Loki’s Path: Essential Marginality

I read an article called “Loki’s Mythological Function in the Tripartite System” by Jerold C. Frakes that was published in the Journal of English and Germanic Philosophy in 1987. I found some pretty interesting excerpts.

“In attempting to come to terms with Loki as a functional element in the mythological system, his essential marginality may well by the key. He is external to the system, but essential to its function, and thus it is as a mediator between the outside and inside, partaking of both, that he operates.”


“Loki manifests his essential mythological function as anti-function. And as such his role is necessary to complete the semiotic structure of the mythological system. For it is only by the means of an anti-function that the functions, and by means of the margin and that which is marginalized that the center, are ultimately delimited and defined. Loki defines the functions in a number of ways – as their tester and usurper, subverter and destroyer. On the margin, he has equally ambiguous ties to the realms both of the gods and of the giants, but is at home with neither. His offspring are also creatures of the margin.”

I really like the line “His essential marginality may well be the key” because it fits. It really does.

Loki is the god of the fringes. Of the margins. Of the marginalized. All of us who stand in the margins of society for one reason or another understand that we are outside of the system, yet essential to the way the system functions. We understand what it is like to be both on the inside and the outside of the system, never quite fitting in one way or the other, but still somehow getting by with what we manage to grab hold of. That’s what Loki’s path really is. The flitting back and forth over the boundary of the inside and outside. And it’s hard to explain exactly what that feels like, but it is a lot less fluid than it sounds, and a lot more difficult to deal with emotionally than those who aren’t part of a marginalized group will ever understand.

2 thoughts on “Loki’s Path: Essential Marginality”

  1. I also read somewhere (several somewheres actually) that Loki may be the sacrificial fire itself. It is the intermediary – carrying messages and offerings to the Gods, carrying messages to the people, interacting in all worlds while really partaking of none. And this explains why Loki hides in water. Kind of the same message with a different reasoning.

    I also view Loki as absolutely essential to a functioning ecocosm. (is that a word?). UPG – I think buzzards are the emissaries of Loki in much the same way falcons are the emissaries of Freyja. Doesn’t relate to the rest of the comment, but there we are 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have read theories of Loki being a hearth spirit, the original hearthfire, the heart of the hearth, etc. I’ve also read theories of Loki being the god of sacrifice, the god that connects the world of the Gods to our world by reigning over the sacrificial space. It makes sense, in a lot of ways, and I think Loki resides over connections.

      I think that Loki plays a very similar role to that of Janus in the Roman pantheon in that nothing functions without him. In all of the major myths, Loki’s behavior sets things in motion.

      I think that Loki utilizes all animals as his emissaries, as I have dealt with everything from spiders to dogs appearing as emissaries of Loki’s.

      Liked by 3 people

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