Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The gods

Anyone who is a fan of Greek or Roman mythology knows that the gods and goddesses are not pure and perfect representations of deities. They can be fickle, vengeful, generous, loving, hateful, funny at turns.

Norse gods are no exception to this. Of all the gods least liked among those who worship the Aesir is Loki. Some would say, in the community, that just by naming him I am risking attracting his attention...but my given name would probably do that well enough (I'll get to that a little later).

Aravis said that she is drawn to him, and there are others who are also drawn to him. He is called a trickster, and yet he is much more complex than that.

Loki is a figure of the earliest mythology. There are different stories of his origin. He may be the son of Ymir or the son of another giant, Fornjotr. He is said to have 2 or 3 brothers (one of which has the same name that I was given at birth...a giant associated with the wind), and perhaps one sister. Some theorists believe that they are a part of a race of beings (Jotuns) pre-existing the later Aesir, and akin to the Greek Titans.

The Aesir and the Jotun have a tumultuous relationship, indeed Loki is somewhat representative of the ambivalence of feeling that existed amongst the Aesir towards the Jotun (giants). Loki and Odin become close and Loki pledges himself as Odin's blood brother.

Loki helps to solve sticky situations among the Aesir, some of which he caused. He marries a goddess. He also creates situations that are untenable...calling the Aesir out on their habits, stealing precious objects, and generally making mischief.

Loki is something of a bridge between the Jotun and the Aesir, and as such is an uncomfortable companion, but he crosses into hated enemy when he shifts into the shape of a giantess and manipulates a situation in which Baldur, Odin's son, is killed by an arrow tipped with mistletoe. For his part in the death, Loki is bound to a set of rocks and a serpent with vicious venom is suspended above him to torture him.

He inspires loyalty and love in his wife, though. She spends the rest of time until Ragnarok (the battle of the end of the world) holding a bowl to catch the venom which is meant to torture Loki. When she leaves to empty the bowl he experiences periods of pain.

At the end of the world, as the Aesir know it, Loki is freed from his bonds and joins his sons in fighting against the Aesir. He is eventually killed in battle. His son, the wolf Fenris, destroys the world tree, and the Aesir are overthrown. Although, Baldur is said to be reborn at the end of the battle.

The lives of these gods, they sure are convoluted and fascinating.


Aravis said...

Mythologies- no matter the country of origin- fascinate me.

I always liked the story in which Loki bets his head. When he loses and it's time to have it chopped off, he cleverly points out that they can only take his head, but no part of his neck because that wasn't part of the deal. Unable to figure out how to behead him without taking part of the neck, he escapes with his life even though he is still punished. *G*

Cody Bones said...

Excellent posts Spins, I love it. My entire knowledge of Loki came from the Thor comics by Marvel, this is good stuff. You have my on Wikipedia now reading this. Thanks again