I’ve found a string of connections tying our favorite trickster god back to none other than the fallen arch-angel himself, and I thought that, rather than hint at them, I might as well spell them all out.
Both are associated with light.
One of the titles given to Loki is “Light-Bringer.” Lucifer’s name means “Shining One.”
Both are associated with air.
While no one knows the etymology of Loki, another name for him is Lopt, which translates to “Air.” And Lucifer is the Prince of the Powers of the Air.
Both are fallen from grace
Lucifer thought to set himself up as high as God himself, and for this he was cast out of heaven. Loki clearly considers himself above the other gods in intelligence, and stands aloof from them. Lucifer gets vengeance from God by deceiving mankind. Loki gets vengeance on Odin by being generally deceitful.
Loki and Azazel
Azazel was a fallen angel in the book of Enoch who, with a group of other angels, took human wives and taught their children all manner of things from technology to witchcraft, prompting the Genesis flood. This is generally seen as another version (or the origin) of the story of stealing fire from the gods.
Both are bound until doomsday.
The most obvious parallel is their role in Armegeddon/Ragnarok. According to Revelation, Lucifer will be cast into the bottomless pit and bound in chains for the thousand years prior to the final battle at Armegeddon, whereupon he will be freed to lead the forces of hell against God. Loki is chained in a cavern somewhere suffering eternal torment until he shall be freed to lead the forces of Jotunheim against Odin in the final battle of Ragnarok.
I hear the cries of protest about a novel justifying the actions of a thinly veiled Satan. Why would I write such a thing? Well for one thing, just because they’re clearly a similar archetype doesn’t mean they’re the same person.
To start out with, Lucifer betrayed the Almighty God who is the same now and forever, who created the world and everything in it, merciful and just is his name. Loki betrayed a group of petty immortals who took more than they gave, and the world was probably better off without them.
The second notable difference between Lucifer and Loki is their activities on Earth/Midgard. Lucifer loves torment and despair and goes out of his way to steal as many human souls as possible. Loki really doesn’t interfere in Midgard that much. His concern is directly with annoying the gods.
Lucifer is a really, really nasty being. Loki, even at his worst, doesn’t come close. This is the key difference between a Trickster god archetype in world mythology and a devil archetype. Tricksters are usually annoying and occasionally do damage, but they’re not malevolent by nature. Loki incorporates aspects of both, but he is fundamentally a trickster. Perhaps a trickster forced into the role of a devil?
The strange thing is, when I was a very young teen and I first read the passage in Isaiah about Lucifer being the morning star, etc, my first thought was: “Wow, how do you go from this, to Satan?” followed very quickly by: “That’s should be a novel.” (For any non-writers on there, that’s how a writer’s brain works.) I actually toyed with the idea for a while but ultimately decided there wasn’t enough material to work with, and anyway, how do you write a character like Satan?
So for me, it’s like coming full circle. I’m finally telling the story of the greatest anti-hero there is, and justifying the actions of the devil himself. Loki is universally vilified in mythology and lore and I’ve always thought there was maybe a little more to it than just “Oh, he’s the villain.” Yes, he is, but why?
In my novel Loki is predestined to bring about the end of the world. Kind of like being predestined to save it–but the opposite. He find this out halfway through the book when Destiny (literally) has to give him a shove in the right direction, and it’s the driving motivation behind all of his otherwise inexplicable actions for the rest of the plot.
And why is he destined to destroy the world? Well, remember what I said earlier about the gods of Asgard being selfish, petty immortals? Their selfishness is destroying Yggdrasil, the world-tree. If Asgard isn’t destroyed then all life in the universe will be extinguished. Cue the clock-ticking drama…