The traditional nine roles of men and women are not hard fast “rules” a man or a woman must follow, but they are the natural inclinations of a person descended from the Northern Way. These are embedded in the essence of what a Northern man or woman would feel obligated he or she should do to be a “good” man or woman. Carl Jung described them as grooves in our being, like dry riverbeds, which wait for the natural flow of our spirit to flood our lives with the power of the life we were meant to live. They are negotiable depending on the circumstances, but they are the ideal standard by which a man or a woman would judge himself or herself worthy of being considered a “good man” (godly man) or a “good woman” (godly woman). They also form the expectation a good man would have of a woman, and a good woman would have of a man. Judge for yourself whether these roles describe a man or a woman, you would like to be, or like to have as a spouse.
The purpose for bringing up the roles of men and women is to help identify the actual categories that a man or woman might “feel” are not in “order,” but do not consciously know “exactly” what it is they are feeling disturbed about. A person can use this list of virtues and roles to diagnose where the actual problem or unsatisfied urge is coming from, or which areas they need to discipline themselves to become better at doing. That is Tyr’s area of expertise, to assist with discipline to achieve order. However, you need to know “what” the areas are you need help with and their “form” before you can seek his assistance. There are other gods and goddesses to help with any one of these areas, but if it is godly “self-discipline” you lack, then Tyr is the god to call on. The natural laws of inward social order are the roles that you play in life to be the ideal man or ideal woman you want to become, and you would feel honored in your Folk-soul to become. Organizing your thoughts and feelings in harmony with nature is your spiritual truth. Interacting with others in society who share that same spiritual truth is your religion. Living and expressing that religion in life are the roles that you play.
These are not meant to be “traps” that limit capability or choice. Many are capable of doing what the other does and many choose to do so. These are merely the roles our ancestors fulfilled to function in relationships and as a society. Consequently, they have cut grooves into our folk-souls that give us peace when we fulfill them and grief when we do not. It is “ingrained” in the wood of our family tree. You may not be just fighting “society” if you are attempting to deviate from them. You may be fighting the folk-soul of your ancestors inside you urging you, inspiring you to perform them. You must negotiate with your ancestors to find peace, not merely negotiate with society. Talk to your soul and the folk you descended from. Explain the needs of our changing times.
One can think of the roles as job descriptions. Imagine if you went to a job and there was no description for anyone to do anything specific. The result would be chaos. Some would do most of the work. Some would do none. The things that everybody “likes” to do would get done, but not the things that no one likes to do, like the hard and painful things. The traditional roles of men and women divided up the tasks to do in a relationship so that the work was evenly distributed and followed the strengths of each gender in their job descriptions. Over time goals change and thus roles or our job descriptions must change with them if we are going to continue to reach our goals. However,”If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” is the rule. These roles got the job done and the goals reached for our ancestors. Trail has already been blazed, the formative work already been done. The “groove” ready to flow with the life force of our ancestral ways.
Certainly, if there is no other person in the relationship, then the man or the woman will have to do both. In that case, these roles also bring clarity and insight on what needs to be done functionally for anyone intending to live the good life. These can help identify areas you may be missing so you don’t inadvertently let a necessary function of the good life slip through the cracks.
These roles changed due to circumstances and ability even for our ancestors. So they are negotiable, but they provide a standard of negotiation to establish a fair exchange of effort, as well as, a fair exchange of contribution to the family and relationship. In these changing times, many women get saddled with more than their fair share of the duties to fulfill. So over time she breaks down under the strain. This can also be true for men in reverse. These roles bring clarity of fair division and equal distribution of effort. So these are also functional. In other words, if somebody doesn’t do it, it won’t get done. Yet it needs to be done. So the role is more important than which gender does it. Therefore, any deviation from them must re-establish a functional working replacement to complete the whole or you will feel disturbed inside to greater or lesser degrees depending on the amount of dysfunctional deviation you are engaging in. When these roles are fulfilled, there is a livable harmony and peace in the relationship because a functional balance with the folk-soul that has been achieved.
The Man is the King
The Woman is the Queen
As stated before, “In each man’s circle, he reigns as King.” This is true for a woman’s circle as well. In each woman’s circle, she reigns as Queen. One of the goals of the Northern gods and goddesses is to make men into kings and women into queens within their circle of influence. Therefore, the natural impulse of a man and woman with a Northern soul is to become the king and queen of their world, become rulers of their domain.
The role model for an independent king is the god Tyr. The role model for an independent queen is the goddess Freya. Each of whom, as a god and goddess, function in their halls or homes according to the counsel of their own will. They answer to no one but the god-folk with whom they live as a community, but not as a household.
However, the roles of king and queen can be reciprocal roles for a man and woman who live together as a household as well. They can assist each other in functional leadership and mastery of their “domain” or home in a mutually complimentary way without duplication or competition of effort. Odin is the archetype role model for a married king. Frigga is the archetype role model for a married queen. They are sovereigns individually with the complete ability to function independently of each other. Yet they are also able to function collectively, interactively, producing together even more than what they could independently.
King: Ruler for Justice
The primary duty of a good king is to be a ruler. Being a “ruler” means two things. He must be the “ruler” who makes the “rules” those in his circle will be expected to live by. This makes him the “authority,” which comes from the root word of being the “author” and originator of the “rules.” However, as an authority, he must also be the “ruler” or “measuring stick” that conduct is measured by in his circle. In other words, he must be the standard or model of his rules by which everyone in his circle, including himself, will be judged as good. Therefore, whatever rules you come up with as a ruler of your circle, you must be sure to live by those same rules or you will experience inner and outer conflict with “good,” that is, conflict with “god.” We have all felt the offense at some time of being required to, “Do as I say, but don’t do as I do.” No honor can come from that rule, no honor from that kind of ruler, let alone to that kind of a ruler.
A Ruler’s rules must be “just,” in order for justice and peace to exist without conflict with good. “No justice” equals “no peace.” Which is the same as saying, to the degree there is no justice is the same degree there will be no peace, no harmony and “frith” within your circle or within your soul. “Just” means fair and balanced like Odin. As any parent knows, the first thing a child will raise “hue and cry” over is not being treated “fair.” It is the same for our own souls. Our own souls will cry out if we do not treat ourselves with fairness and balance.
Queen: Advocate of Mercy
The above points are true for a queen as well. However, a queen in relationship to a king need not be a mere female version of a king or duplicate his efforts. She can complement the king’s rules by providing the balance of mercy that a king needs for true justice.
“Rules” are mental, created in the head guided by reason. “Mercy” is emotional, inspired in the heart, guided by care. The king is the “head” of the kingdom, but the queen is the “heart” of the kingdom. Just as the husband has the role of being the head of the home, the woman has the role of being the heart of the home. The head needs the order of rules to maintain control. However, the head also needs the feelings of the heart to maintain life. Justice without mercy becomes cruel and heartless. Mercy without justice becomes permissive and chaotic. Both extremes are destructive. Therefore, they need each other for constructive life giving balance.
The Man is the Priest
The Woman is the Priestess
Another natural impulse of a man and woman with a Northern soul is to become the priest and priestess of their home or circle of influence. The word for “priest” in Old Norse is “Godhi” (Gothi) which means “god-man” or good-man, and the word for “priestess” is “Gydhja” (Gythja) for “god-woman” or good-woman (Teutonic Religion: 22). They will naturally feel responsible to know (or find out) what is good—what is god, or not. Such as, knowing what to do or say about a bad dream when a child looks to us for answers, or what to do about fears, anger, or sorrows, in fact, any unsettling or extreme thoughts and emotions.
In that case, priests and priestesses are transformers. They transform experiences of wild and extreme emotions into manageable balanced sensational powers. In other words, they transform bad experiences into good by looking for the “good” or god in the experience to guide you through them and gain the power that comes from understanding them.
Priest: Good of the Household
Priests and priestesses also transform spiritual experiences into physical experiences by using symbols and patterns that represent the spiritual world of mind and emotion. The reverse is also true. They take physical experiences such as birth, maturity, marriage, and death and transform them into spiritual experiences by using symbols and ceremonies that help us experience the event in a “good” way or in a “god” way and thereby gaining power from it instead of losing it.
Priestess: Goodness of the Home
Therefore, the role of priest and priestesses is to know what to do to celebrate and pay respect to what is good (god) and the goodness (goddess) in life as well. These needs can be personal and private or ritual and public. This can be as simple as the celebrating the “good” or “goodness” of a child with a birthday party, or it can become as elaborate as celebrating the “good” and “goodness” of love with a big wedding or anniversary, or the “goodness” of holidays (holy-days) that bring families together for a “good” time around trees, eggs, or costumes. It can even be the sacredness of a funeral, showing respect to the “good” life of a loved one who has died, be that an adult friend or a child’s pet. If a man or woman does not know how to do these things, they will feel like something is missing from their life. They will feel inadequate, because something is missing.
Every man must be the priest of his own soul individually, as stated earlier. However, specifically in a family, he will be expected by his wife and the children to play the role of a priest to guide the family toward “good,” that is, toward “god,” as well as, being an example of a good man or “god-man.” The same is true for the wife and mother as well. She will be expected to play the role as priestess to guide the family toward feminine “goodness,” that is the female “goddess,” and be an example of that “goodness” for all to see a living example of a goddess.
The reason for this expectation created in the mind of a spouse is that a man does not really know what it is like to be a woman and vice versa. So, they need a priestess to guide them in understanding where her “goodness” comes from. In the Northern Way, the source of every woman’s “goodness” is the “goddess” within her. The amount of “goodness” she has is indicated by the amount of “goddesses” she has inside. The source of every man’s “good” is the “god” within him. The amount of “good” he has is indicated by the amount of “gods” he has inside him.
In children, there is also the expectation that their mother and father will be a priest and priestess to guide them to the gods and goddesses within them. This expectation is created in the back of their minds, because they know, deep down, parents are their point of origin, their “creators,” so to speak; therefore their connection back to the ultimate creators of all children and parents, the gods and goddesses of us all.
All children, young and old, have a longing to know “where” they came from, “how” they got here, and “why” they are here. The answer to these questions gives their life purpose. The reason being, it begins to answer the question, “For what purpose am I here?” That is, what they are supposed to “do” while they are here. It is the business of every man and woman then, to know the answers to these questions, which is the role of a priest and priestess.
The Northern Way declares, “Life is to be lived for a purpose in a pattern to a point.” Do you know your purpose? Do you know the point to your life? Do you know the pattern to get there? There is an instinctive urge in our folk-soul to fulfill that purpose, live that pattern, reach that point. The questions that nag us many times in our life are, “What is my purpose?” or “What is the purpose of living at all?” or we may ask, “What’s the point of going on?” Some people know their purpose, while others do not. Consciously or unconsciously, these are the questions children will look to their parents to answer, especially in teen age, the parents will look to their parents, and so on, till they eventually look to the gods and goddesses to find a point to life that gives their life purpose, and a pattern to get there. If you do not know the answers to these questions, then you need to find them out. The purpose, pattern, and point can be found through the pursuit of Odin (wisdom) and Frigga (love), as well as all the gods and goddesses of the Northern Way of life.
The Man is the Warrior
The Woman is the Nurse
The Northern Way is not a religion or belief in non-violence. It is a religion and belief in balance. If people come to us with an attitude of war, we will respond with war and pursue victory. Honor requires it. Freedom requires it. Survival of the family and the Way of Life requires it. That is fair. That is balanced. That is “Just” what they deserve. If people come to us with an attitude of peace, we will respond with peace. Hospitality requires it. Excellence requires it, That is “Just” what they deserve. This is the “good” way, the “god” way, of the North. Harmony and “Frith” in life is the goal, the method is only a functional decision of how to achieve it as a victory and preserve it as a way of life.
Warrior: Protector of Life
Therefore, a man with a Northern soul will feel the natural impulse to be the protector— of himself, his family (kith and kin), and his possessions. That is his role. In other words, he will feel the natural impulse to be a warrior, romantically speaking, to be the “knight in shining armor.” He will not find it natural to “turn the other cheek” or require his family to do so. His natural reaction to being slapped is for the one who slapped him to “turn the other cheek.”
Survival before extinction is the natural rule here. It is a natural instinct to defend ones life against a threat from an enemy. All living things naturally do it. Therefore, it is a divine right to do so.
This does not have to be just human enemies. It can be fighting a disease or things like wild fires. Therefore, the Northern man will follow his natural instincts to go to war with anyone or anything to protect himself, his family, his possessions, and the good way of life.
Nurse: Preserver of Life
The natural impulse of the Northern woman is to comfort, nourish, and heal, in other words nurse others back to health if they get harmed. This is true for her husband and children, as well as all kith and kin. She may not be good at it, but she will naturally feel the desire to comfort, feed, and heal the helpless or wounded. By doing so, one of her primary functions is to preserve life through nursing, whether that is nursing babies from her breasts or nursing men from her medicine cabinet.
This is a reciprocal role of the Northern woman. It is functional. If the man in his role gets hurt in war protecting the woman, then it is her role to nurse him back to health, so he can continue to protect her. According to Alice Karlsdottir, the wife of the warrior god of law and order, “Tyr,” is the goddess of healing, “Eir.” Again, this functional relationship mythically portrays this natural inclination of the Northern soul of men and women as warrior and nurse.
The Man is the Hunter
The Woman is the Cook
Much has been made these days of who “brings home the bacon.” Regardless of this fuss, there will be a natural inclination or urge in the soul of a Northern man to fulfill his role as the hunter or provider. The Northern woman will also feel a natural obligation to be able to cook or be the preparer of whatever he brings home. If she is not able, she will feel a tinge of guilt for not being able to perform her duty to prepare what he provides and make it presentable to her household and guests. Where does this sense of duty come from? It comes from the Nine Roles of men and women in the folk-soul of the Northern Way.
People are trying to change these roles, but the result is inner conflict with their folk-soul. Does this mean these roles are rigid and cannot accommodate the flexibility of changing reality? No. Even in ancient times, if a man is injured in his role as warrior, the woman may have to assume his role as hunter/provider just for them to eat. These are not meant to be “traps” that limit capability or choice. They are merely the roles our ancestors fulfilled to function as a society. Consequently, they have cut grooves into our folk-souls that give us peace when we fulfill them and grief when we do not. You are not fighting “society” if you are attempting to deviate from them. You are fighting the folk-soul inside you of your ancestors. You must negotiate with them to find peace, not merely society. They are negotiable, but they are the standard of negotiation to establish a fair exchange of effort and contribution to the family and relationship. They are functional. Therefore, any deviation from them must re-establish a functional working whole or you will feel disturbed inside to greater or lesser degrees depending on the amount of dysfunctional deviation you are engaging in. When they are fulfilled, there is a livable harmony and peace in the relationship because a functional balance with the folk-soul has been achieved.
Hunter: Provider for Needs
As stated above, a man with a Northern folk-soul will feel a natural compulsion to be the provider for himself and his household. The word “hunter” actually represents any form of providing for the family. A man can be a farmer or fisherman, businessman or employee, but he will feel a need to “go out” and “get” the goods. He will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when he does so, that is, a sense of manhood. This function will give him a sense of purpose, a point to strive for, and the method he gets it will become the pattern he follows in life. That is why many men define themselves by what they do to bring home the bacon. Many last names are based on what the man did to provide for his family. Such as “Smith” comes from an ancestor who was a “blacksmith,” or “Cooper,” which comes from an ancestor who was a “Cooper-smith” or barrel maker, and so on.
The line between a “man” and a “boy” has been blurred in our modern society. The difference between a man and a boy is a boy is dependent on his parents to provide everything he needs. A man, on the other hand, is dependent upon himself for everything he needs. A true boy aspires to become a man someday to provide for himself and others. The folk-soul inspires him onward to do so. It is an honor to be self-sufficient and provide for ones own wellbeing. He is fit at that point to take on the responsibility of providing for others of his own household.
Cook: Preparer of Taste
A woman who is in touch with the gods and goddesses of the Northern Way will be delighted to fulfill her role as “cook.” Actually, the word, “cook” means every form of preparation for family and guests. A Northern woman will feel a sense of pride and fulfillment being the “Hostess with the most-ess.” She will feel a sense of womanhood that comes from the goddesses inspiring it.
Even when women these days take on jobs and become the primary providers of the family, they still feel a responsibility to cook and to prepare for guests and company. So, instead of switching roles with the man of the house, they merely take on both roles, and often become exhausted by the workload. This is not functional. But, neither is leaving the role of the “hostess” to the man. There are natural abilities and unnatural. He can be a “host,” that is his job, but he will never be a “hostess” like his wife inspired by the goddesses. That is her role. Therefore, she will always be the best at it for her home. He supplies “needs” as a host, but she provides “taste” as a hostess. Men do not always have good taste because they are looking more for needs and function rather than taste and experience. Her role is to take the provisions of the husband and prepare them in such a way to become tasteful. “Good taste” is defined in the dictionary as “in a form, style, or manner showing a sense of beauty, excellence, fitness, propriety, etc.” as “pleasing or satisfying to one.” Therefore, she prepares things for herself and others to experience pleasure. A woman who cooks or prepares something that does not “taste” good or have “good taste” to others will feel that tinge of guilt for not fulfilling her role with the “goodness” of good taste. Those who do will feel as sense of satisfaction and honor at performing her role like a goddess.
The Man is the Builder
The Woman is the Decorator
Men may build a house, but it is the women who decorate it into feeling like a home. Here again we see the impulse of men to provide a function while women provide an experience. It is news to most men that women decorate and arrange their home, or their table, or their bedroom to create a feeling not provide a function.
Men will offer washers and dryers or other “tools” to women for “gifts” and wonder why the women are not as pleased as a man would be. Men do not instinctively understand why women like flowers and cards rather than something they can “use.” It is because women would rather have something that makes them “feel” good rather then “do” good. It is not that women do not “want” things they can “use.” They just do not “like” things they “use” as much as they “like” things they “feel,” unless of course they can “use” them to “feel.”
Builder: Producer of Value
The “builder” here means the role of a man is to build anything the family needs to function, but it also means he will produce things of value. For instance, men may like building the house, but women like to decorate it. Men moved by the god inside like to go into the woods and cut down trees, saw and shape them into boards and beams, until they are fashioned together into a fitting construction of functional form and potential pleasure. Then a woman moved by the goddess will decorate it with tablecloths, carpets, lamps, drapes, wallpaper, sconces, doilies and flowers. The same goes for all hand crafted or quality “craftsmanship” made items of value, such as furniture or clothes or even jewelry. Men may like “making” the jewelry, finding and digging out the ore, smelting it into metal, bending it, shaping it into something of curious beauty, but women like to “wear” it to decorate themselves into something of even more beautiful. Another way to say it is men are producers and women are consumers. By doing so, the women give the product function. Aesthetic appearance is the final “finish” of a product.
Decorator: Presenter of Beauty
If men will create it, then women will display it. She will add the dynamic of how something will appear to others, not only in an individual way, but also in a collective way. She will ensure not only that a beautiful necklace is presented, but also how it is experienced together with her dress, and the complete ensemble, from her earrings and anklets to her shoes and her handbag. In the case of the appearance of a room, she will coordinate the couch with the drapes, the coffee table with the end table, the paint on the walls with the carpet, the art with lighting and so on. The goal is the overall “experience” from the appearance, not merely individual presentation of an item.
Who decorated for your birthday parties when you were growing up? Was it your mother or your father? Who sends the Christmas cards every year? If it were not for the women, most of us would not even have celebrations with any decorative beauty at all. This does not mean men cannot do it or that men do not. It is just something that comes natural to the women of the Northern Way.
The Man is the Fixer
The Woman is the Cleaner
When something breaks down, like the car or the washer or dryer, or even if it is just the front door squeaks on its hinges, it is the men who are looked to for the remedy. Women may be looked to for cleaning the mess he makes fixing it, but it is a balanced role where both provide functional effort. If men fix something that is broken, she will clean something that is dirty.
Being the “fix-it-man” also includes solving problems when the family is “not working” good. He will be looked to for the solutions to life’s problems. Women, on the other hand, will clean up the emotional mess once the problem is solved. She will feel a natural impulse to do so. Men who interfere with a woman doing so are interrupting the goddess at work. Let her do her part. You stick to yours and make sure it is fixed in good working order. She will make sure it feels good to everyone when you are done.
Fixer: Repairer of Function
A man’s goal is to restore the function of something when it falls into disrepair or disorder. His job is to make sure everything works. Yes, he can clean up after himself, but his primary objective is to restore function to life. If stuff is not “working out,” a good man will feel a sense of guilt for not having done his duty to keep everything working. He is the problem solver. It may require “magic” to make it work. It may even appear as “magic” to make the car “go” when it breaks down or gets a flat, but that is his job. If a man does that, if he keeps everything working in his life, he will feel a deep sense of satisfaction and pride at a job well done.
The same goes for his marriage working. Too many men look to the woman to “solve” their marriage problems. It is not her “job.” She may be the singer, but it is his job to write the music. Do not complain when she has nothing to sing about. It is your job to give her reason to sing the glories of the good life you have built.
Most men do not realize that women measure the value of their lives by the love they receive, not by things they have. Even the women who parade the things they have are attempting to use them as evidence of how lovable they are. Men measure their worth by their possessions. That is, what they have to give or what they have done or can do with abilities they have. Men will brag to each other about their car and their job, or their gun collection and sports achievements.
Women, on the other hand, will brag to each other about their men. That is, what their men have given them out of love or what their men have done or can do out of love for them. A woman can have a poor husband, but she will become the envy of the rich, if she can show how much more he loves her compared to their rich husbands. Therefore, if men want their marriage to “work,” then they will have to “work” at it. It has been said, “It takes two to make a marriage, but one to save it.” Who is the rescuer? Who is the knight in shining armor? Who is the builder, the fixer? The woman or the man? We need more males to be MEN who are able to build a good life for their family and able to fix it when it does not work.
Cleaner: Restorer of Appearance
A woman’s goal is to restore the appearance and pleasing experience to life. Cleaning the home comes from deep-seated urges within a woman. Actually, cleanliness is not just for beauty alone. It is for health as well, but rarely is something beautiful that is also unhealthy. A dirty house, a dirty person are usually portraits of ugliness and unhealthiness. So, behind a woman’s cleanliness is actually health and beauty for her home, herself, and her children—not that every woman is an expert at it, but she will feel a sense of accomplishment or failure based upon her level of cleanliness.
That does not just apply to cleaning the house and restoring its beauty, but it also applies to herself. Cosmetics are form of restoring beauty. It is something women from time immemorial have felt compelled to do. Some people see this as deceit, yet it is actually her effort to bring out the beauty she knows exists that may be hidden deep within. Therefore, it is not deceit, but her effort to reveal the truth as she feels it about herself and her life. Men who can see deeper into life than mere surface appearance do well to recognize this truth and allow her efforts.
An example in the Northern lore that mythically portrays a woman’s desire to display her hidden beauty within is found in the Brisingamen necklace of the goddess Freya. She wins the necklace from the four dwarfs that made it by bestowing her favors for four nights as she sleeps with each one for a night. Some say the necklace represents “intelligence” because its name means “gem of fire” (Masks of Odin: 276). Others claim it represents the “life force” (Magic of the Norse Goddesses, Alice Karlsdottir: 169). However, “fire” does not always mean the “light” of “intelligence,” and Freya did not seem to be pursuing “intelligence” at the time. Nor was she trying to obtain her “life force” or save it. No. Those who claim it represents “fertility” are closest to the truth (Northern Mysteries & Magick, Freya Aswynn: 10). In context with her desire and manner of winning it, the necklace represents a woman’s inner beauty revealed in nature and experienced by all.
“Dwarfs,” also called “Dark Elves” by our ancestors, live underground. They are the creative forces hidden beneath the surface. “Darkness” to our ancestors did not mean “evil” as Christians portray it today. Darkness was simply the opposite of light. “Light” was that which could be “seen,” whether with the eyes or with the mind, whereas you had to “feel” your way in the darkness. Therefore, the Dark Elves are mythic images of our “emotions” which cannot be “seen” above with the light of the mind, but instead are “felt” below with the fingers of the soul.
There are four dwarfs in the Voluspa, St. 11, who represent the four directions, as their names imply: Northri (North), Suthri (South), Austri (East), and Vestri (West) (Poetic Edda: 322). Therefore, as dwarfs, they represent creative emotions of every direction.
Freya sleeping with the four dwarfs connotes passion, which is a “feeling” not a “thought.” Her objective was to get the necklace, a gem of fiery beauty: a “gem” being something sparkling, desirable, and precious, “fire” representing the “heat” of passionate arousal. She must get in “touch” with her emotions to obtain that true beauty within with its spellbinding power. All women have an inner beauty they want everyone to see and desire—if not worship. That is what the Brisingamen necklace represents, the attractive beauty of a goddess revealed in nature and “felt” in every direction, bringing others to their knees.
When she gets angry, as Freya once did, then her beauty and its spell gets broken, “Wroth grew Freya, foamed with rage; the shining halls shook with her wrath, the Brisings’ necklace burst asunder…” (Poetic Edda: 106, Lay of Thrym, St. 13). However, when she regains her composure, cleaning her emotional mess, then her beauty is restored as well, just as Freya’s necklace was restored whole (ibid., St. 15).
The goddess Frigga was told to have acquired a necklace of her own she retrieved from an image of Odin (Norse Goddesses: 41, 56). So, a woman’s beauty can come from her deepest “emotions” or her highest “wisdom.” Either way, if her emotional or mental beauty becomes soiled or cluttered with some unattractive element, it is up to her to clean it up and restore its true splendor in all its naked glory.
The Man is the Pioneer
The Woman is the Settler
Another natural role of a man is to be a pioneer and for a woman to be a settler. If men will discover the location for a house, women will settle it into a home.
Pioneer: Explorer for Variety
In the face of all the controversy over men and women’s roles, it is interesting to note that in the entire recorded history of mankind, no woman ever climbed a mountain first. No woman ever crossed an ocean first. No woman discovered new lands or went to the moon first. Men did it first, then once women saw it was safe, they would feel secure enough to do likewise. This is not necessarily a discredit to women, since it seems kind of wise to let someone else take the risks. Nevertheless, this distinction illustrates the natural difference between men and women.
The word “Pioneer” comes from the Old French “peonier,” which originally meant, “a foot soldier… a member of a military unit that precedes the main body and builds bridges, roads, trenches, etc.” but came to, mean, “a person who goes before, preparing the way for others, as, an early settler …” (Webster’s). Forging new horizons, discovering new ways of life, “expanding your circle” is the job of a man. It is his role to explore new ways, new possibilities, and ensure they are safe for others to follow and secure for them to settle. That is why the word has a military connotation to it. He is to scout out new horizons, be able to fight and overcome any danger he may encounter in the process, and secure a perimeter from danger for his people to settle in.
Our ancestors were adventurers, discoverers, traders. White skinned, red haired, tattooed, plaid skirted mummies have been found in the Chinese Gobi desert. Archeologists were able to trace their clothing back to Northern European origin. They discovered in their medicine bag residue of gunpowder, tobacco, and cocaine. The fact that their mummified bodies were found in China with gunpowder confirms our ancestors had contact and traded with peoples as far as China. However, it was the tobacco and cocaine, which were even more astounding. Tobacco only grew in North America. Cocaine only grew in South America. That means our ancestors either had been to, or had contact with people who had been to, the Americas far before ever realized. To say the least, they were international, but by all the evidence, they were world explorers.
Men are actually attracted to the danger of adventure; to overcome danger is a need in men, whereas, women wait for security, which is a need in women. Without danger, men get bored. Danger brings variety. That is, the variety of possibility, the variety of outcome, and the variety of success or failure. The greater the danger means the greater the worth of the prize because of its greater difficulty to obtain. If there is no actual danger or natural prize of value, then men will create artificial ones. This is what sports amount to—artificial danger and artificial prizes. Nevertheless, it reveals a need in man and a natural tendency to explore new possibilities and new limits.
If he is not doing this, then he is bored, dying or lying.
New possibilities and limits can be both outward and inward. Some men explore the mind and inner man. Others explore and test the limits of the outer man. Both are explorers, adventurers, and pioneers. He can be exploring the possibilities of a new place to live, or a new way to make a living, either way; this is a natural role of man.
Settler: Stabilizer for Security
Women, on the other hand, will stabilize a man’s, sometimes, wild ideas. She will, at the very least, point out the areas that need to be secured before she can fully join him on his internal or external expedition. If he does those things, she will more likely join him and enjoy sharing the adventure.
She can take his trip to the park for the purpose of fun and adventure and turn it into a picnic with the comforts of camping. Men do not always think of what the body needs or what the emotions need for their journeys. However, that is the dynamic women supply. Women have the ability of making a “bare bones mission” into a .plush excursion. Sometimes her comforts are excessive, but it is her job to ensure the experience of the journey is prepared for to provide a satisfying secure adventure.
The Man: Prince Charming
The Woman: Fair Maiden
Every adventure begins with a romantic dream of possibility. These are what motivate people to take adventures, take risks. It is the role of a man to create the romantic vision and the role of a woman to charm him into taking her along for the ride.
Romantic names pop up in our culture that intuitively shape expectations and roles we play as lovers, like Romeo and Juliet, who fight against all odds for love even to their death. These show the value of the heart as being greater than the head. However, they are not limited to merely the pattern of Romeo and Juliet. Romance can be created in new forms to shape new patterns to hold up the heart in all its sensational glory.
Prince Charming: Sensational Inspirer
(Poet, Artist, Designer, Dreamer)
A man must know how to inspire sensations of possibility, the possibility of ecstasy while experiencing the “good” life. His inspiration may come in the form of poetry or art, dreams expressed in words or colors, or sculpted in fanciful designs. With a word or a brush, he can turn a ramshackle house into a castle fit for a queen, or the rags of Cinderella into a sparkling gown on the belle of the ball. He can turn a thorny rose into the beauty and pain of love, or his fight against poverty into the slaying of a dragon to win its treasure. He is the boy inside the man that is not afraid to dream and play on the fringe of reality where the “good” life is just within grasp if we just reach out and pluck it from the tree of life.
The poetry within each man, is not the “roses are red, violets are blue” type. No, the true kind is his ability to look at a vacant lot and see the house of his dreams, to look at a woman and see the girl and goddess sleeping inside waiting to be awakened and worshipped. This kind hears the cries from a girl with a broken doll and hears the wounds of a broken heart, or even the sobs of a boy who struck out at bat and hears the tears of a soldier who has lost the war. He looks and sees, he listens and hears, beyond the world around us and connects it to the world within.
This is the Poetic Mead of Odin “Odrorir.” He drinks it from outside to experience it within. Odin then gives it to all who want to know in their “knower” and feel in their “feeler” the ecstasy of the kingdom within, inspiring them with the intoxicating dreams of possibility yet to be realized without.
Yes, the Romancer is an expert lover, but that is not his only function. He creates the dreams men live and die for, as well as, what lovers love and strive for. He provides the “vision” in “provision,” the “sight” in “foresight,” and the “destiny” in “destination.” He sees beyond the war of limitations and opposition to see what everyone wants to see on the horizon … Victory!
Fair Maiden: Sensuous Satisfier
(Singer, Model, Dancer, Entertainer)
A woman hopes to find the man of her dreams, the one who gives her life a song. It is then that she sings from her soul the glory of his touch, the might in his fight, and the life in his wife that he has given her. She seeks to be the model for his art, the dancer of his music, to be the focus and center of his world he shapes around her.
She seeks to charm him from anything but her being the focus of his attention. It has been said, “Charm is a woman’s strength, while Strength is a man’s charm.” A man would say, “Look at what I can do.” While a woman would say in the act, “Look at me.” She is the enchanter who not only seeks to bring the attention and worship of her man, but also of all those in her world. If “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” then she will become an expert at tasty cooking. If being “the hostess with the most-ess” brings the attention and worship her goddess within deserves, then she will seek to be that entertainer. This is true through a myriad of variations, skills, and abilities.
It is her role to charm and enchant others to feel the heart of life—the throbbing rhythm of sensuous sensations that beat within her breast. Men may be the sensational inspirer, but she is the sensuous satisfier. In other words, he may work up the hunger, but it is her role to satisfy it with the sensuous pleasure of life. The hunger can be for beauty, or sex, for food or even worship. If she is not able to satisfy her man, a woman will feel a subtle sense of failure, if not panic. In that case, she will feel a natural compulsion to find out how. The charming woman knows how to satisfy his every need, as well as the needs of others who enter her circle and home.
Frigga in the Livingroom
Freya in the Bedroom
The struggle a woman is often confronted with is how to satisfy every need of her husband in private and those of the public without confusing who she is. Her husband needs her to be sensuous and seductive like Freya. The public needs her to be sensible and satisfying like Frigga. If she is sensuous and seductive in public, she often gets the reputation for being a slut. A harsh word for sure, but honestly every “good” woman has a “sexual vixen” inside her as a part of her womanhood, as much as she has a “saint” inside her as a part of her motherhood. For the truth is, all the words “sexual vixen” really means is she enjoys sex and sensual feelings. Sex and sensual sensations are the gods and goddesses’ idea in the first place. Therefore, sex is good. Sex is godly, as much as being “saintly” is godly or “goddessly” in this case. However, this still does not help her getting the respect in public she needs to be taken seriously and admired, as well as feared, as the queen of her domain.
So how does she fulfill her both her roles as sex goddess and queen-mother goddess? One way to keep this straight is viewing your public-self as the living room of your house, and your private-self as the bedroom. From this point of view, the living room would be the domain of the goddess Frigga, the queen of Asgard, and the bedroom the domain of the goddess Freya, the goddess of nature’s beauty, pleasure and power. In other words, if a woman is a “saint” in the living room and a “sexual vixen” in the bedroom, then she will be respected and admired by both the public and her husband. The problem only comes if she tries to be a “sexual vixen” in the living room or, even worse, a “saint” in the bedroom. In those cases, she risks losing her respect and potentially her relationship with both the public and her husband. Trying to be a “saint” in both rooms or a “sexual vixen” in both rooms will jeopardize one or the other relationship. That is why there is more than one goddess, for the simple reason there is more than one role in life a woman must fulfill to live life to its fullest and be all she was created to be. Her soul is a multi-faceted gem radiating light and dazzling colors captivating attention in every direction.
A woman’s soul is not as orderly and predictable as a man’s soul is. Her soul is like the variety of a box of kittens, with a mama cat and a squirming writhing frisky scampering stretching slinky assortment of multi-colored possibilities no one can actually tie down with total accuracy. It is no wonder the goddess Freya’s chariot is pulled by cats (The Prose Edda: 53). That illustrates the feline power that pulls women through life. This unpredictable variation of playful possibilities captures the mind in its effort to understand, while being fascinated with the pleasure she provides in the pursuit. Thereby is a person captured by her charms and both find the paradox of life being—”arousingly satisfied.”
The Man is the Father
The Woman is the Mother
The final role of the Nine Roles of Northern Way is the man is to be the father and the woman is to be the mother.
Seeing how claiming the man is the father and the woman is the mother would seem obvious to many, perhaps some explanation is required. Being a “father” and a “mother” are roles, not just biological facts. Yes, it does mean that a man or a woman will have a natural urge to produce offspring, but many males and females today are essentially “kids having kids.” They know nothing of being a true father or mother even if they feel the urges within their folksoul to be one.
Father: Head of the House
In the Northern Way, it is the man who is the head of the house. He uses his head as the instructor and trainer as he seeks to reproduce the “good” life in the next generation.
If the role of a priest is to be the “trans-former,” then the role of a father is to be the “in-former.” That is he forms the inward character of a good man. If the role of priest is to “re-present” god to others, then it is the role of the father to “present” good to his own. He is the instructor of good. “Instructor” literally means the one who builds the “in-structure” or the inward-structure of good in the next generation.
The word “trainer” comes from a root word which means, “to pull,” “to drag” or “to draw on.” Taken together, both words—instructor and trainer—refer to the role of a father to build the inward structure of the following generation and to draw the following generation onward after him, even pull or drag them, if necessary, to that inward structure of good.
Notice that in order to pull something a person must be “a-head” of it. The implication is that the father cannot give what he does not have himself. Since the man is the head of the house, he must use his head to get “a-head” before he can instruct his own how to be “a-head” of their generation. The play on words is intentional. That was just my father’s way of instructing me. Yes, it can be irritating, but I never forgot the messages hidden in his double meanings. In a father, all nine roles are presented. It is a father’s natural inclination to make rules, to transform things into good, to protect, to provide, to build, to fix, to explore and to inspire as head of the household. He is a living fulfillment of these roles as a model for the next generation to follow.
Mother: Heart of the Home
In the Northern Way, it is the woman who is the heart of the home. She uses her heart as the teacher and comforter as she seeks to reproduce the “good” life in the next generation.
In the mythic lore of old, the mother and Lady of the house carried a ring of keys to every door in the house (Poetic Edda 107, Lay of Thrym, St. 16). The role, therefore, of the Lady-mother is to be the guide to open doors of experience in the soul. That can be to find feasting in the dining room of refreshment, rest in the bedroom of comfort, or even cleansing in the bathroom of purification. It is her responsibility to introduce them to all the compartments of life, even their place in history in the photo album library of her soul.
In other words, a mother is a teacher. The word “teacher” comes from the Anglo Saxon root word “tcecan” which means, “to show” or “demonstrate,” from the base of “tacn” which means “a sign” or “symbol.” (Webster’s). Therefore, a mother will use signs and symbols to show or demonstrate the “good” life. These signs and symbols can be decorations she hangs on a tree, candles on a cake, colors on eggs, or masks and costumes her children wear as she teaches them to say; “Trick or treat.” Nevertheless, it is through these that she demonstrates how to feel “good” and live the “good” life. She may not even “know” what these symbols mean in her head, but she “feels” their “goodness” in her heart.
One of the names of the goddesses of the Northern Way is “Saga.” She keeps the stories of every ones’ life. Like Saga, it is the role of a mother to tell the stories that talk of more than mere actions, but speak of the emotions one feels through their actions.
Sometimes those feelings are disturbing. It is a mother’s role to comfort the disturbed. “Comfort,” is compounded from “coin” – “with” and “fort,” to “make strong,” such as, to come and “fortify,” the result is “the lessening of misery or grief by cheering, calming, or inspiring with hope” (Webster s). So, the mother can use her keys to open doors to completely new rooms of hope and comfort.
There is a mother inside every girl. If you do not believe it, just watch how girls play with dolls. The opposite is also true; there is a little girl inside every mother. Therefore, every woman has a mother and little girl inside her. The Nine Roles of a woman reflect the multifaceted sides of a woman’s soul. She is an advocate for mercy, a guide to goodness, a preserver of life, a preparer for taste, a presenter of beauty, a restorer of appearance, a stabilizer for security, and a sensuous satisfier as the heart of the home.