Today’s column is a guest submission by Ky Greene, a Lokean and co-founder of Loki’s Wyrdlings and Loki University. She has been Pagan for 18 years, a practicing Polytheist for 9 years, and she offers free spiritual consultation about developing reciprocal relationships with the gods.
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When some Heathens think of Loki, they conjure up an image of an evil, Satan-like deity who gave birth to monsters and heralds the coming of Ragnarok, the end of days. This conception has been reinforced by retellings of the myths like Padraic Colum’s book, The Children of Odin, published in 1920. Colum’s version of the mythology paints Loki as always up to no good, constantly causing trouble for the other gods. Loki is the one who kidnaps Idunn and cuts Sif’s beautiful hair. He is the one responsible for Baldr’s death, the one who gave birth to the three monstrous children, Jormungandr, Fenrir, and Hel.
The Lokean community, which is what I have come to talk about today, sees Loki in a different light. But before I can discuss what the Lokean community is, I have to start with what it is not – that is the unfortunate truth when a group of people have been demonized as often as the god they worship.Lokeans are often viewed as the agents of chaos and disorder, prone to stirring up trouble where none is warranted. That is an unrealistic characterization, as most Lokeans try to duck under the radar of their local Heathen kindreds and worship Loki in secret. For many Lokeans, worshipping this deity is a secret they feel ashamed to share, as many Heathen kindreds shame those who work with a deity they feel is an agent of chaos.
Loki is a complex and complicated god, as are all deities, as are all people. It is not as simple as Loki being all good or all evil. The good-evil dichotomy is an Abrahamic invention, and it does not belong within any Pagan religion. The ancient people of this world understood that deities had complex personalities, and, in general, they did not adhere to a good-evil dichotomy of mind.
My religious path has been fairly chaotic, and I won’t go into every detail here. I am 31 years old, and I have been Pagan since the age of 12. I came to Loki and Heathenry 9 years ago, and I have served as a priest to Loki for the past 3 years. As his priest, he asked me to build a community where Lokeans felt safe, where they felt like they could exist without being told their practices were wrong or that they were terrible human beings for simply believing in a god that so many insisted was either evil or not a god at all.
When I took up that calling, I co-founded the Facebook group Loki’s Wyrdlings with Amy Brown. Today, we have over 450 members, and I have spent the last 3 years getting to know many of those individuals. When I speak of the Lokean community, I speak only of the experiences I’ve had within the Loki’s Wyrdlings group. From what I have heard, it is the most respectful, inclusive Lokean group on Facebook, and I take a lot of pride in that.
Many Lokeans, myself included, combine mythological interpretation with personal gnosis. We have developed a general understanding on the kinds of offerings that Loki enjoys, including coffee, Fireball whiskey, cinnamon, chocolate (especially orange chocolate), and toys. This is a shared gnosis throughout the community, and, like other people who have a strong personal spiritual element to their religion, we tend to experience Loki in similar situations.
Most Lokeans also share an understanding that Loki does not allow his followers to get away with lying to themselves. He may be a master of deceit himself, but he sure as hell rejects self-deceit. When Lokeans lie to themselves, we often find our lives going a little haywire.
Loki is a god that evokes change, crosses boundaries, and blurs lines. That’s why the Lokean community strives to be accepting and inclusive as well – we see those as the defining characteristics of our god. Not chaos or disorder but acceptance, inclusivity, and compassion. Alongside those, there is an understanding that life, at its core, is not a fair place, and that humor is what we need in order to survive the pandemonium that sometimes surrounds us. Change is inevitable – it will always happen. But we don’t have to face it with dread. We can face it with humor instead.
The Lokean community, above all, is a community of human beings, with real lives and real problems and concerns. Most Lokeans live on the fringes of society because something about their identity forces them to that edge. Generally, this is something they cannot control – their sexuality, their gender, their race, their difficult childhoods. Loki has something to offer all of us.
One misconception frequently seen about Lokeans is that most or all of us are henotheistic – that is, we worship Loki to the exclusion of other deities. While there are some henotheistic Lokeans, most of those I know – including myself – work with many, many gods. Personally, I am oathsworn to Odin, and I also serve as Freyr’s priest and work with Freyja, Ullr, Niorun, Tyr, Thor, and Mani – and that’s just within the Norse pantheon! I work with deities outside that pantheon as well, including gods as far-ranging as Quetzalcoatl, Bastet, and Hermes Trismegistus. Most Lokeans I know have similar practices.
In terms of gender and sexuality, many of Loki’s worshippers are drawn to his genderfluidity. He literally shifts into a mare to lure a giant’s stallion away from a wall the horse was helping to construct, and he later gives birth to Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse. Loki has no problem taking on either male or female forms – he is the penultimate shapeshifter.Loki has no problem shifting shape or giving birth to children that other people deem as monstrous. Jormungandr is the serpent that encircles the world, keeping Midgard separate from Jotunheim, but he is only remembered for his monstrous size. Fenrir, who did nothing but grow too big, was tricked into shackles by Tyr, who made a great sacrifice to do what he believed to be necessary to keep the world in balance. From Fenrir’s perspective, his best friend betrayed him. From Tyr’s, he kept Ragnarok a little more at bay. The myths are complicated. There is no black and white to them.
Then there is Hela. What has always fascinated me is that Hel’s role as a goddess of death is not questioned in the way that Loki’s claim to divinity has been. Loki fathered her, and Angrboda, her mother, was a full-blooded Jotun – so where did Hela’s goddess nature come from? It definitely didn’t come from Angrboda.
Loki’s presence also dispels myths of racial purity among the gods, and he is an ideal deity for people of diverse backgrounds because of it. He is a full-blooded Jotun the Aesir adopted. The Norse gods fully accepted him, and they never questioned him on account of his race. His temperament can annoy the other gods in the myths, but this isn’t because he has Jotun blood. (Indeed, even Odin was born of Jotuns; the idea of purity is anathema to the myths). Because of this, within the Lokean community, there is a strong bias against discrimination in all its forms. I have never met a Lokean who endorsed white supremacy, racial superiority, or attempted to enforce traditional gender roles.
Lokeans work with a god who crosses boundaries and blurs lines, and that includes across racial and cultural divides. Alongside other Lokeans, I understand Loki to be a social god among both gods and humans. Most Lokeans know him as a god that tends to get along with gods within the Norse pantheon as well as outside it. He seems to be one of the few deities that can cross the boundaries that tends to divide pantheons. Many Lokeans have experienced interactions between Loki and Set and Loki and Lucifer, and there are a large number of Lokeans who also identify as Left-Hand Path practitioners.
I mentioned that Lokeans often share the experience of difficult childhoods. Loki, among Lokeans, is known as an incredibly loving father. It’s hard to express how much joy we see in the idea of parenthood, of seeing new life bloom. That is a joy that most Lokeans share. At the same time, however, most Lokeans have dealt with parents that have been less than loving. We have often dealt with abuse at the hands of our parents, other family members, our spouses, our friends, or our communities. We know what it is like to be hurt to the point that being broken seems to be the only option left. Yet we also know that life is worth living because Loki gives us the tools to survive the hardest things life throws at us and make it through to better things that await. Most Lokeans are survivors, and most survivors don’t show themselves or tell their stories easily.
Many Lokeans are LGBTQIA+. There are a higher number of trans individuals within the Lokean community than any other Pagan community I have ever been a part of or come across. We respect that people are more complex than the bodies they wear. This understanding comes from working with a god that shifts form – the underlying person doesn’t change regardless of the appearance. The body isn’t the full story. Sexuality isn’t static. Gender is fluid.
That is the reality that we face, as members of the Lokean community. We embrace a god that embraces us and doesn’t find us flawed or wanting. We embrace a god who encourages us to be who we are, no holds barred. And we embrace a god that, sometimes, kicks our asses when we refuse to accept the truth about who we are.
Most Lokeans accept that Loki has multiple faces, multiple aspects, and that each aspect is a different version of Loki. One of the more terrifying aspects of Loki is his Worldbreaker aspect. This is the aspect that has a hand in causing Ragnarok, in ending the world. This is the aspect that destroys because destruction is the only option left. It is the aspect of Loki that appears when all other options have been exhausted and nothing but completely dismantling the situation or the person at hand is required for change to happen. Essentially, this is the guise of Loki that embodies the concept of hitting rock bottom before being able to go up. Most Lokeans don’t work with this aspect, although some do. This is an aspect of Loki I rarely interact with – it isn’t the face I typically see from him.
That said, there is a saying among Lokeans – “the face you expect from Loki is the face he shows you.” If we expect him to be terrifying and Satanic, he will come to us in that guise. If we expect him to be caring and compassionate, he will come to us in that guise. Lokeans are as fluid as Loki himself. When we are approached with hostility, we tend to return it in kind. When we are approached with compassion, we return it. We are, after all, just as human as anyone else.
The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.