Old Norse: Loki Pronunciation: Low-key
Other names: Loke, Lopt, Loptr, Logaþore Anglo-Saxon: Lôgna Old High German: Logi Proto-Germanic: Laugaz (“Blazing God”) or Laugatjanaz(“Blazing One”)
Common Danish, Swedish and Norwegian form: Loke
Loki Laufeyiarson is really not a God at all but rather the full blooded Giant Lord of mischief who resides with the Gods of the Aesir. He is a son of Farbauti and Laufey, and is described as the “contriver of all fraud”. Loki is Blood brother to Odin. With his first wife, Glut he was the father of Einmyria (“embers”) and Eisa (“spurt”)
Loki had three children with the giantess Angerboda: Jormungand the sea-serpent, Fenrir the giant wolf who is preordained to slay Odin at the time of Ragnarok, and Hella the goddess of the realm of the dead. Loki’s third wife is Sigyn, one of the Asynjur.
Loki is also an adept shape-shifter, with the ability to change both his sex and form. As such, Loki represents a random factor, an unpredictable element that, combined with all the other (more stable) forces of nature, produce unknown results that no one, save the Norns themselves can quite foresee. Once while in the form of a mare Loki accidentally became impregnated with Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir by the giant horse Svadilfari (“unlucky traveler”)
Historically, Loki never enjoyed a votive following or cult, nor was he ever offered sacrifice. While he would be given a token drink of recognition (as Odin swore that he would not drink unless Loki was also served) no horn or cup was lifted to him, and there are no place-names which recall centers of his worship or reverence in any region of Europe.
Loki is a complex and cunning Giant- he is said to be quite fair in appearance, but capricious in manner, with a heart full of chaos. In the earlier myths, he is presented as being less-than-malicious in his tomfoolery, and even helpful in some situations. In the instances when he would get the Gods in trouble, he would get them back out of trouble and in many cases he would put them in an even better situation than they were before: If Loki hadn’t been up to his mischief then Sleipnir would never have been born, Hella would not exist, Thor wouldn’t have his hammer Mjöllnir, the magic belt, or his gauntlets, Síf her golden hair, Odin his spear or ring, Freyr his magical ship Skidbladnir.
More typically though, he remains true to his anarchic nature, and at times can be outright sinister in his motives, dealing grave evil and hardship to the Gods.
The Trickster god is a complex character, a master of guile and deception, who usually has a lesson hiding behind his actions. Sometimes Loki shows a sageliness, even a kind wisdom in the things he does. One of the main lessons that he gives us is that order is defined by chaos, and sometimes we need chaos to bring us the opportunity and the will to change for the better.
He is also perceived as a fire spirit, with all the potential for good and ill associated with Fire. Like most everything else in this universe, Loki isn’t all-“good” or all-“bad”. This would be a necessary combination in our version of the Trickster figure that is found in so many traditions around the world. All the same, he is Lord of Chaos, Chance and Change, which makes him an interesting but dangerous influence.
Lokasenna is one piece of ancient lore that shows Loki in a darker side, and there are a few references elsewhere in the lore (including Loki leading the Jötunar and others on Naglfar against the gods); however, Lokasenna is well known to contain a huge Christian influence and there may have been attempting to turn Loki into a “Devil” type figure. In this, Loki arranged the murder of Baldur and when the Gods discovered Loki’s involvement, they hunted him down and bound him to three rocks. Then they tied a serpent above him, the venom of which dripped onto his face. His wife Sigyn (a goddess, not the giantess who was the mother of Loki’s monster brood) gathered the venom in a bowl, but from time to time she had to turn away to empty it, at which point the poison would drip onto Loki, who writhed in pain, thus causing earthquakes. Eventually he will free himself, and lead the attack on the Gods at the end of the world: Ragnarok.
Other names :
Lopt – Lofty
Byleist – Wildfire
Hvedhrungr – Roarer
Gammeleidh – Leader of Amusement
Slægurtyr – Sly god
Rógur – Slanderer