Copyright © 1985 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
One of the most inspiring events related in every mythology and scripture, though in various ways, is what the Edda calls the coming of Rig. Rig is a ray or personification of Heimdal, the solar essence, which descended to unite with the still unfinished humanity, rousing into activity the mind of the unthinking, semiconscious humans-to-be who were in due time to become as we now are.
In the Lay of Rig (chapter 18) the first attempt to produce a humanity gave rise to a race of "thralls," a brutish, primitive type of human. These were born to the "great-grandparents" in a miserable hovel whose door was closed against the entrance of the god. A second effort was more promising: here the door of the cottage was ajar, and the god left with the "grandparents," who dwelt there, his scions who were to become worthy, self-respecting folk and who gave rise to a similar race. At the third attempt, the "parents," who dwelt in a mansion, welcomed the god with the door wide open. This time the divine seeding brought to birth a noble race whose descendants became regal in their own right.
It is a remarkable tale and the symbology is singularly transparent. Each race of semidivine humans refers, if the theosophic keys apply, to immense periods of time. These "races" have of course quite another scope than what we call races today: ethnic groups which inhabit the earth together. These, as we know, vary but little, mainly in coloration. All are one humanity. By contrast, the "dwarf " kingdoms display striking differences among themselves: for instance, gold and granite, both minerals, bear only slight resemblance to each other; deodars and dandelions both belong to the vegetable world, while moths and mammoths share the animal realm. Human beings alone are uniformly equipped with nearly identical forms and senses. Our differences are more pronounced in areas of ideas and feelings, talents and opinions.
The time which elapsed since the first attempt was made by the gods to awaken our intelligence until the whole human river had achieved it is not given but we may surmise that it was to be reckoned in millions of years. Myths inevitably telescope their information into the smallest possible compass. The biblical Genesis, for instance, relates the saga of man's awakening mind by saying that "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. . . . There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Gen. 6:24). Another version of the event is also given, when the serpent of Eden urges Eve to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. He too is the awakener: Lucifer, the bright and most beautiful angel, the light-bringer who defies the elohim (gods). In the Greek myths it is Prometheus and in the Norse it is Loki. Both are titans, giants, grown to godhood through evolution. Having themselves surpassed the human stage they bring humanity divine fire from the realm of the gods. The name Loki is related to liechan or liuhan (enlighten), to the Latin luc-, lux, to the Old English leoht (light), and the Greek leukos (white). The bright star Sirius is named Lokabrenna (the burning of Loki).
The awakening of the capacity to reason, the power of self-knowledge and judgment, was the most crucial event in humanity's evolution. It brought our human river of life to the point where deliberate choices could be made, where reasoning supplants instinct, and where the knowledge of good and evil will be a deciding factor in the further development of the species. The unthinking kingdoms are guided by the built-in monitoring of instinct, which permits only limited freedom, but once the mind becomes active, aware of itself as a separate being, there comes into play a corresponding responsibility and the doer is accountable for everything he does, thinks, feels, and for his responses to the stimuli of the surrounding universe. Thereafter the godmaker cannot turn back. Each moment brings a choice, and every choice produces an endless stream of consequences, each stemming from its predecessor. Through many wrong choices Loki has become the mischief-maker, the instigator of wrongs in many tales, for he represents too often the lower, ratiocinative brain without inspiritment — inspiration. He is, however, the constant companion of the gods and serves as go-between in their dealings with the giants. Perhaps his mischievous nature has been somewhat overemphasized for its naughty appeal to the Viking temperament. It is well to bear in mind too that, while he is often the cause of trouble in Asgard, he is also the agent for solving the problems that arise from his own doings.
So acts the mind of man: it causes us no end of difficulties when acting on its own but, when we accept the guidance of Brage, the wise bard who represents poetic inspiration, it resolves them in the end.