From Iceland — Gods Of Iceland: Loki, A Nonbinary Icon Of Mischief

Gods Of Iceland: Loki, A Nonbinary Icon Of Mischief

Published November 5, 2020

Gods Of Iceland: Loki, A Nonbinary Icon Of Mischief
Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg/Wikimedia Commons/DreamWorks

Superpowers: Shapeshifting, instigating
Weaknesses: Serpent venom
Modern Analogue: Double Trouble from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Although one of the most written-about figures in the Norse pantheon, Loki’s place amongst them is less certain. Sometimes they help the gods, sometimes they wreak havoc. But that’s just par for the course for a person like Loki.

Loki’s most notable attribute is their ability to shapeshift. Although most commonly written, and portrayed, as male, their ability to transform into any number of creatures and assume female form (as was the case when they probably took the form of an old woman named Þökk), clearly indicates that they are at best gender fluid, and possibly nonbinary altogether.

Regardless of their gender, Loki’s morality is pretty fluid, too. For example, Loki helped retrieve Iðunn from being kidnapped, but the Prose Edda tells us that Loki also slut-shamed her in front of everybody at a party, calling her “the most man-crazed of all women”.

In fact, it is thought that any kind of unpredictable trouble in ancient times was attributed to the work of Loki, as causing trouble seems to be their whole raison d’être.

Loki’s propensity for mischief would come back to haunt them, though. Tired of Loki’s shit, the goddess Skaði bound Loki to a rock, with a serpent dripping venom from its fangs right above Loki’s face. Sigyn, Loki’s wife, would hold a basin under the serpent’s mouth to collect the venom, but when the basin got full, she would have to carry it away to empty it. During this time, whenever venom would drip onto Loki’s face, they would scream and shake violently. This, we are told, is what causes earthquakes.

Apparently, Loki will get the the last laugh at the end of the world, or Ragnarök, when they are freed from their bondage, but will also die at the hands of the god Heimdallur during an epic fight. This will presumably mean the end of earthquakes, but then again, it’s the end of the world in general. Which is probably how an instigator like Loki would want it.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!