Is Loki a God of Fire?
Can fire be associated with Him?
Some folks – including scholars! – insist that Loki has nothing to do with fire at all, and that many Lokeans are misled into believing He is because there’s been some sort of mistaken conflation with Logi – the God of the Wildfire. *
I ask how could Loki not be associated with fire in some way – goodness, it’s evoked by one of the runes of His name!
And that rune is Kenaz – the rune of the torch- the physical light and heat of the hearth-fire, as well as the flame that illuminates the darkness, making shadows flee.
Kenaz is also the sacred fire that hallows the hearth and its surrounding spaces, and is the spark of consciousness that guides one through the inner darkness. In that sense, Kenaz is rune of journey-work, as it can be the torch that illuminates the path through the shadows, making Kenaz a great rune to call on during shamanic journeys that involve shadow-work.
Another aspect of Kenaz that I have come to realize is that as a rune of fire that can be controlled for a purpose – mundanely as the family hearth, and spiritually as a hallowing force – there is perhaps another spiritual purpose Kenaz may serve that is not mentioned very often…. And that is found both within Loki’s name and within the nature of fire: it burns away what is no longer necessary, and leaves the essence of a thing behind.
In the tale of Utgarda-Loki, of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning (chapter 44), Loki, Thor and two of Thor’s servants set out for Jotunheim, and come to the castle of the giant king, Utgarda-Loki. While there, Utgarda-Loki insists that no one may stay in his castle unless they can perform amazing feats of strength and skill.
Loki is the first to volunteer to perform a feat, by claiming that no one can eat as much food as He can, and
“… [Utgard Loki] called over to the very end of the bench that the man called Logi should take the floor in front of the company and pit himself against Loki. Then a trencher was fetched… and filled with chopped up meat. Loki sat down at one end and Logi at the other, and each of them ate as fast as he could. They met in the middle of the trencher and by then Loki had left only the bones from the meat, but Logi had eaten all of the meat, bones, and trencher, so everyone thought that Loki had lost the contest.” (1)
But did He?
(and a trigger warning about reference to taboo subject: death)
Now here is where the reader meets Logi – the very God that some Internet scholars have claimed is being mistakenly conflated with Loki Laufeyjarson – and I think there is a detail that is quite telling about the metaphor of the speed of consumption being compared between Logi the God of Wildfire and Loki Laufeyjarson…
Now, if one thinks of the way fire consumes matter, of course a wildfire consumes most, if not everything in its path.
But if Loki has the essence of fire within Himself as well, what kind of fire ‘consumes’ the meat but leaves the bones behind?
And that’s when it hit me: A cremation fire.
A cremation leaves the bones behind, and sometimes even some of the organs of denser tissue, like the heart.
Perhaps Kenaz is a rune that burns to the heart of the matter…
So perhaps, I believe there’s another aspect of Kenaz as a rune of both mundane and sacred fire that can be found in the runes of Loki’s name – and that hearkens to His role as a God Who is the Father to Death. So perhaps it is not surprising that Loki may have more of a connection to specific fire rituals than is usually mentioned, as well as connection to a specific sort of sacred fire – the cremation fire.
Thanks for reading!
(1) Young, Jean I. (trans.); The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson: Tales from Norse Mythology, University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1954; pp.72-78.