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The Demonization of Loki – Part I.

Norse mythology as reflected in the Prose and Poetic Eddas, stories recorded one hundred years after the close of the last Heathen Temple (in Uppsala, Sweden in 1100 C.E.) is replete with dynamic, inter-related families of Gods and Goddesses. Their dramas, exploits and behaviors reflect a curious panoply of conflicting elements that at times seem, to the modern mind, both ambivalent and even amoral. This is especially true of Loki. Loki is a fascinating figure. Perhaps no other being in the Northern Pantheon is quite so controversial and at the same time quite so compelling. This holds true not only in the scholarly world but also within the contemporary Northern Tradition, the modern Reconstructionist faiths that seek to revive the worship of the Norse Gods. The role of Loki in this modern religious movement has created an ideological fault line that remains explosive and hotly contested within the American Heathen community, for just as scholars often don’t seem to know quite what to make of this particular figure, neither does modern Heathenry.

Perhaps it is fitting, given Loki’s often provocative role in the Eddic lore, that a consensus within both the scholarly and religious communities as to his function and nature has yet to be truly reached. Historian of religion William Paden notes that “religions are grounded in mythic language….myth is not a medium of neutral, mathematical objectivity, but a definitive voice that names the ultimate powers that create, maintain, and re-create one’s life.” (Paden, p. 73). Myths shape and define that which is ephemeral and timeless, creating living bridges to the numinous. To some extent, by their very nature, such myths also reflect the beliefs and world view of those creating them. This makes the appearance of Loki, in a mythos otherwise focused around what are known as the “Reginn,” or ordered powers, all the more thought-provoking. Frank Stanton Cawley, in his essay “The Figure of Loki in Germanic Mythology” notes that in the study of Germanic mythology, the scholar is presented with many difficult problems. “One of the most puzzling of all is that presented by the God Loki, about whose essential nature there are almost as many opinions as there are scholars who have occupied themselves with him.” (Cawley, p. 310).

Read the original article at: Oak and Holly

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