by Galina Krasskova
Loki is often called Loki Lie-smith, or even the
Father of Lies. Those of us who know, honor, and love Him find this
ironic since He doesn't actually lie. Yes, you read that rightly: Loki
doesn't generally lie. For One Who bears a sobriquet hailing His skill
at crafting untruths, He's a surprisingly truthful God. What He does do
is allow His listeners to assume. in other words, He won't necessarily
lie, but He'll not correct His listeners' assumptions. That is deadly!
I believe this is partly behind His flyting in the Lokasenna: Loki truthfully points out where the Gods have fallen short of Their own ideals. He speaks the truth and it's not pretty. Most people don't much like hearing unpleasant (but necessary) truths about themselves, the world, their own preconceptions and paradigms. That, however, is Loki's job, Loki's medicine: He highlights the fractures in the facades we wear. He challenges our assumptions (even if that challenge is given by allowing us to deal with the consequences of assuming wrongly).
suppose the worst "lies" are those that are true. I never thought about
this facet of Loki's nature one way or another until a recent
conversation with a colleague. We had both seen this side of Loki, and
it's something that at one point or another, we'd each on our own
discussed with some of His other devotees. I particularly noted it
because as a shaman I have a truth geas. I can't lie. I"m compelled to
tell the truth. Now in polite conversation there are times where
diplomacy calls for a little white lie. There are also times where one's
conversational partners may as rude or impolite questions underserving
of answers. In those cases Loki taught me how to navigate without
breaking my taboo. Assumption is a wonderful thing and while I am
obligated to tell the truth, I'm not necessarily obligated to make sure
my listeners are interpreting what i say correctly. I may allow certain
assumptions. It is, in fact, quite possible to lie without ever
speaking an untruth. Then, of course, there is the sneakier technique,
that depends upon the average person's sloppiness with language: I can
say several sentences, each of which is absolutely true, which, when
taken together, lead to certain assumptions that are NOT necessarily
true. Here's a silly example:
A colleague has given you an absolutely, atrociously horrific gift but you really don't want to hurt their feelings because they tried, really hard. Said colleague asks you if you liked your gift. I might say:
It was so thoughtful of you to get me something. (which is true), and it was so unusual (unusually hideous but hey, what the hell, also true). I was showing it to friends just the other night at dinner. thank you again, so much. (etc. etc…..nothing there is a lie).
99% of listeners in this situation would assume from what you said that you liked the gift. The lesson here: listen carefully. don't assume. engage in what you do and what you say and know well the power of words.
That's Loki's medicine: He keeps you on your toes. Always.