Mobius sees Loki as a chance to escape from the TVA. They are watched. Mobius knows what a fish is. Mobius wasn‘t born into the system, he’s probably a variant too who would be reset if they tried to return to their timeline. Mobius tries to find out how the other Loki variant manages to escape the minutemen without leaving traces, because he‘ll need that knowledge for his own escape. Is Mobius Mephisto?
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Do people not understand that the reel Mobius is showing Loki is specifically designed to break him down?
To feed him the narrative that he is bad and causes pain to others and nothing else?
To show him the deaths of his family members (I'm sure he thinks Thor is dead too, because of the explosion), to emphasize the point that everything is hopeless. He won't have any reconciliation with them because they'll die soon.
Furthermore, it preys on Loki's emotional bonds with his family. We see Loki smiling while watching the less brutal parts of it. Narratively speaking, we're in his perspective, so we see it through his eyes. We see his love for his family while he watches and mourns them. We see his anger too, especially in Frigga's case. Then his self hatred as Mobius berates him.
The narrative is neither condemning Loki's family nor uplifting them. It's simply depicting his perspective, which also can be flawed, because we're more willing to forgive family for their wrongs than other people. Most of the time, we're not objective or logical when it comes to family. I think that's happening to Loki here, and I understand it on a personal level.
Here, he doesn't know what Odin tells on his trial. He doesn't see Frigga defending Odin's actions. He doesn't experience Thor readily ignoring him for over a year. He hasn't lived the events of TDW or Ragnarok, so he doesn't see how his family has failed him in these events. It's not shown to him.
So he comes to the conclusion that's being fed to him by not just Mobius but also his own mind. It wouldn't have worked if it was only Mobius. Loki has deep rooted self hate and inferiority issues. Mobius knew that, and he framed the reel to magnify them further to break him down.
Because in Mobius' perspective he's deradicalising Loki and trying to make him cooperate.
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Accusation: The TVA is unfair! The Avengers, especially Steve should be arrested.
I guess this thought comes from the assumption that the TVA considers meddling with time a crime (?), which they do not. Time Travel is not an issue per se. As long as nothing happens that endangers the oh so precious “sacred timeline”. They go after people who´s actions put the sacred timeline in danger which (as far as I understood the explanation) can happen while time travelling but can also happen while not time time travelling. So within their internal logic they are absolutely consistent and “fair” in arresting Loki but not the Avengers.
Conclusion: NO. I still don´t like them.
Accusation: The TVA is evil!
So this is a ruthless organisation with a “zero tolerance” policy (according to their posters) that arrests people that do not know and very likely mostly have no way of knowing that their actions are a “crime” and possibly resets them.
(Which I am assuming might not be death. Loki´s question about what this means is not answered but they do distinguish between ”pruning” and “resetting”. Since they use the phrase “Prune on sight” I am assuming pruning > death and resetting > maybe something like “reprogramming” which is arguably still only very slightly less “evil”. )
Their trial is a farce, there is not even a bad excuse of a defense attorney and their judicial system seems to be limited to “you´re guilty because we say so”. Which is very, very bad.
An seemingly unlimited authority with maybe (maybe not) arbitrary rules, (least certainly rules that are neither known to those expected to follow it nor communicated with them), which expects complete compliance and conformity sounds very, very bad.
Can there be a but? Not to perform a Reductio ad Hitlerum but if a time traveler appeared on a street and murdered a baby in a stroller everyone would rightfully consider that pretty damn evil. Yet if we get to know the baby would have grown up to start a war and genocide the label of “evil” might be questioned.
If the TVA has the choice between prosecuting individuals and “total destruction of well, everything” wouldn´t it be evil to let all of existence disappear? Would it? Would it not?
This of course only works IF the narrative of the Time Keepers and the “sacred timeline” is correct and their claims are true.
Which is opening a whole can of worms of: Are the people in the TVA convinced of what they do and why they do it? Do they act according to the best of their believes? Are the Time-Keepers legit? Do they even exist? Do they lie to the TVA personnel? Do they have other motives for their actions than those they claim to have? Do they maybe absolutely believe in what they are doing but have flawed methods or operate on faulty assumptions and need reform?
Moreover just to mention that other can of worms of “free will.” The TVA is actively denying individuals a lot of agency and autonomy. Where is it “right” to draw the line between individual autonomy and preserving existence? Moreover does this mean “free will” is mostly an illusion? If everything seems to be (somewhat) predetermined to happen the “right” way, or how it is “supposed” to happen and you just get plucked from your time whenever you make a choice that does not align with that, do you even have that choice in the first place?
Are you a slave to fate or in this case to what the Time Keepers determine that fate is?
I think the jury on the “Evil?!” matter is still out, even considering comic TVA. As far as I know in the comics most TVA employees are cloned and it seems they aren´t going that route in the show? So I guess we will see if or just how bad and/or evil that organisation is.
Conclusion: MAYBE. Time will tell!
[Meta operating based on Loki s1ep01 “Glorious Purpose”]
Where would you like the story to go?
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The Devil in The Window
Apologies for low image quality. This is a repost with some reworking for an earlier, longer breakdown I did of the Loki trailer. Now that episode 1 is out - (YAY I WAS RIGHT, TAKE THAT MEPHISTO FANS! But also I do look forward to his eventual appearance, you think I don’t also have a huge interest in satanic mythology and the devil’s appearances in literature? Because I certainly do.) - I think it’s a good time to review.
Anyway, here’s a new shot of the window, apologies for using the older ones I drew on before from hereafter though. They updated the design for the episode, so some details have changed - however, I think that the old one had some details that were actually better to demonstrate with, the biggest being the change to the chest shape. Still, I think the intent remains, and I suppose it’s all to the good I used the design that shows it clearer.
So, Norse Mythology. It’s been Christiannized. You can thank Snorri Sturluson for that, but you can google all about him later. Let’s just say that he made many Norse figures into equivalents for Christian ones. Baldur is Jesus, pure and a sacrificial lamb who dies for a greater good. And the devil is...Loki. Something the Marvel comics and the MCU have continued.
Here we have a devil, dressed in green and with a distinct shape on his chest:
Hmmm...wait...I know that weird horny shape...(yes they changed this design in the episode, but it still has this basic shape, just with another layer of gold above it.)
Ah. I’d say that cinches it. This is meant to be Loki. If you look at the devil’s hair, it also resembles Loki’s, being shoulder-length and kinda curly.
So, what’s devil-Loki doing? Laying an egg? Trying out a foot massager? For a second I thought it was a moon, but we see the moon over his left shoulder, amongst the stars. Which means this is - probably the Earth.
...Dammit; I live there.
So Earth is barren and being devoured by flames, likely caused by this Loki sitting atop of it (in a throne, no less). Aw gee, things look pretty bad, don’t they?
But wait - what’s that? Under the Earth (and, possibly, under the earth)?
It’s a plant. A shoot, to be exact.
Back to Ragnarok for a second. Ragnarok isn’t the apocalypse (something we see a lot of in this trailer - all of it seems to be exploring the end of days). Ragnarok is the fire meant to wipe out the old and fertilize the ground for the new. And after the gods have died, what happens? Well, Baldur emerges from Hel, one of the only surviving gods (hmm, seems him dying worked out, didn’t it?). He’s joined by Líf and Lífþrasir, who are the new first man and woman, who’s names mean ‘Life’ and who are pictured, usually, with plants and new life. It is they who are tasked who growing a new Yggdrasil after the destruction of the old. The previous first man and woman are Ask and Embla, meaning Ash Tree and Vine/Elm tree, so there’s a theme there.
So a new sprout, possibly a tree, growing out of the destruction of the old.
This fits with Loki’s role as understood in mythology. He checks the arrogance of the gods, including when they tried to achieve immortality (sorry, Baldur, nothing personal), and that keeps the gods at their best. After Loki is imprisoned, the gods become weak, unhelpful and foolish, and Yggdrasil starts to rot. Eventually Loki escapes and returns along with Surtur (who also resembles this figure) to burn it all to the ground. This is also referenced in Thor:Ragnarok, with Loki releasing Surtur in the Vault, a place of thematic importance to Loki and one that represents the hidden secrets and sins of Asgard). You could say Ragnarok continued into Infinity War, where Loki played an important part in aiding Thanos’ destruction, giving up the stone to protect his brother and essentially dooming the rest of the universe - but also ultimately leading to its salvation, even if, like Myth Loki, he wasn’t around to see it.
So, we see the Variant literally start a fire in the trailer -
- in fact, this whole trailer is awash in flame -
It’s fire, fire everywhere and Variant Loki’s setting them!
Damn, even our ‘hero’ Loki is burning stuff down! Does this mean that Loki is doomed, always meant to be an avatar of death and toasty destruction?
Well...let’s go back to that stained glass. Hmmm...wait...I know that weird horny shape...
And there’s something else...the bottom of the Earth is being lit up, and not by fire. Light appears to be coming off this little plant.
What colour is this plant again? That’s right, green. Green is the colour of new life and growth and change and...hang on, I’ve heard that before, too..
Hang on hang on HANG ON... let me have a look at the shape again.
That’s...a letter. An L? For Loki? Like in the title sequence?
Wait...no, a different letter. An older letter. After all, Loki is old Norse. How do you spell his name in that again?
And ENHANCE on that third letter!
This, my friends, is a Kenaz/Kaunaz, or what would become 'K' in our alphabet. It is also known as the 'Loki Rune' (and the Ulcer Rune, for some reason. I suspect Odin understands why). It’s used to spell his name, but is also used on his own to represent him. Heck, it's even his Superman 'S' in the comics:
Runes are more than letters - they are symbols for concepts. So what else does it mean?
Primarly, it means ‘torch’.
And also ‘knowledge’ (ken). As well as ‘growth, change, the search for truth, decay, arrogance, elitism, feminine, kinship and creativity.’
...Okay, that’s a lot, but you have to admit it fits.
More specifically, it means ‘Mastery of the Fire’. As in, someone who has learned to tame fire so that it is helpful, not harmful. To bring light and, symbolically, knowledge.
There’s another way Loki’s been associated with fire - in the Wagner Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold, the opera that inspired much the Thor films’ aesthetic and certainly their helmets, Loki is called ‘Loge’, which means ‘Fire’. He’s usually dressed to match, too -
Many trickster figures are associated with fire. They are usually called ‘Fire-bringers’ - See: Raven, Lucifer, Prometheus, etc. They are often complex figures with a foot in different worlds, but who nonetheless help mankind with the gift of ‘fire’ - although they usually pay for it, and tend to be self-destructive.
(Side note. Lucifer means light-bringer, which is what luciferase is named after. Because it glows. Which is helpful in labs. In case someone needed to know that.)
Moving from a destructive fire-starter to a fire-bringer seems like a great character arc for Loki to take, especially given his rehabilitation in pop culture, the comics, and even wider culture. Loki has gone from being seen as an evil, deviant, destructive character to one who’s seen as a patron of the arts and creativity, of stories rather than lies. Heck, some scholars of Norse Mythology even posit that he’s the closet thing to a protagonist Norse Mythology has, so I guess that backfired, Snorri!). Being dressed in green and with the sprout clearly also being stylized after his Kaunaz, there’s foreshadowing that he’ll be capable of growing good things even out of ashes.
So, to sum up: Being ‘Satan’ sounds pretty bad, but with a little letter re-arranging like we see in the title sequence, you can be...
...practically a saint. Maybe even a saviour.
Merry Christmas, everybody.
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@thelightofthingshopedfor - What’s really great, too, is the opportunity to explore agency as in, Loki’s agency in his own life, which arguably he’s had very little of and that’s a big part of his breakdown in Thor 1. His whole life, he’s been a prince, which already gives him less agency because he has a role to fulfill. Then, he finds out the circumstances of his birth and adoption—and what little agency he thought he’d had in his life gets stripped away. He’s never been in control of his own life, and Odin never intended to make him heir, because, well, he’s the monster parents tell their children about at night. And then, Thanos, Mind Stone, TVA—Loki is not in control of anything, and my head canon has always been that this is the thing that Loki despises and fears most of all.
So there’s that, but there’s also the wider predeterminism vs free will debate: the idea that there is One True Timeline, that our paths are all predetermined, and that if we deviate from this predetermined path, it mucks everything up. That ties into the idea of Loki’s identity. Is he destined to be the monster? The villain? Or can he choose to be someone else? And that, UGH, that will get me every single time.
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Today’s hyperfocus on my brain today: Writing out a short one-shot where Loki meets his biological mother, Farbauti in the MCU and realizes that she was different from his father -- she loved her son and had absolute faith in him.
BRB CRYING. I GOTTA WRITE THIS OUT NOW!
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so I watched this bit, right? and was thinking “what does this remind me of? where have I seen this before?” and then I had it:
like...that, right there, the idea that Loki is and always will be, inevitably, Designated Villain At Birth - and what’s more, that the reason for that is to serve as a counter, a shadow, for others - is one of the things that is very much at the core of Agent of Asgard as a series. and specifically, an argument against that.
which is why I think I keep circling back to these lines (among others) when I think about what I’m excited about when it comes to the Loki series - because this feels like a thematic core of what the show is going to be working with.
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Yknow what, anything else aside, this episode had some great Loki reaction facial expressions. In-character or not, the look on his face when the camera pans back to him after the Miss Minutes video plays and just before he laughs? That raised-eyebrows-slightly-opened-mouth, "what in the fuck did I just experience?" expression? SUCH A MOOD for SO MANY THINGS.
I can't find a gif.
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The Magic Theater || Loki Meta
(This is a thing I wanted to write after the premiere but was at work and then too tired. Enjoy!)
Ahh, meta analysis! For some citizens of Fandom, it's just a way of one-upping other fans, making it look like you have all the answers and get all the references. For others, it's about projecting what you wish was true to validate your feelings, starting from the desired conclusion and working backwards.
But to me, quality meta is like frozen yogurt: taking something you love and ruining it a little so you can have more of it! And the first episode of the new Loki series is some quality fro-yo.
For Loki: Episode One, and Loki: Agent of Asgard
The God of Stories
So Agent of Asgard is a very meta comic title. It's a story about stories, about a perennial villain trying to break out of his pigeon-hole as the God of Lies. To make the greatest of all escapes and begin again as something new. But in order to achieve this, he has to literally fight himself first.
King Loki (Loki’s future self) loops around the timeline, contriving the world of his past, and convinces an uncertain All-Mother that the future stability of the Aesir depends upon Loki being a villain, on him failing to redeem himself and remaining the enemy of Asgard, hated by all.
I was reminded of that because... When Mobius tried to get Loki to confront the wicked things he’s done in the time theater, and especially the reason he did them, he doesn't talk about him like he's a person, he talks about Loki like he’s a character in a story, claiming that his place in it is to challenge other characters to reach their potential as heroes.
“Antagonist,” that’s what he’s describing, someone who forces the protagonist on their journey.
According to the Sacred Timeline, Loki will play the antagonist, over and over for all eternity. Because some higher, unseen beings decreed it long ago. It isn’t until Loki’s knocked out of his timeline and forced to look at himself, examine himself outside his “God King” narrative, from the perspective of an audience in a theater, that he comes to the realization of why he keeps losing.
His fearful scrambling for control of his story -- selfishly, recklessly, at the expense of the lives of countless others -- has made him a villain, and thus inspired heroes to rise up against him. He's fated to attempt a... shall we say, unexamined redemption arc, but when the consequences of his deal with the devil inevitably catch up with him, it literally gets him killed.
But not this Loki. Not our new Loki. This one is on a different path.
It's so cool, so weird and meta, that Loki gets plucked out of his story before he dies and is given the chance to change how it ends. To become, if not the hero, then at least the main character.
Hear that sound? The loop is breaking.
No matter how much Loki hurts because of who he's been, an audience who selfishly stans him won't want him to change, even to save his own life. Even if he's obviously miserable. No, stans are like the kind of people who give their dog chocolate "because he wants it". And anyone who actually cares enough about the pup to wrench that Snickers bar out of his mouth is going to be hated for it.
As such, Mobius M. Mobius has some fans split. They want to believe he's a villain, an abuser, that he's using Loki. And, sure, it's technically possible he's a secret villain. Any twist possible in an MCU show. So I won't talk too much about whether he's good or bad, but more his actions, his place in the story, his abilities, and his effect in the first episode.
To begin with, Mobius specializes in dangerous variants, but he's not a hunter, doesn't seem like he's considered a fighter by TVA standards. But what he does seem to have that the hunters lack is the ability to understand and show compassion for someone who's nothing like him.
And that seems to be his defining trait: empathy. This is demonstrated in his big character introduction, when he stops the hunters from attacking a child, choosing instead to comfort and to gently question. And he's assured by Hunter U-92 that the kid has nothing to tell them that they don't already know, so it's not really due diligence on Mobius’ part. It's just his modus operandi.
Right after this, he sits in on Loki's trial, and just when our boy's being sentenced to a reset, Mobius puts his own ass on the line to save him. Under the promise that Loki will behave and be helpful, Mobius becomes Loki's handler for the time being, responsible for whatever havoc Loki wreaks. Then he takes him to a "time theater" to work through some issues he knows the God of Mischief has.
Just wanna point out, this is clearly not TVA protocol. They don't snatch variants out of their timelines and try to use them to crack cases, they reset them, they prune them, they don’t trust them. Mobius isn't just being a good time cop, he's saving Loki's life. Unfortunately, he needs Loki's help to do it, and that means rolling up his sleeves and yanking the snickers out of his mouth.
Unlike almost everyone else in the MCU who have decided Loki's just insane, Mobius wants to know from him why he does what he does. Mobius seems to know, but he wants Loki to know. And while Loki's very resistant to having his narrative challenged at first, he clearly wants to spit the chocolate out, especially after seeing what it'll do to him in the future.
And to my delight, (and strange parasocial pride) Loki ends up doing the rest of the work on his own. Even if it's all just a plan to escape or betray the TVA, he's still been confronted with the truth he’s been running from: that he’s just a frightened little godling, puffing up to fool people. He's willing to be honest with himself just now, and in doing so, he begins to tell a different story.
I'm so damn happy about this. One of the things Loki very nearly lost (after the revelation of his true parentage turned his topsoil) was his love of good old fashioned silly time. There may be more heavy stuff on the horizon, but the blood-soaked nightmare boy seems far away now. Funny, annoying, cute, frustrating hijinks are back on the table. And I love it.
"Nah. No more evil. Mischief, now. That's still got legs." -- Loki, God of Stories
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Tom Hiddleston speaking about Loki’s evolution for 20 minutes ❤
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ok but you know what really earns the Loki series so many plus points in my book already? It's the fact that they've clearly put ample thought into all of it!! Like, yeah, the earlier scenes feel a bit too uncomfortably out of character but even then I can go on making meta post after meta post for the whole week because there's actually layers of good content to analyse in there!!! I may have just been starving for decent Loki content but have you ever seen a single detailed meta post about Thor: Ragnarok that wasnt about how inexpressibly bad the movie was??? As a Loki fic writer I've forced myself to sit through Thor: Ragnarok dozens of times and not once have I said "hey that's a cool character detail hidden there" and trust me trying to write a semi serious plot-focused fic about Thor: Ragnarok is a NIGHTMARE because there's literally nothing there except cheap gags!!! Meanwhile I've watched the episode TWICE and the interrogation scenes specifically once more and my analytical mind has been going absolutely wild for the past three days because there's so much to pick apart!!! Because barring some stupid things like loki's stash of all the words he's ever said being tiny they've clearly put thought into his character and his actions and his sorroundings! not the exact same thought as I would have put into them but it still feel less like an actual canon episode and more of a fic on ao3 and I mean this in the most complimentary of manners!!! like i'm currently doing a detailed analysis of the whole interrogation and hhhhhhhhh fodder for meta go brrr
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Okay yes the TVA is dodgy as hell but I think maybe that's intentional??? I'm pretty fucking sure the writers didn't put up "big brother is watching, comply or be destroyed" posters so that the TVA would look like the unambiguous good guys. The overly cheery Miss Minutes mascot, the rampant pruning, the surveillance, it's SUPPOSED to feel off. Maybe I'm giving the writers too much credit but I think you're supposed to be creeped out by this shit. It's way too over the top for it to just be "oh oopsie! Oopsie doodle! We created an authoritarian regime!"
Also yeah Mobius is being a manipulative ass and the things he's saying to Loki are cruel. It's weird if critics and interviews have presented Mobius and the TVA as the "good guys," but honestly all I've really heard is that they represent order, that Mobius is level-headed in contrast to loki's emotional drive, and that fans would like him. And from my perspective all of these things are true. The TVA represent order in a series where Loki may prove chaos to be the preferable route, and I like Mobius. The things he's doing are not OKAY, but I can appreciate him! I got this far being a fan of Loki on similar grounds. I'm hoping that they're setting up for a battle of wills between two morally grey characters. Part of me also wants that Gay Shit but I might be asking too much here
Also i remember tom saying the series takes a massive turn about midway through and "poor loki." I'm hoping Loki can confront the renegade variant AND the TVA as antagonists.
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The TVA is formidable: a look at Loki's slow realisation.
The first two times I've seen the episode, I've divided Loki's attitude towards TVA in two blocks: pre-infinity stones reveal (TVA are clowns) and post (the strongest power in the universe). But the reality is more nuanced than that.
Thing is, by the time Loki is sentenced to be reset and meets Mobius, he's already realised that TVA is physically much stronger than him. He has no magic, he cannot overpower them and he cannot reason with them - he'd tried all 3 and failed. Which is why he actually follows all of Mobius orders from the get go. He mouths off, yes, but he follows him without being manhandled into a place that, in his own words, looks like a place of execution, he sits and he participates in the conversation. This is, considering that Loki is an Asgardian prince fresh off an invasion, a huge amount of subservience. Even while saying that collaboration is not his forte, he's actually collaborating to the utmost of his ability. The only thing that he's guarding from Mobius is his mind.
Too bad that his mind is exactly the thing Mobius wants. As soon as Loki realises this, he digs his heels in, because that's just completely off the table. But he knows that he's defenceless against the TVA, and the depth of the interrogation is upsetting to him, so he gets agitated and eventually loses the control of his body language, fidgeting and standing up.
Then comes something worse: it's not Loki's self-image that is under attack, it's his basic understanding of the world. Mobius's not only saying "you're evil, you're your mother's killer, you're nothing" (bad enough), he's further saying that it wasn't even Loki's choice to be, or not to be, any of these things.
This is a game changer: powerful beings, Loki can deal with. An institution that pleasantly explains to him that they have abolished the free will of the universe, he cannot. At this point Loki just flips out for a bit (being told that his mother will inevitably die does not help) and then quickly gets his shit together and hightails the fuck out of the situation.
Except then he finds the infinity stones and comes to the realisation that yes, the TVA has indeed abolished the free will of the universe and yes, his life has indeed been written for him by a superior power. At which point he circles back to the start, adopts a subservient attitude again and agrees to offer his mind to Mobius.
Loki's final answers to Mobius about himself are truthful, yes, but they are not some kind of cathartic self-actualisation. He had always known these things and he had always jealously guarded them close to his heart. They are a (temporary) capitulation and a peace offering to the "formidable TVA" in a bid to stay in its good graces.
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More Fun with Runes but this time it's the Eternals
Hey. I've been on a kick with runes in LOKI lately, but before the first episode dropped, you wanna know what happened? The Eternals dropped their first trailer and goddammit THEY had straight-up runes just...there??? Here I was, tracing shapes on costumes and circling stuff in the background, and they just...dropped them in ETERNALS of all things?
Luckily, the Loki episode included runes and other symbols in its title sequence too - see analysis for those ones here. But let's go ahead and cover the runes in Eternals too.
ᛝ - Ingwaz - named for a Norse Hero God, Yngvi, who came down to Midgard to unite the people of Viking Jutland before returning to the heavens. So of course, this rune means to create unity, find common ground, peace and harmony. It also symbolizes undying love between romantic loves, intertwining two lives. It is associated also with family and feeling supported and loved by your people.
This suits the Eternals and the narrative, such as we can glimpse it, well.
Aaaand here's this little bugger again! You all remember Dagaz, yes? Because it is plastered all over the TVA in Loki. Here's all that noise I wrote about here.
This does connect the Eternals to Loki in an interesting way. It symbolizes 'Everlasting Time', which definitely fits the TVA, as well as the Eternals. (Additional note, it also means 'Non-Duality', which contrasts with the recent appearance of the Horned God's symbol in Loki, meaning 'Duality'. The TVA and Loki will not get along, methinks.)
But for Eternals, I think it means 'Dawn'. The film is shot mostly at Golden Hour and has that warm, outlined glow (admittedly Golden Hour is at sunset, but still). Dagaz symbolizes awakening, to become aware and enlightened. Which seems to be true for the Eternals, who are becoming more aware and willing to act.
This has been a shorter than usual Rune post. Let's see if this unexpected connection ties into the LOKI or THOR series in any interesting ways.
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Runes and Symbols in the Loki Series - The Horned God Rears his Bestial Head
This is a sequel to this post here, which explored various runes appearing in the Loki trailer. There are two Norse runes, but also a symbol I didn't expect to see - but which makes all kind of sense.
First off, Kaunaz, which we've discussed numerous times before. But let's recap for those who didn't click the link above. Kaunaz takes the place of the 'K' in Loki, as it is that letter's ancestor. It means 'Torch', symbolizing 'The search for Knowledge/Creativity, and how the use of it can bring prosperity or destruction'. It is also known as the 'Loki Rune', so of course it'd be here!
Next up, Othala/Odal, which is of course an 'O'. It is sometimes mistakenly called the Odin rune, but it is not, despite being the first in his name - I'll cover the real one later. It means heritage, legacy, ancestry, royalty. How interesting. Does this mean we'll explore what that means to Loki? Will we see his heritage addressed, as well as his legacy? It is also related to the Omega symbol - Ω - from the Greek Alphabet, meaning 'Last', but that's stretching a bit.
Now, on to the good stuff! This O with a crescent-moon shaped horn is the symbol of The Horned God.
This is a deity for Wicca and some other neopagans. He is something of a mixture of horned deities from other religions, including Pan, Cernunnos, Baphomet, Janicot, Osirus and Satan, who’s also based on pagan gods. Part of the appeal of the Horned God is that it celebrates gods and iconography that Christianity has demonized. Another god that’s experienced this? Our dear Loki, and that’s been covered here if you want the low-down on that and an analysis of the Stained Glass Window - short version, there’s a mix of Christian and Norse Mythology in its iconography, as well a rundown on what it means for Loki and his mythology that Snorri Sturluson made him the devil in his Christiannized take on the myths that then became the most well-known version of the stories.
So, once again I posit that this show will explore the concept of Loki as the ‘Devil’ - that his designation as an evil entity has been misrepresented or foisted upon him by others, including himself (“I am a Villain” as a line from Loki seems to set this up), when in actuality he is something more akin to an important natural force, unfairly demonized.
More on the Horned God - he represents nature, wilderness, the hunt, and the cycle of life and death. He is usually depicted as theriocephalic - which means having a beast’s head. In his case, usually a stag or ram. This symbolizes the union of the divine with the animal, and blurs the line between man and animal for the same purpose. He is considered a god of dualities: light and darkness, night and day, summer and winter, good and evil, love and hate, death and rebirth, sun and moon - hence the symbol. The two horns symbolize this duality. Funnily enough, Tom Hiddleston recently mentioned that the meaning of Loki’s horns would be explored in the show. It also puts this symbol in direct conflict with Dagaz, a rune that's literally imprinted all over the TVA. Dagaz ᛞ symbolizes Non-Duality, a thing that is itself only, Everlasting. And it looks like an Hourglass, how convenient.
To touch again on the death and rebirth thing - some Wiccans see him as dying on a specific date (there are various, but a popular one is Samhain) and then reborn again on the Winter Solstice. He is a god who literally dies and resurrects himself, much like the changing of seasons, though interestingly he returns for Winter, not Spring.
He is seen as mediator between the unknowable, vast supreme deity of the universe (Dryghtyn) and regular humans. He is also the consoler of the bereaved, as he is also the bridge between life and death and can give comfort to those separated by it.
He is the God of Witches and Sorcerers, and sometimes called by the name ’The Sorcerer’. Hey, y’all wanted some more magic, right?
This is an exciting new bit of DNA. Previously we mostly covered just Nordic runes from the Furthark Alphabet, but this gives us a door into Wicca and Neo-Paganism, which of course also celebrates Loki among numerous other deities. Some even engage in an annual ‘Trial of Loki’ where someone plays the part of Loki and attempts to defend himself from the charge of orchestrating the death of Baldur. I’ve always wanted to see that…
Things to keep your eyes peeled for: The Horned God has a female opposite/counterpart known as the Triple Goddesses, represented by this complementary symbol:
More on them if it does show up.
Gosh, this is exciting. I’ve got to brush up on my knowledge of Pagan and Wicca beliefs, it’s been awhile. I did once participate in a Wicca festival thanks to a chance encounter, so I’ve long had an interest in it. I have one friend who’s a convert to Wicca. Should start asking her some questions.
I gave her a bag of Norse Runes for divination as a Christmas Gift this year. I’m always on-brand.
Next - this one replacing the 'L'
...in part 2, because I'm not allowed anymore images and there's still a few more to go. However, I might need some help on this one, guys, I'm not entirely sure what this upside down seven thing is, but do have some cool theories (it involves that one hit wonder, Don't Fear the Reaper, so stay tuned.) Comment if you know it!
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The agony of Loki admitting "no, no, I don't like hurting people, I don't enjoy it, it's a means to an end I know I won't get" RIGHT after being told he's not the main character of his own goddamn show and never was and that he never had agency in his entire life like it's been one episode and we are nearly right about to break the fourth wall with Marvel admitting Loki was never supposed to have been relevant outside of pushing other character arcs
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With the caveat that I haven't watched Loki or Wandavision, so I don't know exactly how they talk about timelines/realities, how can there be only one "true" timeline if Dr. Strange is doing the whole multiverse thing?? And why wouldn't the time police have gone after Wanda for messing with reality? Or Thanos for hopping to the future in Endgame and to break the universe? Was Wanda's breakdown and Thanos time-traveling ALSO part of the one "true" timeline??
Sorry for repeatedly bothering you with MCU meta, but this is just maddening.
The answer to all of this is: it's a goddamn mess.
To get you quickly caught up, in ‘Loki’ we learn that a long time ago there used to be an infinite number of branching timelines known as the multiverse. This led to a multiversal war so some god-like beings called the Time Keepers got rid of all of the other timelines and created the single Sacred Timeline (literally what they call it), which the TVA heavily polices to keep other alternate timelines from popping up. Any time something happens that deviates from what the Time Keepers dictate is supposed to happen in the Sacred Timeline, the perpetrator is apprehended and the timeline is reset back to its original course. So long story short, everything that’s happened so far in the MCU, with the exception of Loki escaping, is apparently part of the one true Sacred Timeline and was supposed to happen (as far as we know anyway).
The events of Endgame are even explicitly addressed in the first episode of 'Loki'. While on trial for his time crimes, Loki correctly points out that the Avengers should be the ones on trial because if they hadn't time traveled in the first place, he wouldn't have gotten the tesseract so they're technically the ones at fault. But the judge straight up tells him that everything the Avengers did was supposed to happen and is Totally Cool and doesn't disrupt the Sacred Timeline, and Loki’s escape is the only issue.
Now this could've made some sense, I guess, if everything else about the Avengers time heist had not affected any of the events of the other movies and they were able to pull everything off in the background undetected... except we know for a fact that's not true. I mean, what about Steve's infamous "Hail Hydra" in the elevator? And Endgame!Steve fighting Avengers!Steve and telling him that Bucky was still alive?? Kinda seems like those things might've changed the events of CATWS just bit, doesn't it???? Not to mention the fact that if everything but Loki’s escape was supposed to happen (in which case the timeline would’ve been reset to right before that moment), the Avengers would’ve gotten their hands on the tesseract in 2012 as they originally planned and they wouldn’t have had to travel to 1970 at all. Like I said, it’s a mess.
As for how the whole Multiverse of Madness is going to work when supposedly there is no multiverse at the moment, the best explanation is that we're not there yet but it’s coming. It seems pretty clear that by the end of this series something will happen to either create the multiverse or set the stage for its creation in Dr Strange. The only other real possibility that I can see is that the TVA is lying and the multiverse does still exist but its existence is being covered up for some reason. Honestly, I could see it going either way.
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About Loki and hurting people:
One thing I actually found particularly odd was that Loki would show his hand the way he did at the end of the episode (by answering Mobius’ question.) It could have been manipulation (which would be a far more Loki thing to do than just tell the truth), but it comes from a place of deep honesty (which Loki himself may not be aware of) -- my favorite interpretation of Loki has always been that he’s playing the role of the villain because he feels it’s the one he fits (he CAN play it and is not entirely averse to it, but it’s a character he’s put on rather than the way he really is, which is why he “lacks conviction,” yada yada people have talked about it before). Loki is a character whose identity is in turmoil and he’s trying hard to fit where he can, scrambling to feel in control of his life. It’s possible that the hell of a day he’s just had, combined with the realization that infinity stones, which he has suffered and killed for, are relatively powerless in the TVA, and the realization that he has not burned all bridges with his family, just broke him down to the point of telling the truth, but honestly this line felt the weirdest to me. Not what he said, which was mostly true, but the fact that he said it.
I do love that they brought what he said into question, though. This is LOKI and what he says shouldn’t be taken at face value, even if it DOES come from a place of truth. I think “I don’t enjoy hurting people” played in contrast with Loki fucking around with Hunter B-15′s timeline out of frustration is key to his portrayal in the episode. He’s not entirely sadistic or out to hurt people, but he does honestly enjoy messing with them (”you’re enjoying this,” Mobius said as Loki ripped out that dude’s eye, and on some level he probably was enjoying the chaos he was causing and how powerful he felt, but on another level it was him playing into the role). I believe that he doesn’t just maim and kill people for shits and giggles, but he clearly has fewer inhibitions about it than is healthy, to put things extremely gently, and there is no question that some of the harm and chaos is gratuitous. He is clearly upset about how many people were injured in New York, and that’s in line with his character from Avengers (”it’s too late to stop it”). The show also omits his attempted genocide of the Frost Giants (which can be explained but never justified, and would have overly complicated the arc they were trying to give him if it was included in the episode. Not qualifying the narrative decision as good or bad but it’s one that they made). Anyway a person who can kill and wound and manipulate as easily as Loki may not do it because he enjoys it, but he certainly doesn’t hate it. “I’ve had to” is extremely subjective, as well. It wasn’t a matter of life or death (until Thanos came into the picture, but even then Loki’s fascism and grandstanding and murdering were probably excessive), but a matter of trying to gain the upper hand (in the first part of Thor) and, later, trying to assuage the emotional turmoil he’s in (second half of Thor, Avengers).
Anyway I really enjoy that they’re exploring multiple facets of Loki’s character and trying to pull together his actions and portrayals from different films (the different writers and directors over the years have naturally resulted in inconsistent characterization, with TH as the keystone keeping Loki recognizable). I think giving Tom a little creative control was an excellent move. He really understands where the Loki he’s played for more than 10 years is coming from and can marry his trauma and neuroses with the fact that he’s always trying to find the fun in a situation. The revelation that Loki will be both the hero/antihero and the villain in this show was an AMAZING move on the writers’ part and is so rich with possibilities. We’re going to see that phenomenal “range” Mobius mentioned and the complexities of Loki’s character which Tom Hiddleston talks about a lot. Episode 1 gave us hints of his identity crisis and showed us his vulnerability and capacity for feeling AS WELL AS his arrogance, anger, intelligence, and chaotic mischievous energy, and closed out with a demonstration of how readily and how creatively he’s willing to harm people if he feels he “has to.” I’m really excited about this show and I think they chose a great way to handle a character like Loki.
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“Don't worry, that devil's afraid of us.“
[Mobius M. Mobius, Variant Loki (?) | Loki s1ep01 “Glorious Purpose”]
> The shots with Mobius in the church were amazing
> The cloaked figure in the swamp dropping the latern and burning the Minutemen alive gave me serious chills ...
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//Oh I love this!!!
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