Is there more to Fricka than meets the eye? Steven Sora, in his book Triumph of the Sea Gods, discusses goddesses and their demise. Although the premise of the book is that Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey took place in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Mediterranean Sea, by using Sora’s arguments as a starting point we can extrapolate a greater understanding of the goddesses of mythology, including the significance of Fricka’s role in The Ring.
Sora points out that before 3200 BC, goddesses and queens ruled, after 1200, gods and kings ruled. The time between was a period of transition, also know as the Bronze Age when the accouterments of war became both easier to manufacture and more deadly. Homer merely changed locations for his stories, which he wrote several centuries after the fact, using known whirlpools, narrow channels and other characteristics in the Mediterranean to substitute for similar places beyond the Strait of Gibraltar.
Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s Odyssey, was on a spiritual trip. Each of his adventures takes him to a higher stage of initiation. He completed his journey by reuniting with his wife, who signifies the soul, and then with his ‘Father.’ But, along the way his crew fell by the wayside, unable to make the transitions with him, as was the case with the general population. Odysseus was an example for the future. Historically speaking, by 1200 BC the male influence had displaced that of the females and by 600 BC women were considered property. At the present time in history that is beginning to change, as the higher aspects of maleness and femaleness are starting to come together. But it is just a beginning and there is a long ways to go.
During the period, 3200 BC to 1200 BC, the melting glaciers caused ocean levels to rise so much that they covered the present continental shelf and flooded what is now the Mediterranean Sea. During this time the land mass of Europe was decreased by thirty percent. Thousands of underwater archeological sites have been found which substantiate this. Using archeological, etymological, and historical evidence Sora makes a convincing case that this flooding caused a massive migration to the Mid-East. Sumer, Phoenicia, Egypt, and Crete, were all settled around 3200 BC by people whose pre-existing civilizations were intact.
My assumption is that the people living on the continental shelf were culturally advanced and tried their best to hold the sea back. In the process they learned a lot about hydraulics, especially in regards to making levees, dikes, canals, and dams to control water. But it was a losing effort. They tried to move inland but there were not enough resources to accommodate the influx of so many people, so they were forced to go elsewhere. Desert areas were either sparsely populated or completely unpopulated due to the harsh environment. So these migrants applied their knowledge of hydraulics to irrigation and making efficient use of rivers and flood plains in desert areas, including the lands around the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates rivers.
The way I see it the mentality of the people from the west, who were displaced from their homeland, was of a more technical (masculine) nature than that of those further to the east, whose thinking was more spiritual (feminine). Their cultures collided and after a millenium had passed the female goddesses and queens had come out second best.
Beliefs about the nature of the Biblical ‘fall’ vary considerably, but one is that what the Bible calls the ‘fall from paradise’ was really a transition from the oneness and unity of the spiritual world to the individualization and separation, the bits and pieces, we find in the physical world today. This fall was a very gradual event, but, nevertheless, a process which included dramatic dips here and there. In the oneness of the spiritual world consciousness is of a clairvoyant nature which is experienced within, a feminine quality. On the physical plane, by itself, consciousness based on sensory input is of a masculine nature.
According to many of those who do not believe in the ‘big bang theory’, the world we know today came about through what was a spiritual oneness going through a series of condensations and refinements, part of it refining and becoming higher, and part condensing, becoming more individualized and, eventually, solid. For a long time clairvoyance continued, even after our bodies became solid. But physicality and clairvoyance are not naturally compatible. Gradually, as we descended into matter, clairvoyance waned. But something had to replace it or we could never function. Shortly after 3000 BC, according to Rudolf Steiner, our consciousness shifted for the first time from that of clairvoyance to that of experiencing the world through the physical senses of seeing, hearing, etc. In order to function in the world we had to form abstract concepts about the objects out ‘there.’ What the eighteenth century philosopher Immanuel Kant called ‘the thing in itself,’ the true essence of an object, was no longer part of our consciousness. We only knew the objects outside of us from representations we received through our senses and interpreted through our minds. This was a male form of consciousness. As this occurred it eventually overwhelmed our feminine aspects, resulting in the left brain, masculine consciousness which dominates our world today. Along the way this was reflected by the female queens and goddesses being replaced by male kings and gods, and, in today‘s world, science.
The goal of the spiritual guides was for our maleness and femaleness to unite on a more sublime level, with both qualities shining brightly. But maleness could not come into its own concurrently with a strong female influence; each side worked against the other. The forces would have to develop more or less independently. The old female qualities would have to be forsaken, and then recreated on a higher level. But the ‘old’ goddesses and queens would not give up without a fight. That is what Homer’s Trojan war was about. In The Ring, that was what Fricka was concerned with. She was not about to go down to defeat gracefully. A new problem would later arise: how to reverse the tide of male dominance in favor of a higher union. This is the situation we face today.
Around 3000 BC, the time when rising oceans forced large segments of humanity to migrate to the deserts, was when this transition, or fall, from clairvoyant consciousness into physical sense-based consciousness took a big dip. Mythology and art are full of references for this. The evil stepmother in fairy tales is representative of the old feminine forces which had to be die out.
In Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, which transcends time, the Queen of the Night was the goddess who once rightfully ruled. Her influence had now become detrimental to the proper evolution of humanity. She had become evil. Her nemesis, Sarastro, and his followers, represent the new male rulers who replaced the old goddesses and were now striving for a higher union of the male and female. The queen’s daughter, Pamina, would do what the queen was unable to do. She and Tamino, the hero, together, representing the female and male sides, would go through an initiation rite together. She, the feminine, was the guide. He, the male, was responsible for carrying out the action. Their initiation trip is the initiation trip humanity has to take as it progresses to higher levels of consciousness.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling frescoes tell a different version of the same story. In it, the sibyls represent the female leadership which once had its rightful place but, having lost their clairvoyance, they were no longer capable of leading. The prophets each represent a stage in the uniting of the higher male and female attributes. Michelangelo shows one prophet consciously and intensely using his male, intellectual faculties to search for an appropriate place to study his book. Then the other prophets alternately use female and male aspects. One meditates, a feminine trait, on what he is learning from this allegorical book; another writes down his impressions, using his male traits, and another listens to his inner voice, a female characteristic. This culminates with Jonah seeing God and conversing with him/her (God has a pronounced bust line). Jonah has combined the higher masculine and feminine qualities which matured in the other prophets. He has passed through his initiation in the belly of the whale/fish and he now defies the laws of physics as he leans backwards through a solid wall that is curved forward. He speaks to God who cannot see into the physical world because he is too sublime. Jonah points down to earth as he tells God about the problems down there. He has become an intermediary between humans and God. He is actively taking part in the forward progress of evolution. By doing so he is a co-creator. By developing the necessary consciousness to defy the laws of physics, and to ‘see’ the male/female God in full consciousness, Jonah has joined his higher masculine self with his higher feminine self.
As for the goddess Fricka, the wife Wotan cannot get along with, in Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, she, like Mozart’s Queen of the Night, and Michelangelo’s sibyls, was once a rightful ruler. But she failed to progress. She insisted on being a dogmatic, dictatorial boss who insisted keeping humans as her slaves. She did not allow humans to be free. Brunnhilde, her step-daughter, would eventually carry on in her place, but not before Fricka put up a no holds barred fight.
Wotan represented the new male leadership, yet he was uncertain where it was all going. A lot of problems resulted as he made his share of mistakes. Siegfried would eventually take over for him. He and Brunnhilde would have moved on to the next stage of evolution where the male and female join together on a higher level, but Siegfried’s consciousness was stuck in the physical world; he could not comprehend the fact that he was in the spiritual world and that Brunnhilde was a spiritual being. Brunnhilde eventually saved the day but to do so humanity had to revert back to a level of consciousness which existed before the ‘fall.‘
It was not a case of Fricka’s feminine forces being intrinsically evil. But being used outside its proper sphere, i.e. at the wrong time, it was evil. The feminine had to be raised up to higher levels, just as today our male nature has to be raised up from the pit of materialism which it finds itself trapped in.
Brunnhilde would take over from Fricka as the higher feminine force, but to be effective she would have to partner with her masculine side, Siegfried. But he would be ineffective, even harmful, until he rose up to a higher state of consciousness. They could only do it together.
Sora believes Homer was an entertainer, not a historian, I say Homer may have been an excellent entertainer but his entertainment was only a means to his true mission, that of teaching about the evolution of consciousness and initiation into the spiritual worlds.
Comments on: "Fricka and Other Goddesses" (1)
Interesting interpretation. I’m inclined to see Fricka as a somewhat more ambiguous figure, who is trying to push Wotan to honor his own commitments to marriage and fidelity, when he, like Wagner, would rather be out wandering the world and sleeping with goddesses and scheming. It’s clearly ironic, that Wotan, who derives his power from his role as the enforcer of contracts, is himself reluctant to be bound by his commitments, and throughout the cycle tries to circumvent every oath he takes.
A couple notes. The rising sea hypothesis is interesting, but I’m convinced that massive earthworks would leave archaeological records that would by now be known.
A great deal is currently known about the historical timeline of how the apparently-patriarchal pre-Indo-European, pre-Semitic matriarchal cultures of Europe were supplanted by Patriarchal divinities from the Levant and the Eurasian steppes. When you say you see goddess-culture as reflective of the “East,” what are you thinking exactly? India? Or Mesopotamia?
In any case, if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing further I’d recommend you have a look at Gimbutas’s “The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe,” which to my mind conclusively establishes that the matriarchal goddess culture prevailed in Europe from Paleolithic times down to the Bronze Age in a continuous succession, and was probably native to Europe.
Another classic resource for tracing the substitution of old goddess cultures for new god cultures is Jane Ellen Harrison’s “Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion,” which traces that path as well.
Interesting blog, I’m going to be interested in following your thoughts.