Loki, the trickster god of Nordic mythology

He is the son of the giants Farbauti and Laufey, has two brothers, Helblindi and Býleistr, of whom little is known. In the eddas he is described as the “origin of all fraud” and mixed with the gods freely, becoming considered by Odin as his brother until the murder of Balder. After this the Æsir captured him and tied him to three rocks. He will free himself from his ties to fight against the gods in the Ragnarök.

Despite much research, the figure of Loki remains obscure; there are no traces of a cult and his name does not appear in any toponymy. In religious terms, Loki is not a deity. Having no cult and no followers (no evidence or reference to it has been found), he is rather a mythological being. Today, many neopagan groups that call themselves Lokeans worship him, which elevates him from being a lesser god. However, they are opposed by many established pagan groups such as folkish. Some sources sometimes link him to the Æsir; but this is probably due to his close relationship with Odin and the amount of time he spent with the gods compared to his own (so Lugh is associated with his parallel in the Celtic pantheon).

In the continental Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Norwegian and Danish) his name is Loke (pronounced “luque”). Composer Richard Wagner introduced Loki under the Germanized name Loge in his opera Das Rheingold. There is a fire giant called Logi, which is why, due to its similarity in pronunciation, it is often confused with it and associated with fire.

According to some theories of scholars, Loki is conceived as the spirit of fire with all the potentially beneficial or harmful it can be. However, it is possible that this view is a consequence of linguistic confusion with logi “fire”, because there is very little indication of it in myths, where Loki’s role was mainly that of Odin’s cunning counterpart or antagonist.

In fact, there is a story in Gylfaginning in Snorri’s prosaic Edda where Loki competes against a jotun named Logi in a food-eating competition and loses because when he finishes, Logi had not only eaten the meat but also the bones and the plate, then they discover that Logi really was the embodiment of fire and had acquired his appearance by using magic.

Ström identifies Odin and Loki to the point of calling Loki “a hypostasis of Odin,” and Rübekeil suggests that both gods were originally identical, deriving from the Celtic, Lugus (a name he later derived into Loki).

Although not all folklore describes Loki as an evil being. An 18th-century ballad, probably derived from a much older source in the Faroe Islands, entitled Loka Táttur, describes Loki as a friend of man. When a thurs (troll or giant) kidnaps a farmer’s son, he and his wife raise their prayers to Odin to protect their son. Odin hides him in a wheat field, but the thurs finds him. Odin rescues the son and returns him to the farm with his parents, saying that he has already hidden it. The worried couple cry out to Hœnir, who hides the farmer’s son in the feathers of a swan’s neck, but again the thurs finds him. On the third day they pray to Loki, who hides it among the flounder eggs. The thurs finds it, but Loki had instructed the boy to run to a dry dock. The head of the giant is trapped there and Loki kills him by cutting off a leg and inserting a stick and stone into his stump to prevent him from regenerating. Then he took the boy and returned him to his home, where the farmer and his wife hugged them both.

Loki’s “evil” is actually supposed to be only figurative, as the Nordics do not consider him a villain, but rather an antagonist who brought difficulties to Wotan (Odhinn). It is believed that this “villainy” is imposed by the influence (more than analogy) of a form of Manichaeism of the Christian religion through the writing of Snorri Sturlusson, so Loki was not bad, but an ambiguous antagonist, transcribing it was taken as “opposite to the main god. That is why it is erroneously considered as bad, instead of ambiguous.

It is said that Loki represents the Ying and the Nordic Yang, in mythology.