trans

“Pagans are Rejecting the Gods”

April, 2018

(Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash)

And so I shake my head.

The new trend, the hip trend, the “youth” trend is gender-fluid and “godless”. Well because I read, and I am both old and young for the generation I happen to have peers with I can tell you categorically and excuse me: THIS IS NOT A NEW IDEA TO PAGANS.

Pagans have always been more open to what gender and identity can mean. From the trans priests of Inanna (4000 BC) to pagan Gods like Thor dressing as a woman. In fact hard concepts of what was male and female are really a Renaissance or post-Mediaeval idea. There have always been gender fluid and trans people. Hidden perhaps, and definitely not usually written about but always there.

The idea there is one kind of “acceptable” Wiccan belief, one kind of “acceptable” paganism belief is wrong. It has never been right. In fact in books by Stewart Farrar and Lois Bourne while the ritual always included a God and Goddess or Lord and Lady there was no strict idea of what this meant. To some it was a psychological construct! That’s right! It was for some about ritualised spiritual and psychological healing. A form of catharsis based on Jungian ideas that humans contain both male and female aspects that required care. As such the female that is often extremely suppressed culturally was brought into the fore to heal and educate. It was never about having a universal meaning. The ritual was the important thing. What you did and said, how you said it, but everything else was open to interpretation.

The idea that Goddesses and Gods must mean the same thing to everyone is an internet idea.

While Wicca exploded as a concept once the anonymous online happened in the 1990’s it also allowed there to be “experts” who wouldn’t have been given the time of day in their local moot, to have an equal or even raised standing. Some of that is fine, but it tends to make folks zealous and preachy. It needed to make itself a “proper” religion and it lost some of the intellectual and gnostic meanings.

If you go back and read occult books written before we were “out and proud” there are bread crumbs, ideas about balance. Ideas about magickal, spiritual and life balance gained through ritual and through sexual relationships*.

The idea that we have to be one thing or another, believers or cynics, rational or spiritual is a false dichotomy. This ignores the complexity of the human experience. In Farrar’s work it states women could be a substitute “man” in a ritual context with the addition of a belt and athame. Men (whom were the socially privileged and dominant cultural force) were not permitted to take a woman’s place. This is often seen as intolerance but it is about the balance. The social, spiritual and ritual balance of energy. That said there were ritual where men did dress as women but it was a deep and hidden ritual about ultimate spiritual balance and enlightenment. It is also true that the Hierophant was often a role in 20th century ritual and even before that. A gender neutral older magickal practitioner role to aid, observe and conduct the balance between the male and female aspects. Sounds pretty gender fluid to me.

To recap: your personal belief in Lord and Lady was largely considered irrelevant and you could be either or both within a ritual setting for a very long time. What mattered was the ritual. The concepts of balance within and without. That female was not lesser, but powerful and beautiful. Whether you felt that the Gods were ideas, internal and or magickal concepts or living breathing beings or all of these things was not a debate. Not important at all. It was the gnostic ideas of revelation, balance and growth.

My advice, which you can of course take or leave, would be do the work. Read the older books. Look within and without and find those balances. Do a ritual that draws in or balances your energies with your opposite. Embrace those whom and different than you. Embrace the God and Goddess within yourself. It will change you. Not because you abandon reason, but because you take into yourself more than you think you can be.

*This is a complicated and often dated concept but the idea that you have lovers to learn and heal yourself and this person is a lot more modern that Dion Fortunes 1920’s Britain would have largely accepted.

 

 

The Naked Goddess III

April, 2018

I’m part of a lot of spiritual groups and on one of them someone posted this.

Well I had a lot to say, because I feel like that gender (which is more complicated than a binary) is absolutely important to talk about. I am never comfortable when someone says we should talk about something. Silence has a very specific power.

My main issue with this is one group or part of the gender spectrum have had the power, privilege and control of everything, including spirituality for thousands of years. We cannot “white wash” this out of spirituality. When you fail to acknowledge this privilege, the differences, difficulties and discrimination that happens, you add to it. There are more than two genders. Yet pretending gender doesn’t have a bias, that wider societies and cultures doesn’t hugely favour one over everything else is wrong. You are ignoring the problem. I liken this to when privileged white people (like me) say “I don’t see colour”. It effectively erases the thing about a person or group you have and historically have issues with. It is literally removing the part of a person or groups identity. It also allows passive discrimination, bias and abuse to occur.

Spirituality can never be divorced from society. The body politic, if you will. That is why privilege always comes in. We cannot ignore the bias towards certain groups or genders. Ignoring what is happen in a larger cultural context doesn’t make it more spiritual. Spiritual is an expression of the sacred authenticity of people. It always has a cultural context. In real life terms this means folks whom are non-binary, trans, LGBTQ+ or female are going to suffer more discrimination, abuse than those not. From harassment to income, to insurance and medical care, one group significantly is more secure, more safe, and better off.

This has an effect. From spiritual courses requiring money and travel to not having a bathroom you can use, it will have an impact. This totally removes the right of those suffering to say anything if there “is no gender”. It robs them of their identity and silences them to the difficulties and joys about their lives that make them unique.

We, spiritual and pagan people should care and recognize gender, in all its diversity. We should care because we should be advocating, creating spaces and being aware that being different is beautiful and a strength.

Spirituality is not passive or weak. Kindness and inclusivity is a strength, it is courageous.

I don’t know, what I don’t know. However I am open to listening. Listening to trans, non-binary and gender fluid people as well as the scores of women around me.

I am aware that the patriarchal hangovers and wider social norms creep into our lives often without us seeing them. There is a darker more insidious message in this short post though. Setting up the Christian dichotomy of “spirit as good and body is bad” that has been used to torture and abuse millions for thousands of years. This body verses spirit things exactly plays to these problems with body politics and gender issues. It robs people of their loving divine connection to their bodies and lives. It villainises healthy sexual desire, normal bodily function, and the power of the physical world. It divorces and stigmatizes the powerful animal instincts that dwell within.

The “animal” within is not a malign influence that must be erased or destroyed or caged. Doing so removes a deep and divine force within. If it is respected and held in balance it is wise. If it is repressed or caged it reacts like any caged wild animal would. Of course if it runs riot we become less, diminishing any part of the whole makes us less. We are instinct and intellect. We are our desires and our ability to wait or let them go. We can dwell within desire, be it sexual, hunger or rage, acknowledge them and not act. Yet unless you learn to respect and listen this animal side will act out. Repressing parts of ourselves (usually out of shame) is deeply damaging and not spiritual.

It might look like it from the outside. It might look saint-like and perfect but it just isn’t authentic to a whole person. Now some folks are wolf-spirited, some are more like deer, or lions or elephants. It is not my place to tell anyone what their inner animal must be. Or their gender. Or sexuality.

Yet I will honour them. I will make space, and listen, most of all listen. I will acknowledge my position of relative privilege as a white bi-sexual female that people are more understanding or accepting of me in certain places than people whom are differently gendered. I will speak up and stand up to the injustices and intolerance. I will bridge my ignorance with kindness and recognition.