Loki: The God of Mischief from Norse Mythology

16/02/2022

     Loki is, in Norse Mythology, the God of Mischief. Loki was a very unpredictable deity and despite being Thor's brother, he wasn't a god himself, but a Jotun (a giant), check it out below.

Loki in Norse Mythology:

     Loki is a god from Norse Mythology. According to some sources, Loki is the son of Fárbauti (a giant) and Laufey (a goddess), as well as the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. Loki is married to Sigyn and they have a son, Narfi. Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. Loki, in the form of a mare, was impregnated by the stallion Svaðilfari and gave birth to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. Loki is referred to as Váli's father in the Prose Edda, although this source also refers to Odin as Váli's father twice, and Váli is found mentioned as Loki's son only once.

     Loki's relationship to the gods varies by source; Loki sometimes helps the gods and sometimes behaves maliciously towards them. Loki is a shapeshifter and in separate incidents appears in the form of a salmon, a mare, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman named Þökk (Thank you in Old Norse).

     Loki's positive relationships with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr, and eventually Váli binds Loki to the bowels of one of his sons. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, the goddess Skaði is responsible for placing a serpent above him while he is bound.

     The snake drips venom from above him which Sigyn collects in a bowl; however, she must empty the bowl when it is full, and the poison that drips in the meantime causes Loki to writhe in pain, causing earthquakes. With the onset of Ragnarök, Loki is foretold to break free from his bonds and fight the gods among the forces of the jötnar, at which point he will meet the god Heimdallr, and the two will kill each other.

Origin:

     Loki origins and role in Norse mythology have been hotly debated by scholars. In 1835, Jacob Grimm was the first to produce a major theory about Loki, in which he advanced the notion of Loki as a "fire god". In 1889, Sophus Bugge theorized that Loki was a Lucifer variant of Christianity, an element of Bugge's larger effort to find a basis for Christianity in Norse mythology.

     After World War II, four academic theories dominated. The first of the four theories is that of Folke Ström, who in 1956 concluded that Loki is a hypostasis of the god Odin. In 1959, Jan de Vries theorized that Loki is a typical example of a trickster figure. In 1961, excluding all non-Scandinavian mythological parallels in her analysis, Anna Birgitta Rooth concluded that Loki was originally a spider. Anne Holtsmark, writing in 1962, concluded that no conclusions could be drawn about Loki.


Loki's Attestations in Mythology:

     Entry and Rejection: Loki comes out of the forest and finds Eldir outside the hall. Loki greets Eldir (and the poem itself begins) with a demand that Eldir tell him what the gods are arguing about their beer inside the hall. Eldir replies that they discuss his "weapons and his prowess in war" and yet no one has anything friendly to say about Loki.

     Loki says that he will go to the feast, and that, before the feast is over, he will induce strife among the gods, and "mix their mead with malice". Eldir replies that "if you scream and fight you spill" to the gods, "they will clean it from you". Loki then enters the hall, and everyone is silent upon noticing him.

     Re-entry and insults: (...) Odin then asks his silent son Vídar to sit, so that Loki (here referred to as the "father of the wolf") can sit at the feast, and so that he does not speak words of blame the gods in the hall of Ægir. Víðarr gets up and pours Loki a drink. Before drinking, Loki utters a toast to the gods, with a specific exception for Bragi.

     Bragi replies that he will give a horse, sword, and ring from his possessions so he doesn't repay the gods "with hate". Loki responds that Bragi will always be lacking in all these things, accusing him of being "warrior of war" and "shy of shooting". Bragi replies that if they were outside Ægir's hall, Bragi would be holding Loki's head as a reward for his lies. Loki responds that Bragi is brave when seated, calling him a "bench ornament", and that Bragi would run away when disturbed by an angry, witty man.


Snaptun Stone:

     In 1950, a flat semicircular rock depicting a mustachioed face was discovered on a beach near Snaptun, Denmark. Made of soapstone from Norway or Sweden, the representation was carved around 1000 AD and features a face with marked lips. The figure is identified as Loki due to his lips, considered a reference to a tale recorded in Skáldskaparmál where Ivaldi's sons sew Loki's lips together.

     The stone is identified as a hearth stone; the bellows mouthpiece would be inserted into the hole at the front of the stone, and the air produced by the bellows would push the flame through the top hole, while the bellows was protected from heat and flame. The stone may point to a connection between Loki and blacksmithing and flames. According to Hans Jørgen Madsen, the Snaptun Stone is "the most beautiful fireplace stone known". The stone is housed and displayed at the Moesgård Museum near Aarhus, Denmark.

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