Fun With Gender.

Every pagan must have heard about the Divine Feminine; maybe because most of us were raised in patriarchal monotheistic faiths, and maybe because women have been repressed in this society for a very long time, finding the sacredness and power in femaleness has been very important. Some pagan traditions focus solely on the Goddess/es, and many women find the physical womanliness of their bodies is a link to the Divine Feminine, just as their ‘feminine qualities’ – creativity, a nurturing heart, receptivity – link them to the Goddess/es.

I don’t hear as much about the Divine Masculine; male Deities exist, clearly (I know some people do believe in just The Goddess, but the majority of us acknowledge the existence of Gods even if we prefer to worship only the Goddesses), but it’s a lot less common to hear people getting really enthusiastic about Divine Masculinity the way they do about The Sacred Feminine. I’ve yet to hear a man telling me about the way his physical maleness helps him to connect with the Divine Masculine. Maybe it’s because men are already ’empowered’ in our society, or maybe men and women relate to these things differently, or maybe it’s just that men never really needed to reclaim the idea of a Sacred Male (because monotheistic Deities tend to be viewed as male).

A lot of pagan faith seems highly gendered, when you start to think about it. We have a set of archetypes for women and another set for men. Sex – heterosexual sex – will be talked about as the union of opposites, cosmic balance. There is feminine energy or masculine energy, frith or boast. Every thing in the entire Universe, it seems, can be sorted into a blue box or a pink box. Which is why life gets really interesting when you don’t quite fit in either box.

Modern life in general is…tricky, if you don’t want to sit in just the blue or pink box. It’s also rough if you want to be in one box, but everyone else thinks you belong in the other box. What toilet do you use? What do you do about changing rooms? How on Earth do you tackle the swimming pool? And the pagan community doesn’t always know what to do with you, either. Like, can I join the Moon Group or not? But actually, the Sacred Third is…well, sacred. You won’t hear it talked about a great deal, but we’re here, we’re real, and we’re as sacred as ‘biological’ men or women.

I *wanted* my messed-up and confused gender identity to have no impact on my spirituality, but it just doesn’t work like that. Not for me, anyway. In fact, once I started to research, it seems to be integral to my calling. I’ve been a bit shy to talk about this before, but I’m called to what a lot of people nowadays are calling shamanism (since I’m talking about being ‘genderqueer’, I may as well talk about this as well). And, historically speaking, a lot of what we would call shamans had non-standard gender identities or sexual preferences. In some cultures, just being what we would call transgender would be enough for the tribe to declare you a shaman. When I got some help and began to learn what I needed to do with my life, the very first thing the Spirits made me sort out was what the heck my gender identity actually is. For whatever reason, I needed to acknowledge my true feelings and do something about them in the real world. I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with liminality; walking between worlds, realities…and genders.

Luckily for me, I’d been devoted to Loki for a while before I was made to sort out my own issues. This was fortunate because Loki is a shapeshifter (and I cannot tell you how jealous I am of this ability! If only…). Most people think of Him as male, and I’d guess that He is, at His core. But He can easily become, physically, a man or a woman. To the extent that He has gotten pregnant and had a baby at least once, and probably more than once. That’s…a pretty strong experience of femininity, isn’t it? So He helped me a great deal. I also learnt that many Deities – especially Tricksters – are a bit more fluid with Their gender than modern people think They ought to be. *That* is my connection to the Divine – in terms of gender, anyway – as well as a role model I can follow. I was also led, through ‘coincidence’, to a pagan author who helped me to learn about my place in the spiritual world, though I still have a lot of learning to do. Like, really…a lot of learning. But I understand now that there’s nothing wrong with me – I’m exactly the way I’m supposed to be, and being the way I am has value. I’m not just something that people should ‘be tolerant’ about, and I don’t need to be ‘fixed’ – I have a sacred role to fulfill, just like men, women, trans men and trans women do. I don’t think I could have come to this understanding in any other religion.

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