Oh, My Pop Culture Iluvatar: Tolkien’s Mythology

If you’ve read the Lord of the Rings books, you’ll have noticed that Tolkien created a deep and extensive mythological backstory for his world. If you’ve read The Silmarillion, you saw this mythology play out on the page, from the creation of the whole universe and the planet of Arda, up through the end of the Third Age, which is the end of the LotR story.

Tolkien’s mythology draws a lot from both Catholicism and ancient Norse religion. As he was a follower of the former and a scholar of the latter, it’s been argued that the story of Arda was his attempt to reconcile the two. Whether this is true or not, it’s undeniable that Tolkein was inspired by the two belief systems when he created the history of Middle-Earth.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Trickster: Loki in Pop Culture

Are you humming the Avengers theme music now? Because I am.

I’m pretty sure the Avengers is still in theaters, and if you haven’t seen it already get your ass there or we can’t be friends anymore.

…You’re back. Did you enjoy it? Damn straight you did. Now you may have noticed the guy in the silly hat and the green and gold armor that did all that bad stuff.  Loki has gone from a figure in Norse mythology to a full-on badass villain in the Marvelverse, but you can see him or variations of his trickter god character elsewhere too. Spoilers for both American Gods and Supernatural below.

American Gods:

The Loki of this story bears little resemblance to the Marvel villain, at least as far as daddy issues are concerned. In this book by Neil Gaiman, the characters Low-Key Lyesmith and Mr. Wednesday (secretly Loki Liesmith and Odin) cook up an elaborate, decades-spanning scheme to sacrifice the gods of the new world (media, the Internet, etc.) and the gods of the old world (Anansi, Bast, Ganesh) at once to restore themselves to the power they once knew.

Supernatural:

When does Supernatural not feature in an OMPCJ discussion? It’s just so rife with unpackable religious imagery! Anyway, the main trickster in Supernatural turns out to be not Loki, but (spoilers for S5) Gabriel, but he plays the trickster game up until (and a little bit after) the big reveal; even the other non-Judeo-Christian gods who appear in season five’s “Hammer of the Gods” believe him to be Loki, inviting him to their anti-Apocalypse pow-wow and referring to him with the Norse god’s name.

Where else do the trickster gods lurk? I was tempted to include the kooky-sounding anime Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok but having not actually watched it I feared doing it injustice. Let me know in the comments, and as always, tune in next time to get some religion!