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Loki: It is done, I have won.
Heimdallr/Heimdall: I can see farther than you, Odin's son Vidar killed your son Fenris Wolf, and Vidar survives, and so does Odin's son Vali, his brother. Thor is dead, but his children Magni and Modi still live, They took Mjollnir (Mjölnir) from their father's cold hand. They are strong enough and noble enough to wield it.
Loki: None of this matters. The world is burning. The mortals are dead. Midgard is destroyed. I have won.
~ Part of Loki and Heimdallr's final conversation from Neil Gaiman's Norse mythology

Loki is one of prominent figures in Norse Mythology where he started off as the ally of the Gods of Asgard before ultimately becomes their worst enemy. He is also one of two "supreme evils" of the old Scandinavian myths, the other being Surtr.

Role in Myths

Loki was born from the Jötunn Fárbauti (ON: "Cruel Striker") and Laufey/Nál (ON: "Needle"). Although he was accepted by the Gods of Asgard as the honorary member of their people, Loki proved himself a troublemaker for being a wily striker. Despite being naturally male, Loki's gender is actually malleable owing to his shapeshifting ability and with his mare form, he is the "mother" of eight-legged, Jötunn-horse hybrid Slepnir with the stallion Svadilfari.

In addition of Slepnir and his parents, Loki's other family members are Angrboða (ON: "Anguish-Boding") (with whom he sired three children Hela the Goddess of Death, Fenrir the Wolf Jötunn, and Jörmungandr the Midgard Serpent), Sigyn (with whom he sired Váli and Narfi and Váli (noted that the latter shares his name with Odin's son through marriage with Jötunn Rindr)).

In his early days among Gods of Asgard, Loki's pranks often brings troubles for his newfound allies. For example, in the tale of The Kidnapping of Idunn, he incited the wrath of the Jötunn Thiazi who then coerced him to bring Idunn for him only to nearly doomed his fellow Gods, since said goddess was the only one who can take care of her special apples which grant them their immortality. In the same tale, he also unwittingly angered Thiazi's daughter Skadi who demanded restitution for her father's death in the same incident (when Loki took Idunn back to Asgard with his falcon form, Thiazi caught them in the act and give chase with his eagle form all while recklessly entering the Gods' territory in Asgard in process, provoking the guards to kill him on the spot). Since Skadi proved herself more reasonable than her father and most of her kin despite her initial vengeful rage, the tension between her and the Gods was resolved without bloodshed.

Another examples of his pranks are annoying Thor through shaving his wife Sif's golden hair clean, interfering dwarf brothers Brokkr and Sindri's progress in crafting the Thunder God's signature hammer Mjölnir (which resulted the hammer's handle being shorter than intended) to win the bet he made with them, and giving a shady Jötunn the chance to get his hands on Freya, sun, and moon should he managed to complete the fortification around Asgard despite his apparent treacherous nature. In the latter's case, Loki was forced to swallow his pride to ensure said Jötunn's failure by distracting his horse Svadilfari and mating with it in process, culminating to the birth of Slepnir. Yet, it all nothing compared to the worst that Loki stored for them.

Eventually, Loki learned about poor treatment the Gods of Asgard done on his children where they were either killed, banished (Jormungandr was casted to the ocean while Hela was given a permanent post as the ruler of Helheim), or imprisoned (Fenrir was bound with Gleipnir by the reluctant Tyr and his fearful brethren through a trickery with the promise of freedom under the pretense of it merely testing the bindings) in a vain hope to prevent Ragnarök, infuriating him that he saw no point of maintaining his ties with the Gods further thus decided to continue the very mission he shared with his true brethren, Jötnar, even if that means he would fulfill his destined role in the aforementioned apocalyptic event; avenging the death of his ancestor the first Jötunn Ymir. Even so, he maintained façade until overheard Baldr having a nightmare about his death prompting Frigg to make him invulnerable to everything outside of mistletoe to which she either forgot about or deemed too harmless at the moment. While the other Gods tested this out and were amazed, Loki forged a weapon out of mistletoe and arranged for it to be thrown at Baldr which killed him. Frigg was deeply upset by this and was overcome with grief. For a good measure, he assumed the form of a female jötunn named Þökk who vehemently refused to mourn Baldr's death during Frigg and Hermod's attempt to negotiate with Hela to bring the deceased deity back under the condition of all objects alive and dead would weep for him. The news of Baldr had to remain in Helheim satisfied Loki, for it being the first step to enact Ragnarök.

The Gods were quick to realize what truly happened and began to talk of how they hated him for his troubles during a party which they deliberately not invite the trickster God into. Unamused, Loki barged in (some sources stated that he forced Odin to let him join by reminding the blood oath they established with one another long ago while others stated he merely barged in while drunk) and unveiled his true color as he insulted the Gods only to realize his error and retreated just as Thor joined the insulting contest.

Escaping to Franang's Falls, a waterfall located in a certain mountain at Midgard, Loki built himself a safehouse with four doors to watch for his pursuers from all direction in order to bid his time for the next step of his destructive quest. He turned himself into a salmon while maintaining his cover beneath said waterfall by day and sat by his fire and weaved a net for fishing for his food by night. At this point, however, the Gods of Asgard opted not to take any chances and as soon as Odin discovered his hideout, the Allfather and his fellow Gods made haste to capture him. Despite of him burnt his net to cover his escape while in the form of salmon, they ultimately managed to capture him with Thor's assistance and eventually forced him to return to his original humanoid form before binding him into a cave. In some versions of this part of tale, he was bound with chains while others described said bindings being fashioned from entrails of his son Narfi. Regardless, an immortal serpent has been placed above him so it would forever drip its venom into his face. The only mercy in such punishment was the Gods had Sigyn periodically use a bowl to catch the venom thus provide brief respite since she must dump it out while her husband underwent another brief torture.

When the day of Ragnarök eventually arrived, Loki eventually broke free from his prison and proceed to join forces with his children and brethren, Hela included for her provided him reinforcement in form of dishonorable dead for their war against the Gods of Asgard. During such apocalyptic event, majorities of the Gods were killed and Loki would face Heimdallr where they committed a mutual kill. In his dying breath, Loki pointed out despite his death, he still won and destroyed the world he came to hate thus fulfilled his dream of avenging Ymir, though Heimdallr retort that the world would start anew, something the trickster god scoffed at before succumbing to his wounds.

Powers and Abilities

Jötunn Physiology: Loki is a Jötunn, a race of transcendent entities and rival race to his former allies Gods of Asgard.

  • Shapeshifting: Befitting to his status as the malicious trickster god, Loki is the master shapeshifter who have assumed many forms, such as a salmon, a mare, a fly, and his female alter-ego named Þökk (Old Norse: Thanks). Although this ability enables him to further elude and trick others, sufficiently powerful beings can see through his disguises.
    • Gender Transformation: Loki's shapeshifting abilities also enables him to change his gender, be in his natural form or any of his disguises.
  • Charisma: Loki displayed impressive charisma which allows him to persuade others to do what he wants, putting up efforts in flyting (insulting contest), and even hides his more sinister intentions so as Gods won't suspect him too much to keep his true allegiance to Jötnar a secret despite toying both sides time and time again. During the Ragnarök, Loki proved himself as a capable leader to his army that comprised of his fellow Jötnar and undead dishonorable warriors.
  • Master Tactician: Loki can formulate schemes to get what he wants, from pulling pranks to determine best course or actions in the war. Up until he decided to sever his ties with Gods of Asgard by killing Baldr, he managed to maintain his place among them by undoing damages from his pranks and minimize comeuppances from his actions.
  • Supernatural Strength: Though not to the same level as Thor's, Loki nevertheless displayed enough brute force to cause earthquakes with his bare hands, as shown when he tried to break free from his bindings during his fateful imprisonment.
  • Fire Manipulation: It's implied that Loki can manipulate fire like Logi, the Eldthur (fire Jötunn) and personification of fire he confused with in some accounts. Assuming it to be the case, it can be inferred that Loki is indeed an Eldthur like the the latter and share same fire-based abilities albeit pale in comparison.
  • Immortality: As with his fellow Jötunn, Loki can live forever, though his immortality extends only to immense durability and decelerated ageing since he can be killed by beings with sufficient power, most notably his destined bane Heimdallr.

In Modern Media

Loki is one of the most infamous of the Norse gods and has been described in many films, comics, videogames, and books, as well as traditional lore - his monstrous children are equally famous in the form of the giant wolf-monster Fenrir, the world-serpent Jormungandr and last his own daughter, the Norse goddess of the underworld named Hela (who is the child of the immortal giantess Angrboda, Loki's first wife).

Some of the most famous incarnations of Loki in modern fiction has been the supervillain in Marvel Comics, in which he is basically a slightly updated and toned-down version of the trickster god of folklore and the villainous Loki from the Son of the Mask - who was considerably less like his mythical counterpart and more in line with a run-of-the-mill evil magician/prankster.

Loki has also appeared in the Stargate series - in which he was a rogue Asgardian conducting illegal experiments on humans - this version of Loki is even less like the mythological one than the version in Son of the Mask and is in effect an archetypical alien invader akin to the Greys seen in series such as the X-Files. Other incarnations of Loki and characters inspired by him have appeared in innumerable works of fiction - probably too many to list here, these are just a sample of the few that are aware of by all.

Gallery

Trivia

  • The Poetic Edda states that Loki became evil after eating a witch's heart, but this fact is never mentioned again in any other works. It's even suggested that the witch's identity would be none other than Angrboða, Loki's first wife.

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See Also
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