Wednesday, July 19, 2017

President Loki

Any rich religious tradition supplies us with many mirrors and windows through which to gaze at both our world and ourselves, the outer and the inner. Certainly the Norse Pagan tradition, which was already old before the Vikings ever set sail upon the ocean, is such a prism of imaginative possibilities. Today, as my outer eye was reading the New York Times and reflecting on the latest tweets and tantrums of President Trump, my other eye was looking into the mirror of Norse mythology and seeing the god Loki, and it occurred to me that there is a lot of Loki in our president. Both are born troublemakers who are good at stirring up strife and slinging insults and who seem to glory in creating chaos and discord. Trump clawed his way to the top of the Republican pack while slamming his competitors with pejorative nick-names like "Little Marco," "Lyin' Ted" and "Low-Energy Jeb." Then when he had the nomination in his pocket he turned his attention to the Democratic candidate on whom he bestowed the belittling title of "Crooked Hillary." How much this childish name-calling succeeded in damaging his opponents is unclear, but it may well have helped sour voters on these other possibilities as well as subconsciously charmed wavering voters to incline towards Trump as an entertaining rascal whose mockery and aggressiveness they found endearing. There are, after all, many people who do not follow politics closely, and may have voted for entirely superficial reasons or simply wanted to express displeasure with the status quo, for which purpose Trump, with his hateful, insulting rhetoric and disregard for any norms or decorum, was ideally suited.

This is much like how Loki unloads buckets of scorn and gossip on the other gods in the banquet described in the Eddic poem Lokasenna. Loki eventually gets so caught up in the joy of mockery that he cannot resist confessing that he was involved in the murder of Odin's son, Baldur. The gods' patience runs out when they hear this, and they seize Loki and bind and imprison him for the duration of history, until the apocalypse of Ragnarok when he breaks free to become the champion of the giants, the demons and the dead, who he commands in the final battle that destroys the world. One could imagine Trump's career taking a somewhat similar course. If the other Republicans in Congress get worn out by Trump's endless drama, bottomless vindictiveness and unceasing ad hominem attacks on anyone who displeases or opposes him, and if Trump's capacity for careless talk leads him to confess to serious crimes beyond the questionable actions he has already acknowledged in his diarrhea-like Twitter feed, the Republicans may decide to team up with their sworn enemies, the Democrats, in impeaching this reckless ogre and getting him out of office, and if not into prison, at least out of the political system. However, Trump's "forgotten man" supporters, who see him as their standard-bearer and messiah and seem impervious to any criticism of their savior, may well rally to him when he leaves office and give him new power to shape public opinion, promote conspiracy theories, and stir up angry trouble from a position as the head of a media outlet like Breitbart or FOX News.

Loki is also the father of some rather unpleasant and troublesome children, and the conflict-of-interest controversies swirling around Trump's daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr., not to mention Ivanka's husband Jared Kushner provide interesting parallels. Trump's affection for authoritarian, dictatorial leaders like Putin of Russia, Duterte of the Phillpines, and El-Sisi of Egypt, not to mention his love of fossil fuel products and companies regardless of the damage they cause to the environment, also brings to mind Loki's warm relations with monsters who are bent on the destruction of the world as we know it. In my previous posting, I spoke of the Midgard Serpent as an analogy for fossil fuel structures like pipelines that encircle our planet and weave in and out of the earth. Well, in Norse tradition, the Serpent is the son of none other than Loki. If Trump is Loki or like Loki, it stands to reason he would have great affection for a monstrous entity that has the entire planet in its grip and no love for humanity.

So, readers, what do you think? Is Trump America's Loki? Is he a destructive force than can be restrained, but not eliminated from our world? Who will be our Thor to rid us of this menace?  Or will we never be rid of him, because many find his poisonous words and chaotic, maddening maneuvering clever and entertaining, and in sync with their own wishes for aggression, revenge  and destruction?


Addendum:  Since writing this entry, I have discovered that I am not the only person to perceive a similarity between Loki and Trump. See   and


Julia Ergane said...

This is a truly frightening thought. In Hellenismos we do not have a God like Loki, though some folks try to force Hermes into this role. WRONG! This is one of the many, many reasons why I am a very hard polytheist. Loki does exist in His pantheon and it does look like His actions are now causing disharmony upon peoples who are not known to him. This is horrible. Right now I will approach my Gods in prayer.


Maelstrom said...

Dear J A, my essay was mainly intended as a tongue-in-cheek commentary about the tweeter-in-chief. I was trying to show how some of Trump's worst traits and most harmful tendencies resemble the nature and actions of Loki in Norse myth. I do not mean to assert that Trump is Loki incarnate.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Sharing on Twitter

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