Freyja Runes & Seidr 12 -   first edition March 1999 Imbloc


A misunderstood God or just another archetype?

Probably the most misunderstood of the Northern Gods, many have come to view Loki as a vile being but this is probably a misconception? Loki today seems to have a strong following of Neo-Pagan eclectics who have taken on this deity from generic Asatru (calling themselves Lokeans) to represent some aspect of Carl Jung's Archetypal gnosis or worse still compare him to other mythological deities from other belief systems without considering the primary sources.

See Norrćn Trú (Old Norse Religion) for an example of how to approach correctly research on Old Norse Religion and the gods:

Neo-pagans today have the luxury of possessing some form of mass communications device with electronic instant information via cell phones, personal computers and the internet. They also have access to major libraries that stores the knowledge from multiple cultures. This insight and intellectual wisdom has allowed moderns to see similarities in common traits between cultural deities. What we tend to forget also that it is a  miscalculation to make assessments of past history using modern day Judeo Christian politically correct values.

However scholars and academics in Norse Mythology do not use Comparative Mythology, Jung's Archetypal analogies or Unverified Personal Gnosis as a basis to discuss Old Norse Religion. Comparative mythology generally works by conflating material gathered from many questionable sources in an ad hoc manner, without verifiable or conclusive evidence as to why one should assume that two seemingly separate things should be seen as the same. There is a major flaw in logical thinking here and  such comparative mythological approaches are usually generated by those posing under the guise of pseudo-scholarship that refutes the burden of evidence but prefers broad speculation on psychological theories or comparative mythology mainly on Asatru 101 e-forums.

There are too many wild leaps of faith using this very flawed methodology that strings together many loose threads of unconnected ideas into a seemingly plausible theory. The gods/goddesses are not some sort of estranged beings if we bother to  take the time out to get to know them, and honour them.  Simply viewing the Gods as archetypes seems shallow and cold, yet to see the Gods as individuals warrants more study than to revere a generic force as an aspect of other beings. The Gods should be researched, studied and met as individuals and not generic versions of other gods from Egypt, India or Greece! Consider also the great deal of discernment between deities over any given landscape. It requires a great deal of faith to perceive a deity as separate from another. It denies most of our intellectual minds, since it seems more logical to subscribe to something such as Jung's psychological theories.

But then perhaps the term *Intellectual Laziness may apply here! There are no causal connection between symbol and associated meaning, even though self-similar patterns may occur. A phenomenon that appears in one myth may seem similar in fashion within another myth but these have to be causally connected and thus not only necessarily are related to one another but express the same meaning? Consider also that this self-similar expression might be the result of similar or different structuring principles.

Scholars such as Grimm, Frazer, and and Dumezil were noted to have employed the comparative mythology technique so intensively that it eventually became discredited. The core conceit underlying this method -- that there was once a generic "Indo-European" mythology, such that the myths of one IE people can be deduced from those of  another -- has probably been a greater impediment to a proper understanding of our heathen heritage than all the Christian missionaries who ever lived.

Snorri Sturlusson coined the term Logi meaning 'flame' with Loki. However folk sayings arose where Loki was blamed for summer heat where sparks from a bonfire, scalded food or started fires! 19th Century etymologies were suggested for Loki being derived from logi. Without using the - ki suffix for diminutive and familiar names such as 'kraki,' produced Lokki from addressing 'Fire' (as Log-ki). When Loki appears in the Eddas, it is mostly in his role of Instigator of Conflicts: because of some unfortunate circumstance he is forced to act not according to his own volition but to that of others. Most often his loyalties to the Aesir are in conflict with a promise given to the giants.


Richard Wagner adapted Nordic myth for his Ring cycle translating Loki into German as Loge ('fire') and gives him fiery powers? Loki has been seen to have often brought the Aesir into great difficulties, but then delivered them with his cunning.

Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi

I have had a few encounters with Loki during Spć workings during the early 90s but my experiences then with this Northern god were one of downright mischief making rather than the Ragnarok end of the worlds struggle the sagas speak of. As everyone knows his actions will ultimately help destroy the gods, but there is more to him than that. I feel that Loki is a role player in the scheme of things and he is far from being chained up as many wrongly believe that he is? In fact there are some folks who claim that Loki is amongst them today. Loki is a renegade and trickster without whom the courts of Asgard would be very boring indeed. Through many wrong choices Loki has become the mischief-maker, the instigator of wrongs doings in many tales. He is also disruptive, representing the necessary questioning of authority if things are to be kept running in an optimal way.

Loki with his fishing net as shown from the 18th century Icelandic manuscript called SÁM 66 in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.


Anna Birgitta Rooth was already formulating wide-ranging ambitions in her dissertation. Such ambitions were spelled out also in her second major work, Loki in Scandinavian Mythology (1961). In this study of “the kaleidoscopic trickster character” Loki, Rooth threw herself into debates with celebrated scholars in folkloristic, comparative religion, philology and other fields. She ends her long treatise connecting Loki to locke, a Swedish dialect word for “spider” and to such trickster figures as Anansi the Spider in African and African American traditions. Although Rooth’s book on Loki has met with a great deal of criticism, not least because of the bold leaps of faith that it requires from the reader, there can be no doubt that her reasoning is clear and logical.

Rooth, Anna Birgitta
1961: Loki in Scandinavian Mythology, C.W.K. Gleerups Förlag, Lund

See also:

Celander, Hilding
1911: Lokes mytiska ursprung, Edv. Berlings Boktryckeri, Uppsala

de Vries, Jan
1933: The Problem of Loki, Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, Helsinki

Dumézil, George
1959: Loki, Wissenschaftlige Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt
Eddan: De nordiska guda- och hjältesĺngerna, translated by Erik Brate, 1990, Niloé, Uddevalla

Holtsmark, Anne
1964: Studier i Snorres mytologi, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo

Rooth, Anna Birgitta
1961: Loki in Scandinavian Mythology, C.W.K. Gleerups Förlag, Lund

Sturluson, Snorri
1978: Snorres Edda translated by Björn Collinder, Forum, Uddevalla Ström, Folke
1956: Loki- ein mythologisches Problem, Almquist & Wiksell, Göteborg
1993: Nordisk Hedendom: Tro och sed i förkristen tid Akademiförlaget, Göteborg

Turville-Petre, E.O.G
1964: Myth and Religion of the North, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London

Anderson, Philip N.
1981: "Form and Content in the Lokasenna: A Re-evaluation", Edda: Nordisk Tidskrift för Litteraturforskning, Scandinavian Journal of Literary Research, 4, Oslo

*Intellectual Laziness

The expression "intellectual laziness" is frequently used to describe a tendency not to ask questions, and not to scratch too much behind the apparent, applying a kind of mental routine (availability heuristic) or just following the crowd (herding).

Back Page                                                                                                            Next Page

Quick Links:

[ Freyja Runes Seidr ]

[ About me ] [ Asatru & Heathenry ] [ Links ] [ Freyja Runes Seidr ] [ Sabine the Wolwa ]

 [ Little Bones Women ] [ Pierced by the light ] [ Rorik's Column ] [ Rune Lore ] [ Rune Origins ]

 [ Rune Poems ] [ Rune Scholars ] [ Rune FAQ ] [ Guido von List ] [ Poetry ] [ Viking Age Costumes ]

 [ View Comments ] [ My Reviews ] [ Modern Myths ] [ Controversies ] [ Book Hoard ]

 [ Book Reviews ] [ Norse Mythology ] [ HE Davidson ] [ Lotte Motz ]

 [ NA Runestones ] [ Your Articles ]


Freyja Runes and Seidr Links

[ Section1 ] [ Section2 ] [ Section3 ] [ Section4] [ Section5] [ Section6] [ Section7] [ Section8]

[ Section9 ] [ Section10 ] [ Section11 ] [ Section12 ] [ Section13] [ Section14]

 [ Section15] [ Section16] [ Section17 ]


                                        2005 Rig Svenson ©