Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Writings and Writers Part 3 God of Stories

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In the recent Loki series on TV, Marvel-Loki says "I can rewrite the story." He's talking about controlling time, alternate timelines and universes, and time travel. Comics fans are now calling him God of Stories, a title he had in the comics. 

Asa-Loki never held that title, but was certainly a driver of stories, being central to the plot of many myths. He makes change happen.


Don't read any further if you don't want to read spoilers for the ending of the final episode of Season Two of the Loki series.

Two things central to the plot of the final episode are the Temporal Loom and the World-Tree. The Loom and the Tree are real symbols from the actual heathen mythology.

I'd like to talk about the symbols of the Loom and the Tree, which are both real symbols in heathen mythology. Like in the TVA, with their Temporal Loom, there is a loom of time in our lore. Time is embodied by the three Norns, who are portrayed as a young, mature, and old woman. They are shown performing the tasks that create fabric: carding, spinning, and weaving. Together, they create the fabric of time. The fabric of time is an idea we still use today in our modern scientific society, even though most of us don't see people spinning and weaving on a daily basis. The Norns are pretty godlike but are not considered gods in the Norse pantheon because gods are beings that want relationships with humans; gods can be generally expected to be favorable to humans and to enjoy giving and receiving gifts to and from humans. It's not that they are less powerful than gods, it's that most of the ancient heathens would not have wanted to attract their attention. In ancient heathen society, fabric production was a profession practiced by women. Gender never stopped Loki. But I have received gnosis that he does not in fact have the specific time powers that Marvel Loki is portrayed as having in the final episode of the Loki series. However, from a human perspective all the gods can go backwards and forwards in time because they are not three dimensional beings like we are. To them moving around in time is just not a big deal. So from a human perspective any of the gods might seem to have time powers even if they don't have any special link to the making of the fabric of time.

 Let's consider the Loom.

In Asatru Lore, generally known as Norse mythology, the gods with the most story related powers would be Odin, Bragi, Heimdall, and Saga. Odin inspires poets. He also discovered the runes, which are a writing system as well as a set of mysteries; Heimdall taught the runes to humanity. Bragi is the god of music, closely related to stories for an oral culture. Saga is the goddess whose name is the word for a long form story. 

However, rewriting how time plays out and determining how peoples' lives go are powers described as belonging to the Norns. The Norns are the three sisters sometimes called the Fates in English, on analogy to the Greek system. There are also numerous lesser norns, perhaps their servants or avatars. The Norns are depicted carding, spinning, and weaving the thread of a life, the threads of time, and the fabric of space-time. Fiber production was a monopoly profession of women in the ancient heathen world, and the magic that went with it was seen as women's magic. Gender never stopped Loki. However, I've received gnosis that Asa-Loki does not actually have the specific powers ascribed to Marvel-Loki in the final episode.  

To us humans it can appear that the gods have power over time, but really they just exist differently than we do. They exist in more dimensions than us, and to them time is just another direction in which they can move. To them, one moment in time is like a room they can go into and then leave and then go back into later. It's an inherent part of how the gods are, rather than a power per se. Loki can do this, and so can Odin, and Freya, and all the gods. The Norns have the power of spinning the threads of time and weaving the fabric of space-time. 

In the show, the Temporal Loom is technology created by a man. It malfunctions and has to be replaced by something better. Replacing something broken with something better is very much something that Asa-Loki does, so having Loki find or create a replacement for it goes well with the Loki we know in heathenry, even though Asa-Loki doesn't have the specific powers that the Norns have. 

The show doesn't really explain the special effect where characters turn into thread. I understood it to mean their lives got unwoven when the Temporal Loom malfunctioned so they turned back into the yarn from which they had been woven. It was a representation of the unmaking of the fabric of space-time, and thus, of the lives of human beings who live within space-time.

Let's consider the Tree.

The Tree is also a real part of heathen lore. The World Tree, Yggdrasil, holds all the worlds in its branches. It has roots that go down into the elemental worlds of fire and ice that existed before time and before the Tree, and it has branches that hold Midgard (earth, and our whole universe) and Asgard and other worlds. People can use magic to travel up and down the tree to visit other worlds. The tree grew by itself as a result of the beginning of the multiverse, after the elements of fire and ice separated from each other and then dynamically recombined. The Tree was there before the sun, and before time. The Tree was there before the worlds, and therefore before space, as well-- that is, before the universe coalesced into a form of space-time that allows beings like us to live in it. 

The World Tree as a symbol is similar to other tree symbols such as the Tree of Life. In the show, the Temporal Loom has an hourglass shape with threads going in one end and becoming one or more timelines on the other end. When Marvel-Loki became the God of Stories and replaced the Temporal Loom, he replaced it with a Tree symbol which was also hourglass shaped, but with threads coming up from the roots and turning into timelines and space-time in the branches. The horizonal Temporal Loom rotated and became the vertical Tree. 

It's an intriguing way to see a relationship between a Loom and a Tree as symbols. In actual heathen mythology, though, the Tree is not a symbol of time but of space. It holds worlds, and grows out of worlds. It's a place, and has places within its branches, and other places by its roots. So, it's not related to the Loom symbol-- or is it?

The Norns water it from the Well. They sit by its roots as they spin and weave. They spin time, and lives-- that is, lifetimes, the individual timelines of human life. They weave the fabric of the universe. Which is not just time but also space. They weave space-time. And the Tree which represents space grows from their Well. And what Well is it? Is it the same Well as the Well of Wisdom, where Odin placed his eye to see into all the worlds and all time? 

Yggdrasil is the name of the World-Tree in Norse Mythology. Ygg is one of Odin's many names. The name Yggdrasil is sometimes translated into English as Steed of Odin, the Terrible One's Horse, or other names referencing Odin's sacrifice on the Tree. In the Havamal, the Sayings of the High One (another of Odin's names) there is a story about Odin hanging on the Tree to win the Runes. The story follows the general outline of a shamanic journey where a shaman goes close to death to have a vision. So, despite the obvious important of the World-Tree as the structure in which life happens, the Tree is named for its magical use by Odin to understand the mysteries of the universe. Naming the Tree for this rather than for holding all the worlds in its branches shows how important knowledge and wisdom are to Odin and thus to his people. 

So, both the Loom and the Tree are important symbols in heathen mythology. The way they were united in the final episode of the show was unlike their depiction in heathenry, and yet felt very right in the context of the story. 

Marvel-Loki was not shown weaving like the Norns but rather being the junction point of the Tree, living branches vining around him. The branches are the threads, but are moving like snakes. His horns become branch-like, as he becomes like part of the Tree. It's an awesome moment, no matter how different from the mythology we know. It's like a new version of the universe being reborn, a true Ragnarok of the end of the Sacred Timeline and the birth of a multiverse. 

Someone has rewritten the story. It's the writer of this series, of course. 

Marvel-Loki finally grew into the hero his fans always knew he could be. 


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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.


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