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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Part one here.

The Norse deities rarely have just one task to be busy with. Freya, for instance, is a Goddess of love, sex, death, war, fertility, gold, and seiðr magic. This strikes me as an awful lot of work, but there are more Gods taking care of those things, possibly with the exception of gold, because Freya is a bit…possessive when it comes to gold. There are many types of fire, and many Gods who are “assigned” to take care of it.

Let me start with berating Wagner, who put it into people’s mind: Loki is not the “god of fire”. That’s Logi. (Which means “fire” in Old Norse, in case you forgot the name, but had a dictionary at hand.) In one of the Sagas, Loki is put to competition with Logi to see which one can eat faster. They meet in the middle, but while Loki ate all the meat, Logi also took care of the bones, plates, and the table itself. Later the deities involved find out that Loki was competing with the fire itself. Logi is the God associated with wildfire, and if you’ve seen any news from California in the recent months I don’t need to explain why Loki had to lose this contest. Loki plays with fire, Logi is fire.

There are good sides to forest fires, although I wouldn’t say Californians (and others) think the same way. A fire cleanses the nature, preparing it for new growth. You have to destroy in order to build. It’s when the destruction gets completely out of hand that the real trouble starts…but I will talk about Surtr in a moment.

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Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology became a bestseller last year and continues to sell well today. Vikings spawned a range of movies and TV series, some of them absolutely cringe-worthy, some just about watchable. One could argue whether the true beginning of Norse reign (hoho) over TV and cinema screens was caused by Chris Hemsworth’s chest or Clive Standen’s chest, but one thing seems certain. Soon the Vikings will go the way of sparkling vampires and billionaires owning Red Rooms of Pain. But, luckily for me, not yet.

In the first season of Vikings, before History Channel gave up pretending it’s actually showing Norse history, Aslaug tells her children fairytales. Those fairytales are Norse myths, ones more suitable for kids. If you’ve found them interesting, you might try and read a bit more, including bits that are very much 18+. What did the Norse Gods actually do when they weren’t busy just, you know, being Gods and ruling the Nine Worlds? I could spend the next ten years writing about it, but I don’t have to, because other authors did it already… Here’s a very short primer to what’s easily available and, in my opinion, worth checking out.

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