I was having a totally silly Facebook chat last week about the fact that Loki – real Loki, the Deity – does not in fact look like Tom Hiddleston, the guy who played the Marvel character Loki in the movies.
We were just messing about, but it made me think about why people have variations in the way they experience the Deities. For example, people report seeing Loki with hair anything from a blondish-ginger to bold blood red, and a variety of lengths. Obviously Loki’s hair, whilst very pretty, is not the most vitally important aspect of anybody’s faith, but why doesn’t everyone see Him the same? Likewise, why are there so many variations of the Greek myths? Which versions are we supposed to believe? When we journey to the same place as someone else, why do we not always see the same things they did? Why will a Deity give different answers to the same question? You see how this ‘Loki is ginger’ argument actually becomes important.
I feel like there are probably several different things happening here. Firstly is the fact that Deities can assume different forms! (Especially Loki.) So that covers at least some of the ‘cosmetic’ debate. When it comes to variances in ancient myths, it’s natural that they would change a bit with each retelling in an oral tradition…and then once you hit written tradition, politics kick in. We’re fallible humans. And, as fallible humans, if we have an idea in our head it may affect what we experience. This doesn’t only happen during mystical, spiritual experiences – people’s mood, prejudices, past experiences and a million other things affect the way they view the solid, physical world we live in too. I’m not saying we only experience what we expect to, but I think sometimes our opinions can color what we perceive. For example, there’s no point at all in me trying to ask if Loki and Sigyn are still suffering underground with that extremely venomous snake. I’d say I’m pretty much incapable of hearing that answer, because the noise of my own hopes and fears would distort it completely out of shape. I’ve already had a situation where my own bad opinion of myself completely messed up the real message (fortunately some divination straightened it all out).
But sometimes even really experienced, talented people have varying, even contradictory experiences. I think that’s because we’re just humans. Don’t get me wrong – I think human beings are amazing, and powerful, and we’ve done some incredible things. But when we contact a Deity, we’re contacting something so much more ancient, powerful and just…just *bigger* than us that our little human brains struggle to understand it. We’re all looking at something our minds can’t fully comprehend, and so our minds interpret what they can of this vast, awesome Being…and that’s why people don’t have identical experiences.
Loki is ginger, though.