There’s been a lot of debate lately about Loki, moreso than usual, it seems. Different organizations are in contention about whether or not to embrace Himself as they do the rest of the Aesir and Vanir, or to continue holding him at arm’s length. I’ve noticed a few discussions delve into an interpretation of mythology that I myself hold, one that Shadow Spouse and I discussed at ECT ’18 during our Loki Marathon Blot.
I’ve also noticed that one of my favorite songs, “The Show Must Go On” by Queen, is a very Lokean song when listened to in context of that interpretation.
Empty spaces: what are we living for? Abandoned places, I guess we know the score…
The contention around Loki is based primarily on the events leading up to Ragnarok. His alleged role in Baldr’s death (depending on which version of the myths you read–the more well-known version has Loki guiding Hodr’s hand with the mistletoe, but another version tells that Hodr had no help) is what ultimately turned the gods against him, and everything goes downhill from there. And regardless of the version you hold to, Loki is the leading force against the gods at Ragnarok.
But the UPG and train of thought some of us have delves into Odhinn’s role in all of this. Odhinn sacrificed his eye and himself for knowledge, so he has an understanding of what’s to come. Knowing the fate of the gods, he oaths himself in blood brotherhood to Loki anyway. He makes The Trickster one of the Aesir regardless.
Another hero, another mindless crime / behind the curtain in the pantomime. Hold the line, does anybody want to take it any more?
During our three hour sharing of vodka and conversation at the Loki Ve, Shadow Spouse and I went on a bit of a rant about this. S suspects that not only did Odhinn bring Loki into the fold knowing what would happen, but he may have actually warned Loki about the prophecy. It’s not for us to know how much he shared, how much Loki knew would come to pass and his specific role in all of it, but it’s possible that he knew he’d be responsible for something terrible and accepted the job out of necessity. It’s a terrible burden to shoulder, but perhaps it was made easier as the gods turned against him as time went on. Even when I was younger, I remember talking with my mom about Loki and his role. She agreed he wasn’t an evil or “bad” figure, that he was often bullied and disrespected and that he just snapped, that she could understand his behavior in the Lokasenna. Interesting feedback from someone who was raised Catholic, and something that resonated with me when I was younger and trying to reconcile the Loki I knew with the Loki in the final myths.
Whatever happens, I’ll leave it all to chance. Another heartache, another failed romance. On and on, does anybody know what we are living for?
S has a theory, one with which I agree, that Loki’s role in Baldr’s death actually saved Baldr from Ragnarok. Because Baldr was killed before the Twilight of the Gods, he was safely sheltered under Hel’s care in the realm of the dead while his kin met terrible fates in Asgard. Because he survived the end times, as it were, he was able to emerge from Helheim unscathed and create a new, more perfect world. Was this part of the prophecy Odhinn knew? Is this why he invited a Jotun to grace his hall? Is this something he clued Laufeyjarson in on? Since these aren’t actual events, just stories, it certainly remains open to interpretation.
Outside the dawn is breaking, but inside in the dark I’m aching to be free…
Loki was given the most brutal punishment a man can take for his role in Baldr’s death and the events of the feast. The gods had one of his sons murder his brother, then bound Loki in a cave with his own child’s entrails. I’m a Lokian, but not a Rokkr, so I don’t give Loki a pass on his starting Ragnarok. No matter how you interpret it, Ragnarok isn’t a fun time. But the barest glimmer of empathy certainly lends an understanding of why he ultimately led an army into Asgard. Whether or not Odhinn knew exactly how the prophecy would play out, regardless of how much he may or may not have warned Loki in advance, you have to admit that Loki truly suffered for his actions. Not that it gives him a free pass to destroy everyone and everything, but shit, dude had some reasons perhaps. He’s a flawed, angry, relatable figure… just like the rest of the Norse gods.
Inside my heart is breaking. My makeup may be flaking but my smile still stays on.
This one leads me all over the place, but it always circles back to struggle and compassion. What must it be like to be fated to bring about the destruction of the gods, but to carry on with an impish kind of glee until shit hits the fan? Some may point to that alone as proof that the God of Mischief is evil. But then others may see it more like I do: the world can be a shitty place full of shitty people, and we’re all going to die anyway so what the fuck does anything matter? But it does matter, everything we do matters. And not to sound like a crappy corporate poster, but attitude is everything. Life is short, and brutal, and unfair, and the world will try over and over to break you, so why not try to have a little fun along the way? Instead of focusing on what’s awful about the world, try to make it better for the people around you. A little kindness goes a long way. Silly little moments of hilarity can do wonders. Keep people on their toes so they don’t rock back into a sense of complacency. And more in line with this lyric, who hasn’t seen the memes about how the saddest people are the ones trying to make everyone else smile? We all have burdens; some of us project them onto others, some of us hide the struggle with a grin because we don’t want others to feel the way we really do, deep inside. Some people hold terrible knowledge and terrible secrets, but they try to carry on as if everything is fine because they would crumble if it weren’t for the relief of a shared smile. Rather than project the misery you feel, project a kinder attitude. A hug and a bit of compassion goes much further than anyone realizes. Even if you’re just going through the motions, at some point those motions become genuine. Speaking from experience. Don’t deny yourself your emotions, but don’t force them on people around you. We all have shit we’re dealing with. Everyone’s makeup is flaking.
I’ll top the bill, I’ll overkill: I have to find the will to carry on with the / on with the / on with the show!
That’s some hardcore Loki right there. He’s been given a terrible role to play, and he will suffer greatly for it, but he accepts it and does the best he can. If he has to do it, he may as well do it in a way that keeps ’em talking for centuries.
Of course, this topic can be broken down and debated even further. After all, the written record of the myths were all recorded by Christians well after the conversion. The End of the World plays a tremendous role in Christian theology, and it’s argued that the myth of Ragnarok was added by the Christians who put the myths to ink and paper. Perhaps Ragnarok was simply a metaphor for the conversion – the rise of Christianity certainly decimated the gods and the old way of things, and you have to concede that the notion of the Allfather’s perfect son being resurrected from the realm of the dead to create a utopian world is a little on the nose.
It all comes down to your own understanding of and relationships with the gods. The myths are just that–stories. They help us to understand the nature of the gods and their relationships among each other and the realms, but they’re guidelines, introductions to who they really are. It’s up to you to get to know the gods better. Some of us get along with some deities and keep a wide berth from others. There can be mutual dislike based on experience and agenda. But really, it does more harm than good to point to the myths as though they are Gospel and say “This is who is good and this is who is evil, and these stories tell us why.” Like the Bible, those stories are filtered through the theological and political biases of the men who wrote them down centuries ago. They’re a starting point for conversation, and it’s up to you to take it deeper.
However you perceive Himself, you’ve got to admit that Loki would slay with this song on Asgardian karaoke night. Every time I belt it out, I’m reminded it is the Lokean’s way to face the world with a grin. We’re never giving in, because no matter what, the show must go on.