By Rebekah Lovejoy
Disney has just released Frozen II on Disney+, surprisingly early. I am watching it for the first time.
Sitting here witnessing Elsa climb up the stairway of ice from the raging sea, I feel as though I am watching an ascension, the reverse movements of Inanna’s descent. How long have we waited for a true goddess image that is not a partial fragment of the ancient goddess, but the whole being? In and of herself, free from the pairings of male or female partner, just her, in her power. This is the goddess of the true feminine, the woman who loves but also is able to be truly enraged, or curious, or creative, without the motivation of an Other. No wonder they wanted to make her out to be a lesbian. Our society doesn’t know how to witness real wholeness in a feminine form. They must sexualize it. Is Elsa going to ascend up the seven gates of the underworld? Is it possible that this moment brings us the final return of Inanna after all of these thousands of years? Have we finally reclaimed our steps? The cycle completed, and the goddess restored from patriarchal control. Long past the initial shock of masculine betrayal. Long past the reclamation of the throne from her idle husband. Long past Inanna’s self-deprecation, and the assumption that she required rescue from anyone. Finally, once again the goddess is told, “You are the one you have been waiting for.” And we are witness to what that might look like.
With Elsa and Anna’s grandfather, the patriarchal fear and wish to control earth is illustrated clearly. He connives to separate the natural world from its magic. This manipulation has weakened and mutated everything around the characters we have been watching for two films, unbeknownst to us, or them. In the past we eventually would have been presented with an expected ending. That of a fluid and warm earth mother, who loves man most, and will save them and cuddle them as the final healing. The goddess would ultimately be convinced that the human men were worthy of her mercy, and would calm and come to their aid, furthering their agenda, but with love and motherly compassion, of course. This would still be a patriarchal fantasy, with an ancient history, found in examples like the Greek misogyny that ripped the great goddess apart into Demeter and Hera and Athena and Aphrodite, into easily manageable pieces. Demeter, the most difficult of the goddesses, would still require appeasement – because she represents mother magic, which cannot be replicated or tamed. Yet, the patriarchy was able to negotiate with that mother, creating a straw-man argument of giving back children that had been stolen in the first place.
Here, of all places, in this innocent Disney story, the goddess returns not needing any of the promises of man, not finally compromising out of nurturing compassion for mortal man. Instead, ready to return and release the real power of the original earth balance. Oddly, on the eve of real-life human disruption, our first big pandemic in a hundred years, Disney pays obeisance to the goddess they have been courting and flirting with, never quite giving justice to, since the first fairytale princesses they depicted.
Will this offering be enough to save the planet from elemental devastation?
In the film, the mists of old are lifted, and the magic forest is freed. Here, in our isolation, trapped in our own version of the isolating mists, will we be rescued? Will we watch Frozen II separately but in simultaneity through the magic of Disney +, and be transformed like an ancient Athenian audience in the Dionysian ritual of the Greek theater? Suddenly able to see the ways in which we too have unbalanced the natural order, dismissed and misunderstood the powers of magic, and historically trapped the goddess in a false role as immature queen and pretty princess. A princess archetype without self-love, accustomed to fear and secrets. Hiding her powerful magic so that she does not get perceived as a monster. Measuring her worth through the value others place upon her. How many billions of women have lied to themselves and everyone else about their magic? How many centuries have we waited to be told that we are magic? That this magic does not exclude us from being seen for who we are, from being loved by our sisters? And more. That this love is great, yet still the truth is it doesn’t matter, because we have always been whole, loved or unloved, understood or misunderstood. Watching Frozen II, I wonder to myself, why did the great goddess ever really feel the need to make the sacrifice? Was that a patriarchal rewrite, also?
In the end it is the earthly sister who is crowned queen, leader of justice for all the land, because she is in connection to the goddess. The goddess returns to her true position, ensconced in the natural world that inspired our understanding of her in the first place. Oldest, wisest, least controllable, and most tied to the magic of biological progressions. We humans have no civilized conception of this powerful being. Civilization, beginning with the Assyrian men, chained her. She remained free only in the wilderness, where women could still ride horses and be magic. Civilization is what trapped the goddess in her fragmented, violated, partial self. The story that women were weaker than men when we all still roamed the wilderness is a false modern story to justify entrapment.
The goddess once again crowns the queen. The rule of law is returned to a focus on living symbiotically with the balance of the natural world. And just to prove that the return of the feminine is actually for the sake of balance, and not an unnatural swing in the opposite direction, the new queen chooses her earthy equal, and the sacred marriage completes the story.
At the end of a strange week when the whole world shuts their doors and isolates from social gatherings, Disney gifts us with an early access to this particular story. I can’t help but notice that just like the film, our current pandemic is all about the transportation and control of water. In the Frozen Universe it is the damming of the river, and arresting the natural flow of water, that brings on the terrible events of the story. Controlling and forcing the waters into submission angers the natural world. The coronavirus travels through our saliva, landing on surfaces and hands, and transferring to those around us. It is billions of molecules of water that will make us sick, and spread throughout our societies and bodies, linking us and also possibly killing us. Then, too, it is the images of millions of bottles of water being contained in plastic, pulled off of grocery store shelves, and hoarded by the panicked, fearful people that seems to symbolize our own strange response to this organic rage. Water is at the heart of this human story.
The last words of the film, buried in the end credits, are, “Water has memory, and thus I live and so do you!”
What memory is our water trying to get us to discover and heal? How long has the water been shaping itself into the horrors of patriarchal control and human greed? Is the coronavirus the water’s memory of this greed?
Rebekah Lovejoy, Ph.D., holds a baccalaureate in Film Studies and Studio Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara and master’s and doctoral degrees in Mythological Studies with Emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has had a lifelong fascination with the ways in which culture shapes and expresses ontological belief, and has a deep knowledge of Internet technology, human metaphysics, the history of popular culture, and the human creative experience. Following her early training, she worked for nearly a decade architecting content heavy sites for Fortune 500 companies and niche creative clients alike, then spent several years raising a family before undertaking graduate studies. Her dissertation comprises an ethnographic study of individuals raised within the American counterculture. It re-contextualizes the language of mythological studies toward an analysis of human strategies of belief in our post-modern world. Currently, she is a painter, writer, workshop leader, and creative collaborator living in Santa Barbara with her three children. Her work is available on her website, rebekahlovejoy.com.