Norse Mythology

The Norse Creation Myth and Wars in Heaven

What role do tricksters play in Norse mythology?

Tricksters of all cultures tend to have several characteristics in common. They can change shapes, they have access to the dead, they possess magical powers and can cast spells, they have large appetites of all kinds, they are amoral, and they are both creative and destructive. In Mesopotamia Enki has trickster qualities, as does the Celtic Aonghus. In Norse mythology the primary trickster is Loki, but Odin, the All Father himself, has trickster qualities. Odin can change his shape and his gender. As we have seen, he can revive the head of Mimir. He tempts death itself hanging on the world tree, learning the mystery of the ancient runes. Loki’s trickster qualities are employed for more evil purposes. It is he who causes the death of the gentle god Baldr, and it is he who fathers the monstrous wolf Fenrir, the horrible goddess Hel, and the world serpent, Jormungand. And, although he sometimes helps the gods out of difficulties, Loki becomes so dangerous that he has to be restrained by them, much as his son Fenrir would have to be restrained.


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