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Why Loki as a Chaos God is One of the Most Powerful Gods in Your Life

Why Loki as a Chaos God is One of the Most Powerful Gods in Your Life

As a follower of Tyr, I have a grudging respect for Loki.  So much so that I even have a place for him on my altar. Loki as a chaos god shows up constantly in my life — and probably your life, too.  And despite all the naysayers claiming that no one ever worshiped Loki, I suspect ancient Heathens did acknowledge him at blots and other religious functions.  And I believe that people did worship him as much as other gods.  Let me explain why.

Loki’s Bad Rap

Loki as a chaos god has without a doubt gotten a bad rap from the whole death of Baldr thing and leading the forces of chaos at Ragnarok. The fact that he had monstrous children with Angrboda seems to confirm it too. Both Fenrir and Jörmungandr are indeed dangerous beasts. Hel, while her followers would argue against her being a monster, some Heathens certainly considered at least frightening, if not a demon-like creature. Seeing a woman half skeleton and half flesh is, after all, pretty creepy in most contexts.

Loki as a Catalyst for Change

That aside, Loki is the gods’ catalyst for change.  He plays tricks on them — some tricks not so nice — but in the end, most of his behavior benefits the gods.  Cutting Sif’s hair is a prime example.  First, you have to wonder what Loki was doing in Sif’s bedroom (something mentioned in Loki’s Flyting). Once the gods caught Loki, he not only repaired the damage by giving Sif new hair, but gained other treasures for the gods.

Loki is the prime mover and shaker in Asgard.  If he did not constantly get into trouble, the Aesir and Vanir would have stagnated.  They wouldn’t have gotten Asgard for free.  Odin would not have Slepnir. The gods wouldn’t have Skadi within their midst.  Thor would not have Mjöllnir, Freyr wouldn’t have Skíðblaðnir and Gullin-börsti, and Odin would not have Gungnir and Draupnir.

Loki as a Malicious God

Loki shows his malicious side both in the death of Baldr and in Lokasenna (Loki’s Flyting). It’s interesting that he isn’t bound because he caused Baldr’s death, but because he insulted the gods and goddesses at a feast.  As an aside, does anyone else see a disparity here?  Sure, he kills Aegir’s servant, but that’s not why his children are killed and he’s tied up with a venomous snake dripping poison overhead. Granted, the punishment may be for all his troublemaking and this might be the last straw, but seriously?

Loki is punished because he speaks the truth, albeit twisted to hurt.  But sometimes the truth hurts, and it shows the foibles and failings of even the mightiest of gods.  So, even though his actions aren’t justifiable, it fits perfectly for Loki as a chaos god.

Is Loki Good or Bad?

At this stage, you may be wondering if Loki is good or bad.  If you take the simplistic route, you look at everything bad Loki has done.  Loki killed Baldr through Hodur.  He disallowed Baldr to return to Asgard.  He sired three creatures which will bring about Ragnarok. Loki then killed Aegir’s servant and insulted the gods.  The list goes on and on.

If you’re a Lokean, you might argue that Loki has done good things as mentioned in this post above. You might point out how the Fenrir was set up and that Ragnarok happens because the gods’ actions caused it. Furthermore, you might point out that the Aesir and Vanir brought Ragnarok on them because they threw Loki’s children under the proverbial bus.

So, which side is right?

Loki as a Chaos God

Actually, both sides are right and wrong at the same time.  The reason is that Loki is a complex being, although obviously a chaos god and a trickster.  He is the archetypal trickster who metes out both good and bad through his love of causing chaos wherever he goes. He takes joy in shedding light where everyone else wants the situation in the dark, and he hates the status quo, whether it is good or bad.  He stirs the pot, because that’s what he does.  Even if the pot suits everyone else, it tastes bland to him.

Loki can be almost demonic when he is looking for vengeance, due to whatever slight he sees, real or imagined.  Ragnarok is as much his doing as anything else.  Why?  Because it is change.  It will destroy what was and will replace it with something else.

Capricious beyond belief, this consummate troublemaker is one that can’t leave well enough alone. He is happy to hand out good and bad, as long as it suits him.  With that kind of behavior, you have to wonder if he’s worth bothering with, but ignoring him is the worst thing you can do.  He’ll make it a point to stir up trouble.

Not Evil, Just Misunderstood

Oddly enough, I’ve discovered that if you stay on good terms with Loki, he will aid you whenever he can. But his aid is often fraught with chaos, and your life will take a turn toward the surreal should you decide to make him your primary god. It has been my and others’ experience that Loki will help you when he can, but chaos will linger with you as a type of payment.  For every good thing, you may have a bad thing happen.  In most cases, Loki will help you, but don’t be surprised is there is a catch.  (With most of the Northern gods, there is always a catch somewhere.)

My god, Tyr, is pretty much the opposite of Loki.  Where Loki is a force of chaos, Tyr is a god of law.  It’s interesting because Tyr recognizes that while they are opposites, you can’t have one without the other.  Tyr was the only god who took care of Fenrir and paid the sacrifice of his hand to the wolf when the gods decided that Fenrir must be bound. Like Loki, Fenrir is a force of chaos.  You can’t have law without chaos.

Did Our Ancestors Worship Loki?

The question of whether our ancestors worshiped Loki is somewhat academic.  We don’t have archaeological proof that Loki was worshiped, but then, we don’t have a lot of evidence that certain goddesses such as Eostre existed either.  We can speculate that Tyr’s consort was Zisa, but there isn’t really anything that backs it up.

I suspect that because Loki was considered one of the Aesir, he was worshiped in some fashion.  After all, many kings traced their lineage back to Jotunn, so Rokkatru isn’t far off from that.  At the very least, I suspect that he wasn’t ignored so that he wouldn’t cause trouble.

Isn’t Loki Still Tied to the Rock with a Serpent Overhead?

How can we have people worshiping Loki and Fenrir when both are bound up?  This is an interesting point, and I have four possible suppositions as to how Loki and Fenrir can exist bound and yet unbound.  Here are my four possible conclusions:

  1. The Loki killing Baldr, the Lokasenna, and the binding of Fenrir stories are prophetic and have not come to pass.  (Unlikely)
  2. The stories are metaphors for things that have happened already and when talking about binding, it may suggest a controlling of power — or in Tyr’s case, a loss of power — rather than an actual physical binding.
  3. Ragnarok has already happened at least once.  That means that our gods exist, but in newer forms.
  4. The gods are many faceted and capable of being in several places at once.  This, oddly enough, works when you consider quantum theory.  So, Loki may be tied to a rock in one place and free in another.  (Yeah, quantum theory is fucked up.)

Seeing as I’ve had dealings with the god of chaos, I can say that he is very much around.  Plus, we have plenty of chaos in our world — binding him did no good on that score.

Why Loki is a Powerful God

Why is Loki a powerful god?  Think about it.  He controls chaos and randomness. Without him, the universe would not work the way it does.  When things happen by chance — good or bad — that is the domain of Loki.  When we think about suddenly finding money on the road while walking, or missing a bus or plane because something held you up, or getting in a car accident when you were not at fault, that’s Loki working in your life.

Loki is the god of entropy as well.  That means that as chaos and randomness continues, so order breaks down.  That is, in essence, what many scientists predict will happen to our universe as it ends.  It goes cold as it dies as everything breaks apart.  A powerful god, to be sure.

A Poem to Loki

I found this on the Interwebs and thought I’d share it with you.  Not my work, but I do have permission to use it.

Full Cycle

The cave is dark, as the one where he bested Andvari.
The gold he got freed the Aesir from bonds.
Now he lies fettered himself.
He remembers

Pranks and jests
– dangerous, granted –
Showing them life
without masquerade of youth,
or jewels, or hair.
Drip.

They took his gifts
but they never learned
his secrets of change
and looking at unpleasant truths.
Drip. The bowl fills.

How they put everything
they could not deal with
out of sight, or life:
Ymir. The giants. His Ironwood-get.
Drip.

They could not face death.
Even some humans did better.
The bowl fills to the brim,
surface taut as a bowstring-
Drip.
Poison flows
Balder´s blood
rushing
tears of nine worlds
gushing
the stream where they caught him
Snake spit burns
like Asgard´s curses,
not this!

Tormented, he strains
to break bonds
with prophecy´s force
Midgard trembles
– maybe this time? –
Sigyn hurries
Will she return…?
Relief.
Now it´s just the cave, and the darkness,
and three stones cutting his back,
and the memories they share.

Drip.
A tear Sigyn sheds.

— Full Cycle Poem © 2007 Michaela Macha. This work (entitled Full Cycle) by Michaela Macha (www.odins-gift.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License.

Dealing with Adversity: One Heathen’s Perspective

Dealing with Adversity: One Heathen’s Perspective

One thing that ties us all together, being gods, humans, wights, or other creatures, is adversity. With very few exceptions, most creatures deal with adversity in some manner. I would hazard to state that it’s conquering adversities in our lives that make our lives worth living.  But sometimes when we’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to think that it may be beneficial in some way or a cause for growth.

My Life is Shit, or Handling the Tough Times

Honestly, nobody except the true masochist asks for a shitty life. Sometimes that’s just what the Wyrd hands you.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it (after all, how do you know that you’re not fated to rise above the crap?) Poverty, disease, war, and death can really fuck up a person (duh!), but if you get through it, you’ll be stronger.  I don’t care for the writings of Nietzsche, but the quote That which does not kill us makes us stronger, does ring true.  I’d rather paraphrase it by saying, That which doesn’t kill us, pisses me off.

I get that the Wyrd may be what it is.  I get that you may have a hamingja that is full of bad luck.  And yet, how do you really know?  Nobody can really say for certain that bad luck follows you around like a little black rain cloud. You may be able to dispel that spate of bad luck and turn it into good.

With few exceptions, nobody has it easy.  I’ve had friends who looked incredibly fortunate, only to have adversity come crashing down. What looks good on the outside may be a total mess when you get to the fine points.  And what appears to be on overnight success often was built on the unseen failures before it.

How the Gods Handled Adversity

Let’s look at how our gods handled adversity.  Tyr, despite knowing he would lose his hand, stuck it in the mouth of Fenrir to ensure the wolf would be chained until Ragnarok. Odin lost his son Baldr. Thor has dealt with the Jotun in their own world with apparent failures because they tricked him. Each god has had their share of adversity in some way, and in many cases dealt with it.

We’re not told specifically how Tyr had to deal with the loss of his right hand, but we can well imagine the pain that followed.  Then there was the emotional trauma and the need to relearn swordsmanship with his left hand.  Now, one could say he’s a god and he’d have an easier time of it, but the stories don’t suggest that he could snap his fingers (of his left hand) and have all the abilities transferred over. In fact, we know that the gods feel pain (thanks to Loki), so we know Tyr felt pain. But we know that Tyr stood up in the face of adversity and continued onward.

What to Do When Life Hands You Lemons

You’ve probably heard the saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”  I think that is a little too glib.  Shit happens.  I’ve written about when bad things happen, but I didn’t offer any good ideas for dealing with it.  Here, I’m actually going to offer some constructive advice.

First, bad things will happen in your life, just as good things happen in life. That is the nature of life. When it is death of a loved one, physical injury, or disease, you need to take time out to care for yourself. Get the help you need to center yourself and the strength to continue forward. You may find help where you least expect it and you might come out stronger.

If your adversity is something like unemployment, change in social status, a failed business venture, a divorce or break up, or simply a failure to perform, you’ll need to regroup for a time and consider your options. In the meantime, look for opportunities that may arise that you never considered. The times when I lost a job were simply times I needed to kick myself in the ass and find something else that worked better.  Often, we mourn the complacency we had when in fact, the gods are telling us there’s something better out there if we just look for it.

Your Wake Up Call

Use adversity as a wake up call. When my dad nearly died many years ago, I realized that I could either go the path I was on and be miserable, or take a new step in a different direction.  I chose the latter.  When I lost both my parents within a span of two years, I realized that I could continue the way I was going, or carve a new path. Although their deaths were traumatic to me, I ended up learning something. I realized that my parents had many regrets.  These regrets I didn’t want to have.

When a friend died of cancer, I saw the same issues.  There are too many regrets in this world, and in the end, when we leave it, we either leave with regrets or with the knowledge that we fought a good fight, and perhaps won.

I keep repeating the Doctor’s quote that “We are all stories in the end.  Just make it a good one.” The Havamal says it succinctly:

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well 
–Havamal77

What I Think About Loki

What I Think About Loki

I’m not a Lokean. So, when I talk about Loki, I’m probably talking bullshit.  Loki, to me, is the chaos god, pure and simple.  He and his children bring disorder from order. He’s also the god of fire.  If you look at his parents, Laufey (Leaves) and Farbauti (Evil Striker), he’s fire from a Jotun who causes wildfires.  So, we’re looking at an untamed, natural force.  Also chaos.

Where I’m Coming From on This

Tyr is my main god.  He brings order.  He sacrificed his right hand to contain the ultimate destructive chaos: Fenrir. Even though Fenrir slays Odin in Ragnarok, Garm, slays Tyr.  (For those who need UPG warning, here it is) Garm is really just another form of Fenrir.  Technically Chaos will overcome Law, which is why I believe Garm=Fenrir.  Tyr, incidentally, concurs.

But Back to Loki

I have heard Loki occasionally.  He’s sort of a pest when he wants to be. Other times, I get the feeling he’s been a misunderstood trickster. I can see his appeal.  I love the stories about Thor and Loki traveling to Jotunheim.  Loki is very fun in these stories. In fact, until he tricks Hodur to kill Baldur, he’s just a trickster with some very attractive but dangerous aspects.

Of course, Tom Hiddleston of the Marvel Thor movies, probably adds to the allure as a bad boy and creates some Lokeans. That being said, I don’t see Loki as the Marvel Loki.  Maybe that’s because I recognize him when he shows up to pester me no matter what form he takes? He is not a god I particularly want to antagonize, but he isn’t one I turn to for help as a rule. If I have problems with Loki getting wild, I can turn to Tyr and Thor for help. Beyond that, I really don’t have much interaction with him, except when Tyr sent him to me.  (Long story, that).

Is Loki the Enemy?

Many of those in Asatru tend to think Loki is evil and an enemy.  In fact, many heathens argue that Loki isn’t a god at all since he came from giant blood. But that really doesn’t make much sense. If it did, then we’d have to discount Thor, Skadi, and Tyr as gods because of their frost giant blood.  I don’t think of Loki as evil and I actually do consider him a god, but  he’s not my god, either.  I see Loki as a necessity for the universe to work, but he can be dangerous without controls. I look at Loki as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.  If you don’t recall it from high school or college physics class, it states that energy states go toward the lowest point of energy. Basically things progress toward entropy. As a teacher once said in physics class: “Things fall apart and break, homes get messy, and students fall asleep.” 

Those who dedicate themselves to Loki (who aren’t the Marvel fan girls/boys who are just worshiping an actor) need to have an understanding of what exactly they’re pledging themselves to. Loki isn’t evil, but he isn’t good either. He simply is.  Misunderstood?  Perhaps. Troublesome?  Often. I look at Loki as a god who probably takes the name Murphy occasionally.  At the same time, he can bring about tremendous good as well. It’s unexpected, but that’s his nature.

Lokeans — Or Loki’s Fan Girls/Boys

I’m friends with people who are Lokeans. Even though most Lokeans seem to be nice folk, Lokeans are sort of the peeps whom many in Asatru wish would just go away. To be honest with you, I think many of them are a lot more interesting and fun than many who follow Odin. I certainly like them better than the Odinists who pervert Heathenry into Neo-Nazism.  Most of Loki’s fans are neat, creative people. Some of them claim to be Loki’s wives.  As puzzling as it might be, who am I to say what that trickster is up to?  Not my circus; not my monkeys. Do I believe in these things?  Eh, not so much.  But this is my belief and I really haven’t explored the subject.  So, if you’re a Loki wife and you’re pissed, don’t be. I’m willing to at least consider it happens, but I don’t know to whom or why.

Rokkatru and Fenrir Fans

Now, whether you think that the whole Rokkatru sect is crazy for embracing Fenrir and Loki, think about why they might. I suspect it’s along the lines of what seems unfair in the writings we have. I, too, have problems with the binding of Fenrir because the wolf didn’t do anything. But maybe it’s more of a symbol how chaos must be kept in check or we lose the universe. After all, without physics, we’d be dealing with–well, something that looks remarkably like Ragnarok. So, the wolf had to be bound, but at a cost. Hence we talk about Tyr losing his right hand. What does that symbolize? Obviously a loss of power to control chaos to keep this universe from shaking apart.

My Feelings about Rokkatru

I honestly don’t care if you follow Rokkatru. We may be opposites in some ways because of your beliefs, but that doesn’t make you my enemy in this lifetime. Your words, actions, and deeds make me decide whether you’re my friend or foe. You aren’t someone I have a quarrel with unless you do something that violates my ethics. That being said, I do have some advice: be aware whose side you’ll be on whenever Ragnarok comes. In that case, you and I may be on opposite sides. I don’t have a problem with this because no matter how many lives we all have, we’re pretty much bound by the Wyrd.  Just don’t cross me in this lifetime and I’m sure we’ll be okay.