Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Loki Laufeyson (Fárbauti Son)

Divine race:  Jotun, honorary Aesir.
God of:             Mischief.
Father:              Fárbauti
Mother: Laufey or Nal;
Brothers: Byleist and
Helblindi and
Blood-brother of Odin
Wife: Sigyn
Mistress and/or Concubine:        
Children: Ali/Vali
Sleipnir (fathered by Svadilfari).
Hyndla giant
Father of an unnamed child by Tyr's wife (also unnamed).

Star Lore: The dog star, Sirius, is referred to as Lokabrenna.

Attributes: Ambivalence - Loki aids or hinders the gods as it is convenient to him, or when
necessary to save his own skin; the wise fool; - renowned for his cleverness, he manages to find himself at a disadvantage because of his thoughtlessness many times

Loki fights on the side of his family by birth, the Jotuns, rather than that of his blood-brother Odin and the Aesir

Loki transgresses boundaries not only as shape-shifter but also as transgressor of gender
boundaries, being able to change his sex at will. He is neither áss(god) nor giant, but is able to pass as both whenever feeling like doing so.
Most of the situations in which he has become the instigator of conflict relate in some way or another to his shape-shifting ability and/or crossing the border between the land of the gods and of the giants.
Transgression of gender boundaries is another of Loki's typical traits, a trait which he shares with Odin

Loki is quite probably the most dynamic figure in Norse mythology - one of the few dynamic
characters, along with Odin. Most of the other Gods and Goddesses are relatively static: they do not change over time, nor do they alter according to their experiences.
Odin's anomalous character in his roles as a god of wisdom and a god of war are more readily
subject to analysis, for in these he merely represents both sides of a single coin. The price of
wisdom is often sorrow and disillusionment in equal measure to that which is gained; warfare
always implies the ignobility of defeat at the same moment if promises glorious victory. Loki, on the other hand, is the coin, which is flipped and lands on its edge.

For all the times Loki was prevailed upon to get the Gods out of a particularly sticky situation, can you name one single instance when someone did something for him? (Merely deciding not to kill him does not count.) Even when it is perfectly evident from the outset that Loki is the author of their troubles, he is still the one they depend upon to set matters to rights. One might consider this a cautionary tale about the nature of altruism and enlightened self-interest: do what you will for some people and they will more likely resent you than be grateful for being beholden to you. The unintended consequences of Loki's actions are often more meaningful and far-reaching than the event which set them into motion.

In the story of the cutting of Sif’s hair (Thors wife) which resulted in the making of the Treasures of the Gods: Gungnir, Odin's spear, Mjollnir, Thor's hammer, marvelous ship for Frey, golden boar and a golden ring,
Loki offers his head in his wager with the dwarves Brokk and Eitri when they contrive to make treasures equal to those made by the sons of Ivaldi at Loki's behest.
But he denies it to them after they have won the bet by pointing out that they my have his head as long as they do not touch his neck, which, of course, is impossible. Brokk in a vindictive gesture sews Loki's lips together in wrath with a string called Vartare, which has the effect of temporarily binding the flow of his guileful words.

Loki has no need of hammer nor spear nor any other tool while he has the more powerful, yet
more ephemeral, gift of speech. When he occasionally has need of something more tangible, as he does when he borrows the feather-cloaks of Freyja and Frigg, he needs nothing more than persuasion to acquire them. Words, like Loki himself, can be wonderful allies or fearsome enemies, depending on the circumstances

Loki is also the father (and mother!) of many beings: he has two sons with his wife Sigyn, Nare or Narve and Vale, and three children with the giantess Angrboda: Fenrir, the giant wolf,  Jormundgand, the Midgar serpent, and Hel; to these children he is the father.
He has also conceived a foal with the stallion Svadilfari, Sleipnir, and lastly he has given birth to the giantess Hyndla after having eaten the burnt heart of a dead woman.
Loki's bestial children are strongly connected with the eschatology of the Eddas:
Fenrir's and Jormundgand as well as their father both play crucial roles in the last battle between the Aesir and their enemies.
His daughter Hel falls into a somewhat different category: she is the queen of Helheim, and gathers there her army of the evil dead.
Jormundgand is not altogether evil, though: when committed to biting his tail at world's end he really is a part of the cosmological order, as de Vries claims.

After the Aegir's feast, Loki is hunted down and captured by the Aesir; his son Ali is turned into a wolf and kills his brother, Narvi. His son's entrails are used to bind him to three boulders, and Skadhi places a poisonous snake where its venom will drip down on him. His wife Sigyn remains at his side, holding a bowl to catch the venom. When she must go to empty it, the venom strikes Loki and causes such agony that the earth shakes with the contortions of his torment. (He remains bound until all fettered creatures are loosed at Ragnarok.)

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