Giving the Devil His Due
Even the devil, as the old folk saying goes, probably incorporating archaic, heathen understandings about Loki, must be given his due. Loki and Heid are the sacred carriers of the baed, that which is not quite good, but not yet quite evil. Not yet …
Of course, the problem is that Loki and Heid, particularly when put together, tend to go too far. Evil is nothing but that which goes overboard and for too long, undoing the good proportions of life. Being too baed is not a good thing.
But on the other hand … not being baed enough can also be a problem, too. A little mischief is good for the soul.
We’ve all met those people who are just a little too goody-good. Such does no justice to the defiance inherent in our souls, the overwelling will-force native to wild beings like ourselves. There’s times you need to step outside the rules, and see how life is beyond the well-beaten paths,
Loki can be an excellent psychopomp in this regard, the bad-boy troublemaker who can entice those so stuck on doing things right that they lose the fun in life. And look how popular he was amongst the Goddesses! Everyone loves a bad-boy! In Volundarkvida, he is the only one who can entice Idunn, Sif, and Alveig back from the wolf-spell Volund and his brothers have cast over them.
And indeed, in Lokatattur, it is Loki, and not Odin nor Hoenir, who ends up really helping the boy chased and threatened by the giant. Oh, Odin and Hoenir help, but in the end, it is Loki who finishes the job. We all know that Loki is a favorite of little children, who have a little bit of the devil in them, and this is needed. You don’t want to invite Loki and Heid home with you, but you just might enjoy watching them … from a distance.
Odin is the protégé of Mimir, who lives in the space between Wyrd’s Well and Hvergelmir, between Muspelheim and Niflhel. He occupies and runs the dynamic engine that collides and integrates the opposites. Hot and cold intermix and create something good. But if we were to equate good with either the hot or the cold, we would miss out on what good actually is. Those who try to be too “good”, in the relatively new Christian sense, have lost the balance of hot and cold within themselves. They need a little baed to evoke that ambivalence that can get life moving again. Under Odin’s wing, Loki can serve wod, the dynamic force of evolution.
The mischief in us, if it goes too far, can sabotage us. This is clearly told in the myths. There is a time when Loki’s trouble-making is in balance, yet that soon spirals out of control. There is a reason both he and Heid are assigned ultimately to the jotnar, and this is because they are indeed untamed forces, despite the incessant work of the Aesir and Vanir to tame them with their firm and loving friendship. All this must be understood in its proper balance if we are not to fall into an overly moralistic stance. Loki and Heid ultimately are dangerous, and frankly, their seeds planted too firmly within us for us to allow the plant to grow rampant, because we are each, if we are honest with ourselves, already too much the liar, too much the cheat, too much the hypnotized drones of greed and dupes of fearmongering. Playing with them is like playing with fire.
But a little pyromania never hurt anyone … too much. One man’s poison is another man’s medicine. Dosage is everything. Some people, impulsive, unable to control themselves, liable to fall right into trouble, need to avoid Loki and Heid like the plague. For these folk, a good portion of humanity, they live up to the name of Saboteurs.
But there is a remnant of humanity who became too domesticated, too closed off, who are just a little bit too kneejerk “law and order”. It’s not that Loki and Heid are needed per se once one has been opened up beyond the mask of domestication. No, no, then the other Gods, quite wild in a wonderfully beneficent way, take over. Yet sometimes an initiation is needed, and under these circumstances, those who bring mischief may bring valuable gifts. Anyone who has read the stories of Loki, whose madcap shenanigans, as much as we must ultimately condemn them, delight us, knows that.
Ambition on its own, as part of a well-balanced life, is something encouraged and implanted by the Gods as part of our evolutionary imperative. Heid, on the other hand, takes this to the point of “the devil take the hindmost”. This part of ourselves wants to get ahead so badly, wants to get rich so quickly, wants to be surrounded by jewels and gold and maybe even servants, that we will do anything in our power to do so, and step on anyone necessary to climb the ladder. And it ultimately is not governed by a healthy impulse, but rather a fear of scarcity, a kind of primal anxiety driving us onward to consume, like the cursed Erisichthon of Greek myths.
But on the other hand, for those women who are just a little too demure, a little too submissive, who fail to put one foot forward for too much courtesy, Heid might prove a good fire-starter. Her strong bitch-energy (one of her names is Hyndla, the Bitch) could knock one out of her complacency. She was, after all, always the favorite of ill women. This can lead to trouble, as Loki can, but on the other hand, there is always something attractive about these kinds of wicked women. They know exactly what they want, and they go for it, and nothing is going to stop them. Their charm is endless. Who can’t help but be tempted by such a woman? There is a strong feminist thrust to such, and if the impulse can be tempered, the initiate will discover that the Goddesses and Gods want such strength for all women (and men). Heid’s magic is, after all, but a perversion of Freya’s witchcraft, and the Goddesses are strong, and will always foster the strength of women (and men).
I distrust anyone who doesn’t have a little Loki and Heid in them. It’s where we begin, and their archetypal perspective allows us to gain a little salacious glee out of the terrible malarkey human beings are capable of, particularly in a decaying age. By staying true to the Gods, we refine them, and complete their journey to transcendence within ourselves. For Loki and Heid stumbled, and then committed to that error, until it undid them, and threatened to undo the world. But we recreate their story within ourselves, and can complete their integration into the realm of the Gods inside our own souls, if we will listen to the strong advice and discipline of the Holy Gods.
I don’t recommend too much playing with fire. But being a friend of Burning Man folks and other freaks, who doesn’t like a little fire twirling?
Just don’t get burned. It’s all too easy.