Loki is the Norse Trickster god (originally a Jotun till he became Odin Allfather's blood-brother).
He plays some part in Ragnarok, the end of the world in Viking myth. For this reason he is often interpreted as a Satan figure.
Also, the only reason anyone knows any Norse myths is because of the Eddas, two writings on them. One was by Snorri Sturulson, and that writing is deeply influenced by Christianity. In Pagan beliefs, the end of the world is often seen as one being followed by renewal; it was seen differently by the pagans, and so Christian interpretation is, alas, inherently wrong.
Most Wiccans and other modern-day Pagans choose not to pray to Loki. He is the god of change, often change that is very necessary, hard to get through, and unwelcome at the time. Usually Loki's lessons are full of mischief, but the overall meaning is good-natured and helpful.
Loki is also, from a different perspective, a distinctly fey god. While the other Norse gods were all unchanging and fixed, as pagan gods usually are, Loki is the exact opposite, and it is well known that he did not come from Asgard as the Aesir did. Faeries, or fairies, are both destructive and constructive, being nature spirits, and Loki is very much the same. He both can and cannot be trusted. It depends very much on how anyone who prays to him interprets him, for he will appeal to that nature. "Watch what you wish for" applies to him in this case, for you will get what you want and find later that you shouldn't have wanted it.
Loki should not be confused with Satan; Satan represents destruction without cease. While Loki too is associated with fire, Loki's representation of it is the sort of fire that ravages a landscape and then allows many plants to grow there; the sort of destruction that makes way for a new beginning. The true Norse Satan figure is most likely Surtr, whose flaming sword, when drawn, signifies the end of the world. He comes from a land of eternal flame.
Loki is also an in-between god--not homosexual or transexual, but a shape-changer, who has spent time in the form of both a man and a woman, and has borne children. If he were pangender and/or pansexual, no one would be surprised. Androgyny and the telling of truth through lies (and jokes and parodies) are his domain. However, he dislikes being untrue to yourself to fit in.
He is traditionally supposed to have auburn hair. In the Tudor Humphries illustrations in Michael Harrison's 'The Doom of the Gods', he is shown in motley jester pants, harkening to his Trickster nature.
He is known as the "Father of Lies", among other things, but is not malicious.
Loki's first wife's name was Angrboda, and she bore three children: Fenrir, the oldest, was a giant wolf who killed Odin (blood brother to Loki and ruler of all the gods) in Ragnarok; the youngest was Jormungand, the Midgard serpent was a serpent who circled the world on the bottom of the ocean, devouring his own tail (an oroboros); he destroyed Thor (the Norse Zeus and Loki's constant companion). The middle child's name was Hel, which means death. Her lower body was that of a corpse, though her upper half was living. She rules Niflheim, or Helheim. Loki's second wife's name was Sigyn, and not much about her is known. They had two children, Vali and Narfi. When Loki was finally punished (in a manner similar to the crucifixion of Jesus), Vali was turned into a wolf and allowed to tear out Narfi's entrails, which were used to bind Loki to three stones. Skadi put a snake up above him and allowed the poison to drip onto his face. Sigyn held a bowl beneath it, to catch it; but whenever it became full, she had to turn away and empty it, and then the poison fell into his face.
Loki is more or less a nature god, not one of destruction; he is associated with the seasons and other natural changes, and like Mother Nature is unpredictable, playful, and sometimes dangerous. When prayed to it must be made clear afterwards that he is dismissed, otherwise the pagan has only himself to blame when he cannot find two matching socks the next morning.
His holiday is, fittingly, April Fool's Day.
Back before it came out in print again, I wanted a copy of Susan Kay's 'Phantom'. Since Erik wears a mask, and Loki's all about masks, I prayed to him to convince my dad to shell out 55 dollars on a used copy. Shortly afterward he ordered it, we walked into a bookstore, and I thought, "It would be really funny if I found that book here."
Unfortunately, we did, and bought it--for 50 cents! When a month later I heard it was coming back into print by popular demand, I knew Loki was dancing up in the clouds, laughing hysterically and my mortal stupidity. If I'd been patient, I would have got in good time, but Loki believes in everyone getting their wishes.
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