Rudra, Shiva, Agni and Loki

These pages and the ones dedicated to the Gods Rudra, Shiva and Agni explore the connection between them and their representation of the transformative force in the universe. The main aspects they share are fire, death, illumination of darkness/ignorance, transcendence of the self, as well as abundant love and compassion.

My reverence belonged to Rudra, a fierce and beautiful Hindu God who helps us to transform our human limitations, Agni, who illumines and Shiva whose meditation pervades the universe. And then, along came – literally – Loki.

My spiritual belief favours the Indian pantheon of Gods, so understandably it was rather confusing for me that a Norse God made His appearance in my life. If any God, I would have expected a Hindu God – but by playing with my beliefs and expectations of what I “thought” God had to be like, He led me to see beyond my mental constructs and divisiveness. Norse God or Indian God – division exists only in our mind. It is our heart that has the capacity to expand and go beyond it. Loki embodies the aspect of God I relate to the transformative aspect of God and He could have come to me in the form of Rudra or Shiva – Gods I know and trust – yet He chose to appear as a Norse trickster God and thus outwitted any mental expectations/limitations of what God had to be like.

I did not revere Loki as holy or sacred. He is a trickster and distrusted by many – so I could not blindly accept him. Loki stirred up doubts, made me question Him, question myself and I had to take a leap into the unknown and unknowable by trusting Him. In turn He opened my heart to see, and what I see is magnificent, pure and nothing other than the aspect of God I love and trust. And maybe because I had no expectations in Loki and I relate to a personal God better than an abstract One (to me God can hardly get any more personal than Loki), I was able to embrace and accept Him as a friend and thus feel His unconditional love, compassion and concern. He is so “human” that He often makes me feel we are on the same level. Naturally, I am ever so grateful to Loki. He opened my mind to truly see God as the One Absolute who manifests in myriad forms, regardless of the name we give Him. 

Loki showed me that our mind can never fathom the play of God and that there is One Benevolent Force in this universe who truly is One with us, within us and longs for us to be One with Him/Her. This One lives right inside our hearts and loves us like a true parent – unconditionally.

For those who are not familiar with Hindu religion – there is a Holy Trinity, the Trimurti, of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu the (Preserver) and Shiva the (Destroyer). They exist beyond the realms of the other Gods and are also worshipped by them. Their consorts (or Shakti, which is the life-giving energy that pervades creation) are Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. Then there are the Gods who dwell in the Higher Worlds with Lord Indra as their King (the God of Thunder and Lightening). These Gods are the benefitters of mankind. On the other side are the Asuras or Demons who dwell in the Lower realms and are not on good terms with the Gods (similar to Aesir and Jotuns). The Asura’s are powerful wild forces, yet not necessarily all malicious. Whenever the Gods get into trouble beyond their capacity, they will seek refuge with the Trimurti. The Trimurti are one with creation and not bound by moral concepts.

Lord Vishnu, the preserving force is full of love, humour and ceaseless compassion. He is a cunning trickster and sees solutions were others get stuck and usually gets the Gods out of trouble with His cunning (sound familiar?).

Lord Shiva, the destructive and transforming force is easily pleased by His devotees and known to grant favours to anyone (even demons and criminals) which frequently gets the Gods (and sometimes even Himself) in trouble. He has a childlike, innocent and pure nature and also quite a fiery temper. Although Lord Shiva is easily angered (which often has fatal consequences for those involved) He is also a God of love and boundless compassion. Lord Shiva is the Magician and Master of Tantra – His consort is Shakti Devi, the Kundalini or Mother Power. Some refer to Him as the Father and Destroyer of Creation.

An ancient form of Lord Shiva is Rudra, whom I revere and love. Rudra is the terrifying One, who destroys falsehood and illumines those who seek the Truth. He has a tender heart and boundless compassion for humanity.

What I found in Loki was abundant power and a terrifying force of destruction, paired with a tender heart of boundless love and compassion. Very similar to Rudra and it sparked my interest so I started researching the three Gods.

Curiously, Loki also holds aspects of Lord Vishnu (the preserving force) especially by getting the Gods out of trouble with His cunning and trickery, which is a Vishnu trait. Loki helped me understand this, because the Preserver and Tranformer are the obverse and reverse of the same coin. Maybe this is why Loki is blood brother to Odin and apparently every toast given to Odin is also a toast given to Loki, so also Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva share a close connection and in some accounts even melt into one form. I feel that the relationship between Loki and Odin is a very deep and intricate one.

Some writers have connected Odin to Shiva, yet seemingly completely overlooking Loki.  Shiva – like Loki – is a paradoxical deity with a dark and also very loving and compassionate side. He is often described as roaming cremation grounds, which leads us to yet another God who is often connected to Shiva/Rudra and sometimes to Loki – Agni, the God of Fire. In his book “Playing with Fire” Dagulf Loptson identifies Loki as a God of cremation/sacred fire and connects Him to Agni which makes much sense to me and what it is intriguing is that Agni is seen as the form-giver of Rudra. Whilst Shiva is seen as a form/aspect of Rudra. All three deities are intimately connected to each other, and certainly lead the one who revers them to the same goal. Rudra, Shiva , Agni and Loki all represent the transformative aspect of God that illumines our earthbound consciousness. As I searched for parallels between Loki and these Hindu Gods, I was not surprised to find plenty. 

I believe Loki to be a very ancient God (like Rudra) who is closely connected to the Great Mother Goddess – a God who existed before we plunged into a patriarchal consciousness. The connection to the Mother reflects in the androgen appearance of Loki, Shiva (especially in His from of Adharnaishvara) and also in their innate tenderness and compassion (which is a feminine quality).

Loki and Rudra share a similar appearance, both described as youthful, handsome and rather fiery, and they also share the same star – Sirius.

In Scandinavia Sirius is known as Lokabrenna – or Loki’s Torch, while in Sanskrit it’s name is Mrgavyadha or Lubdhaka – Deer Hunter or Hunter and it represents Rudra (Shiva). Sirius being the brightest star in the sky was used to represent God (as Rudra). Some believe that human life as we know it has originated from the star Sirius, and thus it makes sense that Sirius is connected to an ancient God like Rudra, who is thought to be the father of mankind.

Rudra’s originally terrifying form was tamed through worshipping Him in his auspicious aspect (siva) as Shiva, and He was pacified by giving Him a perfect wife and two sons. Is it a coincidence that Loki and Sigyn represent the perfect married couple, and also have two sons? In His form of Mahakala, Shiva is the Lord of Time, controlling the illusion of existence, and He is the one who will destroy the universe at the end of time – Loki’s children, Hel, Fenrir and Jormungand all show us the aspect of our finite, linear existence (so in a way Loki fathers time), while He Himself is a master of illusion and the one responsible for the destruction of the cosmos at Ragnarok. There are also many similarities between Loki and Agni, as well as Agni and Shiva. In some accounts even Kartikeya (the God of War) is stated not as Shiva’s but Agni’s son.

Sometimes it gets forgotten that Loki is a God of “word or speech” (I find Him very helpful in improving my writing and public speaking skills), as He likes the use of eloquent speech and expression, and is conscious of the power of words. Agni is said to be the father of speech, which reflects in His name starting with the letter “A”, said to be the first sound in creation and curiously is the first letter Indoeuropean alphabets. Agni, like Loki, has a swift mind and even though He is mostly seen as a God of Light, He actually has a dark side – He is one of the Rakshasas or Giants, the adversaries of the Gods, yet He lives with the Gods and even takes their side in battle (just like Loki who is a Joiner, a giant, who lives amongst the Aesir).

There are stories about Agni hiding from the other Gods that sparked my interest. One time Agni hid in the water to escape the Gods (and he was betrayed by the fish, who gave away his hiding place), another time he hid under the earth. Interesting is the fact that in the Lokasenna Loki also hides in the water and afterwards is bound under the earth. Another story relates how Agni got in trouble for speaking the truth, (because He cannot help himself, He has to speak the truth) – and I found Loki to be a very honest God, who (more than once) got Himself in deep trouble because of speaking the truth. Loki often dons a falcon cloak to travel between the worlds, and Agni is in older tales compared to a bird or a birdlike being.

“In Vedic mythologies, Agni is also presented as one who is mysterious with a tendency to play hide and seek, not just with humans but with the gods. He hides in strange places such as waters where in one myth he imbues life force into living beings that dwell therein, and in another where the fishes report his presence to the gods.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agni

“The origin myth found in many Indo-European cultures is one of a bird, or bird like being, that carries or brings fire from the gods to mankind. Alternatively, this messenger brings an elixir of immortality (the knowledge of truth?) from heaven to earth. In either case, the bird returns everyday with sacrificial offerings for the gods, but sometimes the bird hides or disappears without trace. Agni is molded in similar mythical themes, in some hymns with the phrase the “heavenly bird that flies”.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agni

Agni is the essence of the knowledge of Existence. The Kanvasatpathabrahmanam (SB.IV.i.iv.11) calls Agni “wisdom”. Agni is symbolism for “the mind swiftest among (all) those that fly.” It also symbolises the soul; it is the power of change that cannot be limited or overcome. Light, heat, colour and energy are merely its outer attributes; inwardly, agni impels consciousness, perception and discernment.

The connections I have discovered so far are based on mythological facts and of course it is up to the reader to draw conclusions. I wish to thank Loki that He inspired me to look more closely into these wonderful Gods (that includes Him), because it allowed me to marvel at their complexity, brought me closer to them and also confirmed some of the experiences I have been blessed with. Loki encourages me to see them as one, as there ultimately is only one Absolute Force in this universe that manifests in myriad forms.

Find more on Rudra and Shiva and Agni here.