Monday, December 19, 2011

Tolerating Men and Transgender individuals in Goddess spirituality.

 * Note from Devin- This post has nothing to do with one specific priestess! This is an exercise in my own spiritual growth. I felt the need to post this now as it has been a project that has haunted me for sometime. In no way am I pointing fingers, merely stating my own observation and noting my own struggles as a priest in the Goddess Tradition. I love my fellow star children regardless of gender. Luckily there have been some amazing women who have stepped forward to help find an end to this issue. *

    I have sat down several times to write this post. Actually most of the reason why I haven’t posted anything for some time has more to do with the fact that this post was not easy for me to sit down and write. After forgotten drafts, angry fist shaking at my monitor, and Goddess awesomeness I think I finally have found at least the angle to take this.

    Truth be told to sit down and type out the complexities of divine relationships would not only be redundant but a little silly, however I also know that  very little is out there about people like me- men who found the Goddess and how our relationships developed. I run the risk of placing men against women yet again and please know that has nothing to do with the point I am going to attempt to make here. Alright enough pre-amble lets do this-

    I look around me, especially as a Dianic Priest, and I see all of these truly amazing priestesses. All of these women are the physical/spiritual embodiment of Goddess and have been such points of inspiration. I am not inspired by their ability to look fabulous in ritual jewelry nor their ability to command the attention of a room full of hundreds, but inspired by their sheer drive to be who they are- proud women who fought hard in their own lives to be extraordinary examples of spiritual development. I am disheartened however at the sheer amount of dislike and snobbery these priestesses have when it comes to guys like me.

    In many ways this reminds me of a school assembly I had when I was a child. We were all rounded up in the gymnasium and the principal introduced an all African American rap group. As the music came on over the speakers and the teachers took their seats the lights dimmed and we were treated to an hour of anti-racism musical education that was all wrapped up like a Halmark advert.

     I remember the word ‘Tolerance’ being thrown about several times throughout the presentation and feeling like something was not quite right.

    When the assembly was at an end we were invited to ask questions once back in class and I asked what the word Tolerance meant. I was instructed to look in the dictionary ( as any good teacher would have you do ) and I was completely taken aback! My fifth grade jaw hit the floor.

Tolerance: To endure, put up-with due to need.  ( Thankfully the word now has a more elaborated definition!)

    Tolerance to me was ridiculous, no one should be tolerated, we should just be able to be. We tolerate the barking dog, the tax hikes, the other million things that cause us little stresses and annoyances but to tolerate African Americans seamed wrong to me. Perhaps it was because of my mother and her strict - “ Think Human not color” approach to parenting, but I never saw the point in putting up with a group of people who just happen to have darker skin than me. So this brings me full circle-

     I don’t like being tolerated by priestesses. Its demeaning. It is absolutely arrogant to look down on me and assume that your path is in any way more valid or deeper than mine or other men who work with Goddess. I am not an abusive man, I would never lay a finger on a woman, yet I feel like because I have a penis I am automatically stamped with “Tolerate Me” on my forehead. I don’t want to be tolerated anymore than you do sister.

    Truthfully, the entire gender dynamic snafu of the neo-pagan movement irks me. I look at my brothers and I see family, I look at my sisters and I see family. I couldn’t care less about someone’s gender (outside of what I want to be cuddling up to at the end of the day) and much more about how they are living their life. Are they empowered? Are the living embodiments of self possession? Are they connected to the here and now?  Ironically ( and yes you Fem Fatals can agree with this one!) more women who demand respect as priestesses have bigger issues with self-possession, empowerment, and connectedness than there are those who simply embody those things. I have seen more bigotry and close mindedness from women in my pagan career than from any man.

      Recently I have embarked on a bit of a spiritual journey of my own, one that I have no doubt is going to force me to deal with this issue. (Again it has taken me some time to find the words for this.) As an ecstatic priest in an ecstatic tradition I find that when I am at my best I am letting go and surrendering to Goddess. Now, you must also realize in our tradition we go about Goddess in two ways.

     The first is that Goddess is here on earth, she is earth, she is the spirit of empowerment in all of us. For us she is the Queen of the Witches, Diana mother of Aradia, lover of the Light Bearer ( Splendour) , she is mystery, experience, something to strive to become as you light and feed the sacred fire within. She is most importantly to us -Mother.

     The Second is an expansion of the first, Diana then becomes the Cosmic mother who is for all intensive purposes the divine pre-gender force that all things came from. In scientific terms God Herself  or for clarification the ACLG  ( Androgynous Cosmic Life Giver) is the point of singularity that was everything before the big-bang. We see God Herself as the divine nature of the cosmos manifest in all matter and in all things as all things are of her. We don’t separate ourselves from this ACLG nor do we divide it up into halves.

     In our practices we believe ourselves to have been created whole with no missing or extra pieces. This means that if you have a penis or a vagina or  receive those bits later on in life, they are simply parts of you! Sometimes those parts need to be created and fought for and through that work we are brought closer to the divine. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with any of us, merely the baggage that weighs us down from a life time of being told there was. We are Goddess, we are God, we are God Herself.

      I mention all of the above because it is important for you the reader to know where I am coming from. To me and others within our line gender is not an issue, let alone THE issue. We open our arms to all those who feel called to the work of empowerment, sacred self possession, and connectedness. We totally understand that for others this is not the case and respect that soul’s need for work centered around their sexuality. We do offer circles and practices specifically for the healing and empowerment around gender and as such have women only and men only space always available for those in need, again we just try not to allow it to be the end-all be-all to our work.

     In many ways this is too how I feel about my own sexuality. I grew up in a backwards little town in the middle of no-where Ohio and I fought everyday of my youth to not allow my sexuality to be cause for alarm or bigotry. I didn’t think my sexuality was anyone’s business nor was it any reason to separate me out in a crowd. I just didn’t think it should matter. As you could imagine in my spiritual life I never wanted my sexuality to matter either, but it did, and it still does to others.

      I found Goddess the first time when I was a wee little guy. I remember glimpses of her as a child soothing me when I was scared and confused. I found her in my pillow after being hit and beaten by my step-father. I found her again when I turned thirteen in a field under the full moon. I found her a few times as I would hold my head high and walk through the halls of High School as I got spit on and beaten up.  I found her a third time in the tears I shed after I was rapped and everything fell a part. I found her when my sister gave birth to a beautiful and healthy little boy.

      I find her every time I make love, when I dance all night to the drums as I lift my hands up towards the sky in divine reverence, I find her when I look at my own mother who works so hard to make it in life, I find her in myself as I write this blog.

       I have said it a million times, I simply wouldn’t be here if the Goddess had not been with me. For being a young man I have already lived quite the life. Some things I am proud of, others I work to heal the shame that I harbor for. I am just as connected to her ( albeit not via a gender lens) and in some cases connected to her for the same reasons as those women who tolerate me “stealing their Goddess.” I haven’t stolen her ladies, she stole me!

     The hardest part of this for me is to come face to face with the notion that women who I support whole-heartedly in their own interpretation of the work still don’t respect my position and path.  There is still an air of arrogance between the lines that spill forth. I can’t change that though no matter how hard I try. There will always be the Z. Budapests of the world who despite their cries for equality and justice refuse to give it as freely to others as they would expect it given to them.

      These women are warriors, they are fighters, they are lovers, and they are mothers but at some time they need to learn to be human- if only for the sake of living with other humans and acknowledging engaging in all her mysteries and all that she creates. It’s still bigotry just with a different flavor.

      So to all those priestesses out there who have found their home in the arms of the Goddess keep it up please the world needs you! However next time you put your shoes on know that I put mine on the same way, next time you feel that a man couldn’t possibly understand have enough respect not to presume we don’t have at least one shared story, and whatever you do next time you jump to the conclusion that the Goddess is somehow not as connected to men or transgender individuals as Goddess is to women- know that you are being a judgmental and hurtful person who missed out on one of the greatest chapters in her book.

      To you men and trans folks out there who have found your home in the arms of the Goddess keep it up too, we definitely need more of you! Goddess is alive and you are the proof.

Namaste- I honor the divinity within you.