I ran across an article this morning called “6 Things an Evolved Man Wants From a Woman“. I generally see these type of articles–what a man wants from a woman, as if it was a one-size-fits-all kind of deal–and skip over them. But this one caught me; what is this evolved man thing? And what’s an evolved woman like?
A lot of the author’s points revolved around “evolved” men and women being their true, authentic selves. In other words, being strong within themselves, knowing who they are and what they like, what level of maturity, trust, and respect they will give and expect to get in a relationship. I was with the author up until he got to points #5 and #6, though, in which he starts to talk about “an evolved man’s need for his partner to surrender” sexually and regarding the power dynamics within their relationship. This brought out my knee-jerk feminist reaction. But, if I’m honest with myself, I have to say that he kind of has a point. It’s nice to be able to surrender once in a while. And if you work with a strong-willed, dominant goddess like Freya, this presents a challenge; who would we feel comfortable surrendering to, and with? Who would be a good match for Freya, or Her women?
One of the biggest problems a Freyaswoman (or any other woman who works with a strong-willed, independent deity) has is finding an adequate person to romantically partner with. (I won’t talk about problems that men have who work with strong female deities, because I haven’t experienced that side of it.) When I say “adequate”, I don’t mean just the bare minimum; I mean someone who can give as good as they get in regards to trust, intimacy, power, strength of personality–pretty much every way two human beings can match up against each other. Someone who’s strong and secure in him or herself enough to balance her out, dominate her when she wants to be dominated, and be trustworthy enough to let her surrender to that dominance in a healthy way. In my opinion, it’s really hard to find a partner like that.
I should know. I’m dominant, stubborn, and strong-willed. That’s how I was made; that’s how I was raised; and working with Freya pretty much sealed the deal. I’ve got my own issues, certainly, but basically, the stuff of which I am made is strong-willed and stubborn. Oftentimes, in relationships–romantic, friendship, and other partnerships, for that matter–the power dynamic tilts such that I end up in charge. The ironic thing is that, in a most romantic relationships, at least, I don’t want to be in charge constantly. Seriously. I may be dominant, but I want someone equally dominant and secure in themselves to match up against, Someone I can trust to take over running the ship. And therein lies the problem–in the rather limited pagan or pagan-friendly pool, there’s just not a lot of these kind of people around.
You might think that a BDSM relationship is the answer. Kinda; but that’s only part of it. It’s not just about finding that dynamic in sex or play. It’s about being with someone who isn’t overpowered by you and whom you can trust guide the relationship in the real world when you need a break.
A good example of how not to do this is the dynamic I ended up in with my first husband, a Heathen. He’s a Scorpio (and the son of a Scorpio), and I’m a Taurus (and the daughter of a Scorpio); power struggles were bound to happen. We were well matched in that we were equally stubborn, and neither of us liked to give up any ground. It was exhausting. At one point, we owned a refrigerator magnet that summed up this part of our relationship perfectly: two adult polar bears, standing on their hind legs, balancing against each other with their front paws and growling. That’s essentially what we did, for years. He could match me on the dominance and strong-willed level, but without the trust, intimacy, mutual respect, and self-confidence in place, it ended up being a power struggle a lot of the time, often over insignificant things. I get a real kick out of a power struggle, don’t get me wrong; just not all the time. And if this dynamic is not worked out ahead of time, in some way or other, it erodes the relationship. Constant fighting for dominance, it turns out, does not make for a stable, long-term partnership.
I often try to look to my Goddess for advice and guidance. She’s a role model to me in many ways, and I also look to her mythology as a guide for the kind of life that I’d be happy leading. She’s beautiful, self-confident, sensual, and strong-willed, and no one in any of the Nine Worlds–not any of the Aesir, Vanir, or jotunar–can make Her do something She doesn’t want to do. Though She adores her kin, She is in compete control of Her life and her decisions. She’s passionate and loving, creative and fiery. I trust Her advice implicitly fin pretty much every area except, ironically, romantic relationships. Why? Well, for one thing, She seems to want me to have all the sex and intimacy, with all the peoples, all the time, and, let’s face it, I’m not wired that way. Also, let’s take a look at her track record:
Technically, she’s married to Odr. However, he left Her. We don’t know why, or what he’s doing now. She searches for him, weeping as she goes (and changing her name and sleeping with all sorts of beings on the way). No, thank you. I’m not so much about chasing after somebody who leaves me. If a guy runs, I don’t want him back; I’m certainly not going to run after him, crying. She does get around a lot–as Loki states in the Lokasenna (topic for another day), she has slept with “all the Gods and elves in the hall”. No one bothers to dispute Loki’s accusation, not even Her father. She also slept with her brother–which, granted, was the custom in Vanaheim (and many other Indo-Eurpoean mythologies), but still. Ew. Plus there’s the sleeping with the dwarves for jewelry thing (though I read that myth in a slightly deeper way than most). And She taught seidh magic to Odin, and, knowing these two deities, it was unlikely the kind of teaching that would be allowed in public schools.
She does have her chosen human heroes, too. Though, being a Goddess, She pretty much does what She wants with them; it’s not like they are going to stand up to Her (or would likely even want to). So, the power dynamic there is unbalanced.
Among all of the main Goddesses in the northern tradition, she is the only one who isn’t consistently partnered up. Frigga has Odin, and while Odin gets around a lot as well, he and Frigga seem to have it worked out. The don’t have the same dynamic that Zeus and Hera have, for example. Idunn has Bragi (and a very cute couple they make!); Sif has Thor; Nanna has Balder; Gerd has Freyr (eventually); and Skadi has Njord (when she wants him). These all are solid, long-term relationships. But Freya–who is she going to pair up with? Who in the Lore could pair up with her, balance Her out, and not be overcome by Her? Can She be paired up in a solid, stable relationship? I’m not sure. (In talking with a bunch of Freyaswomen, we joked that we should compile a list of our ex-husbands and see how many we have between us. It’s similar to the 2.5 kids of the average American family, except we’d have 2.5–or more–marriages.)
A relationship with Odin might work, but he’s taken; and anyway, while I think they’d make a great, intense short-term partnership, it doesn’t seem like it wouldn’t work out long-term. Then there’s Freyr, her twin brother, who one assumes would be able to balance Her out perfectly. I’ve heard a lot of people argue that They do in fact balance out each other quite well. In my opinion, though, I think they somewhat exacerbate each other’s intense physical and hedonistic tendencies. (At some point, someone has to do the dishes and clean the litter box.) And despite the huge phallus, Freyr often comes across to me as receptive and feminine (ergi, even), which, while I like that in a partner sometimes, is not strong enough to not be overcome by Her. I think Freya heeds someone a bit more dominant to balance her out. I know that Freyr is also the God of Kingship, but in my defense, the version of Freyr that I usually get is the “Hey baby, right here and now” version, which is unfortunately also the version of Freya I get. This side of Freyr is summed up best by one of my favorite Friday memes:
(Updated 3/8/15: Now that Freyr has arrived all of a sudden and is demanding time, space, and attention commensurate within that which I give Freya, I’m beginning to see that he actually is a pretty dominant force. Not aggressive–just very powerful and dominant and present; kind of overwhelmingly so. Still, I haven’t anything to balance out the sheer Vanicness factor. But we’ll see how it goes.)
In real life, I often see Freyaswomen either paired up with a Freyr type partner or an Odin type partner. I know I switch between the two types pretty regularly. I don’t see a lot of Odin/Freya partnerships having stable long-term relationships (but they do exist–more power to you; I don’t know how you do it), so maybe Freyr really is the best way to go. It’s certainly a fun and laid-back way to go. Personally, I also end up with Hermes types, probably because they’re charismatic and–well, manipulative isn’t exactly the word–they are quick-witted and can work around me pretty well. But as of yet I haven’t met either type of person who is a good match. This is actually where my 12-step programming comes in handy, though. “You don’t need to find the perfect match; you need to be the perfect match.” Which is the tactic that I am taking now. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up balancing out perfectly with a Tyrsman or a Friggaswoman. Stranger things in my life have happened.