Is Loki Still Bound?

My theory suggests both yes and no. Humans have created linear time; it helps us keep things in order and it’s easier to wrap our heads around. However, time itself isn’t linear. Time is a series of cycles and can twist back and around on itself. It is like the lemniscate (the 8 having a lie-down).
Think of Doctor Who and how he travels around in the TARDIS. He isn’t constrained by Earth’s linear time and can crop up anywhere. His companions, on the other hand, experience linear time because they live in a fixed timeline on Earth. This doesn’t mean that the Doctor can’t go back or forwards in his own timeline to see them again, though. For fans of the show ‘timey wimey’ sums it up nicely. Time is linear to us because we live through it as thus; the planet is our fixed point. The Deities, who aren’t restricted to a human lifespan, physical body, or Earth timeline, will experience time differently.
In our linear lifetime Loki may be bound or free many times. He may be pals with Odin, or Asgard’s ‘public enemy number one’. He may be with Angerboda, or Sigyn, or on his own. Our lives may be linear, but Theirs are not.
Imagine we live only in 2D and They live in 3D. If you take a piece of paper it is flat and thus linear. If you make a cube from it it’s no longer linear; where does it end and where does it begin? This is where the lemniscate (the ‘lazy 8’), or the ouroboros, come in. They are perfect representations of this.
So for those of you who wonder if Loki is ‘still’ bound, perhaps right now in this linear-time moment he hasn’t even been bound yet. Some further food for thought: going by the same theory, Asgard is whole and fallen, and Ragnarok is impending and over.

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25 thoughts on “Is Loki Still Bound?

  1. This is exactly what I’ve been wondering for the longest time. I think it’s really important (at the very least theologically) to think about things like this and to try to understand them. I always have questions about how to work with deities who were killed (or died otherwise) in the lore and don’t have a narrative of resurrection or rebirth. Baldr may be an example (there are references to Him being brought back to life, though).

    One of the questions I am stumped on is related to a practice where “opposing deities” are present. For example, I work closely with Frigg and Týr. Cernunnos, whom I am devoted closest to, has VERY strong ties to the Aesir, especially with Odin. Yet, in the very same house, I also have shrines to Angrbodha and am beginning a working relationship with Loki. Considering that these two ‘families’ have bad blood between Them in the lore, to say the least… How do we have peace in the house? I can only go forward from here with my UPG and my thoughts based on my experiences with Them, but it would really be interesting (and important!) to think about how working with ‘opposing forces’ works.

    PS – working with Týr, I often wonder whether His devotees (or anyone He chooses to reveal Himself to) perceive Him with both hands or just one. For some reason, I often get both, although I think we as human beings, normally being ‘whole,’ have a hard time understanding a human body that is not complete (or, better said, does not *look* like it has all of its physical components from the outside).

    Thank you for this. This is great, and VERY useful!

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    • Thanks for commenting. In regard to ‘opposing forces’ I think showing them respect but also keeping any areas devoted to them separate helps. Perhaps it’s something you could write about to help others work this out too?
      I don’t work with Tyr but I find what you say about biomass appearing with both hands very interesting.

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      • The separate areas definitely helps. On one side of the room I have shrines of the Aesir I work with. On the other side of the room are the Rokkr I work with, the Unseelie, Belial, and Cernunnos. I understand it very clearly that no one likes to share, and I have certainly respected this.

        I think that would be a good idea. When I find out the secret I’ll be happy to write about it! 🙂 Although I think part of what makes this House work is 1) That I am *very* sure that Everyone spoke to each other before even considering stepping into my life, and 2) That They have different expectations/projects of me, so They don’t really class. Somehow, I feel like I am working in harmony, more or less, with everyone. However, it will probably get more difficult when I start working on projects/devotional work that begins to “catch me in the crossfire” so to speak. I’ll see how that works.

        It is very strange. Again, I’m not sure if this is something He shows me (sometimes with both hands, sometimes only one – and I have seen/felt the scarring, too) or if this is my brain conflicting with the biomass, as you say – a biomass that actually is one-handed, but that my brain can’t process and instead registers as two-handed. But as it is in conflict, it keeps “switching” back and forth constantly.

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      • I would be very interested to read about you work with ‘opposing’ forces if you do write about it in the future.
        I find it fascinating to hear about other people’s experience with Deities so thanks for sharing about how you see Tyr too.

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  2. Also to keep in mind: the binding of Loki, just as Ragnarök as we know it, owes something to the Christian apocalypse. After all, we mostly know the myth from a 13th century source (so centuries after the end of the pagan period), the years around 1000 were fertile in millenarianisms, old Norse religion had no orthodoxy and it was subject to Christian influences since the 9th century. The older version of Loki and Ragnarök may have therefore looked very different and there are traces of it, namely in Baldr’s death and Hödr role in it and especially when you compare the inconsistencies in Snorri’s work and Saxo’s version of the episode. So I wouldn’t wonder too much about Loki’s binding, if at all.

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    • It’s not something I worry about, but I’ve read a number of different blogs and a couple of books where people have been asking this and so I decided to put my theory out there.
      I also wonder about the differences between Saxo and Snorri’s accounts.

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      • There’re pretty striking when it comes to Hödr and you know it’s not simply Saxo making things up because what he says echoes kennings found in the Edda that contradict Snorri’s own account of Baldr’s death. Essentially, what comes across is the impression that Loki’s part is a late creation or development that emptied Hödr’s original role as the antagonist.

        Sorry, I just thing the whole thing fascinanting.

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      • I find it fascinating too, and its been a while since I read Saxo’s version so perhaps I should re-read it. I do wonder if Loki had an earlier form though, as the bound giant appears in another story (i can’t remember exactly which one right now).

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      • There’s a bound giant named Utgarthus Locus in Saxo, but the Gesta is from the 13th century too, so you won’t find a pre-Christian Loki there. Nor will you in any old Norse text, sadly, though you get glimpses here and there.

        You mostly get the idea of a divine trickster, with one foot in the divine community and another outside of it, as befits a liminal being that’s also at home in the grey area between moral and immoral, male and female. He’s fluid, transgressive and subversive, as tricksters normally are. Hence also his enmity with Heimdall, who while also liminal, is nonetheless much more static in its approach to fluidity. Which is not surprising if one considers Heimdall’s role as a keeper of boundaries, not its transgressor.

        As for Loki’s original role in Ragnarök, if He ever had any in a pre-Christian version of the story, a possibility is something along the lines of his other stories: chaos, resolution and renewal with added benefits for the divine community. It’s what happens in the myths of the builder, Sif’s hair and Idun’s kidnapping.

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  3. Thank you for opening the door to one of my very favorite topics! 🙂

    I see time differently from you (at least to some extent), in that I see time as a very static thing. We often hear the phrase, “Tempus fugit,” or ‘time flees,’ but this isn’t true at all. Time is merely an observation of an event’s occurrence relation to that of another. Time and space are tightly bound: without space, without something and something else to compare it to, there is no way to observe or measure time. Before the Big Bang, the birth of Nature, there was nothing – this means also no time. From the moment something was born from nothing, the measure of time became theoretically possible. As we move through space, we also move through time; thus rather than time fleeing from us or before us, we are the ones fleeing through it. They also say time waits for no one … yet when looked at the way I just described, it’s waiting patiently for us all, and will do so for as long as something can be said to exist in relation to something else. Rather than the lazy 8, I see time, space and the Universe that exists in both as a donut. I know that this shape isn’t as popular a theory as it once was; but it explains a lot of things to me better than other theories. Besides, I like donuts 🙂

    Regarding the question as to whether or not Loki is still bound, there are a few ways I can think of to approach this question. I like the way you look at it … if we take the lore literally, we understand that at some point, he will slip his bindings and roam free to attack Asgard. This means it will happen; and when looked at from the time perspective I wrote about above, it has already happened and is simply waiting for us to catch up to it. Thus, also from my perspective of time, which differentiates slightly from your own, you are absolutely correct to say that he is bound, and he isn’t. This might also be useful when looking at Ragnarok in general, and Odin’s predestined failure to avoid it … it has already happened, and is waiting for us to catch up to it. If Odin is doing anything, it is guiding us the the long way to reaching it (where I’m sure there are a few beings who might prefer to take the short way there). Another way to look at the question, again from the perspective where the lore is taken literally (which I do not necessarily do), is that the binding of Loki is said to explain earthquakes. So long as we have earthquakes, from this perspective, we also have Loki bound.

    I arrived at this way of looking at things when I was trying to figure out how Wyrd worked … where we still have free will within a system of predetermined fate. Like tracking the energy set loose from an explosion: while the explosion itself might seem wild and erratic, certain things about it will determine the general direction in which it can explode or travel. Our Universe was born out of a pretty big explosion – we and everything that now exists are composed of the very same energy that was set loose in that explosion, we (like the gods and everything else that exists) are indeed echoes of it. While we have free choices in many regards, there are simply tendencies that are guiding us, based on prior events, in specific directions. Thus, predestination with free will and choice.

    You brought up another really good point with your perspective and explanation. How might the gods experience time, in comparison to us? Truly immortal I do not think the gods are: they exist, therefore they are a part of Nature. I do not believe in supernatural, I believe all is Natural – and I believe Nature is the supreme being, in that it is Being, itself. The gods, like us and all else that exists, are a part of the greater whole of Nature. I see the gods as gods because they are more advanced in how they understand Nature. Some might call this a possession of divine powers, while others might see it as a superior command of physics – I think gods are what they are simply because their understanding of Nature and how to exist within it is well beyond ours. So it is with this level of understanding that I think the gods probably do experience time quite differently from how we experience it.

    And speaking of time … this has been a fairly long comment! Not nearly as long as I might prefer it for discussing this topic (I could go for days when it comes to time and space and such things) … Loki could slip his binding at least twice before I would come up for air under preferred circumstances 😉 Thank you for bringing these topics up – I’m always happy for an excuse to let my mind wander down this path 🙂

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    • Thanks for replying, I find your theories very interesting too. I’ll probably have to re-read to properly understand your concept of time. I like donuts too, by the way, and perhaps this could tie in with the ouroboros?
      You make a very good point about bound-Loki being an explanation for earthquakes; Helio replied mentioning the differences between Saxo and Snorri ‘s accounts, so we don’t really know what the contemporary Norse people would have believed.
      Please feel free to blog about your own theories on this. Perhaps it would encourage further discussion 🙂

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      • Differences between Snorri’s and Saxo’s accounts should be expected. ‘Clean’ anthropology simply didn’t exist then – if it can even be said that it exists now – people wrote from their own perspectives about things that they had already judged by those same perspectives. Although they were writing from similar time periods, and both even wrote their works as ‘histories,’ they were living in different areas of Scandinavia and had different backgrounds – as well as different purposes for writing down their famous contributions to what we now refer to as the lore. In reading Snorri, we are treated from time to time with warnings about the Heathen-ness of the gods and stories being recorded … but there seems to be little real animosity toward Heathenry. Saxo, on the other hand, was openly critical of Heathenry. This is important because Saxo’s histories, while attempting to glorify the Danes, was doing so in large part by glorifying the conversion of the Danes to Christianity.

        The only descriptions I’m aware of in Saxo’s histories pertaining to Loki are to King Gorm’s patron god, who has a name similar to the Loki of Snorri’s writings. Also, in Saxo’s account, Loki is described as being in a cave with poisonous snakes, fettered. However, Saxo makes it a point to describe the filthy and pathetic state this Loki is found in (by Thorkill – a Christian hero), upon which Gorm dies out of shame for the ‘true’ condition of his favorite god. Saxo does this to demonstrate how depraved Heathenry was in the light of his preferred Christianity. This, in his opinion, showed a part of the glory of the Danes of his time.

        Also important to remember is that Saxo was likely getting much of his information second- and third-hand; where Snorri’s sources were probably likely still more in touch (at that point, Iceland was still much more open to traditional beliefs than mainland Scandinavia).

        While I think it’s important to learn as much as we can from our Heathen forebears, I’m typically much more interested in what the gods are saying to us now. Going back to our conversation about time, I think it’s illogical to assume that our gods have not changed over the years. Change is one of the first rules governing Nature. We have changed, our cultures have changed, our knowledge and technologies have changed … what we can or are willing to understand have changed. If we understand that the gods are also capable of change; then it stands to reason that the wisdom and messages they would impart to us have also changed. A large part of my religious practice is dedicated to contemplating and trying to understand this.

        As for donuts and the ouroboros (which by the way is one of two pendant combinations I typically wear 🙂 ), the donut shape that I see our space and time occurring within does not move circularly around the outer shape of the donut. Instead, I prefer to see things coming from the inside of the ‘hole’ (nothingness), traveling up and over the top of the donut, expanding as it goes out to its maximum extent, then contracting and compacting as it makes its way back into the hole on the underside of the donut. This to me shows not just the expanding / contracting cycle of the Universe and existence, along with an explanation for why Nature also reincarnates, it also shows how something comes from nothing 🙂

        Has this opened the door to further discussion? I hope so – I like the direction from which you think!

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      • I like your donut theory, I’ve never really thought of the hole being where everything comes from instead of the ring itself.
        I totally agree about the gods changing and evolving, and about listening to what they have to say now. As I said the Helio earlier, my reason for theorizing on this is because of a number of blogs and a couple of books I’ve read recently where they asked or speculated on bound-Loki. I like to take the myths as a starting point but understand they aren’t ‘The Word’ like in other traditions or religions.
        If it’s encouraging discussion that’s great, because sometimes I think people care too afraid to question the texts and make up their own minds and theories.
        Thanks for replying 🙂

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      • I like commenting in here as much as I like reading in here – and I agree with you that discussion is a good thing! I think the texts / traditions are great starting points; but I find the idea of blindly adhering to books that were written a thousand years ago about as logical as adhering to books that were written two thousand years ago … sometimes it seems people simply switch from one book for another. I do not think our forebears took that approach until they converted to Christianity … even in the stories involving the runes, great emphasis is placed on having the capacity to ask good questions, if one expects good answers. This might serve as one of the great contributions today’s Lokeans make to contemporary Heathenry: it seems many Lokeans show very little fear when it comes to challenging tradition and blind adherence to these traditions. In so doing, contemporary Heathenry is becoming less stodgy, and may very well blossom as a result. I think this is also, ironically enough, a part of Loki’s role among those dwelling in Asgard. As with everything else, this can be taken too far – again, the stories of Loki seem to illustrate this as well – but so, too, can dogmatism.

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  4. Asura-Deva war at Ocean of Milk… Devas cut off Rahu’s head. One-eyed Shukra revives dead using Mritasanjeevani mantra.

    Aesir-Vanir war at Well of Magic…. Vanis cut off Mimir’s head. One-eyed Odin revives the dead.

    Njord and his wife Skadi had an unfortunate marriage. Shiva and Sati had an unfortunate marriage. Shachi is Indra’s wife. Brihaspati and Tara had an unfortunate marriage.:-)

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  5. Heimdall was the son of 9 mothers. He was the watchman of gods. His statue is accompanied by a rooster. He is shown with a rainbow.

    Skanda/Kartikeya was the son of 6 mothers. He was the commander of gods. His flag is rooster symbol. He is shown with a peacock/rainbow.:-)

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  6. There are references to Asura as demons which is a modern rendition. There is no pure evil and good in indian literatures. Every being is considered a play of 3 Gunas, Satvic, Rajas, Tamas. Asura are generally the beings who are more materialistic and Rajasic in nature. Devas and Asuras are half brothers and interchangeable. Agni and Varuna were Asura’s who were elevated to Devas. Bali will become Indra of next manavantar. Technically Devas are Asura’s too.:-)

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  7. Odin son of Burr and grandson of Buri. Buri is the first god.
    Shukra son of Bhrigu and grandson of Brahma. Brahma is the first born creator.
    Odin was swallowed by Fenrir. Shukra was swallowed by Shiva.
    Tyr lost his hand to Fenrir. Savitr lost his hand to Shiva.
    Generous Baldr the greatest Aesir king.
    Generous Bali the greatest Asura king.
    🙂

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  8. I see Loki as ending a cycle that was pronounced foul and beginning to rot early at the beginning of the Vanir war and already off path later when the Aesir broke oath in the building of the wall.
    I feel that some how Loki was destined to end or even finish/end the cycle and his eating of the burnt or blackened heart, which is supposedly what turned his mischievous heart dark, was the final catalyst.

    Whose heart was it? perhaps Gulveig’s, who was perhaps Freyja or even Laufey?
    Loki consistently showed a lean towards gender issues of inequality and demonstrations of the power of the female side. maybe his act of ending the cycle was a balancing act, a necessary final balance to a long unequaled equation?

    Just a thought.

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