This is my second attempt to reblog this entry, so I apologize if you’re getting this twice.
This is a great essay from Wintersong Tashlin on his struggle; his shamanic and magical practice does not always look like some of the stereotypical aesthetics that people expect when they think of ‘shamans’ or ‘magicians’. Obviously, this fits many of the posts I’ve made in the past few months – emphasizing the point that your personal spiritual practice should work for YOU, whether or not it looks like anyone else’s practice.
This brings up two points that I’ve been musing on; I can’t promise I won’t elaborate on them down the road in their own posts. The first is about relating to Gods in a way that does not match how others may talk/write about their experiences. I was blessed this weekend to be a part of a ritual for a friend; he revealed that he has been working with Odin in a spiritual context. He had kept it close to the chest because his experiences of and with Ol’ One Eye did not always mirror most of the published experiences between the Old Bastard and his devotees. He also wanted to explore Odin without the preconceptions that both the Lore, as well as the blogs and books written by other devotees, would have given him. I applaud him on this, because honestly I think it creates a stronger and more personal foundation for one’s devotional relationship/practice, which will be easier and more enjoyable to continue long-term. It may seem counterintutive, but there can be a very powerful and important reason to throw away all the academic writings, the blogs and the books, and even the Lore itself; and just listen to your heart, to the wind, the pulse of the earth, and look for the messages/omens/signs that come from those you are praying to. Develop your *own* relationship with the Holy Ones, because nothing can replace devotional activities that come from the heart.
The second thing that relates to Winter’s thoughts is my musings on male/male (M/M) God spouse/consort relationships. I get emails and comments asking if Loki ever takes male-identified mortal lovers/spouses. Part of the problem is that the majority of the blogs are not only written by female-identified mortals in sacred relationship with male-identified Deities (www.rockofeye.wordpress.com being one of the exceptions), but the things they write and conversations they have have this assumptive heterosexuality to it. It goes even deeper, when Wiccan and other Pagan initiates are frequently asked/required to choose two Patrons deities – one male, one female. The reasons could be legion, but I find it interesting that although most covens are open to LGBT persons, they are so stuck on this idea that male/female represents divergent energies, or fertility (of which, can’t a genderqueer female and a pre-op MtF person make a baby? We’ve already had transgender male “mothers” in the media…when can we get past this idea of assumptive heterosexuality as the only representation of Patronage? It’s okay to choose two Patrons from different pantheons, but not two Patrons from the same gender. I think for someone who was raised by two moms/dads might find same sexed Patrons to mirror the parental aspects of Patronage.
In summation, Wintersong’s essay is another welcome voice in the growing choir of reclaiming the P in UPG – PERSONAL. At the end of the day, if you’re dissatisfied with your spiritual journey, it’s a good time to strip everything away and get back to what sings to your heart, what inspires you to kinds of worship that fulfills you and makes you feel more enervated and alive, and stop worrying about how some stranger(s) on the Internet or in the Kindred/coven, or even just people who worship the same Deities, or use the same descriptive terms for their spiritual Work. Just follow your bliss, as Joseph Cambell said, and if you are living strong in your personal spiritual expression, the rest will flow like water.
So stop reading my blather and go read Winter’s post. It’s awesome, and moving, and important.
I do not own a drum.
Ok, that’s not really a fair statement. I actually own two very nice drums, they just don’t do me any good. Part of my plethora of neurological issues is an automaticity and fine-motor control delay that makes it impossible for me to maintain a drum beat. I start off fine, but the processing delay means that each strike of the drumhead takes place little bit later than it should, sending me out of rythm within a short time.
For most people, not being able to use a drum would be a tiny footnote in life. However, for someone who publicly identifies as a shaman (or more properly, a shaman-magician) and spirit worker, not using a drum is a bit like being an accountant who’s bad at math.
Of course, the drum issue is just one of a raft of ways in which my Work…
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I know you are busy, but I think your spiritworker definition is a fine and worthy post that ties to the spirit of this. That is, WHEN you have time.
“I get emails and comments asking if Loki ever takes male-identified mortal lovers/spouses. Part of the problem is that the majority of the blogs are not only written by female-identified mortals in sacred relationship with male-identified Deities (www.rockofeye.wordpress.com being one of the exceptions), but the things they write and conversations they have have this assumptive heterosexuality to it.”
I think this is reflective of a larger problem in Paganism in general, and a symptom of misogyny in the larger culture. It’s no coincidence that most public spouses are women, because of the power dynamics involved. Receptivity is associated with the feminine, and for a man to be involved in a power dynamic where he is clearly subsumed to the Divine is to admit that he’s not the top. Male spouses and consorts exist, and yet few are public – macro western culture may not use the word “ergi,” but fear of unmanliness still exists. None of these concepts serve us well anymore, if they were ever even accurate, and yet they are still perpetuated, and are sometimes amplified in micro cultures, like our faith. This is a source of frustration for me, because I’ve been working on a study of sexuality in spirit work, and getting male partners to come forward has been like pulling teeth. Some of them are wonderfully helpful – Alex is one of them – but few are as open as he is, unfortunately, and that speaks volumes about the level of taboo.
The other interesting thing about assumed heteronormativity is that I can think of a fistful of Loki’s wives that aren’t quite as ciswoman or as straight as people assume, myself included. I don’t care to speculate on why others do or don’t talk about it, but for myself, I don’t discuss my past love life, because He’s my only partner now. But, if I counted mortal partners, men and women would tally up evenly.
Um, without being too indelicate, you make a strong assumption that in order to have sexual relations with a God, one must be the receptive partner. This is not always the case *at all*, not even for all female-identified and bodied God consorts. Many Gods, both male and female, ask for sexual and romantic acts that are lead by the mortal, and to be blunt, ask for sex in which they are, as we say in the gay communities, “pillow princesses”. Gods are just as, if not more, mercurial about the kinds of touch, sex, and other interactions with mortals as we humans are, and I know from…ahem…personal experience, that some prefer to be led, rather than lead.
I didn’t make the assumption; I don’t have to, because the culture at large does it for me. I’m not a fan of this fact, but I acknowledge it exists and that this cultural norm creates problems in other subcultures, which was my point.
1. Western culture is sexist and male-affirming. Men make more money, wield more social power, etc. I could dig up citations if you’d like.
2. Most pagan religions flip this and are very woman-centered. This makes men feel uncomfortable because they’re used to being the dominant perspective.
3. Male discomfort in paganism gives men a taste of what it’s like to be a woman in the greater macro society. That doesn’t make it right, and you’re absolutely right to point it out. Men often opt out of many mainstream Pagan religions, because of the discomfort or lack of voice.
4. Women, unlike men in pagan religions, can’t opt out of society completely; if a woman chooses to interact with other people, she’s gonna get a taste of sexism at some point from someone.
My point is that in sexual relationships with deities, it doesn’t particularly matter what the *actual* sexual dynamic is; from the outside, because of the way we perceive gender relations, and Deity/mortal relations, even if you’re the top, how can you *really* be the top? I’m never gonna be as powerful as Loki, for example, and while I’m okay with that, many males have internalized the notion that they must be in control, and so admitting publicly to a consort relationship is discomfiting to them, and thus few are public.
A discussion of god/mortal relationships outside of sexual power dynamics and how much power humans do, should, or shouldn’t have is its own volatile discussion, and one that I don’t know if we could reach consensus on, or even should. Certainly it’s way beyond the scope of a blog comment.
I very deliberately wrote my Godspouse FAQ in gender neutral terms for both mortals and deities. If that isn’t enough to convey that a person could be of any gender or between gender, I welcome suggestions on how to improve it.
My view is that the gods love regardless of sex, the gods are not biological beings and are therefore attracted for different reasons to souls that they claim as theirs. Nothing is to say that we aren’t going to be loved by the god over lifetimes regardless of whether we are in male or female form…However, it is natural that a female writing of her relationship with a male god that there is going to be heterosexual overtones…just as if a man was writing it would likely have homosexual overtones. One isn’t better or more correct than the other, however the fact that male godspouses as Heather pointed out are less visible, makes ours the dominant voice. It is not because we don’t acknowledge that value of male godspouses out there but we can’t speak for them on their relationships. It would be wonderful if more men added their voices.
I think you may have missed my subtext here. Where I hold issue with the female mortal spouses of male Deities is that when they write about Godspousery as a wider topic (not just their own experiences, but those purporting to be for ‘all godspouses’), they tend to rely on heterosexual assumption. And it’s not all, just some. But there have been times when either I (not a God spouse, but a God bed-companion from time to time) or other male identified persons in romantic or sexual relationships with Gods read these “Godspouse FAQ”s, they tend to use language and other assumptions that all Gods are heterosexual, and most Godspouses are female mortals with male Deities. I have felt the romantic touches from Odin, as well as the course handling by Cernnunos. I am male, and so are they. And our relations are anything but heterosexual looking. It’s no personal offense I mean; all I am asking is that those who purport to speak for all mortals who have romantic, sexual, or marital relations with Gods, to remember that many of them are not heterosexual, nor are the sex acts they ask for.
ah, I haven’t come across such FAQ myself, and in any case I don’t think that anyone has the authority to presume to write on behalf of all godspouses. It is one thing to write of one’s personal experiences, but that seems like it would likely be very problematic considering how different the relationship is between gods and their mortal spouses. If there are people who are writing as authorities out there, I can understand where frustration would be more than due.