The Norse trickster god Loki has received a lot of attention from his representation in Marvel comics and movies. This aside, his mythology, powers, and behavior are much more complex and interesting than modern media might have you believe.
Loki is the son of the jötunn Fárbauti and goddess Laufey. His brothers are the jötunn Helblindi and Byleistr, a figure about whom not much is known. Though he is married to Sigyn and has two sons, he is also the parent of monstrous creatures and Hel, Ruler of the Underworld.
He is overwhelmingly depicted as a trickster god and shapeshifter. He often ends up on the wrong side of other deities, as in the Lokasenna when he kills Fimafeng out of jealousy during a great feast.
He also causes the death of Baldr by tricking Hodr into throwing a sprig of mistletoe — the one thing Baldr’s mother hadn’t asked not to harm her son — through his heart.
By his wife, Sigyn, Loki has two sons. One of these is Narfi (or Nari) and the other is either Nari or Váli. He also has several children by the jötunn Angrboda, including Hel, the monstrous wolf Fenrir, and the World Serpent Jörmungandr.
Interestingly, Loki is also an androgynous figure — not only is he able to shapeshift into the form of an old woman, but he even turned himself into a mare.
A builder promised to create a fortification that would keep all danger out of Valhalla. He offered to do this in three seasons, and all it would cost was the sun, the moon, and the hand of the goddess Freyja.
His only request was that he be able to use his stallion, Svaðilfari, and Loki caused the gods to agree. Unfortunately for them, Svaðilfari was very strong and could haul things faster and farther than any man.
When the builder came close to meeting his goal, the other gods told Loki that he would face a terrible death if he couldn’t find a way out of the deal. Loki turned himself into a mare in estrus and seduced the builder’s fine horse, Svaðilfari.
Svaðilfari chased the mare Loki into the forest and mated with her, holding up the builder’s progress. The builder missed the deadline and forfeited his payment, and Loki later gave birth to the eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
The full extent of all of Loki’s misadventures is far too long to record here, but they didn’t end well for him. After engaging in insult battles, tricking the gods multiple times, and generally being an enormous problem, Loki was bound inside a cave using the entrails of one of his own sons.
The jotunn-goddess of archery, winter, and mountains, Skaði, placed a venomous serpent above him to punish him. Loki’s wife, Sigyn, holds a bowl over his face to protect him from the serpent’s poison. Unfortunately, this bowl eventually fills and needs to be emptied.
When Sigyn moves to dump it, the venom drips onto Loki’s face and causes him great agony. His pained thrashing is so violent that it causes earthquakes. Here he will remain until Ragnarok, at which point he will come to lead the jötnar in a final apocalyptic battle.
Loki is called the God of Mischief and is one of the best examples of a trickster god. He represents more than just having fun at someone else’s expense — he is an embodiment of chaos, entropy, and decay.
From him sprang Fenrir, who will slay Odin during Ragnarok, and Jormungandr, who will begin Ragnarok when he releases his tail from his jaws. More than just mischief, he is the counter to all that the gods stand for.
Symbols & Associations
The etymology of Loki’s name is somewhat disputed. Some claim that it comes from the Old Norse word for flame, logi, but this is unlikely.
A more likely source is the Germanic root luk-, which deals with loops, locks, knots, and tangles. This is why he is associated with fishnets, and even credited with inventing them.
Loki is also associated with horses, salmon, and flies, all of which he has turned into at one point or another. He is also tied to wolves and serpents.
Other than animals, he’s associated with flames and the colors red, black, orange, and yellow.
Loki’s powers are the powers of a trickster. These are primarily cunning and the ability to shapeshift.
In many stories, he displays a lot of cleverness (though not necessarily foresight) and the power to change his appearance, sex, and even species.
Loki is also described as very beautiful (which may go a long way toward helping him trick others).
Offerings to Loki can be a bit tricky. Loki represents entropy and chaos and stands in stark contrast to the gods and everything they represent.
By choice, he embodies more of the profane than the sacred.
Nonetheless, a balanced spiritual path involves acknowledging both sides. For this reason, it’s appropriate to make offerings to Loki. Fortunately, he is generally not a picky recipient.
Many of the best offerings for Loki are simple, or even cheap:
- Alcohol. Wine, beer, mead, and even cheap whiskey are all good choices.
- Very sweet foods, like candies and desserts.
- Very spicy foods.
- Cheap stick incense.
Anything that is a blend of sacredness and profane is ideal. Wine is a sacred libation, but using cheap, artificially flavored wine can make it profane.
Meat is a sacred offering but burned meat of an animal not suitable for sacrifice makes it profane. (Rattlesnake meat might be especially well-received, considering Loki’s experiences with a certain venomous serpent.)
You can also dedicate acts to Loki, if you wish. Practical jokes are a good example of an offertory act. Anything that makes the world a little more chaotic (without causing harm or running afoul of the law) works.
It should be noted that despite the fact that many of Loki’s offerings embody the concept of sacredness profaned, they should not be made lightly. These offerings should be taken seriously and presented with the proper gravitas.
Signs Loki is Calling You
Loki is one of those deities that goes hard. When he wants to contact you, he does in a very apparent fashion. You might notice a lot of signs like:
- The repeated appearance of the number 13.
- Large numbers of spiders.
- Fire. This could be a dream, or even a close brush with danger.
- Dreams of Loki speaking to you.
- Repeated appearances of any of the animals related to Loki.
One of these signs by itself probably isn’t Loki. If you experience several at once, however, it’s likely to be him.
Crystals Associated with Loki
Associating crystals with specific Norse gods wasn’t really common until pretty recently.
Nonetheless, there are some crystals you can work with, offer, or place in a sacred space dedicated to Loki.
Stones in the colors black, red, orange, or yellow are all associated with him. These can include:
Any crystal inscribed with one of the runes tied to Loki is also appropriate here. Some sources indicate that Berkanan (meaning birch) is associated with him, while some point to Kaunaz (ulcer, or torch based on its Anglo-Saxon interpretation) instead.
Herbs Associated with Loki
Loki is connected to several different herbs. Chief among them are:
- Mistletoe, with which he indirectly murdered Baldr.
- Birch, represented by Berkanan.
- Alder, which may be used to call him. (Whether he’ll decide to answer is another thing entirely.)
- Mullein, which can be lit like a torch and used to call out to Loki.
- Cinnamon, peppers, and other hot spices.
Working with Loki
Traditionally, Loki was less someone to work with than he was someone to appease. His energy is changeable and chaotic, and he may or may not decide to cooperate at any given moment. You can express your intent to work with him, but gods don’t just come when they’re called.
Before beginning, read the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. These are two epics that tell stories of the Norse deities and the destruction and rebirth of the world.
You may also want to read scholarly interpretations of these works that focus on Loki, his historical context, and other information that isn’t immediately apparent in the Eddas themselves.
You can also make a sacred space for Loki in your home or garden. Decorate it with objects he might enjoy, and make sure to have an offering bowl. (If you choose to offer candles, never leave them unattended.)
Actions that disrupt the status quo can also be a way of working with Loki. Consider harmless pranks, efforts to change the prevailing economic or governmental structure, or charitable works that focus on those who society demonizes or casts aside.
Because of his nature, Loki may not acknowledge offerings or attempts to work with him. This can still have value, since he represents the “dark side” of all of us — the side that wants to say things nobody else will and break away from politeness and convention.
Even if you don’t communicate with him the way you might other deities, recognizing the forces that he embodies can be a very valuable part of your spiritual path.