Loki as the Sacramental Fire
Despite the evidence that supports calling Loki a fire god, there is one event in Snorri’s Gylfaginning which many people believe specifically discredits Loki’s identity as such. However, when placed in the proper context, this same event may serve as the key to Loki’s primary function in pre-Christian Germanic culture.
Snorri tells us of an occasion where Þórr and Loki journeyed together to visit Útgarðar (“out-world”), the home of a mysterious entity named Útgarða-Loki (“out-world Loki”). On their journey, they stopped at the house of a peasant and were given lodging there for the night. When dinner time arrived, Þórr took the two goats that pull his chariot and slaughtered them. He skinned them and carefully separated their meat from the bones, instructing the family not to break them. However, the peasant’s son Þjálfi didn’t listen, and broke one of the goat’s thigh bones to get to the marrow. The next day, Þórr blessed the piles of skin and bones with his hammer, and his goats came back to life. However, one of them now had a broken leg where Þjálfi had snapped the bone. Þórr was so angry that he was about to destroy the whole house and the family pleaded with him for mercy. This appeased Þórr’s anger, and in recompense the farmer gave him his son Þjálfi and daughter Röskva as servants.
Interestingly, Hymiskviða in the elder Edda makes a short allusion to this story, and in this account it is Loki who is somehow responsible for the laming of Þórr’s goat:
37. They hadn’t travelled a long distance,
before Hlorriða’s goat lay down
half-dead before them;
The goat’s bones were lamed,
this crafty Loki had caused.
With their new servants in tow, Þórr and Loki (after a series of misadventures) eventually reach Útgarða-Loki’s castle. Considering the laws of hospitality that were paramount in Norse culture, Útgarða-Loki gives them an extremely rude welcome. He doesn’t offer them any food or drink, but tells the travelers that no one who doesn’t have a superior skill is allowed to stay there. As Loki has been refused the hospitality he should have received, he gets food through the back door, so to speak, by claiming that nobody can eat faster than he can, “I know a feat that I am quite prepared to have a go at, that there is no one inside here who can eat his food quicker than I.”
Then Utgarda-Loki replies, “That is a feat if you can perform it, and we must try out these feats.” He calls down the bench that someone called Logi is to come out on to the floor and compete with Loki. Then a trencher is fetched and brought in on to the floor of the hall and filled with meat. Loki sits down at one end and Logi at the other, and each eats as quickly as he can and they meet in the middle of the trencher. Loki has eaten all the meat off the bones, but Logi has eaten all the meat and the bones too and also the trencher, and it seems to everyone now that Loki has lost the contest.
Þjálfi and Þórr compete in their own contests, and Þórr has the same degree of success as Loki. The next day, Útgarða-Loki reveals that the gods were only bested because he used illusions to fool them.
“The first was the one that Loki engaged in. He was very hungry and ate fast, but the one who is called Logi [flame], was wildfire, and it burned the trencher just as quickly as the meat.”1
Many people have taken this to mean that there is a clear distinction between Loki and wildfire, and therefore Loki was himself not a fire deity. However what many people have neglected to recognize is (as I have already established) wildfire was not considered the same thing as sacramental fire.2 The most obvious clue to the kind of fire Loki represents is in the bones that he doesn’t eat. There were many transformations in the funeral rites of Scandinavia as the Bronze Age gave away to the Iron Age. In the Bronze Age, cremation was the primary form of funerary practice in Scandinavia and Europe, and the rituals involved were very specific. In Bronze Age Scandinavia, the bones were not damaged in the cremation fire, but were carefully removed from the pyre after burning and washed before they were placed in an urn. They would then be buried, and a howe of some kind was often built over the site. This careful removal of bones from ashes could have symbolized the freeing of the spirit from the ties of the earth.3 The cremation fire was thus the doorway through which the spirits of the dead would be released from the physical world into the realm of the spirits.
It wasn’t until the Iron Age that the body and the grave goods were burned indiscriminately together on the pyre with no attempt to separate the bones from the rest of the debris. This may signify that the symbolic significance of separating the bones was forgotten or no longer represented the religious beliefs of the Iron Age. In the 10thand 11th centuries, cremation was beginning to lose popularity in Scandinavia in favor of lavish inhumation rituals, which were perhaps imitations of those performed by the Catholic Church. The practice of cremation continued in the North until Christianity (which opposed cremation practices) was so firmly established that inhumation became the universal custom.4
Due to the pointed way in which Loki doesn’t consume the bones in Snorri’s account, it is my belief that in antiquity Loki (like Agni) was regarded to be the personification of the fire of cremation and sacrifice. In Snorri’s story, Loki represents the holy fire of cremation that separates bones from flesh, which competes against Logi, who personifies the mundane wildfire that indiscriminately eats whatever is laid in its path.
Just as the sacramental fire of Agni is born from wood and heaven (sunlight or lightning), Loki is born from lightning (Fárbauti) and wood (Laufey/Nál). Both gods also have a strong association with the thunder and lightning god of their respective traditions. Agni travels with Indra, the Vedic god of thunder and lightning, in a chariot drawn by rams, where Loki and Þórr travel together in a chariot drawn by goats. Both pairs of gods were (usually) considered close friends, and Agni and Indra were often honored together. A parallel between Loki/Þórr and Agni/Indra can also be seen in Balakanda-Ramayana, where Indra is rendered a eunuch and he enlists the help of his friend Agni to regain his testicles. Agni obliges and prays to the manes (the ancestors), who help him to replace Indra’s testicles with those of a sacrificial goat. This myth obviously parallels the story of Loki helping Þórr to regain his manhood/hammer in Þrymskviða. The fact that sacred fire was born from the heavens (in the form of lightning) signifies that this fire was seen by early man as having divine origins and being set apart from mundane fire, and may account for the strong association that gods like Loki and Agni have with gods of thunder and lightning and always accompany them.
In the Vedic tradition, Agni specifically represents the fire of cremation and sacrifice. In the Vedic religion, the dead went to the realm of Yama (etymologically cognate to the Norse Ymir) who was the first mortal to die and subsequently became the king of the underworld. For this reason, the common people were typically inhumed. Nobles and priests, on the other hand, were placed on a funeral pyre as an offering received by Agni, who would then carry them (as he carried the offerings to the gods) into the heavens to become godlike. Horses, weapons, and servants were sent along with the nobility, and a wife who willingly entered the funeral pyre with her husband was giving proof of her noble character.5 It is obvious that the Scandinavians shared a similar custom, as these same elements (including the willing suicide of a wife) are all found in the account of Baldr’s funeral in Húsdrápa.
If Loki, like Agni, originally had a major role in funeral rites, this would certainly account for his conspicuous connection to both fire and the world of the dead. The name alternate name for Loki’s mother Laufey,“Nál”, may be related to the Old Norse word nár meaning “corpse”. This word is also at the root of Naglfar, the ship of the dead which Loki captains in Völuspá6. Naglfar itself may be representative of the famous funerary ships from Iron Age Scandinavia, on which nobility (including Baldr) were burned along with their possessions. That Loki should captain this ship is highly appropriate if he is the personification of the cremation fire, which literally “rides” on funeral ships during the time of cremation. It is also notable that Loki’s daughter Hel is the goddess of death, and some speculate that the name of his child, Narfi, is also etymologically connected to the word nár.38 It is also Loki who gives birth to Sleipnir, whose eight legs, according to H.R. Ellis Davidson, may be symbolic of the legs of the four bearers of a funeral bier7
Loki’s close relationship to Óðinn is further accentuated when viewed through the lens of cremation practices. In Ynglinga saga, Snorri tells us that it was Óðinn who first instituted cremation among the Æsir.
“Odin set in his land the laws which had formerly been upheld by the Asa folks; thus, he bade that they burn all the dead and bear their possessions on the fire-bale with them. He said that every man should come to Valhall with such riches as he had with him on the fire-bale and that each should use what he himself had buried in the earth.”8
Like Óðinn, the Hindu Shiva is the ruler of the funeral pyre and his assistant Agni is the personification of the fire itself. As the cult of Shiva grew, he often assimilated the deities and customs of older cults, until he himself is referred to as Agni on occasion. While Shiva is the god of cremation, Agni is the cremation fire, the instrument of Shiva and the gateway of the dead. It is possible that as Agni works in the service of Shiva in the rites of cremation, this same association was made between Óðinn (the lord of the hosts of the dead) and Loki (the gateway through which the dead travel).
H.R. Ellis Davidson suggests that some kind of ritual cannibalism may have accompanied Bronze Age cremation rituals. In “King Bjorn’s Howe” at Uppsala the burnt remains of a man were lying in a tree coffin inside a barrow, and outside the coffin were the unburnt bones of at least three adults. One of the human bones was split lengthwise as though to extract the marrow. The suggestion that these human sacrifices were eaten is strengthened by another discovery in Sweden in a peat bog. Two artificial pools which were originally enclosed with sharpened stakes were found to be holding the bones of many animals and at least four humans. Only parts of the larger animals were found, suggesting that the rest (including the humans) were consumed at a sacrificial meal. The human skeletons were not complete, and were mixed indiscriminately with the animal bones. Bronze Age rock engravings that were found near this site suggest that this ritual occurred in the same period.9
Though it may be coincidental, these findings sound eerily like the account in Hymiskviða and Gylfaginning, where Loki encourages the splitting of bones in order to extract marrow. If Loki has a connection to these funerary rites, then his association with cannibalism certainly would have tainted later opinions of his character.
Further evidence for Loki as a god of cremation lies within his compelling kenning “Gammleið”, meaning “vulture’s path”. There has very little explanation as to why the vulture, as apposed to any other kind of aerial creature, has been chosen in this kenning, especially since Loki typically takes the form of a fly or a falcon. I personally feel that vulture might be associated with Loki for the same reason we see it associated with Agni. Like the cremation fire, the vulture picks away the putrid and rotting flesh from pure, clean bone. This can be interpreted as the spirit being removed from the earthly flesh, releasing the soul of the dead from the physical world. It can also be interpreted as the ego being torn away from the “bare bones” of our being. In the Vedic fire ritual called the Agnicayana, an altar to Agni is constructed out of mud-bricks in the likeness of a bird of prey. This particular bird is credited with having carried fire to humans, and is the origin of the myth of the phoenix that cremates and resurrects itself.10 Because the altar-bird has a short tail and long, broad, un-tapered wings, Indologist Frits Staal (who extensively studied the Agnicayana in 1975) believes that the bird being depicted is a vulture, as this is the only kind of bird in existence with these specific physical characteristics.11 The Griffon Vulture is a likely candidate. It nests in Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. the Vedic ritual of the Agnicayana includes the literal embodiment of Agni as fire. Remarkably, it is the world’s oldest surviving ritual.12 The Agnicayana lasts for twelve intensive days. Prior to this a wooden temple is built on the outdoor ritual site, and within it a large clay altar in the shape of a vulture in flight. Many offerings to the gods are burned on this altar, including animal sacrifices. During this portion of the ritual, a sacrificial pole is erected, to which is tied a he-goat that is later sacrificed to empower Agni.13 On the last day of the Agnicayana, the entire ritual structure is set on fire as the final offering to Agni, leaving no trace of what was once a quite large, wooden temple.
A similar practice of sacrificing a goat on a pole in honor of the star Sirius was recorded in Denmark by the Spanish Arab At-Tatuschi during the second half of the 900’s. Incidentally, the most famous landmark from heathen Scandinavia that bears Loki’s name isn’t a place, but a star: Sirius, the “Dog Star”, was known in Scandinavia as Lokabrenna (“Loki’s Torch”).14 Due to Loki’s association with Sirius, a travel account by the Spanish Arab At-Tatuschi may be relevant to the question of Loki’s worship. This story comes from the second half of the 900’s, when At-Tartschi was visiting Schleswig (Hedeby, Danmark).
“Scheleswig (Hedeby) is a very large town at the extreme end of the world ocean. In its interior one finds fresh water sources. The inhabitants worship Sirius, except for a minority of Christians who have a church of their own there. They celebrate a feast at which all get together to honor their god and eat and drink. He who slaughters a sacrificial animal puts up poles at the door to his courtyard and impales the animal on them, be it a piece of cattle, a ram, billygoat or pig so that his neighbors will be aware that he is making a sacrifice in honor of his god.”15
If like Agni, Loki was also the recipient of the sacrifice of a goat tied to a pole, this may shed some light on the unusual story recorded in Skáldskaparmál in which Loki ties a goat to his genitals (I.e his “pole”) in order to make Skaði, the goddess of winter, laugh. The star Sirius rises on the horizon beginning around July 24th, so perhaps this ritual would have been enacted to honor the time when Sirius (Loki’s torch) would rise, bringing with it the full heat of summer to melt the remnants of winter, and this story was actually a dim memory of one of his own cult practices.
If my hypothesis is correct, this could also shed light on the Loki’s role as the messenger who carries gifts to the gods, as he does in Skáldskaparmál when he brings gifts to Óðinn, Þórr, and Freyr from the world of the dwarves. This could also explain, that while Loki may not have had an organized cult in the same way that Þórr or Óðinn did, he still has a prominent role in Norse cosmology. Loki, like Agni, may have been seen as the messenger/vehicle through which all of the gods received their sacrifices, as opposed to being strictly a solitary receiver of offerings in his own right.
Interpreting Loki as the personification of sacramental fire also leads to an interesting interpretation of his wife, Sigyn. In Þórsdrápa, Loki is given the kenning Farmr Arma Galdrs Hapts, meaning the arm-burden (husband) of the galdr fetter/deity (“fetter”, being a kenning for “god” or “goddess” in Skaldskarpamál)16. It is possible that the identification of the gods with fetters is related to a practice of the Semnones recorded by Tacitus:
“Another form of reverence marks the grove as well: no one enters it unless bound with a chain, as an inferior being, outwardly acknowledging the power of the divinity. If they happen to fall down, they are not permitted to get up on their feet again: they roll out along the ground.”17
As the personage referred to in this latter kenning seems to be Sigyn, it implies that she was a goddess who was somehow connected to the art of galdr (i.e magical song). Rudolf Simek suggests that because Sigyn is named as Loki’s wife in Haustlöng (therefore, as early as the 9th century) she probably belonged to a Germanic pantheon of earlier times, where she was presumably worshiped as a goddess in her own right.18
Sigyn is most famously remembered for her role at the end of Lokasenna, which is also described in Gylfaginning and in Völuspá 35, where after Loki is bound, she holds a bowl over Loki to catch the venom that is dripping into his face. As with many aspects of Loki’s mythos, I have often wondered if the image of Sigyn holding a bowl over Loki once represented a religious practice, which was later transformed (or misinterpreted) as a story of agony and torment.
I have found an interesting parallel to Sigyn in Vedic mythology in the figure of Svāhā, wife of Agni. Svāhā is the goddess of libations, which are poured out over Agni’s flames to make offerings to the gods. In other words, Agni is the being who carries gifts to the gods, much like Loki himself does in Snorri’s account of the creation of Þórr’s hammer. Svāhā’s name (which means “offering” and “oblation”) is chanted by priests and housewives who cook the daily food as they throw oblations of ghee and rice into Agni’s flames as sacrifices to the gods.19 When viewed in this context, the role of a goddess who holds a bowl over her husband, the sacramental fire, takes on a very different light.
Sigyn’s name implies “victory”. When used in a ritual of oblation, it would have a similar meaning to that of Svāhā. Perhaps the magical songs (galdr) of which Sigyn seems to have been the goddess were actually songs of worship and praise which were sung while pouring offerings to the gods into Loki’s flames. It is therefore possible that the original image of Sigyn holding a bowl over Loki was actually intended to represent Sigyn pouring offerings onto her husband’s earthly manifestation. It may have been after the coming of Christianity that the liquid offerings dripping onto Loki came to be known as “poison”. By permanently binding Loki until the old gods meet their deaths, it’s possible that the Christian authors of this new story intended to block the doorway through which the old gods received their offerings and praise: in other words, starving them.
Aside from his role as the god’s gift-bringer, if we remember that Loki also may have been revealed to be the god of cremation in Snorri’s account of Þórr’s journey to Útgarðar, Loki’s role as the cremation fire could also lend additional meaning to his involvement in both the death of Baldr (at least according to Snorri) and the role he plays in Völuspá‘s vision of Ragnarök. Whether or not Loki should be considered directly responsible for Baldr’s death has been a hotly debated topic that exceeds the purposes of this article. In short, whether you are following Snorri’s account in Gylfaginning or that of Saxo in the Gesta Danorum, it is Hoðr that is actually responsible for Badr’s murder, and in Saxo’s account Loki isn’t even mentioned in relation to Baldr’s death. However, in Lokasenna we hear from Loki’s own lips, not that he murdered Baldr, but that he brought it about that Baldr would no longer return to his hall:
And will you, Frigg, have me tell more
of my harmful words;
I am the reason it was determined
you will never again see
Baldr riding to his hall.
Taken in the context of Loki as the cremation fire, it could very well be that Loki meant this in the literal sense, as he (as the fire which burned Baldr’s ship) metaphorically separated Baldr from the world of the living:
“Then Baldr’s body was carried out on to the ship, and when his wife Nanna Nep’s daughter saw this she collapsed with grief and died. She was carried on to the pyre and it was set fire to.”20
The same logic could be applied to Loki’s role in Ragnarök, when Loki rejoins the Muspilli on Naglfar, the ship of death (or in this case the cremation ship?), and sails forth to burn the world. Like the cremation fire which burns and purifies putrid flesh, Gammleið and his people consume the corpse of Miðgarðr in order to release it from its old structures and allow it to be born anew. Loki is thus the personification of the flames through which the world must be thrust before it can be purified and reborn. But if Loki originally had a prominent role in these funerary rituals, what would have led him to lose his status as a holy entity? More important, in a land where fire often meant the difference between life and death to the common man, why would a god of holy fire be completely demonized by its native people? Since Loki was a deity who I believe was originally responsible for carrying burnt sacrifices to the gods and freeing the souls of the dead via cremation, it is only natural that the Catholic Church would have found him particularly deplorable. The oldest scald to mention Loki was Þjóðólfr of Hvinir, the author of Haustlöng, which was composed sometime in the 9th century.21 At this time, Loki’s devious nature was only lightly touched upon. People only grew more hostile to his image during and after the Scandinavian conversions.
Though it may only be coincidental, it seems significant that during the establishment of Christianity in Europe in the 5th century, cremation was increasingly abandoned. Inhumation was necessary for the resurrection of the body promised to new converts of Christianity. The pagan rituals of burning bodily remains therefore gradually became viewed as heretical. In 789, the Emperor Charlemagne criminalized cremation in the European West, deeming burial to be the only proper Christian custom.22 Among the laws in Leges Saxonum, we find, “If someone cremates a dead person in a pagan rite, and reduces the bones to ashes, he gets the death penalty.”23
It is therefore possible that some of Loki’s demonization began at this time because he may have been the personification of cremation fire. Images of Loki as a giant bound until the god’s doomsday appear in Scandinavia long after the year 789 AD, and this has led me to wonder whether it was Loki or pagan rites of sacrifice and cremation these artists were attempting to bind.
This brings us to our final question: If my hypothesis is correct, where does this place Loki in the context of modern Heathen ritual? In my own practice, this has meant acknowledging Loki’s presence in any sacramental fire used during blót, particularly when fire is used as the vehicle through which the gods receive their sacrifice. A worshipper with close ties to Loki may be asked to create the sacramental fire in his name, which will represent his physical presence on earth as well as the gateway through which the gods will receive their offerings. Sigyn, like Svāhā,, is invoked when these offerings are made and prayers are said for the victory of the gods, the ancestors, and the worshippers. A woman of power may be seen as the embodiment of Sigyn during this ritual, who physically pours or places offerings to the gods into Loki’s flames.
Returning Loki to the function of sacramental fire not only helps to return him to a functional position within his own pantheon, but also helps to rebuild a vital aspect of Heathen worship which has yet to be explored with great depth: that of burnt-offerings. Veistu, hvé senda skal? Do you know how to send?
Snorri Sturluson. Edda. Tr. Anthony Faulkes. Everyman, 1995
Snorri Sturluson. Heimskringla or The Lives of the Norse Kings. Tr. A.H. Smith. Dover Publications, Inc., NY, 1990
Tacitus. Agricola and Germany. Tr. Birley, A.R. Oxford University Press, 2009
The Kalevala: or, Poems of the Kaleva District. Tr. Francis Peabody Magoun Jr., Ed. Elias Lönnrot. Harvard University Press, 1963
Consulate General of Denmark in New York. Factsheet. http://web.archive.org/web/20060113013845/http://www.denmark.org/about_denmark/factsheets_articles/factsheets_vikings.html. (accesssed April 25, 2001)
James Chisholm, Grove and Gallows: Greek and Latin Sources for Germanic Heathenism. Runa-Raven Press, TX, 2002
E.O.G. Turville-Petre. Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia. Greenwood Press, CT, 1975
Douglas J. Davies. Encyclopedia of Cremation. Ed. Davies, Douglas J. and Mates, Lewis H. Ashgate Publishing, VT, 2006
Jan de Vries. The Problem of Loki. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran Kirjapainon o.y, Helsinki, 1933
Jacob Grimm. Teutonic Mythology: Volume One. Tr. Stallybrass, James Steven. Dover Publications, Inc., NY, 1966
Jacob Grimm. Teutonic Mythology: Volume Two. Tr. Stallybrass, James Steven. Dover Publications, Inc., NY, 1966
Rudolf Simek. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S Brewer, Cambridge, 2007
Axel Olrik. Loke in Younger Tradition. Tr. Eli Anker. Saertryk af Danske Studier 1909. http://www.freewebs.com/harigast/archive/olri_01.html
H.R. Ellis Davidson. The Road to Hel. Greenwood Press, NY, 1968
H.R. Ellis Davidson. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. Penguin Books, 1990
Dumezil, Georges. Archaic Roman Religion: Volume One. Tr. Philip Krapp. The University of Chicago Press, 1970
Frits Staal. Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, Volume One. Motilal Banassidass Publishers, Delhi, 1983
Frits Staal. Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, Volume Two. Motilal Banassidass Publishers, Delhi, 1983
Wolf-Dieter Storl. Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy. Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT, 2004
Sacred Writings vol. 5. Hinduism: The Rig Veda. Tr. Griffith, Ralph T.H. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers PVT. LTD. Quality Paperback Book Club edition, 1992
Anderson, Gunnar. Among trees, bones, and stones: The sacred grove at Lunda. “Old Norse Religion in Long Term Perspectives: origins, changes, and interactions”. Ed. Andrén, Anders, Jennbert, Kristina and Raudvere, Catharina. Nordic Academic Press, 2006
All translations of stanzas from the Elder Edda by Dagulf Loptson.
1 Sturluson, Snorri. Edda. Tr. Faulkes, Anthony. 45
2 Staal, Frits. Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, Volume One. 84
3 Davidson, H.R. Ellis. The Road to Hel. 9-12
4 Ibid, 9-12
5 Storl, Wolf-Dieter. Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy. 178
6 Simek, Rudolf. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. 228
7 Davidson, H.R. Ellis. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. 142
8 Sturluson, Snorri. Heimskringla or The Lives of the Norse Kings. 6
9 41. Davidson, H.R. Ellis. The Road to Hel. 14-15
10 Staal, Frits. Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, Volume One. 86
11 Ibid, 89-90
12 Ibid, 89-90
13 Staal, Frits, Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, Volume One
14 Grimm, Jacob. Teutonic Mythology: Volume One. 242
15 Consulate General of Denmark in New York. Factsheet. http://web.archive.org/web/20060113013845/http://www.denmark.org/about_denmark/factsheets_articles/factsheets_vikings.html.
16 Sturluson, Snorri. Edda. Tr. Faulkes, Anthony. 88
17 Tacitus. Agricola and Germany. 57
18 Simek, Rudolf. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. 284
19 Storl, Wolf-Dieter. Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy. 155-156
20 Sturluson, Snorri. Edda. Tr. Faulkes, Anthony. 49
21 Turville-Petre, E.O.G. Myth and Religion of the North. 126
22 Davies, Douglas J. Encyclopedia of Cremation. Ed. Davies, Douglas J. and Mates, Lewis H. (Ashgate Publishing, VT, 2006) xvii
23 Chisholm, James. Grove and Gallows, 53