even as he has a reputation as a deceiver, but if you study the stories, he never breaks his word once it is given. He deceives the deceivers, and enjoys tricking those who lie to themselves. My Gurdjieff mentor Donald Petacchi used to warn me to be aware of my own self-deception. We all deceive ourselves over something: It is simply a way we cope with the hard truths we do not wish to see. There have been many ways I have lied to myself during my lifetime, and usually these examples of self-deception have been lies I told to protect myself from painful truths. When Loki has tricked me, it is to get me to see something hidden within myself that I needed to become aware of to be more fully myself. And this is why I love Loki. He is charming and funny, the “Wise Fool.” When I am really down on myself, he knows exactly what to say to get me to lighten up and start laughing again. He is a sacred clown. The Lakota Nation of Indians had sacred clowns, and called them their sacred Heyokas. Heyokas did everything backwards in order to make the people laugh.

Loki’s truths are harsh to those who do not want to hear them, as we learn from the Lokasenna. In the early days of the Worlds Loki was the one the Aesir always turned to for problem resolution. His deal making got the Aesir many gifts – Freyr’s ship, Thor’s hammer, and Odin’s ring, among other things. But as the Aesir settled into their role as the Celestial Gods, conservers of the highest order of conscious thinking, some among them forgot Loki’s friendship, and the need for a certain level of Chaos to balance too much Order. As a result, Loki had become the Aesir’s scapegoat. Spontaneity and fun are something that Loki understands as needful to an excess of intellectual preponderance and egoistic self-importance.

Odin seized Loki’s three children by Angrboda, the Witch of the Iron Wood. He put the Serpent child in the waters surrounding Middle Earth, He put Hela in charge of the Underworld, and He brought the Fenris Wolf to live in Asgard. Although He’d sworn an oath to protect Loki and his family, Odin’s prophetic powers foretold that the power these children held would upset the balance of the Nine Worlds. These children, even bound, do uphold the balance of power in the Nine Worlds. Hela mothers the dead. The Fenris Wolf reminds us of what we most fear. (I have retold the story of the God Tyr and the Fenris Wolf in my book RUNE PLAY: Learning the Runes under the chapter on Teiwaz. It is the story of how each of us walk our own balance between greed and integrity). And the World Serpent protects our dream of life and challenges our awakening from the sleep of life. If that is your goal, as it is mine, then Loki becomes a beneficent ally in the process. Seek your personal truth, and he can help you to find it.

To befriend Loki, have a sense of humor and be ready to laugh at yourself. As a fire god, Loki likes colorful things – hues of oranges, reds, and yellows. I prefer to let him tell me what he likes on his altar. But since I don’t maintain altars well, I find it easier to dedicate daily room in my mental space to Loki. Lately he likes me to chant his name, Loki Laufey Jarsson. The love reaches him, he says, where he is bound and helps lift his mind above the poison of the Serpent’s venom.

How Loki got bound under the Serpent’s venom and why is another story that will require more time than I have today, but I promise this for another blog at another time.

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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