Odin then punishes her by putting her into a deep, magical sleep, and she is surrounded by a ring of fire... only a hero who is brave enough to tackle the flames will have the power to awaken her. Gudrun the dragon slayer tries, but he cannot break through the fire, so it is Sigurd, the ring bearer, who eventually rescues her by shapeshifting himself to look like Gudrun; the two fall madly in love, but Gudrun, who wants Brynhild for himself will have none of it. He comes up with a scheme to have Sigurd murdered while he sleeps in his bed. Brynhild then wills herself to die and builds a funeral pyre for Sigurd; she destroys herself on the pyre.
In myth, we often find women competing with men as well as with other women, and we find a variety of the myth of Brynhild in many different cultures. Brynhild demanded that a man must show himself to be stronger than she before she would agree to be his mate which Sigurd does both intellectually and physically. A strong woman does not hold herself back in the competition nor does she fix the game so that the man can win. In this way, Brynhild acted in a much more honest way than many of the women in today's world who think they have to hide their true strength in order to get a partner.
Strength is not something that is unfeminine. In fact, it is a part of a woman's being. Some of us are emotionally strong, others intellectually, and some physically, but to pretend that we are less than we are is to insult the Universe which has endowed us with these gifts. And in myth, haven you noticed that we always find the woman who shows her strength is the one who finally gets the man who matches it?...but, had Brynhild hidden that strength and pretended herself a weakling, she would have opened up an awareness of her partner's true weakness in comparison to hers. And that, ultimately, would have destroyed their bond.
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