Thursday, January 5, 2012

Loki

One of the most fractious fault lines in the US Neo-Heathen community (not so much elsewhere), is that of those that offer to Loki and those that don't.

I fall very firmly in the 'Noki' camp.

When Loki is brought up in discussion, I've noticed that one of more of the following usually occurs:

*The Loki fans jump in and say how much they love him and how he's 'misunderstood'.
*'Noki' folks like myself jump in and say how much they think he's a pile of shit, often with jingoistic responses like 'May Loki be bound' or something equally as ridiculous.
*The Loki Fans claim to be persecuted and that the 'Noki' people are obviously struggling to shrug off their Judeo-Christian upbringings or have fallen prey to tainted lore.
*Things get really nasty and fraught.

Now it's all well and good and, quite frankly, a time-honoured neo-Heathen tradition to accuse those that don't agree with you of being 'Christians' or somehow less Heathen than yourself, as is screaming intolerance. But it's not very productive and quite frankly there's intolerance going on on both sides of the spectrum here.

Yes, you heard me, the Loki fans are being intolerant with their accusations that 'Noki' folks like myself are somehow hoodwinked by lore or somehow less Heathen.

So just for the record, why is it that I feel the way I do about Loki?

Firstly, if you're going to dispute how the lore portrays Loki, don't then refer to lore references in which Loki is Odin's blood brother or friend to Thor. That smacks of confirmation bias to me i.e you only believe the bits that you personally like. Just as the argument can be made that Loki turning evil is a product of Christian influence, the argument could also be made that Loki's 'good' (although self serving and to get himself out of trouble) actions, were also the product of Christian influence, after all, Satan was a fallen angel.

Secondly, if you look at social structure and law in Medieval Iceland, from the POV of a medieval Icelander, there would have been very little about Loki to recommend him and for the gods to keep him in their community. He's not kin (allegedly he's a blood brother to Odin but if you're going to dispute Ragnarok, you should definitely be disputing anything from the Lokasenna, especially with how late it was written), he merely cleans up his own messes to save his skin and although the gods do get something out of that, it could be considered a form of weregild.

Thirdly, there's no record of Loki existing anywhere outside of Scandinavia and any earlier than the conversion period. As someone that focuses on AS/Continental Germanic Heathenry, he simply doesn't feature.

***UPG Alert***

Thirdly, and the most importantly to me, it feels *wrong* with a capital W. Not in a 'I've been told not to do it.' kind of way, but in the kind of way that when I think of Loki, I think of darkness, of dank, spikey 'unhaelu'. He *feels* like the epitome of a gateway to what we don't need in our world, that which sucks out and perverts what is holy. People that say that they call upon Loki when they hit rock bottom confuse me. To me, that's like a person turning to whiskey to make their problems go away. It might feel good at the time, but eventually it's going to come with its own measure of trouble and it wouldn't just affect you. It would affect everyone around you. And believe me, I've been rock bottom a few times. I know that place. The only way out of it is to decide to change, slowly and steadily pick yourself up, brush yourself down and begin the climb up again. There are no quick fixes, there's no waving a wand. Just a slow and steady climb out, and if you haven't been too much of a dick on your way down, family and friends to help you.

Forthly, in 2007 I had about four months when I couldn't sleep properly at night. I would lie in bed trying to sleep but always end up in this awful half trance/half sleep kind of state. Every. single. night I would dream of Loki and other beings that are often collectively referred to now as 'Rokkr' and in those dreams, these beings had gained too much control in the world and the world was paying the price. I know they were just dreams, but they still left an impression.

And that's another thing. When we offer to or call to these beings that have been long dormant, we should show more care. Paganism and Heathenry have, to some extent, become 'All You Can Eat Deity/Otherworldly Buffets', but sometimes, surely it's better to let some things lay dormant? Especially when they are things that were never offered to back in the pre-Christian period? Why is it that we think we somehow know better than they did? Because that's what it boils down to. We, who have been separated from those days by over a thousand years, who think we're so clever with our iWhatevers and cars and better understanding of science.

It's one of the best jokes ever.

7 comments:

Joxy said...

Yup I don't understand it either. Obviously, I'm not heathen, and I don't know a great deal about Norse tradition......but what i do know, and how I feel when I think of Loki, is enough for me to not want to have anything to do with him..

Another thing, it makes me highly uncomfortable when people name the children Loki (why??? just why???) or even their pets. Just seems daft to me.

There's enough shit in the world to come flying our way, without inviting more! That's my way of thinking ;-)

Birka said...

The pet thing...we named our dog 'Monster', so I can't really say anything to that lol!

But as for the rest, I completely agree with you. There is more than enough shit in the world!

Ulrike said...

Same here. I don't know how often people told me that Loki is 'so much fun' and that he has 'so much to give'. Yeah, right.
I never answer when someone brings out a toast to Loki. I know it's not polite, but I don't toast to Loki and his children.
What's true of course is that nothing is absolutely evil or absolutely good. I don't think that Loki is absolutely evil, nor is his kin.I think that Loki is dangerous to humans and Gods, he and his kin have their own agenda, and it's not for mankind's best to help them.

Birka said...

I don't think it's rude Ulrike, what I think is rude is that people don't talk before the ritual to check that it's ok to toast Loki.

Sirius.Rising13 said...

I think it's just a matter of one person's medicine being another person's poison when it comes to Loki. Admittedly, Loki has been my fultrui for nearly eighteen years now and have experienced nothing but joy in our relationship and see him much differently than you have experienced. However, I have always done my best to respect heathens who don't want him in their lives and don't judge them for not wanting to be in the "Loki fan club". Our gods are a lot like people, in that you might not click or get along with all of them. The darker aspects of Loki that you seem to tap into aren't necessarily the channel I get, but that doesn't mean either of us are wrong. We're just seeing him from different perspectives because we're different people. Likewise, I've met some people who are terrified to come into contact with Odin because of his dark side, and others who are devoted to him without question. Our gods are too big, too old, and too powerful to pigeon hole into a single mold. If more heathens could agree to disagree about the way they've experienced certain gods without attacking each other or calling each other wrong, I don't think this would be the big issue it is. Hope that becomes a reality one day!
In frith, Mikki.

Anonymous said...
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Birka said...

Mikki - I think us all agreeing to disagree would be the best way. Far better than all the anger.

Anonymous - I can't look at that note, I'm not on Bryon's f-list. I presume it had something to do with Loki and I know that Bryon mentions Grimm's stuff on possible continental Loki mentions, but I don't find it particularly convincing. At least at this stage, I am willing to give it further examination. It won't change my feelings on the matter, UPG is UPG, but it would certainly be interesting.