Loki, pronounced as “Low-key” or “Lo-kee,” was the crafty swindler god from Norse mythology who was well known for hoodwinking people with his artful tricks and mischiefs. Although he was a minor god possessing powers in moderation, he was believed to have a very special identity in the pre-Christian era of Norse mythology.
Loki’s Family Tree
|Relation||Name||Role in Norse mythology|
|Father||Farbauti||Known as the giant cruel striker|
|Mother||Nal/ Laufey||A lesser-known entity in Norse mythology or a goddess or she could even be a giantess|
|Proper wife||Sigyn||The friend of victory|
|Son of Sigyn||Narfi or Nari||The name means a “corpse”|
|Second wife||Angrboda||The ultimate mother of all monsters|
|First child with Angrboda||Hel||The giantess|
|Second child with Angrboda||Jormungand||The world serpent who killed Thor and the goddess of the underworld|
|Third child with Angrboda||Fenrir or Vanargand||The killer of Odin in the Battle of Ragnarok and a wolf|
|Brother||Helblindi||The Jotunn, that is belonging to a race of giants in Norse mythology|
|Brother||Býleistr||The other brother and his name means “storm-relieving”|
|The horse born to shapeshifting Loki as a Mare and a stallion named Svaðilfari||Sleipnir||The shamanic horse of Odin with eight legs|
Vali is also believed to be Loki’s son according to the old Norse textbook named Prose Edda, written in 13th century Iceland. However, as per most Norse mythology accounts, the Norse god Odin and a giantess named Rindr were the actual parents of Vali. Thor, Baldr, and Víðarr are Vali’s brothers, and Vali was born to seek revenge against one of his siblings, Baldr.
The Appearance of Loki
Loki has the distinctive potential to transform into different shapes and creatures. He was known to have taken different forms, such as a mare inseminated by the stallion, Svaðilfari, the fish in the form of salmon, the fly, an old woman named Þökk also a Jotun who doesn’t mourn the death of Baldr and makes him stay in Hel.
Loki has references mentioned in the Heimskringla, a compilation of Norse god sagas created by Icelandic historian and poet Snorri Sturluson. In this source, the Snapton Stone is one of the rare yet famous illustrations of Loki.
The carved stone depicts a face along with the stitched-up lips of Loki and is now placed for display at an exhibition at Moesgård Museum in present-day Denmark. It was believed that the sewn lips were that of Loki based on the myth mentioned in the Prose Edda (Skáldskaparmál).
Another depiction of Loki was carved on the Kirkby Stephen Stone in the 8th century. In this carving or representation of Loki, he is shown to be held underground in captivity and totally bound in chains after he went overboard with one of his tricks that led to the death of Odin’s son.
Loki’s depiction is also associated with the Gosforth Cross, which represents images and scenes described in the Poetic Edda. One of the images shows Sigyn, Loki’s wife embracing and protecting him.
Mythological Tales of Loki
Here are some of the mythological tales of Loki you will find intriguing to read. Just scroll down to know what is so fascinating about Loki’s character.
Loki’s Precious Gifts to Aesir Gods
One of Loki’s mischiefs involved chopping off Thor’s wife, Sif’s beautiful golden hair. The furious thor, like a bear with a sore head, threatened to kill Loki for his act. To make amends, Loki requested the Thunder god and asked if he could visit NIDAVELLIR or SVARTALFHEIM, the underground home of the dwarves and extremely skilled artisans and smiths who had the ability to construct well-crafted, magnificent buildings or halls using precious metals. Loki wanted these craftsmen to create new hair for Sif, this time even prettier than her real hair.
However, Ivaldi, also called the group of dwarfs, not only created the most incredible head of hair for Sif. But also made marvels, some of them being Gungnir and Skidbladnir. The cunning Loki managed to return to Thor with one more marvel or gift, and that was Thor’s hammer called the Mjollnir. It was primarily used as a deadly weapon to fight against the giants for the protection of Asgard.
Gungnir was another weapon that represented one of the most dangerous spears; it was gifted to Odin along with a magic ring called Draupnir.
Skidbladnir, also known as the special ship that could even fit into a tiny pocket, was gifted to Freyr. Another marvel that Freyr received from Loki was Gullinbursti, a live boar with golden hair that had the power to light up dark paths and ran faster than a horse.
Loki turned into a fly to trick the dwarf brothers Brokkr and Sindri into creating Gullinbursti, Draupnir, and Thor’s hammer, Mjollnir. The wily god, in the form of a fly, stung the brothers to distract them and forced them to pull out their creations from the fire. For instance, Loki bit Sindri’s hand while he was creating Gullinbursti.
Loki’s Contribution to Securing Asgard
Asgard was the supreme home where all the Aesir gods and goddesses lived. To fortify this stronghold of the Norse deities, a smith was given the responsibility of building a ginormous protective wall to secure Asgard from its enemies. The smith agreed to finish work in three seasons but quoted a highly prohibitive compensation which included his marriage to goddess Freya, the sun as well as the moon.
Freya and the other gods were against the idea of her union with the worker. But Loki somehow convinced the gods to agree and comply with the demands of the smith if he was successful in completing the wall in a single season.
The smith, too, was confident and ready to assemble the huge wall in one season of winter. Owing to the great skill possessed by the smith, and the strength of the smith’s stallion, Svadilfari, who carried out the arduous task of lugging massive stones and boulders, the fortification work almost went as planned, which concerned the Aesir gods. Although they had agreed to the terms of the smith, they were not really willing to honor them in practice. And wanted to avoid compliance with the agreement. They threatened Loki and asked him to rectify the situation as his suggestion to accept the conditions of the worker to marry Freya was about to backfire, considering how impressively the smith put up most of the wall.
To finish up the final entrance, the smith ventured into the snow-clad forest on his horse, Svadilfari, to look for some hefty boulders. Loki immediately sprung into action by transforming himself into a mare, seducing the horse and distracting him from the actual task of towing stones for the construction of the gate.
Loki pretending to be a mare, continued roaming, attracting and misleading Svadilfari through the forest for the entire night. Unable to collect the required raw materials for erecting the final gate to the wall, the smith fails to complete the task as agreed upon. He then gets brutally killed by Thor’s hammer once he returns to Asgard. The missing stallion Svadilfari mates with Loki as a mare and gives birth to Sleipnir, the grey-colored, eight-legged shamanic horse of Odin. It is believed that Odin traveled the vast landscapes of the Nine Worlds by riding on Sleipnir.
Loki Causes Baldr’s Death
Baldr, the most loved of all gods and the son of Odin and goddess Frigg, began to have bad dreams. Worried, Odin decided to ride to the underworld to meet a renowned prophetess in order to understand and decode what Baldr’s dreams meant. She explained Baldr’s death to Odin.
Odin was saddened and broke the news to all Aesir gods. But Baldr’s mother, Frigg was not willing to accept his doom as told by the seeress. She therefore traversed and explored every world existing in the universe and requested oaths to make Baldr invincible. Frigg was successful in her attempt to save her beloved son.
After the great power of invincibility was granted to Baldr, the Aesir gods tried testing his superpower by attacking him with sticks, stones, or anything that they could find. All their attempts to harm Baldr were unsuccessful, and the gods rejoiced this together as their favorite god was now attack-proof.
Loki’s scheming brain made him shapeshift and enquire Frigg about Baldr’s invincibility. He pretended that he was curious to know about this unique ability of Baldr and asked if he could survive everything. To this, Frigg innocently replies and gives away the name of the element that could get Baldr killed, the mistletoe.
So, he creates a spear out of mistletoe and hands it to the blind god Hodr, guiding him to hurl it in the direction of Baldr. As Hodr throws the spear at Baldr, it goes through his body, instantly killing him to death. This tale eventually sets the stage for Ragnarok.
Loki’s Role in Idun’s Kidnapping and Rescue
Idun was a very important goddess in Norse mythology as she helped the Norse gods preserve their youth. She protected their fruits which were supposed to contain the magical potion for anti-aging for eternity.
Once, Loki, Odin, and Hoenir, while on their voyage far away from Asgard, are unable to find food when hungry. After a tiring journey, they kill an ox to satisfy their hunger. As the gods start wondering why the ox meat remains uncooked for way too long despite keeping it on fire for long hours, an eagle on the tree tells them that he has prevented the meat from cooking with his magic spell.
The eagle agrees to reverse the spell on the condition of letting him take the best parts of the piece. Loki is furious and refuses to accept this. In an extreme rage, he tries attacking the bird with a branch. But the strong eagle manages to catch hold of the branch hurled at him by Loki and even pick up Loki, keeping him hanging in the air. Loki apologizes and requests the eagle, which is actually a giant called Thjazi, to put him back on the ground. Thjazi, however, refuses and asks Loki to get him Idun along with her fruits.
Loki manages to lure Idun into the woods, promising that there are better fruits, and thus helps Thjazi in kidnapping her. The Aesir gods, after losing Idun, start battling with old age woes. Worried, they become curious and hell-bent on finding Idun. On tracking when Idun was last seen and with whom, they come to know that she was with Loki outside Asgard before she went missing.
The gods threaten Loki to reveal all the details and order him to bring her back to Asgard. Loki then uses the hawk feathers of Freya and leaves Asgard in disguise to rescue Idun from Thrymheim, located on the highest of the icy peaks in Jotunheim, the native land of the giants. Loki reaches the place to discover that Thjazi is not around and grabs the opportunity to rescue Idun by transforming her into a nut and holding her in his talons.
Upon returning to Thrymheim, Thjazi realizes Idun is missing, and in pursuit of her, he becomes an eagle to race back to Asgard. Although Thjazi somehow manages to get closer to both Idun and Loki, he gets killed in the fire created by the Aesir gods by burning a massive pile of firewood, twigs, branches, etc., laid around Asgard, as Loki and Idun escape safely into the Asgard fortress.
Also Read: 9 Amazing & Astonishing Creatures of Norse Mythology
In the Marvel comics, he is depicted as the adopted brother of Thor. However, according to the actual Norse mythology sources, he was simply an accomplice of the Aesir gods. He was a companion of Thor and Odin and did not share any genetic relationship with them.
In Norse mythology, Jotun females usually married the Aesir, but the descent of the children was always traced through the paternal line. Loki is, however, considered an Aesir god instead of Jotnar despite having a Jotun father and an Aesir goddess as his mother.
Furthermore, according to Lokasenna, Odin and Loki were blood brothers. There are certain unsolved questions about Loki’s bloodline based on different accounts. And whether he was a male or a female as he could take different forms. Because as per Thrymskvida or the Lay of Thrym, and already discussed in one of his mythological tales above, Loki is disguised as Freyja.
Loki is termed as a trouble-maker in the universe of Norse gods and is metaphorically as well as literally called the maker of nets. These nets trap fish in real life and represent Loki’s wily schemes putting the other gods in extreme danger.
There is no evidence whatsoever about any cult or worship carried out in honor of Loki, although he was a Norse god. It may be because his qualities as a trickster go against the highly-valued ideals of Norse mythology that attest importance to loyalty, commitment, and allegiance.