THE FACES OF LOKI
As a shapeshifter, it comes as no surprise that Loki has a number of forms he can easily assume. What is slightly more surprising is that he assumes completely distinct identities also. Within the context of conventional Norse myth, there are a number of figures that appear to be distinct in their own right, but are recognized as being expressions of Loki. Two of particular note are Lodur and Mundilfore.
In the Æsir version of the world creation tale (which has some elements taken from the original Rökkr account, but is, on the whole, garbled and confused), Loki appears under the name Lodur in the company of two other gods: Odin and Hoenir (the bright one). This trio otherwise appears as Vile, Odin, and Ve (Hoenir), and represents an attempt by the Iron Age Æsir-centric leaders to usurp the indigenous Rökkr creation myth, in which the masculine triad was comprised of the three sons of Nal: Loki, Eggthir, and Kari (Surt). The sister of this Rökkr triad was Ran (the sea), which explains why, in the Æsir myth, Loki, Odin, and Hoenir create humankind as they walk along the beach of the primordial sea (Ran).
Loki, and all the Rökkr in general, represents everything essential and worthwhile about humanity, and this is because of the gifts that Loki gave to our parents long ago on the primordial shore. From him, Embla and Ask received the blood that still flows in our veins, and the passions and desires that make us so human. But Loki also gave Embla and Ask the semblance of gods, and it is through this that humanity can aspire to become divine. Who better than Loki, the emanation of Nal, to give us the gift so inextricably connected to the goddess: her blood.
The second appearance of Loki in this primal kozmological age was at the world mill, on which Ymir's body was ground into matter. The world mill was turned by nine wave maidens, the daughters of Ran, who were in turn supervised by the man Mundilfore, a being not counted amongst the Æsir or Vanir, but acknowledged as the father of Mani and Sol, the moon and sun. He was once employed by the Æsir gods as a guardian of the well of Hvergelmir, but later rebelled. Hvergelmir was fed by waters directed by the constant turning of the Mill within Midgard's sea, which sucked water through the centre of the millstone, and produced a maelstrom, which drew water, down into the well, and then threw it back up again. Behind the guise of Mundilfore is actually Loki, who, as Mundilfore is also described doing, sought to rival the gods of Asgard. Mundilfore can be compared to the Greek figure of Mylas (the miller), leader of the dog-headed Telchines, who were said to have invented the mill. Loki-Mundilfore is himself dog-headed, and was associated, as the Telchines were, with the star of Sirius.
A sense of the complexities of Loki-Mundilfore can be seen in the etymology of his name. The word mund is feminine, and means hand, implying at the same time, an idea of tutelage, or guardianship (like the German Vormund-guardian, or Mundel-ward). As a neutrum, Mund means point of time, measure, the right time, mood, and humour; while mundung means mouth, and munden means flow. The feminine properties of mund suggests Loki, whose polarity is feminine, despite his male exterior. The neutral forms of mund, on the other hand, imply the role of Loki-Mundilfore as the guardian of kozmic time, which flows forth from the turning of the world mill.
For the interpretation of the last segment of Mundilfore's name, fere or fore, is identical to the Old High German word fergjo, and the Middle High German verge, meaning ferryman. This seems to imply Loki's role as the dog-headed psychopomp of Naglfar, the Rökkr ship of the dead. The essay on Grandmother Nal shows that Naglfar was synonymous with the world mill beam on which the primal giants Bergelmir and Nal escaped to Jotunheim during the world flood. Importantly, Bergelmir and Nal, who are so firmly associated with the world mill, are also known by the names Farbauti (Cruel Striker) and Laufey (The Wooded Isle), the parents of Loki. The creative act of Bergelmir-Farbauti being laid on the mill of Nal-Laufey, may have thus, created the future guardian of the mill, Loki- Mundilfore.
That Loki is Mundilfore has an interesting implication for, a theory put forward by Victor Rydberg on the father of the watcher god Heimdall. His mothers have long been recognized as the nine wave maidens, and as per usual, devotees of the Æsir have attempted to claim Odin as his father. But Rydberg states that it was Mundilfore; which makes sense considering that both Loki-Mundilfore and the wave maidens have the same kozmic occupation. If Loki is Heimdall's father, it adds an intriguing dimension to the events of Ragnarok, where it is Heimdall and Loki who kill each other.
To kill Loki, Heimdall decapitated him, but in doing this, the trickster's head, appropriately, swung back at Heimdall, struck him, and wounded him so that he too died. This event, the details of which are often glassed over in many accounts of Ragnarok, is vital to the symbolism of Heimdall, and the relationship between him and Loki. Heimdall's other name of Hallinskidi has been read as he with stone-shoulder, or more appropriately, he with stone-head. In Skaldskaparmal, there is the kenning for sword of Heimdall's head is the sword, or, alternatively, the sword itself is called miotudr Heimdaler; miotudr has been interpreted by Jacob Grimm as measurer, the head of Heimdall-Loki is the measurer. Another of Heimdall's names, Vindler, illustrates the role further. Rydberg says it comes from vinda, to twist or turn. He states that "The turner" is given to that god who brought friction-fire (bore fire) to man, and who is himself the personification of this fire, then it must be synonymous with "the borer." Heimdall as the turner, imitates Loki-Mundilfore working away at the World Mill.
SWORDS AND SPEARS: A Comment On Elemental Lokian Tools.
The association of the fiery Loki with the elemental tool of the sword is the continuation of one of modern magick's great conundrums. Western magick, since the Golden Dawn, has corresponded the sword with the element of air; and the wand with the element of fire. This rather inexplicable correspondence has been explained away by apologists for the Golden Dawn as an occult blind; whereas less glassy-eyed commentators would say they simply got it wrong.
The mystery behind this elemental confusion is that, at some level, the sword and the wand are interchangeable; just as the cup, or grail, is akin to the pentacle, or stone, out of which it was created. So, just as Hela corresponds to the stone, as a representation of the earth, and also to the cup as a holder, of the lunar mead, so Loki corresponds to both the sword and the wand/spear. This dual correspondence is expressed in one simple symbol: the sword Laevateinn. This sword was made by Loki and guarded by Surt, but what is intriguing is that its name means "wounding wand". Loki's sword is also a wand.
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