the dictionary of norse mythology


LOKI Loki is known as the trickster god, the mis-chief maker, the father of lies and deceit, and the shape changer. He is the personification of both aspects of fire the merry but potentially dangerous hearth fire and the destructive fire of forest and volcano.Loki was the son of the giant farbauti and of the giantess laufey or Nal. He had two wives. The first was the fearful ogress angrboda, with whom he had three monstrous offspring hel, the goddess of death and the underworld jormungand, the Midgard Serpent who encircled the world and fen-rir the wolf. His wife in asgard was sigyn, with whom he had two sons, narfi and vali 1.Loki was counted among the aesir gods, but he was not one of them, as he was born among the jotun, the gods' enemies. Some say that he and the great god odin were blood brothers, which is why none of the gods dared to harm Loki, no matter how mischievous and malevolent he became.Loki was handsome and could be amusing. He made the goddess skade laugh even while she mourned for her father, thiazzi. Loki was sometimes helpful to the gods, for he was quick witted and always had an answer for everything, but often the gods would regret taking his advice.It was Loki who accompanied thor to jotunheim to retrieve Thor's magic hammer. Loki also thought of a way to outwit the giant who built Asgard's wall see giant master builder. However, his solution was nothing but fraud and resulted in Thor committing murder within Asgard such behavior was against the code of the Aesir.Loki stole freya's necklace and cut off sif's golden hair, yet it was he who went down to the underground caves of the dwarfs and brought back wonderful treasures for the gods see treasures of the dwarfs. Loki double-crossed both the giant Thiazzi and the Aesir when he delivered idunn and her apples to the giant and then, disguised as a fal-con, carried Idunn back to Asgard, leading Thiazzi to his death.Not only could Loki change himself into other creatures at will, such as a seal, a salmon, a fly, a fal-con he could also change his sex. As a mare, he was the mother of sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged steed. He became an old crone when he tricked frigg into telling him that mistletoe was the only object on earth that could harm the gentle god balder. Even though Loki was the principal cause of Balder's death, the Aesir took no action against him.However, when Loki came to aegir's banquet and flung vicious insults at all the gods and goddesses, the Aesir finally decided to punish the evil creature that Loki had become. At ragnarok the day of doom, Loki led the forces of evil against the gods, and he and heimdall killed each other.Loki's Mocking Loki could be playful and charming, but as time went on, he became sinister, evil, and bad tempered. The story of Loki's mocking of the gods and goddesses, part of the lokasenna in the poetic edda, shows Loki at his worst.Aegir, the Jotun lord of the sea, invited the gods to a banquet in his coral caves under the island of hlesey. He brewed the ale in the huge cauldron that Thor and tyr had taken from the giant hymir.It was soon after the death of balder and the gods were subdued, talking quietly among them-selves. Loki listened impatiently as they praised Aegir's servants, fimafeng and eldir. Suddenly Loki sprang up and stabbed Fimafeng with his knife, then fled. He soon returned, and this time his tar-gets were the gods and goddesses and his weapons were poisonous words.He insulted bragi, the god of poetry, by calling him a soft coward. One by one he accused each of the goddesses, Idunn, gefion, Frigg, freya, and sif, of being deceitful and unvirtuous. He laughed at niord for being a hostage from the vanir gods and at Tyr for losing his hand in the jaws of the wolf Fenrir. No one escaped, not even frey's servants, byggvir and his wife beyla, nor heimdall, who was mocked as being a mere servant of the gods. Even the great god Odin did not escape Loki's evil tongue. Loki sneered at him for once having turned himself into a witch, a woman through and through.At last Thor, who had been absent, entered the hall. His eyes glowed with rage, and his whiskers bris-tled when he heard Loki's vicious insults. He threat-ened to kill Loki there and then with his hammer, and Loki swiftly left.The Pursuit of Loki-Salmon After Loki insulted the gods and goddesses at a feast given by Aegir, the sea god, he fled from the wrath of the gods and built himself a hut in the mountains. The hut had doors on all four sides so that Loki could escape easily, for he knew that the gods wanted to punish him for his evil words and also for the death of the gentle god Balder. By day Loki the shape-shifter turned himself into a salmon and swam in the mountain torrent at Franang's Falls. To distract himself in the evening, he fashioned a fine net—some say, the first fishing net. In other poems the sea ogress ran, Aegir's wife, invented the fishing net to catch drowning sailors and bring them to her domain under the waves. From his high seat, hlidskjalf, Odin could see far and wide over all nine worlds. When he finally saw where Loki was hiding and in what guise, Odin went with a party of gods to capture the trouble-maker. Loki saw them coming and quickly threw the fishing net into the fire, then sprinted down to the stream and leapt in as a salmon. The gods entered the hut and saw the remains of the net. kvasir, a very wise god, concluded that a finished net might be very useful to the gods for catching slippery Loki-Salmon. The gods sat up all a serpent drips venom onto the face of Loki, whom the gods have bound to a rock. AnthonyMercatante night repairing and completing the net. At dawn they set out to catch Loki. Loki escaped their clutches for quite a while, as they used the net to drag the stream, but in the end Thor caught him in midair as he made a flying leap over the net. To this day, the salmon is noted for its slender tail, a reminder, Northmen say, of how strongly Thor had held Loki in his powerful hand. Loki's Punishment After the gods captured Loki, they dragged him into a dark cave. They changed Loki's son Vali into a wolf who immedi-ately attacked his brother Narfi and killed him. The gods took Narfi's intestines and bound Loki with them. Once Loki was firmly bound, they changed the horrid bonds into iron. Then the icy goddess Skade placed a serpent over Loki's upturned face so that its venom would drip onto him. Only Sigyn, Loki's faithful wife, stayed with Loki in the miserable cave. She held a bowl to catch the drops of venom, but when she turned aside to empty the poison, the drops fell on Loki's twisted face. He writhed with pain and terror, causing the Earth to tremble and quake. So Loki, the Norse myths say, is the cause of the earthquakes that terrify us.Loki remained a prisoner until ragnarok, when he took his revenge on the gods, and they on him.

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