( Scandinavia: Ancient Nordic Myth)
Carl Bryan Holmberg
Of all the Norse gods and goddesses, Loki is perhaps the most misunderstood and maligned. Though he began as a relatively benign trickster and fool who merely demonstrated the foibles of the other gods, he became a most feared spirit to the extent that no shrines were held sacred to him, and the folk of the north would not name him or honor him directly. As a deity, he helped create humans, giving them the gifts of motion and blood. As a force of nature, he personifies fire and lightning. Yet he is a liar and a prankster whom the Norse gods learned to mistrust much too late. Despite his association with ultimate evil, Loki represents the power of light and the power of words, which together reveal and persuade others of the truth and of the fact that even the gods are not all-powerful.
As a companion of Thor, who represents thunder, Loki is lightning. Of course, it is no accident that Thor alone can regularly subdue Loki. Symbolically, Thor also signifies strength and order, while Loki signifies pleasure and fun. Though often considered one of the gods of Asgard, Loki may have emerged from an older tradition of nature spirits, resulting in his unique nickname among the other deities, "stranger." Like other trickster fools, then, Loki may be seen as operating in a king-fool construct, and his name suggests that he arises from mysterious and hazy nature.
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Publication information: Book title: Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History:A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Contributors: Vicki K. Janik - Editor, Emmanuel S. Nelson - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 295.
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