Loki has a rep. Even before his recent huge pop culture splash, he was probably near the top of the list of deities random people on the street could share an opinion on. And like most people with a rep, it's fair to say that the truth isn't necessarily all that similar to what most of those people would say. While conducting that survey, if we asked just the people who said they knew something about Loki to tell us about his spouse, the vast majority wouldn't be sure he had one, and even fewer would know her name. (Yes, I'm spitballing here, but I'm feeling pretty safe.) Thus Loki and Sigyn: Lessons on Chaos, Laughter & Loyalty from the Norse Gods by Lea Svendsen, a book that is part history, part memoir, and part primer on where Sigyn and Loki can fit into your practice.

Svendsen was raised in a lineage of Heathens (her term). With a Loki-respecting grandfather and parents who were "Heathen-friendly" if not actually practicing, she grew up knowing that the gods are real and her ultimate goal was to reach Valhalla. I'm not just cribbing from her biography to fill space; these are her bona fides for writing this book. A lifetime of consideration for the trickster god and his spouse gives the book a weight that would be lacking if someone had just decided to do research for a book. Not that her research is lacking; in fact a fair portion of "Loki and Sigyn" is given over to a review of what is known and, just as important, what isn't actually known but has long been assumed. To give just one example, she takes us through the (relatively) modern interpreation of images depicting Sigyn holding a bowl over Loki. It is not at all obvious that she is catching venom from the serpent as we've been told. Granted it could be true, but there's no reason that this theory should get extra weight. For example, she suggests, the mated pair could be representing two parts of a classic sacficial rite - the cauldron/cup/bowl to hold the sacrifice, and the fire to purify and transmute it.

Along with the deep dive into Loki research, Svendsen tells us about her life as a devotee to Loki and Sigyn. Her parents, while accepting of the Heathen world, enrolled her in Catholic school in the United States specifically to expose her to people whose religions were based in an Abrahamic lineage. In her adult life, she's allowed many influences to alloy themselves into her practices but still remains, at heart, in Loki's camp. To that end, she offers practical advice on recognizing if Loki or Sigyn have taken an interest, how you can honor them with offerings, and also how to incorporate their practices into rituals of your own.

Not everyone needs a 101 on Loki, of course. That said, it's worth taking a moment to ask yourself if what you know is grounded in anything beyond "common knowledge", which either people get wrong or, if you will, people are misled in by Loki himself as part of a game of his own devising. If this leaves you questioning, "Loki and Sigyn" is an excellent book to get yourself up to speed and will if nothing else put another practical tool into your spiritual toolbox.

~review by Wanderer

Author:  Lea Svendsen
Llewellyn Publications, 2022
209 pp. $16.99