This week in the Havamal - Odhinn trashes women. And men. Or at least dating. Or speaks of the challenges of actually finding intimacy.
While the words used usually say love here .... more of the time it sounds like lust, or day dreams. For all logic, all sense is thrown away. This is not about finding someone to spend the rest of your life with!
At best it's love as illness, love as destroyer. Tristan and Isolde-level strurm und drang. I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise, given the era this came from. Survival then really did depend in large part on wise choice in a mate and their family. You had a role in the survival of your extended family, your clan, your tribe, your village to uphold.
It didn't matter if you were gay or straight, for that matter. You needed to marry, to form an alliance to strengthen your tribe and to have children, explained Alexi Kondratiev in a class at Sacred Space Conference some years back. The group was more important than the individual.
No man should trust a maiden's words,
Nor what a woman speaks:
Spun on a wheel were women's hearts,
In their breasts was implanted caprice,
To love a woman whose ways are false
Is like sledding over slippery ice
With unshod horses out of control,
Badly trained two-year-olds,
Or drifting rudderless on a rough sea,
Or catching a reindeer with a crippled hand
On a thawing hillside: think not to do it.
Naked I may speak now for I know both:
Men are treacherous too
Fairest we speak when falsest we think:
many a maid is deceived.
Gallantly shall he speak and gifts bring
Who wishes for woman's love:
praise the features of the fair girl,
Who courts well will conquer.
Never reproach another for his love:
It happens often enough
That beauty ensnares with desire the wise
While the foolish remain unmoved.
Never reproach the plight of another,
For it happens to many men:
Strong desire may stupefy heroes,
Dull the wits of the wise
Yeah, the blood leaves the brain and goes to regions farther south, in both men and women.
The mind alone knows what is near the heart,
Each is his own judge:
The worst sickness for a wise man
Is to crave what he cannot enjoy.
So I learned when I sat in the reeds,
Hoping to have my desire:
Lovely was the flesh of that fair girl,
But nothing I hoped for happened.
I saw on a bed Billing's daughter,
Sun white, asleep:
No greater delight I longed for then
Than to lie in her lovely arms.
"Come" Odhinn, after nightfall
If you wish for a meeting with me:
All would be lost if anyone saw us
And learned that we were lovers."
Afire with longing" I left her then,
Deceived by her soft words:
I thought my wooing had won the maid,
That I would have my way.
After nightfall I hurried back,
But the warriors were all awake,
Lights were burning, blazing torches:
So false proved the path
Towards daybreak back I came
The guards were sound asleep:
I found then that the fair woman
Had tied a bitch to her bed.
WHY is it that "All would be lost if anyone saw us and learned that we were lovers'? I'm thinking that would have been a question he should have asked and dealt with up front. Probably back to individual pleasure over the needs of the tribe?
Many a girl when one gets to know her
Proves to be fickle and false:
That treacherous maiden taught me a lesson,
The crafty woman covered me with shame"
That was all I got from her.
Certainly this rings true about dating/courtship. Odhinn here seems to have wanted to get laid, rather than the public 'we are an item' coupling, and certainly not marriage. If marriage was the goal he'd not have agreed to keep things secret.
Courtship. Let's look at the third definition from the Bing dictionary: friendly and often ingratiating attention for the purpose of winning a favor or establishing an alliance or other relationship. Were any of the folks talked of so far doing anything working towards marriage, towards intimacy - the #1 definition of 'courtship' from Bing (the period of a romantic relationship before marriage)? Nope. It's all game playing.
Now, I personally think that dating to have fun and even get laid is fine - not all dating SHOULD lead to marriage. But I'm of the opinion that if you're out for a good time, be up front about. Own it. It's okay.
But some folks ARE going to lie about their intent and lead you on to think that they are on the same songsheet you're on. Which is why you test, you evaluate. How do they treat others? What are their values? Especially if YOU are into dating/courtship in search of marriage and real intimacy.
Gunnlod sat me in the golden seat,
Poured me precious mead:
Ill reward she had from me for that,
For her proud and passionate heart,
Her brooding foreboding spirit.
What I won from her I have well used:
I have waxed in wisdom since I came back,
bringing to Asgard Odrerir,
the sacred draught.
Hardly would I have come home alive
From the garth of the grim troll,
Had Gunnlod not helped me, the good woman,
Who wrapped her arms around me.
Here, of course, Odhinn is the jerk, having tricked Gunnlod into giving him 3 'sips' of the mead according to Prose Edda version of the story, one for every night spent schtupping. Not unlike Freya sleeping with a dwarf for every stone in her necklace Brisingamen. Of course, Freya didn't totally empty the supply of amber, while Odhinn DID drink all the Mead of Poetic Inspiration!
Shun a woman, wise in magic,
Her bed and her embraces:
If she cast a spell, you will care no longer
To meet and speak with men,
Desire no food, desire no pleasure,
In sorrow fall asleep.
Snort. Baby boy, a woman wise in magic doesn't need spells to keep a man. Or just cue my dear Frank Sinatra singing "Witchcraft".
Sigh.... Ahem. Back to the Havamal..
Never seduce anothers wife,
Never make her your mistress.
Never open your heart to an evil man
When fortune does not favour you:
From an evil man, if you make him your friend,
You will get evil for good.
I saw a warrior wounded fatally
By the words of an evil woman
Her cunning tongue caused his death,
Though what she alleged was a lie.
Is all of this, really, about putting one's self and one's personal desires above those of your tribe? About forgetting to judge a potential mate by the same standards you judge the worthiness of your friends and associates? Of putting pleasure above sense?
I'm going to have to puzzle that one out more over time.