Loki as Thresholder: Loki opens doors, but we walk through them

Thresholds are liminal spaces that exist between two spaces. A threshold can be as simple as the one between two rooms in your house or as complex as the boundary between two worlds. No matter how simple or complex a threshold is, they are liminal spaces.

Liminal spaces are the “in-between” of everything that exists. This is the area where Loki draws his power. He is a god of liminality, and he can always be found in the in-between spaces.

Thresholds, however, are not meant to be dwelled in. We don’t live in our doorways, after all. Doorways, like thresholds, are meant to be used as crossing points from one place to another.

Threshold magic is also some of the most dangerous, as it is impossible to control liminality. Conducting rituals in a liminal space typically means you are allowing wyrd to take over and determine the outcome, no matter what the desired outcome is that you hold. It can be terrifying, and it is not a type of magic that should be practiced by everyone. Giving yourself over to wyrd is difficult to do, as we all, to some degree, want to maintain control over our lives and not feel subjected to whims that are not our own. It takes a lot of trust that we generally don’t inherently have towards the unknown.

In a way, working with Loki is similar to doing threshold magic. Because he is a god of liminality, it is impossible to know what aspect he will show you on any given day. The fact that he is also a shapeshifter doubles the uncertainty, and that pretty much means there’s no guarantee what form he will take.

In my experience with him, he generally takes on his more renowned human form with red hair and green eyes. But I have also seen him appear as a black widow, a black dog, a falcon, a butterfly, and as other human forms. I have never seen him appear as Marvel Loki, as I have a pretty strong distaste towards viewing him in that way.

That distaste originates from the fact that Tom Hiddleston is an actor portraying a role, and while he may be portraying Loki, he is 100% human, which means he cannot actually be Loki. There’s no reason for me to see Tom Hiddleston and go “omg, that’s Loki.” From my perspective, that’s absolutely ridiculous because Hiddleston is human and Loki is 100% deity.

Do I believe Loki can take on the guise of Hiddleston? Absolutely. Loki is a god, and deities can assume any form they want to. It seems to be a trait inherent to deity – assuming the forms that work best to get our attention.

So why do so many people seem to be stuck on the image of Loki as Tom Hiddleston? Honestly, I think this happens because people get stuck on the threshold.

From my perspective, when Loki appears to someone as Tom Hiddleston, it is more because he is opening the only door he can find into that person’s life. If it is the only way he can get someone’s attention, and he feels the need to get their attention, he is probably going to open that door and step through it.

Doors, however, open in two directions. If we refuse to step through the door he opens, we learn nothing about him except that he exists. Those who see nothing but the Loki of Marvel learn only an aspect Loki used to gain their attention. They are not stepping through the door that Loki is opening to learn more about him.

By not stepping through the door, they never learn the real depths that lurk within the god. Maybe they get glimpses, but unless they step through the door, they ignore the glimpses they get.

It is well-known and understood that the best way to gain knowledge about the gods is to research them. Read the myths and stories associated with them. Find the patterns that consistently arise in their interactions with others. Learn to distinguish and discern so that you can trust the personal experiences and UPGs that you have.

Loki is a god of thresholds and liminality. He can and will stay in the in-between spaces. He is a catalyzer of change, not change itself. He may open the door, but we are the ones who have to make the choice to walk through them.

After all, we don’t live in the in-between.

That means we have to make a choice. We can continue to stay on the path we’re on, or we can choose to walk down the new path Loki opens up to us. Change is almost always for the better, but it is almost never comfortable or easy.

So, if you are the kind of Lokean who only sees Loki as Tom Hiddleston, ask yourself if you are willing to go further. Read the myths. Learn the lore. Explore the differences. Get comfortable with the difficult and darker aspects of Loki. Learn to embrace ambiguity and the unknown.

If you want to know Loki, you have to get to know him. Getting to know anyone, god or human, means learning things about them that you might not like. Even our closest human friends are flawed – that doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

If you are the kind of person who refuses to engage with the myths, ask yourself why. What are you afraid you might learn? What truths are you afraid to confront about Loki and/or about yourself?

Loki is a loving and compassionate deity, but that does not make him safe. He is a god of liminality, and liminal spaces are inherently chaotic and dangerous. To expect otherwise is to delude yourself.

We cannot live in the threshold, but we can certainly hold awe for the gods like Loki who not only live in liminal spaces but draw their power from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Change Loki Wreaks

Loki can bring cataclysmic change into the lives of those who follow him, and that may be the hardest aspect of Loki to deal with, especially for those who are unprepared for what exactly that can mean.

In the Loki’s Wyrdlings Facebook group I run with Karlesha Silverros, a member asked what happens after Loki introduces cataclysmic change into a person’s life and whether Loki stays around to provide comfort and soothing during the change.

In my experience, Loki only introduces change to that degree when there are truths inside a person they have refused to acknowledge for too long. The hardest work we will ever do with Loki is learning to face ourselves. I’d say if Loki had a single piece of advice to give to everyone who follows him, it would simply be the old Greek tenet of “Know thyself.”

It is when we forget to acknowledge the deepest truths of our inner self that Loki introduces truly chaotic levels of change, as he is rather intolerant of people hiding from themselves. A simple acknowledgment that you do lie to yourself about certain things can go a long way in mitigating the level of chaos, as it suggests a willingness to come to terms with the truth of your own life.

From my perspective, I’d say a person who comes to Loki and sees a cataclysmic change in a small period of time is a person who has lied to themselves, repressed their feelings, and put themselves last in their own lives for far longer than they realize. It is easy to delude ourselves into believing that we are happy with the lives we’re leading, but the gods, and Loki especially, see the truths we refuse to admit to ourselves.

This is why so many people stay in relationships they know are unhealthy far past the time they should have pulled out. It is why people stay at jobs that go nowhere, refusing to chase the dreams they hold dearest to them because it’s safer to risk nothing than to chase a dream and fail – yet the most rewarding of those two options is to chase the dream. Whether you fail or succeed matters far less than the effort you put forth to realize your dreams. It is why people who are often discouraged in academics drop out of school so often rather than pursuing the opportunity to prove the people around them wrong.

Loki, as Lothur, gave us passion. To see us fail to utilize that – what else would he be compelled to do but introduce change to see the gift he gave us put to use?

From my perspective, the best way to be close with Loki is to be real with yourself, to be honest about your dreams, and to pursue them with as much passion as you can bring forth.

As for the other question asked, about being comforted during a change that Loki has introduced, why would he comfort someone over an action he has taken? Loki generally has reasons for the things he does, as all gods do, and to ask him to comfort us over change he has brought to us is, from my perspective, a bit insulting. It is like asking a fire to be supportive of the fact that you’re too hot sitting next to it.

Our gods aren’t safe, and inviting Loki into your life automatically means inviting the potential for a cataclysmic level of change in every aspect of your life.

The changes he brings are always for the better, assuming that you are able to make yourself face up to the truths you’ve denied for too long. We live in a society that doesn’t really encourage self-reflection or self-knowledge, and it is an essential skill to develop if you plan to work with any god, but it is doubly essential if you wish to work with Loki.

I reiterate – our gods are not safe.

Loki – A Few Perceptions

In my experience, Loki is a god with many forms.

He acts to break illusions and sometimes to mold them. He shifts shapes to suit his needs, like all trickster deities. He crosses boundaries yet enforces them.

He is the heart of the hearth-fire, the liminal connection between the human world and the world of the gods.

He is a fierce protector of children and of all those who stand on the fringes – of social groups or society as a whole.

He enacts change, sometimes to a cataclysmic level.

He is an exacting god in that he will not allow you to hide from your deepest truths, the most unsettling aspects of your own psyche – he forces you to face yourself or run the risk of going mad.

He is not a safe god, and yet he is a god full of laughter and joy and beauty.

He is awe-inspiring, as all gods are.

He teaches you to see from perspectives vastly different than your own, to care for other people and other beings with a depth of compassion few of us ever realize.

He teaches you how to accept people for who they are, to see past their flaws – to see the way the flaws you perceive in another person is really what makes them the most beautiful.

And that is just part of the way I perceive him. It is not what everyone perceives of him, of course, as deities have far more aspects than a single person will ever be able to comprehend, let alone perceive.

Now, I leave you with this question: How do you perceive Loki, and how has he most impacted your life?

Who Goes to Valhalla? Or, Odin is a God of War AND Wisdom, not War Alone

It seems to me that every Heathen group eventually has a conversation about who is worthy to go to Valhalla. Someone inevitably insists that only warriors who fall in battle can enter Valhalla, and they decide it’s disrespectful to believe otherwise.

Perhaps the reason that conversation comes up so frequently is that warriors falling in battle and ending up in Valhalla is frequently mentioned by the lore left to us. Once a warrior falls in battle, Freya and Odin split the fallen between them.

There are a couple of considerations the people who posit the argument that Odin only accepts fallen warriors into Valhalla fail to make.

The first of those is that the lore we have available to us in the Eddas and Sagas contain myths that have been rewritten in the hands of Christian writers. It is very possible that the reason Snorri mentioned Valhalla as the heaven for those who die in battle was due to the Christian ideal of fighting for the kingdom of god, which was a prevalent ideal at the time he recorded the stories. Snorri may have simply excluded information from the Eddas because he was writing for a Christian audience – we have no way of knowing with any certainty that Valhalla was restricted to only warriors who fell in battle.

The second of those considerations is that Odin is a god of war and wisdom. It is hard to imagine a god of both qualities stacking his army with a single type of soldier. The best armies, in the human world, are comprised of a vast array of professionals alongside combatants. In American armies, there are professionals that focus on mechanics, engineering, technology, scientific research, historical research, and the list continues. Not everyone who enlists in the military will face combat – there are plenty of units that are noncombatant. That does not mean they are irrelevant to the functioning of the military; it just means they are best suited to working behind the front lines. If human intelligence has taught us that the best militaries are comprised of multiple units with a great number of professionals, who are we to say that Odin would only take combatants in Valhalla?

To try and determine who Odin would or would not take is arrogance at its finest. It’s like people forget, when arguing anything slightly theological, that we are not gods and we cannot speak for them. The only one capable of deciding who can be accepted into Valhalla is Odin himself.

To those who believe only warriors can enter those halls, I wonder what would happen if they entered the hall and found themselves face-to-face with noncombatants. At that point, would the fighters find themselves angry with Odin for daring to accept noncombatants into his hall?  Isn’t this far more disrespectful than the people who believe that Odin can and will accept whoever he wants?

I think there are questions that people fail to ask themselves, and they get caught up in Odin’s aspect as a deity of war and all too often forget that he is also a deity of wisdom. There isn’t a single military on earth comprised of just fighters. Why in the nine realms would Odin exhibit less wisdom than humanity in putting together his own?

Audhumla, Wealth, and War

The ancient Norse relied on cattle for wealth, and the creation myth reflects the understanding they had of sustenance and its origins. The proto-cow, Audhumla, is said to be one of the first living beings to come into existence after the worlds of Niflheim and Muspellheim began to collide with one another in the Ginnungagap. The other was Ymir, the progenitor of the Jotuns. While he was able to reproduce asexually, Audhumla’s milk sustained his life.

Audhumla, who sustained herself by feasting on the poisonous rime that no other creature could tolerate, acted as a catalyst that transformed poison into sustenance. While she could directly partake of the rime, Ymir could not. Yet, Ymir could drink her milk, which would have been a transmuted version of the rime she used to sustain herself.

This is interesting in the context of a culture who relied on cattle for wealth, as a person’s wealth depended on the number of cattle he owned rather than the number of treasures he counted amongst his possessions. The more cattle a person owned, the better his life would be, as he could sustain himself, his family, and potentially his community with the milk and meat the cows provided.

Audhumla, as the cow in the creation myth who helps bring the gods into existence, demonstrates the strong correlation between sustenance and wealth. The vitality of life is the greatest life that a person can receive, and her actions in the myth demonstrate that truth. She is the embodiment of the Fehu rune.

The poem for the (Icelandic) Fehu rune poem translates as “Source of discord among kinsmen /and the fire of the sea/ and path of the serpent” which has some pretty interesting implications.

Wealth as a source of discord amongst people cuts across all recorded history and through all cultures. Every culture, no matter how wealth is defined, struggles to maintain the power balance between those who have it and those who do not. Those struggles are amplified amongst family, which can be seen in the constant struggle between the Aesir and the Jotuns.

Ymir is unable to sustain his own life without taking sustenance from Audhumla. Buri, the first of the gods whom Audhumla reveals, may not need that sustenance from Audhumla, as the way he sustains his life (after being released from the ice) is never mentioned in the myth.

Taking the liberty of extrapolation, let’s assume that Buri doesn’t need anything to sustain his life. Now that he is free of the ice, he is fully capable of sustaining himself through his godly powers of creation. Ymir, on the other hand, is fully dependent on Audhumla for sustenance.

Ymir is constantly producing children asexually, and all of those children share their father’s need to derive sustenance from Audhumla. However, Buri, once he comes into the picture, marries one of these children, and then the first half-Aesir/half-Jotun springs into being.

These children either inherit the Aesir ability to sustain themselves or the inability to do so without Audhumla’s assistance. As they are all kin, it would be natural for those unable to sustain themselves to develop jealousy towards those who have such an ability. With that in mind, it is easy to see how Audhumla can embody the line of the Fehu rune poem that reads “source of discord among kinsmen.”

“Fire of the sea” and “path of the serpent” may both be kennings referencing gold. The Norse viewed gold as being red in color, rather than yellow, so the first is obviously a kenning for gold. Audhumla embodies this concept as she sustains her own life by eating the rime from the rivers that flow from the Hvergelmir, merging together in the Ginnungagap to create the spark of life. In other traditions, the ocean is understood to be the source of all existence, and life itself can be viewed as the greatest wealth any living being may possess.

.As for the “path of the serpent” kenning, “serpent” typically refers to a dragon of some sort, and the Norse viewed dragons as hoarders of wealth. A dragon can no more help its nature as a hoarder than Audhumla can help her nature as a being capable of producing milk that sustains life. While she may not be hoarding her wealth, the fact that there is only one proto-cow rather than hundreds may be an indication of the scarcity of resources that existed in Iceland.

Cattle were wealth which meant life. In cultures with limited resources, warfare and strife among people tends to be higher because people have a desperate drive to survive.

In the myth, for example, Ymir is producing so many Jotuns that the Aesir see that the worlds cannot handle the strain of such an enormous population, so Odin and his brothers slay Ymir and drown the Jotuns in a sea of blood. To say that the Jotuns have the greatest potential for destruction of the three tribes of deities – the Aesir, the Vanir, and the Jotuns – is to ignore the fact that the Aesir reacted to violence with violence and established a war that will eventually result in Ragnarok.

In the Norse pantheon, every single deity is a god of war – there are no exceptions to that. Even the Vanir, who seem far more peace-loving than the others, have started their fair share of wars – Freya and the start of the Aesir-Vanir war is just one example of that.

And that tendency towards warfare is expressed in Audhumla’s being as well. She sustains life, but death is never far away. Her milk keeps death at bay, and it is the war against death that we all fight every day with every breath we take. In a way, life is a war on death, and I’ll leave you with that.

Note: As always, this perspective belongs to me alone. I do not claim to speak for others. 

Loki Worldbreaker: The Bound God and Overcoming Limitations

Loki, as the bound god, is a symbolic representation of the way that the primal nature of all beings is contained and constrained by an imposed social order. The binding of Loki is never fully explained in the lore. While suggestions exist that the binding originated from his suspected role in Baldr’s death (Saxo’s version of the Baldr myth is void of Loki’s presence entirely), these suggestions are, at best, speculation if not outright conjecture.

Another mythos that contains a story about a bound god is the Greek one, in which Prometheus is confined for his audacity in stealing fire from the gods and thwarting Zeus’s plan to destroy humanity. Many scholars have compared Prometheus and Loki, so it is probable that a story of a similar vein underpins the binding Loki endures.

Because so many of the old stories have been lost, it is important to understand that both the concept of Loki being bound as punishment for his role in Baldr’s death and the concept of Loki being bound for reasons similar to those for which Prometheus was bound are speculation, at best.

Still, the image of Loki as a bound god does provide a lens through which to view the god as a god who overcomes limitations. Allegorically, the binding of Loki – no matter the reason for its occurrence – demonstrates an almost desperate need to halt the forward motion of chaotic change. The lore prophecy states that Loki will be the one to instigate Ragnarok after he slips his chains, so the binding serves the purpose of keeping the world from disintegrating.

However, the world cannot stay in-tact forever, and, eventually, Loki slips his bonds. Every time this happens, Ragnarok occurs, and the world is destroyed and subsequently recreated. The cycle of creation-destruction-creation (a.k.a life-death-rebirth) persists in mythologies across the globe, and it has only been since the introduction of Abrahamic doctrine that the cycle has changed from life-death-rebirth to life-death-afterlife.

Loki comes in as the god that overcomes limitations when he slips the bindings the other gods have forged for him to fulfill the role he was always meant to play. In this, he demonstrates that all beings cannot escape the limitation of their own nature – no matter how hard we try to run from ourselves, we cannot escape the truth of our own person.

He shows us where the limits truly lay – inside ourselves – and where they don’t…everywhere else. Loki’s actions often upset the social order. Sometimes, these ways displease the other gods. When Loki steals Sif’s hair, the other gods are displeased, and Loki has to make amends, which he does with an incredible degree of resourcefulness. He relies on his own skillset – his silver tongue – to con the dwarves into making a beautiful gold wig – and makes amends with the other gods so flawlessly that they are awed by the wig rather than concerned with the mischief he originally wrought when he cut Sif’s hair.

In the myths, Loki is either getting himself in trouble and finding clever ways to fix the problems he creates, or he is helping the other gods fix problems. In either case, he is always portrayed as the one who finds the solution to the original problem – whether he is directly responsible for the problem or not is of no concern.

A lot of people get stuck on this point when they try to understand Loki for the first time. They read the myths, and all they see is Loki causing mischief. They contend that Loki solving the problem afterwards doesn’t matter because Loki’s presence is the very reason the problem occurred.

That line of reasoning lends itself to an inability to appreciate that Loki’s resourcefulness and problem-solving are central to his character. Whether Loki’s presence creates the problem isn’t the point – he is the one who has the strategic cleverness that allows him to find solutions that the other gods overlook.

Loki’s ability to overcome limitations allows him to assist the other gods in ways that end up benefiting them to an extreme degree. Unlike many of the others, Loki has no problem defying social norms when necessary to get a problem solved. When Thor loses his hammer, Loki is the one who suggests that Thor dress as Freyja to win it back from Thrym. Thor is, as convention dictates, uncomfortable at the suggestion but listens to Loki’s advice. Loki’s advice proves sound, as Thor soon reclaims Mjolnir.

Actually, speaking of Mjolnir, Thor would not have such a magnificent weapon if it weren’t for Loki’s cunning in his dealing with the dwarves. Odin would lack Draupnir and Gungnir, Freyr would lack Skithblathnir, and Sif her golden wig – to name a few of the gifts that Loki negotiated with the dwarves to claim for the gods. In his negotiations with the dwarves, he overcomes the limitation of the dwarves’ reluctance to craft these items.

Mostly, when it comes to limitations, Loki is the god of overcoming the limitations that others present. He is a force against conformity, though it is doubtful he would support nonconformity simply for the sake of nonconformity. When Loki breaks from the social order of the Aesir, he does so in ways that work in the favor of the gods.

When Loki is bound, he is no longer able to control his own abilities. By my own understanding (i.e. upg), he is one of the oldest deities of the Norse pantheon. He is the embodiment of change and, eventually, he loses the ability to control that side of himself. The binding the other gods force on him only hold him back for so long, as nothing can stave off change permanently. Once he breaks those bindings, Ragnarok occurs, and the world begins again.

 

Note: Many Lokeans shy away from Loki’s Worldbreaker aspect, claiming that the story of Ragnarok was Christianized and not an original part of Norse mythology. The collected evidence doesn’t support that theory, and it is far more likely that the Ragnarok story is a different version of a well-established creation-destruction-recreation (life-death-rebirth) of the world demonstrated in a multitude of other mythologies. Refusing to engage in these conversations makes it far easier for Heathens to view Loki as a Nordic Satan rather than develop a fuller understanding of Loki’s character. This is, therefore, my attempt to address a question often ignored by other Lokeans (and, as always, this is my interpretation and my interpretation alone).

The Road Home

A great take on how Loki works within the Heathen community despite the way so many Heathens fail to acknowledge Him.

mainer74

Thor-Vikings-Odin-Loki-panels-1566510-1920x1080.png

A thousand years ago, our ancestors understood the traditions we try to embrace today.  They lived in a world where they walked with their ancestors, knew the wights of the lands and waters, made peace with the jotnar of the high mountains and raging rivers, learned the alfs of the wild places.   The gods and goddesses held a place for them that was something we can only imagine, for they learned how everything fit together from their first breath, first step. There was no word for what they did, for it was no more possible to separate their practice from their life, than it was to separate their breath from their body and continue to live.


A foreign smoke stole that breath from the body of our ancestors, and the living faith died a long time ago.  The path they walked we cannot.  What they knew, we can only guess…

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