The most important thing I need to say: Thor is not blonde, doesn’t shave, and does not have six nipples, as the Marvel Comics and movies would make you believe. As nice as Chris Hemsworth is to look at, in the inevitable blockbuster movie based on Children of the Gods Thor will be played by Kristofer Hivju. (Picture above: the premiere of season 6 of Game of Thrones)

Now that we got that out of the way, let me introduce him to you. Thor is mostly known as the God of thunder and lightning, but he’s also the God of blacksmiths (obviously), and the patron of farmers, someone to call upon to hallow a new dwelling and during a marriage ceremony. He is the son of Odin and Earth herself, and disrespecting Earth, particularly forests, is disrespecting Thor himself. His is the Nature that does what it wants, instead of being rearranged by humans to fit their needs. A heathen who leaves plastic bottles or beer cans in a forest should not expect friendly treatment either from the Gods or me if I see that. One does not want to see what Thor is like when he’s furious, or hear what I have to say if I see someone throw a plastic bottle on the ground.

Speaking of humans, Thor is the God most beloved by them, often referred to as “Father”. As a father figure he is a no-nonsense, non-toxic, strong, emotionally available one. He’s not a dumb simpleton, as he is often presented and misunderstood; he’s got the simple man’s wisdom, free from agenda or politics, generally assuming that the simplest solution is the right one. His by-names include “Deep-Thinker” and “Deep-Souled” – which makes me think of the Icelandic farmers spending their evenings writing poetry. He tends to do what he considers to be fair, rather than what the law states.

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If I were in charge of casting a movie based on Children, Odin would be played by Sir Ian McKellen just because Sir McKellen did an incredible job playing Gandalf and Tolkien barely bothered to change anything when he decided to simply rename Odin to something else for his little Lord of the Rings books.

 

Who is Odin?

Odin is the most complex of all the Gods and Goddesses in the Norse pantheon. Not for nothing does he have more than a hundred kennings (by-names), among which you will find ‘The Mad One’, ‘The Furious One’, ‘The Inspired One’, ‘The Desired One’, ‘The Terrible One’, and ‘The Old Bastard’. He is a poet, a healer, a magician, a warrior. When calling upon Odin it is advised to use the name referring to the Odin you would prefer to experience. Prefer, because if he feels otherwise you might be in for a surprise of your life. Possibly your last.

The Marvel movies put the All-Father in the position of the “chief God” to make it easier for people without experience in polytheistic religions – the Father, the Son, and the holy… uh, Loki. The truth is more complicated. In the Norse times, the God considered to be the “leader” differed depending on the region. In Iceland, for example, the favoured Gods were Thor and Freyr, with Odin rarely present in the Sagas (although by no means unknown). Since each of the Gods was associated with certain personality traits, Iceland focussed on the Gods unrelated to wars. In other parts of the world Odin or Týr were the “chieftains”.

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I am currently working on a series called The Ten Worlds, which is based on the Norse cosmology and mythology. The first two books will be a duology Children and Land. In the “My Norse Gods” series I am going to introduce the Gods the way they are described in The Ten Worlds which might or might not be in agreement with either the academic resources or what other heathens might believe.

If I were in charge of casting the upcoming Netflix series based on my books, Loki would be played by Jared Leto.

 

Loki

The Marvel universe, which I will unfortunately have to mention quite often, created the Father (Odin), Son (Thor), and the Devil (Loki) to explain the Norse Gods to those who either follow, or at least have basic understanding of Christianity. None of those three job descriptions are correct, with the exception of Thor being Odin’s son. The dichotomy of the Good All-Father God vs Evil Trickster Devil is false, if only because the Norse faith doesn’t contain universal concepts of “good” and “evil”. (As an aside, we don’t have a concept of “sin” either.) When the Vikings fought the Christians, the Christians told themselves they were the side of the good. Vikings were the side that wanted to win. Odin is not the “God”, more about which later, and Loki is not “Devil”. Loki is chaos, curiosity, and fun – as he defines it. He takes things away, gets caught, brings back something better – if you can force him or convince him otherwise.

It is so difficult to explain Loki that entire books have been devoted to him – such as The Problem of Loki by Jan de Vries, which gave me a headache. Some Ásatrúar (the organised heathen religions) refuse to have anything to do with Loki, even forbidding any form of worship of Loki during their gatherings. Yet Loki is also Thor’s best friend and it is thanks to Loki that Thor received his hammer Mjölnir. Would you really dare to tell Thor “you’re welcome here, but only if your buddy stays away”. Is it better to celebrate the bringer of chaos, potentially attracting his attention, or to push him away, potentially attracting his attention?

Loki’s catchphrase is “what’s the worst that can happen?”.

 

Family tree

While the resources name Loki’s parents, I found it more interesting to just have him appear from nowhere, unbound by any loyalties, family relations, on nobody’s side but his own. He marries a poor woman named Angrboða, who bears him three children – Hel, who is the loveliest Goddess of death you’ll ever meet, especially if you manage to ignore the fact that half of her is decomposed; the Serpent of Midgard, who is, well, a serpent encircling Midgard; and Fenrir, the wolf that never stops growing, becoming a source of great concern for the Gods. Another of his children is Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged stallion, and according to the myths, Loki is the horse’s mother. Later on Loki marries Sigyn, who remains faithful to him until the Universe ends. With Sigyn Loki has more children, ones that are neither serpents, horses, nor decomposed. They are not mentioned in Children and/or Land, so I’m going to talk about them some other time.

Quite a few Gods are (shape-)shifters, but Loki is the most talented of all of them, as he is the only one who can change gender in addition to everything else, limited only by his imagination. (For once, when he’s bragging about something he’s telling the truth.) During Loki’s brief career as a bridesmaid she is not a man in a dress – Loki is a woman at that point. Like all shifters, though, Loki has his favourite form, pictured above – Jared Leto at his most cult-leader-like. When appearing in this form, Loki prefers the pronouns he/him.

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