By Tess O’Teric
The trickster archetype – and more specifically the god Loki – has cropped up a bit recently in popular culture. But should we be careful in how we treat and portray trickster gods, until we understand their context in a belief system?
In Norse mythology, Loki, Loptr, or Hveðrungr is a god or jötunn (or both). Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Narfi and/or Nari. By the stallion Svaðilfari, Loki is the mother—giving birth in the form of a mare—to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. In addition, Loki is referred to as the father of Váli in the Prose Edda.
Loki’s relation with the gods varies by source. Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. Loki’s positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr. Loki is eventually bound by the gods with the entrails of one of his sons.
Simply put, Loki is a god of the Norse pantheon. Most would describe him as a trickster or chaos god, or as the god of mischief. This flawed, sexually ambiguous deity has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years, with the rise of popular films like Thor and The Avengers, which depict the Marvel versions of the Norse pantheon, and of television series such as History Channel’s Vikings, in which the mischievous Viking boat-builder Floki is considered to be descended from Loki himself.
In Thor and The Avengers, the Marvel version of Loki is masterfully portrayed by Tom Hiddleston. Loki is the big bad antagonist in the first Thor film and in The Avengers, and then a supporting protagonist in Thor: The Dark World. And while loving this particular portrayal or the actor who pulled it off is perfectly OK, dropping everything and becoming not only a Loki worshipper but a Lokean godspouse without doing any further research/reading into the matter really isn’t.
A god-spouse, as anyakless puts it, is usually defined as “someone who has a longterm/lifetime intimate relationship with a deity that seems to somehow mirror human marriage (although there can be striking and important differences). This is usually a role officially acknowledged by the deity and confirmed by other members of your community in various ways.”
Now. This, in itself? Fine. How others experience the divine is ultimately none of my – or anyone else’s – business, and the various Norse traditions treat human/deity marriages so differently from one another that it’s not really for anyone to say that it is “wrong”, per se. However while there are plenty of arguments for and against godspousery, I don’t really see any merit in throwing yourself into something like this without doing your homework. This is not an anti-Lokean rant: this is me feeling incredulous and somewhat concerned at what has become a very strange situation. That is, that Lokeanism is “trending” just now, and in turn the definition of a Lokean has changed, too.
In the well-known post, 4 Reasons why Heathens Hate Lokean – by a Lokean, American Heathen blogger Sacred Iceland pointed out that “…about 75% of self-proclaimed Lokeans are now also coincidentally his ‘god-spouse’.”
“…in most cases it has been very difficult for me to identify what the purpose of these unions are, outside of serving the spouse’s own ego and giving them full right to shamelessly indulge in their wet dreams about Tom Hiddl- er… I mean Loki. I don’t mean to discriminate against lonely young women by observing that most recent Loki spouses tend to be lonely young women, but really, I have to call a spade a spade; and it seems that their formula for becoming a Loki spouse was:
1. Saw the Thor movie.
2. Thought Loki was hot.
3. Read online that you can marry Loki and there’s a community of people that take it seriously.
4. Has “vision” where Loki tells them to marry them immediately afterwards
5. Marries Loki.
6. Makes a new Tumblr account in honor of the event.”
(From the Sacred Iceland blog)
Before anyone mentions it in the comments section, yep, there are plenty of witches in their thirties, forties and fifties out there now who started out as newbies who loved Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, The Craft or even Charmed. But for the most part, schlock like this was just an overly tacky springboard: these fangirls and fanboys, for the most part, went on to investigate, to read, to seek and to learn. This meant they could then make informed decisions about what path (if any) was right for them. I just hope that brand new Lokeans do the same. The Norse traditions are rich with stories and customs, and to limit your understanding of these to what you have seen in a few movies really is selling yourself short.