12

In Neil Gaiman's works, Loki has a tendency to refer to himself as "Skywalker" or "Sky Walker".

Some examples:

I am the mother to Odin's stallion, Sleipnir. I am the father of Fenrir sun-eater and of Hel half-rotted and of Jormungund the world-serpent. I am Loki Scar-Lip, Loki Skywalker, Loki Giant's Child, Loki Lie-Smith. I am Loki, who is fire and wit and hate. I am Loki. And I will be under an obligation to no one. (From Sandman #61)

and

And yet there was one among the Gods who had drunk and eaten more than any of the others and still was not sleepy. This was I, Loki, called Sky Walker, and I was neither sleepy nor drunk, not even a little... (From Odd and the Frost Giants)

I can't find any evidence that this name predates Gaiman. There are a lot of people on the internet who are willing to claim that "Skywalker" is a genuine title for Loki, but they could just be assuming that Neil knows what he's talking about. The Eddas don't seem to contain anything like this, at least not that I can find by searching the online versions for "walker", nor does the Wikipedia article about Loki.

Is "Loki Skywalker" just Neil Gaiman making a Star Wars reference, or is there some actual pre-Lucasian source to justify it?

(Note that the Annotated Sandman may eventually say something helpful, but the volume containing #61 doesn't seem to exist yet...)

  • 3
    This would have made an interesting question for a Mythology Stack which is on "commitment" phase in the Area51 – Kreann Dec 12 '14 at 13:53
  • Gaiman's more recent book Norse Mythology would be interesting to check... though I don't recall him using the "Skywalker" appellation there. – DaveInCaz Jan 30 at 1:26
16

I found this reference in a New York Times article from 1997, some 4 years before American Gods was published.

Darth Vader: Mr. Lucas went back to the Dutch root for father to arrive at a name that approximates ''Dark Father.'' Vader's original name is Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is a variation on a race of giants in Genesis, and Skywalker is an appellation for Loki, the Norse god of fire and mischief. The inspiration for Vader's face mask was in all likelihood the grille of a '56 Chevy.


I also found a book reference from 1996 suggesting that this was originally Loki "Sky Traveler" rather than Loki Sky Walker, referencing his flighted shoes from the original source myth, the Skáldskaparmál.

Then Loke offered to ransom his head. The dwarf answered saying there was no hope for him on that score. Take me, then! said Loke; but when the dwarf was to seize him Loke was far away, for he had the shoes with which he could run through the air and over the sea. Then the dwarf requested Thor to seize him, and he did so.

The use of Loki SkyWalker is most likely an internet fan theory (which Gaiman is back-referencing) rather than an original creation.

  • Good find! I'm not totally convinced, though. 1997 is still a year after Sandman #61 came out in trade (and two years after the original issue). They say they consulted "more than two dozen novels, trading cards, action figures, role-playing games, scores of websites and guides specializing in intergalactic arcana." There's enough time in there for someone to assume Gaiman knows something they don't, put it on their website, and have the Times pick it up... – Micah Dec 12 '14 at 1:46
  • @Micah - See edit. The use of Loki Sky Traveler dates back to the 1300s but the earliest use of Loki Sky Walker is from the 1990s – Valorum Dec 12 '14 at 1:53
  • @Richard Can you find anything confirming that ‘Sky-traveller’ goes back that far as a heiti for Loki? I can’t find anything about it that goes back further than modern times in English. It seems to be a recent translation of the (well-known) heiti Loptr, which literally just means ‘air’ and probably references the passage you quoted from Skáldskaparmál (the original reads, “Loki átti skúa þá, er hann rann á loft ok lög ~ “Loki had those shoes, that he ran over air and sea”). So I think even Sky-traveller is fairly recent, and English. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 8 '16 at 4:27
9

Loki had many appellations including: Lokimotion, Loptr, Loke, the Sly One, the Trickster, the Shape Changer, and the Sky Traveler. It is this last one I suspect Gaiman is using license and changing it to Skywalker. I don't think it is in relationship to Star Wars.

In an article on UnrealFacts.com we learn:

  • Luke Skywalker's original name was Luke Starkiller. I don't even know if Lucas gave it any more thought than he needed a name change. As the story goes:
  • When Lucas decided to make his space odyssey he managed to strike a two movie deal with Universal Studios. The other movie that he managed to secure alongside Star Wars was American Graffiti, which was also a critically acclaimed movie. But the task of getting Star Wars off the ground was far more cumbersome than American Graffiti. The studio demanded several rewrites, and in one of them the main character name transformed.

  • This is something that very few people knew at the time. In the original script, Lucas created a protagonist by the name of Annikin Starkiller. It was in the second draft that he introduced Luke, as the son of the protagonist, Annikin. In the third draft Annikin was removed and Ben Kenobi was introduced, but Luke retained his Starkiller surname. And we were nearly stuck with this name too.

Encyclopedia Mythica's entry on Loki:

  • Loki is one of the major deities in the Norse pantheon. He is a son of the giant Farbauti ("cruel striker") and the giantess Laufey. He is regarded as one of Aesir, but is on occasion their enemy.

  • He is connected with fire and magic, and can assume many different shapes (horse, falcon, fly). He is crafty and malicious, but is also heroic: in that aspect he can be compared with the trickster from North American myths. The ambivalent god grows progressively more unpleasant, and is directly responsible for the death of Balder, the god of light.

  • On the day of Ragnarok, Loki's chains will break and he will lead the giants into battle against the gods. Loki is often called the Sly One, the Trickster, the Shape Changer, and the Sky Traveler.

  • 7
    Lokimotion? Surely that's a modern, made up name? – Adeptus Dec 12 '14 at 3:35
-1

The appellation of Skywalker to Loki is also from "The Ring of the Nibelung". Odin uses the epithet while chastising Loki for the "mischief" he wreaks, failing to acknowledge his own part in the troubles of the saga.

  • 4
    Nice start, but you could improve this answer if you could find and quote that reference. – DavidW Jul 26 at 18:53

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