Loki’s Only Wife: A Meditation on Grief

Loki has only one consort. It is obvious from the myths, but just like a clever man wrote some one hundred years ago : it is the fruit hanging under our very nose that we do not pick.

True, the myths give him three wives. One fits more the God of Fire, Logi, as his wife is Glut/Glod (glowing embers) and his two daughters are Eysa (Embers) and Eimyrja (Ashes). Thus the names in themselves are tell-tales that we are looking for the wrong wife ….

Then we find Sigyn, the victorious girl-friend or victory-giver/friend? facing Angrboda, she who brings sorrow. Two opposites, even down to their children. The faithful Sigyn with her two very normal sons and the sinister Angrboda, mother of a giant wolf and a giant snake and the queen of the kingdom of the Dead.

And we follow a story where all begins with the sinister witch ….

Unless, we read the myths upside down. What if just like Alice we were to go through the looking glass …. We find still a trickster God married and happily to that to Sigyn, proud father of two sons … then something happens. Was it related to Baldr? Nobody exactly knows as why Loki would all of a sudden contrive Baldr’s death for sake of a jest … unless it was not.

It starts indeed with Lokasenna and Odin’s betrayal of Loki — betrayal of his bloodbrother and the murders of two innocent children. And a wife. Why would Odin have spared Sigyn? To allow Loki to beget other offsprings? The cave where Loki has dwelled did contain him and three bodies.

One was Vali with the metaphor of a wolf tearing Nari apart; like the teeth of Despair biting deep in your heart when we love somebody dear. Another one as Nari whose guts bind his father to his rock: poetic allegory of the sideration of our physical being when we are bereaved: we are bent in half, we can barely move and we do not want to leave the scene of our loss. We wander like lost souls in the house of former happy days, we refuse to alter one thing in his/her room, nothing must change, all must stay the same, we are becoming minerals, with a heart heavy as a rock bound to a past which hurts us yet a past we do not want to forget.

The last one, Sigyn, with the so easily understandable traduction. Illusion, reminiscing of happier days. Day-dreams of past times when all was good. Sigyn’s vision protect her husband from the bitter reality. But again and again, the poison of Truth crawls back, digs in his fangs and the bereaved husband remembers his family is gone. He does not cause earthquakes because the poison burns him; he shakes with rage at the reality until oblivion and sleep bring him back to the time of ‘before’.

In grief there are supposedly five stages: What we find here is a Norse version of said stages: denial, anger, depression, but not acceptance.

At this point of the re-reading, this re-vision of the myth, we meet depression: Angrboda, she who brings sorrow. There is no ‘Angrboda’ as such: just the mirror figure of a beloved wife who is missing. Norse people were just like us; they may have lived in a world where elves and trolls ‘existed’, they still loved just as strongly and as badly as we do. They were bereaved just as much as we are. Myths told them stories, gave them examples on how to cope with life’s real events. Thus Sorrow came to Loki via Angrboda, via the beloved wife whose crime was to be dead. How could she die, how could he leave me? These questions have never stopped to be asked from the beginning of time. Why am I still alive when the Other who made my world so wonderful is gone, why am I left here ‘in the dark’?

Angrboda comes along with her son: the giant angry wolf Fenrir who does not abide lying fools like Tyr. Tyr lies and Fenrir bites: rightfully so. You will get over it, mate. No, one does not ‘get over’ grief. One makes do, one survives like an amputee: one never gets over it. Love is not some cheap toy one can lose. Love given (the worse kind) roams looking for his counterpart Love received. And the absence is unbearable. One walks, yes… with a crutch. Some try and are able to give a go at life; some never accept the loss.

Another son is the snake, yes like the snake of the cave and one may wonder if the guts who bind Loki are not the coils of the snake which pours venom. The snake circles Midgard, circles us, keeping us from … from what? Unless it is from forgetting our loss.

Then comes Hela, merciful Hela who welcomes in her realm all the dead. Who reunite and this time for Eternity those whose bonds were broken in life.

Angrboda comes after Sigyn. Is a step after Sigyn in the myth where a God, just like any Norse mortal, is faced with the same grief and the storyteller tells us of his plight?

Snorri Stulurson wrote about the myths in a time where Christianization was intense and the myths were still around, but much confused. Just like Roman monks were describing the Roman Imperium in a totally fantastical way, I suspect that the very same happened to the myth of Sigyn’s death anf Loki being married to the Goddess of Fidelity. Why does he deserve such a ‘good’ person? The reason becomes clearer if the God of Lies, the Mischief Maker, is undone by hs own ‘fidelity’ to a ‘dearly missed spouse.’ In fact, the Goddess of bonds makes terribly sense here. She is dead and yet she binds her husband stronger than she ever did in life!

Could Ragnarok be Loki’s version of acceptance? I accept you are gone … but I shalll follow you and all will die as a world without you is unfit to live ….

Such questions must be raised ….

[Written by TS Morangles.]

1 thought on “Loki’s Only Wife: A Meditation on Grief”

  1. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I had never thought of it this way, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks.

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