Loki’s Path: Non-conformity

I’ve talked before about how Loki’s path revolves around change. While that’s a large part of walking His path, there’s a lot more to it. To walk Loki’s path, you really need to be comfortable with ambiguity and abstraction, and you need to have a sense of humor because weird things are going to happen to you. A lot of weird things, in fact. That’s just Loki being affectionate, and it’s really important to learn to look at the weird obstacles life throws at you as Loki’s way of letting you know He’s around.

To walk Loki’s path, it’s definitely necessary to be comfortable with weird. He has a tendency to turn the status quo on its head, and He doesn’t care at all what society has to say about who He should be. He just does His own thing, consequences be damned.

That’s one reason that I think that the Loki portrayed in the Thor movies is just another aspect of Loki. Of all the Gods, He is the one who tends to appear the most in fictional settings. Tricksters lend themselves to the screen. Granted, I don’t view Loki as a villain the way the Thor movies try to paint Him, and the mythology is all wrong, but a movie is just fiction adapted to the screen.

I’ve read articles upon articles about how falsely portraying Norse mythology to the millions of people who watched the Thor movies was misleading and how that representation of the mythology was a “crime” against Norse pagans. I, however, have the audacity (if you will) to disagree with that assessment. I look at those movies as the Gods saying, “Hey, we’re still around, and we’re not going to let any of you forget about it.”

Other articles, of course, have condemned Marvel for “Christianizing” the myths with the way Odin kicks Thor out of Asgard. Getting upset by that is counterproductive, however, as it is a fact of life that Christianity is the major religion in the United States, so more people are going to respond to movies that represent that “savior” mentality. Instead of looking at Marvel as the bad guy, I feel like it makes more sense to say the Gods know how to make Their presence known by adapting to what will appeal to more people. In some ways, the Gods are marketing Themselves, if only to announce that They are still around. If a person is meant to find the Norse Gods, then that person will find Them, whether it is through reading the Poetic Edda, the Norse myths, or watching the Thor movies.

I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me and want to argue that point, but honestly, I’m fed up with every person who feels that the path they walk can only be walked in one way. Every path walked in life has branches, just like Yggdrasil branches into nine worlds. Loki’s path is about exploring the smaller branches, about seeing what is out there, and about not making assumptions.

I remember doing an assignment for a history class a couple semesters back where I had to find information about people who were infamous for being monsters. I found a striking resemblance between the people I researched and Loki because a lot of the people I researched were branded monsters simply because they went against the mainstream culture of their day.

Loki, I suppose, can be called the face of counter-culture, of true nonconformity. Anyone who identifies as pagan in a Christian culture is at least slightly nonconformist to begin with, but that isn’t what I mean by nonconformity. Nor am I referring to the group that most people assume is meant by the term nonconformist, which is generally the goth group.

No, what I mean by nonconformity is more internal. Nonconformists tend to look like everyone else – there’s no need to announce that you don’t agree with mainstream society – but the opinions and beliefs held are radically different than the mainstream of any particular group.

While being pagan is a non-conformist action towards the larger mainstream religious society of Christianity, there is a mainstream group in paganism, and that is Wicca. There’s nothing wrong with people who identify with Wicca – I don’t mean to imply that. But to experience Wicca as the only pagan path and arbitrarily decide that it is the right path without a solid reason as to why it’s the right path is a type of conformity.

If you are Wiccan and you can explain exactly why you are Wiccan, then you aren’t Wiccan just because the majority of pagans are Wiccan. You have deeply seated beliefs and reasons that you can explain, and those reasons are incredibly personal. Nonconformity, at its deepest level, is about putting your personal beliefs and principles over the principle beliefs and ideals put forth by the society you find yourself within, whether we are talking about mainstream American culture or mainstream religious culture.

Even in Asatru, there’s a mainstream way to do things, and if you fail to do them, there’s a tendency to find yourself shunned. Many kindreds disavow Loki, not including Him in their practice, and those kindreds sow distrust towards Loki in their members.

In general terms, Asatru is a religion that is seen as having a practical grounding, and magic (excluding seidr and galdr) are seen as ridiculous, frivolous, and unrealistic. To voice dissenting opinions on this is to invite criticism at best and outright hostility at worse.

The truth is, the mainstream Asatruars expect every other Asatruar to follow certain unwritten guidelines of behavior. Choosing to deviate from that pattern of behavior can result in ostracizing others, and people who are ostracized tend to look for other, easier paths to follow. No one wants to feel ostracized for their beliefs, and, in some ways, mainstream Asatruar tend to chase people away. It is a much more exclusive pagan faith than Wicca, although Wicca has its own set of mainstream expectations.

With Loki being the face of nonconformity, it’s fairly easy to see how a Lokean can feel alienated and ostracized and why Loki is considered by many the God of outsiders, or of society’s misfits. We have a tendency not to fit into the molds that people shove our way, telling us we need to behave in a particular way or believe certain things.

Loki looks at all of those “you should” comments and dismisses them. He doesn’t even bother to ask why, just goes on about the business of being Himself. And that’s what Loki’s path is ultimately about – having the courage to be who you are, no matter what. So, for those people out there who think of Loki as a coward, I have this to say – there is nothing more frightening than standing outside the mold society has prepared for you, knowing that people are going to shun you for daring to be yourself, and then being yourself anyway.

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2 comments on “Loki’s Path: Non-conformity

  1. I’m certainly not one of those who thinks fictional or pop cultural portrayals of our Gods is a bad thing, as long as people understand it’s different and not meant to be ACCURATE. Those occurrences can provide gateways for people to go looking beyond the popcorn entertainment to find and learn about the ancient God that provided at least some kernel of inspiration for the derivative work.

    I also think our Gods are opportunistic, They take advantage of such openings after being repressed so long by Christianity. That being said, I personally would caution away from pointing to a specific portayal, I’ve actually seen some people worship the fiction, instead of the actual God.

    As a Heathen at large in the wider Asatru community I’ve certainly experienced my share of hate for the fact I treat Loki with not only respect, but outright devotion too (in addition to that I give to our other Gods). But what many of that so called larger Asatru community fails to realize is how much of the lore that they ‘ignore’ or scholarship that points to Loki being MORE THAN the villain. Symbolically he is tied to some of THE most sacred things in the lore!

    Some blame him as the villain for Baldr’s demise, but there’s older [Danish] sources for Baldrs death that don’t have Loki mentioned anywhere in the tale, such as what is found in the Gesta Danorum dates to around the 12th Century, and the manuscript AM 748 where we get Baldrs draumar from (and Loki’s involved), was believed to be written in the late 14th Century.

    This is a gap of approximately 200 years between these sources, and the 14th
    Century firmly puts us into Christian Europe, whereas in the 12th Century while
    Christianity was the prevailing religion and the one in political power, the old
    religion and its adherents were still around though in increasing
    marginalization.

    Did you know that the Lokasenna doesn’t appear to be derived from a pre-Christian tale, but rather appears to be an example of contemporary Christian Medieval Literature that mimics Lucian’s Assembly of the Gods, in much the way that Snorri uses other elements common of Chrisitian Europe’s Medieval Literature by alluding
    to other great works (those Western “classics’ from Greece and Rome), this is
    afterall why he attests that the God Thor is descended from the Greek Agamemnon
    featured in Homer’s Iliad & Odyssey, and later mentioned in Virgil’s The
    Aeneid. It appears that the Lokasenna followed the formula set by Lucian, and
    just dropped in Norse Gods instead.

    The reason I point this out is because many people assume when they read the
    Poetic Edda as we know it today, that Loki’s punishment is because of his role
    in Baldr’s demise because that is how the tales have been ordered for them. But
    to understand where the Poetic Edda comes from, and the questionable veracity of
    the Lokasenna as being authentic to a pre-Christian origin, let alone the
    understanding that virtually without exception all of our lore was written
    post-conversion by Christian scholars… well I think it can dramatically alter
    someone’s opinion.

    Loki is much more than a God of dishonesty and trickery. He is a God of change,
    one even of magic and transformation, and one who appreciates a joke and a
    laugh. He can be a bit onrey sometimes, and maybe the tricks he gets up to might
    go a tad too far on occasion… but He introduces change to the Gods, and
    without Him we wouldn’t have:

    *Odin’s 8 legged horse sleipnir
    *Sif would not have her ‘golden’ hair
    *Thor would not have his ‘mjollnir’ which he uses to protect Asgard/Midgard
    *there’d be no wall around Asgard to keep the destructive Giants at bay
    *Odin wouldn’t have his oathring draupnir (from which all other oathrings are
    said to derive)
    *Freyr would not have his ship Skidbladnir
    *Freyr wouldn’t have his boar, Gullinbursti
    *Odin wouldn’t have his spear Gungnir

    If we really look at the symbolism of these items, and Loki’s role, he is
    connected with the tools that protect Asgard, and tied to “oaths” more so than
    He is connected with being “against” the Asgard/midgard. Even outside of these
    ‘gifts’ He was Thor’s companion– Thor the great defender of Midgard and
    Asgard loved to travel around with no one more than Loki (or should I say, uncle
    Loki). Further more, one of the few known depictions of Him in the archaeological record is the Snaptun Stone, which is a hearth stone, i.e. Loki was at the heart of that home, which ties into folk traditions of offerings of food being given to Loki in the hearth fire. There’s also a folk song that when the other Gods (including Odin) blew off a desperate family, that Loki came to the rescue (that’s the Lokka Tattur).

    Sorry, I think you can tell Loki is a passionate topic for me. ^_^

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes! This! All of it! And that first comment from WyrdDesigns! *Healthy round of applause*
    You know, it was the Marvel films that first grabbed my attention. And when I started looking into the Real Versions of Them, it was Loki who burst through my door like a red-headed Kramer. And nothing’s been the same since. I’m a completely different person now than I was before. I’ve realized things about myself that I had no idea were hidden away from view. And you know what? It’s all His “fault.” 😉 I’d have never changed if He hadn’t showed up in my life, bringing Fenrir, Thor, and Everyone Else along, too. People that only see Loki as a “bad guy” really are short-changing themselves. Granted, His ways aren’t for everyone, and He can be a bit of a pain at times (but I still love Him).
    And when you spoke of non-conformists, my brain thought of the anti-establishment hippies of the 60s. And like my blog title says, I identify with all that. Be yourself, screw the naysayers, and anyone that doesn’t like it can blow it out their back end. 😉 I’m forever Lokean, and ain’t nobody gonna change that. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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