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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.

Rokkatru — Or the Other Side of Asatru

Rokkatru — Or the Other Side of Asatru

I read a post over on Huginn’s Heathen Hof and that made me think about Rokkatru, that is, the worship of the Jotunn and other denizens which are not part of the Aesir or the Vanir.  I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit, since once of my gods is the goddess Skadi, who has been included in the Rokkatru faith.  For this reason, I’d like to explore the Rokkatru side of Heathenry and whether it fits in with Heathenry….READ MORE of my PREMIUM CONTENT for Just $1.

Ragnarok: What the Old Norse Sources Say [Video]

Ragnarok: What the Old Norse Sources Say [Video]

A cool video by Dr. Jackson Crawford about Ragnarok and what the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda say about it. Check it out.

 

Ragnarok — Real or a Christian Fable?

Ragnarok — Real or a Christian Fable?

I thought since I made the comment about Ragnarok, I should probably delve into the story of Ragnarok.  As a rational heathen, I thought Ragnarok was a load of crap added by Christianity to provide a “changing of the guard” from pagan to Christian. After all, it’s easier to worship the white Christ if your gods are dead. Naturally, Tyr had something to say about that.

What is the Twilight of the Gods?

But before I get into that, let’s look at Ragnarok in brief.  Ragnarok, or the Twilight of the Gods, speaks of an apocalyptic scenario where the Aesir and Vanir go to the final battle against the forces of chaos. We will suffer three winters in a row without summer called Fimbulvetr, Sunna and Mani (the sun and moon) will be swallowed by the wolves that follow them, the stars will disappear, and the earth will shake. The gods along with warriors from Asgard, and I presume from any hall in Asgard, will fight the Jotun and Loki’s children in one last battle. Odin dies, Thor dies, Tyr dies, Freyr dies; everyone gets wiped out except Víðarr, Váli,  Móði and Magni. The fire giants set the nine worlds ablaze. Two humans, Líf and Lífþrasir, will survive somehow encased in Yggdrasil.  Beyond that, we’re left to start again.

Some of the things that struck me with this apocalypse is the relative similarity to Revelations and other apocryphal texts (see what I did there?).  It’s so close to the Christian teachings that I was sure it was just something borrowed.  That was before I had the UPG.

Ragnarok, Seriously?

Yeah, Tyr actually interjected into my meditation and told me Ragnarok will happen.  Seriously, bro?  You mean Fenrir is eating Odin and everything?  Yep. But the story as written is tainted with Christian and metaphorical trappings. Ragnarok is a cycle and not just the end of the world.  For those who have proposed this or been inspired through UPGs to propose this, you’ll be glad to hear I actually concur with you.  Ragnarok has happened and will happen again. Same players throughout time.  It’s how the Wyrd spins the universe.  Our universe is part of the multiverse and the final fight comes down to the destruction of Midgard, whether it is Earth or the universe we inhabit. Is Sutri’s fire from the sun as it expands?  Or is it a tear in the fabric of the universe that causes other universes to leak into ours?  I have no clue.  But I do understand that it is a metaphor for things to come.  Or things that have come before.

When is Ragnarok?

Then, there’s the question of actually when is Ragnarok? The stories I’ve read seem to imply that it has already occurred. If it has, it has happened in the ancient past, and I’m not talking millions, but billions of years ago.  Try before our universe came into existence some 13.82 billion years ago. Give or take a few years.  Either that, or it’s the Christians trying to bring closure to our stories so that we accept that our gods are dead through Ragnarok.  If it’s something in our future, then Ragnarok may also be something in our past, but I doubt strongly that any of us alive to read this blog will experience it within our current lifetimes. If for some weird reason that does happen while you’re reading this post, well, good luck.  I am probably long dead by then. Unless there’s some sort of bizarre timey wimey stuff going on that my feeble brain isn’t getting right now because I haven’t had my tea yet.  Then again, the theory about a block universe may be right, time is an illusion, and everything exists somewhere in spacetime.

The End of All Things

Those who are of the Christian and Muslim faiths believe in apocalypse, albeit with different endings. Even the origin of Ragnarok is debatable, whether it comes from beliefs of the ProtoIndo-European peoples before they finally separated and made the story their own, or whether it was somehow taken from the poem, Muspille.

My guess is that people embellish what Ragnarok looks like in order to put into understandable terms how bad this could go. Without a decent frame of reference, talking scientific theories to our ancestors would be talking gibberish.  Our ancestors from ten thousand years ago were not stupid.  They had the same brains we have. But they didn’t have the technology we do, nor did they have the knowledge to comprehend what we understand now.  Assuming humans survive ten thousand years from now and continue to progress at the rate we are progressing, my guess is that our technology might be as baffling to us as it would be to our ancestors. Unless our ancestors were educated to how our world works most of the things we use daily would seem like magic.

End of the Universe  

What does science have to say about this?  Well, obviously humans have a fair number of hurdles to survive before we reach the end of the Universe, assuming it does end.  Putting those aside for another blog, physicists point to the Universe doing one of four things: the Big Freeze, the Big Crunch, the Big Rip, or the Big Bounce. None of these theories are proven, but all seem to have their proponents and detractors.

The Big Freeze

The first would be that it could simply expand and continue toward its low energy state.  In other words, entropy takes over and the universe cools to the point where everything is at an equilibrium because it continues its progression toward infinity.  This is called “the Big Freeze” in physics, and makes Fimbulvetr look toasty warm.  There is no energy to sustain life and everything goes somewhere near absolute zero.  Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it?  This assumes an infinite Universe.

The Big Crunch

Then, there’s the Big Crunch. Based on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Big Crunch is the answer to the Big Bang that created our universe. It also assumes a finite Universe. If the universe reaches a critical density, gravitation attraction will pull everything back to where it started, create a massive black hole, and swallow up everything.  Hence the name “Big Crunch.”  But we don’t know if that will really happen because we know that the Universe is actually increasing its rate of expansion in places that are furthest from us. Hence we’re dealing with “dark energy”which is constant in our Universe. This fact leads to…

The Big Rip

The theory of the Big Rip takes the Big Freeze one step further. Dark energy is to blame for this one where the expansion continues to the point where nothing we know is recognizable. The Universe never disappears, it just becomes scattered even more than in the Big Freeze.  Everything breaks down, even at the atomic level.  There is no energy to hold anything together and atoms fall apart and scatter into quarks. Depending on which camp of scientists you talk to, it may or may not happen.  Latest I’ve read is that in 22 billion years the Universe will undergo the Big Rip. Researchers in Vanderbilt University have pretty much said this, but given the fact that our understanding of the Universe changes with each discovery, it’s hard to decide if this is just the flavor of the day for the ending of the Universe, or whether it will stick.

At the moment, think of it as a really bad Fimbulvetr if this is a new concept for you.  Everything is cold and nothing can ever be put back together.  Think Humpty Dumpty.

The Big Bounce

The Big Bounce is probably the most interesting, but at this point, data doesn’t seem to support it. It’s like a Big Crunch, only with the potential of expanding outward again in another inflationary period similar to the Big Bang. The problem is that it requires dark energy to halt its repulsive effects on matter and gravity to take effect (like the Big Crunch).  It goes one step further in that when the Big Crunch occurs, spacetime will warp and become chaotic near the singularity, causing an “explosion” and a creation of a new universe.  Of all the theories proposed, I think it’s the closest thing to Ragnarok, but science doesn’t currently support the theory that well.

So, Where Does that Leave Us?

So, where does that leave us with Ragnarok?  Fuck if I know.  Seriously.  I only have Tyr’s word that Ragnarok is real, but what it is, I haven’t a clue. I don’t doubt that he’s telling me the truth, but I don’t know what that truth means necessarily. Maybe it’s about the fate of the Universe.  Maybe it’s the fate of the Earth.  Maybe it’s not about any of it. Maybe I’m delusional and only think it might happen.  Or maybe we don’t know enough through science yet.

Science, as I’ve said in earlier posts, isn’t a belief system. It deals with explaining the Universe around us. It is not dogmatic like religion. It changes as we learn new information. Religion, on the other hand, deals with faith and belief. You either think it’s right or you don’t. There aren’t any wishy-washy maybes in explanation, but explanations are often metaphorical. I’m sure you have your own beliefs about the end of the universe.

What I believe in terms of Ragnarok doesn’t change anything.  If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.  I don’t believe anything I can do will change that. And 22 billion years is an exceedingly long time to wait to find out if I’m right or wrong.  Besides, the sun will consume the Earth in about 7 billion years, but we realistically only have a couple billion years to get off this rock before the sun cooks the planet.  That’s assuming we don’t wipe ourselves out, an asteroid doesn’t create a mass extinction event similar to the dinosaurs, we get a lovely blast of  gamma rays from a dying star, or the earth decides to shake us off with massive volcanic eruptions similar to the Siberian Traps. To quote Q from Star Trek:

“It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.”