I dedicate this article to Loki, and his three beautiful monster children.
“Loki brings nothing but chaos and destruction! He’ll ruin your life!”
“He killed Baldr! Cut off Sif’s hair!”
“He did very questionable things to my horse. I demand compensation.”
“He’s the father of monsters!”
“He’s the Norse Satan!” (My personal favorite)
This is some of the many things I have been told about Loki. Many Asatruars and other pagans fear and demonize Loki due to his misdeeds in the Norse lore. This was possibly due to Snorri’s depiction of him in the Prose Edda. Snorri, being a Christian, planted a lot of “good vs evil” seeds throughout the texts. This sprouted the demonization of Loki and his children, among the Rokkr.
…But in truth he isn’t all that bad.
Here’s why Loki shouldn’t be demonized.
By Olivia Loptsdottir
Loki has many names. World-Breaker, Lie-Smith, Face-Changer, Questionable-Horse-Handler, Shapeshifter, Trickster of the North. He’s a very flexible deity in the ways of chaos, change and mischief. Loki isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, that’s for sure. But he isn’t shy when he needs to lend a helping hand. Whether it’s to cause some chaos or it’s to heal.
“To heal? But Loki isn’t a deity of healing! Isn’t that Eir’s job?”
Well, yes. Although, throughout the Lokean community, Loki has been known to take the abused, the mentally ill, the neglected, and the forgotten under his wing. He knows the pain of abandonment. Of sorrow. Of abuse. He knows the feeling of being hated. The feeling of being ridiculed and outcast. Loki’s lessons are of a very deep variety. Of course it’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. But for sure, it’s an eye-opener. To me, as well as other Lokeans, Loki is a god of beneficial -sometimes even necessary- change. And none of it is an easy task. He’ll rip you apart. Takes very cherishable things and shatters them. He will pull out the problems you avoid and shove them into your hands and say,”You need to deal with this and you need to do it now. It’s now or never.” He does it for the thrill. That’s the change he incites in you. The change you need to know that you can become a better person. It’s painful. Loki knows how to make you jump and dance on your toes. He knows the way you try to sneak around to get to the easy way and he doesn’t allow that. It’s through the pain, that you start to heal.
“What kind of good could ever come out of Loki?”
For starters, we have:
- An eight-legged horse
- Asgard’s wall
- Freyr’s golden boar and ship
- Making Skadi laugh
- Surtr’s sword
- Sif’s golden hair
- Thor’s belt and gloves
- Retrieving Moljnir from that time Thor cross-dressed as a bride.
- That one time when he rescued Idunn from that giant
And much more!
Any questions? No? Moving on.
“A god of truth? But Loki is called the Lie-Smith!”
As mentioned, Loki has many names. How did he acquire Lie-Smith? Well, most likely through his misdeeds in his adventures through the nine worlds. He cut off Sif’s hair, made a bet with dwarves for his head, did questionable deeds with a horse. But despite all that, Loki knows how to push someone’s buttons and call out the truth. Such as an excerpt from Lokasenna. Loki was pushing everyone’s buttons in Aegir’s hall. They didn’t even really deny it. It was just kind of like,”Okay yeah I did do that thing, but you also did this and this and this so…” between the gods and Loki. Loki’s rule is to never lie to yourself, or others. Always speak the truth, even if your voice shakes. The truth hurts. No one likes hearing the truth. Not even the gods. Loki knows lies. But he also knows the burning truth and it’s sting, it’s bite. Loki encourages us to be honest with ourselves. When we aren’t, he tears us apart. And we help him when we fall into our own web of lies and deceits.
Through your lessons with Loki, your world will turn upside down. And that is a promise. That is fact. No way in Helheim would you ever go through a lesson with Loki that wouldn’t be painful, let alone uncomfortable at the least. There’s a reason he shakes up your world- To snap you out of your delusional fantasies and bring you back to reality. He’ll tear into your personal affairs if he feels like it. Boyfriend, girlfriend, marriage, friendships. It makes no difference to him. Reality can be harsh, cruel, and unforgiving. Reality is where you really survive. And Loki teaches you that daydreaming can be easily shattered by reality. If you find yourself digging into your fantasies to escape a difficult situation that’s affecting you in reality that you procrastinate to face, you best believe Loki will shut it down. No exceptions.
Ultimately, Loki’s rule is: Self-Knowledge. No matter what you say to others, be it truth or lie, never lie to yourself. Know yourself excruciatingly well, even the ugly parts, and always be honest with yourself first. When you speak the truth aloud, remember that the greatest honor is in speaking the truth that no one wants to hear, and that everyone has been avoiding out of fear.
The Father of Monsters
In total, Loki had six children. Two by Sigyn, three by Angrboda, and one by a horse. (Yes, you read that correctly. A horse.)
Three of these children have very prominent roles in the lore. Hela, Jormungandr, and Fenris. Each, of which, have their own lessons in themselves and their tales as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people demonize his children as well, due to their acts and deeds. But of which, are necessary for the events leading up to Ragnarok.
Fenrir, along with his siblings, was birthed by Angrboda. The Mother of Wolves. He was only but a small wolf-pup, although soon grew in size. Each and every day, the gods grew more cautious around him in fear of his size. Until one day when the gods could no longer contain him. They held court and ultimately decided that Fenris must be chained not only because of his size, but of the foretelling prophecy that he would kill Odin at Ragnarok. Thor had smithed three strong chains, which all broke when put to the test with Fenrir. Then they went to the dwarves for advice. There, the dwarves smithed a very special, magical chain made out of six impossible things. This chain was called Gleipnir. The roots of a mountain, the beard of a woman, the footfall of a cat, the breath of a fish, the nerves of a bear, and the spittle of a bird all fashioned into a chain. Fenris suspected betrayal. He asked the gods for a token of goodwill, for one to place their hand in between his jaws as proof. None of the gods stepped forward, but Tyr. When Fenris realize he could not break the chain, he filled with rage. He snapped Tyr’s hand clean off. The gods had chained him down in a cave somewhere in Niflheim. There, Fenris waits. He waits for the day to break free and exact his revenge on the gods for such a cruel fate.
Fenris is a deity of destruction. One of anger, and wilderness. In all of us, he represents the untamed, the wild, and the absolute insane. He represents the very nature of destruction and the destruction of instinct. Fenris is not a light deity to work with. His lesson is heavy. Lessons of mortality. They say all who look into his eyes and those who truly know him weep. To experience the sorrow and pain, as well as the anger, the destruction, and the rage weep for him. His mystery is difficult to understand and takes time to understand, as with everything else. But Fenris isn’t just a being of destruction. He knows love. He knew love through Tyr, through his parents, and his siblings. He knows the love of his followers and loves them and protects them deeply.
His rule is: Shadow. Learn to love and find sacred all the parts of yourself, even the darknesses. Honor them by making a safe place for them, where they can neither be harmed nor harm others.
Hela (or Hel) Rules the realm of Helheim where the dead who have died a “straw death” (death that is not gained through physical combat) go to rest until the events of Ragnarok unfold. When she and her siblings resided in Asgard long ago, the gods were cautious around her, due to her grotesque, yet exotic appearance. Odin then decided she would have rule over the dead in the furthest of the nine realms that is now what we know as Helheim. She frequently appears as a woman with half of her appearing alive, and the other in decaying death. She is truly a beautiful sight to behold. Death in her realm is not seen as something evil or something to avoid. Death is inevitable and it is a part of nature. Part of everyone’s life cycle. Being a death deity, she is very protective of the dead and looks down on necromancy or any practice that disturbs the dead.Death won’t care if you’re rich, poor, in between. Death won’t care if you’re famous, infamous, or an average joe. Death won’t care if you’re a bull, a frog, or a human. Death takes us all in the end no matter what. Be humble, for our graves are the same size. Through death, we bring life to others. While our body rots in the ground, we bring nutrients to the soil, flowers, and grass. Food for maggots, beetles, mushrooms and other decomposers. We bring food for the scavengers of the animal kingdom. Through our death, we feed life.
Above all, live your life fully with gratitude. Value your life. Life is as sacred as death. Live a life worth experiencing, and worth remembering when you finally travel to Hela’s hall. It’s your only one, so don’t waste it.
Hela’s lesson is that of Vision: Death takes the long view of all things, and so we strive to value far-seeing over temporary difficulties. Ask yourself: Will this matter in a year? Five years? Ten? After I am dead? Think ahead before you react, before you speak. Learn not to take things personally; people often react from their damage, and everything blows over in time.
When Jormungandr was born, they were born without gender (maybe both!). Like his wolf sibling, he, too, grew in gigantic proportions, from puddle, to pond, to lake, and eventually to the ocean in Midgard where Odin casted him to, naming him the protective barrier around Midgard. He is possibly the most mysterious out of Loki’s children. He doesn’t limit himself to labels or boxes or tags. He is born without gender, yet may be both, neither, or up to your personal discretion for what you, as well as Jormungandr feel is best. Jormungandr is non-verbal. Yet, he speaks with such energy. He helps to embrace one’s true self. Rather than sorting yourself out in different labels, he helps you to see yourself as one person. He helps to see that you are sacred. It’s about understanding that nothing can be everything at the same time. The end is the beginning as he endlessly circles Midgard. Liminality. Think about gender fluidity. You could be one, be the other, be both, or be neither. He’s also been known to be ambiguous in gender identity. He goes outside of the boundaries of what’s considered “normal” and teaches you to do the same.
So, if you feel you’re outside of what’s normal, embrace that. (unless you’re a serial killer.) Don’t be afraid to embrace the change that can only be brought on by you and only you to make who you truly are
Jormungandr’s rule is: Liminality. As the Snake is neither male nor female, both of Midgard and not of Midgard, so we see that the honorable and the sacred is most often found in that which crosses boundaries, bridges opposites, moves between worlds. We value that which is Both, and Neither, as one of the Great Mysteries.
In Conclusion, although these guys get a bad rap because of their appearance, their misdeeds, their nature, or even just because they are what they are, they have deep wisdom bestowed within them and within the lessons they teach. If you pursue this path, do not tread foolishly or without caution. Their wisdom is not gained lightly. It is gained through hard work of the self. Blood, sweat, and tears will be poured into these lessons. These are some hardcore deities. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Rokkr Ethics and Values: