loki, odin, & hoenir / by aud k
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okay, so an anon asked: I’ve always been curious: what’s your interpretation of myth!Loki’s backstory? Where did he come from, what sort of familial environment did he grow up in? How did he become a member of the Aesir?
sorry it took so long to get back to you! i knew i wanted to draw something for this one but it took a few tries to get it right. prepare yourself for a novel-length reply.
okay, so norse mythology is a hot mess when it comes to the beginning of things, and i tend to pick & choose my mythology anyway, so what i have thought on this topic (though i haven’t yet sat down & worked out a cohesive mythos of my own) is only very loosely related to the classic Icelandic versions. mainly i draw inspiration from one book: Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions by H.R. Ellis Davidson. you can argue about the validity of this book, but i enjoy it a hell of a lot, so i tend to follow its interpretations.
there’s this one particular passage that’s always stuck in my brain:
"In the beginning, order emerged out of chaos. Formlessness before creation was not represented by water, as in some mythologies, but by a great abyss, Ginnungagap, which might be translated Gulf of Deceiving, because its deceiving emptiness was in reality pregnant with potential energy and form. Ice formed in the gap, and embers of fire came into it from the realm of Muspell, the region of burning heat, and from these extremes a mighty giant was created. He was both male and female, and his name Ymir seems to mean Two-fold Being. Tacitus records Tvisto as the first ancestor of the Germans, and this name appears to have a similar meaning. A race of giants emerged from Ymir’s body, and he was nourished on the milk of a primeval cow, which licked the ice-blocks to release a new set of beings, three brothers called the Sons of Bor. These slew Ymir, and then formed the Earth from his body and the sea from his blood; the sky was raised aloft by four dwarves, creatures which bred in Ymir’s body, and then sun and moon were set in place and time began. Three creator gods, perhaps the same as the Sons of Bor, walked on the seashore, which we have seen represented as the place of creative inspiration […]. There they found two trees, driftwood washed ashore, breathed vitality and spirit into them, and gave them movement, so that the first man and woman came to life.
"Here the gods are seen as the creators of the world of men, and of mankind, but the giants preceded them. In the poems, the giants are seen as the possessors of ancient wisdom, since only they can remember the far-off beginnings, and even Odin turned to them when he wished to increase his knowledge. We cannot be sure who these creator gods were. In Voluspa they are said to be Odin with Lodur and Hoenir, two gods of whom little is known. Lodur has been identified by some with Loki, who is often the companion of Odin and in some ways might be seen as a shadow creative figure, giving birth to Odin’s horse Sleipnir, to monsters, and to Hel, Goddess of Death.” [p. 173-4]
i love the idea of this creative trinity, though the fact that they’re all men makes me roll my eyes. for me, there’s Odin (masculine), Hoenir (feminine), and Loki (both and neither). (i’ve obviously been playing around with my design of odin.) i haven’t connected their story into anything larger yet — i don’t know how odin’s court came about, for instance — but the image of these three siblings wandering the realms before hardly anything else existed is one that i loooove.