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Pagan Perspectives


A Note from the Editors Regarding Loki in the White House

December 2nd, 2018

Dear Readers of The Wild Hunt:

Since the publication of Loki in the White House, the column has been discussed at length across the Pagan internet. To say that its portrayal of Loki, and its comparison of Loki to Donald Trump, has been regarded as controversial would be an understatement. The Lokean community in particular has strongly criticized the column, with many feeling that it was tantamount to a call for Heathens to cut ties with Lokeans altogether. (A group of Lokeans sent a letter to The Wild Hunt calling for amendments or a retraction to the column; that letter can be read here.)

At The Wild Hunt, we are proud to have writers from many different backgrounds represented in our roster of regular columnists, including multiple writers of color, writers from outside the Anglosphere, and writers of queer identities – not to mention writers from many different approaches to Paganism. We see our commentary section as a place for these voices to have the freedom to analyze, critique, and debate issues of interest to Pagans in deep and challenging ways. We further encourage dialogue on those issues in the comments section of each post. We challenge our writers constantly before publication, but once their work is on the front page of The Wild Hunt, we commit to defending the work’s place in the record of our publication. To do otherwise, in our view, would have a chilling effect that would deter all writers from taking on difficult and controversial topics. All of our columns, including Dr. Seigfried’s, as well as the commentary responses to them, remain as part of the record unless there are extenuating errors of fact within them that need to be addressed.

In the case of Loki in the White House, The Wild Hunt believes the column makes clear that it reflects Dr. Seigfried’s personal theology, and that its criticism of Loki as figure of veneration does not extend to endorsing any form of discrimination against Lokeans themselves.

The Wild Hunt also stands as a forum for open dialogue. We are sensitive to the criticisms laid against Loki in the White House by members of the Lokean community, which is part of why we have published a submission by Ky Greene, The Lokean Community – What We Really Look Like, to explore that theological approach from the point of view of a practitioner. The point of that publication is to expand this conversation and bring other voices into it. Just as we stand behind our decision to publish Loki in the White House, so will we stand by this publication.

To conclude, it is our belief at The Wild Hunt that even when there are deep, perhaps irreconcilable divisions within the community over an issue – as are clearly present here – we can discuss those divisions without intimidation. Indeed, we invite all civil dialogue to our pages. The Wild Hunt condemns any and all threats of violence, including the credible threats to Dr. Seigfried’s life and livelihood received both before and after the publication of Loki in the White House. The Wild Hunt supports the rights of all members of our community to worship according to their own practices and beliefs in peace – and to submit their writing about those practices and beliefs to our publication.

Sincerely,

The Editors of The Wild Hunt

The original column follows below.


Today’s column comes to us from Karl E.H. Seigfried, goði of Thor’s Oak Kindred in Chicago. In addition to his award-winning website, The Norse Mythology Blog, Karl has written for the BBC, Iceland Magazine, Journal of the Oriental Institute, On Religion, Religion Stylebook, and many other outlets. He holds degrees in literature, music, and religion, and he is the first Ásatrú practitioner to hold a graduate degree from University of Chicago Divinity School.

The Wild Hunt always welcomes submissions for its weekend column offerings. Please submit pitches or completed pieces to eric@wildhunt.org.

Editor’s note: This column references sexual violence.


The seeress of the Old Norse prophecy poem Völuspá (“the seeress’s prophecy”) calls him “an evil-loving figure.” The goddess Freyja calls him a doer of “ugly, hateful deeds,” and her brother Freyr calls him a “smith of evil.” The 13th-century Icelandic antiquarian Snorri Sturluson calls him “evil of character.” Modern-day academic Rudolf Simek calls him “the most negative character among the Germanic gods.”

For a thousand years, poets and scholars have seen Loki as a troubling figure who brings harm to the community of which he is a part. Today, there are many lovers of Norse mythology and practitioners of Pagan religions who view him as a positive figure, and even one deserving of veneration and worship.

Loki as portrayed in an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript [Public Domain]

On one hand, he is seen as a sympathetic fictional character, a clever and complex anti-hero who punctures the pomposity of the great gods with wit and style. From the young adult fantasy novels of Joanne Harris to the rejiggering of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s comic book villain into Tom Hiddleston’s heartthrob, the twenty-first century version of Loki is portrayed in a way quite different from his older mythic character. In all his modern incarnations, he tends to steal any scene in which he appears.

Loki is also seen by some as an inspiring deity who plays an important part in the personal spirituality and communal ritual of modern Heathens and Pagans who situate him as a venerated deity among Germanic or culturally eclectic pantheons. At times, his most devoted worship seems to shade into a form of mono- or henotheism. I have met practitioners whose devotion to Loki and disdain for the other Norse gods seems quite far removed from a diverse polytheism. He can be particularly important to members of LGBTQ+ communities who find deep meaning in his ancient and contemporary tales and aspects.

There is no reason to challenge the importance that Loki has for so many people around the world, whether it manifests in pop culture fandom or intense religious devotion. If the literary and cinematic character appeals to a person, that is their truth. If the mythological character speaks to someone as a spiritual model or appears in their personal gnosis, that is their truth. It is not anyone’s business to attack those experiences.

My own approach to Loki, however, is quite different. I believe in a theology that turns to the ancient myths for guidance, first attempting to understand them in their original context and then bringing them into our own cultural moment.

I do not believe that we should reconstruct every aspect of ancient worldviews situated in a time and place of normalized slavery, entrenched homophobia, and celebrated violence. I do not believe that it is even possible to reconstruct the detailed internal worldviews of a plurality of peoples who left behind no second-level theological discourse. Today’s practitioners of Ásatrú and Heathenry belong to new religious movements that arguably began in a Reykjavík hotel on April 20, 1972. We practice modern religions, not ancient ones, and we should engage with the world in which we actually live.

That said, I am bothered by approaches to myth that brush aside any elements of ancient sources that readers don’t like or find problematic as “Christian influenced.” Academics and practitioners alike are guilty of this rhetorical turn. Too many elements of today’s version of Loki come from nineteenth-century misunderstandings (Loki as god of fire) or postmodern rewritings (Loki as the “real hero” of the Norse myths). Again, I do not deny the personal meaning that many find in Loki. I simply can’t follow them to a place where the sources of our knowledge are read in ways that sometimes seem parallel to conspiracy theorist readings of today’s news stories.

In his 1965 foreword to the second edition of The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote of his dislike for “allegory in all its manifestations.”

I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.

I hope we can agree to not be dominated by the surviving sources, to avoid slavishly treating them as holy writ that must be applied to our lives as commandment and law. But I also hope we can agree that it is possible to both engage with the texts as received and apply them to our modern situations: mutatis mutandis.

With this mindset in mind, I have been repeatedly struck by the similarities between the Loki myths and the Trump presidency. I am not suggesting some simplistic “Loki is bad and Trump is bad” equation, but rather positing a series of parallels that is extended with new examples on an almost daily basis – examples that I’ve been snarkily commenting on via my @NorseMythNews Twitter account. In this article, I am attempting to lay out the applicability of the mythic figure to the political figure in more detail than is possible in 280 characters.

There are at least four major characteristics shared by Loki Laufeyjarson and Donald J. Trump. Do the other gods of Norse mythology have negative qualities? Yes, they do indeed exhibit them at times. Loki, however, embodies them as no other deity does.

Objectifier of women

Loki is quite willing to place women in harm’s way in order to help himself. In the first myth recounted in Snorri Sturluson’s Skáldskaparmál (“the language of poetry”), Loki wins his freedom from the giant Thjazi by luring the goddess Idunn out of Asgard and into the woods, where she is abducted by the giant and made a prisoner in his home. Loki makes no mention to the gods of his role in the abduction of the goddess and only agrees to help free her after his actions are discovered by the godly community and he is “threatened with death or torture.”

 

Loki delivers Idunn to her abductor (John Bauer, 1911) [Public Domain]

Trump has shown a similar disregard for the safety of women who stand in the way of his objectives. After Dr. Christine Blasey Ford made detailed allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and following his own escalating statements questioning Ford’s integrity, the president made intensely inflammatory remarks about her at a campaign rally attended by thousands and broadcast widely in the media. After openly ridiculing her testimony, he called those who supported her “really evil people.” Due to the “continuous stream of death threats” Ford and her family continue to receive, she has still not been able to return to her home. Like Loki, Trump doesn’t seem bothered by what happens to the women he places in harm’s way; all that matters are his own goals.

Also in Skáldskaparmál, Snorri tells the tale of Loki cutting off all the hair of the goddess Sif. The assault may be referenced in the poem Lokasenna, in which Loki brags of cuckolding Thor by sleeping with his wife and calls himself “malevolent.” The supposedly anti-Loki Snorri downgrades the motivation for the shaving to “love of mischief.” If the two sources connecting Loki and Sif are indeed related, then the act of shearing can be seen as a trophy-taking designed to mark Loki’s sexual humiliation of Thor. Sif herself is merely an object in Loki’s attack on Thor’s masculinity.

In her sworn divorce deposition, Ivana Trump describes a 1990 assault that occurred after she had recommended the plastic surgeon that performed a “scalp reduction” procedure on her then-husband Donald Trump. According to her sworn deposition, the real estate mogul was angered that the surgical attempt to reduce a bald spot was so painful. In fury, he ripped out a handful of Ivana’s hair before raping her and – the next morning – mocking her own pain. As with Loki, there is the idea of violating a woman’s bodily integrity as a way of gaining revenge for perceived wrongs from a man with whom she is associated. Loki is really aiming his fury at Thor when he assaults Sif, and Trump is thinking of the doctor when he violates his wife.

The assaults on Idunn and Sif are not the only mythological instances of Loki attacking women. In the poem Lokasenna (“Loki’s quarrel”), he publicly makes gross sexual insults against all of the goddesses who dare to speak out at a feast. Whether their words are conciliatory or confrontational, he responds by telling them to shut up and accuses them of being sluts. (This is one of the key places in the source material that makes me wonder how modern women can find Loki so attractive.)

Trump has been likewise fierce in his public responses to the twenty-one women who have accused him of sexual harassment or assault. Despite the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which he brags about sexually assaulting multiple women, Trump has repeatedly denied even knowing those who have come forward, claimed they are “taking money to make up stories,” accused them of being political operatives, insisted that they are liars “looking to get some free publicity,” and threatened to sue them. It is just as difficult for me to personally see Loki as a deity who should be venerated by Pagan women as it is to understand Trump as a candidate who was seen by forty-one percent of American women as the best choice in the last presidential election. It’s also hard to take the president seriously when he claims to have zero tolerance for any invasion of a woman’s personal space.

Betrayer of community

In the myths, Loki repeatedly privileges his personal desires and needs over the well-being of his community. In addition to the tale of his willingness to aid the abduction of Idunn in order to save himself, Skáldskaparmál tells of Loki delivering the unarmed Thor to the giant Geirröd in exchange for his own freedom. Given Thor’s stated role in myths as the defender of deities and humans, Loki is willing to sacrifice the safety of entire worlds for his own personal benefit.

Over and over, Trump has shown that he privileges his own desires over the safety of the nation he leads. Whether openly examining and discussing documents on North Korean missile tests in front of paying members of his golf resort, renting space in Trump Tower to the Chinese government for millions of dollars, or charging the entourages of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman so much for a five-day stay at one of his hotels that the income boosted its quarterly revenue by thirteen percent, the president has made clear that his personal enrichment trumps the security of the United States.

Loki lets imagined insults to his ego drive his role in the killing of both a praised servant and a praised god. By driving the murder of Baldr, he causes the gods “great deprivation and loss.” Would the presence of Baldr – a leader of warriors in both the Poetic Edda and the History of the Danes of Saxo Grammaticus – have swayed the outcome of the final battle and given victory to the gods at Ragnarök? Whether or not the answer is ultimately knowable, Loki makes doubly sure of Baldr’s absence during the conflict by guaranteeing that the god cannot return from Hel before the mass destruction of the final battle is complete. Loki’s dedication to avenging supposed insults knows no temporal limits.

Loki guides Hödr’s murder of Baldr (Carl Gustav Qvarnström, 1863) [Public Domain]

In his 2007 book (co-written with Bill Zanker) Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life, Trump gives the following advice: “Always get even. When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back fifteen times harder.”

During his presidency, there are constant reminders of Trump’s deep dedication to revenge for perceived sleights. In addition to wanting to order the Justice Department to prosecute his political adversaries, Trump has repeatedly used the presidential pulpit to attack media outlets that he feels don’t show proper deference and business leaders whose successes he feels eclipse his own. He has shown himself fully willing to trash relationships with America’s long-term allies around the world when he is either jealous of their leaders’ popularity or feels affronted by their independence. Like Loki, he places a greater importance on his own easily bruised ego than on the priorities and needs of his society.

Don’t Loki’s actions redound to the benefit of the community, though? Throughout the myths, Loki only performs actions beneficial for others after his harmful acts are discovered and he is threatened with grave bodily harm. There is a pattern to his myths: Loki does something intended to benefit himself; the act causes harm to the wider community; he is forced to make it right under pain of death; his externally mandated act of restitution results in some benefit – the gaining of treasures, the death of powerful giants, and so on.

Should we celebrate that his willingness to save his own skin by helping his captor abduct a goddess eventually results in the elimination of the giant when the benefit only arises after the gods discover his act and force him to make amends? Aren’t the gods the ones we should credit for the positive outcome?

Don’t Trump’s actions also sometimes help the community? He kindly agreed that family separation at the Mexican border was inhumane and took steps towards ending the policy, but only after his own support for the policy seemed destined to cause the loss of independent votes during the midterm election. Even then, he denied his own responsibility for the separations and put the word heart in quotation marks when claiming to care about the children.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s response to the situation could also be applied to myths of Loki: “I don’t applaud the president. He created a crisis. He said he solved the crisis. He has not.”

Opposer of law

Although there are hints in the surviving myths of rivalry and enmity between Loki and Heimdall, the poems and tales that we have show Thor as the god in strongest opposition to Loki. It is Thor who is called on to capture Loki when he seeks to escape righteous punishment, to drive him from the hall when he attacks the goddesses present, and to deliver him into bondage for his role in the murder of Baldr.

It can be argued that Thor’s hammer is a symbol of community – a symbol of belonging to a community and of protecting it from harm. In The Symbolism of Evil, the French philosopher and theologian Paul Ricoeur writes that myths are “a species of symbols,” that they are “symbols developed in the form of narrations.” If Thor’s hammer is indeed a symbol of community, and the hammer is repeatedly raised against Loki, what does Loki symbolize?

I would argue that he represents all that is harmful to the community itself, from the placing of self over others to the objectification of women. The opposition set up in the myths between Loki and Thor shows the son of Laufey as a figure who seeks to escape punishment for breaking the norms of the society, who indeed seeks to mutilate the very instrument of the enforcement of the law, as he interferes with the forging of Mjölnir and causes it to be made with a defect in the handle – the very place where the hand of the enforcer grips the instrument of justice.

Can we honestly say that the current president is opposed to the rule of law in the United States? Unfortunately, his disrespect for and attacks on American institutions have been nearly continuous. On his very first day as commander-in-chief, Trump stood in front of the memorial wall for fallen agents at CIA headquarters and used the opportunity to attack his critics and boast of his accomplishments, mere days after publicly comparing the U.S. intelligence community to Nazi Germany. Just this week, he used his Thanksgiving call with U.S. service members serving worldwide to attack federal judges who have disagreed with him and to discredit CIA conclusions about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump’s public and private rage at members of the Justice Department and intelligence communities has been well-documented, and the president has not been shy about viciously attacking the “stench” and “real bad ones” at the FBI. This week, he repeatedly lectured George W. Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts in a series of tweets attacking the idea that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is an “independent judiciary.”

The president’s greatest foil in the legal system has been Robert Mueller, currently serving as special counsel leading the investigation of “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Trump has consistently insisted that there has been “no collusion” and that Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt.” If Mueller is playing the part of Thor in this story, serving as the dedicated challenger of the one who flouts the rule of law, then Trump is acting out Loki’s part in mucking about with the handle of the hammer as he endlessly obstructs the investigation, obfuscates his relationship with Russia, and promotes those who publicly attack Mueller’s credibility – such as Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has echoed Trump’s portrayal of the investigation as a “witch hunt” and “political fishing expedition.”

 

One of many Trump tweets attacking the Mueller investigation

Loki’s disrespect for the law extends beyond simply breaking codes of social behavior. Does he operate by any moral code whatsoever, or his he purely amoral? As discussed above, the myths show him operating solely out of self-interest and only righting his wrongs or acting for the good of the community when he is physically forced to do so.

This week, discussion of the president’s core relationship to morality was foregrounded in the wake of the bizarre “Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia.” Released by the White House in reaction to reports that the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman directly ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump’s statement begins by asserting the great evil of Iran and the dedication to “humanitarian assistance” of Saudi Arabia, then discusses the great financial wealth-generating benefits of selling weapons to the Saudis, repeats Saudi government slander of Khashoggi as an “enemy of the state,” undermines the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies, and pledges to support Saudi Arabia as a partner against terrorism and provider of oil. Labeling  Khashoggi as an “enemy of the state” echoes Trump himself calling CNN reporter Jim Acosta an “enemy of the people” earlier this month.

After the statement’s publication, journalists, academics, elected officials, and others commented on what Prof. Roland Paris of the University of Ottawa called “a sickening caricature of amoral realism.” Even before the statement was issued, Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Sengiz wrote – in words paralleling the above discussion of Loki – that the Trump administration is “devoid of moral foundation” and has approached the killing “through the cynical prism of self-interest.”

Bringer of chaos

I’m not sure exactly when and where the concept of Loki as a beneficial bringer of chaos entered modern Pagan and Heathen discourse. Did it come from a grafting of chaos magick concepts onto Norse lore? Is it an adaptation of Wiccan dualism to Germanic myth? Whatever the origin and entry points, the idea that Loki brings needful chaos to the otherwise stifling order enforced by the Norse deities isn’t borne out by the surviving myths.

It is difficult to view Loki positively when he helps a giant abduct the goddess who brings health and life, when he calls any woman who speaks out in public a slut, when he attempts to lure the unarmed protector of the worlds into a giant ambush, when he does any of the things detailed above. How do his specific actions in the actual mythology counteract negative actions by the gods and goddesses in a way that is beneficial for humanity? What I myself see as negative behavior by the gods – misogyny, violence, betrayal – are exactly the core elements of Loki’s character. So what are the ordered behaviors that he is supposed to bring into harmonized balance by injecting chaotic elements?

Thor drives out Loki after he verbally assaults the goddesses (C. Hansen, 1861) [Public Domain]

If we believe that the building of right relationships with the gods and goddesses through the reciprocal gifting cycle is an important part of Heathen practice, why worship someone whose behavior is antithetical to those relationships? If we believe in living lives that are engaged with the world we inhabit and with the beings that inhabit it with us, why celebrate someone who is an active agent in the destruction of the world and its inhabitants?

Two years into the Trump presidency, Americans have seen what it means to have an agent of chaos on the throne. Whether banning Muslims from entering the United States, tearing children away from their families at the Mexican border, spreading baseless conspiracy theories about refugee migrants, promoting white nationalist tropes with the full force of his office, providing red meat for anti-Semites while vociferously declaring himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” or openly attacking LGBTQ+ people in the military and the wider society, Trump has created chaos in the lives of countless individuals.

I have a hard time believing that any of those whose lives have been upended by Trump’s actions and the results of his rhetoric welcome his bringing of chaos into the order of their personal lives. I have just as hard a time believing that the inhabitants of the harsh northern world of a thousand and more years ago would have celebrated anyone who brought chaos into the communities that they labored to build in the face of difficult circumstances. Where is the evidence suggesting that everyday people now or then prayed for chaos to disturb the order of their lives?

Even beyond the bringing of chaos to disrupt quotidian existence, Loki is a leader of the forces of destruction at Ragnarök. He breaks free from his bonds, steers the ship full of doomsday troops, stands with “all Hel’s people,” and kills the god Heimdall before being killed himself. In addition to the deaths of the major deities, all of humanity but one couple are killed as “heaven and earth and all the world is burned.”

It’s hard to see Loki’s role in all of this as laudable, but some have asserted that he is generously destroying this world so that a better world can arise. This idea is bit too close for comfort to the ideologies delineated in Jeffrey Kaplan’s Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah.

If the Heathen ritual of blót is indeed meant to – as its etymology suggests – strengthen the god who is its recipient, then worshiping Loki is meant to provide aid to an agent of earthly destruction and human genocide. I just can’t do it. Call me a square, but I’m more interested in increasing the peace and working for positive change than in doing works, as Kaplan writes, “in the belief that the apocalypse is imminent and thus that some immediate action is incumbent on believers.”

My father’s family lived through and escaped from extermination camps. Growing up, I heard a lot from him about European regimes on the left and right who wanted to create perfect societies “but just had to eliminate some bad elements first.” This sort of utopian thinking doesn’t work out so well for those who are considered the bad elements. To paraphrase a favorite phrase of my father’s, whenever I hear someone suggesting we burn down the world we live in order to create a better one, I start backing out of the door.

I have often been told that Loki is justified in destroying the world because the gods bound his son the wolf, threw his son the serpent into the sea, and made his half-dead daughter the ruler of Hel. Snorri explicitly states that these actions were taken “when the gods traced prophecies stating that from these siblings great mischief and disaster would arise from them,” when “they all felt evil was to be expected from them.” This desire to protect the worlds from harm and to stave off the destruction of Ragnarök lines up with the surviving poems.

I understand the modern sympathy for the monsters, but I do think it goes against the way such creatures were understood both in ancient times and in more recent rural societies. More importantly, it turns away from a Ricoeurian reading of myths as symbols interacting in narrative and instead treats them as modern fantasy tales featuring complex monsters as sympathetic characters with rich inner lives. This can certainly be a valid way to enjoy ancient texts, but it does privilege reading through a psychoanalytic lens over seeking theological understanding.

This approach to reading the myths shares elements with Trumpian rhetoric. In his own media presentation of himself – a narrative accepted without question by his most ardent supporters – Trump is the hero of the story and he and his family are sympathetic victims of evil forces. He explicitly asserted his role as protagonist when he publicly thanked himself on Thanskgiving. According to this self-made myth, he is upsetting the New World Order of the shadow government and the globalists who have joined with the media in a quest to destroy the American people. He will burn down all the institutions that have become irredeemably infected by their own failings and “make America great again” – a more perfect world will arise from the ashes of the old one’s failures.

Like Loki, Trump is intimately tied to three of his children while seeming to largely ignore two others. Paralleling the sympathy given to the wolf son, the serpent son, and the half-corpse daughter, Trump has denounced media criticism of his belligerent sons Donald, Jr. and Eric while insisting his daughter Ivanka be lauded for her nepotistic work in the White House.

Will Trump likewise follow Loki in enabling the destruction of the worlds? He has already done much to attack the norms of American society, U.S. government, and international relations. It sometimes seems like he has already brought us into an axe age and a sword age.

As Loki allies himself with threatening figures from the east during the battle of Ragnarök, Trump has murky ties to repressive regimes in Russia and Saudi Arabia and has declared that he and North Korea’s supreme leader “fell in love.” Yet Trump’s relationships with world leaders are volatile and changeable. Will he eventually take the words or deeds of some foreign dignitary as a personal affront so awful that he will plunge us into nuclear war? When chaos is the order of the day, who can say?

So what? Who cares?

Why does any of this even matter? For those of us who believe that Ásatrú and Heathenry are living religions, I believe it is important to deeply engage both with the myths that have survived from the “long ago time” and with the world that we live in today. By engaging in the above exercise in Tolkienian applicability, we can gain a more profound understanding of both the myths and the current situation. The vectors of awareness move in both directions.

By examining Trump in the light of Loki, we can realize that he is not some strange aberration that has appeared out of thin air with an unfettered ability to destroy our communities. Members of the cultures that produced the myths were familiar with his type centuries ago – familiar enough to have told tales of an archetypal figure that exhibited many of the same characteristics that we see in the president today. Rather than being shocked by every new transgression and vulgarity, we can accept that he is just one more in a long line of such men and will go the way the rest of them did. Whether or not Mueller wields the hammer of law and justice, there will eventually be a Heimdall who will bring about the end of Trump’s reign, even if the modern Heimdall manifests in the form of an electorate furious enough that it can overcome whatever shenanigans have been ginned up to disenfranchise it.

By examining Loki in the light of Trump, we can realize that there is a way to understand the mythic figure as neither a “Christian influenced” Satan inserted into the lore, nor a misunderstood anti-hero who should be elevated to a near monotheistic pinnacle of devotion. Instead, he can be seen as a figure who represents the worst aspects in ourselves, who embodies all that is harmful to a community of positive intent. Trump shows us the real-world results of an objectifier of women, a betrayer of community, an opposer of law, and a bringer of chaos being set loose to work his will upon the world. Is this really what we want? I believe that the idea of Loki as the bound giant who finally breaks free to destroy the world is the root element of his character. I suggest that maybe we should support those who seek to bind the beast rather than cheer on his rampage.

Finally, I would like to make the simple request that, following this article, lovers of Loki and partisans of the president refrain from making death threats against me. I know that these are two figures who inspire passionate devotion, but I think it is possible to have differences of opinion without threatening lives and livelihood. Thank you for rejecting fundamentalism.

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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.