May 28, 2021 3 min read

In many of the stories I told you before, I mentioned Loki quite often. That's because he played a central part in Norse mythology and played a major role in many of its tales.

Many of you replied to my tales' emails and asked me to talk more about this intelligent and controversial god.

So let's talk about Loki!

Half God half Giant

Remember when we talked about the Giants and the fact that they represented chaos while the Gods represented Order?

Well, Loki is a combination of the two and that's one of the reasons why he is sometimes portrayed as helper of the Gods while sometimes a cause of trouble.

According to old sources, Loki is the son of Fárbauti (a Giant) and Laufey (many think she was a goddess).

Although Loki's father was a Giant (not in size, but from the tribe of Giants or Jötnar who were not necessarily giants), Loki was taken in by Odin and lived among the Aesir, the tribe of Gods whose are the apposite of the Giants.

The relationship between the Gods and Giants was a love/hate one. Sometimes they wanted to kill each other, and sometimes they married each other!

The trickster god

In Norse mythology, Loki is known as the trickster god. He was very smart, cunning, and mischievous. At the same time he was lovable and charming.

Another interesting thing about him is that he had the ability to change his shape into anything he wanted. He could even change his sex!

An instance of Loki changing his shape is the day he cut Thor's wife's hair. When he was at the forgery of Eitri and Brokkr, he became a fly to disturb Brokkr and prevent the two brothers from making the perfect gift for the Gods (read the full story).

As for changing his sex, the story is much more interesting and I shall tell it in details in the future. But long story short, one day there was a stallion named Svadilfari whom Loki wanted to lure away from work. Thus, Loki turned himself into a female horse.

When Loki returned, he was pregnant and he later gave birth to an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir, who became Odin’s steed.

Loki and Svaðilfari (1909) by Dorothy Hardy

(Loki and Svaðilfari (1909) by Dorothy Hardy)

Father of monsters

Loki had a wife (Sigyn), but she isn't as known as the other female he had an affair with. This latter was named Angrboda and she was a Giant.

The reason Angrboda is more popular is that she was the mother of Loki's three notorious children, Jormungand (the world's serpent), Fenrir (the giant wolf), and Hel (the ruler of Niflheim, where those who die of sickness or old age go).

("The children of Loki" (1920) by Willy Pogany)

A friend or a foe?

Although Loki helped the Gods many times through his intelligence and charm, he eventually turned out to be a true enemy of them.

One of the serious incidents (and the straw that broke the camel's back) was when he tricked the blind God Höðr into killing the god Baldr who was loved by everyone.

The Gods wanted to get Baldr back from the dead, but first they had to get everyone to cry for him. Loki didn't.

After that incident, the Gods tied Loki to three rocks in a cave (using the entrails of his son Narfi) and had a serpent dripping poison onto him while his wife held a bowl to catch the venom. But when the bowl became full she had to leave him to empty it. When this happened, the drops of venom that fall onto him caused him to writhe in agony, and those convulsions created earthquakes.

(Loki and Sigyn (1863) by Mårten Eskil Winge)

(Loki and Sigyn (1863) by Mårten Eskil Winge)

Ragnarök

Loki remained in the cave until Ragnarök came and he broke free.

Ragnarök was the mother of all battles and Loki was not an ally of the Gods! In fact, he led an army of the dead and marched against the Gods of the Aesir.

His son Fenrir killed Odin and Jormungand fought Thor until they both killed each other.



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