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PBP Fridays: G is for being a GLBTQ Pagan

PBP Fridays: G is for being a GLBTQ Pagan

Disclaimer: Herein lies statements of subjective experience, opinions, and selfhood. The generalizations I make are from my personal experience; I am fully aware that your mileage may vary and that no experience or group of people is without flaw. :) This post is not the post I thought it would be, but I think it’s worth sharing anyways, howevermuch I waffled about posting it at all.

It Does Get Better; hell, sometimes, it starts good and goes from there.

I’m queer. I get mistaken for the opposite sex fairly often in person and online, I identify as genderfunky (genderqueer/genderfluid), and I’m pansexual. I have dated males, females, and a genderqueer person who shared my first name. I see gender as an immense, fluctuating, color-wheel-esque spectrum, not a line from girl to boy, and certainly not a binary of yes/no either/or. On any given day, I may be more masculine or more feminine, depending on the onlooker’s gender paradigm and my own shifting nature. Essentially, though, I am always checking the “Other” box when asked to describe myself, and I am very open and “out” about my non-normativity in daily life, including my corporate dayjob in Texas. (Kid you not: I walk into my nine-story office building every day in blue-jeans and a flannel, sporting a mohawk and a scorpion talisman, surrounded by suits and skirts. No one says a word.)

Given my identity and given the gender binary and heteronormativity of many mainstream types of paganism, what’s a queer cat to do?

Well, when I got into Wicca-flavored paganism, I was a teenager and did not identify as genderfunky yet. I identified as a strong young person who wanted to be proud of everything it was, including its sex and gender, and tell you what, Wicca supported me there. Wicca made pure and powerful both genders, both sexes, finding things for men and women to rejoice in and treasure, both in themselves and in those of the opposite sex. People who were not stereotypically girly or boyish still found deities they could jive with and a subculture that was beginning to explore the potential range of gender expressions.

By the time I claimed the label genderfunky, I was away from any particular brand of paganism and following only the goddess Sekhmet. My companions within sight of my winding path were of all sorts, but many or most of them were some kind of queer or queer-supportive, as well as being some kind of pagan. Now, I find myself at home in Kemetic Orthodoxy, where queerness is welcomed with open arms and even our gods show that it’s not all male/female all the time.

I know there are a slew of potential queer pagan issues out there, particularly in traditions/styles/groups that have a strong duality or sex-based roles. I myself just… don’t really run into them. My path is either eclectic and solitary, where I make my own rules and rituals and magic, or I’m participating in a group that doesn’t even bat an eye when I fall outside the typical gender pronouns. This is one of those cases where my matter-of-fact attitude about my honest self-expression feels like an immovable object: I just don’t have any problems with being queer in a pagan world. I am Queer Rock, hear me roll.

Amidst all the uncertainties and challenges surrounding life as queer, it’s kind of nice not to have to fret about how my gender, sexuality, and spirituality mesh. I know plenty of queer pagans have trouble getting all the ducks in a row, and I am nothing but grateful that I’ve somehow avoided most of the jagged rocks. Now, granted, there are plenty of issues with being queer in the secular world, but that’s politics, and I hate talking politics. I’d rather enjoy the fact that the path I walk feels custom-made for the soles of my feet and leave it at that.

To my fellow queer pagans who may feel there is not enough queerness in paganism: roll up your sleeves and dive in. If you can’t find old-school queer deities to suit you, see if there are any new-school ones willing to say hi – or look at those old deities in a new light. Tired of binary rituals for Sabbats and Esbats? Write new ones. Magic and paganism are very personal paths, and there’s nothing really stopping you from customizing it to fit you (short of inflexible rules of a particular tradition). If the Universe gave birth to the full range of human gender identity and sexuality, then we can certainly expand our spirituality to include this variety and diversity.

Being queer, in any crowd, is rarely easy. I’m immensely thankful that, of all the cats I could hang with, pagans are more accepting of my kind of folks than most. Props to all the wonderfully tolerant and supportive people out there, pagan or otherwise, queer or otherwise. You rock.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

PBP Fridays: G is for Genderqueer and GLBTQ Netjeru

PBP Fridays: G is for Genderqueer and GLBTQ Netjeru

As a genderfunky and pansexual individual myself, I have a special interest in mythological figures who are also queer in some fashion. To my pleasant surprise, we have several Egyptian gods, or Netjeru, Who have some queerness in Them. This post is meant to be a brief introductions to the ones I know.

Firstly, we have Nit, the Creatrix. Of the handful of primary creator deities in ancient Egypt, Nit was the only one said to be female, but all creator deities are to some extent genderfluid and/or genderless, being gods that have reproduced asexually through various means (masturbation, spit, intentional thought) to create the rest of the gods. Nit Herself, despite being hailed as a goddess, bears the epithet “The Mother and Father of All Things” and has been addressed as “Male Who made female; Female Who made male” at the temples of Esna. She is the God Who bore women and the Goddess Who bore men, and so within Herself contains all sexes, all genders. Nit is said to have created childbirth, and, when referred to as a creatrix, Her name is written with the hieroglyph of an ejaculating phallus. She has been referred to as the deity of the Nun (pronounced noon), the great primordial waters of creation, or as the Nun personified. Another snippet from the Esna inscription reads:

Wide water Who created eternity; water Who made everlastingness;
Who rose in Nun while earth was in darkness.
Living Ancestor, Who had Her origins in Nun, before the creation of Geb and the raising of Nut.
Genetrix, Cobra Who was at the beginning, Mother of time primordial, She Who created Her own birth…

(Geb is the god of the earth; Nut is the goddess of the sky.) For more about Nit, you can read the research I’ve compiled thus far.

Nit has also been identified with/as Nebt-het (Nephthys), Lady of Death. In ancient texts, Nebt-het has been described as being “an imitation woman with no vagina” because of Her barrenness, and She has no children with Her husband, Set, Lord of the Red Desert, which is a striking difference from most Kemetic triads of mother-father-child. Some modern Egyptologists have interpreted Nebt-het as being a lesbian; more to the point, She is sekhyt, a Kemetic word often translated as “eunuch” but more accurately indicates any person who doesn’t fit within the traditional gender roles of male or female, any person who is infertile, and/or a sexless/unsexed person.

That leads us to Nebt-het’s husband and consort, Set, God of Chaos. Set is a highly sexual god; He’s been lured off after Aset (Isis) in guise of a beautiful maiden before, and He’s also tried to seduce Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger), both during the Contendings of Horus and Set, which is the tale of Who would become king after Wesir’s (Osiris’) death. Heru-sa-Aset, in turn, tricked Set into consuming some of His semen on lettuce, also as a part of the Contendings myth. Some Egyptologists suggest Set is strictly homosexual, but He would also be more suited to the term sekhyt, as He’s often considered sterile due to His association with the barren desert, over which He rules. Heru-sa-Aset may or may not be considered bisexual or sekhyt, depending on the source; He does go on to father the four Sons of Heru, showing that He is indeed fertile, but His actions with Set may suggest a bisexual inclination (or just an attempt to gain a political upper hand).

In addition, Hapi, god of the Nile, was a male deity associated with the fertility and life-giving powers of the Nile river; as a result, He was shown as a round-bellied man with full breasts. The breasts may have been symbolic, or He may have been considered a fully hermaphroditic deity, though He did still have a wife.

Fertility was a big deal in ancient Egypt and was the primary requisite for a person receiving the full privileges of womanhood or manhood, but even in the biggest myths, genderbending and alternate sexualities were represented; there’ve also been inscriptions in tombs indicating homosexual relations between men. (I don’t know of any between women; if you do, please share!) Set and Nebt-het, both important deities in Kemet, were sekhyt Netjeru, and all creator deities, especially Nit, held within Them both male and female qualities. If I’ve missed any queer Egyptian gods, please feel free to chime in, or add your opinions/experience with the gods mentioned here!

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.