Loki: God of Mischief
Introduction to Loki
Loki is perhaps the most misunderstood God in the Norse pantheon. He is the son of Farbauti or “Cruel Striker” and his mother Laufey which may be translated as “Tree”. He is also the father of Hel who rules over death and Jormungand The World Serpant who ultimately kills Thor during the cataclysm Ragnarok. Loki is also the father of Fenrir the wolf who Tyr sacrifices his hand to in an effort to enchain. Fenrir ultimately frees himself though and kills Odin during Ragnarok. Further Loki is the Mother of Sleipnir Odin's mystical horse. He also fathers Narfi and Nari.
Loki is ultimately the originator and curator of solutions for many of the challenges found in the Norse tails. In essence he is, as befits a God of Mischief, the solution to as many if not more problems than he creates. It is for this reason that so many see Loki as an “Evil” God but rarely do they take into account the fullness of Loki's history.
As the chief God of Mischief within the Norse Loki is a powerful shape shifter, a powerful wielder of magicks, and a master of disguise. However beyond that Loki is above all else intelligent. He is perhaps the most intelligent of the Gods and as such is the one God turned to for advice when things have went wrong. His intelligence can be seen in the Lokasenna (Old Norse “Loki's Quarrel”). During this poem Loki engages in a game of insults with the Gods. Now in such a game if you can turn an insult around there is victory if the opposition is left with no good reply and the insult is fair, true, or justifiable in some way. Loki is a master of such games and none of the Gods can best him in this save Thor's arrival. Latter in this analysis we will look more into the relationship of Thor and Loki as friends and allies but for not lets just say Thor wins by not playing the game and instead threatening Loki physically. After many threats Loki relents say “You of all the Gods I know will follow through.”
Loki is the hyper intellect of the Gods. He is renowned for his cunning, trickery, and skill at deception. He can achieve any goal he sets his mind to with mental power not just physical force. From the point of view of a people so focused on strength and power of various forms there was a place for a being of such mental strength. The tale of Loki is both an understanding of the power of the mind over muscle but also a cautionary warning. Smart is good, but burn down the village and we will tie you under a rock to die.
Loki's Acts of Evil and Good:
Loki Acquires Godly Artifacts:
This story begins with an act of evil on Loki's part when he cuts off all the gorgeous golden hair of the Lady Sif, wife of Thor, thus enraging the Thunderer. We have established earlier that Loki is a genius among Norse Gods and he KNEW the reaction he would be achieving from Thor. There is no possibility he didn't expect retribution from the God of Thunder. So we look at this move and we KNOW he has a calculated second move on this. He bet his life that he could talk Thor out of killing him over this.
He was right.
He convinces Thor to let him go to the dwarves for a new hair for the lady Sif. However he knew how arrogant the dwarves were. He calculated that into his plans and figured they would want to show off while he was there. With this insight he couldn't know EXACTLY what he would be getting but he knew he could make use of it. Loki is smart enough to CREATE OPPORTUNITIES that he can then make use of even further. He recognizes no concept of failure, simply something he hasn't worked to his advantage yet. This is Loki's real power in that he moves things to where he WANTS them to be by creating an opportunity even when he doesn't know what it will yield.
He achieves his goal too. He comes out of this with Gungnir (Old Norse for “Swaying”) and the Skidblandir a mighty ship that can be folded to fit in the pocket. Yet he wasn't quite done yet. He still wanted more and knew there were opportunities for him to create. Using the dwarven pride already established before hand he goes up to the brother Brokker and Sindri (“Metalworker, and Spark-sprayer” in translation) and proceeds to create that opportunity. Knowing that their pride would not let them turn down a challenge he announces how sure he is that they could not forge three new creations of equal to those of the sons of Ivaldi's work. He sweetened the deal as the conversation continued betting his own head on this wager. He knew going into this they could not turn down the wager!
Now, Loki was also very attached to his head. He liked it quite well and found it of good use to him. He knew he needed to make certain to in some way reduce the progress of their work but not so much that the value of the items he would gain from it would be inconsequential. To that end he changed himself into a fly and plagued the brothers as they worked!
From this the Gods gained Draupnir, a gring of great wealth which would produce golden rings of equal weight every ninth night. They also gained Gullinbrusti a living boar with golden hair that could outrun any horse and run upon water or air! Lastly they crafted Mjolnir, the hammer known as Lightning, of which Thor would carry on his adventures. Loki's plaguing of the brothers did leave Mjolnir with a shorter handle than was needed but never the less the dwarves felt this sufficient to win the bet. They goods were carried to Asgard and Loki awaited the dwarve