I’m in one of those thoughtful moods this morning.
Loki, son and heir to the line of Ymir, first power in the universe and the substance, was known as the god who shakes things up, the trickster.
One of his children was an apology to Odin for messing things up (long story short: he impulsively took a bad wager, almost lost everything for the gods and managed to fix things by getting a magic horse laid. Funny story).
Loki gave Odin the ability to travel through the universe at top speeds, which likely enabled some of Odin’s greatest deeds (like discovering a universal language / writing).
Loki’s more infamous children are the Great Wolf, the World Serpent and the One who Watches the Dead. They’re the ones I’m thinking about.
His sons: Fenris, the threat to Asgard, who represented heavenly wrath and anger and righteous fury gone awry, only able to be stopped (temporarily) by sacrifice and the power of dreams.
Later, only the master of poets could defeat him, but at the cost of the death of words.
Jormungandr, who represented the dangers of the material world. Consumption so profound that it spanned the world and could not be stopped.
A monster familiar to those fighting the “black snake” in North Dakota today (sideline). Unlike Fenris, they couldn’t figure out a way to contain it so they ignored it. Only the power of the storm ultimately overcame it.
Then there’s the daughter. Never fully born. Half dead. Hel, in charge of those who lived half-a-life, who never fully embraced their spirit, their own individual fates.
She took care of their anger at being judged, at wasting their time in the Middle World. She contained their memories and desires to be made whole. And when the time came, she released them to work their own kind of judgement on the world. She was never overcome.
Then again, she was the gatekeeper.
In the wake of Loki’s critique of Odin’s world made flesh, the carefully constructed balance was shattered and then re-born.
Another chance given.
I’d like to think somewhere, the trickster loves the new world, out of his control, and those of Asgard, and has reconciled with his adopted father, still reeling from being eaten by a wolf.
I was talking with the kids a minute ago and reflecting on how Ymir had to die, for time and the universe to start. But that was also a horrible tragedy. Odin, whose name basically means “mad poet”, won by tricking Ymir into death, by naming Ymir out of existence.
Ymir’s sons reflected Ymir’s power but only Loki, Ymir’s grandson, reflected Ymir’s death. He was in the form of Odin.
And in that form, Loki both honored his grandfather, avenging Ymir’s death, and his adopted father, by setting the stage for a different world from the last.
He’s the villain in the story because the skalds recognized that you can’t -encourage- that behavior because it will lead to disaster 9 times out of 10. But I think they preserved it, hidden there, for us to find it when we looked.