This page is about the Norse god Loki. For other uses of the word see Loki (disambiguation).
Missing image
This picture, from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript, shows Loki with his invention - the fishing net.

Loki Laufeyjarson is the "god" of mischief of Norse mythology , a son of Farbauti and Laufey. He is described as the "contriver of all fraud". Loki is in a sense both a god and a Jotun (compareable to the Titans and Gigantes of Greek mythology). He mixed freely with the gods for a long time, even becoming Odin's blood brother. The composer Richard Wagner presented Loki under an invented Germanized name Loge in his operas Das Rheingold and Die Walkre.



The trickster god is a complex character, a master of guile and deception. Loki was not so much a figure of unmitigated badness as a kind of celestial con man, who always managed to persuade the gods to give him another chance. Some anthropologists have compared him to Coyote, a trickster figure of Native American mythology. Loki can at times be reminiscent of the Chinese Monkey King whose persona in myth underwent changes over the centuries.

Loki is an adept shape-shifter, with the ability to change both form (examples include transmogrification to a salmon, horse, bird, flea, etc.) and sex. According to some scholarly theories Loki is conceived of as a fire spirit, with all the potential for good and ill associated with fire. However, this view is probably due to linguistic confusion with logi "fire", as there is little indication of it in myth where Loki's role is predominantly associated with Odin, either as Odin's wily counterpart or antagonist.


Loki was the father of many creatures, men and monsters.

Having liaisons with giantesses was nothing unusual for gods in Norse mythology—both Odin and Freyr are good examples; and since Loki was actually a giant himself, there is nothing unusual about this activity. Together with Angrboda, he had three children:

Encounter with Geirrod

Loki was also at least partly responsible for the deaths of some fellow giants. He was flying as a hawk one day and was captured by Geirrod, a frost giant. Geirrod, who hated Thor, demanded that Loki bring his enemy (without his magic belt and Mjolnir to Geirrod's castle. Loki agreed to lead Thor to the trap.

On the way to Geirrod's, they stopped at the home of Grid, a giantess. She waited until Loki left the room then told Thor what was happening and gave him her iron gloves and magical belt and staff. Thor killed Geirrod, and all other frost giants he could find.

Scheeming with fellow gods

Loki occasionally works with the other gods. For example, he tricked the unnamed hrimthurs who built the walls around Asgard, out of being paid for his work by distracting his horse while disguised as a mare—thereby he became the mother of Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir. He also retrieved Odin's spear, Freyr's ship and Sif's wig from Dvalin, the dwarf, as well as rescuing Idun. Finally, in Trymskvida, the funniest of Thor's adventures, Loki manages, with Thor at his side, to get Mjolnir back when the giant Thrym secretly steals it, in order to ask for fair Freya as a bride, in exchange.

Loki tricks  into shooting
Loki tricks Hod into shooting Baldur

Slayer of Baldr

Loki may have overplayed his hand when, disguised as a giantess, he arranged the murder of Baldr (he used mistletoe, the only plant which had not sworn to never harm Baldur, and made a dart of it, which he tricked Baldr's blind brother Hod into throwing at Baldr, thereby killing him), although earlier versions of the myth, attributed to Saxo Grammaticus, do not implicate Loki. Significantly, also, the poem in the Elder Edda most associated with Loki, the Lokasenna, does not directly implicate Loki in Baldr's death.

The gods, bereft at the loss of Baldr, travelled to the underworld to bargain for Baldur's life; there, Hel told them that the only way to ensure the god's return was to have everything in the world weep for him. The gods went through the land, and convinced not only men, women and animals to weep for Baldur, but also rocks and trees. Finally, they arrived at a cave in which a giantess dwelled. The gods were unable to convince her to cry for Baldr, and so he remained in the underworld.

When the gods discovered that the giantess had been Loki in disguise, they hunted him down and he was forced to flee. He hid by night as a salmon beneath a waterfall, and by day he idly wove nets and burnt them. One day the gods found his fireplace at night, and found a net in the fire. From its design they created another, which they used to catch Loki. They bound him to three rocks with the entrails of either his son Fenrisulfr or Vali. Then they tied a serpent above him, the venom of which dripped onto his face. His wife Sigyn (a goddess, not the giantess who was the mother of Loki's monster brood) gathered the venom in a bowl, but from time to time she had to turn away to empty it, at which point the poison would drip onto Loki, who writhed in pain, thus causing earthquakes. He would free himself, however, in time to attack the gods at Ragnarok along with the other giants and his monster children.

Friend to man

Not all lore depicts Loki as a malevolent being. An 18th century ballad (that may have drawn from a much earlier source) from the Faroe Islands, entitled Loka Thaattur, depicts Loki as a friend to man: when a thurs (troll or giant) comes to take a farmer's son away, the farmer and his wife pray to Odin to protect him. Odin hides the son in a field of wheat, but the thurs finds him. Odin rescues the son and takes him back to the farmer and his wife, saying that he is done hiding the son. The couple then prays to Honir, who hides the son in the neck-feathers of a swan, but again the Thurs finds him. On the third day, they pray to Loki, who hides the son amidst the eggs of a flounder. The thurs finds the flounder, but Loki instructs the boy to run into a boathouse. The giant gets his head caught in a peephole (the translation is not complete, but it appears to be a peephole) and Loki kills him by chopping off his leg and inserting a stick and a stone in the leg stump to prevent the thurs from regenerating. He takes the boy home, and the farmer and his wife embrace both of them.

Loki in popular culture

Loki, Odin and Thor are the three characters to appear most often in both Nordic myths and modern fiction derived from them.

Loki and several other Norse gods (e.g. Heimdall) were featured in the novel, The Incomplete Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Holt and Company, NY, 1941).

Loki is a supervillain of the Marvel Universe, the setting for many Marvel Comics publications. He is the primary enemy of Thor. In Marvel continuity Loki is son or adoptive son of Odin and half-brother or foster brother of Thor. Loki made his first appearance in Venus #6 (August, 1949). He was featured as a member of the Olympian gods exiled to the Underworld. In "Journey into Mystery" I#85 (October, 1962), Loki was reintroduced by brothers and co-writers Stan Lee and Larry Lieber. He was redesigned by Jack Kirby. The 1975 fantasy novel Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones features a witty contemporary take on Loki.

Loki, Odin and Thor were the heroes of the Valhalla comic book or graphic novel series written by Hans Rancke-Madsen, and illustrated by Peter Madsen from 1979 to 1992. The series was published in Denmark by Interpresse. Originally published in the Danish language, translations were made into Dutch, Finnish ,German, French, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish. Several animated movies were also produced from the series.

Loki was a recurring character in the comic book The Sandman by Neil Gaiman (1988 - 1996). He was freed from his prison under the Earth by Odin and by contrivance of Dream allowed to remain at liberty. He reappeared in the second-to-last story arc, where he ran afoul of the Corinthian. Loki and Odin were also main characters in the 2001 novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

In the movie The Mask (first released on July 29, 1994), unlike the original comic book, Loki's bound spirit empowers the titular mask, which grants its wearer shape-shifting abilities and an altered, chaotic personality, from everything/anything they keep suppressed in their unconscious mind(see also Sigmund Freud). In the 2005 sequel, Son of the Mask, Loki's spirit is released and spends the movie seeking out his mask.

In an episode of the television series Stargate SG-1 (July 27, 1997 - ), Loki appears as an Asgard experimenting on humans (and responsible for many alien abduction stories) to try and solve his race's problems of genetic degredation. Thor eventually steps in to stop the experiments

Loki is the main hero of the Matentai Loki Ragnarok manga by Sakura Kinoshita, published from August, 1999 to December, 2001. A television anime , The Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok ,was based upon the manga series and shared the same title. Twenty-six episodes were released between April 5 and September 27, 2003. The main villain is Odin.

A fictional character named Loki appears in the film Dogma, directed by Kevin Smith and first released on November 12, 1999. Although this character is a fallen angel, the former Angel of Death rather than the Norse mythological figure.

Loki is the main adversary in the computer role-playing game Valkyrie Profile, first released in Japan on December 22, 1999 by developers tri-Ace. The only way in which this Loki differs from the mythological god is that he is the offspring of an Aesir and Vanir,which provides the central motivating force for his actions throughout the story.

In the Ragnarok manhwa by Myung-Jin Lee , Loki has reincarnated into a stoic assassin of Midgard. The series was published in English in North America by TOKYOPOP from May 21, 2002 to April 6, 2004.

In the popular webcomic Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki, launched in 2002, the chains binding Loki loosen, allowing him to interact with the Earth through control of a small plush cat.

Loki is also known as the abbreviated name of the town Lokichokio situated in the northwestern part of Kenya.

Other spellings

  • Common Danish, Swedish and Norwegian form: Loke
  • Nynorsk - Norwegian form: Lokkje
  • German form: Lohho


External links

da:Loke de:Loki eo:Loki es:Loki fr:Loki nl:Loki ja:ロキ no:Loke pl:Loki pt:Loki ru:Локи sv:Loke zh:洛基


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