Loki the Trickster
THE most unpredictable and certainly the most dangerous god in the Northern pantheon was Loki. His activities ran from the merely mischievous to the blatantly malicious. Supremely clever, Loki ensnared everyone in complicated problems, to which he always supplied a remedy – through his solution often engendered even greater troubles. Loki relished every opportunity to exert his contrary nature.
Loki is an immensely powerful magician, and shares with Odin the ability to sex- and shape shift at will. His parents were both giants (the perpetual enemies of the gods) and Loki had some unusual children, including the huge wolf Fennir, borne from Loki’s brief dalliance with a giantess.
Loki was fair of face, and took many lovers, despite his constant criticism of goddesses who did the same. His wife was the faithful and hapless goddess Sigyn, whose fidelity surely he did not deserve. After Loki had been bound in a cave with a venomous snake dripping poison upon him as punishment, Sigyn sat by her husband’s side and held a bowl over him to catch the drops before they hit him. When the bowl filled, she had to rise and empty it, and then the stinging drops fell directly upon Loki. It was said his twisting to escape the pain was the cause of earthquakes.
In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and norms of behavior.
Frequently the Trickster figure exhibits gender and form variability, changing gender roles and engaging in same-sex practices. Such figures appear in Native American and First Nations mythologies, where they are said to have a two-spirit nature. Loki, the Norse trickster, also exhibits gender variability, in one case even becoming pregnant; interestingly, he shares the ability to change genders with Odin, the chief Norse deity who also possesses many characteristics of the Trickster. In the case of Loki‘s pregnancy, he was forced by the Gods to stop a giant from erecting a wall for them before 7 days passed; he solved the problem by transforming into a mare and drawing the giant’s magical horse away from its work. He returned some time later with a child he had given birth to–the eight-legged horse Sleipnir, who served as Odin’s steed.
The Trickster is an example of a Jungian archetype. In modern literature the trickster survives as a character archetype, not necessarily supernatural or divine, sometimes no more than a stock character.
In later folklore, the trickster is incarnated as a clever, mischievous man or creature, who tries to survive the dangers and challenges of the world using trickery and deceit as a defense. For example many typical fairy tales have the King who wants to find the best groom for his daughter by ordering several trials. No brave and valiant prince or knight manages to win them, until a poor and simple peasant comes. With the help of his wits and cleverness, instead of fighting, he evades or fools monsters and villains and dangers with unorthodox manners. Therefore the most unlikely candidate passes the trials and receives the reward. More modern and obvious examples of that type are Bugs Bunny and The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin)
Tricksters In Popular Culture:
Ferris Bueller from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Bre’r Rabbit from the Uncle Remus stories
Tyler Durden-Chronically ambiguous trick-player from Fight Club
Felix The Cat – A transgressor of boundaries
Captain Jack Sparrow – from Pirates of The Caribbean
The Pink Panther
So there you have it. I am dressing as Loki this year for Halloween. Anyone think I can pull of “The God Of Mischief?” Come visit me tonight to see for yourself!