|Once upon a time there was a beautiful Queen whose heart was broken in two|
"You will never know this suffering again...
Love is a lie.
It is a trick played by the cruel on the foolish and weak.
Cast it from your mind.
Never let it render you frail of mind, or of will..."
Freya, the Ice Queen in The Huntsman; Winter's War
It is a wet soggy day and the rain hasn't stopped pouring since early this morning. I like days like this. It is a taste of autumn and a sign that the colder weather is waiting in the wings. I am ready for the dark season to begin and today I lost myself in winter when I curled up and watched The Huntsman; Winter's War which is a prequal/sequal to Snow White and the Huntsman.
It has fast become my new favourite ice maiden film, knocking Bridget Fonda's Snow Queen off the top spot and leaving Disney's Frozen cold. The film tells the story of the Wicked Queen's little sister Freya, who starts off as a gentle, trusting and loving woman, but when she is betrayed by both her lover and her spiteful sister, a change comes over her. She internalises the loss and grief; her heart turns cold and she removes herself from society to a far off palace of ice in the cold, cold northlands, becoming the Ice Queen and wielding a frosty new magical power, turning her focus from love, to battle. She is a warrior Ice Queen, with her own army.
I have always been drawn to ice maiden stories, from the Snow Queen with her frozen heart and magic mirror; to Holda and her gift of winter snow; to the Cailleach with her deadly kiss of cold, which I have experienced myself more than once - in fact, the Cailleach has been on me so often, it's like the touch of an old friend!
There is something intriguing about the notion of a woman so wronged in love that she chooses to isolate herself and freeze out love altogether. It is a theme I have explored in my books, most notably Faerie Magic.
It takes a very strong woman to live such an isolated life, needing no man at all, complete in her own sense of power and independence. It's not a life for everyone, but it is a life I can totally relate to. Love makes us all vulnerable and vulnerability is a weakness. Love also carries the risk of heartbreak and betrayal...and who needs that? A strong sense of female independence is far more reliable than any man will ever be.
Have you ever noticed that there are no Ice King myths and fairytales? No Ice Prince takes himself away from the world because a lass lied to him and betrayed his trust. I think this is because men just don't love in the same way as women do - if and when they love at all. Men don't seem to be shattered by betrayal and heartbreak. They are not frozen in time when a lover lets them down with infidelity. Instead they move swiftly on to their next conquest, for one woman is as good as the next to them; any woman can potentially offer what they are looking for and men prefer to make an active search, moving fast, from one love to the next, to the next and so on. Men are like shampoo - they just rinse off and repeat!
So it's not surprising that Freya takes satisfaction in literally freezing men and turning them to ice - she's simply doing to them what they've done to her. She freezes them out and leaves them cold. She is not evil, she is deeply wounded and if she doesn't want to bleed to death from a broken heart, she has no choice but to remain frozen. She cannot risk melting - for to melt would release the pain.
I think this is why I like Ice Queen stories; because it has been my story and it is potentially, every woman's story. We can all be ice maidens at times; we have all turned a cold shoulder, given a frosty glare, made a cutting reply with frostbite on our lips, frozen someone out of our life for good. Yes, it can be painful, but it is also a woman's means of survival. For that reason alone the Ice Queen legend will forever endure, because she is a part of every woman and she lives in each of us...
...And because there will always be some cock-sure man who thinks he can be the one to melt her! Melting her is one thing, but can he stay true to her? That is the real question. Probably not... and so the story continues ad infinitum.