Frequently Asked Question: Why do some American heathens hate Loki?

My Answer: Most Loki-haters hate him because other people taught them to. Of course that begs the question, how did the original teachers of Loki-hate decide to hate Loki? Some of them had bad experiences with Loki or Lokeans, some of them based their opinions of Loki on lore, some of them based their opinions of Loki on a mistaken impression that every pantheon has a Satan figure in it, and some have other reasons. Recently at least some hatred toward Loki and his followers is because of a perception that they are Marvel fangirls and therefore are not serious about heathenry.

1. Because of bad experiences with Lokeans

Unfortunately, some followers of Loki really are toxic people. There is a stereotype of Loki's people that they are strife-stirrers, frith-breakers, liars, cheats, and manipulators. The various stereotypes about the people who follow specific gods exist for a reason. There really are men who follow Freya or Freyr to get women, Thor's people who are in it for the beer, people who follow Baldr who are white supremacists, and Lokeans who introduce chaos into orderly systems. 

None of that should be considered a reflection on the god they follow. There are people who follow each of those gods who are like the stereotype, and also some who are not like the stereotype at all. And with the exception of the white supremacists, because down with them, not all of that is necessarily bad. 

In a previous generation, a stereotype about men who followed Loki was that they were gay. Some of them really were, and there's nothing wrong with that. The first follower of Loki I ever met, back in the 1990s, was a young gay man who was briefly my housemate at my apartment. The entire time I knew him, he was actively hiding from his patron god, terrified of attracting his attention. It was only after he moved out and I cleaned his room out and found drug paraphernalia that I realized he had a drug problem, and might have been hiding from his patron because he knew Loki would not approve. Perhaps he had promised to quit or something and was afraid to admit he hadn't, or something like that. It is really too bad because from what I now know of Loki, Loki would have helped him overcome his addiction if he had turned it over to his god. And this is one of the main lessons to learn about a god and his followers: sometimes a person attracts the patronage of the god he needs, not the god he wants. Sometimes a god chooses a person to help because he is weak in the god's qualities, not because he in strong in them and has an affinity for his spheres of influence. It would be a mistake to consider the fellow I knew to be representative of what Loki is all about. 

The first Freyr's man I knew was the subject of my blog series Good Knowledge, Bad Teacher. He was a leader who leveraged his position and knowledge to extract sex from young women students. That's certainly not a good representation of what Freyr is all about, nor a reason to reject friendship with other Freyr's men. The same goes for knowing some bad apples among Loki's people. Like any other humans, they have both good and bad qualities, and the percentage of good to bad varies. 

2. Because of needing a Satan figure

Unfortunately, some Americans who wanted to be heathen but could not let go of their xian* attitudes decided that heathenry needed a Satan figure. For some reason, they chose the most beloved friend and traveling companion of both Odin and Thor. I don't understand why they didn't choose Surtr for Norse Satan. Perhaps he did not enter the contest. Perhaps Surtr looked awful in his bathing suit during the bathing suit phase of the competition? So the crown went to... heeeere she is, Miss Norse Satan.... (ehehe) 

Of course Surtr isn't Satan either, I was just being silly. There is no Satan in heathenry, nor do we need one. I was just thinking that if they were trying to choose one based on that prophecy that lifts whole passages from the Book of Revelations, it's Surtr who is actually supposed to destroy everything at Ragnarok, not Loki. Destruction does not equal evil. When the universe runs down, it either ends in fire (death, which can lead to rebirth) or ice (all the heat goes out of the universe and there is eternal darkness with no renewal) -- and that's physics, so, anything religion says similarly is a metaphor for nature.

It makes some sense to cast Loki in the role of main antagonist in Ragnarok rather than Surtr because Loki is a well known figure in the mythology, and because he has a revenge motive based on stories in the mythology.  Stories need conflict to have drama, and mythology is stories. Mythology is related to but distinct from religion. Some heathens take the story of Ragnarok literally, especially in the United States, where the wider culture has a strong tradition of religious literalism. Some heathens don't believe in Ragnarok at all, some believe it has already happened, and some believe it is metaphorical, but there are some who believe that someday the followers of Loki and the followers of the other gods are going to literally fight each other, and that this is bad, and therefore one side is bad. Rather than seeing Ragnarok as the necessary destruction that brings about rebirth, they see destruction and death as inherently evil. Some Asatruars who view Ragnarok that way hope that they will go to Valhalla as a chosen warrior of the war god Odin, and that they will get to fight on the good side in the war. They see Loki as the leader of the side they themselves will be fighting against, and that therefore he must be evil.

3. Because of bad experiences with Loki 

There are also people who have had bad experiences with various gods and / or their followers, including Loki and some Lokeans. Some of them then passed their personal gnosis about their bad experiences on to their own followers and students, thus creating entire sects and subsects that want nothing to do with Loki. There are people who fear Odin for the same reasons people fear or hate Loki, as both can be tricksters and are known to do various things some people don't approve of, such as temporarily adopting a female form. But at least part of the time, when one has a bad experience with Loki, it's because of expectations influenced by other people who are influenced by xianity, or by the xian influence in the wider culture in which we all live, which includes xian influence in Snorri's Edda, since Snorri was a xian. 

At least one person I can think of who teaches others to fear Loki is clearly being called by Loki but just can't seem to either say yes, or permanently say no and forever walk away. If one genuinely wants a god to leave one alone, continuing to poke the god works about as well as continually poking a bear. 

 *xian: Many heathens write xian for Christian on the principle that a being one does not want to invoke should not be named. The practice of not writing the name of God or Christ began as a sign of respect for the divine. In Judaism they write G-d to keep the paper it's written on from becoming holy. Early xians wrote X for Christ because it is the Greek letter Chi, and some xians today still write xmas for Christmas and so forth.

4. Because of lore

There are also sects of heathenry in which Loki is not part of their culture. Loki is a big figure in Icelandic mythology, and appears in mythology and folklore in Scandinavian countries, but does not appear in the mythology of heathen England or the Germanic countries south of the Scandinavian area. Some heathens from these cultures clash with the more northerly heathens over whether Loki is a god or not. 

The heathen sect Theod does not include Loki among their gods. Although many scholars consider the Kirkby stone in England to depict Loki, Theod is not based broadly on all English and British culture, but specifically on the Anglo-Saxon, whose mythology did not include Loki as a character in their stories. The Theodish avoid Loki by writing his name "the L-God." 

There are some heathens who do not belong to sects that exclude Loki who still base their hatred of Loki on their interpretation of lore. In those cases, they are not arguing that he is not one of their gods because their culture doesn't have lore about him, but rather that their culture does have lore about him and they interpret it as saying Loki is evil. See the entry on Satan figures, above.

5. Because of Marvel fans

Popular culture has always gated some people in to heathenry. In previous generations, Tolkien's portrayal of Gandalf and runes and elves and dwarves in Lord of the Rings sparked an interest in heathen lore among some Tolkien fans. That was where I first encountered the idea of runes, so that when I later read a book on rune magic, it resonated with me, drawing me to the heathen path. 

In recent years, a lot of Marvel fans have started reading actual Norse mythology and some of them have found heathenry. There is a new stereotype about Loki's people, and that is that they are teenage girls who found Asatru or paganism because they love Marvel-Loki. The wider culture in which we live is often dismissive of the interests of girls, and that attitude can influence everyone living in our culture, including some heathens. 

 Image: the Loki stone in Kirkby, England