Name and Origin
Loki (Old Norse: [ˈloki] “LOU-ki”, Modern Icelandic: [ˈlɔːkɪ] “LOH-kih”, often Anglicized as /ˈloʊki/ or “LOW-key”). The etymology of Loki’s name is unknown, but points to a tentative association with “loops” and “knots” through the Germanic root *luk- (Eldar, 2011).
Loki’s last name, Laufeyjarson, is a matronymic that means “Son of Laufey.” He is also called Lopt, meaning “Air”, and Hveðrungr (“Hvethrungr”), which roughly translates to “roarer” (Sturluson, 1995).
Loki Laufeyjarson is a prominent trickster god of Norse Cosmology. Found in many Old Norse tales and myths, Loki is known for his exceptionally cunning mind and his penchant for mischief. His actions, be they harmful or beneficial, often serve as catalysts for change and movement for the rest of the gods. As a trickster and “boundary crosser,” Loki often puts the gods (and himself) in various predicaments, many of which are only resolved by his own cunning and subversive actions.
Loki’s portrayals have ranged widely from negative to positive. Snorri’s Prose Edda casts him as a deceiver and challenger who orchestrates the death of Baldur, whereas he’s an undisputed hero in Lokka Tattur, using his cunning mind to outsmart a giant and save the son of a farmer.
Immediate Family / Important Associations
Loki’s father is the giant Faribauti and his mother is Laufey. He purportedly has two brothers, Byleist and Helbindi, both of which could be another name for Odin. He is blood-brother to the Allfather Odin and spouse of the goddess Sigyn. (Larrington, 1999) With Sigyn, Loki has two sons, Vali and Narfi. With his consort Angrboda, Loki fathered Hel, Fenrir, and Jormungand. He’s also the mother of Odin’s eight-legged steed, Sleipnir (Sturluson, 1995).
In Hyndluljóð (“The Lay of Hyndla”), Loki allegedly ate the heart of a giantess and as a result gave birth to all the world’s “ogresses” (Larrington, 1999).
Loki is known for his mischief-making. His antics often cause trouble for the gods, but also save them from a lot of it, sometimes leaving the Aesir off better than before. Whether it was by design or not, Loki is responsible for some of Asgard’s greatest treasures, such as Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, Odin’s magic spear Gungnir and his armring Draupnir, Sif’s golden hair, Freyr’s magic ship and golden boar Gullinbursti, and Sleipnir (Sturluson, 1995).
More than any other of the Aesir, Loki demonstrates a proficiency for shapeshifting. In lore, he has transformed into a salmon, a mare, a fly, a seal, and a falcon via Freyja’s feathered cloak. He’s also shifted genders, disguising himself as a handmaiden, an old woman, and–in some interpretations–a giantess named “Thokk” (Sturluson, 1995). He was also accused of living for several years under the earth as a woman (Oxford University Press, 1999).
Loki is attested in the Poetic Edda (Voluspa, Lokasenna, Þrymskviða, Reginsmál, Hyndluljóð, Fjölsvinnsmál), the Prose Edda (Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál, Haustlöng, Húsdrápa), and the Faroese ballad Lokka Tattur. He is also mentioned in Gesta Danorum as “Utgard-Loki”, who features in Snorri’s Prose Edda as a completely separate entity (Grammaticus, 1905).
In Modern Practice
Today, Loki is still considered a trickster and boundary-crosser. As such, he’s associated with all that is unconventional and unorthodox, from people to things to concepts. Loki’s ability to achieve what conventional thought can’t makes him a deity specialized in change and altering the status-quo.
Due to his penchant for gender-switching, Loki is viewed as a patron and protector of LGBTQIA+.
Eldar, H. (2011). Loki, the Vätte, and the Ash Lad: A Study Combining Old Scandinavian and Late Material. Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 7 (2011). 63–106. Retrieved from
Sturluson, S. (1995). Edda. (A. Faulks, Trans.). London, UK: Orion Publishing Group. (Original work published 1987).
N.A. (1999). The Poetic Edda: (Oxford World Classics). (C. Larrington, Trans.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (Original work published 1996).
Grammaticus, S. (1905). The Danish History, Books I-IX. (O. Elton, Trans.). New York, US: Norroena Society. Retrieved from