Loki the Horned God

Some meta thoughts on Loki’s depiction, spurred by an interesting convo on my FB about Loki being likened to a Satanic figure in the Norse pantheon, and me mulling over how this is actually a backhanded compliment. I could rant on how Lu/Satan is unjustly vilified, but that’s a rant that is probably better handled by an actual Luciferian. I am not an expert on Him, but the vilification of horned depictions of Gods is relevant to my interests.

image

Horned!Loki on the Kirkby Stone. The town of Kirkby Stephen was once part of the Danelaw, and the stone is dated to 850 AD. So…we have an actual depiction of Loki with horns, from ye olde days.

But what does that mean? Well, horned deities are a Big Deal, and are seen in multiple ancient traditions. A little scholarship on them, from the book Horns of Honor:

image

The screenshot is from Google Books, if you’d like to look around in it. So horns were a common symbol of the Divine Masculine, and a representation of the God’s power, strength, and fertility. If you’d like more scholastic corroboration on the horn as a symbol of nobility and leadership, consider this image:

image

Image source is from Lady with a Mead Cup by Michael J. Enright. The book discusses drinking rituals and kingship at great length. It’s primary concern is human kingship, but the obvious inference is that the reason a human king would use horns to associate himself with the power of the horned god, and then after Christian conversion, the horned animal from which its power and virility is derived. But it’s still a signifier of nobility.  I love the fact that a depiction of Loki with horns is usually ignored when people are discussing whether or not He’s a “real god.” It’s a whole ‘nother “hmm” that even this depiction of Him bound has the horns intact, and I’d argue that this suggests that even bound, Loki has not lost His kinship or divinity, contrary to arguments bandied about by Nokeans. But now, let us consider Loki’s most popular modern-day depiction:

image

It’s fascinating to me that Marvel went out of their way to put Loki’s horned headdress into the films. Loki wears His horns far more often than Thor or Odin are depicted with their own mantles. One could make the argument that it’s supposed to be a visual subtext for His malice, but I’d make the argument for Loki’s nobility and potential for redemption because the helm is featured prominently in Thorthe Avengers, and is noticeably missing in the Dark World, where He is jailed and essentially stripped of his royalty until the end of the film. I will be curious to see whether it reappears in His next cinematic appearance, because if the helm signifies His ability to be redeemed, perhaps He has redeemed Himself, but since the end of the film is ambiguous as to why Loki’s on the throne (is it permanent? if so, WTF happened to Odin??), we don’t really know whether this is redemption or murder, which seems very appropriate for the character as depicted in the Marvel Universe. Considering what a BFD Kingship is to Marvel!Loki, the fact that He frequently sports horns on screen is an interesting bit of visual subtext indeed.

This has been your meta on How Ancient Pagan Symbols Affect Our Brains Meets Pop Culture Paganism. YMMV, disclaimer blah blah the fun of meta theory is that different people see different things in the same text etc.

xposted to my Tumblr.

3 thoughts on “Loki the Horned God

Comments are closed.