Thanks for joining us for another Families’ Deity! We’re exploring deities that tie into families and family values, or who are important to the family unit or children in some way. This month, we are exploring the tricky God, Loki.
Loki might be familiar to most as a Marvel character these days, but to many Pagans, Heathens, and others with an interest in Norse history and mythology, Loki is a very important figure. Their penchant for mischief might be Their most enduring characteristic, but those who know Loki’s tales know that this trickster fixes as many problems as They cause—if not more!
Who is Loki?
Loki, also called Lopt, is the child of the jötunn Farbauti and the rather mysterious bieng Laufey or Nál. Loki is often called the full name of Loki Laufeyjarson, honouring Their mother rather than Their father as Their namesake. This is fairly unusual, possibly indicating that Laufey was more respected than Farbauti or simply that this was Loki’s personal choice to hold this name.
Many refer to Loki as They rather than He as Loki changes gender depending on the tale you’re reading. Loki is, famously, the mare that saved the fortifications of Asgard by luring away the powerful horse, Svaðilfari. As a result of this encounter, Loki became the mother of the eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
Some people are more comfortable referring to Loki as “He” and some use “She” depending on how Loki appears to them or the aspects of Loki they’re worshipping. Most Loki devotees, also known as Lokeans in some communities, are very respectful of how other people choose to refer to Loki.
Loki’s tale is complex, and it culminates in this God being bound in a cave with poison dripping on Them until Ragnarök, the end of the Worlds. This is due to Loki indirectly (but possibly deliberately) causing the death of Baldr, who was much beloved. Yet throughout Norse tales, Loki also brings riches, treasures, and security to the Gods.
Sadly, some people see Loki as “evil” or “bad” and won’t shift from that viewpoint. There is no escaping that Loki is directly responsible for some negative and destructive events in the Norse tales. However, Loki is far from the only God who behaves badly from time to time. The much-revered Thor, for example, threw a dwarf into a fire once because He was grieving. Norse deities and other beings are all highly multi-faceted and should be taken as such. None of them can be narrowed down to simply “good” or “bad”.
Why is Loki associated with children and families?
Loki is a close friend or blood-brother of Óðinn and husband to Sigyn, another member of the Aesir. Loki is also a parent to at least six children mentioned in Norse poetry and prose: Narfi and Váli with Sigyn; Sleipnir by the stallion Svaðilfari, and with the jötunn Angrboða, Loki fathered three vital figures in Norse mythology: Fenrir, the wolf; Jörmungandr, the world serpent, and Hel, who rules the land of the dead.
You can read more about Hel here on our blog.
While Angrboða is often called Mother of Monsters, many refer to Loki with this epithet too. Loki’s gender as a parent is largely irrelevant, and a reminder that parents of all genders have important responsibilities.
It’s clear that Loki is part of a huge, blended family! There are close bonds with people who aren’t related by genetics, and Loki is, by and large, accepted into the fold of the Aesir even though it’s not clear that They have any Aesir ancestry at all. It’s possible that Loki’s mother, Laufey is Aesir, but not confirmed. Loki also travels with Thor, is trusted enough by Freya to be lent Her shapeshifting cloak, and is so close with Sigyn that she stays with him even after all the other Gods have bound and condemned him. Loki, to many people, represents acceptance: being accepting of others, but also finding acceptance when perhaps others have rejected you. It’s due to both this and Loki’s flexible attachment to gender that this God is often embraced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
There are many groups that come together to worship Loki, and many individuals who offer daily intentions, prayers, or offerings. Loki is often associated with transformation thanks to Their shapeshifting abilities, but also Their ability to turn a bad situation into a highly beneficial one. They’re also known by the epithet Skytreader which refers to shoes that allow Loki to run through the sky, but also connects this God to the air, playfulness, and being carefree.
It’s possible to honour Loki by being as true to yourself as possible, being open-minded and accepting of others, and being accepting of yourself—often the harder task!
These ideas for offerings for Loki mostly come from recommendations from within the Lokean community, however, some are lore or folklore-based:
- Cinnamon-based drinks, sweets, oils, or incense
- All kinds of sweets
- Coffee, particularly very strong, sweet, or flavoured
- Small toys
- Candles and other fire sources—it’s appropriate to hold rituals to Loki around a firepit
- Volcanic rock
- Barbecued meat
- Falcon feathers
- Spiced liqueurs
- Baked goods
Many people find that Loki tends to be happy with most offerings if they are given with sincerity. Words, poetry, and song are also appropriate, as are acts of activism, especially supporting marginalised communities.
Foxes (a modern association but one that many find appropriate—when many people share the same idea about a deity or spiritual being that doesn’t come from the lore, this is known as shared personal gnosis or SPG)
Plants including dandelions, birch, and inedible grasses
The star Sirius, sometimes called Lokabrenna or Loki’s Torch. This is the brightest star in the night sky and you can find it by looking to the constellation of Orion and following the line of the three stars of his belt to the east until you see a super-bright star.
Images copyright details:
Loki with a fishing net: A Norse mythology image from the 18th century Icelandic manuscript “SÁM 66”, now in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland. Public domain.
Loki as a salmon: Foster, Mary H. 1901. Asgard Stories: Tales from Norse Mythology. Silver, Burdett and Company. Page 97. Public domain.