Sacred Iceland will be back to you shortly after this special bulletin, which I fear is going to piss off a lot of people, but I want to say anyway, so please make sure your sense of humor is turned on.
Before too many anti-Loki people jump to “like” this article, and too may pro-Loki people start furiously typing an angry complaint letter to me over its title, let me quickly clarify my stance: I LOVE Loki. I have been a devout Loki worshipper since about 1994, and it was my love for Loki that brought me into Heathenry in the first place. I also love my Heathen community (I’ve been a Troth member since 2006), and have many friends therein of many various theological opinions. It is because I love these two parts of my life that I have grown increasingly concerned with how the definition of “Lokean” (a term that only meant a devotee of Loki back in the “old days”) has mutated into something I can barely relate to anymore and likewise has become a term filled with increasingly more disdain (though not for the reasons you’re probably thinking).
It’s absolutely true that somewhere in American Heathenry’s history, Loki somehow become saddled with the reputation of being the Norse Satan (much to the confusion of the Heathens here in Iceland, and to scholars of Norse Mythology who are well aware that Loki’s demonization in Snorra Edda was probably not pre-Christian). However, in my experience many of my Heathen friend’s complaints about Lokeans really have very little to do with Loki himself, and more with the strange subculture that has arisen around the word “Lokean”, and sadly Lokeans are starting to come off to heathens as (for lack of a better term) “whack jobs”. As a concerned worshipper of Loki and a self-identified Heathen, who would not like to see yet more reasons invented for Loki to be shamed, I’ve decided to compile a list of the REAL complaints about Lokeans that I hear most often from heathens, which overlap with ideas about Loki that have become more prominent in the Lokean community as of late:
1) “Loki is a ‘Rökkrtrú’ god!
The term Rökkrtrú is one that was coined by an associate of Raven Kaldera’s to refer to the beings most strongly associated with Snorra Edda’s and Völuspá’s depiction of the end of the world, who in their cosmology are also the gods of the Jötunn race. Immediately, I hated the word Rökkrtrú, as I (and most scholars, including Turville-Petre and Christopher Abram) personally see Völuspá as a piece that contains many Medieval Christian ideas about the end of the world that were rampant around 1000 CE, and I believe that the death of all the gods therein (who I believe cannot die) was simply part of the conversion narrative. Associating Loki with a term such as ´Rökkrtrú’ is thus placing even more undeserved stigma upon him and placing him in the role of the one who “doomed the gods”, even though the doom of the gods was probably not a pre-Christian element to that story. But that isn’t my main grievance with Rökkrtrú.
Please note, that I have never met the leaders of the Northern Tradition in person, and do not have any personal grievances with them. For all I know they too might have noticed the trend I’m about to share. They are, however, the leaders of a group who is more interested in using UPG rather than referring to scholarship in the building of their spiritual cosmology. Again, I see no problem there. Spirituality is and should be a personal thing. Unfortunately, the “anything goes”, “all UPG is a valid platform for religion” philosophy that is born out such spirituality is both it’s greatest strength and it’s greatest curse, and quite a few… unusual ideas have been born from it. And because Rökkrtrú is one of the only places that Lokeans now believe they have a safe-haven (and that’s on you too Heathenry, you’ve helped to create this monster) the word “Lokean” has become a synonym for “ Rökkrtrú”, and “ Rökkrtrú” has become a synonym for “Loki lives in my magic dildo”.
That’s right, the craziest thing about Rökkrtrú is that it has somehow become mixed up with anything and everything under the sun that can be combined with Loki and the Norse gods, and in such a way that there is very little quality control. You are just as likely to find someone that identifies as Rökkrtrú who is an educated person with average worship practices, as you are to find someone who has dedicated themselves as Fenrir’s personal ball-gag wearing, transexual princess bride, who has a magical set of anal beads that they wear every full moon in Fenrir’s honor (and Fenrir, in human form, looks exactly like Auron from Final Fantasy X by the way). These practices by themselves are pretty harmless in my opinion (to each their own), but when there is an entire blog promoting Rökkrtrú AND describing the Fenrir Anal Bead Ritual in full detail alongside it as if everyone should take your anal-religious experiences seriously and with reverence, you can’t be surprised or outraged when people in the Heathen community might raise their eyebrows and hold the rest of the tradition (and those they associate with it) in suspicion from there on out. You also shouldn’t be offended that they may not want the non-Pagan world to assume that this kind of worship is the norm for all Norse Pagans, since that’s some pretty hefty ammunition if anyone wants to make us out to look weird. Even if you aren’t promoting it as such, that’s never stopped the media from over-exaggerating.
Perhaps because Loki worshippers have received quite a bit of grief from the Heathen community over the years, this has us (rather ironically, considering who our god is) afraid to call BS on some of these more outrageous people, because we don’t want to make anyone feel unwanted. This allows for a very open-minded community, but that is (as I stated above) a double-edged sword. Sadly, the assimilation of Lokean, Northern Tradition, and Rökkrtrú has therefore made heathens think that the Lokeans and the people who keep a magical dildo for Loki in their nightstand, are always one in the same.
2) Loki loves sister-wives!
This grievance is riding on the coat-tails of the previous one. Perhaps due to the “you must respect everyone’s UPG no matter what” clause crashing head-on like a runaway train into the popularity of the Marvel “Thor” movie, a greater subculture within Loki worshippers has arisen: The “Loki spouses”. God-spouses (a term which has come to mean someone who has actually married a Norse god and resembling the concept Maraj Lwa in Hatian Vodou) were not a common thing when I first started practicing Heathenry. I knew that Freya Aswynn was dedicated to Óðinn in this way, and it really didn’t seem that strange to me in practice, as what this really seemed to be was a personal dedication of hard-work and priesthood for a god or goddess and their community. That in itself seemed like a worthy cause to me, if the person in question was suited to that calling. But as more and more people began to write about it, it seemed that more people were suddenly beginning to call themselves “god-spouses”. Again, no problems here. Maybe the gods like that, or some people need that, or some people need to serve that purpose for their communities. But ever since the Thor movie came out, I would venture to guess that about 75% of self-proclaimed Lokeans are now also coincidentally his “god-spouse”.
Before I examine that, I would like to point out, that in the cultures in which God Marriage took place (or still does take place) there is always a specific goal that this marriage fulfills. In Ögmundar þáttr dytts ok Gunnars helmings, the Nordic source which is most often cited in regards to God Marriage, a priestess of Freyr rides in a wagon with an image of Freyr, and it seems apparent that her presence on the wagon as his wife was needed in order for their energies to mingle and to bless the land with fertility. So in other words, she wasn’t married to Freyr “just because”, she was a priestess of Freyr who actually had a service to perform for her community as Freyr’s wife. I personally believe that in an ideal situation, all “god spouses” of various deities would perform a similar function for their communities: not just to use the title as a bragging right, but to actually do something useful with that connection.
In Maraj Lwa, in which a Lwa will ask a human to marry them and go through with a physical wedding, the marriage serves the function of giving that person some extra energy and help in their lives in the areas in which that Lwa effects. It’s also common for more than one Lwa to marry a person at a time to make sure that all of their energies help to keep the human’s life balanced. There are also some pretty strict rules that come with Maraj Lwa: often the human has to abstain from sex on a particular day that is specifically set aside for their Lwa spouse, and there may be other taboos attached to such a commitment. But again, this ritual serves a very specific purpose in the Lwa deciding what energies a person needs to grow and thrive (and they may not necessarily be the Lwa that the human in question likes the most). Like the Norse example, this also gives the human spouse more ritual/social responsibility to their Lwa partner/s.
Going back to our Loki spouses, in most cases it has been very difficult for me to identify what the purpose of these unions are, outside of serving the spouse’s own ego and giving them full right to shamelessly indulge in their wet dreams about Tom Hiddl- er… I mean Loki. I don’t mean to discriminate against lonely young women by observing that most recent Loki spouses tend to be lonely young women, but really, I have to call a spade a spade; and it seems that their formula for becoming a Loki spouse was:
1. Saw the Thor movie.
2. Thought Loki was hot.
3. Read online that you can marry Loki and there’s a community of people that take it seriously.
4. Has “vision” where Loki tells them to marry them immediately afterwards
5. Marries Loki.
6. Makes a new Tumblr account in honor of the event.
This sister-wives culture has been careening out of control lately, where Loki god-spouses are actually beginning to bicker about who Loki thinks is the prettiest, how Loki always comes to them in visions to give them flowers and chocolate, and how they desperately need a reading to tell them why Loki is mad with them if he didn’t hold their hand long enough that day. But if anyone tries to suggest that this makes them look rather silly, or perhaps that worshipping Loki in the form of Marvel!Loki may not be a sign of a serious religious practice, they tend to bristle and point out that no one has the right to tell them their UPG my be slightly skewed or everyone’s UPG must be held as suspect. However, I feel it isn’t really justified to be upset that people aren’t taking your religion seriously, when your “religion” revolves around posting up half-naked pictures of Tom Hiddleston all over Facebook and showing off the pile of hand-sewn plushies of your kawaii husband Loki that you sleep in every night. It’s also frustrating to me that people have spent so much time defending their right to be called god spouses, that nobody has ever bothered to ask what a god spouse is actually supposed to do (aside from make Tumblr shrines to Loki on which to share their romantic adventures and failures with other swooning god spouses). Much like the “Fenrir Anal Bead” crowd, the “I married Marvel!Loki” crowd is beginning to be synonymous with the word “Lokean”, and only to our detriment.
3) “All Ásatrúar hate Loki and will never accept us, so Ásatrú sucks!”
My brother has a saying that I personally love and try to live my life by: “There are no victims, there are only volunteers”. That obviously doesn’t mean that people are never needlessly victimized at the hands of others or they were just asking for it. What that saying means is, if you are in a social situation or a life situation which is hard, or maybe making you feel defeated or like an outsider, there are two ways to go about it. You can either act like a victim in the “woe is me!” kind of way and give up, or you can refuse to act like a victim, pick yourself up, and persevere with pride. This is nothing more than a simple shifting of consciousness. This is the attitude I as a Loki worshipper have taken within the heathen community, and with what I consider to be great success. I have never apologized for loving Loki, and if I meet someone who doesn’t like Loki, I allow them to have their beliefs about him without needing to compromise my own, and we all get along fine. If I’m in the hall of a stranger or friend that doesn’t want Loki hailed and has requested this in a reasonable way, I respect the rules of their hall (it is their hall after all) without acting grossly offended to show of my piousness. Instead, I might make a compromise such as, “can I pour out Loki’s portion for him when we’re done”. I act with tact but don’t act as if I shouldn’t be there, and when I’ve done that in the past, something AMAZING has happened: they show me and my right to my beliefs respect, because I gave their beliefs respect first. We may not agree, but we don’t need to be at each-other’s throats either. Likewise, when we’re in my hall, I make it very clear that Loki will be honored no matter what, so I let them know ahead of time and they can choose to either participate or not. No surprises, everyone’s satisfied. Naturally, I cannot speak for every Heathen community out there, but within the Troth this has been my experience.
Because I’ve never had any huge problems within my community by following this philosophy, I am often confused by the many, many, MANY complaints I hear from other Lokeans about being shunned by the Heathen community, unfair treatment, and getting into wars with people that I personally found to be quite agreeable in my own circles. While completely sympathizing with their belief that Loki should be included in his own pantheon and that his bad-press is largely of post-Christian origin, I began wondering if these horror stories were floating around because these people had been Lokeans, or if it had been because of the way in which they had conducted themselves. The paranoia within the Lokean community (which, I would still like to point out, didn’t come from nowhere) that you will be outcast simply by being Lokean has created a knee-jerk reaction in the Lokean community to anyone saying anything even partially negative about Loki, to the point where I saw some fights going on over statements that I personally didn’t think were that big a deal, or were being misunderstood due to the Lokean expecting the worst. I have also seen a determinedly stubborn stance by many current Lokeans that they will never set foot in a hall where Loki is not welcome also, and while I can sympathize with their feelings, see this as giving absolutely no opportunity for people to get to know you as a person. I don’t think the goal in meeting people of different ideologies is to convert people into Loki worshippers; the goal is to show that we can get along even if we don’t agree, and we don’t need to be fighting like extremest Christians and Muslims every time we set foot in a room together. Alienating yourself insures others that you are consenting to your alienation, and what on the outside may look like a pious stand to defend Loki’s honor may actually have to do more with your own ego and fear of confrontation than it does with changing views about Loki. Of course you should use common sense and shouldn’t put yourself in a position where you are being genuinely threatened or feel unsafe, but I don’t think that hiding from people out of fear that they might reject you is the answer.
The sense of Lokean martyrdom has grown so big, that even new Lokeans that have never set foot in the Heathen community are terrified to even try because of the insistence of older Lokeans that we are automatically ostracized (when for all they know, this Lokean sage might just have crappy people skills, but blames their affection for Loki instead). So the newbies consent to being victimized by Heathens even before it’s happened. This really hit home for me the other day, when I saw an article by another Lokean, encouraging all Loki-inclined people to stay away from the Troth’s clergy program, since they are prejudice and will never take you in (seemingly ignorant of the fact that at the moment, one of the only people in the Troth’s clergy program, i.e. myself, is a Lokean!). This sense of defeat can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and can easily snowball into a martyr syndrome where one’s sense of identity actually comes from the image of yourself (and thus of Loki) as the unwanted outsider, and everyone else as mindless bullies. To that I say, BS. I won’t act ashamed of loving Loki, I won’t act like a victim, and I’m going to respect the shit out of everyone’s right to their beliefs while I do it, since Loki has taught me not to be afraid to live my truth, and to encourage others to live theirs. I think that it would help our image as Lokeans if we could let go of our image as victims first, because this is where our reputation for being “overly sensitive whiners” has come from.
4) “Loki is the god of chaos!”
I see the word “chaos” slung about Loki discussions very often without much regard to what this word is actually supposed to mean. I wouldn’t personally classify Loki as the god of “chaos” per say, unless you’re talking about chaos as a state of endless possibilities. You’re never quite sure what Loki’s going to do, and one little action of his will often start a completely unpredictable chain of event (such as cutting off Sif’s hair leading to Þórr gaining his most powerful weapon), much like the famous Butterfly Effect. But most people’s definition of chaos is a very vague overlay of something to do with destruction, mayhem, disruption of order/authority, and probably Fight Club; in other words, an angry teenager’s wet dream. Because Loki has been so frequently associated with this less solid definition of “chaos”, people who are attracted to that idea of chaos also seem inevitably attracted to Loki at some point in their lives. Rather than examining Loki as a very complicated and multifaceted figure, who is not by his nature always chaotic, they enjoy associating themselves with the darker aspects of Loki because it proves that they are “edgy” people. Following in the footsteps of the Marvel!Loki god-spouses, perhaps they really just want to worship the Joker from The Dark Knight or Tyler Durden, and Loki was the next best thing in their minds. In other words, their supposed devotion to Loki has more to do with their own ego and self-presentation than it actually does with who Loki is.
Loki being perpetuated as a chaos god has almost turned into some kind of crazy snake eating its own tail: People who like chaos become attracted to Loki because they see him as chaotic, and because chaos enthusiasts flock to Loki, Heathens think Loki must be the god of chaos to attract all those chaos lovers. In my mind, this would be the same as people converting to Christianity because they have a fetish for body piercing and to them Jesus is the perfect personification of body piercing (though they don’t really care to learn the underlying symbolism in the crucifixion itself) and as a result other people start assuming Jesus the “god of body piercing”. It’s a vicious circle, in which some dorky chaos-kids in leather pants have helped to solidify the connection between Lokeans and Youtube videos of gothic anime characters set to industrial music forever. Some people just want to watch the world burn.
I have laid out some of the most common complaints about Lokeans that I hear from the Heathen community, and as you have seen, very little of our bad reputation actually has much to do with Loki himself. That isn’t of course to say that I don’t think that Heathenry has a long way to go in learning how to play nicely with others, most especially ourselves. However, I think these are many of the stereotypes interested Lokeans should (in Loki-fashion) challenge and transform if we ever expect to be viewed by the greater community as more than just “those whiny, overly-sensitive, black-wearing, dildo-loving, Marvel!Loki-marrying nut-jobs”.
And lastly, to the Heathen community, please don’t assume that all people in all religious groups are the same, and don’t be scared to give people a chance and judge them as a person before you judge them for their beliefs. Everyone starts somewhere, even if that somewhere is a little odd.