In a famous historical myth, The Odyssey, Homer tells stories of a great hero Odysseus (also known as Ulysses) sailing home from his journey home after the Trojan war.
On his journey home he encountered the sirens. Beautiful women with golden hair who would sing songs to sailors, and lure them to crash upon their rocks. Lure is the word often used, and I think it’s slightly unfair to call it luring.
Odysseus gets a warning from the goddess Circe:
First you will come to the Sirens who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song.
There is a great heap of dead men’s bones lying all around, with the flesh still rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your men’s ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you as you stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast, and they must lash the rope’s ends to the mast itself, that you may have the pleasure of listening. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you, then they must bind you faster.Samuel Butler’s translation of The Odyssey, Book XII, online via MIT.
And his description of the actual island of the sirens:
They sit beside the ocean, combing their long golden hair and singing to passing sailors. But anyone who hears their song is bewitched by its sweetness, and they are drawn to that island like iron to a magnet. And their ship smashes upon rocks as sharp as spears. And those sailors join the many victims of the Sirens in a meadow filled with skeletons.Samuel Butler’s translation of The Odyssey, Book XII, online via MIT.
And the summary of how Odysseus handles it:
When he hears the words and the music, the song enchants Odysseus’ heart. He longs to plunge into the waves and to swim to the island. He wants to embrace the Sirens.
He strains against the bonds which hold him to the ship’s mast. He strains so hard that the bonds cut deeply into the flesh of his back and arms.
Nodding and scowling at his ear-plugged men, he urges them to free him. Expecting this reaction, the men row harder and harder with their oars.
To Odysseus, who is bewitched by the song, the Sirens look as beautiful as Helen of Troy [the most beautiful woman in the world]. To his crew, made deaf with beeswax, the Sirens seem like hungry monsters with vicious, crooked claws.
The ship speeds forward and soon the song of the Sirens is an echo of an echo. Only then do the crew members stop rowing and unplug their ears.Source: Odysseus-and-the-Sirens
While Odysseus’s crew takes care of him like a band of brothers trying to protect one of their own from marrying a girl of whom they don’t approve. The story has value at that superficial level, that to one man, a woman will be Helen of Troy, but his friends may see her as a monster.
To guys who have been hurt or resentful (many shades of this exist in the male online communities and however people identify their belief systems these days) this can sound like all women are monsters and men have to protect each other from them, never get married, etc. And that is one lesson men could take away from this ancient story. However, that is purely defensive and there is a much deeper lesson that is being missed.
Odysseus was a seafarer. He was on a journey. He was on his way home to his wife and children after fighting in a war he didn’t really want to fight. He was on a larger mission, and his ship was sailing on a course that was in line with that mission. The sirens are trying to distract the set course of the ship, just a little bit, but that small distraction can take the ship off course, put it at risk of crashing on rocks, and increase the chances of the greater mission never being achieved.
What are Sirens?
Sometimes they are imagined as harpies, a combination of a woman and a bird (birds being well known for singing), sometimes singing naked women, or a related concept, the succubus. “The succubus may take a form of a beautiful young girl but closer inspection may reveal deformities of her body, such as bird-like claws or serpentine tails.” Sometimes they are mermaids, as in Warsaw, Poland is named for a farmer Wars and a mermaid Sawa who fell in love. Sawa is the Syrenka/Mermaid one sees all over Warsaw.
Women are sirens. They can appear to be both beautiful enchanting pixies and ravenous monsters. Sometimes a man will see both sides of her, sometimes two men will each see a different side of her.
Sirens can offer the best elements of femininity, beautiful music and energy and muse-like qualities that inspire us as men to do great things and make us feel good while doing them.
However, all sirens have a monstrous side, and some sirens are more monstrous than others. Since sirens is almost always a plural, there are individuals and with that comes some variance, so there is a spectrum of behavior among the sirens. Some have been wounded by men in their lives and want men to crash on the rocks and laugh while they drown or are smashed on the rocks (exemplified in the man hating feminist archetype) while many others are bored, chaotic, clumsy or even naive and innocently good natured – but they all want to sing their songs and get attention from the sailors.
The attention given to the sirens by sailors comes at a cost to the sailor, as he could make mistakes in maintaining their course. And a great woe to the sailor who changes course to approach the sirens directly.
Resisting the Sirens call is actually a fantastic analog for maintaining frame with women. To be explicit, for readers who don’t like nuance, the siren’s call is the female frame, and we can extract lessons from the thousand year old myth that will help us today. Human sexuality hasn’t changed THAT much.
What did Odysseus do?
Odysseus didn’t have a direct way to fight back against the sirens. He set a strong disciplined course and provided failsafe instructions to make his way through it.
The Odysseus approach is to just sail his set course, songs be damned. It’s effective. He notes the sirens frame and is able to both enjoy it and be tormented as he is tempted by it and hurts himself straining against his bonds, but ultimately makes it through. Brute force. If you don’t have the natural ability or opportunity to develop skill with women, or the discipline to withstand the temptations of the siren, this is a safe tactic.
Daygame and the Siren’s Call
Daygamers are like the men who sail frequently by the island of the sirens. We have experienced the Siren’s Call first hand and lived to tell the tale. We have survived crashes when sirens have distracted us, and most of us can tell a tale (or ten!) of changing the course of our ship and how we crashed on the rocks. We regale drunken sailors in the ports with tales of their beauty and warnings of their treachery.
We haven’t seen all of the tactics of all sirens, but each of us gains unique reference experiences with each approach, text, date, or interaction. We also have a community of experienced sailors (and numerous wannabe sailors who dream of sailing one day). As the salty sailors, seasoned men, old sea dogs, and occasional cabin boy share reference experiences, patterns emerge over time. Knowledge is shared, tactics are developed, new experiences are sought out and men challenge themselves and become better men.
Patterns emerge over time.–Mystery (Erik Von Markovik) – A Famous Modern Sailor
Warnings of a Salty Sailor or How NOT to Handle Sirens:
Attention is everything. Some of the sirens will actively try and lure sailors to ruin, while others just want a sailor to wave back at them. If the sailor is on a good course with strong winds and currents, it’s not too harmful to wave back. If the sailor is concentrating in the middle of a hurricane, it can cost everything.
The dead sailor approach is to drop everything and set a fast course directly for the island, where the reef will break the hull of his ship and the sailor will die or become a castaway, like so many before him. He accepted the frame of the siren and pays the ultimate price. This strategy we can see all too often with the simps and men who click like on every social media share of some girl they are focused on.
There are also men who are amazingly resilient in their denial and can cling to rocks and survive on a narrow and rocky deserted beach known as the “friendzone.” Some say it is a fate worse than death. In seafarer terms these men are appropriately termed “castaways” and some may have even been marooned. In the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, (SPOILER ALERT) his fiancé doesn’t wait around for him, and he develops an inscrutable bro code with a volleyball named Wilson. It is difficult for castaway men to get on a ship, let alone set it on a course, but this is what they must do.
As their songs age, many sailors may have heard a siren’s particular melody or one like it, and some sailors can even sing it from memory. The aging siren’s behaviors become more volatile: chasing ships, singing louder, demanding passage and course correction from sailors that may or may not care. While these aging sirens may move to more approachable islands with less dangerous rocks (no guarantee they will), or perhaps pluck a castaway from the rocky beach of the “friendzone,” the experienced sailors have the luxury of ignoring them. The inexperienced sailors may take the risk and pick up a siren and maybe it works out or maybe their life is even worse than if they had crashed on the rocks.
Some men have a fantasy of living on the island with the sirens. The island where a man can enjoy the songs of many sirens at once, a fabled pussy paradise. One possible outcome is that the sirens would fight over such a man and he would be torn to pieces, as in this common TV trope. I don’t know if it’s a myth or not. If it exists in reality, such an island might look like this. I don’t know or care to speculate beyond that suggestion; I don’t have much experience with that world.
There is also a fantasy island of pornography. Thirsty landlubbers can watch video recordings of sirens doing everything imaginable and singing all sorts of songs without having to sail anywhere. Weak sauce.
Example Melodies of the Siren’s Call
Typically the first siren’s call a sailor hears starts off like this: an actually hot girl gets pedestalized by the sailor, and he crashes on the rocks. She might not even notice. Or perhaps she’s seen it before, but may not have connected the dots to realize it has anything to do with her. “I was just sitting here, combing my hair and singing my song, and that man over there crashed on the rocks. Then that man as well, and that one too. How peculiar!” A slightly more self-aware siren may realize the effect she has on men, and yet, even if she does realize it, she may not care. Some may take it a step further and actively try and cause men to crash on the rocks. If this were not a mythic tale, it would be manslaughter.
The siren can notice a sailor is not immune to her song and can change her tune if she wants to get something from him (perhaps when she shifts toward wanting a provider). Sirens do not respect men who are distracted so easily by their song. They may settle for it, because they are getting something out of the deal, but they do so resentfully.
The thirst trap rap or beta bait beatboxing: The siren sends a sexy photo over text, or brings up very sexual topics relatively early in a conversation. It could be a part of the siren’s song, but it could also be a trap, which can cause a sailor to crash on the rocks. Sometimes this happens when she is returning to the island and her song is more melodic than normal due to her emotional turmoil from being dumped by a ship, or any other sort of emotional turmoil.
The melody of penpals or tune of texting to nowhere: The sailor gets the number of a siren and the text conversation stops abruptly for reasons unknown. Perhaps she begins singing for others, just wanted to see if the sailor would change his course, grows bored of watching the sailor sail his boat by her island, loses interest now that the sailor is sailing toward the island, left on another ship with another sailor and didn’t say goodbye, or the sailor might have gotten stuck in a dead spot with no wind and the conversation continues for weeks, months, years without meeting the siren. The sailor has no control over the song of the siren, it can stop at any time. It happens. Just have to go talk to more girls.
The sad sad song of woe: A siren can sing a sad song and can cry and play to the sailor’s emotions to get him to comply with her wishes. A recent personal example is that a (Russian) girl told me she quit her job but immediately clarified that they would take her back, to try and get me to cave and give her whatever it was that she wanted. I believe she said that to test my frame (I’m certain she “quit” Wednesday and then went back to work on Thursday) and I just sailed on by her island and left her there. Haven’t spoken to her since, but occasionally as I would scroll down in my messages on WhatsApp, I did notice that I would be blocked and other times unblocked. I don’t care. It may sound cold without the full context, but it was 100% the right move.
The social media song: “Follow me on Innnn – staaaaaa – grammmmm!” she croons. Following a siren and liking her photos on social media seems harmless enough, but it is distracting the sailor from their mission. Following her stories and clicking acknowledgment buttons and writing comments is like waving back to the siren. She likely notices it in aggregate (that whole aircraft carrier of sailors is waving at me), and notices when no boats are sailing by, but little in between. How much time do sailors spend on instagram instead of sailing toward their goals? It is a slightly different story if the sailor is being followed by the siren, and perhaps she notices your absence on the aircraft carrier of sailors waving at her, and maybe calls out for you directly when she doesn’t see you. That’s a good sign and is discussed later.
The help me song: The siren wants help with her homework. Financial assistance. Help moving or assembling furniture. Travel buddies. (Note this would be different than her qualifying herself, for example a girl who wanted my opinion on how her food tastes – which wouldn’t happen in NYC – no girls can cook here). Anyway, I have encountered a very specific version of this song a number of times: I usually attract smart girls, which for whatever reason means they were told to go to school and study something useless more often than not. It used to be called a Mrs. Degree, now in the USA it would be considered a student debt dowry. The siren’s final paper (which for European sirens always seems to be in English) has some mistakes that need to be corrected so she can graduate. And it’s due tomorrow! That song is lame.
The sail this way song: The siren attempts to lead the sailor. Common example that has happened to me: on a date the siren asks you to move to a different spot: “Please sail your boat over to these rocks here, sailor. It’s perfectly safe and you can appreciate me better.” Just plain old fashioned frame stealing.
The ditty of disinterest: Sometimes the siren will sing a brief tune to get rid of a sailor. She is polite and either not interested (gives you her number and says “text me!” but will never respond) or perhaps she is afraid of you (some sailors are privateers or pirates and have cannons on their boat) or thinks you can’t handle rejection and tells tales of another sailor (“I have a boyfriend”) who may or may not exist.
The Hidden Sirens Among Us:
Girls with Boyfriends
Sometimes a girl is in a relationship and she doesn’t tell you when you approach. It happens to me regularly. You get her number and she even comes out. Eventually you find out about the boyfriend somehow.
This girl is a siren, but not on a cliff with rocks. She’s a siren already on some other dude’s ship. She’s still got her siren tricks, and since she’s already on a ship. It’s easy for her to wave over to another sailor’s ship, or sing and distract him from his course and mission. If the sailor gets off course, if his ship accidentally collides with her boyfriend’s ship, it’s the sailor’s fault, not hers. The siren doesn’t have any skin in the game, she’s on a ship one way or another. Her boyfriend will probably get mad at the sailor for hitting his ship, not necessarily at her. He might even attack the sailor or try and sink his ship. Best avoid these sirens, for they are time wasters.
If her boyfriend is a solid seafarer, perhaps he keeps her in line and keeps her busy on the ship, she doesn’t have time to wave or sing for other passing ships, and he might even see other sailors coming and keep himself and his siren safely out of their way. It’s not about mate guarding, it’s about safety on the sea. The sea is an unforgiving force of nature that will unapologetically weed your genes out of existence, and the sea will be respected.
The Beauty of Sirens
Going deep into the rabbit hole, things can get pretty dark. These innocent sailors are just trying to stay on course and these awful sirens are distracting them and causing so much trouble. Nietzsche reminded us to take a breath:
He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.-Nietzsche in Good and Evil. 146
Repeating what was said earlier: Sirens can offer the best elements of femininity, beautiful music and energy and muse-like qualities that inspire us as men to do great things and make us feel good while doing them.
Girls are beautiful. Feminine energy is fantastic. Sex is fun and feels good and makes babies. Sirens have a beautiful side and can sing beautiful melodies.
So a sailor might want to take a siren along on his ship and enjoy them as muses for support, comfort, inspiration and entertainment on his journey. She gets something delightful out of it too, she gets off the island and goes on an adventure under his leadership and protection. He may take her along on all his voyages forever. She may jump ship and leave. She may sink his ship. He may maroon her on an island. Anything can happen. But, for at least a time, the sailor may know some joy and enjoy the song of the siren.
How does a sailor know when he might be able to capture a siren?
What the sailor should be looking for is the siren that flies off the rocks and comes to sing for him on his ship.
She wants her song to help him and inspire new voyages in support of his mission and sign up as a first mate or a stowaway or in whatever capacity he will accept her, despite the old sailor maxim that it is bad luck to have a woman on board a ship.
An experienced sailor may have listened to a number of siren songs and may recognize different qualities in a siren song that others don’t notice. He may appreciate things other sailors don’t. He can decide for himself which song he like best and might like to take along on his voyages and journeys.
A sailor should really only want to choose a siren that is making his life better: he likes her song, she’s investing in him and supporting his vision and accepting his leadership. She’s submitting to him. To the sailors reading this, you are leading or going somewhere or doing something with your life, right?
As I said above, the siren is getting something out of it. She gets off the island and goes on an adventure under his leadership and protection.
As mentioned before, perhaps she noticed a particular sailor’s absence despite an aircraft carrier of sailors waving at her, and maybe calls out for him directly when she doesn’t see him. She wants to be caught. She sends him walls of text and reaches out. She makes an effort and invests.
If a siren lands on his boat, a sailor’s first instinct should be to push her off. Push is a good first step. If she wants to be on his boat, she’ll get back on, likely with something to prove.
A sailor should also test sirens that land on his boat by escalating to determine if she actually likes him or if she is just distracting him because she’s bored on the island of the sirens. For example, if you escalate in a situation with a girl, let’s say by trying to kiss her, you will find out very quickly if she likes you or maybe she suddenly has to go (or reveals a boyfriend). Maybe your escalation is too fast, but now she knows where to go when she decides she’s ready for it. There’s a lot of nuance to escalation (speed and calibration and two steps forward one step back) but the main idea is well summarized in a rhyme by a Young MC:
A girl runs up with somethin’ to prove
So don’t just stand there bust a moveYoung MC – Bust A Move
If the sailor is not ready to take on a siren, some say he should sail on and seek his fortune. Others may tell him to come back when he has more experience with sirens. Or as a distraction from the missions of the broader world, the sailor could go to an island within range of the sirens to study them and listen to their songs. However the sailor may not learn that much, for on that island there are plenty of hopeless guys, involuntarily celibate men who are driven mad by the sirens call.
Catching a siren is still fraught with peril. Once a sailor has trapped a siren, and has convinced himself that her song is the most beautiful, he may try to sail off with the siren too soon, before he has cleared the rocks; the sailor may try to push for a relationship too soon. While this may work occasionally, he is a foolish sailor for taking that additional risk. If he crashes, he is likely to die on the rocks and become another victim of the sirens. In my opinion, this is why the use of the word “lure” in the myth isn’t quite right, it’s more that a siren encourages a man’s eagerness and foolishness. It’s not really her fault. Oops she did it again.
When a sailor has a siren aboard his boat, she has submitted to him, and he does have the power to keelhaul her (she might like it rough), or make her walk the plank or maroon her. He can make mistakes by not keeping her busy enough, guiding her or taking proper responsibility for her. If the siren is forced off the boat, or if her position on the boat becomes unstable enough she may leave, she will be weakened and will go back to the rocks, or jump to another ship. The sailor may see the monstrous side of her as she departs.
Last bit of advice from mythology for sailors: Don’t date a girl named Medusa. I hear she uses all the online dating apps.
Do daygame to learn about sirens and their many calls. You might actually learn to sail too.